Bomb fest in Space Hitler's inter-galactic armageddon #4: The Klo'Vis dilemma

Delta Marathon ring

4.13 million light years of Masari engineering loomed large in the universe. Just minutes ago, a conflict raged there between the Hierarchy, the Thoughtsin, and the Coalition that opposed both the genocidal armies of aliens and the all consuming parasite. Most of the earthborn heroes had already gone home; Barak'Talak was dead, Grand Overseer Mu had fled to lead his crusade towards the Earth with all the Hierarchy could spare. But there was still the issue of the Thoughtsin. While the final push was made to the primary activation chamber of the ring, the Malpsyche sneakily infiltrated it's forces into the former capital of the Hierarchy and had consumed the entire 75,000 light year artificial galaxy in a matter of minutes; driving away both secessionists and loyalist fleets, with the latter joining Mu and the former establishing a quarantine.

The problem was that below Klo'Vis was the MARATHON ring, with a massive amount of god-like technology from the long extinct Masari that could very well be claimed by the parasite were it to break the quarantine. Nobody had the firepower to destroy it; not while the Thoughtsin could man it's shields and power up it's defenses. Jade might have had that firepower; but her and Dave were needed elsewhere to deal with the Hierarchy's last crusade.

"+You sure you've got enough ships to secure this thing? Only takes one spore and we're on a parasite chase.+" Glitch cut in over the comm-links, his metallic voice tinged with pessimism regarding the Hierarchy Secessionists and Coalition's ability to keep that thing properly contained.

"+Glitch if you could answer that question you'd be 'bot of the year kid.+" Marshall Alloy snorted as he lit a thermite cigar. The droids; being mechanical, were deemed to be best suited for ensuring nothing got in or out of the quarantine, and Alloy was just the bot to get saddled with watching this big hunk of infested nastiness.

"+...Maybe we don't have to watch it?+" John said, his armoured frame looking at the enormous; festering mass of flesh covered metal through the visor of his helmet, the enormous station essentially taking up his entire view. That the Hierarchy could build something so vast confounded him. The Masari? Most religions prayed to far lesser powers than the Masari, so that didn't surprise him too much. But the Hierarchy? He shook his head.

"+He's right, we do not necessarily need to keep a patrol over the device, should John be able to move it, and I do not doubt that for a moment.+" Rose cut in, eyeballing the entirety of the corrupted station as John steeled himself, gathering his determination to draw on the strength of his emotions.

"+Move it!? That's a seventy f*cking five thousand light year space station son! It exponentially outmasses entire scrap f*cking damned galactic clusters yu ignorant ****head. Only Hierarchy super science stops that f*ck off huge pile of **** from f*cking collapsing into an observable universe swallowing black hole. You're not f*cking moving that f*cking thing against it's own volition!+" Chief Droid scientist Krunk explained; seeming to go for the maximum number of f-bombs he could drop in a single paragraph.

Snorting at his self-bleeps, John shook his head. "+Clear a path around it. Lemme see if I can't get that hunk of junk out of the way!+" He said, getting more confident by the moment as he approached the bottom spire of the enormous station. He looked up at the enormity of the station as thoughtsin forms buzzed around it; forming a thick; oppressive cloud of spores and spaceflight capable forms and infested spacecraft. He couldn't even begin to imagine how heavy the thing was, any number he thought up of just seemed too small. For a moment, he was daunted, he sucked in air he didn't need, but when he exhaled, he just became more determined to finish the task.

Twirling his hammer around by it's strap, he conjured forth the essence of Breath, the power of freedom; the winds of stars and the vessel's own atmospheric bubble. The winds rapidly began to envelop the entirety of the station; taking on a deep blue colour as they formed into weaving tendrils that began stretching for light years. Emboldened by his own initial success, he raised his shield and extended it's flaps to deflect incoming fire from the station's thoughtsin corrupted weapons; not even feeling the heat of weapons that could pulverize whole sectors of space so long as he kept his shield between himself and the massive turret guns on the station.

Farther and farther did the blue knots stretch; more and more did he have to move around to keep deflecting the massive firepower the thoughtsin sought to bring to bear on him as the winds he summoned broke the light speed barrier trillions of times over; tearing apart anything they caught in their path but still unable to breach the shielding of the enormous station even as it was enwrapped in a bubble of deep blue winds; winds he commanded to remain around the station until he was assured of their self perpetuity. Now with the station completely enwrapped in the winds while lightning that stretched for billions of miles across struck at the station from within the storm he generated; he flew right at the spire.

".+..Holy f*cknuts.+" Krunk cut in over the commlinks.

"+You're not seriously thinking about *throwing* that damn thing are you?+" Alloy asked, disbelieving that anyone was strong enough to throw something that large.

"He is, and he can, and I would advise that you move your fleets back." Rose commented as John batted away enormous tendrils of thoughtsin corrupted flesh that snaked for billions of miles; braving the storm he had generated to try and grasp the child; only for them to be crushed by blows from his hammer so powerful that they could be clearly detected from superluminal scanners even through the power of the galactic storm. With the last of the enormous thoughtsin supercell tentacles out of the way; John, still riding on the power boost of his fight with Barak'Talak and the battle on Earth and the Ring, went to work.

Grabbing at the base of the spire, once he got word that the coalition fleets had moved to a safe distance, he set his suit to Maximum strength mode; diverting as much power as he could to strength functions so that he could pull this off. He strained with effort; pulling at the station to shift it's path through the stars. Gritting his teeth and focusing his determination to see this danger to his friends put out of the way as soon as possible, the Heir of Breath actually managed the impossible. With a might yell; he managed to swing the station downwards; sending it's enormous bulk crossing thousands of light years in mere seconds as he began to spin in place, holding the station down all the while as he prepared a hammer toss.

The disbelieving psychic shrieks of the Thoughtsin were clearly audible across psychic channels as he actually managed to use tactile telekinetics to hold the entire thing together; aided by the station's molecular reinforcement fields, all to make sure that no part of Klo'Vis broke off while he spun around faster and faster. Soon enough, Klo'vis became a hyperluminal blur, invisible to the naked eye as it traversed billions of times light speed in a circle.

To those there to witness the impossible sight, the fabric of space and time themselves began distorting under the pressure of this unimaginable deed of strength before John's mind calculated out a trajectory that would take the Thoughtsin to a so called metal space sector; a section of the universe where the background radiation prevented any sort of organic life from developing and so had been overtaken by machines that would not be susceptible to the thoughtsin.

With a final roar of primordium hard determination, he let the station go at just the precise moment; slingshotting it and the storm he kept around it right through the heavens. Receding at a velocity that any Earth based scientist would have just shook his or her head at if presented to, the Klo'Vis station shot off into the distance as John flew right along side it; preparing the equally implausible deed of stopping it to prevent it from overshooting his intended trajectory. Overtaking the station, John crossed a gulf of space that dwarfed our observable universe thrice over in the blink of an eye and placed himself in the path he calculated out for the vessel.

Creating yet another series of storms; nets that would sap the velocity of the station as it crossed it's final stretch, he breathed in deeply; feeling the station pass through each stellar storm in turn before it loomed impossibly large right before him. Throwing his hammer arm back behind his head, he shouted something in truespeech; a command to reality to give him the immovability he needed to pull this off, if just for a moment. And with a final swing of the hammer; a blast wave tore through the universe that sparked off scientific interest for light years to come, a colossal impact of hammer on shield that even the Malpsyche itself felt and feared as Scmalmharu slammed into the shielding of Klo'vis, broke it, then dug right into it's plating before the Malpsyche forced the station to hold up with layer after layer of psychic shielding and thoughtsin biomass.

