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“The annals of history have long been lost, sunken to the depths of the void without hope of return. However, just because memory fails to recollect the who, the how, and the where, does not mean that the memoirs and remnants they left behind does not provide insight. Indeed, men can be immortalized in other ways aside from attaining godhood - leaving their legacy for others to wander upon.”
- - Unknown
Lambs of the Gods
Upon a distant world, far outside the realm of commercialism and industry yet surrounded by multiple blockades of weaponized fleets and militarized solar systems, life flourished in ignorance of what was going on beyond the protective wall. War and catastrophe had not touched this world, leaving it pure and thriving with little threat of collapse or subjugation, as it was defended valiantly both within and without. Its sun shined brightly over one of its larger continents, which was swallowed, like the rest of the world, in colossal forests and jungles. The residents of this world, simple and docile sapients, tended to the flora that they synchronized with, sharing a biological and almost spiritual connection. Within the central forests, something stirred, something not native to this world.
From the shrubbery and undergrowth of the forest, a pair of creatures, somewhat smaller than those peaceful natives of this world, watched their surroundings, hidden from sight. These creatures possessed vast biological differences by comparison to the natives, of which their kind called them Alvino, yet they felt a sense of familiarity around them. They were, after all, creations of their race. The Kormacvar. One of the Kormacvar turned to the other and spoke quietly, leaning towards his companion so that he would not have to raise his voice and risk detection to speak.
- Kholduitanus - It's been ten minutes, you'd think they would have found us by now. Or we're just that good.
- Tsarkhuilaius - We're that good. Definitely.
- Kholduitanus - Hehe, for a race of gardeners, they're sure not very clever. After all, I could find you in a second.
- Tsarkhuilaius - No way! You'd never find me even if I hid on plain sight!
- Kholduitanus - Oh yeah? Do you wanna bet on that, small-horns?
- Tsarkhuilaius - I bet all of my lunch, fat tail!
- Kholduitanus - Who you calling fat tail, fat tail?!
As the young Kormacvar Kholduitanus raised his voice, the two of them were oblivious to one of the larger Alvino that loomed over them, Only seconds after having noticed the shadow of the Alvino did Kholduinatus look upwards, and meeting eye-to-eye with the gardener. It reached out its arms and aimed for one of the Kormacvar, specifically Kholduitanus, and wrapped its hands around him, pulling him into a hug while the other was let free. Kholduitanus gasped as he was caught and grumbled to himself as he was stuck in the Alvino's gentle embrace, looking at the ground in embarassment.
- Alvino - Found yoooou!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Now look what you did.
- Kholduitanus - N-Not my f-fault! You made me yell.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Well, I bet you can't find me now!
Tsarkhuilaius turned around and ran, laughing as he did. Kholduitanus watched as his companion ran deeper into the forests and was allowed freedom by the Alvino that had caught him, allowing him to run after Tsarkhuilaius eagerly as he laughed. The two of them had managed to recognize and familiarize themselves with the forests of this world, as they had been here long enough under the care of the Alvino to do so.
- Kholduitanus - You can run but you can't hide!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Haha, you'll never find me!
As Kholduitanus ran, he tripped over a small log and stumbled, sending himself forward uncontrollably. As he did, he landed on his head and proceeded to be sent on a downhill roll, avoiding the trees and Alvino gardeners that may have risked getting in his way. A minute later, after persistent rolling, he was thrown from the undergrowth and passed into a clearing, where he landed on his belly and was sent sliding through the earth and soil uncomfortably, messying his front with dirt. He groaned and attempted to stand, disorientated and dizzy, resulting in him taking several misguided steps before landing on his back. Tsarkhuilaius approached the fallen Kholduitanus to check his condition, and as he got close, he and his brother were met with a pair of immense hands, appearing from their sides and grabbing them. The two Kormacvar children rested on top of the soft, warm palms of the gigantic hands as they were elevated upward. Looming and residing above them was the ancient, primeval mother of all Alvino, conveniently known by all as simply the Brood Mother, who looked at them with a caring, maternal smile as any mother would.
- Brood Mother - Look at you two. You need a bath.
Kholduitanus sat up and laid on his knees as he looked up at the Brood Mother's face, and inside, he felt comfortable as warm affection overcame him. However, as a response to her words, the young Kormacvar shook his head with disinterest and folded his arms, sticking his tongue out.
- Kholduitanus - Nuh-uh! We're only gonna get dirty again anyway.
- Tsarkhuilaius - We're not done playing yet, mommy!
- Brood Mother - I saw Kholduinatus falling over. You need to take care when you're running, dear.
- Kholduitanus - H-Hey, I'll be fine! Just a scratch, that's all, nothing I can't handle! I'm a big boy after all!
- Tsarkhuilaius - I'm bigger!
- Kholduitanus - No you're not, I am! I can beat you in a play-fight!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Oh yeah! I beat you last time!
- Kholduitanus - Only because you cheated!
- Brood Mother - You're both my big boys.
The Brood Mother brought the children closer to her face and placed her cheek against the both of them in a cuddle. The two of them smiled as they felt her warm cheek press against them and returned the gesture, their tails swaying happily. As Kholduitanus did so, he let out a tired yawn and closed his eyes for a moment before quickly opening them again. Watching Kholduitanus caused Tsarkhuilaius to yawn a few moments after, the Brood Mother looking at them with a smile.
- Brood Mother - Are you tired?
- Kholduitanus - N-No! Big boys don't get tired, b-because we're big boys!
- Brood Mother - Are you sure you don't want to take a nap on mommy's head?
- Kholduitanus - ...C-Can we have a fruit if we do? We can't sleep w-when we're hungry after all, mommy.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Oh! Oh! I want one too!
- Brood Mother - You can have as many fruits as you like, my dears.
- Kholduitanus - Yay! Mommy fruits! They're the best!
The Brood Mother put the two children on the top of her immense head, which was large enough for them to lay down as if they were in a floor but comfortable enough to feel like a natural bed. By using telekinesis, small round fruits floated over to them, and Tsarkhuilaius quickly grabbed and ate one, smiling as he did. Kholduitanus giggled as he saw the fruits levitate above their heads and reached out to grasp one, taking a few moments to savour its taste as he placed it into his mouth whole before swallowing. He yawned once more after having digested the fruit and laid himself down, keeping his eyes closed as he went to rest and curled himself up in order to get as comfortable as possible.
- Kholduitanus - Bet I'll beat you to sleep first, tiny-claws.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Let's bet that then.
Tsarkhuilaius laid down opposite to Kholduitanus, yawning and bumping his head with his friend's. The Brood Mother then began singing a lullaby which echoed through the large chamber which served as her home. The two babes slept soundly, snoring quietly as they quickly drifted from consciousness into dreamland. Little did they know that within their bodies and their spirit they held something special; they would grow to become stronger than any other of their kind, and the essence of their minds and life-force could be weaponized and used against others. The Floridarixis knew and understood full well that the babes, products of unreal birth and creation, would be unable to stay upon this world forever, for she and her own children had raised and cared for many of these enhanced, modified individuals in the past - a tradition set in place for untold millennia. While these unblooded brothers were destined for greatness, for now, they slept and dreamed of things unimaginable.
A decade later. The two babes had grown to become older, more handsome and stronger men, yet still young by the standards of true adults of their race. Their muscles had become defined, their builds athletic. They awaited just outside of the chamber that led to the Brood Mother's residence, who was quite clearly visible behind them due to her immense, unchallenged size. Colossal vessels filled the skies, while platoons of armoured, well-equipped soldiers were positioned in professional formations in front of them. They too were Kormacvar, yet they were all meager by comparison to the two young men that watched them, bored and, for Kholduitanus at least, impatient. Kholduitanus stepped towards the platoons and eyed them intimidatingly.
- Kholduitanus - Well, what now?
- Tsarkhuilaius - Didn't you hear Mother? The Emperor is coming to officialize our titles at last.
- Kholduitanus - The Emperor had better be here soon, I'm getting tired of waiting. The war isn't going to fight itself, after all.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Yeah, don't let Mother hear you saying that, or she'll give you a smack.
- Kholduitanus - Heh, if there's one person I won't fight with, it's Mother. She's like a double-edged blade.
One of the smaller, more personalized vessels landed and out of it, came a large, imposing Kormacvar in regal clothing, though he was still not as tall as Kholduitanus or Tsarkhuilaius. The soldiers stomped on the ground with their back limbs as a form of respect and bowed, and as the Kormacvar got up to the two grown children, he inspected them with a smirk. Kholduitanus wore a wary, cautious frown upon his face as he watched the Kormacvar figure approach, and he unfolded his arms, resting his palms at his side. When he looked upon the individual, he glanced directly into their unfazed eyes. Tsarkhuilaius respectfully bowed to the figure, and bumped Kholduitanus to do the same. Kholduitanus groaned and bowed alongside his brother, although he did not glance at the earth, instead opting for keeping the direction of his eyes upwards as he felt uncomfortable and out of place looking at the dirt he walked upon.
- ??? - So we finally meet in person, my young soldiers. I am Emperor Karius Pertannar, supreme ruler of the Kormacvar Empire.
- Kholduitanus - Emperor Pertannar. It is an honour.
- Karius - It is time to fulfill your role as warmasters of the Empire. The Floridarixis has trained you from birth to be the greatest and most powerful soldiers of our people. You will now take the fight to the Grox Empire, and with you leading our armies, we will push the damned machine terror back to the hell they crawled out of.
- Kholduitanus - I'll erase every one of those Grox and their warmachines from the face of this galaxy, my Emperor. I pledge myself... to the Kormacvar Empire.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Mother has told us of what the Grox have done. Their crimes are unforgivable.
- Karius - Indeed. Speaking of which, how is the Brood Mother doing?
Kholduitanus raised from the soil and stood upright as he did prior, folding his arms as he glanced at the Emperor Pertannar once again. He bumped his brother with his elbow in order to have him cease his bow, as it was no longer formally required for either of them.
- Kholduitanus - Mother is doing well, if a little saddened. She has said that she will miss our presence once we're taken from this world.
- Karius - It is only natural, I imagine this is also a hard experience for you both. But worry not, for after the Grox are annihilated, you will have all the time in the universe to spend with her.
- Kholduitanus - I will not shed tears if it means I get the chance to fight and tear the Grox apart. As long as they exist, it means that this world is at risk, and I'll fight to ensure that we can come back one day.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Truer words couldn't be said.
- Karius - Excellent. You are both prepared. I hereby declare you Warmasters of the Kormacvar Empire. You are our sword and shield in this war. You will stand victorius over the enemy.
The soldiers behind Emperor Karius all slammed the ground below them in honour of the two. Kholduitanus nodded and turned to his brother, giving him an expression of acknowledgement of their new rank and status. Looking back towards the Emperor in front of them and the army that they are soon to lead, the brothers lowered to a single knee each and bowed out of honour and courtesy, as well as acceptance for the title of Warmaster. Kholduitanus and Tsarkhulaus, now christened as Warmasters of the Kormacvar Empire, would be taken off-world, along with their legion, and transported elsewhere to undergo the final phases of their training and preparation for combat that were outside of the Brood Mother's own realm of teaching.
In the coming days, there would be rejoice and celebration for the crowning of the new Warmasters, and many crusades were sure to follow wherever the brothers went, for it was their sole purpose as super-warriors. They would become the kings of the battlefield, and sovereigns of the act of war.
The chamber that they stood within, an arena that was installed with ultra-realistic, holographic software and hardware, was located near the ship's nether regions, a former-storage and deployment room that had been repurposed and refitted by the request of the two Warmasters some time ago, using it for when they required practice out of sight. Kholduitanus stepped forward with a heavy step, growling as he raised his fists to be in-line with his chest, and glared intimidatingly towards Tsarkhuilaius, his fellow Warmaster and by far closest colleague, as a heavy, threatening atmosphere began to form around him - the intensity of his aura was ascending.
- Kholduitanus - What are you waiting for? Come on, strike! I don't like being kept waiting!
Tsarkhuilaius looked at his fellow Warmaster and scoffed, putting his wrists up. Despite the sheer presence of Kholduitanus, his almost-brother was not scared of it. At this point, he was already used to seeing him like this.
- Tsarkhuilaius - You want a beating again, big bro?
- Kholduitanus - Grr... Why do you have to be so irritating?
- Tsarkhuilaius - Heheheh. Well, okay. If you want a beating then I'll have to give you one!
- Kholduitanus - I'd like to see you try!
Tsarkhuilaius put his body back before leaping forward. Immediately, an aura of sheer power not like Kholduitanus' formed around the warmaster as he launched himself at his colleague at high speed, his fist clenched. Kholduitanus passed a slight smile as his brother threw himself forward and initiated a charge, running towards his opponent with his own fists clenched, his aura erupting from his body as he did. While the two Warmasters prepared to meet and engage one another, the environment around them changed, an automatic response from the holographic hardware; a forested area, populated with a dense brush of trees and soft, grassy undergrowh. Behind Kholduitanus, a lake that was constantly being fed the ravaging water that was carried to its descent via a glamorous, exhilerating waterfall. Kholduitanus roared as he approached his brother, leaping from the ground and allowing his sheer momentum and psychic energy to carry him forward, his fist raised and incoming.
Tsarkhuilaius grinned and launched his fist at the direction of his brother's face, the energy around it making it appear almost as a comet going at the Kormacvar's direction. The Kormacvar in question groaned loudly as Tsarkhuilaius' fist collided with his face, although it had not discouraged his own assault as he had thrown his own fist towards the direction of Tsarkhuilaius' face, as if the two of them were engaged in some form of combat-oriented synchronicity. The fist was accompanied with a loud, audible roar on Kholduitanus' part. Tsarkhuilaius was hit and his face was through back, though the grin on his face remained. He launched his right knee at Kholduitanus' stomach moments after. Kholduitanus stumbled backwards, yelping as the knee impacted against his stomach. Not willing to be outdone by his brother, Kholduitanus threw his hand around Tsarkhuilaius' leg, grasping as tightly onto it as he possibly could, and thrusted his body in a semi-circular motion, launching his brother at the other side of the room with an immense throw.
- Kholduitanus - Go back to commanding fleets, brother! That's the only thing you're good for!
Tsarkhuilaius flew a good distance before he stopped in midair, using his psychic powers to levitate. He looked at Kholduitanus with arms crossed before blasting himself at his direction.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Why don't you go clean the toilets?
- Kholduitanus - Watch your tongue before I take it!
Kholduitanus prepared a defensive stance, raising his arms in front of his face so as to protect it, still feeling somewhat sore from the punch that Tsarkhuilaius had delivered unto him just prior. His aura intensified as he became fortified where he stood, using his psychic ability to keep him sturdy and resistant. Upon arriving to melee range, Tsarkhuilaius delivered a headbutt to his brother, colliding foreheads and horns. Kholduitanus's arms were thrown to his sides as he prepared to deliver a punch prior, not anticipating the headbutt that Tsarkhuilaius had planned. The immense force of the assault caused Kholduitanus to end up travelling backwards, the claws on his feet digging into the ground while Tsarkhuilaius continued travelling forward.
- Kholduitanus - D-Damn you!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Step it up! No wonder the ladies all come for me!
- Kholduitanus - I need no woman to harden my flesh! Grarrgh!
Kholduitanus narrowed his eyes and allowed a pulse of psychic power to explode from his forehead, throwing Tsarkhuilaius away from him just as he came to a stop at the other side of the room. He wore a grim smirk, a grin that displayed fully his enjoyment for combat, while his claws twitched, deprived of blood. Tsarkhuilaius fell on his head into the floor, letting out a groan. He punched the ground before standing up, shaking his head. Kholduitanus approached his Tsarkhuilaius, clenching his fists as he walked, his aura bursting outwardly as if they were volcanic flames.
- Kholduitanus - What's the matter, little brother? Need one of your maidens to kiss your wounds better and lick them for you?
- Tsarkhuilaius - No! But I wouldn't mind that!
- Kholduitanus - Hmph! You're undisciplined, clearly!
Tsarkhuilaius' eyes burned in an intense blue colour and a wave of psychic energy was launched at Kholduitanus. The ground ground below them rumbled from the wave's power. Kholduitanus had not suspected the wave and was thrown back, pushed by the psychokinetic energy behind the attack. While attempting to muster what strength he could, he found himself unable to do so as the wave slammed him into the far wall, causing the holographic environment to disappear suddenly. He gripped onto his head and shook it, groaning in pain as he was embedded in the wall.
- Kholduitanus - That hurt...
Tsarkhuilaius immediately appeared in front of Kholduitanus and tackled his brother, further hitting him against the wall. He gasped out as he was tackled, his back and spine forced against the wall. However, instead of merely taking the punishment, he raised his two fists and slammed them down onto his brother's own back in desparation, roaring as he did so. The auras around them only grew stronger however, unrestrained and coming undone by their fighting.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Eheheheh!...Heheh...heh...that's enough beating, I think.
Tsarkhuilaius backed away and began passing his hands through his armor, as if he was cleaning himself. Kholduitanus stepped away from the wall and rubbed his head before doing something similar with his own armour, keeping his eye on Tsarkhuilaius as he chuckled, observing their auras beginning to simmer and calm now that the fighting had ceased. The room had evidently felt most of the devastation, while the two Kormacvar appeared seemingly unscathed.
- Kholduitanus - You said it... When did you get so strong, little bro? I remember it like it was yesterday that I was pushing you in the mud.
- Tsarkhuilaius - I had my big bro help me train, of course!
Tsarkhuilaius approached Kholduitanus and put an arm over his head, bringing him close and bumping his head against his with a smile. Kholduitanus chuckled and accepted the gesture, placing his hands onto his brother's shoulders. Now that they were at a distance close enough to whisper, Kholduitanus smile changed into a more worried and concerned look, and he delved into Tsarkhuilaius' eyes with his own.
- Kholduitanus - Try not to get killed out there like last time, your big brother isn't always going to be there to protect you.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Pfff! You worry too much. We're Warmasters, Kholduitanus! The Grox could throw a ship at us and we'd scoff it off like it's a wind breeze!
- Kholduitanus - Tsarkhuilaius, promise me. Promise that you'll protect yourself and not do anything stupid.
Tsarkhuilaius looked at Kholduitanus in surprise. At first he believed that his brother, but by his tone, it was obviously not the case.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Kholduitanus...don't worry about me. I'll be fine. I promise.
- Kholduitanus - Good. Now get ready, we'll be there soon and I don't want you getting caught off-guard by forgetting to pack your rations again.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Huh! Says you who wanted to charge at the Grox with no armor on once!
- Kholduitanus - I could've taken them if you'd had let me!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Yeah, sure. Next you'll tell me you can fight them with no pants on. Like there's anything to see down there anyway.
- Kholduitanus - Why don't you go ask your girlfriend about it and see what she says.
Kholduitanus shoved Tsarkhuilaius away playfully as he laughed, rushing for the exit door of the chamber, flinging it open with but a mere thought from his powerful and overwhelming mind.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Hey! Don't run off when I'm talking to you!
Tsarkhuilaius laughed and ran after his big bro, closing the door with his telekinesis as he left. And thus they ran, eager to engage in whatever activity that would quell their hunger for battle and alleviate their build-up of hormones, as was natural per their age concerning the lifespan of Kormacvar. The vessel that they happened to be travelling upon was a golden relic from a time long before the daemonic machinations of the Grox had threatened the colonies of Kormacvar civilization; the Mayarinaris, named after a Warmistress who had allowed her and her personal legion to die for the benefit of the empire as a whole many millennia before now. While none now know of the threat that this figure had opposed, all that is known is that she was served a vital and glorious role for her kind in their defeat. Named in her honour, the Mayarinaris approached a system upon the outer worlds of the Kormacvar's territory, a world that had supposedly been reported as under siege from the likes of Grox vessels and militia. It would soon be time for the Warmasters, the godlike rulers of warfare, to once again prove their worth through bloodshed and strength, guiding their armies and protecting their people, a patriotic cause that had been fulfilled by ever Warmaster prior - a responsibility handed down for untold aeons.
A world upon the edge of the Kormacvar civilization's territory, Gahilalis, once a bastion for science and study and a considerable entity within the second sphere of territory, it was now reduced to little more than the furthest of the Kormacvar's capital planets due to the decline in estate caused by the effects of the war and currently serves as a haven for refugees of the outer rim. A world rich with resources and manpower, vital components as the end of days approaches, Kormacvar and Grox vessels did battle in orbit, with starfighters and cruisers, once designed for luxury and now repurposed and refitted for combat in the case of the former faction, exchanging devastating volleys mercilessly. Upon the ground, entire cities laid in ruin, burning and reduced to ash as Grox infantry and heavy armaments battered what defenses the Kormacvar had set in place. Orbital bombardments were systematic, although they had began to lessen and cease now that Kormacvar reinforcements and naval assistance had entered the fray. Fighting against the nigh-unstoppable war machine of the cybernetic menace on the ground were both remnants of the world's planetary defense force and orbital drop reinforcements supplied by the Kormacvar navy, making use of their tanks and sky-fighters to combat the oncoming tide of Grox automated infantry and weapons.
Kormacvar resistance was strong and valiant, trading surrender for additional rounds for their railgun pistols and rifles, for additional ammunition for their tanks and aerial fighters. Several squads of soldiers hid behind the cover supplied to their improvised trenches, outside of the walls of the largest of the world's remaining cities, and as they looked towards the sky, watching as ships dominate the air above their heads and blasting the clouds apart, when something had caught their collective eye; a ball of magnificent red fire. Its descent was quick, penetrating through the air at the speed of a bullet, before it collided with the Grox infantry outside of the trench, causing shrapnel and debris to be flung across the area in a violent, yet astounding explosion. A crater had been formed, and once the black smoke and electrical sparks had cleared, the soldiers watched something ascend from the put, rising to its feet unscathed; Kholduitanus the Warmaster, a grim, scowling expression written across his face, his body almost exploding with molten red psychic aura that was visible for all, both allied and opposed, to see.
