A red sun burned high above, looming like an ember in the night. Although the sun cast light down upon the world, the sky was still dark, stars one by one fading out of sight. Only the enormous, smoldering sun remained. A lowly creature clawed its way across the barren, gravelly wasteland. The sun was relentless on this world, but his kind had adapted over billions of years. It was not the heat that left him groaning in agony as he desperately crawled through the jagged rocks. His rough, tan exoskeleton was the same color as the gravel. The large, overlapping scales were chipped at the edges, frayed and broken and burned. Black fluid gushed out of his abdomen, staining a trail behind him. His bulbous, dark red eyes fluttered as he struggled to retain consciousness.
Finally, the poor soul rolled over on his back. His breaths were fast, desperate to breathe in the dry, lifeless air. He looked warily up into the sky, at the sun that he had seen every day of his life. It's light was relentless. This was the first time he had noticed, but the heat was unbearable. Vapor rose up all around him, distorting the horizon in a wave of faltering reality. For a moment, he shut his eye, and when they opened, a shadow was upon him. It was the imposing shape of his tormentor, an effigy of his horror made real in darkness. As he began to see clearer, he noticed those eyes, those horrible, burning embers of countless souls. Those horrific eyes burned red with the same intensity as the sun they overcast.
"M-mmurderer!" cried the creature in his native tongue. The shadow was unresponsive. It simply bore down on him with those unblinking eyes. "You... you killed them all!" the creature continued.
"No." the shadow replied at long last in a voice that would set even the bravest of foes aquiver, "I gave your world a choice. Not one of you was wise enough to accept, and so, you met the end that all mortals must share. I played only the blameless hand of fate in your destruction."
"I am the last of my species. You have no right to harm me!"
The shadow lay a heavy boot heel on the creature's chest and he groaned in pain. "I do not wish to harm you. One last time, I extend to you my generous offer." the shadow extended a hand to his captive, "Join me. Your people fought well, but even one of my lesser-gods could lay waste to them. Your race is fragile. I offer you immortality."
"And in exchange, I am to forsake my heritage?! The home of which I am the only relic?!" cried the dying alien in spite of the immense weight now crushing his chest.
"It has taken you a single lifetime to bond with your world. I offer countless more to move on, and to call the entire cosmos your home. Entire civilations will crumble under your sight, and they will bow before you." the shadow lowered his head into view, and the darkness fell away, leaving only the grave, stone effigy of a god, "And all I ask is that you bow before me."
"I would sooner die, Dathron!"
"Well, I cannot allow that." said Dathron, "As the last of your kind, you are a rarity. It would be foolish of me to allow you to slip into nothingness. Since you spurred my offer of godhood, you will be my pet. You will be forbidden to die, but your existence will be nothing short of agony." with that, Dathron arose and stepped back from the bleeding vermin at his feet, "Perhaps that will make you regret your insolence."
"You monster! The deaths of my brothers will not be forgotten! Even you can die, Dathron! And even if it takes me a thousand lifetimes, I will discover how to kill you! I swear by the stars in the sky, I will kill you!" the dying alien shouted, dark blood now streaking down the side of his mouth. Two mysterious beings now took to Dathron's sides, each minuscule in stature when likened to him. One wore tattered rags, long covering his head and back, skin as black as ash. The other wore a uniform with pride, an outfit of dark green, trimmed with gold. His head was adorned in a tall hood and his black hair clashed with his pale skin, intricate markings of red engraved in his face. Others gathered behind them. They kept coming in waves until hundreds surrounded Dathron and this lone creature. The alien was overtaken by fear. The eyes of the gods were upon him.
"Krulnak," ordered Dathron, calling the man in the green uniform to attention, "See to it that my new pet's vocal chords are removed. I no longer wish to hear his incessant prattling."
"At once, my liege." Krulnak replied with a bow. Dathron turned from the alien and, at the swipe of his hand, his pantheon parted ways. As he lay his foot forward, the ground trembled and Dathron walked down the row. The lesser-gods fell to their knees in his wake.
The dying creature now looked to Krulnak, who began to smile sadistically as he reached fro the sword at his side. He drew the long, gleaming curved blade and, with a single swipe, the sword began to glow red, spewing black smoke. The alien began to quiver with fear as Krulnak stepped closer, brandishing his burning sword. Krulnak dropped to the aliens side. He took hold of the creature's throat and raised his chin, holding the tip of his blade dangerously close to his neck. "Sit still, now..." said Krulnak, "This will definitely hurt." The poor creature shut his eyes and Krulnak reared back his sword, pausing before the plunge.
Dathron was already far off as bloodcurdling screams erupted in the air, but they were no less clear. He marched up to a woman clad in black armor, her helm under her arm. Her tan skin, flat nose and deep, black eyes were her only features, as her hair had been cut away. Starting at the back of her scalp, long scars ran horizontally in a neat row, all the way down below the neckline of her armor.