In an instant, the kinetic energy of the entire station was halted by a single blow, and when the dust cleared, John still stood; bringing up his shield to defend from the retaliation fire before shooting off into the stars; using his hammer to help give him a speed boost and leaving behind the Malpsyche; contained by the storm with nothing to eat for billions of light years until it got the disabled metaspace drives repaired.

When he returned to his friends, he made a simple comment. "+Whew...I hope I don't have to try that hard anytime soon.+" He said cheerily, a smile on his face beneath the helmet.

"+I am afraid that the cosmos will be needing more of such feats in the near future, but for now, we can relax. I was absolutely certain that you would be able to enact this deed, and I am glad that you proved more than adequete to the task.+" The verbose Novii said, placing an armoured hand on his shoulder once her; clad in the Viktor suit, flew up to him in space.

"+Sh!t I want those powers, would make opening packaging a hell of a lot easier.+" Marshall Alloy remarked to everyone's laughter.

Despite all the jokes and jovialty, the Marathon war had one last act to complete before the Stars could find peace from Mu or the Thoughtsin. One last dramatic chapter in this hundred thousand year long story.

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Bomb-fest in Space Hitler's Intergalactic Armageddon #3: Giant Slaying

"The Tyrant does his best to seem huge, to seem powerful, to seem fearless and invincible. But the truth is that at the core of every tyrant is a frightened little creature terrified of the possibility of it's own ultimate importance." - High King Varitus.

(Meant to conclude the final battle in Marathon 2 as seen here: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/rpg-9/marathon-ii-the-alien-cometh-a-cvnu-event-1493971/ )

Delta Marathon Ring

The Gauntlet had been thrown, the battle had begun, the apocalypse was now, the reckoning had come, it was time to rumble, whatever you wanted to call it; there was now a state of battle between Barak'Talak and his guard of Mutons, Meta-crushers, Zudjari, Milbots, Space Pirates, and Jiralhanae and those who had assembled to kill him to stop the Delta Marathon Ring from fi-

Hey there Mr.Narrator, mind if I take over?

What? I mean...huh? Of course I mind! This is my job.

Well I think you're little ehhh...dry. I'd be much better for telling this story!

But this is my job John you can't just bar-

So anyway, where was sir snoresalot? Oooh! Oooh! I know! I just set my helmet to play some epic tunes in my head as the big guy mobbed some of the other dudes with his mooks. Well, guess that just left the king of the mooks to take down then! I thought as I hefted my hammer in one hand and raised my shield in the other. Dave got his sword ready in both hands, Jade lifted her gun, and Rose just twirled those wands into place I mean have you every seen a twirl that nice?

But John...

I got this, don't worry! You go narrate other things! I'm sure you're needed elsehwere.

Oh fine. I'll just see myself out of here then! Bah humbug!

Jeeze, take a chillpill. Aaaanyway, back to Baraktabuttface. As Rose said, his shields were done, so I had to move in, quickity quick! Just as he got ready to smack one of us upside the head, I dashed in as hard as I could and twisted my shield into a bashing position, smashing it into the hammer. Now I'm positively sure that if that hit weren't being force concentrated by the two us, that probably would have wiped a thirty light year wide area clean of everything bigger than...hydrogen I think.

With all that energy going back into him he was lifted up and off his feet, something I thought I'd help him with with a SMASHING right uppercut with the hammer to send the goober on his merry way. Enough punch to match thirty supernovas sent him right into Rose, who made for a quick, lovely little spin and whalloped that guy into Girik's waiting fist to slam him into the ground for Cheval to open up. Now, anti-reality is pretty funky stuff, but it's about the only thing that can actually damage primordium.

I can't really describe it's colour, and it's not really colourless. It's like...against the concept of colour, I can't really describe it. Girik got out of the way real quick, and blam! The guy took at least thirty shots to hit him where it hurt. That opened up some real good holes in his suit and definitely took a bite out of him, but jeeze if he wasn't quick to heal. I swear the holes in his body were already filling up, and his armour wasn't too far behind.

"He'll get up in mere moments, get back quickly!" Rose warned as the dude's gravity mace brought him onto his feet and he smashed Girik right out of the way with a straight left swing so hard that the entire four point thirteen million parsec station must have moved at least a dekaparsek to the left. Okay, I'll admit that was pretty cool but then again it was from the King jerkoff of the universe so I couldn't give it too high praise.

RIght right where was I? Oh yes fighting butt face maximus. Damn guy stomped his foot to summon up some meta-crushers and whaddya know, I'm the only one left standing against the big lug. I was so sure he was going to try smacking me with the hammer that I had like...a fraction of a moment to bring my arms up and try to push back against him when he tried to bullrush me into the central power node thingy. I wasn't sure what it did and I sure as heck didn't want to find out!

And yeah, that was one heck of a hard shoving match. I could feel my boots digging into the ground and tearing open furrows into it and could hear the metal giving way beneath me as the two of us pushed against one another. We kept on butting each other's heads repeatedly, but I was starting to feel concussed after a few thousand or so sunbusting head bangs. Buuuut I had an idea, rather than try to outmuscle Mr.Universe here, why not just smack him with my hammer and WHOOSH! It went from it's place on my hip right into his gut, throwing him backwards.

Kamal, Jach'ohb and Nufai throw themselves in to fight the Meta-crushers, leaving Phrygus free to swoop in on that ice slide thing he does and slick up the floor just as he regained his footing after I called my hammer back and WHOOP he's on the floor and hella pissed. And right before the dude can even pick himself up, I whammied him with the blue knots to drill into all those open spots. He must not have liked it much from all the swearing he was doing before Dave rushed in to cut at his legs and back kick him back onto his face so that Rose could knock him to the side.

But I don't think that Aleksei was up to the task since the moment Barak'Talak got swatted over to him he grabbed the guy and threw him over the edge. Thank goodness he can fly. But once he started shimmering that's when I knew he had his shields up again. Okay, time to play dodge the singularity wave, because a line of blackholes is kind of hurty. Okay yeah I slipped and got smacked with one. Yeah, survivable I know but jeez my head was rattling from that and next thing I knew I was miles away while the Emerald Soviet tried to trip up the guy. That guy's got spunk even when he's totally outmatched, spunk apparently doesn't stop a fist to the face that knocked him out cold though.

Taranis let down the law on the guy! Thunder, lightning, the winds of a thousand worlds, and a god blast to boot! Molxivor brought down all the psychic shenanigans and I mean like all of them. The room was shaking from all the psychic energy coming out of the beetle guy's head while Aleksei came back with North Star to sucker blast him with everything they had, letting Ssi-rruvus smack him with all the magic he was worth for. Buuut I really don't think they were doing too much to slow him down. The stupid mace came in and launched black holes all over the place and it was up to Jade to deal with them, exploding them wherever she could while Dave cut the rest apart with time-splitter. SHINK! Yes that's what a black hole sounds like when it's being cut in half! Followed by BOOM. I'm the master PRANKSTER not the master liar, yeesh.