Before the soldiers could have any chance tos say something, another great ball of fire appeared above them and also collided against the enemy forces, launching more debris to be thrown upward. At the center of the newly formed crater was Tsarkhuilaius, the second Warmaster, who gave the Grox a rather stern look but nowhere as grim as his brother. The soldiers looked on in awe, watching as their demigods threw themselves to the planet from the heavens to do battle with the demon engines. One armed Kormacvar, equipped in veteran armour and assigned with personalized weapons that only experienced warriors could handle, rose from the trench and approached the Warmasters with a salute.
- Theravaius - My lords, it is an honour to witness your participation in this battle. I am Veteran Lieutenant Theravaius, and it is my duty to hold the Eastern line. Which is here.
- Kholduitanus - How many have died?
- Theravaius - ...Too many to count, Warmaster Kholduitanus.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Excuse us for being late. Now, shall we make these Grox fiends also have "too many to count" on their losses number?
- Kholduitanus - We shall. Pherangius!
- Theravaius - It's T-Theravaius, W-Warmaster Khol--
- Kholduitanus - Whatever your name is! Keep holding the line and don't break, when we make significant progress you should take your men and retreat behind the city walls. Take care of your wounded and refugees.
- Tsarkhuilaius - We don't want anymore deaths going on here.
With those words dealt to the Veteran Lieutenant, Theravaius lifted another salute and returned to the trenches behind the Warmasters, who were left with the business regarding the Grox machinations that advanced upon their position. The brothers turned, glancing towards the army that razed the horizon, and Kholduitanus clenched his claws as he twitched, itching eagerly for combat. Unable to resist for much longer, the Warmaster rushed forward in a blast of red psionic energy, and collided with the Grox infantry - he thrusted his claws into their infantry, tearing them into shreds or punching them into non-existence as power radiated from his body.
- Kholduitanus - I'll destroy you all!!
Tsarkhuilaius charged in right after, his eyes burning with psychic power. With a movement from his hand, Conqrix forces were thrown across the battlefield like ragdolls, vehicles being flung through the landscape and exploding violently as they crashed into the ground. With his right hand, he fired his Alvino-issue particle beam, causing hit enemies to be vaporized in seconds. Kholduitanus' sword, crafted with edges fitted with micro-technology designed to rend molecules and divide foes at the sub-atomic scale, was drawn from his side by the Warmaster and swung it in vertical, then horizontal, then diagonal motions, eviscerating Conqrix soldiers that had attempted to subdue him. In contrast to his brother, enemy infantry and vehicles were launched towards Kholduitanus, who proceeded to dice his opposition into chunks.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Look at you, showing off again.
- Kholduitanus - You want to start a fight? Because if you keep running your mouth off, that's what you'll get!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Heh. Fight the Grox, not me.
- Kholduitanus - I'll fight whoever I please, ha-ha! You just focus on firing your little pea-shooter.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Now, Mother would be offended of you calling the most powerful Kormacvar infantry weapon in the Empire a pea-shooter.
Kholduitanus laughed as he charged towards a Conqrix vehicle, which fired its own particle weaponry towards the Warmaster who swiftly either evaded or deflected the blasts with his psychic power. Stretching out his claws, he rended his fingers into the vehicle's shell; with little assistance from his potent mental capability, he levitated in the air, the vehicle up-turned and held over his head, before throwing the war machine back at the Conqrix infantry, causing a terrific explosion to occur. Tsarkhuilaius put his gun away as he looked at the Grox army. He looked at them with a smirk as psychic power accumulated on his fist, which was clenched and engulfed in an intense blue aura. The Warmaster then sent his fist downwards and punched the ground, and moments after, pillars of energy exploded from underground, decimating all enemy forces hit by them.
Kholduitanus watched the psychic assault with an impressed glance, nodding as the pillars erupted from the ground and annihilating Conqrix forces. However, his expression quickly changed back to a scowl, and he raised his arms, his hands swallowed with red electricity. After a minute of standing with his arms raised above his head, he flung them downwards. Following this motion, the Conqrix were met with psychic rain falling from the sky - needle-shaped manifestations of Kholduitanus' psychic energy descended from the sky in a staggering display, exploding in glorious and exhilerating displays as they came into contact with either the ground or the enemy, uplifted the ground that they stood upon.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Ooh, that's a pretty one.
- Kholduitanus - Yours wasn't bad either... even if mine was better.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Yeah, go sc-
Before Tsarkhuilaius could contemplate the end of his sentence, his eyes widened in response to a sudden shock; an impressively-crafted Dronox creature leaped forward and swung its blade towards the Warmaster. The blade scratched against the Warmaster's armor, leaving a visible mark, before the latter leaped away, this Dronox standing far taller and boasting a much more impressive aesthetic than any other on the battlefield. To the Kormacvar, this was known as a Dronox Commader, the Grox horde's supposed answer to the Kormacvar's own Warmasters. These creatures were known for having slain countless Warmasters prior to Kholduitanus and Tsarkhuilaius' creation, powerful enough to bring entire worlds to their knees. It glared at both Kormacvar with glowing, mechanical eyes, displaying no visible emotion. Kholduitanus observed the Dronox Commander with his own eyes for several moments before turning towards his brother with an expression of worry, calling out to his companion alongside a single step that approached him.
- Kholduitanus - Tsarkhuilaius! Are you hurt?
- Tsarkhuilaius - I'm okay, just got a cut on my armor. Hell, that's a big one...
- Kholduitanus - It doesn't matter how big it is, I'll still destroy it!
Tsarkhuilaius grunted and aimed his particle beam at the Commander to fire at his direction. However, the Dronox creature quickly leaped out of the way of the shots before more Conqrix forces arrived to help it. Kholduitanus eyed the reinforcements that were emerging from behind the Dronox Commander and turned his attention towards them, grunting with frustration before looking back to Tsarkhuilaius, keeping a firm grasp on his blade as he entered a stance, about to engage in an onward charge.
- Kholduitanus - On second thought, you deal with the big one, I'll handle the reinforcements. Try not to get yourself killed!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Yeah, leave the hard work for the little brother.
Tsarkhuilaius charged ahead, chasing the Dronox Commander through the battlefield while firing his weapon at him. The creature's advanced armor allowed it to shrug off the particle beam's shots which hit it, and by using its strength, it launched debris at the Warmaster's direction, forcing him to slow down to either evade or deflect the launched objects away. Kholduitanus stood reluctantly for a moment as he watched his brother engage the creature, but after exhaling a heavy sigh, he turned back towards the Conqrix horde and charged, launching blasts of psychic energy in their direction and swinging his blade at whoever wandered too close, dismembering and annihilating Conqrix infantry left, right, up, and down with a terrifying efficiency.
A large boulder was launched at Tsarkhuilaius, who delivered a an impressively powerful punch to it, causing it to be easily destroyed in an explosion of pebbles by his strength. However, immediately after, the Dronox Commander charged at the Warmaster and swung its two blades at him in a cross attack, piercing through his armor and cutting into his chest. Tsarkhuilaius gasped in pain as blood spilled forth from his wounds before the Dronox delivered a kick to his head, sending him flying a few meters backwards into the ground. Kholduitanus' ears rippled as he heard his brother's cries and turned towards the Dronox Commander, narrowing his eyes. Placing away his hi-tech sword, Kholduitanus reverted to more primitive and instinctive tactics; he grabbed whatever Conqrix ground forces he could find and launched them towards the Commander in an outburst, roaring as he pried for the Commander's attention and his brother's safety. The Commander swung its blades, cutting anything thrown at it into tatters before it could be struck.
Tsarkhuilaius used the opportunity provided by Kholduitanus' intervention and launched a psychic wave at the cyborg which sent it crashing into a pile of debris, burying it beneath tons of rock and structural chassis. Kholduitanus approached Tsarkhuilaius and glanced towards the scarring done to his chest, his eyes widened, an agitated and shocked fusion of expression following shortly after.
- Kholduitanus - Does it hurt? Are you okay?
- Tsarkhuilaius - Hey, I'm fine. You've done worse to me in our training sessions.
- Kholduitanus - I told you to be careful!
The Dronox Commander emerged from the debris and glared at the two Warmasters before his body shined and dematerialized, being teleported away from the fight. Tsarkhuilaius growled and tried to kill it before it could escape with his particle beam, but the Commander was already gone before the shots could inflict any damage. Kholduitanus walked to Tsarkhuilaius and placed a hand on his shoulder, shoving him in a brotherly manner to take a look at his face. Kholduitanus wore a sorrowful, guilty face.
- Kholduitanus - Tsar... I shouldn't have let you fight that thing. If you didn't you wouldn't have gotten hurt.
- Tsarkhuilaius - I was made to get hurt by things! We both were! That's a Warmaster's task, Kholduitanus, to suffer the bad end of the war so that our people don't have to. Worring about me all the time like this will only get you distracted. I'm not your wife, damnit.
Kholduitanus took a step back, as if his brother's words had pierced through the center of his chest and through his heart like a bullet. At first, his face displayed confusion, his mouth agape and eyes wide, before shifting towards a frown, his brow lowered. His body turned to face what remained of the Conqrix horde, with debris from Grox ships falling onto the battlefield from above which contributed to their falling number. He folded his arms slowly and looked towards the horizon for several moments, experiencing the wind brush against his skin and armour, before charging. Moments later, Tsarkhuilaius watched as the Conqrix remnants were torn apart limb from limb by his brother, with the bulk of their invasion force and what remained of it having now been destroyed, signalling a Grox retreat. The Kormacvar had now gained planetary domination, breaking the siege of this world. Tsarkhuilaius got up from the ground and put his gun over his shoulder. As he watched his brother's victory, he began walking at the general direction of the trenches holding the still living Kormacvar soldiers.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Seems like we're done here. Time to alert the others about it.
The Mayarinaris. A work of art as much as it was one of the Kormacvar's finest and most exalted naval assets, it was of a dying breed, one of the last few warships of her kind that remained from a brighter, better age. Following the discovery of the numerical advantage of the Grox, resources were pooled into creating inferior war-ready vessels that would outnumber the Mayarinaris and her kind five to one and would cost less time to produce. She was considered perhaps one of, if not the, most powerful ship in the Kormacvar's navy and in the entire galaxy, having fought Grox super-cruisers and colossal warships for millennia. The schematics, resources, and knowledge to construct the Mayarinaris and her sisters have long since been lost, yet her service had not hindered her in the slightest. She was the home of thousands of crew members, entire generations having lived upon this ship without ever having set foot upon a Kormacvar world. Within one of her many dining rooms, specifically one designed and customized to support the needs of her two most vital crewmen, dinner was being served by the skilled hands of the most honoured and venerable of soldiers directly to the shared table of the two Warmasters.
Kholduitanus, sat at the far end of the metal table that almost seemed to "grow" outwards from the floor like a biomechanical construct, was hunched over his food, eyeing it with uncertainty. The table, which was several meters in length, supported a banquet of various exotic and native foods and meals, all of which were made compatible by bio-engineering in the food and the advanced genetic modifications within the Warmasters' own bodies. Tsarkhuilaius, on the other hand, shoved food on his mouth gleerfully, making no effort to be discrete. He sat a fair distance away from Kholduitanus, mainly because he did not want to accidentally throw food onto his brother again.
- Kholduitanus - They gave me vegetables for a first course, again... Do they know that I don't like vegetables? Are they trying to punish me or what?
- Tsarkhuilaius - Don't you want to be healthy so you can punch Grox in the face? Hell, if you don't want them then give them to me, I'll gladly take them.
Tsarkhuilaius let out a laugh as his mouth was filled with food, which included a combination of vegetables and meat appetizers that were given additional flavour by a selection of sauces and other substances that were to be applied in order to appeal to his tastes just that little bit more.
- Kholduitanus - I can't do that, they said that if I don't eat my vegetables I won't be given desert. I hear they have Viniaris fruit cake after the second course, which thankfully has Smeever soup involved.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Oh, I do like Smeever soup. Strangely tasty comparing to the ugly creatures it's made from.
Kholduitanus continued picking at his vegetables with his finger, a disgusted and uncomfortable expression on his face, groaning and whimpering at the thought of putting something green and dissatisfying into his mouth. One of the armed warriors that were positioned in the dining hall, of which a platoon was required, grunted with an unimpressed expression on her face, watching the Kormacvar Warmaster play with his food, reminescent to an infant. Tsarkhuilaius shrugged and kept eating messily, his brother knowing well how much of a big eater he was. Kholduitanus eyed his brother as he ate and exhaled, saddened. As he did, the soldier, her semi-automatic railgun rifle slung over her shoulder, approached the Warmaster and glared at him before glancing at the vegetables on his plate, soaked in a gravy-like substance. It was clear from the expression on her face that she had seen the Warmaster act like this many times before, even if they were not required to eat every single day like normal Kormacvar were required to do.
- Soldier - If you don't want it, don't eat it, my lord.
- Kholduitanus - But if I don't eat it then I won't be able to have desert, you should know that.
- Soldier - Well then if you want desert, you'll just have to stomach it and be a big boy.
- Kholduitanus - I don't need your mockery! Besides, I am eating... slowly.
- Soldier - Well you had better get a move on or they'll go cold and taste worse.
- Kholduitanus - I know that! Do I look like a fool to you?
Tsarkhuilaius heard the two of them and began giggling, all while his mouth was filled with food. The other soldiers in the room looked almost as uncomfortable as Kholduitanus did as he eyed his vegetables again, before he glanced towards Tsarkhuilaius and growled. He looked back towards the soldier and stood up from his seat, towering over her in an attempt to impose his significance, boasting his importance and factor of intimidation as much as he possibly could.
- Kholduitanus - You're embarassing me!
- Soldier - You're embarassing yourself, now sit down and eat your food.
- Kholduitanus - Don't tell me what to do, you're not Mother! You're not my superior either!
- Soldier - There are people in the outer regions that would kill for food like that, you know.
- Kholduitanus - Then why not give the vegetables to them?!
- Tsarkhuilaius - How about you stop making a scene and eat your vegetables already? Just chew them real quick or swallow without chewing, I don't know!
Kholduitanus growled even louder than before in Tsarkhuilaius' direction and forcefully made a descent to the chair, sitting on it and pulling himself back towards the table in a frustrated outburst. The womanly soldier watched as the Warmaster picked up a vegetable and threw it into his mouth, chewing it quickly before swallowing as he scrunched up his face and gasped, his fingers twitching dramatically. She rolled her eyes and watched as the Warmaster overdramaticized his distaste for the green flora, Kholduitanus glaring at the woman shortly after with evident spite written across his appalled face.
- Tsarkhuilaius - And you say I'm the kid brother.
- Soldier - You know, you'd expect the destroyer of Grox to be able to handle a couple of vegetables.
- Kholduitanus - W-What are you both i-implying? I'm not a c-child!
- Soldier - Of course not, my lord.
- Kholduitanus - Shut up!
- Tsarkhuilaius - You're acting like one.
- Kholduitanus - You're just saying that because you like vegetables! And who are you anyway?!
- Soldier - Captain Nerteiaris Aikhar, I'll have you know. I lead the platoon you see in this room, and I want you to eat your vegetables.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Oooh, look at this gal. She's ordering you around now.
Kholduitanus moved his head back slightly as she introduced herself to him, her presence somewhat dominating despite her inferior size, her insufficient biology in comparison to his own, and her meager weapon that was resting upon her shoulder. It was rare for anybody to even attempt commanding the Warmasters, even rarer for one of them personally, as their indomitable willpower and strength made them terrifying to be around. They were biological weapons of mass destruction, after all. Yet Nerteiaris held her ground and even invaded Kholduitanus' own, causing him to feel genuinely unnerved for she was different to the other Kormacvar soldiers that he had come across on this ship. With a heavy, audible gulp, he looked back to his vegetables and began eating slowly. Having finished his meal, Tsarkhuilaius rested on his chair with a satisfied smile and putting his hands on top of his stomach, humming to himsef.
- Nerteiaris - Good, now I don't want to hear another word until you've finished your first course, otherwise you can dream on about desert.
- Kholduitanus - You'd better learn your place or I'll--
- Nerteiaris - Excuse me, what was that?
- Kholduitanus - N-Nothing, ma'am! Mmm, y-yummy vegetables!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Pfff.
Nerteiaris giggled to herself as she watched the Warmaster eat, observing him down the rest of his course with some thorough enjoyment after having eaten the vegetables and focussing on the other contents of the meal, such as large chops of meat and several roasted alien fauna that had been spiced and prepared for eating. He ate slower than his brother, and was evidently more picky. At this moment, another soldier arrived to the room carrying a datapad. He walked over to Tsarkhuilaius and handed the pad to him.
- Soldier - Warmaster Tsarkhuilaius, we have the information you request.
- Tsarkhuilaius - So you found more about that Dronox?
- Soldier - Yes. He matches the description of the Commander seen leading the Grox invasions of the last few centuries. He has been responsible for the deaths of the four previous Warmasters.
- Nerteiaris - Nekhuirathus, Dakhoyaris, Gurvaranus, and Dorvaxus.
- Kholduitanus - This is why I tell you to be careful, Tsarkhuilaius.
- Tsarkhuilaius - So he's a Warmaster slayer.
- Soldier - Indeed. He hunts and kills them.
- Tsarkhuilaius - So, he's out for our blood then. That means he'll eventually show up again, and I'll be able to give him payback for this scar on my chest.
The soldier nodded and walked away, leaving the datapad for Tsarkhuilaius to read. Kholduitanus and Nerteiaris both glanced towards Tsarkhuilaius' chest, observing and analyzing the cross-shaped scar that was left upon his chest by the Dronox Commander several days prior, the healing process having yet to be able to completely dispose of the scar tissues left behind from sealing the injury. Nerteiaris turned and returned to her position, stepping away from the Warmasters, allowing them to converse further with one another without interruption. However, the looks on both of their faces after having received news of the reputation of their nemesis almost blatantly announced that there was little more to be discussed between them, for they would rather not touch upon such a topic.
A young, verdant world within the southeastern sectors of the galaxy, colonized during the war with the alien machinations from beyond the galaxy - Avakharius. The Conqrix, the enforcers of the wrath of the Grox, the embodiment of sheer terror and dread to all who of knew them, had once again laid siege, the planet's skies dominated with battleships and combat vessels. The Peaks of Arkarixus, their name taken from the legendary interplanetary Kormacvar warrior-nomad who was present during ancient days gone by, was home to multiple cities and settlements that were populated by the Kormacvar and the species that they cliented, incorporated into the very faces of the mountain range which stretched for miles on end, ascending upwards to touch the bloodied sky. The armed guard defended the bridges that allowed these colonies connection between one another, standing perched and ready for conflict even as their homes overlooked a drop of thousands upon thousands of meters.
The terrain and climate of this world meant that orbital drop reinforcements were to be kept minimal, and it took hours of strategizing and a minute ounce of luck that the militant assets that the Mayarinaris launched onto the world managed to survive the descent, crashing into the center of one of the less-defended cities that required urgent aid lest it would face being overrun and conquered, the Mayarinaris herself positioned within the firestorm that was Avakharius' orbit. Emerging unscathed from their descent, the Warmasters Kholduitanus and Tsarkhuilaius approached the outer gates of the intraurban metropolis which would lead them to a sleek, metallic bridge that stretched for roughly a kilometer towards another settlement some distance away, integrated into the rock layers of the mountains. This would have been the first time that the brothers found themselves with additional assistance; Nerteiaris and her assigned platoon, armed to the tooth with highly-advanced weaponry, stood at the Warmasters' backs.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Well, time for another cleansing.
- Kholduitanus - Couldn't put it any better myself.
- Nerteiaris - Hope you boys are ready this time, the Dronox Commander could show up like last time and try to take one of your heads.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Hah. Don't worry about me, I know how that robot thinks now. I'll be ready to take his head when he shows up!
The gates were defended by Kormacvar civilian-soldiers, valiant men and women, equipped with whatever they could access, including railguns designed in the visage of pistols and machine guns, sniper rifles and shotguns. At the other end of the bridge, which was wide and sleek, durable enough to hold the weight of the Warmasters and their elite backup with ease, Conqrix soldiers stood apprehensive as they met eyes with the Kormacvar. Kholduitanus smirked and stepped forward, his body igniting with his red aura. Tsarkhuilaius was engulfed in his own blue aura as he looked at the Conqrix forces with an unimpressed expression, his confidence exposed for all to observe.
Nerteiaris sighed and brought her soldiers forward, establishing a support-orientated position behind the Warmasters in order to dispose of any Conqrix soldiers that had managed to break through their wall of destruction. Nerteiaris herself was equipped with an Alvino particle rifle, an honour granted upon her as a defender of the Warmasters, while the rest of her squad dealt with railgun weaponry.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Let's not leave the bastards waiting, shall we?
- Kholduitanus - The sooner, the better!
Tsarkhuilaius launched himself forward, levitating above the ground through the use of telekinesis. With a mere swipe from his hand, a large part of the Conqrix militia was thrown backwards and collided straight into the ground, while their weapons were sent flying out of their hands. Kholduitanus clenched his fists where he stood, which was at his brother's side, and began to throw punches at the air with outright terrifying velocity, amplified by his own psychic prowess; at the other end of the bridge, Conqrix found themselves shredded to pieces as if they had been struck by an invisible force that outdid even the heaviest of Kormacvar infantry weapons.
Firing his own particle beam, Tsarkhuilaius decimated Conqrix soldiers in seconds, turning them into less than dust with the advanced and complex weapon in his hands. He smirked as he saw their enemies falling so easily before him, sending another blast of psychic power which sent more enemies flying across the battlefield, having created a blockade upon the bridge. Kholduitanus lifted his claws into the air and looked towards the sky, watching as the Grox and Kormacvar fleet engaged one another fiercely, explosions following the destruction of both enemy and allied vessels. Narrowing his eyes, he grasped the air with his hands and swung them downwards with a powerful motion; shortly afterward, Grox starfighters were torn from both within and outside of the planet's orbit and crashed into the Conqrix infantry, initiating a series of impressive explosions.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Pfff. What a joke. These things are not even trying anymore. Did the Grox finally realize they cannot defeat us?