"Lord Dathron." she said, putting her fist to her chest and bowing her head in respect. She had no name. She was not allowed one, she could not remember one. She had lived for too long to remember. Dathron had granted her strength and near-eternal life, but she would never be immortal. She would never be a god. Instead, she served as the General of Dathron's legion. She guided his feral beasts in battle and proudly slaughtered millions by her own hand in his name.
"How many times now have you laid eyes on me, mortal?" asked Dathron, keeping his eyes on the horizon as if to not dignify her with his full attention.
"Three hundred and seventeen, my Lord." she replied. Dathron turned his eyes to her and narrowed them, beginning to glow. The General lifted her spaulder and exposed the skin of her arm. The row of scars was there as well, stopping halfway down. Suddenly, a controlled fire burned at the end of the scars, and a line of scorched skin was left there. She lowered her armor and bowed once again and whispered, "Thank you, my Lord." She placed her helmet back on her had. "Where do we go next?" she asked.
"I grow tired of these warrior cultures." Dathron replied, "A world inhabited by beings of less tedious behavior would be best."
"The planet of Daxus Marr would be a change." answered the General.
"I said I grew tired of warrior cultures, I did not say I wanted to conquer a world of cowards devoid of integrity or resistance. Find me a world that is protected."
"There is one defended by loose bands of lone warriors, champions that many natives worship like gods. Some of them are possessing of impressive power."
"Something to be broken. Which world do you speak of?"
"Earth, my Lord, the planet is called Earth."
Dathron thought for a moment, finally saying, "Yes... perhaps the Humans are finally evolved enough to deserve the enlightenment of the Pit." As soon as he spoke, a massive ship of black and red and gray metal appeared above them, dominating the sky. The ground beneath them began to rumble, pebbles rising into the air around the two of them. Suddenly, with a loud crack, a massive piece of the ground broke off and rose into the air, both Dathron and his general standing on this platform. They ascended high above the world and were brought to the top of the enormous ship. They stepped off onto the deck, a dozen miles long. Soldiers, monsters, were positioned in rows. Thousands of them. A mere fraction of the legion. The general waved he sword before them and cracked her whip in the other, crying, "To the grind with you vermin! Prepare the vortex! Set course for Earth!" The soldiers turned on their heels and marched in perfect unison into the bowels of the ship. Moments later, it was receding into the heavens.
Now, high above the decimated planet, the ship waited. There stood Dathron, out on the deck, completely exposed to the vacuum, and yet, he remained unchanged. His long blue cloak drifted behind him in the windless dark. He stood with his foot over the rim. Finally, he raised his hands, his eyes already burning with the Eternal Flame of the Pit. At once, his hands and eyes let sip the power, at full blast. The beam of energy shot right down to the planet, cutting through the clouds and setting the atmosphere aflame. He continued to blast the planet far below. When he was finally done, he turned and walked silently into the ship. There, marking the dead world in an enormous trail of flames, was his symbol. It was carved into the planet and marked this inhospitable rock as under the dominion of Dathron.
The stadium was roaring, the field adorned in the sunlight of a cloudless sky in the hour before noon. The people cheered as players took the field, but within moments, each and every soul in this modern coliseum froze. A column of golden light overtook the field. Into this massive ray slowly faded the menacing image of Dathron, standing almost a hundred feet tall, arms folded behind his back. All over the world, these columns were appearing, and people gathered around them, not sure what to do at this disturbing sight.
"People of Earth," declared the god, "I am Dathron, the one who gazed into Eternity. For millenia, I have scoured the Universe in my mission to spread the Supreme Vision. Countless times, I have been met with hostility, and countless times, I have left worlds in ruin. If you are wise, you will have no need to fear me. I come baring a great gift for those willing to accept it. If you believe that you are worthy of my infinite wisdom, come before me and swear your allegiance. In return, not only will you know what lies beyond reality, you will be given power like you could never imagine, you will have immortality. Simply submit to me and you will become gods."
Suddenly, waves of monstrous soldiers fell from the sky, surrounding the pillars of light. Many of them rode atop enormous, feral beasts or manned awe-inspiring machines of war. People recoiled at this sight as foot soldiers corralled them with prods of the spear. Dathron continued, "If not, you will be gathered for research. And if you are so ignorant as to openly resist me, I have conquered millions of worlds. The odds are not in your favor." with that, the columns of light faded away.
Dathron stood on the deck of the enormous warship. "Transmission complete, my Lord." said a lesser-god clad in flowing robes that concealed his face, "How do you think the Humans will respond?"
"All mortals are the same in their foolishness." Dathron replied, walking to the edge and gazing down at the planet beneath his feet, "As for strength, that will soon be known."