"You imbeciles think you have power? You haven't even begun to see power!" He shouted as he started teleporting all over the place, one smack and Taranis was down, one smack and he was down, another blow and Phrygus was down for the count, each time he teleported, he brought someone else down. When Jade finally locked down his teleportation, he had just swept aside Jach'Ohb, Nufai, and Kamal in a single blow and seemed ready to take down Cheval after bringing down everyone but us, Girik, Aleksei, Glitch, must have taken out the whole Nova Phalanx himself. Ooor he would have if Tombstone hadn't crashed a capital ship right on top of him after firing everything it had on him after smashing through the chamber door.

"Did I win?" Said the Ant when he popped out of the nearest hatch.

"I reckon that ought to hold him for a while." Tombstone said before he felt the entire thing begin to shift and turn beneath him right before Barak'talak punched the entire ship to pieces in a massive fireball. I covered my eyes even though that really wasn't needed, and when the dust cleared, the guy was still standing there!

I swear if Dave hadn't rushed in during a time stop and saved them they'd be scattered atoms right now. But Glitch and Aleksei were both down, and the Muton had just thrown himself at Girik. He must not have been expecting it because soon enough he was on the floor getting pounded to paste with his mace. But when I saw Cheval's anti-reality blasts hitting and doing damage, I had like, a lightbulb in my head.

I charged up, wound up my hammer and said. "Hey, big guy!" While Dave gave me a "what the fuck are you even doing face", Jade was busy trying to contain the singularity core of the ship, and Rose nodded knowing exactly what I was planning.

"BATTER UP!" I shouted before striking him in the chin with my hammer and sending him zooming on out of the chamber. I'm not sure how hard I hit him but the entire ring was reported to have moved a megaparsec from the hit, and apparently astronomers on Chiron registered a sudden bloom of energy. Which I guess is pretty awesome for a sucker punch! But I watched enough movies to know that the guy wasn't dead.

"Okay, come on guys. Let's pull the curtains on this ugly son of a bitch." Dave said as he shot off into space, with each of us flying off one after the other like rockets, Jade having to go last as she had to tear apart the black hole. It wasn't that hard to find him as we shot past stars, planets, and even whole nebula! Must have been pulling like...four thirteen million times C or something...something really fast I dunno! But there he was, trying to stabilize his flight for one last go at the four of us.

"INSOLENT PESTS! YOU THINK YOU CAN BEST ME!? I WILL GRIND YOUR BONES TO DUST!" He shouted, making Rose snort.

"Quite the standard fare of threats really. Let's put an end to the bombastic braggart, shall we?" She said with a smile under her helmet, or at least I'm sure she was smiling.

"Oooh fun! Can't wait to smack him into paste!" Jade clapped with glee.

"Guys, I'm having my suit mark black holes, white dwarves, neutron stars, and other superdense objects. We need to smack them into him as hard as possible to finish him, yannow, like Mario Galaxy 2!" I said, getting a weird look from Dave.

"Mario what? Bro, this isn't time for references that fly over my head like a cruiser." He chastised.

"Just smack shit into him when you can between smacking him up close and personal!" I said quickly before giving a Neutron Star a sudden whack to send it flying even faster than we were to crash right into Barak'Talak, spinning him out of his charge and sending him back away from us. I can't really describe the sound of it, but man the explosion was all kinds of pyrotechnicy, shockwaves, sparks, fragments of neutron stuff flying every which way as he spun out of control before going level.

Rose followed up roundhouse kicking a white dwarf into his gut, and man did he go head over heels for that. "I WILL KILL YOU FOR THAT!" He shouted just as Dave sped up to get around for rapid sword swings, striking him in the weak points for massive damage before he managed to get a hammer blow to connect; batting Dave away while he let loose force blasts from his mace. Tough stuff but Jade was able to deflect most of it away. I brought my shield up and bounced one away; and I think that one ended up crushing an entire solar system as collateral. Sorry about that.

The boss man himself flew up to give me a smack in the head and yeah I really should have seen that coming, I had to fight to get myself level after my eyes filled with stars from the force of the blow as he whacked Jade and Rose aside, but from about a thousand light years distant, I found another neutron star to smack him with! This time though, he was ready and just punched it apart with his hands just as the five of us smashed right through a supermassive black hole and tore it to pieces. And man, a dying black hole is the most amazing thing. All this radiation comes pouring out of the broken singularity and event horizon, all this trapped information pours out all at once, and the whole thing goes KABOOM in every colour you can imagine and tons you can't! "Bah, you cannot hope to challenge me! I am the King of the Mutons, mightiest warrior of the Hierarchy!"

When Jade leveled herself out, she set up this huge ass ray of green sun energy. "You really need to shut the fuck up!" She shouted angrily before a gigantic beam speared forth and punched him backwards. Even though she was putting out enough energy to outshine a quasar galaxy by...a bunch of times! He was still pushing forwards and even shot forth his own energy beam back at her.

"Wait, guys...we need to do that thing we practiced for!" I said to them.

"Wait, that thing? Bro I dunno if you're crazy in the head but that's got a shit ton of potential for collateral." Dave said as he got his sword out after getting back into the flight.

"Though there is a risk of damage and it is indeed a stunt we haven't practiced for very often, it would seem to be our best option for dethroning the King swiftly." Rose countered as she assumed her position to the left of Jade.

"Thanks Rose. You sure this will work?" I asked.

"You suggested it oh wise friendleader." She said and this time, I knew she was smiling at me and I knew I felt hot behind the ears.

"Whatever you guys are going to do you better do it fast! He's getting stronger like we are!" Jade shouted as the two clashing beams pushed back and forth against each other and jeeze if he wasn't actually pushing back against her beam hard.

"Okay, team...SPIRAL TETRA-FRAIMOTIF GO!" I shouted as I flew above Jade and Dave flew to the right of her. She brought herself a bit downwards until we formed a diamond.

"BREATH!" I shouted as I poured everything I had into it; calling the winds, lightning, the warp, my psychics, and everything else on my laundry list of powers and shot it into a gigantic blue beam down to the center of the formation. I really hoped they all had the timing down or else this was not going to end in a fun way!

"LIGHT!" Rose added as she fired forth her own Orchid beam, Light, Magic, Psychic juices, Water, and all she could put in slammed into the beam. The beams started rippling and humming together as they started to merge, dancing around in a helix like you see in DNA and forming into a ball at the center.

Dave shot up with "TIME!", letting out a red ray of chronons, fire, cold, and dragon speech, the weirdest sort of music going between us as the beams started resonating together. Now some red was added to our concoction, and the universe itself was beginning to shake beneath what we were putting into it.

"SPACE!" Jade finally shouted when her green doom laser of spacions, earth, the green sun's energy, and kinetic force and everything else she could pull all threw themselves into the giant ball of doom. For a second Barak'Talak's beam came racing towards us at billions of times the speed of light, a giant white ray of death that caused reality to crack and splinter around it.

"We're in clear intergalactic space, let it go now!" Rose shouted just as the beam got within a few miles of us, bright as a gazillion days.

"FIRE!" We all shouted and threw forth the Spiral Tetra-Fraimotif as a gigantic beam that I swore had a dragon's head at it's front. A cosmic song rang in my ears as it raced across the distances faster than light. Reality pulsed and beat according to it's life. The energies of a billion, billion exploding stars, and that's lowballing it, seethed within a point about a hundred feet thick and a hell of a lot longer. Helixes of energy curled and twisted around it as much as they could as they headed right down for Barak'talak's own spiral ray.