- Kholduitanus - Heh, I think we're just that good.
- Nerteiaris - Wait a moment boys, something's not right. The Conqrix aren't giving it their all like last time. ...They're throwing themselves at you.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Huh? You think s-
Before Tsarkhuilaius could finish his sentence, the ground below his feet exploded upwarf. From beneath the bridge, as if it were merely waiting, a familiar, terrifying face upheaved itself; the Dronox Commander, the bane of Warmasters, emerged with the kinetic force of a missile. The Conqrix horde that the Kormacvar had been fighting was little more than bait, a trap established by the cold, unfeeling intelligence of the Commander and its Grox superiors. With a thrust, its blade pierced once more through the chest of Warmaster Tsarkhuilaius, causing him to scream while the Conqrix lifted him from the ground, ascending him into the air and disconnecting him from the ground with little more than its own sheer strength and its sword. Kholduitanus watched as the Commander's blade penetrated through Tsarkhuilaius' back and spine, and his expression rapidly shifted from confident bravado and satisfaction to sheer shock and horror. Nerteiaris herself placed a hand over her mouth as she watched the scene, her soldiers firing at the Conqrix from afar.
- Kholduitanus - Tsarkhuilaius!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Gah...g-get out of me!
Manipulating one of the large, flexible limbs that grew from his back, Tsarkhuilaius swung at the Dronox Commander across its side, launching it away and freeing himself from the blade that had dug itself into him, which travelled with the Dronox. The cyborg fell to its feet some distance away, sliding across the ground as it was pushed back by momentum and before glaring at Tsarkhuilaius with cold, emotionless eyes. Kholduitanus rushed to stand beside his brother and drew his blade from his side, watching the Dronox Commander with a frenzied look written across his face before turning to take a glance at his brother, observing the wound that had been reopened on his chest.
- Kholduitanus - You alright?
- Tsarkhuilaius - I'm-ugh-okay. Just concentrate on killing that bastard before he runs off again.
- Kholduitanus - Right. Nerteiaris, back me up!
- Nerteiaris - On it!
Kholduitanus stood in front of Tsarkhuilaius defensively as he glared towards the soulless machination, with Nerteiaris and several members of her platoon rushing to stand beside the Warmaster, eager to unleash fire onto the Dronox Commander as it had spilled Kormacvar blood once again. Tsarkhuilaius held onto his wound, wincing in pain as his blood dripped at his feet and onto the bridge. The Dronox Commander charged at Kholduitanus with its blades forming a cross-shaped position, while more Conqrix arrived and began firing at the Kormacvar soldiers, giving their leader suppressive fire. Kholduitanus roared and threw himself forward, clashing swords with the Dronox Commander as he held his blade upwards in a vertical position, standing firm. He glared into the eyes of the Commander for several moments as their blades clashed, opposing one another. An immoveable object versus an unstoppable one.
The Dronox Commander tilted its head as it registered Kholduitanus and the anger strewn across his expression, before it managed to slide and maneuver itself to the Kormacvar's left, causing Kholduitanus to stumble forward for a slight moment. Immediately afterward, it launched itself at Tsarkhuilaius' direction, the second Warmaster's eyes widening as he was he had not yet recovered from the first attack, while Kholduitanus swiftly turned and attempting to reach for the Dronox Commander from behind, roaring with fury channelled into his voice. His footprints embedded themselves deeply into the multi-alloy material of the bridge, raising his blade above his head and sending it plunging towards the Commander, who turned itself around and knocked the sword from Kholduitanus' grasp, stunning the Kormacvar. In the meantime, Tsarkhuilaius backed away, gasping under his breath as the pain surged through his chest, watching as the Conqrix horde began to press the Kormacvar army as their reinforcements had arrived.
The skies began to pour with rain, followed by the fragments and fire-consumed shards of destroyed vessels that continued to fight above their heads; Kholduitanus watched the rain begin to pour during his stunned moments, while Nerteiaris and her squad fired upon the Dronox Commander relentlessly, sparing little, if no, mercy in their assault.
- Nerteiaris - Tsarkhuilaius, get out of here! Tactical retreat!
The Dronox Commander's armour and shields absorbed the shots that were fired at it, and now that it was liberated from Kholduitanus' meddling interference, it pursued Tsarkhuilaius once more. While he tried to attempt a retreat, the Warmaster realized that trying to run away at this point would not be possible as the Dronox was closing the distance faster than what was expected, and instead, in the spur of the moment, decided to keep his ground. Preparing a battle stance, his eyes exploded with an intense blue as he glared at the Dronox Commander, his teeth barred in sheer anger. As he shifted his bloodied body towards his antithesis, lightning struck the mountain range, several times, and the sky thundered with the noise of a thousand thunder claps.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Come at me, you purple asshole!
Tsarkhuilaius swung his rage-fuelled fist at the Dronox Commander, who thrusted his blade in the Kormacvar's direction once more. Once again, blood splashed into the air and onto the ground as the Commander's sword bypassed the Warmaster's armour and penetrated his body once more, extending outward from his back. However, all heads turned as they heard a loud, horrifically audible noise as Tsarkhuilaius' fist collided with the Dronox Commander's face; its head was disloged from its standard position, and the Dronox was launched across the bridge, sliding across the bridge as it attempted to regain its balance before coming to a halt. With his nemesis floored, Tsarkhuilaius found his opportunity and initiated a round of harsh, brutal stomping, his foot colliding with the Conqrix Commander's weakening armour, cracking and fragmenting while the entire bridge trembled from the sheer force of the attack.
The bane of Warmasters raised its arms, displaying the railgun technology installed into the palms of its hands to Tsarkhuilaius almost sadistically, causing him to retreat backwards a couple of steps, wincing once more as he felt the pain dominate and overwhelm his senses despite the adrenaline in his system. Returning to its feet, the Dronox Commander ascended and rested its hands upon its loose head, and after several seconds, with machine-like efficiency, restored it back to where it had been before without so much as a flinch. The automaton's unfeeling glare directed itself at Tsarkhuilaius, who could do little as the Dronox's blades, once more in a cross formation, slashed his body repeatedly, showering the ground and themselves in Kormacvar blood.
- Kholduitanus - Tsarkhuilaius!
Kholduitanus had regained his composure and stance, however before he could even contemplate attempting to support his brother in combating the menace, he was struck from behind by the ammunition of Conqrix battle-rifles, scarring his rear-armour. Turning around, he clenched his fists and watched as the Conqrix horde charged at him, their claws and guns outstretched and begging for blood, and in retaliation, he threw his fists forward as it was all he could do aside from empower his strength with psychokinesis. His eyes and thoughts, however, remained on his brother, desparately attempting to fight the horde as swift as realitistically possible in order to lend his strength to Tsarkhuilaius. Nerteiaris rushed forward with her squad and fired more and more upon the Dronox Commander, even if their shots had done little before, although it was her duty to protect the Warmasters at all cost, thus she attempted to strike potentially at the cracks in the Comamnder's armour.
They did little however. The Dronox Commander delivered a final stab through Tsarkhuilaius' chest, slicing through his bone structure. The sides of his torso had been carved by the Dronox, whose blades were now bloodied from cutting through the Warmaster's now exposed guts and innards as if they were paper and his swords scissors. Tsarkhuilaius stepped back, grimacing for several seconds, until he turned back to the Commander. The pain became fury. He lunged at the Dronox and grabbed it by its neck with one hand, constraining it within his grasp, before taking hold of its right arm with his other hand. With what remained of his strength, Tsarkhuilaius severed the arm from his nemesis' torso, splashing its cyborg blood all over the floor in a mess. The Commander's once-impassive visage changed as its eyes widened - in response, it sent its remaining blade forward, desperately stabbing the Warmaster over and over systematically. Moments passed. Tsarkhuilaius gasped and let go of the Dronox, who proceeded to kick the Warmaster into the ground and ran the opposite way to escape the fight, passing Kholduitanus as it did so.
Kholduitanus roared, charging through whatever Conqrix were left after the cybernetic bloodbath in an attempt to combat the Dronox Commander as it made its escape. With what remained of the Conqrix reinforcements being subjugated by oppressive fire from Nerteiaris and her team, Kholduitanus charged at the Commander with his claws tightened to the point that they were bleeding, his knuckled covered with veins as they clenched. Red, bloody fire ignited wherever he stepped, leaving a daemonic trail in his wake.
- Kholduitanus - I'll rip you apart!
- Tsarkhuilaius - Urk...Khol...get back...
The Dronox Commander looked back to see Kholduitanus pursuing it. The cyborg stopped in its tracks before launching itself backwards, sending its now-single arm to strike at the Warmaster with its blade. Behind him, he could hear Tsarkhuilaius yelling, albeit weakly and pathetically, at him to get back while the Conqrix hordes finally began lowering in number, having been decimated by the efforts of the Warmasters and now being finished by the Kormacvar native militia and orbital reinforcements.
- Kholduitanus - I'll tear you to pieces... Tsar!
Kholduitanus stopped in his tracks and threw himself back, barely out of range from the Commander's assault. He contemplated for a moment, watching as the Commander missed its opportunity to dispose of both of the Warlords, before rushing backwards towards his brother while Nerteiaris' squad ran in to establish an assault position, firing at the Dronox with heavy railgun weaponry as Nerteiaris herself ran from her platoon in order to potentially tend to Tsarkhuilaius, or at least gain some idea of what had happened to him. The Dronox Commander exploited the opportunity to escape, running from the fight until it could no longer be seen by the Kormacvar legion that opposed its underlings. Tsarkhuilaius breathed heavily with loud inhales and exhausts and coughed blood from his mouth as he laid upon the floor, his body weakened and refusing to get back up.
Kholduitanus and Nerteiaris rushed past Kormacvar soldiers that advanced to fight the remnants of the Conqrix horde, with the Warmaster sliding across the ground to kneel beside his broken brother and analyze the extent of the wounds afflicted against him. Nerteiaris stood over Tsarkhuilaius as he was splayed across the ground, her mind overcome with thoughts of dread and wonder - she had never seen a Warmaster in such a state. While she knew they were no true immortals, their presence and sheer power demonstrated a presence almost godlike. Kholduitanus had tears form in his angered, erratic eyes as he looked upon what remained of Tsarkhuilaius. His brother.
- Tsarkhuilaius - Khol..duitanus...
- Kholduitanus - Tsarkhuilaius... D-Damnit... Damnit! Tsar, w-what have t-they done to y-you...
- Tsarkhuilaius - I didn't listen...I should have been...more careful...but I got so close to killing that bastard...agh.
- Kholduitanus - Sssh, sssh, Tsar, s-save it for later... W-We'll get you on board the Mayarinaris, a-and we're going to g-get you fixed up...
- Tsarkhuilaius - We won't...it's all going dark already...or is it bright...they say there is a light...
- Kholduitanus - Don't talk like that! D-Don't... Y-You're going t-to be fine, w-we're g-going to take a b-break, w-we're going to s-see Mother again and r-rest and e-eat fruits and... a-and...
- Tsarkhuilaius - Mother...I won't be able to see her face again...Khol...tell Mother I will miss her...
- Kholduitanus - T-Tsarkhuilaius...
Kholduitanus grasped ahold of his brother's hand and gripped it tightly within his own, already he could feel the heat and lively warmth escaping from it. Incapable of resisting the urge to shed his tears, Kholduitanus pressed his forehead against Tsarkhuilaius' own softly and sobbed, attempting to speak yet what came out was little more than meager whimpers and whines. Nerteiaris held her hands over her face as tears leaked from her own eyes in shock, realizing that she had failed in her responsibility to defend the men that she had been assigned to protect with her life. She watched Kholduitanus cry, she watched the life escaped from Tsarkhuilaius' bare, severed innards.
- Nerteiaris - B-By the E-Emperor...
- Kholduitanus - Tsar... I-I'm going to miss y-you... d-don't you forget that, y-you hear?
Tsarkhuilaius raised his head to look into Kholduitanus' eyes for several moments weakly, spending several moments staring close to lifelessly. Suddenly, Kholduitanus felt a hard, solid punch deliver itself to his cheek; Tsarkhuilaius used the final reserves of strength that his body had kept to clench his fist and swipe his brother's head, a smile struggling to emerge on his bloodied and scarred face.
- Tsarkhuilaius - ...Hey! Grit those teeth!...You're a Warmaster, it's-ack-your job to get the bad end...of the war so our people don't-ugh-have to!..Look into my eyes and promise me...you'll keep fighting at your fullest!
- Kholduitanus - Eugh... Y-You're right... I-I'll keep fighting... and I-I'll fight even harder, f-for your sake! I w-won't stop... u-until they're all dead... a-and their ships have b-been razed... I'll tear apart the void if it m-means... I can d-do you p-proud... B-Brother...
- Tsarkhuilaius - Good...good...get a girlfriend while you're at it...you need a woman to...calm you down...
He ceased movement. The light that once filled Tsarkhuilaius' eyes had left them, leaving them dead and inert, yet his face was locked into a warm, comfortable smile, looking up at Kholduitanus as if he was still there within his flesh and body. Kholduitanus' eyes glistened and shimmered as they flooded with an onslaught of tears, descending down his icy cheeks as he proceeded to close those eyes and rest his head against Tsarkhuilaius. He felt his brother's hand become limp and motionless, cold and frozen, and released it after several minutes of further clasping. He felt a warm hand land upon his shoulder shortly afterward - Nerteiaris stared in utter awe towards Tsarkhuilaius, amazed that even with the beyond fatal damage dealt to his body, the Warmaster still spared the time to give his last farewells. She rested her head on Kholduitanus arm, patting the last Warmaster's back in an attempt to comfort him, tears streaming down her soft, virgin cheeks.
The bloodshed lasted for several hours onward until the world was liberated from the Grox siege, with anti-spacecraft turrets being allowed online to dispose with orbital assault on the enemy's part and the Conqrix ground legions having been dispersed and destroyed through the use of specialized Kormacvar hunter-sniper squads. Avakharius would go on to continue supplying resources and minerals to allow the construction of weapons, armours, and spacecraft, a world renowned for being rich in the primary elements used to create the alloys required for Kormacvar construction approval. It was one of the last ore-rich worlds that the Kormacvar owned independently outside of their protectorates and clients, of which were quickly diminishing due to Grox extermination campaigns.
The life of a god had been claimed this day - a victory more than pyrrhic. A vigilant defender and protector of the people, a symbol of strength and liberty from oppression, a brother reminescent of none other. He had died to defend this world and the Kormacvar Empire for one day further, yet it was not his nemesis that had ultimately slew him in the end.
It was hubris.
Roses of the Heart
Within the silent confines of the Mayarinaris"s metallic guts, stricken with quiet after the tragedy that was the Peaks of Arkarixus, several days had come to pass. Even after the ceremonial funeral granted upon the lost brother, an event marked with tradition and cultural significance, the men that he had once guided prior to passing continued to mourn and grieve. His presence was now void, a fragment of null that has yet to be filled, tormenting and pulling upon the heart-strings of the men and women in service to the ancient ship, whether they were soldiers, or engineers, or navigators, or general menial staff. They all felt the effects, but none felt moreso than Kholduitanus - while he attended the funeral, as it would have been a disgrace dealt upon his heart not to, he had not been seen since, locked within his personal chambers as if he was a prisoner. While Warmasters required little need for sustenance outside of a weekly routine, he had refused to feed and communicate with others, and he had abused washing.
As he sat upon his bed, he looked upward at his ceiling, half-asleep and fading in and out of conscious thought. His mind remained clouded with memories, both recent and distant, of the man that he had once known as his brother, who was now reduced to little more than a corpse that resided somewhere within the capital-worlds of the Kormacvar Empire - the Kormacvar government would take responsibility for the bodies of Warmasters that had fallen in battle, if they had been retrieved, and while it is unknown publicly what happens to the cadavers afterward, Kholduitanus knew in his mind that Tsarkhuilaius' body would be stripped of genetic materials so they can be repurposed at a later date, recycled into new Warmasters for the future. Kholduitanus knew the process had happened with him and his brother, and it would happen once more after he had passed.
As Kholduitanus reminisced childhood, his eyes widened as his ears were intruded with noise. Sitting up and turning his head, he looked towards the closed entrance to his chambers and heard the sound of knocking coming from the outside. While company was not specifically desired, especially in times such as these, Kholduitanus could not help himself but allow the entrance to open, allowing whoever it was that wanted his attention to come inside; Nerteiaris, the commander of the platoon that led the Warmasters' shared personal guard, stood in casual clothing, with was slimming and streamlined to perfectly accomodate her physique. Nerteiaris approached, bowing her head as she saw Kholduitanus upon his bed, and stood at the center of the room, facing the Warmaster with concerned eyes.
- Nerteiaris - Warmaster Kholduitanus.
- Kholduitanus - Please, I don't deserve to be called "Warmaster". What are you here for?
- Nerteiaris - ...The Emperor wanted to know if you would be fit for combat soon, since the outer colo--
- Kholduitanus - Fit for combat? Is this a sick joke? Do I look like I'm fit for combat?!
- Nerteiaris - I can see that you're angry, but--
- Kholduitanus - Angry? I'm outraged! You're treating this as if nothing even happened, and you want me to continue fighting?!
Nerteiaris stepped back as Kholduitanus ascended from the bed and rose to his feet, stepping toward the inferior mortal with a harsh scowl written across his face. However, she did not express fear; she folded her arms and stood firm, watching as the Warmaster approached her with his clenched fists and fiery eyes. Kholduitanus saw her defensive stance, and he could not bring himself to raise a fist to her even if they were prepared for a strike - he began to remember the moment once again. That moment where they had weeped over the body of his lost brethren while her soldiers held the line, picking off Conqrix stragglers and allowing evacuation operations to proceed. He remembered her warm touch against his arm, having her there to comfort him in the time of his greatest crisis even if she was reduced to tears of shock. Kholduitanus halted where he stood, and his fists released themselves from the violent position they had taken prior.
- Kholduitanus - I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to...
- Nerteiaris - Don't apologize, Kholduitanus. I understand. I've lost many a good man under my direction... I still miss them.
- Kholduitanus - I never... I never thought that I would lose him. He was everything to me... Brother, comrade, best friend...
- Nerteiaris - Warmasters are not gods, Kholduitanus, even if people make out they are. They... You're as mortal as I am, even if you can throw about buildings and ruin armies with just a thought.
- Kholduitanus - I'm fully aware, Nerteiaris. ...How many have you lost? Tens? Hundreds?
- Nerteiaris - Thirty-two. Thirty-two men and women, all of them with families of their own, have died under my command. In the space of five years. Yet I can still remember their names, their faces, their roles...
- Kholduitanus - ...Any relatives?
- Nerteiaris - I had a brother. An older brother. Khuakhanus, he led my platoon before I did. I... inherited it a few months after he died. I was his lieutenant, and chief-scout hunter.
- Kholduitanus - Khuakhanus... I remember that name. Tsarkhuilaius and I would drink with him after assignments. I remember how I felt when we were given the news that he had died. Were it not for him, we would have lost a number of capital-worlds. He stopped the Grox right in their tracks...
- Nerteiaris - ...I was too cowardly to join his squad in that operation. He said I didn't have to go.
- Kholduitanus - Hijacking and detonating a Grox supercarrier to deal with the rest of an incoming Grox fleet would have spelled certain doom for anyone, Nerteiaris... Even Warmasters. He did what we could not do, and saved the Empire by doing it.
The Kormacvar woman held onto her arm and looked at Kholduitanus with gleaming eyes, glistening with tears as she stepped towards the Warmaster and took one of his hands with her own, embracing it warmly. The Warmaster's cheeks were overcome with blush as Nerteiaris looked up at him, sniffling softly, and rested her head upon his chest to sob quietly. Kholduitanus, largely alien to these outbursts of saddening emotions rather than anger and destructive bloodlust, reluctantly placed a hand upon her back and patted it gently, before he initiated a proper, true embrace and hugged her, allowing his own tears to shed and drip down his cheeks. For once, his aura of fire did not erupt, but rather softly radiated from his body, providing additional warmth for the woman in his arms whom he effectively cradled.
- Kholduitanus - Nerteiaris... I miss him...
- Nerteiaris - I know, Kholduitanus, I know... I miss him too.
- Kholduitanus - I told him... t-to be careful, n-not to get... h-himself killed...
- Nerteiaris - Ssh, ssh... It's going t-to be okay, K-Kholduitanus.
- Kholduitanus - ...I-I'll destroy them, Nerteiaris... I-I'll destroy every single one of them... Even if it kills me.
- Nerteiaris - Don't say that, Kholduitanus...
- Kholduitanus - It is as Tsarkhuilaius said... It's our job... My job to endure the b-bad end of the w-war...
- Nerteiaris - It's your job to p-protect us, not die for us. Now... Shut up.
As Kholduitanus looked to her, surprised by her sudden change in tone, he found himself taken off-guard as she pressed her mouth to his. His eyes were widened from surprise, blinking sparingly, and the blush further flared upon his cheeks. It was just them two now, within one another's longing company, out of sight from the rest of the universe around them. As if out of instinct, Kholduitanus wrapped his arms tighter around Nerteiaris to provide a much closer embrace, and he began to return the affection, slowly closing his eyes and both acknowledging and accepting the sudden momentous step. For minutes that felt like hours, the two of them kissed, passion flowing through their veins and clearing out the worry and grief that festered within their minds, now replaced with loving thought processes. Kholduitanus felt his heart beat faster within his chest, alongside Nerteiaris' own heart which pulsated constantly, their conjoined beats gaining speed.