When they smashed into each other the universe scrunched up around the collision points, a hole was punched clean through and the monsters inside the hole were immediately fried by the power and the others desperately tried to close it before they could get smashed. So much power was involved that I don't think there really are any comparison points besides a Big Bang as far as naturally occuring things go. Anything caught by the blast was certainly blasted so hard that physics no longer were a factor for anything caught in it.

For the teensiest moment when the two beams collided there was a bit of a stalemate, then the blast just punched right through Barak'talak's beam. Reality itself must have pulled itself over and hurled as a beam that could have probably totaled thousands of galaxies every second relative to our timeframe if Barak'Talak wasn't about to take the brunt of it ripped right through it. Physics itself broke down before the beam and I'm pretty sure Barak'Talak's last words were "Oh shi-" before the beam hit him.

After that, I gotta give him credit; I could faintly hear something screaming over all the noise...or maybe that was just me. We actually had to keep up the beam up for three seconds before it stopped encountering resistance. The fact that he stood up to three seconds of all of that is major props to the douchelord of the cosmos. Dornan nor Death Harbinger wouldn't have survived for a thousandth as long, Koshmar would have probably have bitten the dust in the face of that. But then, this guy was throwing punches that could destroy galaxies, so he had to be made out of stern stuff.

Now at this point we all stopped and Jade opened up a portal to the green sun for the beam to go off to without shooting through the cosmos like a super-bullet. We all flew up to where the big lug was to make sure he was dead and yep! Hammer and armour were there, but not a trace of his cells. High fives all around!

"We still have a Ring to turn off you know." Rose said. "Oh yeah, thanks for that Rose." I said, to which she said "Anytime, John." Tilting her head in a friendly way.

"Jade we need a trip back to the control room!" To which Jade nodded. When we got back, the others must have gotten back up because the room was occupied by the good guys and all the hierarchy losers were on the floor dead.

We threw down Talak's empty equipment to give everyone proof that he was dead and I never expected Girik to be mad enough at the guy to give his armor a good kick. Cheval pushed a button with High Horse's help and aborted the whole firing sequence and you'd never believe how relieved everyone was when the "fry a seventh of the universe" pulse was averted.

Then the ring sent a pulse of another sort that left us all confused. Oh god did it happen? Did we screw up? "No, no, no. No need to worry, the Ring has not been fired. That was a communication pulse." 612 High Horse said, guess it must have read some of our minds.

"Communicating to...what exactly?" I asked, making the A.I nod happily, must have been really excited to answer questions!

"In the event of the abortion of a MARATHON RIng's firing sequence, a pulse will be sent to all other rings to put them on standby status so that they can be activated at a single remote location." She said as a holographic map showing each of the seven...well six since Carol blew up one, rings and where they were in the universe and a dot on where I managed to figure Earth was.

"Why...the Nexus of course."

To be continued in...Marathon 3

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Primalborn Issue #2: A breath of heir

This is a continuation of this.

Preface

"For nearly two hundred and fifty thousand years the mighty Chironaxi Imperium of Man has stood against those who would extinguish the light of hope, purity, and justice in the universe and beyond. Our domains stretch across untold billions of galaxies, and more souls than there are stars lay safe under our wing. We were given a sacred duty when we were uplifted by the Masari, to uphold their legacy and those of the true dragons, to forever guard against the darkness that lies beyond."

"But now that Darkness is more powerful than ever. Chaos, Antedeluvians, Xenos Horriblis, Fiends, VIllains, the spawn of the Far Realm and more forever seek to cast all things into a pit of despair from which there can be no rising. Threats once scarcely imaginable have made themselves known, evils of magnitudes once thought impossible are now common place, doom and woe lie around every corner. It would be easy to lay down and succumb to our fate, to lie down and accept death meekly."

"But we shall not succumb. We shall not accept the darkness. We shall meet their evil with fire and fury. We shall show them that the light the forerunners once lit shall not be extinguished. With our allies, brothers, and sisters we shall stand as one and banish the darkness. With gun and sword in hand we shall purify the filth that infests the stars and beyond. It matters not where evil hides, we shall find it, it matters not how fast it runs, for we shall catch it, it matters not how hard it fights, for we shall slay it."

"We are the angels of death, the sword of our Kaetzar and Lord High Protector, the fury of the High King and Supremor, the wrath of the innocent, the retribution of the defenseless, the terror of the dreaded, the scourging flame that burns away all evil. We are the eternal crusaders for that which is righteous, the infinite foe of that which is unholy. We are the Astartes, and we shall no know fear, for we are fear incarnate!" -The Pledge of the Astartes, recited by all new recruits.

April 13th 2003, Maple Valley, Washington

The Apocalypse had come early. In their attempt to avert fate, the Black Hand had razed the small town of Maple Valley to root out two of the primalborn, John and Jade.

But the strands of destiny were not so easily twisted to one's own ends, not even by one as powerful as the Lord of Doom. Already, the gears were turning inexorably towards a conclusion that even the famous clairvoyance of the archlich would fail to see.

Deep Space

Even the tiniest action made ripples in the weave of space, waves that went out in all directions until they disappated into the gulfs of infinity. In most cases, these ripples would go unnoticed and unheeded, being so small and insignificant. But this was decidedly not most cases.

The presence of Ishmael sent ripples that were for lack of a better term...diseased. When paired with the unique energies associated with one of the primalborn, it sent a shrieking cacaphony that spread across the stars, a scream louder than anything imaginable, but audible to only a select few.

This tsunami across the weave of space, cracked and malformed by it's proximity to a being of such antedeluvian power went out until it reached the senses of another ancient being of cosmic might. A flash of green bounded outwards across the emptiness of the void before rebounding upon itself and then vanishing.

High Earth Orbit

Once again space rippled, contracted, and then burst outwards, but not in response to the actions of an primal evil, but to the arrival of the staunchest foes of the black hand. Having already been warned of their arrival by their secret detection installations on their ancient homeworld, the imposing shapes of an entire fleet of cruisers, battleships, escorts, and strike craft emerged from the depths of metaspace.

And on board the bronze colored flagship of this imposing fleet; the mighty Battle barge "Vengeance of the innocent", a fifty kilometer long vessel bristling with guns and encased in armor over a kilometer thick and enwrapped in countless shields, stood the commander of this powerful armada. High King Varitus Moloc Thule, Saint of Fire and Alpharii of the Bronze minotaurs Order, Supremor of the Astartes and liege lord of the Imperium, second only to the enthroned Kaetzar himself. Clad in his emblazened suit of Teutonic armor

Clasping his legendary spear and shield in his gauntleted hands, the living lord of the Astartes was here for one reason and one reason only; reports that one of the Black hand's Council of Nine had deployed personally, not onto any world, but unto the ancient home of the Astartes, where the order had remained until those examples of mankind not uplifted by the Masari could develop their own civilizations but a scant six thousand years ago.

And if these readings were correct, the one deployed was Ishmael. A frown exerted itself on the face of Varitus, Ishmael had the greatest potential for power of all the members of the Black Hand's Council of Nine. And it was divined that the shrieking harlequin of blood and skulls would find himself on the oldest world of the Astartes to halt the demise of the antithesis. This, the Imperium could not allow.

"Status report?" He asked calmly, resting the butt of his spear on the floor of the bridge.

"The settlement known as "Maple Valley" is in flames my king. Signals matching those of the Shadow Cult are being broadcasted from the world." An ensign reported without a hint of fear in her voice.

"Noted, begin the counter assault and prepare to administer amnesiacs judiciously. Admiral Orsvus is in command of the space operation, hunt down and destroy their vessel, Ishmael is mine." He acknowledged sternly, swiftly turning away to prepare to head down with his liberation force onto the planet before a feminine voice stopped him.

"Ours, you mean." The voice said.

"Ah, Maria, I shall be sure to save some of the wretched cultists for you to slay." Varitus responded easily as a winged figure in femine full body baroque power armor stepped up to him, her Artificer Templar armor seeming almost comically undersized next to Moloc's Teutonic suit.

"We'll see about that. Shall we wager on whether my angels of fury or your bronze minotaurs shall slay more of the foe?" She coyly proposed.

"Perhaps when the situation is less dire." The High king rebuffed, interposing a hand between the two of them as he marched into the teleportation chamber, wishing to remain with his personal bodyguard squadron. Entering the spartan, cubical room with the rest of his Teutonic armored squad immediately focused his senses as he prepared for war..

"Greetings, Saint, Alpharii and King." The Squad sergeant nodded as an alarm went off in the room.

"Honor and glory to you Sergeant Lysandros." Varitus responded with a nod as the squad disappeared in a blast of light and the thunderclap of displaced air, delving into realms beyond human imagination to emerge into the maelstrom of battle.

Back on Earth

"And now the two of you shall come with me." Ishmael snarled, approaching closer towards the two before the entire city seemed to explode with thunder and lightning, with streaks of fire hurtling down from the heavens and the roar of engines drowning out what little other noise there was to be drowned out.

"Warriors of the Imperium, FIGHT FOR HONOR!" A signal shouted across all frequencies all over the city while the heavens above glowed with the fires of space combat. Now those who had hunted the meek and innocent were in turn the hunted and hounded.

Twisting around, Ishmael could see the warriors of the Astartes, the Imperial Army, and other hated organizations of the Imperium appearing all around in frenzy of violence, chopping through his surprised warriors with fury and precision.

Snarling with fury, he attempted to turn back and grab the children and make off with them, only to see that one had disappeared in a crackle of green energy as she was snatched away from his sight by forces unknown, leaving only the boy within his grasp.

If the cueball eyed monstrosity had the lids to do it, he most certainly would have blinked at the sight, which was just enough time for a displacer to lock onto John and shunt him out of the line of sight of Ishmael, whose witchsight was being jammed by the potent powers of the Imperium.

Now, for what few survivors remained in the burning husk of this small city, a war from far beyond the scope of the third rock from the sun was now raging right on it's surface.

Varitus teleported exactly where he had intended, in the center of the city where he anticipated the Black Hand would have placed it's strongest forces to enact overwatch upon the rest of the city.

Confused acolytes swung around to face him, but before they could raise their laser rifles, a flurry of rocket propelled hypervelocity explosive armor piercing rounds shattered their chests into a spray of gore while the Alpharii simply washed them with holy flames that burned them down to their very souls with a simple glance.

"Advance by fire brothers and sisters. Leave no cultist unpunished for his sins." The mighty Saint ordered, consciously having to limit his speed due to the strange mixture of energies caused by the presence of so powerful a member of the black hand.

"Either the hand is lax in it's bindings this day, or they expected resistance." One of the fine veterans noted as he casually grabbed the head of an awakened cyborg and crushed it between the almighty fingers of his power fist before raking a storm of gatling gun rounds from his assault cannons across a mob of crazed fanatics.

"Indeed brother, we will need to restrain ourselves lest we tear this fragile world asunder until we reach that foul clown." Varitus growled as he neatly skewered an Epsilon Brute through the chest with his spear, firing off it's energy capacitors to let loose a furious beam of power that cored right through an entire line of tanks while their rounds pittered off his divine steel armor and shielding.

"My lord, we have incoming on multiple vectors!" One of the female members of the squad noted, letting loose a brace of armor piercing missiles to shred an avatar warmech while overhead, many of the airborne members of the angels of fury order streaked overhead in their red and silver finery, Lady Maria hacking an undead dragon in half with one clean slice of her sword before leaping onto one of the Hand's mighty saucers and ripping the half kilometer sized adamantium vessel in half with her bare hands.

After giving Maria an approving nod, Varitus arranged his squadron into a defensive formation, tuning out the background fights as Army soldiers and Astartes warriors battled to cleanse the infection within this city and save as many lives as possible.

"KILL THE ASTARTES! KILL THE KNIGHTS!" One of the hand's officers, an unpleasantly mutated creature that could best be described as the results of grafting the least appealing parts of deep sea life onto a man and encasing it in onyx and ruby power armor.

"Stand firm!" The order rang out as the cultists charged out from their hiding places to slay the hated warriors of the Imperium.

"Fire at will!" The Alpharii ordered as he let loose fire, lightning, light, ash, and energy from his body and weaponry, his stormshield crackling with thunder before adding to this cacaphony with a sonic drumbeat of annihilation and the crackling might of electricity.

A hundred millitants rushed forward, only for the briefest brushing from a heavy flamer to utterly incinerate them, the radiant heat washing outwards to slaughter many more of the religion maddened cultists.

Stormbolter rounds shrieked by at escape velocities, each round tearing through the armor of the warriors of the black hand with ease and rupturing them like oversized balloons before finally losing enough energy to merely embed themselves in some of their targets and then explode with predictably messy and fiery results.

Gatling rounds and missile fire racked an even greater score of deaths, ripping apart machinery and flesh alike as the seemingly invincible warriors of the Astartes stood firm, only using cover to make the enemy uncertain of a shot rather than for it's protective value.

Those who threw themselves at Varitus Moloc found themselves in a universe of hurt. Those caught by his purging fire, light, ash, and lightning were seared to their very souls, purified as their bodies and spirits were ignited and incinerated into physical and ethereal ashes, those who met his spear's ruby lance of death were reduced to nothing but quark gluon plasma, their very atoms torn apart by the obscene temperatures that radiated outwards and fried all they touched. And those who met his shield's drumbeat could be best described as being shaken to death as an infrasonic pulse shook their bodies into exploding showers of gore and chips of machinery.

But even through this wave of death, some made it through, protected by the direst magics, powers, and sciences of the black hand as they sought to close in, firing their weapons that pattered not only off the armor of the Paladins, but off of powerful shielding.

But they fared no better in close quarters. The powerful bodies of the Astartes were further enhanced by their massive suits of power armor and close combat weapons. Advancing forward to meet the charging foes, close combat brethern moved forward to meet the attackers head on and allow the shooters to continue unmolested.

Blows hit physical energy enhanced shields or deflector fields or absurdly tough armor, while the Astartes responded in kind with power weapons of all sorts. Swords, Axes, Mauls, Spears, Bayonets, Hammers, Fists, and Claws were all deployed judiciously, with a few even wielding the mighty armor piercing chain fists which had spectacularly bloody results against mere infantry.

The warriors of the black hand had a fury for their vile antedeluvians and a fervor for the ideals espoused by their dark lords behind them, but the Astartes were too well trained, too well armed, and too well armored to notice their efforts.

Bodies exploded from the impacts of Mauls, Hammers, and Fists, while others were carved into ruin by Axes, Claws, and Swords or were made to spray out the contents of their body from the swings of chain fists and others skewered neatly upon Spears, Lances, and Bayonets.