Those very last words sprung to mind. Tsarkhuilaius' last request. Kholduitanus' tears found freedom from his sockets as he embraced his womanly accomplice, with all other cares throughout the galaxy having been forgotten specifically for this moment in time. Nerteiaris raised a hand and placed it softly on Kholduitanus' cheek, which caused him to return the gesture, never parting from their passionate kiss. This feeling that rushed through his bodily systems, it felt eerily similar to... love. Not love in the way a family member would express, but love nonetheless. A different kind of love. And Kholduitanus could feel as this new love washed over his burning, enraged heart, cooling it and causing his rage to vanish into steam. Whether he knew it or not, Kholduitanus had fulfilled that very last request his brother issued to him, and despite the smell of tragedy still prominent in the air throughout the Empire, Kholduitanus felt separated from it all as, once again, he felt that void filled just ever so slightly yet so significantly.
None would witness neither the Warmaster Kholduitanus nor Nerteiaris for the rest of the artificial day on-board the Mayarinaris, as the two would come to remain within the former's private residental chamber for a majority of the following hours, doing little more than taking the opportunity to touch and experience this newfound emotion that had once been a foreigner to them both, distracting them yet not allowing them to forget the tragedy that had brought them together.
This new feeling would not let them forget, but would instead permit them to accept, and thus later move on. This new love would fill the crevices of one another's hearts, and cement them together.
The capital-worlds resided at the very center of the civilization that was the Kormacvar Empire. Housing inumerable souls and functioning as hubs for commerce between the Kormacvar and their protectorates and clients, the capital-worlds were home to the men and women that constructed the Kormacvar's government, including the one known as Emperor, and as such was heavily guarded, reinforced by hyper-destructive blockades consisting of immeasurable numbers of fleet deployments and other defenses. Without the capital-worlds, the Kormacvar Empire would have been little more than ash and dust. One particular planet amongst these capital-worlds was Tavanarus - one of the more prominent commercial and residental sectors within the core of Kormacvar civilization. It was here that the Warmaster Kholduitanus had selected his own private residence, as the confines of the Mayarinaris had grown to become claustrophobic for the aforementioned Warmaster, and a war-cruiser was indeed not an appropriate or suitable environment for a family in development. It had been near enough two decades since the transition of residence, and Kholduitanus, while still serving the cause of his people for his people, had come to rest with Nerteiaris - she had been permitted premature retirement and allowed herself to attain a daughter; Nyakhairis.
Kholduitanus had also been granted a secondary name alongside that which was granted unto him by the goddess of Alvino - Kholduitanus Dakherus, the name he had inherited from his bride on the day of their marriage. Today, of all days, was a casual day - a rare opportunity for Kholduitanus - and he allowed himself to reside idle within the equivalent of what could be designated as a 'living room', which was connected to a majority of the other rooms to be found within the residence due to the lack of doors within Kormacvar homes; the only 'door' was a matter-transferance structure that was roughly the size of Kholduitanus which allowed for residents and guests to enter and leave when activated.
Resting upon the comfortable levitating furniture with his eyes transfixed on a holographic entertainment display screen a few meters ahead, the Warmaster watched a depiction of Kormcavar entertainment - a cartoon that was probably meant for audiences younger than the biologically-matured Kholduitanus - while his sleeping wife had curled up in his arms without a sound. While it was clear that she was disinterested in such programs, Kholduitanus found himself engrossed in it, while other, more mundane men would have also shared a disinterest in such activities and would have preferred spending time performing social acts such as drinking in groups and attempting to gather women. The young Nyakhairis watched intently alongside her father, tilting her head from left to right repeatedly. Despite being a teenager by the standard of Kormacvar, inheriting the genes of a Warmaster had allowed her to grow taller than most other Kormacvar of her age, and already she displayed an affinity for supernatural, psychic powers - rather much like Kholduitanus when he was but a mere spawn.
- Kholduitanus - Heh, well what do you know? Your mother's fallen asleep and I was beginning to get hungry.
- Nyakhairis - Make food float to you then, daddy!
- Kholduitanus - You're joking, right? It's my day off, I shouldn't have to exercise my mind on a day off.
- Nyakhairis - You're lazy then.
- Kholduitanus - Oh yeah? What about all of that schoolwork that you haven't done?
- Nyakhairis - ...I'm doing it later!
- Kholduitanus - Sure you are, heh. You know, I never went to school. I never had to. I was... "born" with all the knowledge that was ever necessary to me.
- Nyakhairis - I know that, daddy. I learned that at school. You come from Viniaris. That means the Floridarixis is my grandma!
- Kholduitanus - I'll have to take you to see her one day. She's very eager to meet you. You know, I still remember the days when me and your uncle play-fought in her forests. Heh, he was a better runner than I was, but I was stronger.
- Nyakhairis - I wish I could've met uncle...
- Kholduitanus - Heh, I'm sure he would have enjoyed your company. He was more popular than I was when we were younger. He got all the ladies, while I was too busy training and wanting to punch things.
- Nyakhairis - Well, you found mom, didn't you?
- Kholduitanus - Hmm, she found me. Despite being a Warmster, she's the one that shouts louder between us, heh.
- Nyakhairis - Brr. Mommy's scary when she's angry.
- Kholduitanus - You don't know the half of it, kid.
Nyakhairis looked at Kholduitanus with a humoured expression and let out a laugh, approaching his leg and resting her head against it as she kept watching the show that was being displayed on the holo-screen. With a smile, Kholduitanus reached out a hand and allowed his mind to influence the familiar surroundings of high-class furniture and rich architecture; from what could be called the equivalent of a kitchen, a canister containing a liquid substance, alcoholic in nature, flew from where it was perched and approached the Warmaster's hand at an impressive velocity - the canister sped beyond Kholduitanus' grasp and flew past the holo-screen, before vanishing from sight as it penetrated the material of the colossal window behind the virtual system that overlooked the lower levels of the city. Kholduitanus' eyes widened and turned to Nyakhairis while Nerteiaris stirred in his arms.
- Kholduitanus - You didn't see that.
- Nyakhairis - Hihihi. Okay.
- Nerteiaris - Hmm? W-What's going on? What was that noise?
- Kholduitanus - I-It was nothing, dear.
- Nyakhairis - Daddy broke a can and made a hole through the window!
- Nerteiaris - Hmm? ...Again?
- Kholduitanus - ...N-Nyakhairis hasn't been doing her homework.
- Nerteiaris - She hasn't?
- Nyakhairis - N-ngh!
Kholduitanus chuckled as he stood, carrying Nerteiaris for a moment before she readjusted herself and stood on her own two feet, passing a quick kiss to her husband as he set her down onto the floor. Nerteiaris glanced towards Nyakhairis for a moment with an amused grin before she retreated into the kitchen swiftly, leaving the father and daughter of this nuclear Kormacvar family to themselves as she went to quench her hungering belly. Kholduitanus looked back towards Nyakhairis and stuck out his tongue in a teasing manner, folding his arms and chuckling with a confident tone. Nyakhairis giggled and returned the gesture playfully, although as he did Kholduitanus' chuckling slowly ceased and he looked towards the portal device that functioned as the front door - he could feel something. A despicable, unwelcome aura that approached swiftly, causing a fragment of his agitation to surface. He turned to Nyakhairis after a moment and spoke, his tone demanding authority.
- Kholduitanus - Nyakhairis, I want you to go to your room and do your homework.
- Nyakhairis - But, daddy--
- Kholduitanus - No 'buts', Nyakhairis. Do as your father tells you.
- Nyakhairis - Aww... okay daddy...
With a disappointed and saddened expression on her face, Nyakhairis left Kholduitanus' sight as she made a slow, reluctant trek towards her private chambers, although she looked back at her father with pitiful eyes as she walked. Kholduitanus groaned with a loud exhale, clear in his breath that he did not want what was bound to happen next, although he persisted and approached the portal machine. After several minutes, the machine allowed itself to activate while Kholduitanus stood in front of it with his two arms folded, and an unimpressed, irritated display written across his face. Stepping out from the gateway of white and blue light that was generated by the machine was a Kormacvar, somewhat hunched over and followed by a pair of Caretakers - the Emperor Kaius had grown ugly and disfigured after he had abandoned his prime, with wrinkles and sagging flesh evident across his bodily features, and his own form had been growing weaker and more fragile.
As the Emperor looked into his Warmaster's eyes, he could see the anger and rage that dwelled behind them, and he could easily identify Kholduitanus' breathing pattern as being that which he undertakes when stressed or frustrated. A dissatisfied frown came from the Emperor's lips and he groaned with his own agitation in his voice, while Kholduitanus continued to tower over Kaius with crossed arms and an upright stance - he despised the man with great prejudice, considering him selfish and unkind, although he was still his sovereign and the one who had funded his own creation. While he wished with all of the power he could muster to not admit it, he knew that in some twisted, technical way, the Emperor filled the niche of a father. And Kaius grew intolerant for 'children' that would forsake his blessings.
- Kholduitanus - Emperor Kaius. I was not expecting your attendance to my home today. Your presence is... unexpected, to say the least.
- Kaius - Do not try and hide your annoyance Kholduitanus, you are a terrible liar. Do not forget who it is that leads this Empire and who it is that handles your leash. If it was not for me, you would not be having this day off, do you understand?
- Kholduitanus - ...Yes, my Emperor. I apologize for any inconvenience I may have given you with my attitude.
- Kaius - Good, disobedience will not be tolerated, so you had better shape up. Hmph. I am here with an urgent matter and you just so happen to be the only one capable of fulfilling it, what with you being an... expert at whatever it is that you do.
- Kholduitanus - I must ask that you take a seat in the living room, my Emperor, while I must depart for several minutes before I shall return and hear out the briefing in full.
- Kaius - What? Why are you departing, where to?
- Kholduitanus - So I can go to the kitchen and tell my beloved wife that we have a... guest.
The Warmaster gestured with a shift of his head towards the levitating furniture in the living room and wasted not another breath in the Emperor's presence, swiftly turning his back towards Kaius and striding towards the kitchen without a second thought. The Emperor grunted and approached the furniture, allowing himself to take a seat and wait for several minutes, albeit impatiently, for Kholduitanus' return - it would take a full ten minutes before the Warmaster made another appearance, sitting down where he was once before and deactivating the holographic display system so he could talk without causing himself to get distracted. Restraining his primal urges, Kholduitanus prepared himself to listen.
- Kaius - Now that you are here, your mission. Treachous individuals have emerged. Planets who claim to no longer belong to the Kormacvar Empire. I want you to eliminate them. The Grox are already ravaging our worlds, the last thing we need are traitors.
- Kholduitanus - Insurrectionists? I find this difficult to believe, although I would never... doubt your words. Where do the rebels stem, so I may sever them at their head?
- Kaius - At the southern outer colonies. They are under the leadership of a former governor of the sector. Make him a former living being.
Kholduitanus' brow lowered and his eyes became unfocused, looking away and diverting his attention towards the floor. He felt a chill run down his spine at least thrice as the thoughts of Kormacvar soldiers being torn apart in his hands sprung to mind and he bared his teeth, gritting them closely together as he held back crude, ruinous insults and vulgar curses. Throughout the Warmaster's lifespan and service within the elite military ran by the Kormacvar government, he had not once encountered a desire or necessity to terminate fellow members of his kind, and as his consciousness dwelled ever more on the subject, he could feel the depths of his stomach churning and contorting in an uneasy, sickening manner. He felt filthy, and what's more, Kholduitanus could feel a voice at the back of his mind telling him the assignment was, in some way or another, wrong.
- Kholduitanus - ...Must it be me to deal with them?
- Kaius - Yes. I don't have any other free forces in that region. They are all occupied with the Grox.
- Kholduitanus - I was born to fight Grox, my Emperor... I have never killed a fellow Kormacvar before. Neither did my brother.
- Kaius - Warmasters have existed since before the Grox arrived. You were born to defend the Empire from all threats, no matter which. That includes other Kormacvar.
- Kholduitanus - ...I understand. I am guessing that this mission is urgent, so I will be departing tomorrow to accomplish it.
- Kaius - Report to my advisors once you're done. I will be...unavailable in the coming weeks.
- Kholduitanus - Unavailable?
- Kaius - Personal matters.
- Kholduitanus - Right. Is there anything else you wish for me to know?
- Kaius - No. This is your only task for the time being.
Kholduitanus nodded and stood to his feet, a solemn look overcoming his facial features as, inside, the thoughts ran constantly in a cycle. The conditions of the mission regarded not aliens, which Kholduitanus had grown so used to fighting, but his own people, whom he had undertaken a sworn oath to protect and defend at all costs - not just as a result of his pre-written duty as a Warmaster, but as a promise to the brother he lost that one tragic day. He exhaled a quiet sigh, the Emperor too aged and self-involved to have heard it, and said not another word to his ruler due to not wanting to further their interaction for more than what was necessary. He had already felt it an insult that the decrepid old man would intrude on the one day that he would be allowed at least some solace from fighting and time with the family he had fought to raise.
- Kaius - You are dismissed.
- Kholduitanus - ...You may find your own way out, my Emperor.
Emperor Kaius, with assistance from his Caretaker accomplices, stood and walked across the apartment towards the portal gateway before walking through it and disappearing from Kholduitanus' sight, with the machinery deactivating shortly afterward, having no more use for it being online. With the Emperor having disappeared into the gateway's light, Kholduitanus was left isolated and alone within the living room, struggling to restrain himself as he had to watch the insidious ruler depart from his residence. His powerful fists clenched and a fiery aura radiating from his toned, muscular body, Kholduitanus found himself almost incapable of restraining the overwhelming, insatiable urge within him to strike out and destroy something, as the sealed parts of his mentality always had done. Almost.
He released his grip and sat down, his aura calming and soon dissipating into the air until it was gone completely from sight. A hand placed against his brow and covering his eyes, Kholduitanus groaned, clear frustration in his angered, provoked breath, and he attempted, unsuccessfully, to place his thoughts elsewhere, outside of the mission he had sworn to take up. Soon, he would fall asleep as his sight diverted itself to the city beyond his window, shining and glimmering like jewels as the magnificent sun sank beyond the industrial horizon.
God of Death
The sky burned with a fiery, orange tinge as the sun sank beneath the horizon, setting as the day transitioned gradually into night. The world reflected its nature as a southern colony befittingly, as the heat and otherwise tropical environment of this world would have one believe - a world that had managed to maintain a balance between industrial, urbanized settlements that consisted of residental centers and military facilities, and rural outposts that focused on agricultural matters such as tending to the Kormacvar analogue of cattle and providing support for the thriving, alien ecology.
The titanic battleship, the Mayarinaris, found itself incapable of penetrating the firmly-established territory of the insurgency without practically sacrificing its stealth capability. In its stead, to ensure that the rebellion would crumble and prevent the spread of insurrection throughout the rest of the Empire's sphere of influence, an advanced, highly-complex chameleon vessel had been launched into enemy territory, with the reality-warping engines of the craft allowing it to remain undetected to a majority of even the most potent security systems that the Kormacvar utilized, manipulating spacetime with unfaultering efficiency. The stealth craft penetrated the atmosphere of the capital world of the rebels with little difficulty, although the pilot of the craft had refused to activate the anti-kinetic bubble energy field that would have otherwise shielded the ship from being subjected to the immense amount of pressure that came with entering the atmosphere of any world, as well as instead activating the craft's on board self-termination protocols. It would take minutes before the alloys of the craft were stripped away from the chassis, allowing the body to crumple and, eventually, implode upon itself in a series fantastical explosions that were unseen by the naked eyes of the residing populace.
To the receptors of the collection of artificial intelligences that maintained a significant hand in the sector's security, this was but mere debris burning up in the atmosphere - of little significance to the operations of the insurgent organization. To the pilot of the terminated craft, this was the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the primary headquarters of the splinter group, his presence masked by the explosion of his sacrificial chariot. The Warmaster felt the hot winds flow past his impressively advanced, armoured form as he made his descent towards the crown settlement that happened to house the political residence and office of the rogue governor of the sector, the head that handled the activities of the sector's sphere. In a matter of moments, although to the Kormacvar it felt like prolonged hours, his body collapsed within the walls that had been designed to restrain imperial militia to the outskirts of the settlement, penetrating through the defenses of the reinforced city via aerial insertion.
The descent concluded with a kinetic wave of energy and force that rocked neighbouring streets and the birth of a steaming, boiling crater in the center of a once-commercial sect of the city that had since been barricaded and fortified as per the takeover of the rebel militia. Heavily-armoured anti-personnel and anti-air vehicles were thrown from their positions while infantry were crushed in midair from the generation of momentum caused by the Warmaster's insertion, their bodies oppressed and ruined with sudden, bone-crushing power. Largely unaffected by the descent and its aftermath and ascending from the steaming, burning wreckage of a crater, the Kormacvar Warmaster ascended into view, gazing upon the premature destruction he had wrought with but his mere arrival. His blazing heart sank deeper into his powerful chest as his eyes met with the sight of bloody splatters and ruined equipment that had been scattered across the terrain.
Those that had survived the initial combination of assault and arrival Kholduitanus' part slowly began to muster their strength and raise themselves, or at least their weapons, in the Warmaster's direction, yet none of their fingers met with the trigger. The mere sight of the Warmaster broke their spirits, not just those of the Kormacvar present, but various aliens of all shapes and sizes, all races from protectorates under the Kormacvar Empire. They stared at the imposing warrior, feebly aiming their weapons, but none of them could gather the courage or reasoning within them to fire. The Empire had sent no one but the Warmaster after them - a cultural and martial icon of strength, power, and death.
- Kholduitanus - What are you waiting for...? Fire! Fire! Do it, come on! I'm here, in front of you! Why don't you fight?!
Kholduitanus bellowed and roared towards the cowardly soldiers, the desiring the responsibility of firing the first shot to fall upon someone other than he. He was designed at the most minute aspect of the genetic scale to be a reaper of havoc and a bringer of bloodshed, as his Emperor had wanted, yet the Warmaster had never once contemplated the idea of murdering the people that he had once inspired and defended with his life. Even now, the words of his fallen brother rung in his head at the volume of a bell, arguing that whatever he was considering was, indeed, wrong. Instead of initiating the inevitable bout of conflict Kholduitanus walked onward, glancing at his enemies, as he made his approach towards the residence of the sector governor.
As Kholduitanus made his way through the soldiers to approach the governor's residence, one of the alien soldiers gulped in acceptance of their fate and pulled the trigger of its energy blaster, firing a ray of searing light at the huge Kormacvar. In the alien's mind, if they were to die, it would have preferred a swift death over having to wait any longer for the Warmaster to act against it. Kholduitanus felt the beam collide with the absorption field generated centimeters from the alloys of his armour, leaving barely a scratch against the warrior's disciplined form, and spread his colossal arms without further hesitation. His tendons engulfed in conflagerations of psychic fire, the alien infantry were launched from their feet and their armour and flesh was incinerated as Kholduitanus threw a pulse of burning kinetic energy from his physiology; those that were not reduced to ashed died on impact with surrounding debris as their bones shattered and the heavy vehicles that had arrived at the scene fared little better.
His slow stride swiftly became a sprint, his hands stained with the blood of those whom he thought of as innocents. Now that the violence had began, it could not stop; the Warmaster was gaining momentum as his rush took him towards a fortified position consisting of heavy-armed, elite infantry and their mobilized support in the form of weaponized vehicles and mobile turrets. The soldiers fired their weapons in anticipation for the Warmaster, their vehicles and turrets unleashing all of their power as the demigod of a Kormacvar approached. Even the eldest and most experienced of these soldiers, veterans of years of war, were visibly panicking with each step Kholduitanus took. It was a terror that the Kormacvar demigod could identify due to his enhanced senses, yet he felt that even if he did not have them, he would have felt their horror nonetheless.
The Warmaster threw his fist, coated with a fire of garnet, through the several-inches thick sheets of armour that shielded one of the vehicles and swung his arm, launching the vehicle at several members of infantry, resulting in them either getting battered away or crushed beneath of the weight of the improvised weapon. Seconds later, Kholduitanus released his grasp on the vehicle and threw it towards a set of turrents, causing an explosion that resulted in more soldiers being slaughtered. He could feel their blood soaking his scales and armour, the essence of those he had once promised to protect at all costs, as they were mercilessly slaughtered and reduced to less than corpses by his attacks, with the mere mortals incapable of dealing so much as a dent against the Warmaster's relentless form.
Those who had survived the initial assault either feared for their safety and became too afraid of retaliating against the Warmaster's wrath, or had somehow clasped enough of their rationality to not react in violence, or had outright dropped their equipment and ran away from the bloodied field of battle in a feeble attempt at saving their own lives. Little did they know that, however, the Warmaster, a troubled expression worn across his face, did not pursue them. While he looked down at the inferior beings at his feet with a look that expressed pity, within he felt little more than utter contempt and shame for the actions he had been undertaking. If he could avoid furthering them, he would. Soon, the section of the city he had landed within was ignited with fierce flames born from the explosions of the militia's technological assets.
Kholduitanus continued trekking towards the governor's residence, stepping over puddles of blood, remnants of corpses and scraps of burning material. As undesirable as it was, he still had an objective to fulfill and a reputation to maintain amongst the Empire's government; he would not allow a mere insurrectionist movement to ruin and topple the position he was born and designed for, even if it meant spilling their blood without a second thought.
Another, significantly larger barricade stood in waiting for the Warmaster. A combination of Kormacvar and their client races, serving as elite infantry, observed the tyrannical warrior approaching; an inferno raged at his back, his eyes illuminated with the light of whightened, ghostly pupils and burning scelea. Wherever he trod, embers were unleashed from the dirt, and the landscape was ignited with devastation and carnage, much like the eyes of the Warmaster. Doubt washed over the minds of the elites - they were fully aware that they were opposing a force of nature, an inevitable demise - and yet they stood firm in the path of the demon. Aiming their weapons, advanced pieces of military hardware, they unleashed a hail of energy bursts and bullets at Kholduitanus' direction, battering his anti-kinetic force shielding or bouncing off his Warmaster-variant combat armour. Victory was beyond their grasps, out of their reach.