The body parts of the black hand's warriors flew out in all directions, ending their madness in an awe inspiring shower of blood and guts, their demented prayers being met with litanies of purity and hatred for the Black Hand.

Even their giant mechs were no match for the Astartes, with the elite veterans and personal guard of the Alpharii ripping into the massive monsters and machines of the Black Hand with little more difficulty than their cannon fodder servants, their armor buckling against blunt force, pierced by stabbing implements, and carved open against slashing weapons.

Varitus himself displayed that the leaf like tip of his spear was every bit as viable for slashing as it was for stabbing, while the clubbed butt was as lethal as any thunderhammer, cracking apart and blasting apart bodies and machines alike while his shield was demonstrated to be as lethal a weapon in close quarters as anything else in his arsenal.

Moving with speed and grace that belied his colossal armor, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs left only death where he attacked, stomping the armies arrayed against him into fine paste before at long last, there was none left to slay.

"Move to the southeast brothers and sisters, Ishmael will be there...I can smell his taint." Moloc noted as he redirected himself, not even turning around to swat aside a charging Acolyte with his shield, shattering the body of the maddened cultist in a single blow.

But before they could move forward, the remains of yet another giant aircraft collapsed onto the ground, it's burning wreckage soon being made to bear the weight of the airborne astartes of the Angels of Fury.

"Took you long enough." Maria teased.

"Battle is it's own reward Maria." Varitus reminded her as he focused his keen, helmet aided sight.

"The monster is there." He noted, clutching onto his spear and raising his shield into battle positions.

But as soon as he prepared, a young boy ran past him. "Clear the civi-..." He started before pausing, reading the scans on the raven haired child.

"By the Kaetzar." The High King muttered as the boy clung to the leg of the nearest of the bronze plated warriors, holding on for dear life.

"Secure the boy, the beast must not be allowed to take him." Maria ordered as she muttered a quick prayer before the world exploded in a fit of violence.

"If you so treasure this child, then you can die with him! JOIN HIM IN THE GRAVE!" A feroicious, self echoing snarl went out as many of the remaining structures in the city were leveled by an inferno of reality damaging power. The structures very existence being attacked until they cracked and shattered, being rendered into nothing but dust.

There stood Ishmael the Death jester, the green skull masque capped with the spiked prongs of a jester's outfit, clawed hands clasping onto a lethal scythe that seemed to cut through the very universe itself, green bone like structures forming around black and blood red armor. A visage of such hateful evil that lesser beings would tear their eyes out rather than see it, a being of such frightful power that one could say the entire world shook before his power.

Materializing from the shadows came a wing of Deathstalkers and Shadow Cultists, seeking to isolate the two Alpharii, but the demonic clown was upon them before they could rectify this situation. Raising his shield and uttering a word of prayer to thule and a chant in truespeech, Varitus brought what he thought was just himself, Maria, and Ishmael into a nexus of coexistent dimensions to avoid collateral damage, but before he could prepare himself for battle, he could sense another presence.

The boy! He cursed himself, noticing the child clinging onto his leg as he focused and shunted the boy out of the way with a word of true speech, teleporting him into a building in this stacked array of mirrors and shadows.

With a quick gesture, Moloc brought his shield forward and interposed it between an incoming scythe strike by Ishmael, absorbing the cataclysmic blow as it rippled outwards with enough force to rip the ground asunder, tearing into the planet and sending out a shockwave that damaged and destroyed other nearby shadow earths, the darkness of the Nexus being dispelled by the frenzied shockwave from the Deathjester's blow.

Jabbing forward with his spear, he watched as Ishmael twisted away from his weapon, intercepting a divine steel blade from Maria with his free set of claws, growling with anger while Moloc swung his spear upward to slash at a joint in Ishmael's armored shroud.

Finding purchase as the divine steel implement stuck into Ishmael, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs shoved his lance deeper into the arm pit of Ishmael and let loose it's radiant energies, letting loose a litany of hatred as Ishmael pushed through what should have been searing pain to reach for Varitus' face.

Clawing at his helmet as he started to coat his claws with deadly anti-reality, Varitus could feel the effects of the power gouging into the divine steel, pressing inwards as even the indestructible material started to give way to the very antithesis of being.

But before Ishmael could pierce into flesh, Moloc threw forth a mighty shield bash to slam the hateful fiend backwards and into a backstab from Maria followed by her own shield bash, setting up the deathjester for a potent double whammy that split the already damaged world apart into tiny fragments, the ring like shockwave exploding outwards.

"Has the Long War taught you whelps nothing? I feel no pain!" Ishmael scowled as he brought his scythe around in a sweep, the rippling blast from it smashing aside his foes and slicing entire shadow earths apart before he whipped out his golden gun and let loose a hail storm of energy bolts from the mysterious energy source dubbed only as the Green Sun.

Moving faster than light itself, Maria swung into a rapid series of aeriel maneuvers to elude Ishmael's fury, while the heavier armored High King made for his charge to drive his spear into Ishmael at speeds that would have made Einstein weep.

Each projectile from Ishmael hit like an exploding sun, concentrated into an area the size of a large bullet, each hit decimated entire worlds and tossed the two Alpharii and Saints back like match sticks in the wind, each time the golden gun barked it heralded naught but ruin.

But gritting his teeth, Moloc arrested his momentum, speaking to reality itself in the true tongue to allow him to simply ignore the laws described by Neuton, blocking each shot with his mighty shield as he advanced relentlessly like some sort of juggernaut, building up speed before ramming into the Deathjester and driving forth his spear into one of the billiard ball like eyes of Caliborn, eliciting a shriek not of pain, but of pure rage.

Firing his own energy into Ishmael's eye, he set fire to the Antedeluvian's very being, prompting it to roar like a man possessed before hurling his foe away with a psionic thrust of unimaginable force and conjuring forth the legendary wand of chortles.

Splitting open his jaw to impossible lengths before outright separating it from the top of his head, a multicoloured lance of anti-reality began to issue forth from Ishmael's very skull. The groaning roar of time and space being split asunder went out throughout the nexus before letting loose an unimaginable lance of utter destruction.

But before the ray could be fired forth properly, Maria sent forth the power of raw holiness and order burning into Ishmael's form in a massive holy smite that radiated the very energies of goodness outwards, striking into Ishmael's infinite being and distracting him long enough for her to grab it by the head and force it's beam upwards.

The ray went outwards, spearing through dozens of shadow earths and annihilating them utterly, their very realities being attacked and destroyed by the cosmic fury of the lance of annihilation, the ray going out and out and out, destroying all it touched as it went onwards onto infinity; cracking and damaging the very fabric of this nexus of reality, tearing open holes in the fabric of all things larger than solar systems as Maria fought to drive her sword into Caliborn's other eye.

Snarling and struggling, Caliborn gripped the woman by her armor's wing even as she wrested an arm free of her head lock and jammed the holy sword right into the right eye of Caliborn, sending damning waves of goodness into the Antedeluvian and prompting it to let loose a snarl of anger before snapping it's head around and winging her with the beam, launching her in a spiral outwards as the energy died down and the Nexus around them shifted, groaned and roared until finally ejecting them for fear of it's continued existence.

Shuffling around and grasping it's eye sockets, Ishmael willed them back into existence before searching for John once again. "Where are you? He demanded, snapping his head back and forth.

"Ah..." He sneered as he caught sight of the three year old, rushing towards the boy who as was expected of one his age, was weeping and bawling, overwhelmed by the madness surrounding him.