They had all realized that they were already dead the very moment Kholduitanus set a foot upon their planet.
- Soldier 1 - Volzara help us all...
- Soldier 2 - Why did they send the Warmaster? Does the Emperor hate us that much?
- Soldier 3 - Hold the line... J-Just... h-hold the line!
- Kholduitanus - Those who live this day are cowards, and those who die are brave men. But whether you are a coward or a brave warrior, you have all committed the crime of betraying your Emperor and your Empire! You have spat in the face of the Kormacvar cause! Would you rather die and regain what dignity you have left, or left to live in shame like the scum you are?
Several Kormacvar warriors charged forward, their ancient and outdated vibroblades grasped tightly in hand, and lunged at the direction of their former-commander and leader, merely awaiting their imminent slaughter before it was granted unto them by Kholduitanus, tearing them apart and crushing them into submission with his bare, bloodied hands. The sound of armour and bone surrendering to Kholduitanus' onslaught of pressure application could be heard from the disfigured forms of the Kormacvar soldiers, the remains of their corpses dropping to the ground as the Warmaster had finished with them and turned his gaze towards the rest of the barricade.
Kholduitanus did not turn, merely stopping in his tracks, as he felt the last round of an exhausted energy pistol collide with his armoured back, charring a mere miniscule fragment of his armour. Behind the Warmaster a dying soldier - the designated rebel commander of the unit that Kholduitanus had shattered prior, who glanced at the god of death with lazy, tired eyes. Floored against the debris and blood dripping from his maw, the soldier spoke in a faint voice that only Kholduitanus' enhanced hearing could detect.
- Commander - I'd rather live in shame... than serve an Emperor who kills his own people... to save his own hide...
He moved on. While the Warmaster would have otherwise revelled in the conflict he had wrought, this day felt different to all of the others. This assignment struck him as something obscure and wrong. Clenching his fists and meeting eyes with the remnants of the elite guard, Kholduitanus threw his fists forward, sending a barrage of telekinetic pulses through the air that collided with his opposition, rupturing their bodies and crushing their bones while shattering their armoured defenses like glass in a single, swift and effortless attempt. Burning immaterial forces rushed through his veins like blood, agitating his heart like a storm. Disposing of the resistance he faced to attain entry to the sector governor's colossal residence, Kholduitanus glanced upward, his eyes examining and in turn acknowledging the scale of the structure; a skyscraper that stood amongst the clouds, a political monument constructed of advanced Kormacvar alloys and materials, built through complex methods and alien structural and integral designs.
Telepathic energies integrated with the aura that radiated from his form, the Warmaster gazed to the sky with an unnerved, agitated face, before allowing his body to free itself from the gravitic attraction of the world. He shared the sky with the local insurgency's aerial-maneuverability forces, largely consisting of automated Kormacvar drones. The robotic defenses did not fear the Warmaster as their flesh and blood masters did, for fear was absent from their programming, and they fired their guns at the imposing Kormacvar's direction in futile attempts to stall him or initiate a takedown.
The Warmaster sustained minimal amounts of damage, most of it absorbed and afflicted by either his combat outfit or his passive anti-kinetic field of energy. The drones were but simple and basic pseudo-creatures, the artificial intelligence that drove their metallic bodies analogous to that of domesticated avians - they did not share a level of complex sapience that would identify them as equal to their organic constructors. They did not possess willpower or a concept of self, allowing them to be easily overcome and relieved of their own motion control by Kholduitanus' efforts - they were enveloped in his psychic influence and either thrown from his path or launched into one another, resulting in a series of violent, powerful explosions that showered the streets below with shrapnel and burning debris.
The alien glass that divided the office from the expanse of clouds and sky surrounding the structure's peak shattered with ease, Kholduitanus' mass launching through the multi-layer particle-resistent pane as the automated defenses continued to track his war path relentlessly while his mastery over the manipulation of the capabilities and laws of Essence made swift work of the defensive nature of the window. Standing within the confines of the office were elite soldiers, the governor's last line of protection, whom fired their weapons at the Warmaster simultaneously. Several of the guard stood in a circular position, with its center being occupied by a Kormacvar adorning scales of snowy white, her eyes widened in disbelief as she gazed upon the destructive potency of her once-was defender. Governor Minarixis, the head of command over all insurgent militia and rebel civilian traffic within the sector. She watched as the growling, snarling beast soaked up a large extent of the damage inflicted by her guard and then proceed to leap forward into the defensive unit, tearing them and their equipment apart mercilessly with little more than thoughts, their nervous systems screaming as their organs either imploded or exploded.
The scene was horrifying, with limbs and corpses being thrown aside by the governor's guards' own psychic abilities - none as potent as those of Kholduitanus, however - and attempted to stagger the beast with a combined assault of elemental bursts and pulses, to little effect. Minarixis arose from her desk and twitched as she watched her men, loyal and supportive of her cause, become reduced to mince meat before her very eyes.
- Minarixis - And you ask why we left Pertannar's rule. This is what he does to our people! Let us be slaughtered by enemies we can't fight against!
- Kholduitanus - I wasn't asking! I am merely following my orders; you have betrayed the Empire and that means you are the enemy of my Emperor, my Empire, the Kormacvar, and myself!
- Minarixis - I expected more of the Warmaster. I thought you were a protector of our people... yet now I can see you're made of the same poison as the Emperor. Letting thousands of Kormacvar die without mercy.
- Kholduitanus - I would never let my people die if I could help it! I have never left any worlds under the Kormacvar's sovereignty to fend for themselves in the face of the Grox, the Empire would not allow it!
- Minarixis - But that's exactly what your Emperor does. Don't pretend you don't know about it!
- Kholduitanus - Hmph! What in Volzara's name are you talking about, rebel? You have guts if you think you can try stalling a Warmaster, and soon enough I'll see just how much guts you have!
- Minarixis - I'm talking about how entire sectors were neglected so we can used as bait and guinea pigs for the Grox! How we've been isolated of importation and military protection, and how your vile government has been using us as targets for superweapon experiments!
- Kholduitanus - You must be outright insane if you think the Empire would allow for such ungodly operations! What you speak of goes against everything the Empire, and the Kormacvar, stand for! It's an impossibility!
- Minarixis - ...Are you really ignorant to what your Empire has been doing? Read my mind, read my logs, and try to say I'm not speaking the truth.
The slaughter ceased, at least temporarily. The guards took several steps back as the unpredictable Warmaster approached the governor with a lowered brow and an unimpressed, unconvinced display upon his face. He moved with hesitation, yet he did not fear her or her vanguard, for they could not hope to even lay a scratch upon the Warmaster's intimidating, bloodied frame. The Kormacvar governor looked towards Kholduitanus, his eyes specifically, and her expression depicted a cold, dead seriousness, as did the tone of her voice. His presence was terrifying to say the least but she remained adamant, refusing to step back like her guard had done. The elites in question kept their hands upon their weapons, which in turn were primed, and had the barrels aimed pre-emptively at Kholduitanus.
Stretching an arm, the Warmaster coiled his powerful, blood-soaked fingertips around the governor's neck, constricting her throat and stalling her airways before proceeding to raise both his limb and her into the air with sheer strength - nothing that required much effort on Kholduitanus' part. Closing his eyes and allowing himself to calm so that he may focus, the section of his grey matter that maintained the flow of memories and experiences began to frolic and sting as the images stored within Minarixis' brain stirred and flowed through her skin and into his brain cells. Her psychology leaked into his before swiftly merging, connecting the mere, fragile mortal to the fractured, wrathful mind of the one she and others called a deity.
A god of death.
While it had felt like hours, the exchange of thoughts and memories lasted only for a mere moment in truth. The implementation of the conscription policy across entire worlds, the horrifying absence of Imperial military presence and the condemned mustering what assets they could find, the nightmarish machinations looming out of the dark to devour entire worlds within their tyrannical maw. The governor dropped to the floor as the Warmaster's monstrous grasp released itself, with Kholduitanus taking a step back, contemplating the flurry of images that had rushed through his head, attempting to view them in reverse for a moment in an effort to assure that what he had seen had been real and not just imaginary or knockback from the telepathic synthesis process.
- Kholduitanus - What... What is this? This mustn't be true! False memories, lies! This cannot be the truth!
- Minarixis - Cough.. eugh... no such things as false memories exist, Warmaster. Your Emperor is a butcher, but he doesn't do the butchering himself. He sends others, like you, to do it.
- Kholduitanus - ... That bastard! Tsarkhuilaius did not want this... Any of it! What in Volzara's name does Kaius think he is doing?!
- Minarixis - Saving his own hide while innocents die, that's what.
- Kholduitanus - Damn him! ... When did I allow this to happen? What the hell... am I doing?
Kholduitanus' hand met his forehead, growling with bared teeth as the utterly repulsive imagery of destruction rang through his mind in consistent, seemingly-unending cycles. Entire worlds burned before his eyes, billions upon billions of lives reduced to ash and dust at the metallic, unfeeling tendrils of the Grox, planets torn apart by by Kormacvar gravity-manipulation weaponry so as to shatter both Grox infantry - an otherwise infinite resource - and render the world unfit for habitability, an aspect that mattered little to the Grox. Kholduitanus and other Kormacvar militants who had been assigned to the Grox knew of their tactics, the strategy they applied to warfare, thus watching entire fleets betray their charges and set their own colonies aflame was a painful and perhaps pointless experience Kholduitanus' psyche had to endure. The Kormacvar government were not ridding the Grox of assets, but rather depriving themselves of "unnecessary" supply destinations, so that resources would not have to extend beyond the interim and core worlds. The mere idea of the Kormacvar adopting a Grox-derived philosophy was... unthinkable.
It was only the sound of explosions and synchronized gunfire that stirred Kholduitanus from his paralyzed state. The sky beyond the fractured window burned as uncountable Kormacvar aerial automatons were torn apart and ripped to shreds, beams and stupendous rays of energy descending from orbit to incinerate the little protection from above that the establishment had in place. The Warmaster's skin crawled as he returned to reality, as if he had awoken from a nightmare only to arrive in the middle of one, and protocols raced through his synapses; the Grox had managed to penetrate the sector-wide defenses and initiated a charge for the core of the rebellion, seemingly aware of the lack of incoming reinforcements on part of the Empire.
- Alarm - Alert! Grox forces detected on the surface and in orbit! Conqrix pods currectly being deployed!
- Minarixis - Gods, not now...
- Kholduitanus - Damnation! Governor, order your soldiers to secure shelter and evacuate as many as you can, I'll stay behind and secure a control point so the Grox don't follow.
- Minarixis - ...Y-you will help us?
- Kholduitanus - It is my duty as a Warmaster to fight... no, break the enemies of the Kormacvar Empire. You are no danger to the Kormacvar people as of yet and, if you don't mind me saying... the Grox are much more significant than you are.
- Minarixis - ...I'm sorry for my harsh words. Good luck, Warmaster.
- Kholduitanus - No, I am the one who must apologize. You and your men are brave... and I was a fool to think that you were a threat to the Empire. Now, get the hell out of here!
Minarixis nodded, with both her and the guards that had accompanied her promptly dismissing themselves from the premises so that evacuation measures could be prepared and, if Kholduitanus succeeded, initiated. Across the surface, Conqrix war machines dominated the battlefield, legions of Dronox colliding with the militia that had been wracked by the unstoppable Warmaster just minutes prior. However, Kholduitanus' highly evolved and augmented eyes saw little sign of the presence of a Commander, although this was remedied by the sheer number of mechanical, insectoid infantry that poured unto the city like rain. Just as he had done to infiltrate the city's walls, Kholduitanus leaped, his form throwing itself from the window while ethereal energies amassed around himself. Seconds later, the base of the Kormacvar skyscraper was met with a crater of considerable depth and size, with the cybernetic innards of Dronox forces being flung across the locale while those that had initially survived were launched from their positions and collided with the surrounding environment, their metallic shells breaking under the intense pressure and momentum.
Robotic hisses followed as the Conqrix that had been slain were swiftly replaced, and Kholduitanus did not even need to lift his head to know that he had been surrounded; Insectrox, cybernetic behemoths, rushed forward and mercilessly skewered the rebel Kormacvar soldiers with immense blades, fashioned into the shape of scythes. Behind them and maneuvering around their feet, Mites, vile pseudo-creatures with clawed, mechanical fists in place of a tail, most of which clenching upon a spherical object - Conqrix antimatter grenades. They were the suicide bombers of the Conqrix infantry, with their minute size and adept maneuverability making them perfectly structured for the task. As soon as his eyes laid themselves upon them, Kholduitanus felt the limbs and mandibles of the Mites digging through his impenetrable armour while he made desparate attempts to focus his own energies, fearing the potency of the gadgetry they held so firmly within their fists.
His anti-kinetic energy barrier collapsed, somehow enduring the strain of explosive antimatter, perhaps by sheer fortune, although as consequence the Warmaster was launched from his crater and collided into the several-inches-thick armour of an Insectrox juggernaut. Its scythes swung in the Kormacvar's direction with terrifying, horizontal accurate, aiming primarily to dislodge his torso from his waist, although the attempt ceased only seconds after its initiation as Kholduitanus held the blades in his own scarred, bloodied palms. Conqrix groaned and fizzled as they were thrown away from Kholduitanus' position, the Insectrox's limp body serving as a club until its arms were ripped from the sockets, at which point the behemoth was launched beyond the view of the Warmaster as well as any other soldier currently fighting upon the field. Scanflies - a ruthless analogue to the Kormacvar's own aerial drones - swooped from above and made a descent towards Kholduitanus, their powerful laser weaponry searing through the multi-alloy floor at his feet, causing it to bubble and frothe.
Thin streams of incineration followed his feet as he leaped backwards, burning away the ground he had stood upon just mere moments ago, and with a dosage of robotic precision, against the armour of the Kormacvar demigod. Initially withstanding much of the concentrated, fiery terror shot in his direction, he could not help but pull his head back and part his magnificent jaws to unleash a prolonged, agonizing roar, blood gushing from between his teeth. In swift response, he allowed his foot to step forward, and soon fire enveloped his godlike body; Essence, drawn from the very core fibers of his immense being, allowed for the formation of a barrier of psychic energies to formulate and shape itself before Kholduitanus' very eyes, initiating a vital reversal as the intense beams of searing energy were deflected by the wall of psionic power, cutting through Conqrix soldiers, including the Scanflies, to fall into heaps of burning, singed scraps. Once he had secured at least a moment to capture breath, the Warmaster eyed the wound that had successfully pierced through his thick flesh and tendons through to the opposite side, hot steam radiating from the tunnel of charred flesh, although the loss of blood was not much of a worry as Kholduitanus recognized the wound as having been cauterized as a side effect of the Scanflies' laser-oriented assault.
Momentarily oblivious to the colossal shadow that loomed over him from his rear.
The Scavenger - an automated construct that towered over the even the largest of the mobile war machines that the Kormacvar had dispatched as well as all of the other Conqrix militia present - lifted its foot and proceeded to engage within a descent, its appendage outsizing the Kormacvar demigod in length and width, aiming to stomp Kholduitanus beneath its weight and flatten him into little more than paste, a sight that Kholduitanus himself, as well as many Kormacvar veterans, was unfortunately accustomed to. The immense pressure stacked atop of Kholduitanus' spine, his armour beginning to surrender as it cracked and strained beneath the crushing limb, all the while Kholduitanus' eyes met with various smaller Conqrix combat units, Mites, that happened to have crawled into his visual range, their antimatter explosives primed and ready to obliterate both the Warmaster and any pitiful soldier that made the futile attempt of interrupting their assault.
The heat bothered him, the heat of the struggle to topple the colossus that so fervently tried to splatter him beneath itself, yet the thoughts of him being reduced to little more than a puddle of mangled guts and blood were not present within his searing mind; his synapses burned, each and every crevice of his grey matter flooded with a scorching rage. It was not fear that troubled the giant, but resistance. As the segments that drove Kholduitanus' rationale and constraint were overwhelmed by an insatiable lust - a monstrous hunger for blood - steam erupted from each and every nerve, every vein, that stretched across the demigod's body, his adrenaline becoming magma as it circulated through his systems and flowed through his volcanic heart. Soon, after the Kormacvar's panic had subsided, the Scavenger's optics glanced towards the bug beneath its crushing foot, watching as its footing was gradually lost, its balance faultering and causing it to wobble in desparation, while Kholduitanus, his eyes alight with a white, searing glow and his entire form encompassed within a coat of celestial flame, lifted the mechanical juggernaut's foot above his head. The appendage grasped tightly between his palms, Kholduitanus allowed another, far more terrifying roar to escape his bloody maw as he swung his entire body in a circular pattern, his godly mass shifting wildly.
The Scavenger was thrown from its position and was now travelling at terminal velocity, its armoured form beginning to crumple under the squeeze enforced by the speed, and its on board computers struggled to maintain themselves as the circles Kholduitanus had been swinging the gargantuan war machine within disabled its capability to identify and distinguish directions. Its hide smashed lesser Conqrix much like insects, crunching their mechanical bodies into utter mucilage, before allowing the beast to escape his grasp and having it fly across the battlefield in a manner reminescent of a missile, gliding through its own infantry, a trail of destruction following its passage, before coming to a devastating stop - a horde of Mites and various infestation pods, the means that the Conqrix primarily use for invasion. The gleaming eyes of the Warmaster watched as the city became illuminated with the detonation of antimatter and nuclear charges, the apocalyptic fires engulfing the Grox menace while Kormacvar, soldiers and citizens alike, glanced towards their "saviour" not with gratitude and splendour, but with terror and dread.
The rebels advanced, sniping Scanflies from the sky and battering the Dronox with missiles. Kormacvar vessels brought hellfire upon both enemy ships and their ground forces, obliterating Conqrix infestation pods with swift, precise orbital bombardments that involved explosives raining upon the enemy infantry. Deep, jittering breaths were all that Kholduitanus could utter as the primal fire of barbarity that shrouded his form began to wane, although any Conqrix that retained the audacity to approach him were quickly rendered into unusable pieces by the Warmaster's punches, his fists engulfed in Essence. The wound that had been afflicted to his shoulder writhed and squirmed as his flesh had finally began the process of mending itself with genetically-engineered biological regenerative procedures.
Soon, the drone legions were reduced to a far more manageable number, with straggling Conqrix shot on sight by rebel soldiers while infestation pods were planted and detonated with nuclear grenades. Kormacvar bodies littered the streets of the city, either stolen of their lives by the Grox or punished by Kholduitanus a mere hour or so earlier, with many corpses being wracked beyond a recognizeable state, if they were largely whole at all, although Conqrix militia were far more prevalent upon the death toll, with Dronox and Insectrox cadavers being swept away by repurposed Kormacvar automatons while shrapnel from exploded Scanflies and Scavengers were lodged into the sides of buildings and soldiers and would require more than a single day's effort to remove entirely. Kholduitanus, his spine and palms steaming still, observed the graveyard he had contributed to filling and groaned, muttering beneath his breath, exhausted.
- Kholduitanus - Argh... What have I done... Kaius! What sort of man would sacrifice his people to spare his own gutless hide from death... A coward! Nerteiaris, Nyakhairis... They need me...
- Soldier - Urm... m-mister Warmaster?
To the Warmaster's side was a Kormacvar trooper, his eyes gazing upon Kholduitanus with a combination of fear and awe. By the details of his face and his relative size by comparison to the other Kormacvar soldiers that were present, the man was considerably young, perhaps merely in his early 30s. Kholduitanus shifted his head in the direction of the trooper's voice, glancing down towards the soldier with widened, twitching eyes; he had so easily forgotten that many, if not a majority, of the people whom he had slaughtered this day were young, aspiring, and inexperienced men and women who once looked up to the Warmaster as their inspiration, as their parents had done for both Kholduitanus and the late Tsarkhuilaius. There were so few people nowadays that would remember the days where two Warmasters reigned over the galaxy and defended its peoples from the likes of the Grox.
And Kholduitanus had held a hand in butchering them.
- Kholduitanus - ... Soldier. Young man.
- Soldier - I-I just wanted to say... t-thank you... f-for helping us.
- Kholduitanus - ... It's my job, soldier. To endure the bad side of the war so that others don't have to. So that I can protect you. Defend you... I... I'm sor--
- Soldier - And I'm v-very glad to have you d-doing so, sir.
- Commander - Hey! Recruit! Leave the warmaster alone and come over help us with the bodies already!
- Soldier - I-I'm coming, sir!
The young soldier bowed his head in respect to Kholduitanus before swiftly shifting himself around and rushing to his comrades, who happened to have been assisting the automated Kormacvar clean-up drones in clearing the streets of the many thousands of carcasses that swarmed the roads and sidewalks across the entire establishment. With another groan, Kholduitanus turned his head away from the chaos that had been wrought, and began to walk, each step more difficult to take than the last. He ignored the glaring, hollowed space within his shoulder as he searched his local surroundings for a means to get off-world, a way to return to the Mayarinaris as his initial craft had been reduced to ashes within the world's atmosphere, with the archaic battleship presiding beyond the rebels' territory. Growls and seething breaths were had as the memories gathered from the sector governor, Minarixis, sprang to his mind. Simultaneously, Kaius' own words during the briefing prior to the assignment rang within his head like a bell, combining with Minarixis' own to form a convoluted, even painful conglomeration of emotions. Kaius, in Kholduitanus' eyes, had betrayed his people, his Empire, and ultimately himself.
And the Warmaster would not stand for betrayal.
An Unwelcome Return
It had been two arduous days following the voyage to the insurrectionist world that lay upon the fringe of the receding empire of the Kormacvar; days spent in quiet for the Warmaster, stained with the bloodied remnants of innocent lives upon his power-armour, chose to retain himself within his personal quarters throughout, isolating himself from any possible opportunity for conversation - the incident, he considered, did not require any form of conversation for not only he, but his crewmates, knew the implications of such. Kholduitanus was not lost on the irony that he had been sent into insurrectionist territory to massacre rebels, only to conclude his failed venture with saving rebels from the murderous, bloodthirsty likes of the cold and uncaring Grox. The thoughts that pained the Warmaster most were not the memories of those screaming soldiers and warriors who had given their lives for a cause they felt was just, but that he had so swiftly and easily strayed from the promised path at a mere handwave of the Emperor.
The Emperor, he knew, would soon come to acknowledge the failure of the operation if he had not done so already and surely consequences, most certainly dire, would come to follow. The sun had already fell beyond the horizon of the capital world as Kholduitanus made an approach for the wide, polished tile steps that led to the towering apartment where he and his kin found their otherwise permanent residence, within the wealthiest sector of the richest region upon this world, having come to share the apartment building with the likes of veterans and other influential celebrities, most of which, yet not all, were Kormacvar. Followed by a pair of armed Kormacvar warriors from his personal militia detachment, equipped with hi-tech armour and weaponry just as Kholduitanus himself was, the Warmaster made a hasty ascent of the building to reach his living quarters, which resided at the highest floor; his comrades could bare witness to Kholduitanus having to restrain himself from outright sprinting through the extensive, hygenic and dimly-lit corridors so as to not perturb attention and draw it unto himself, although his breaths would remain heavy like bestial pants.
The entrance way that led into his home could not recognize the Warmaster's gene-key swift enough as the portal which would allow him to enter his home came to activate, and Kholduitanus, swiftly followed by his guardsmen, rushed into the flat without hesitation, although whispers were exchanged upon the comm-channels of the two guardsmen that followed their commander - concerns for him and his reputation, the actions he had committed upon the rebel world, although doubt for his leadership was not present; merely worry for the feelings of the man they had come to look up to since they were children. Kholduitanus bellowed his lungs throughout the apartment, requesting for the presence - or at least a response - of his beloved ones.
- Kholduitanus - Nerteiaris! Nyakhairis! ... Where are you? Answer me! ... Answer me!
Instead of any replies, the Warmaster was greeted to the sight of his living quarters in ruins. Furniture was torn apart, pieces of it scattered across the formerly clean floor, and blood was splattered across the walls, a clear sight that a battle had ensued. Only after a careful inspection would the Warmaster find his daughter, Nyakhairis, slumped against a wall with a pool of blood around her, a large cut on her neck visible from a distance. She had been dead for at least several minutes now. It was not the opened gash upon her throat that the Warmaster had seen first, but the cold, fish-eyed glare that the cadaver that was once his prized daughter gave to him across the room; her back against the wall and the emotionless expression upon her face shook the Warmaster to his very foundations, his fingers twitching as his legs gave way beneath his mass, dropping into a kneel as he could only stare back at Nyakhairis' cold form - other than the blood that poured down her front and onto the floor, one would think that, due to the nature of the wound being so surgical and clean, she could have been still alive.
The two guardsmen that had accompanied their Warmaster gasped prolonged, shocked breaths, their faces contorting into mixed expressions beneath their visors as their guard had been lowered, with comm-chatter immediately following the discovery of the scene; they discussed in swift, breathless words that the girl had died in such a manner as if to almost be intentionally positioned where she had met her demise. Kholduitanus, meanwhile, held a blank gaze, his jaws agape, while he could feel the strength he had carried with him throughout the decades of his life since the day of his conception be so suddenly and quickly drained from his muscles, tendons, and veins. His knees splashed some of the blood as he fell onto them.
- Kholduitanus - N... N-N... N-Nyakhairis... N-Nya, speak to me... Urgh, b-by Volzara... Oh, g-goddess...
At this moment, while the Warmaster was busy mourning over his dead daughter, shots were fired from the shadows of the apartment. Flechette-like projectiles hit and dug into the Kormacvar demigod's scales, and the soldiers behind him could quickly tell what was going on as tall, lanky figures made themselves visible. Dressed in a void black armor, sporting a vaguely humanoid form and having merely visors on their heads where their eyes were assumed to be, these entities were known across the military of the Empire as the "Suspicious Shadow Sect".
The Sect were composed of individuals who answered to the Emperor and only the Emperor, and even though they had existed for ages before Kholduitanus was even born, none was able to tell whether they were Kormacvar or an entirely different race. The Suspicious Shadows fired volleys of projectiles at the Warmaster to cover him with them, seemingly firing them out of their fingers as they emitted what sounded like hisses. The Warmaster roared, agonizing, heavy breaths escaping from between his jaws as he swiftly stood to his feet once more, reaching a muscular arm for the nearest item of domestic furniture - a table, one of its legs soaked by the bloody puddle at its feet - and flexed his wrist, launching it across the room towards the enigmatic, seemingly biomechanical entities that had invaded the premises of his residence; while initially allowing his capacity for those supernatural abilities he beheld to overflow in his drawn rage, he could swiftly feel his mighty crimson aura, which had radiated from his body for a mere moment, beginning to drain from him as his rationale did.
The Warmaster's guardsmen turned their weapons towards the Suspicious Shadows cautiously and hesitantly as they attacked their commander, although they were weary of both their surroundings - for this was the Warmaster's home that contained many, if not all, of his prized possessions - and the enemies that had so eagerly crawled out from the dark, reaching corners of the residence, having most likely laid in wait for the Warmaster's presence so as to strike in his prime moment of misery and unpleasant surprise.
- Kholduitanus - ... You... Y-You bastards! ... I'll... I-I'll rip you apart for this!
- Suspicious Shadow - The treacherous deserve no mercy.
Speaking in shrieking, hissing voices, likely designed to induce fear on their victims, the Shadows retaliated as they fired their bizarre weapons at the soldiers protecting the Warmaster, while the ones targeted by the table thrown at them merely swung their hands in a slashing motion, cutting it in half before they could be hit. Other Shadows extended appendages from their backs and proceeded to slam them against Kholduitanus, who felt them sting as if they were whips. The flechettes across his scales were draining him of his elemental energy, anti-essence weaponry restricted to the highest ranks of the Kormacvar Empire's military, and alongside the whipping he received, he could also feel one of them repeatedly delivering kicks to his head, his limbs bending and swinging as if it was made of rubber. One of the Warmaster's guardsmen were swiftly taken down by a blow to the head, piercing through the helmet he had worn and penetrating through his skull to render his face as little more than ruin, while the other soldier swiftly ducked for cover behind a wall, albeit with one of the alien flechettes digging into his shin, and aimed his carbine rifle with hasty preparation, firing upon the almost-elastic creatures with as much accuracy as he could come to muster.
The Warmaster growled as he struggled to bring forth the elemental capabilities that he would usually come to have utilized at moments such as these, such situations often calling for paranormal intervention of the most violent and dire calibre, although despite his powers having been somehow halted by the anti-Essence weaponry he was far from entirely defenseless; he was a Warmaster, a supersoldier designed and bred for both ranged and close-quarters combat, and the abilities extended not only to the fluctuations of his mind but also the tendons throughout his physical form. Gaining cuts and slashes from the whiplike assault, Kholduitanus mustered his strength to return the favour as he grasped ahold of one of the alien appendages attached to the Shadows and pulled it towards him, before proceeding to swivel his body in a circular motion and launch the Shadow attached to the appendage's end at its comrades.
A shriek came out of the mysterious entity as it collided with one of its own, causing both to crash against a nearby wall and die from the impact due to Kholduitanus' sheer physical power, while another one of them fell to the fire of his guardsman who was giving him backup. At the kitchen, another Suspicious Shadow made itself visible as it turned on the lights, revealing itself to be weaing a smightly more ornamented version of the others' pitch black armor, likely meaning it was a leader of some sort. And beneath its foot was none other than the Warmaster's wife, with the Shadow pressing his sole against the side of her head. Stepping over the fallen Shadows, with blood dripping from the lithe, thin yet deep cuts across his form and pulling some of the Essence-draining flechettes from his scarred flesh, Kholduitanus groaned as his regeneration refused to activate due to the halted development of his psychic powers, although his complaints were soon silenced as he saw the Shadow make use of his kitchen to make use of the hostage that was his wife, causing his blood to boil further than it had already done so when he had seen the state they had left his daughter in. His trusted guardsman, however, pulled the flechette out from his shin as he stumbled after his commander, to be met with the sight of the far more decorative Shadow.
- Soldier - S-Sir, t-that... T-That thing h-has...
- Kholduitanus - Be quiet! ... You do not think I cannot see it, too?! ... Grr, urgh... Get away from her!
- Nerteiaris - K-Khol... S-Stay... S-Stay back...
- Suspicious Shadow - Warmaster. The Emperor is ashamed of you. The Empire is ashamed of you. You have turned your back on us and joined forces with rabble.
- Kholduitanus - Turned my back... on the Empire? ... I defended innocent people whom the Empire turned its own back on! ... I could care less of the Emperor, if it were not the case that he abandoned those worlds to feed them to the Grox!
- Suspicious Shadow - You have failed your task as Warmaster. A new pair is already under production to replace you and the fallen Warmaster, Tsarkhuilaius. He will be remembered as a hero of us all, but you. You will be remembered as a traitor.
As he spoke, the Shadow pressed his foot further into Nerteiaris' head, and Kholduitanus could see what they had done to her. Slashes and holes were present across her scales as well as heavy bruises, implying they had shot her with the same weaponry they used against him. Even more, her clothing was in tatters, barely held together. She may have attempted to resist, but a mere Kormacvar, even a skilled one like her, would not be able to keep such dreaded assassins at bay on their own. It was not the taunting or the claims of treachery that drove Kholduitanus into his fierce rage, for he knew that the careless, authoritive figureheads that led the Empire would have twisted his actions and words against him as they had done so with many others, but the atrocities they had committed upon his family - the only people he could trust wholeheartedly - that brought him to the point of angered, maddened tears. He briefly looked down towards Nerteiaris, restrained beneath the Suspicious Shadow's foot, as salty tears mixed with the blood on his face, while his personal guard kept his eye and aim upon the decorated Shadow.
- Kholduitanus - ... N-Nerteiaris... I... I-I'm sorry...
- Nerteiaris - Khol... T-These bastards... T-They're monsters, n-not like you... Y-You, y-you always f-followed your orders... e-even if you d-didn't like them, if it meant... d-defending people... L-Like what T-Tsar... T-Tsar would have wanted... These f-fiends... T-They take pleasure in k-killing people... T-They don't c-care what's right or w-wrong... T-They... T-The Emperor l-lied to us, Khol... T-They lied to me, t-to you... t-to Nya...
- Kholduitanus - I won't let them take you! ... J-Just... Just hang in there for a moment while I think of something!
- Nerteiaris - ... K-Khol... W-Whatever h-happens... K-Keep defending people, k-keep fighting for them... Y-You can't save e-everyone, but... s-save as m-many... as you can...
- Suspicious Shadow - The only correct way is the will of Emperor Kaius. His ascension is at hand. The ones who turn their back on their leader will face the consequences.
Moving one hand and removing his foot from Nerteiaris' head, the Shadow commander's hand exploded in a burst of flechettes which were fired from his fingers at her skull with the power of a shotgun. The Warmaster watched as his wife's head was torn open by the shot, destroying her horns and skull spikes in the process. Watching as his beloved wife - the mother of his child and a former personal commandant that had led him, his brother, and their assigned forces into battle so many years ago - was reduced to a mere mess on the kitchen floor, her grey matter and fragments of her skull being launched upwards and sideways by the shot, the Warmaster was silent for a moment, his guardsman rendered speechless as he lowered his rifle. Bloodied tears dripping onto the floor, Kholduitanus looked up towards the Suspicious Shadow commander as he ripped another few flechettes out from his flesh and power-armour, and brought his hands together.
He cracked his knuckles several times over as his crazed stare met with the visored face of the Shadow commander.
- Kholduitanus - ... Urgh, hnngh, grrgh... Ack... Grr, t-tell me, you slithering bastard... Tell me what you meant by... ngh, t-the Emperor's... ascension.
- Suspicious Shadow - It matters not to you, traitor. You will die long before then.
- Kholduitanus - Is that right...? And what? ... You're going to kill me?
- Suspicious Shadow - Correct. Die, "Warmaster".
Launching itself from his spot, the Suspicious Shadow blasted its projectiles at Kholduitanus' direction as it raised its blade -like appendages to cut him into pieces. He had grown tired of talking by now. Gently shoving back the guardsman at his side, whom had lowered his weapon at the sight of the scene unfolding before his eyes, Kholduitanus stepped forward, red energy emanating from his fists as more blood began to dribble from the cuts and injuries across his form; while the flechettes had weakened his power, he had found the willpower to bring it forth and concentrate it, yet at the cost of further afflicting his wounds - the physical pain was only an illusion to him now, however, as the pain that thrived within the confines of his burning, assaulted heart struck him greater than any wound could now.
- Kholduitanus - ... You'll be dead before I let you TOUCH THE GROUND!
Clenching his fists as they appeared to burn with his spiritual energy, its colour crimson tainted with a piercing jet black, Kholduitanus stepped towards the Shadow as it made its armed descent at him and launched forward his flaming hands to meet with the ornamental, decorative armour the Shadow commander wore upon its person; punch was followed by punch as Kholduitanus' psychic-empowered form overflowed with energy, his arms winding up and dashing forward to punch the Shadow commander a dozen times a moment, showering the Shadow commander with an unrelenting assault barely comparable to baring the full force of a hundred automatic energy rifles being shot simultaneously repeatedly without pause, each impact causing the commander's armour to crack.
- Kholduitanus - Tsarkhuilaius... Nyakhairis... NERTEIARIS...!
The Suspicious Shadow screamed in agony as his armor was obliterated by the sheer ferocity of the Warmaster's blows, revealing an alien, sludge-like substance to be inhabiting the interior of the armor rather than a regular living being. The pained and dazzled enemy was thrown upwards by the blows, defenseless for whatever else Kholduitanus had planned for it. Winding up his arms once more, blood spitting from the wounds across his cheeks, neck, and torso, Kholduitanus launched both of his fists upwards once last time as his spiritual energy caused the hapless guardsmen behind him to fall onto his rear, with furniture and other ornaments and possessions around the residence being thrown from where they had been positioned and knocked away as overwhelming power uncontrollably rushed from the Warmaster's form. Kholduitanus could feel the black tar substance bathing his hands as his fists shot upwards towards the Shadow commander and penetrated through the armour of his chest, burying his fists within the enigmatic, alien creature that had taken on Kormacvar as it shape but not as its persona. Pained hisses came out of the assassin as his life came to a quick and humiliating end, his body slumping down like a ragdoll and his visor turning off entirely. He had severely underestimated the power of a Warmaster, and paid dearly for it.
It was only after the Suspicious Shadow commander had died that the energy flowing from Kholduitanus' body came to a swift and sudden stop. The ragdolled corpse of the alien suspended upon his fist, which served as a pike as it kept the Suspicious Shadow from touching the ground, the maddened Warmaster launched his flailing, dead opponent away from him with a flick of his forearm, throwing the corpse through one of the windows that overlooked the city below - through the otherwise impenetrable glass that would have taken a combat vessel at its fullest capacity to crack. Panting with heavy, overbearing breaths, the Warmaster approached the ravaged remains of his wife and slowly - cautiously - picked her up within his arms, sobbing as his anger gradually subsided to give way to tears. The guardsman, picking himself up off of the ground, approached the Warmaster after recollecting his weapon from the floor.
- Soldier - S-Sir... I... M-My apologies, sir...
- Kholduitanus - ... Save your apologies for when they are needed... This was not your fault... ... Do you have family awaiting your return from service?
- Soldier - ... I-I do, sir. ... A wife, a sister, t-two kids...
- Kholduitanus - You should return to them... Who knows who the Emperor... w-will turn on next...
- Soldier - ... A-And what about you, sir? ... Where will you go?
- Kholduitanus - ... Ask me when I have a clue. We... You can't stay here, I know that much.
- Soldier - ... Aye sir.
- Kholduitanus - Oh, and soldier?
- Soldier - ... Yes, sir?
Kholduitanus turned after having scooped up the limp, lifeless remnant of Nerteiaris from the kitchen floor, her blood staining his damaged armour and flesh while his hands were bloodied from more than just contact with her corpse; they had broken and scarred from contact with the shattered armour of the Suspicious Shadow commander, from having been whipped and attacked by the other assassins that had worked beneath him, from the Warmaster having exerted himself beyond the nano-restraints employed by the anti-Essence flechettes and their nanomachine cargo. Between the sobbing, heaving breaths taken by the Warmaster as he held one of what was one of the most important people in his life within his cradling arms, he spoke;
- Kholduitanus - ... Thank you.
It had been an extensive and arduous arduous three decades since that night; that same night where all that the Warmaster had fought for, attaining innumerable scars and wounds throughout the course of his "life", if it could be called such, was lost and torn apart before his very eyes at the dreaded, cold and lifeless hands of those sapients he refused to call "men" that he had once served and devoted the entirety of himself to, his powers, skills, willpower and all else. In regards to the physical state, Kholduitanus had not aged since that night beyond the regeneration of the injuries and torn tissues he had gained, yet within the depths of his mind he knew he was no longer the person he once knew himself as - tired and worn, cautious and introverted where he had once been reckless and astoundingly confident. With each breath he took as he prepared to meet with those insurrectionist leaders and freedom fighter captains within the designated meeting chamber - all natives of those outer-worlds that had been abandoned and shut away from imperial intervention by decree of the wretched yet invisible Emperor, whose visage had not been glanced upon for the following two and a half decades - he passed heavy, rigid sighs and exhales from his nostrils and between his jaws.
The insurrectionist world, once a merchant hub that had been governed by associates of the official Kormacvar imperialist government, was considered outright abandoned by the natives some twenty years prior when the trade routes had been closed off with imperialist military presence that struck down any trade vessels that had made the first attempts to gain re-entry into imperial territory; after all, such a prosperous world would have diverted the attention of the Grox should they have set their sights on the southeastern stretch of Kormacvar territory, with neighbouring colonies having been placed under similar restrictions prior to the uprisings. The chamber where the rebellion leaders would come to gather was located within the central and once-prized industrial hub of the world, reconverted into a military headquarters so the leadership could monitor what remained of their gradually draining assets. Kholduitanus, by this time a significant figurehead for those that sought to survive being the bait set by the Emperor for their biomechanical nemeses, was adorned with improvised and repurposed power-armour hybridized with the remnants of the iconic one he wore into battle many years before, the names Tsarkhuilaius, Nerteiaris, and Nyakhairis etched into the collar amidst other scarring and paint damage.
The automatic doors, recognizing the gene-code beheld by the traitor-Warmaster, slid open to allow Kholduitanus entry into the private chamber, which had once been a leisure room some decades ago before having been redecorated and converted into an office of sorts, with a large, metallic platform located at the center which would serve as a table. Standing at the table's sides were various high-ranking soldiers - born rebels or veterans who had been abandoned by the Empire that had sought solace and asylum within the borders of the insurrection - and other important individuals whom had once either been born into the ranks of nobility or had risen from nothing, not all of whom betraying Kormacvar heritage for the insurrection consisted too of many foreigners and aliens that had once been captive beneath the Emperor's banner. Kholduitanus, bowing his head to his colleagues as he entered the room, made haste to position himself and stand at their side and commence the discussions of the immediate matters at hand - the inevitable approach of the Grox on all fronts of their neighbouring worlds, and the possibility of an imperial loyalist fleet having discovered the insurrectionist headquarters.
- Kholduitanus - Ahem... It appears that, now, we are all present here. My apologies for my not being present earlier. ... I had private matters to attend to.
- Insurrectionist - No need to apologize, Kholduitanus. We have heard of the recent success in the repelling of the Imperial fleet coming from the west.
- Kholduitanus - You can thank my lieutenant-officers for that. They were the ones who engaged the Empire's fleet and drew away their fire long enough to bring the anti-air turrets back online, I was only evacuating the streets of people to reduce the casualty toll. ... Too many people died.
- Insurrectionist - Their sacrifices will not be forgotten, you can be assured of that. Additionally, we have heard rather curious rumours from the few spies we have near Imperial space. Apparently, Emperor Kaius is being publicly deemed deceased and a new Emperor will be chosen to replace him. The only indication we have discovered about the incident is that he died in an "accident" at the galactic core.
- Kholduitanus - Is that so? ... Any word on the candidates that had been chosen to take his place? Has Kaius' orders for the extermination of outer-world insurrectionists been redacted, or are his colleagues still allowing his assets to be used to hunt us down?
- Insurrectionist - Kaius had no family members, therefore an entirely new family will have to be chosen to lead the Empire. Since that has not yet happened, we can only assume his bloodthirsty orders will be kept as valid until, or if, the new leader decides to go against them.
- Kholduitanus - Hmph, it appears that this war may finally be coming to an end should we manage to hold out and survive long enough for Kaius' orders to be redacted and made invalid. ... This has taken too long to come to place, too much blood has been spilled. I can only hope they elect a new Emperor swiftly enough so that more people do not have to die.
- Insurrectionist - Splitting the Kormacvar like this was his worst decision. We cannot survive the Grox like this, neither we nor them.
- Kholduitanus - And what of the Grox? Any word from the neighbouring worlds regarding them? ... I fear that they may be on approach, we have not heard from our furthest worlds for some time.