Waddling in the direction of his parents, the boy seemed such easy prey as he called out for anyone, someone to take him away from the madness.

"Mommy? Daddy? Jade? Where are you? I'm scared...I don't wanna be here!" He bawled in his search as Ishmael came upon him, brandishing his scythe once more.

"You will have no further need of them in due time, worm." Caliborn growled, reaching out for the boy.

"No...stop! Go away!" John whined as he stumbled and fell, trying to crawl away from the monster approaching him, the beast's eyes shifting impossibly between every possible combination of billiard balls.

"Come here, infantile insect." Ishmael roared with all the hate it's voice could muster, but before it's claws could lay a hand on the boy, his eyes glowed an intense light blue.

"I...said...GO...AWAY!" He retorted with all the anger a toddler throwing a tantrum could possess, the voice echoing upon itself with the slightest hint of a sound not made by his own throat within it.

Immediately the very winds of the world began to twist and funnel themselves into vast tendrils. The very elemental powers of reality twisted to accomodate John's will as the winds spun themselves at speeds usually only found in particle colliders, sheathing themselves in vast blue tentacles as they formed into destructive patterns.

Light, heat, and electricity danced around in the winds as they sped up to velocities that rendered them down into quark-gluon plasma, being far too hot to remain as atoms.

The winds whipped across maple valley and skyrocketed outwards into space, unleashing a power that had not been seen on the earth throughout it's history.

There was a more technical term for it, but for the boy, the only way he could describe it was the windy thing.

Ishmael looked around in stark confusion, his soldiers faring no better in trying to make sense of the power being unleashed around them. But when most of Ishmael's ships were whipped in half by spiraling tendrils of wind that stretched out into the heavens, their superheated forms radiating outwards as they disintegrated, they all too late began to connect the dots.

Twisters began to form across the city, formed of these relativistically churning tendrils, these knots of blue, but other shapes began to form, monsters, people, and other constructs conjured from a three year old's imagination, formed of winds not just of earthly, but stellar origins.

Those who knew what was going on began to flee, but it was too late, the winds speared through them, tore them to ribbons, or ripped them limb from limb and atom by atom as they stormed across the land. Even the mightiest of the black hand's war machines could not stand before the sheer power being unleashed upon them, the blue knots ripping through their bodies like so much paper mache.

"What is the meaning of this!?" Ishmael barked as one of his death stalkers was ripped apart by a wind T.Rex

"Leave, me, ALONE!" John shouted as he directed as much force as he could into Ishmael, the winds pushing forth and them bounding into Ishmael far faster than even light itself. The powers of the boy were focused by all the hate the little boy could bring to bear, and even the Deathjester could not stand before such fury.

In a single whiplash, Ishmael was sent flying out of sight, and indeed out of the galaxy as a whole, being launched faster than light could ever hope to manage as the winds sought out anyone and everyone bearing the symbols of the black hand they could find, eradicating each and every member of the strike force in a cleansing wave of air.

When the last member of the strike force was slaughtered, John stumbled briefly, feeling himself return to normal as the Astartes and Imperial troopers gathered around him, along with the imposing shapes of Varitus and Maria.

"Child, in light of your power, we..." Varitus began before the entirety of the procession dropped to their knees and bowed their heads before the boy.

"Kneel to you as one of our saviors." Maria concluded, with this last bit of oddness finally proving to be too much and prompting John to drop and faint.

"Secure him, and return him to the ship." Varitus ordered, noting the appearance of thunder clouds over the fallen form of one of the native defenders of the city, one of the gods that had sprung up since the Imperium had formally left earth.

With a crash of lightning, materialized the forms of the Celtic gods, lead by the mighty Taranis, lord of lightning.

"Dagda preserve us!" He exclaimed as he beheld Rhiannon's fallen form before noticing some of the armored warriors of the Astartes picking up John and preparing to leave with him.

"Stop, where do you think you are taking him!" One of the Gods angrily demanded, prompting the Imperial soldiers to raise their weapons against the Tuatha.

To be continued.

OOC: I think I'll keep on with John and Jade's origin stories for another two to four issues before starting with Dave and Rose's.

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Primalborn Issue #2: A breath of heir

This is a continuation of this.

Preface

"For nearly two hundred and fifty thousand years the mighty Chironaxi Imperium of Man has stood against those who would extinguish the light of hope, purity, and justice in the universe and beyond. Our domains stretch across untold billions of galaxies, and more souls than there are stars lay safe under our wing. We were given a sacred duty when we were uplifted by the Masari, to uphold their legacy and those of the true dragons, to forever guard against the darkness that lies beyond."

"But now that Darkness is more powerful than ever. Chaos, Antedeluvians, Xenos Horriblis, Fiends, VIllains, the spawn of the Far Realm and more forever seek to cast all things into a pit of despair from which there can be no rising. Threats once scarcely imaginable have made themselves known, evils of magnitudes once thought impossible are now common place, doom and woe lie around every corner. It would be easy to lay down and succumb to our fate, to lie down and accept death meekly."

"But we shall not succumb. We shall not accept the darkness. We shall meet their evil with fire and fury. We shall show them that the light the forerunners once lit shall not be extinguished. With our allies, brothers, and sisters we shall stand as one and banish the darkness. With gun and sword in hand we shall purify the filth that infests the stars and beyond. It matters not where evil hides, we shall find it, it matters not how fast it runs, for we shall catch it, it matters not how hard it fights, for we shall slay it."

"We are the angels of death, the sword of our Kaetzar and Lord High Protector, the fury of the High King and Supremor, the wrath of the innocent, the retribution of the defenseless, the terror of the dreaded, the scourging flame that burns away all evil. We are the eternal crusaders for that which is righteous, the infinite foe of that which is unholy. We are the Astartes, and we shall no know fear, for we are fear incarnate!" -The Pledge of the Astartes, recited by all new recruits.

April 13th 2003, Maple Valley, Washington

The Apocalypse had come early. In their attempt to avert fate, the Black Hand had razed the small town of Maple Valley to root out two of the primalborn, John and Jade.

But the strands of destiny were not so easily twisted to one's own ends, not even by one as powerful as the Lord of Doom. Already, the gears were turning inexorably towards a conclusion that even the famous clairvoyance of the archlich would fail to see.

Deep Space

Even the tiniest action made ripples in the weave of space, waves that went out in all directions until they disappated into the gulfs of infinity. In most cases, these ripples would go unnoticed and unheeded, being so small and insignificant. But this was decidedly not most cases.

The presence of Ishmael sent ripples that were for lack of a better term...diseased. When paired with the unique energies associated with one of the primalborn, it sent a shrieking cacaphony that spread across the stars, a scream louder than anything imaginable, but audible to only a select few.

This tsunami across the weave of space, cracked and malformed by it's proximity to a being of such antedeluvian power went out until it reached the senses of another ancient being of cosmic might. A flash of green bounded outwards across the emptiness of the void before rebounding upon itself and then vanishing.

High Earth Orbit

Once again space rippled, contracted, and then burst outwards, but not in response to the actions of an primal evil, but to the arrival of the staunchest foes of the black hand. Having already been warned of their arrival by their secret detection installations on their ancient homeworld, the imposing shapes of an entire fleet of cruisers, battleships, escorts, and strike craft emerged from the depths of metaspace.