Before the former Warmaster's compatriot could answer his question, alarms began sounding across the building and the sound of explosions could be heard outside. The Grox were not only on approach, they were there, swarming through the skies of the planet, launching Conqrix pods at the surface in order to destroy whatever ground forces the Kormacvar had prepared. The sound of people screaming and gunfire filled the air, almost blotting out the sound of the establishment's sirens as soldiers and mobilised military assets throughout the city began instigating protocol in the midst of the sudden invasion; the Grox had not bothered with those fortress-worlds that the Kormacvar insurrectionists had prepared in order to stall and hold their approach, as they would have expected of such an animalistically-minded faction, but rather had made a swift and worryingly clean jab for the throat of the insurrectionists, to cut them off at the head to make their lesser worlds and outposts easier to target and devour within their mechanical, logistical clutches. It had been some years since the former Warmaster bore witness to a Grox invasion after having departed from the Empire's borders, yet the sound of their vessels and metallic warmachines had always been deemed familiar to his ears from the first day he came to clash with them.
- Kholduitanus - ... Shit!
- Insurrectionist - All to combat fronts! Kholduitanus, we'll need you to combat the invaders with all of your power!
- Kholduitanus - Commence an evacuation order; we need to get the civilians out and whatever infantry we have left shortly after. ... I have a feeling I can divert the Grox away from this place for a while if I reveal my presence to them. The mobile assets can cover the infantry while they get those people out of here. ... I am afraid that now the Grox are here, we cannot afford to spend assets to attempt keeping this place to ourselves. You will need to find another place to construct a stronghold.
- Insurrectionist - Very well. Let us not waste time talking anymore.
- Kholduitanus - Don't wait up for me.
Diverting his attention away from the council of rebels and insurrectionists, the former Warmaster's muscles tensed as his power-armour came into activation, allowing him to sprint from one side of the room to the other in less than three seconds due to having enhanced the extent of his physical capacity; without hesitation or second thought, Kholduitanus tore apart the metallic walls - of which they were several inches thick - and created a large hole within the chamber that overlooked the reaching extent of the city; it thrived with people, both of civilian and military background, and already the Conqrix invasion pods had breached the force-shielding that served as the city's overhead barrier, allowing Conqrix militia of all varieties, upgraded and enhanced since their battles some three decades prior, to infest within the city's walls. Kholduitanus leaped, the combination of his power-armour and physical capabilities allowing him to not only jump from the military headquarters to the major city square, but also survive closing the distance unscathed while it would have otherwise at least damaged or outright killed other non-Warmaster soldiers and warriors.
As the Kormacvar demigod descended and hit the ground, he already found himself knocking hordes of Dronox and Mites away, as they had come to swarm the city much like they always seemed to do. However, there was one thing different in this invasion than the ones Kholduitanus had previously faced. At the top of a ruined building, digging its talons into the head of a now-dead Kormacvar soldier was a Conqrix of much larger size, standing as tall as the Warmaster, each arm outfitted with an enormous, electric vibrosword, and its cold, emotionless gaze turned to Kholduitanus as he got its attention. It had a noticeably different texture on its right arm's armor plating, implying it was more recently made than the rest of its body.
Kholduitanus could feel it. It was him.
- Kholduitanus - ... You again.
The Dronox Commander did not respond. Kholduitanus stood at his fullest height, his eyes glancing towards the Conqrix leader while his fists, burning with his own psychokinetic Essence, clenched tightly almost subconsciously. Within the rear of the former Warmaster's subconscious mind, the memories he had once thought long locked and chained away began to flood back to him; his heart burned as he met eyes with the artificial, lifeless creature, and his eyes began to slowly drain of the glimmer that once sparked him as compassionate, to be replaced with an inherently daunting illumination that told others only of anger.
- Kholduitanus - ... You have nerve coming here. After all these years apart, I finally get to see you again; a wretched scoundrel that hunted and killed not only those that came before me, but my brother as well. ... This - all of this - is your fault. You caused this war, you killed my family... I remember that day as clear as ever, I've never forgotten it...! And you remember it too, don't you?! ... You remember me?!
The Commander's cold glare remained locked on Kholduitanus as it raked the corpse under it with its talons, reducing it to little more than a gibbed mess before it began strolling at the Warmaster's direction, calm and calculating. The truth was that it saw Kholduitanus as nothing more than another Kormacvar, not different from any of the billions it had already slaughtered, though its databanks did have at least some recordings of it. He was a Warmaster, and Warmasters were the Commander's favored prey. Though he would no longer describe himself as such, the Warmaster perked a momentary grin as he watched the Commander approach him from across the other end of the battlefield, and he laid his eyes upon the enhanced vibroblades and claws that it bore, yet other than this he could see that not much else had changed of his ancient nemesis; this was the same Dronox Commander - the unique unit, the individual - that had taken his brother from him all those decades before now, before the abandonment protocols of the outer Kormacvar worlds, before the merciless slaughter of Kholduitanus' own family. And the Commander could bear witness to the faint tears that slid down the former Warmaster's hardened, grizzled face as its optics met with Kholduitanus' eyes.
- Kholduitanus - ... And still, you don't say anything. That's good. Because nothing you could say now would ever stop me from rending you apart and sending you back to the damned scrapheap you came from, you son of a bitch. ... You ruined my life, you were the catalyst that took everything away from me... and even though I will never get any of it back, I can at least avenge all those Warmasters you killed... and get the satisfaction of tearing you limb... from... limb. This ends here.
No words came out of the Commander. It had no concern for Kholduitanus' revenge. It cared not for what he thought of it, or how much pain it had caused to him. Its electronic mind had one goal and only one: kill the Warmaster. What did come out of the cyborg was nothing less than a turbolaser, fired out of its right eye at the Kormacvar's direction, tearing the ground apart as it travelled at frightening speed at Kholduitanus' direction. His eyes locked onto the damned, hellish machine as it began the assault that would decide which path the line of Kholduitanus' fate swayed towards, the Warmaster's crimson aura manifested once more from his body as his heated, burning blood pumped faster through his veins, and he struggled to retain his composure as he threw himself to the side of the turbolaser's trajectory, evading the initial energy blast before instigating a rush at the Conqrix Commander, roaring as, now that he had little else to fight for, he could no longer hold himself back.
As the laser missed its primary target, the Commander initiated a charge of its own at Kholduitanus' direction, keeping its blades in a cross position in order to carve the Kormacvar the moment they came in contact. It would carve him just like it had carved Tsarkhuilaius before him. Kholduitanus could feel the energetic, hypersharp edges of the Commander's blades cut through his power-armour as it it was little more than butter, although by some miracle of fate, the Commander's swords had been just centimeters short of the hardened flesh that resided beneath the armour and the softer organs that remained beneath several layers of tendons and muscles beneath aforementioned flesh. Closing the distance at the cost of his armour, feeling its defunct remains drop to the ground, Kholduitanus swung a fiery hook towards the head and torso of the Commander - his movements were not enhanced by his armour, but the rage that boiled in his blood.
- Kholduitanus - I'll reduce you to nothing!
The Commander was blown backwards by the punch, its chest armor left bruised by the impact before it spun in place and launched a blade at the Kormacvar's head, aiming to decapitate him in one swift strike. Kholduitanus reeled as he raised a hand to catch the blade in its trajectory, feeling its hypersharp edge penetrate through his palm while his fingertips caught the cold, metallic length of the sword, blood spitting from the thin wound left by the slash although he had reduced the Commander to using a single weapon from this point - at the cost of having one of his own arms incapacitated with keeping the edge of his enemy's captivated blade away from his face, head, and neck. The Dronox appeared to tilt its head slightly as it watched Kholduitanus' actions, before the Warmaster could feel the cybernetic terror's foot bashing against his chest repeatedly, kicking his torso while digging its sharp talons into his flesh and muscle.
Kholduitanus groaned and winced as the fiend's birdlike talons drew blood from his body and used his free arm to reach for the Dronox's leg, proceeding to wrap his tough fingers around the metallic appendage and making a brief, swift attempt to throw the Commander away from him to gain some distance between the two of them so he could give his body a moment to recuperate from the clash, with his incapacitated palm struggling to regenerate as it found the edge of the Commander's blade buried too deep to push it out automatically as it otherwise would have done with the likes of bullets and other ballistic weaponry. The Commander's claws pressed across the ground as it was thrown away, causing it to slide until it stopped in place. The machine entity stared at Kholduitanus for a moment it threw itself to the ground, digging through the ground until it disappeared from sight. The Warmaster growled as he watched the wretched Conqrix vanish from his vicinity, yet he knew of this creature's underhanded tactics; it would not have escaped or retreated, it would continue to hunt him down until either itself or him were dead.
Instead of searching the earth beneath him to attempt finding the position of the Conqrix, the Warmaster ran across the battlefield; he could not afford to stand still when such a fierce and potent foe was on the loose, knowing that its blades could render and carve his body to little more than slabs and shreds of meat and flesh in mere moments should he have given it the chance, just as it had done to his brother and numerous other Warmasters throughout the centuries. He was not retreating, however, instead anticipating the Commander's means of attack and attempting to lure it from below. The vile Dronox would eventually resurface, not from behind or from the sides, but directly in front of the Kormacvar, erupting out of the ground with its blade readied to strike. If Kholduitanus did not dodge this attack in time, he would most certainly be cut in half.
In that brief moment the Dronox had made its attack, Kholduitanus made the attempt to remove himself from the trajectory of its scissoring blades while at the same time suffering the visions brought onto him by the sudden sight of the creature: the memory of watching his brother fall at the archaic Commander's blade rushed through his mind in that one moment in less than a second, shoving his composure and anticipation enough so that the swords tasted the Warmaster's warm blood. Kholduitanus almost fell to a knee as, while he had evaded much of the attack, he did not evade it entirely for his eyes, as they looked downward to analyze the extent of the damage taken, saw a slim yet deep gash having been afflicted to his side. It hurt much more than it initially appeared. And it was followed by more pain as the Dronox Commander began delivering kicks to the Warmaster's head, following each blow with another in a furious yet efficient pattern.
The agonizing kicks would have caused any watching to feel disorientated and sickened at the sight of the assault, for soon enough one of the prized and valued horns attached to the Warmaster's enhanced cranium was reduced to a trophy for the Dronox as it detached at its base, with the Commander's talons slashing and cutting into Kholduitanus' face with each kick it made, knocking the Warmasters with unprecedented ferocity and knocking him to his knees. Retracting its blades, the Dronox launched its claws at Kholduitanus, wrapping its long, sharp fingers around the Kormacvar's neck, lifting him in the air as it began squeezing the life out of him. Its gaze remained as indifferent as before, but anyone else watching the scene would imagine the Commander was taking glee in the torture it was delivering to its enemy. All the Warmaster could do as he felt his breath becoming lost upon him was extend his hands and desparately wrap them around the artificial wrists of the Commander's arms, taking a brief moment to observe the one arm it bore that appeared to have been cleaner and far less worn than its elder counterpart on the other side - a replacement for the one it lost in its battle with Kholduitanus' brother. The Warmaster's face contorted as his claws dug into the Commander's arms in dire urgency, making futile attempts to kick out and strike the Conqrix with his powerful legs, with each attempt at kicking now agonizing him further due to the wound cast upon his side.
After choking Kholduitanus for several moments, the Commander proceeded to jump in the air, then throw himself down, all while holding the Kormacvar on its grasp and causing him to hit the ground head-on with all the strength the Commander's artificial limbs would allow. Kholduitanus could feel his muscles and organs rupture from the force of the blow afflicted onto him by the cybernetic demon atop of him, blood gushing from his mouth and other orifices that would allow his blood to flow, alongside others that otherwise should not have. He had not only underestimated the strength of the Commander, but he could feel his thoughts and conceptions of utter rage and anger draining from him as those memories burst forth into the front of his mind, blinding his focus. He had cast them away for so long, yet the bloodied visages of those events refused to be held back any longer.
- Kholduitanus - Urgh, a-argh... Uuurrrghh... Y-You... bastard...
The Commander rose once again, delivering more kicks to the Kormacvar's chest before one of its blades reemerged from its arm, which was then thrust into the stomach of the Warmaster, piercing through his flesh until it came out of his back. The flesh, tendons, and muscles that once held Kholduitanus' body together were becoming undone by the affront posed by the Dronox Commander, having overcome its Warmaster nemesis once more in its merciless, bloodthirsty attack upon him, tearing apart bone with its talons as it kicked at his chest and having slid its diamond-sharp blade through him as if he was not even a Warmaster, but softened jelly, which would not be far from what his organs felt like as they were torn and ripped apart. No longer could Kholduitanus ignore that pain, and it was that one Conqrix's grotesque, blood-smeared face he saw as his heavy eyes gradually, hesitantly closed, the feeling of his muscles and appendages numbing to the point of immobility. He made attempts to speak out, but the blood flooding his throat only caused him to make gurgled, inaudible pleas as his worn, struggling heart went from thunderous pounds to vanishing flutters.
You're not giving up, are you? You call yourself a Warmaster?! Get up!
- Kholduitanus - I'm no Warmaster... Not anymore, not after... Not after that! Hmph, no, I'm not giving up... I've given my all and it wasn't enough! It was never enough!
Shut up. Shut up and grit those teeth! That's not how Mother taught us to act like, you big fat baby lady! He's right there, mocking you, laughing at your misery... Are you gonna let him do that?
- Kholduitanus - Urgh... What would you know? Even if I did tear him apart here and now, it wouldn't bring anyone back. It wouldn't save any of those people I let die... And how could I beat him? The only person capable of beating him died years ago!
Then it's quite clear he wasn't actually the only one capable of beating him, eh? Killing him won't bring them back, but you know what's gonna do? It's gonna mean that no more people will be joining them. Isn't that important?
- Kholduitanus - I... Yes. I-I mean... Yeah, yeah it's important alright. But I can't do it! I've tried, twice! The first time, I let the most valuable person in my life get ripped to shreds before my eyes, and now... What was I thinking?
For Mother's sake, what happened to you? If I were down there, I'd slap you so hard you'd wish it was the Dronox doing it.
- Kholduitanus - Even if I killed the Dronox, even if I killed all of the Grox... The people that trusted me would just consider me a traitor anyway. I wouldn't blame them, not after killing all those people that one time, or not following the Emperor's damned orders... I can't win either way.
Waaah! Waaaah! The Dronox gave me a booboo now I can't get up again! That's how you sound. Like a loser! What's done is done, keeping yourself locked in the past will only mean more disappointments. You'll spit in their graves like that. You were made to endure the bad end of the war, remember?
- Kholduitanus - Yeah, yeah, I remember... I miss her. I miss her and... Nyakhairis, I miss her as well. I couldn't save them, I wasn't strong or fast enough or... Urgh, that pisses me off. Why did you have to be an idiot and get yourself killed out there...
Hey. Shit happens. But there's something you ought to put in that big thick FAT head of yours. They don't miss you. I don't miss you. Wanna know why? C'mon, ask me. Ask me why.
- Kholduitanus - How about I punch you in the mouth? Will you tell me then?
We don't because we're with you AT ALL TIMES. In your heart. In your soul. We're all here for you. Forever. You may have lost our bodies but our spirits are too strong to just go away! Our links are too deep!
- Kholduitanus - Ngh... I must look like an idiot in front of you all now, then, right? Lying here, getting my ass handed to me by a computer with arms and legs.
Honestly I'm really feeling like hitting on your girl if you don't get up right now and punch that Dronox in the face until he cries. We both know I'm the most handsome brother.
- Kholduitanus - Grr, you want a fight? Just you damn well try it!
Stop me then. Fight! Survive! Kill the bastard, save the rebels, prove yourself better than Kaius' lot, make yourself a LEGEND!
- Kholduitanus - ... Yeah. Yeah, I think I'll... Yeah, you know what? You're right. Enough sitting around and crying, I haven't got the time or patience for this crap! ... I'm going to show that piece of tin scrap who's the real boss around here and there's nothing he's gonna do to stop me!
Heh. That's the spirit... I don't have to wish you good luck, because I know you can do it. Now go out there, tiger. We'll always be here for you.
- Kholduitanus - Heh... Thanks, bro. You always were Mother's favourite.
With his enemy finally neutralized, the Dronox Commander removed its now bloodstained blade from Kholduitanus' stomach and turned away in order to move to its next target. However, as its metallic body swivelled around to hunt down further flesh beings much like the Warmaster it had supposedly neutralized was, its internal systems could detect something faint touching the ankle of its right foot, stopping it in its tracks as the faint touch swiftly became a tightened, unrelenting grasp. A magnificent, bright aura of red erupting from his wounded and broken body, Kholduitanus, an eye now missing from his bloodied and cracked skull as he agonizingly sat himself up from the ground, allowed the muscles in his arms to firmly tense once more now that the sensation of actually having muscles and organs returned to his mind, and the first significant action he undertook upon his return to consciousness was to launch his metallic nemesis by its foot into one of the nearby evacuated buildings.
The Dronox Commander soared through the air and collided with the nearest building on its trajectory, causing a powerful impact to crack the walls of the establishment as the cyborg itself fell to the ground, part of its armor cracked and damaged. It turned its gaze to the Warmaster, seemingly startled by his move. He was supposed to be dead. The Warmaster, blood soaking his ruined armour and body, gradually brought himself to stand, a hand clasping the open wound upon his side which had refused to regenerate; it would appear that Conqrix technology, or at least that fitted upon the Commander, counteracted the regenerative abilities of the Kormacvar Warmasters, which may also be contributed to the extent of the internal damage dealt to Kholduitanus himself, most probably having ruptured those vital organic components necessary for the process. It did not matter now, however; Kholduitanus, his eyes glowing a ghastly, fierce white, glared towards the Dronox Commander as he slowly let his twitching, bloodied hand fall to his side, while what appeared to be a conflageration of crimson fire gathered to burst and erupt at his back - his aura.
- Kholduitanus - ... You want me dead? Well... Here I am, tinhead. Come and get me.
The Commander rose to its feet and crossed its blades once again, charging at Kholduitanus. It would not allow the Warmaster to survive, no matter the cost. A smile growing across the Warmaster's wounded and ravaged face, Kholduitanus stood where he had arose without movement, simply glaring at the Commander as it instigated its merciless charge at him while the Warmaster's fingers eagerly twitched, awaiting that moment it would come to strike with that very same means of attack that had finished Tsarkhuilaius all those decades before now. He did not cower. He did not faulter. He stood and waited that vital moment, withstanding the unbearable pain his brain could no longer restrain. The Commander approached, and as he got into range, launched his blades at the Kormacvar, intending to finish what he had started so long ago.
The bloodied edges of the blades found themselves buried deep within the enhanced Kormacvar's chest and torso, and yet, despite having made contact with them at such vital points within the Kormacvar's physiology, it seemed not to wipe away the smile held on the Warmaster's face. Raising his arms slowly as his eye stared into those cybernetic optics of the Dronox Commander, Kholduitanus' fingers grasped ahold of the blades of the Commander's swords as they were held within his flesh, and clasped them tightly. So tightly, evidently, that his hands bled further after having outright snapped the swords within his grip, psychic energy radiating from his veins while his body appeared to steam from the heat. The Commander stumbled backwards, looking at the broken hilts of its vibroblades in visible confusion. Or perhaps, fear. Such a thing should not be possible. And yet, despite all the damage dealt, the pain the adrenaline could no longer restrain, and the stress underwent by the Warmaster, it had undoubtedly happened.
In its moment of confusion, Kholduitanus reached out his muscular, ruined arms and clasped ahold of the Dronox Commander's younger, fresher appendage, clasping around both primary parts of the arm with his indomitable grip he only clenched tighter around it, his claws and palms crushing the length of its limb as he refused to let go, gritting and bearing those jagged teeth of his as he seemed determine to indeed finish what had been started all so very long ago. At this point, to Kholduitanus, little else mattered so long as he could settle this battle that had been carried out by those that had come before him to this very moment in time. A vocalization came out of the cybernetic terror, a howl which sounded almost as if it was in pain as the sheer pressure of Kholduitanus' grip severed the arm of the Dronox Commander, causing it to stumble backwards, a black blood pouring out of the socket that remained on its body. Launching the crushed and bloodied remnant of the cybernetic arm away to the other side of the battlefield, Kholduitanus' teeth seethed with breath as he glared once more at the Dronox Commander, his chest visibly writhing upwards and down with each heavy inhale and exhale that the Warmaster took.
It would not have taken long for the Commander to begin attempting to retreat just as it had done before all those years ago, Kholduitanus knew that much of its behaviour. Not only was it a merciless and unrelenting force of artificial nature that was programmed to work in isolation, outside and beyond the requirement for additional support, but it was a coward coded with the protocols to preserve its own hide should it find itself incapable of deriving victory from a conflict it had come to start. Yet, despite this, no matter what it could try to do. It could not move. The Commander struggled in place, finding its remaining limbs locked in place. It attempted to fire its turbolaser, but also found itself incapable to, likely because the mechanisms for it were destroyed when he was thrown against the building not too long ago. While they could not possibly truly register to the Commander's systems, psychic energies had clasped the mechanical entity in its place, a fiery aura very much similar to that of Kholduitanus' own; it was not the Commander developing its own aura, for it was a lifeless entity and could not do so without Essence, but rather the Warmaster having incapacitated all movement of the cybernetic devil and was now imprinting his aura onto its metallic flesh. It was beginning to burn as it became subjected to an unrelenting bout conflageration stemming from this heated torture.
- Kholduitanus - Remember... when I said... I'd reduce you... to nothing...?
Kholduitanus demeanour cracked into subtle laughter, his brow lowering as the psychic fires burned the Dronox's shell as if it had been trapped within an oven; it was swiftly becoming charred, its armour withering from the increase in heat and pressure being applied to it, which was quickly rising with each passing moment. The Warmaster, his body shuddering as his aura grew wider and more ferocious, stretched out a single hand with an open palm, blood dripping onto the ground at his feet from the open gashes and wounds. And, gradually, he began to close the fingers around his palm. The Commander agonized as its body began collapsing on itself, black, oil-like blood pouring out of its extremities as it was crushed by Kholduitanus' psychic might. If it were capable of emotion, it would surely be begging for mercy or perhaps screaming for help, but all it was able to do was glare at the Kormacvar with its soul-piercing, malevolent eyes as he slowly destroyed it, the slayer of Warmasters. And with a swift turn of his wrist, Kholduitanus closed his palm, clenching his fist and tightening his fingers as he seemingly clasped the air. But in truth, while physically he may have been grasping ahold of little more than the oxygen and other elements present in the air as of present, mentally his psychic capacity was constricting around the Commander and placing ever more strain upon its Grox-constructed chassis. Until it was crushed and burned entirely, to little more than a charred, blackened crisp.
Kholduitanus, the traitor Warmaster, had avenged the lives of those plentiful loyalists, including that of his own twin brother, that had come ages before him that had met their grisly, bloody ends to the cold, unrestrained blades of the Dronox Commander, the feared and dreaded icon of the Conqrix legions, the slayer of Warmasters. And the catalyst for the tragedies throughout the life of this warrior soul.
The score had now been, at last, settled.
- Kholduitanus - ... See you in hell.
It would not be until some hours later that the Grox fleet and their Conqrix forces were picked off entirely by the rebels' military assets, with Mites and Dronox infantry being reduced to scrap by plasma fire, their parts and equipment taken in by ts' military assets, with Mites and Dronox infantry being reduced to scrap by plasma fire, their parts, technology, and equipment taken in by the insurrectionists' military assets, with Mites and Dronox infantry being reduced to scrap by plasma fire, their parts, technology and equipment taken in by the insurrectionists for reconversion at a later date for potential use against both Grox and hostile imperial militia. Kholduitanus had not been seen for much of the battle, although it had come as he had predicted; the majority of the Conqrix legion had diverted elsewhere, away from the mobilised forces and evacuation centers, and, perhaps not by sheer coincidence, the remnants of many destroyed Conqrix had been found near the former Warmaster's position within the main city square. And he was met with applause when he beheld to them the news of the come-at-last slaying of the slayer of Warmasters, the Dronox Commander, as evidenced by its remains - a charred, crispy humanoid shape that had collapsed onto the floor some meters away from where Kholduitanus was found standing.
And with several deep, prolonged breaths that visibly appeared to evoke pain onto the treacherous Warmaster with each motion he took, he bellowed forth a tremendous roar that silenced the cheers and applause of those outer-world rebels from the sheer volume and intensity, combined with his wounded and ravaged appearance, followed by a mere single word.
- Kholduitanus - ... Report!
- Soldier - Y-yes, sir! The Grox have been defeated, sir!
- Kholduitanus - I know that already, sergeant! ... What about the civilians? How many were we able to evacuate off-world during the defensive operation?
- Soldier - S-seventy six percent, sir!
- Kholduitanus - Seventy six... Grr, that isn't a hundred percent, sergeant!
- Soldier - Y-you're free to scold us sir, but at least the planet is... Oh Volzara, look at the sky!
As the Grox laid defeated, another enemy now covered the skies of the planet. It was the Kormacvar Empire. Their imposing dreadnoughts covered the sun, causing the soldiers who survived the battle with the Grox to begin panicking. One attack after the other like this was not something they could endure. Kholduitanus groaned as he raised his head to glance up at the sky above their heads, a brief and irritated growl stemming from the rear of his bloodied throat as his eyes were met with the sight of loyalist vessels; he did not panic as his soldiers had done, but he found his wounds ache further than they had done prior as he gazed upon the Imperialist armada, beginning to grow tired and worn after the hardships of the prior conflict. Conqrix blood, as well as his own, drenched his wet and tattered form and it would appear that it would be further spoiled with loyalist blood at the current rate of how things began to unfold.
- Kholduitanus - ... What are you all standing around for? Get moving, get out here and take what you can with you.
In front of Kholduitanus, a hologram manifested. Standing as tall as him was a Kormacvar of equally imposing frame, wearing decorated and advanced armor. He looked at the traitor Warmaster with a scowl on his face, showing some amount of disgust for him. Kholduitanus was taken back somewhat by the more subtle traits displayed within the Kormacvar's facial features; the traitor Warmaster could recognize some aspects that appeared perhaps identical to those the late brother he had been fighting to avenge hours prior, causing him to remain quiet for a brief moment in time to take in this fact and acknowledge it as it was.
- ??? - So you are the so called Warmaster Kholduitanus.
- Kholduitanus - ... You've heard of me, then.
- ??? - I am Ternolvaraus, current Warmaster. Your replacement, following your treason to the Empire.
- Kholduitanus - My... "replacement"? Hmph. You're about as fresh onto the battlefield as a newborn out of an egg. Boy.
- Ternolvaraus - You, better than no one else, should know the extent of a Warmaster's power. I am here to put you and your rebellion down, Kholduitanus, though I was instructed to give you at least one chance of standing down and surrendering, so that your lives may be spared. Make your choice.
- Kholduitanus - I'll tell you this, boy; let my men and their families go and you can come and have me. I swear to you that I will not move from this very spot. ... And if you do not allow them free passage, then your time as Warmaster shall be short-lived.
- Ternolvaraus - You wish to fight me and my entire armada? Surely the fight with the Grox turned you insane. But if you so wish, and if you truly have honour, then I will accept your challenge. Your men will not be harmed, but you...
- Kholduitanus - And what of me, "Warmaster"?
- Ternolvaraus - You will only leave if you defeat me.
- Kholduitanus - Make it quick, because I am in a hurry to pack my things, child. And your incessant taunts are beginning to make my ears ache. ... I haven't got all day.
Kholduitanus smiled, wiping blood from his scarred and torn face as he spat at the holographic feet of the much younger and far less experienced Warmaster that had shown himself to him. While indeed he had been maddened during his conflict with the Dronox Commander, it was all clear to him now; no longer did he feel that same guilt bear down upon his shoulders like a predator, no longer would he allow it to restrict the very power he held within the grasp of his fingertips. He may have been aged and wounded, and in far less of an optimal condition to fight the much younger Ternolvaraus, but with all aspects and factors taken into prime consideration, he was still, in his genes and capabilities, his limits and restrictions, a Warmaster, even if he was not so by honourary title or official declaration.
And even if he would meet his end here, at the hands of the young Warmaster to replace him or the devastating energy beams of the armada at the young Warmaster's back, it would no longer matter to him. He had lived a life now deemed fulfilled, he had tied together the ends that made it incomplete. And, whether a traitor or a loyalist, a compassionate man of family and love or a raging demon that heralds destruction and violence, his story would be forever kept by both those surviving rebels and those records beheld by the Empire.
This would be his chronicle of ire.
A Chronicle Rediscovered
The solar array of the artificial sun shined heavily upon the Hyperborean industrial landscape, having come to breach through illusionary parting clouds after significant, torrential rainfall upon the many cities and urban centers throughout the colossal construct that was the entirety of this Kormacvar world; aeons had come to pass since the decline of the archaic Kormacvar civilisation within the reaches of the Borealis Galaxy, with further eras having come to pass since the Kormacvar's own prospering days of the long-forgotten Golden Age, with only technological and architectural remnants consisting of the remains of the precursor hyperpower's presence within the First Gigaquadrant, for much evidence of their existence had since been destroyed other than that which had been preserved and engineered within the Kormacvar Legacy - the reformed and repurposed descendant of the same Borealis Grox that put an end to Kormacvar prosperity in the first place. Only one Kormacvar remained now, fulfilling a position of office within the hierarchy and file of the second incarnation of the Polar Crystal Alliance: Arkarixus Vhiktus, the last of the great Warmasters and the last of the fallen Kormacvar, had not been obvious to the idea of the urgent report he had been bound to receive this day, a report that had breached the expected schedule. This particular report from those Caretakers that had been assigned for more adventurous responsibilities and duties must have been of considerable importance for it to have strayed from the timetable.
Reclining on a chair, grafted with levitation technology so as to provide for an enhanced leisure experience and provide for more comfortable mobility than wheeled seats, the large and muscular frame of the Warmaster had been leaning back, his fingertips wrapped around rectangular tablets that were illuminated with various colours, decorated with white, neon text; documents detailing the recent developments regarding the many affairs of the Polar Crystal Alliance, including the progression of the discussions between the Council and the figureheads of the Rovegar Matriarchy and further research efforts being undertaken pertaining to the nature and technological advantage of the recent incidents involving the Zarkhator - another relic from a time before the decline of the Kormacvar that had resurfaced less than several years prior to now. All seemed quiet and dull other than what alien yet bizarrely relaxing music the Warmaster had allowed to play through the audio systems of his office, which had faintly rather than heavily reminded him of those same hymns and audible aspects of the songs played by his ancestors, up until the moment that the holographic receiver on his desk pained his reptilian ears with loud, hi-pitched beeping noises and flashing blue lights to alert his attention. It took him some moments before he begrudgingly brought himself to answer these summons.
- Arkarixus - What is the nature of this report? I have catching up to do.
- Caretaker - Warmaster, one of the leading research teams within the Arm of Memories, approximately 1.25 lightyears from the furthest reaches of Cold Loron territory, have uncovered significant implications which could potentially lead to the discovery of hi-tech originating from the time of the decline of the Kormacvar Empire within the region.
- Arkarixus - I see. Well, make sure all is recovered and repurposed then. The Legacy can always use more hi-tech from the Empire.
- Caretaker - ... We would invite you to attend our research within the region, Warmaster. The implications uncovered... pertain to circumstances remninescent of...
- Arkarixus - What about it? What makes it so important?
- Caretaker - ... Reminescent of your own discovery by the modern Borealis denizens.
- Arkarixus - ... I'm on my way.
The world the Caretaker researchers had uncovered was barely worthy of being deemed even a dwarf planet; pertaining to the size of a moon rather than a planet, the surface of the world appeared to have been afflicted with consistent impact from what could only be assumed to have been stellar debris, leading to the assumption that any surface-faring remnants of civilisation or otherwise would have, under most circumstances, been either battered and ravaged into non-existence or pummelled and buried into the dirt until it had been practically assimilated, with old scars and deep wounds having cut through the crusty, aged flesh. The private vessel undertaken by the Warmaster and various personal attendants, as well as additional Caretakers to lend their manual support with the group that had already made themselves present here, was careful to land upon the designated LZ-point so as to not perturb any of the sites the Caretakers had established to bury further into the innards of this small, dwarven mass. Adorned in decorative and ornamental equipment attached to a personalized suit of hi-tech power-armour, the Warmaster, followed and guided by Caretakers, was led to one of the more prominent sites, which had been crowded with Caretaker workers and researchers.
- Caretaker - It is much unlike anything we have come to uncover in the recent decades prior to your own discovery during the War, Warmaster. A significant find that could quite possibly follow with prominent social change within both the Legacy and the Polar Crystal Alliance.
- Arkarixus - Your reports carried great weight. I must see this with my own eyes.
- Caretaker - Of course, Warmaster. That is why we had invited you to the premises at such brief notice. ... We do hope that we had not interrupted other significant business you were undergoing, Warmaster.
- Arkarixus - I have only recently returned from my Andromedan mission, so I require time to catch up with the galaxy's current state. However, if this discovery is as big as you claim, then my presence is required here.
The Caretaker that guided the Warmaster nodded in acknowledgement of his words, breathed and spoken through a metallic, stylized oxygen apparatus which distorted and muffled his already intimidating voice only somewhat, before silently signalling for its colleagues to part the crowd and allow Arkarixus access to the site ahead, pausing their work only for a brief time so that the Warmaster could bathe in the insisted significance of the implications that the Caretaker researchers had come to uncover; ahead of them, Arkarixus could identify an artificially-constructed, wide crater that stretched for perhaps a kilometer or so, and at its very center resided an elevation system that would lead only further into the bowels of the dwarf world. The tour had taken some long, dreary minutes as, for much of the time, all there was to admire upon the surface was the sheer expanse of dead, lifeless rock that was almost literally homed and abandoned within the middle of astronomical nowhere.
Some miles beneath the surface, however, was a separate story to tell entirely as the Warmaster's eyes were met with a bizarrely familiar gaze as the doors of the elevator swiftly fazed beyond existence into immaterial, as if there had never been solid materials to act as doors at all; beyond the elevator site was a tunnel, crowded with Caretaker researchers as they made their finest efforts to carefully uncover what Arkarixus could recognize as Kormacvar architecture, the walls consistent of the aged materials the society had once used to construct their more regal and finer structures - Kormacvar marble, as one would come to call it, which had been miraculously almost entirely preserved within the dwarf's gut. Etched into the walls, Arkaricus could see what remained of text, written in the stylistic language of the Kormacvar themselves: no strict sentences could be made out, but rather, the Kormacvar would have recognized them as resembling names and honourary titles.
- Caretaker - Our research teams had considered this barren world once unimportant to our study, yet it was an error on our part to have not considered the possibility of it having been hollowed and then reshaped over the course of time.
- Arkarixus - Fascinating. I have to wonder who are these individuals mentioned through the walls.
Without another word, the Caretaker led Arkarixus through this dead metallic intestine for approximately four to five minutes before they stopped at what one would have guessed to have been a semi-organic, semi-cybernetic frame built around a carefully crafted and artisitically masterful mural, upon which was the image of a large, facially-featureless Kormacvar depicted, with what appeared to be additional limbs, protrusions, and other weird and strange 'misconceptions' to the standard Kormacvar physiology applied to the figure. It was only after two minutes or so did Arkarixus' memory flickered back into relevance upon further inspection of the mural figure, and the text etched over the depicted figure's head: The Precursor That Bore Our Fruits, the text could be roughly translated towards within the Kormacvar's mind. ... The figure was pictured wearing the armour worn by Warmasters between the end of the Golden Age and the age of Kormacvar decline as featured in the preserved historical records from the age that were publicized during the twilight days of the declining Empire. This was an artistic rendition of the Kormacvar Empire's first, or at least earliest recorded, Warmaster, absent of a name or face for it had since been long forgotten. Arkarixus inspected the idol with curiosity, finding it somewhat strange that a Warmaster would be worshipped in such a way, and in a fit of interest, the last Kormacvar reached a hand in order to touch the statue's chest.
Quicker than what Arkarixus could register, the part he had touched with his fingertips were illuminated with light for a brief moment, before the entirety of the idol began to undergo what could only be reasonably described as a slow, gradual transition from suspension within a material state to an incorporeal, immaterial one; it slowly faded out of existence before their eyes, and where the mural had once been positioned was now a free, open doorway leading into a huge, circular room, built with a similar architecture to those palaces and regal residences that Arkarixus once remembered as being present during his own time, again constructed of Kormacvar marble. This was, evidently, a chamber that hosted a variety of equipment throughout the space it granted, with tables appearing as if they had been "grown" out of the floor which were messily decorated with dusty surgical apparati, cylindrical vats suspended on certain platforms within the chamber with the contents obscured once more by that very same fine, greyish dust. And, positioned across the laboratory as it seemed, were several darkened, almost ashened remains; skeletons, each locked into a different position, with their anatomy betraying Kormacvar origin.
And in the middle of the chamber was the centerpiece of it all: a biomechanical "tree" of sorts, its trunk and swirling, reaching branches having gathered dust although the golden materials it had been "grown" with could still faintly be seen beneath it, with the arms of this structure wrapping around an enigmatic, ovular object that appeared reminescent of an egg in terms of its shape yet its size was larger than even Arkarixus. It appeared to be perhaps transparent, yet the dust had settled upon its casing thus blocking out sight of whatever contents were rendered inside of this oddity.
- Caretaker - ... Now you know why we requested your presence at this site with such urgency, Warmaster. We would not know how to explain this.
- Arkarixus - This... it can't be.
Approaching the oval object, Arkarixus passed his hands through its surface in order to remove the dust and see what was present in its interior. As his palms and fingers brushed away the "ash" - flaky remnants of the dead flesh and cells of the very same Kormacvar cadavers that presided at several corners of the circular room - the transparent nature of the ovular object revealed itself to him and gifted his eyes with a sight otherwise unseen for the past several billion years before now; encased within the 'egg' was a Kormacvar of prominent size, frame, and stature, his athletic, muscular form locked into a position that appeared almost as if he were falling, yet he appeared to motionlessly levitate within the object's interior, with his arms outstretched and his legs and feet close together. The Kormacvar had been stripped of clothing to be rendered entirely nude, allowing Arkarixus to observe the large, surgically-induced scars over the Kormacvar's abdomen and lower torso, with anything but surgical wounds appearing to have been afflicted across the figure's face, limbs, and body. While the other Kormacvar within the room had notably perished and reduced to fragile remains of bones ages prior, the one stored within the egg wrapped with metallic vines and artificial arms was almost perfectly preserved, for no decomposition damage was present upon its immense, visibly modified person.
- Arkarixus - Impossible... is he alive? Any vital signals?!
- Caretaker - We cannot identify, although the technology he is suspended within predates that which the Kormacvar utilized to go into mass hibernation. ... His body is locked within chronostasis, it has not decayed - nor regenerated - for eons. Our assumption, based on the resemblance of his physiology to your own, Warmaster, is that he, too, was once a Warmaster.
- Arkarixus - I can see it from his physical appearance. A normal Kormacvar was unable to achieve such a tall frame... Open this chamber, look through our databanks and discover his identity.
- Caretaker - Affirmative, Warmaster. At once.
What eventually amounted to an hour of searching for a means to relieve the individual within the oval prison felt like several days to the Warmaster, whom had been informed by the Caretaker in charge of the operation to remain clear of the room until they could find the key to unlocking the identity of the Warmaster encased within the egg. Soon, after much waiting and the swift depletion of patience, the 'tree' that the egg had once been wrapped and coiled within sank into the ground, its branches and limbs carefully releasing themselves from having grasped the chamber; it took all by surprise when the figure within the chamber dropped lifelessly onto the floor as if the chamber had vanished entirely without notice, with some of the Caretakers noting how it had appeared to "pop", similar to a bubble - a bubble of Chronoscopic energy was the Warmaster locked within prior to his rediscovery, it would come to appear. Some of the Caretakers had taken to examining the cylindrical vats and removing the dust that obscured the contents; internal organs, samples of blood and other bodily liquids, and bones were all to be found within these cases, kept from deterioriation by similar, but not precisely identical, technology to that which had preserved the body of the mysterious individual. Some of these cases, as noted by one of the Caretaker figureheads, possessed text written onto them, with the head Caretaker approaching Arkarixus and gesturing him to read what had been placed to label these samples while various other Caretakers moved to handle the immobile form of the fallen Warmaster from the floor. Arkarixus put a hand on his chin as he read the name given to him, coming to recognize it from his lessons when he was but a youngling.
- Arkarixus - Warmaster Kholduitanus. The fabled "traitor".
- Caretaker - It would appear so. ... Do you know of the process and practice involved in the creation of Warmasters, Warmaster?
- Arkarixus - The DNA of the predecessor is modified and then a new individual is created from the base. Me and Regnatus were created from Kholduitanus' genetic material.
- Caretaker - It is not surprising that the Kormacvar Empire would have withheld Warmaster Kholduitanus' body, considering the value of the gene-material present and grown within a Warmaster throughout their lifespan. ... There are also tools and valuable data present here. Much of it could be collected and... put to purpose.
- Arkarixus - Kholduitanus' feats were widely known across the Empire during my own time as Warmaster. He was not seen as a traitor but rather as a hero for rebelling against the schemes of an old corrupt emperor. According to what I know, he died after facing off a particularly powerful Dronox Commander drone and then an armada of Kormacvar under the leadership of a Warmaster of their own.
- Caretaker - The armada and their Warmaster defeated and executed the Warmaster Kholduitanus, Warmaster?
- Arkarixus - No. He defeated the entirety of the armada. The Warmaster was the sole survivor. Kholduitanus died due to the injuries sustained in the fight with the Dronox.
- Caretaker - ... An impressive feat, Warmaster. Now that we have uncovered his remains and discovered pure samples of his gene-base, we could finally attempt the recreation of a modern Warmaster for the benefit of the Legacy. ... Imagine the potential to utilize against those that threaten our galaxy, Warmaster.
- Arkarixus - No. His gene-seed may be gathered and taken for study, but I strictly forbid any attempts to create new Kormacvar. The dead deserve to rest.
- Caretaker - ... Affirmative, Warmaster. And what of his body? Place it upon display within the halls of Hyperborea? Grant its ownership to our researchers in the Legacy?
- Arkarixus - He was the most powerful Kormacvar of all history... and he deserves a fate fitting for him. Map his genetic structure for study purposes, and once that is done, send his body to Viniaris. He will be buried in the land where the Warmasters were once created.
- Caretaker - Of course, Warmaster. As you command.
The intact remains of the late Warmaster Kholduitanus Vhiktus, under both the command and supervision of his "son", the Warmaster Arkarixus Vhiktus, were indeed taken to Viniaris as swiftly as possible following the collection and mapping of the essential and additional genetic properties present within them, an operation undergone only by the finest and most important within the Legacy. At last, following several billion years that have seen the descent and collapse of the Kormacvar Empire and the prosperity as a race alongside the rise fall of millions of other, younger races that followed in the footsteps and blueprints of their Kormacvar predecessors, the body of the "traitor Warmaster" could finally find itself laid and put to rest alongside the overwhelmingly powerful and heartwarmingly compassionate consciousness that had once inhabited it and given it life. Further research is still being undergone upon the dwarf world in an effort to uncover any further Kormacvar remains, whether technological or biological, so that such may be studied and, under the current Warmaster's word, assimilated into the Legacy's own. A memorial to the deceased warrior was later erected within the capital of Hyperborea in remembrance of what it was he stood for, what he had brought himself to fight against, and what power he held following traditional Kormacvar funeral rites upon Viniaris' surface, headed and organised by Arkarixus and attended by the close company of the Floridarixis and various other important Legacy individuals.
Thus the chronicle of ire may, at long last, come to the close it had patiently awaited.
- Brood Mother - My dear Kholduitanus. You have finally returned home.