And on board the bronze colored flagship of this imposing fleet; the mighty Battle barge "Vengeance of the innocent", a fifty kilometer long vessel bristling with guns and encased in armor over a kilometer thick and enwrapped in countless shields, stood the commander of this powerful armada. High King Varitus Moloc Thule, Saint of Fire and Alpharii of the Bronze minotaurs Order, Supremor of the Astartes and liege lord of the Imperium, second only to the enthroned Kaetzar himself. Clad in his emblazened suit of Teutonic armor

Clasping his legendary spear and shield in his gauntleted hands, the living lord of the Astartes was here for one reason and one reason only; reports that one of the Black hand's Council of Nine had deployed personally, not onto any world, but unto the ancient home of the Astartes, where the order had remained until those examples of mankind not uplifted by the Masari could develop their own civilizations but a scant six thousand years ago.

And if these readings were correct, the one deployed was Ishmael. A frown exerted itself on the face of Varitus, Ishmael had the greatest potential for power of all the members of the Black Hand's Council of Nine. And it was divined that the shrieking harlequin of blood and skulls would find himself on the oldest world of the Astartes to halt the demise of the antithesis. This, the Imperium could not allow.

"Status report?" He asked calmly, resting the butt of his spear on the floor of the bridge.

"The settlement known as "Maple Valley" is in flames my king. Signals matching those of the Shadow Cult are being broadcasted from the world." An ensign reported without a hint of fear in her voice.

"Noted, begin the counter assault and prepare to administer amnesiacs judiciously. Admiral Orsvus is in command of the space operation, hunt down and destroy their vessel, Ishmael is mine." He acknowledged sternly, swiftly turning away to prepare to head down with his liberation force onto the planet before a feminine voice stopped him.

"Ours, you mean." The voice said.

"Ah, Maria, I shall be sure to save some of the wretched cultists for you to slay." Varitus responded easily as a winged figure in femine full body baroque power armor stepped up to him, her Artificer Templar armor seeming almost comically undersized next to Moloc's Teutonic suit.

"We'll see about that. Shall we wager on whether my angels of fury or your bronze minotaurs shall slay more of the foe?" She coyly proposed.

"Perhaps when the situation is less dire." The High king rebuffed, interposing a hand between the two of them as he marched into the teleportation chamber, wishing to remain with his personal bodyguard squadron. Entering the spartan, cubical room with the rest of his Teutonic armored squad immediately focused his senses as he prepared for war..

"Greetings, Saint, Alpharii and King." The Squad sergeant nodded as an alarm went off in the room.

"Honor and glory to you Sergeant Lysandros." Varitus responded with a nod as the squad disappeared in a blast of light and the thunderclap of displaced air, delving into realms beyond human imagination to emerge into the maelstrom of battle.

Back on Earth

"And now the two of you shall come with me." Ishmael snarled, approaching closer towards the two before the entire city seemed to explode with thunder and lightning, with streaks of fire hurtling down from the heavens and the roar of engines drowning out what little other noise there was to be drowned out.

"Warriors of the Imperium, FIGHT FOR HONOR!" A signal shouted across all frequencies all over the city while the heavens above glowed with the fires of space combat. Now those who had hunted the meek and innocent were in turn the hunted and hounded.

Twisting around, Ishmael could see the warriors of the Astartes, the Imperial Army, and other hated organizations of the Imperium appearing all around in frenzy of violence, chopping through his surprised warriors with fury and precision.

Snarling with fury, he attempted to turn back and grab the children and make off with them, only to see that one had disappeared in a crackle of green energy as she was snatched away from his sight by forces unknown, leaving only the boy within his grasp.

If the cueball eyed monstrosity had the lids to do it, he most certainly would have blinked at the sight, which was just enough time for a displacer to lock onto John and shunt him out of the line of sight of Ishmael, whose witchsight was being jammed by the potent powers of the Imperium.

Now, for what few survivors remained in the burning husk of this small city, a war from far beyond the scope of the third rock from the sun was now raging right on it's surface.

Varitus teleported exactly where he had intended, in the center of the city where he anticipated the Black Hand would have placed it's strongest forces to enact overwatch upon the rest of the city.

Confused acolytes swung around to face him, but before they could raise their laser rifles, a flurry of rocket propelled hypervelocity explosive armor piercing rounds shattered their chests into a spray of gore while the Alpharii simply washed them with holy flames that burned them down to their very souls with a simple glance.

"Advance by fire brothers and sisters. Leave no cultist unpunished for his sins." The mighty Saint ordered, consciously having to limit his speed due to the strange mixture of energies caused by the presence of so powerful a member of the black hand.

"Either the hand is lax in it's bindings this day, or they expected resistance." One of the fine veterans noted as he casually grabbed the head of an awakened cyborg and crushed it between the almighty fingers of his power fist before raking a storm of gatling gun rounds from his assault cannons across a mob of crazed fanatics.

"Indeed brother, we will need to restrain ourselves lest we tear this fragile world asunder until we reach that foul clown." Varitus growled as he neatly skewered an Epsilon Brute through the chest with his spear, firing off it's energy capacitors to let loose a furious beam of power that cored right through an entire line of tanks while their rounds pittered off his divine steel armor and shielding.

"My lord, we have incoming on multiple vectors!" One of the female members of the squad noted, letting loose a brace of armor piercing missiles to shred an avatar warmech while overhead, many of the airborne members of the angels of fury order streaked overhead in their red and silver finery, Lady Maria hacking an undead dragon in half with one clean slice of her sword before leaping onto one of the Hand's mighty saucers and ripping the half kilometer sized adamantium vessel in half with her bare hands.

After giving Maria an approving nod, Varitus arranged his squadron into a defensive formation, tuning out the background fights as Army soldiers and Astartes warriors battled to cleanse the infection within this city and save as many lives as possible.

"KILL THE ASTARTES! KILL THE KNIGHTS!" One of the hand's officers, an unpleasantly mutated creature that could best be described as the results of grafting the least appealing parts of deep sea life onto a man and encasing it in onyx and ruby power armor.

"Stand firm!" The order rang out as the cultists charged out from their hiding places to slay the hated warriors of the Imperium.

"Fire at will!" The Alpharii ordered as he let loose fire, lightning, light, ash, and energy from his body and weaponry, his stormshield crackling with thunder before adding to this cacaphony with a sonic drumbeat of annihilation and the crackling might of electricity.

A hundred millitants rushed forward, only for the briefest brushing from a heavy flamer to utterly incinerate them, the radiant heat washing outwards to slaughter many more of the religion maddened cultists.

Stormbolter rounds shrieked by at escape velocities, each round tearing through the armor of the warriors of the black hand with ease and rupturing them like oversized balloons before finally losing enough energy to merely embed themselves in some of their targets and then explode with predictably messy and fiery results.

Gatling rounds and missile fire racked an even greater score of deaths, ripping apart machinery and flesh alike as the seemingly invincible warriors of the Astartes stood firm, only using cover to make the enemy uncertain of a shot rather than for it's protective value.

Those who threw themselves at Varitus Moloc found themselves in a universe of hurt. Those caught by his purging fire, light, ash, and lightning were seared to their very souls, purified as their bodies and spirits were ignited and incinerated into physical and ethereal ashes, those who met his spear's ruby lance of death were reduced to nothing but quark gluon plasma, their very atoms torn apart by the obscene temperatures that radiated outwards and fried all they touched. And those who met his shield's drumbeat could be best described as being shaken to death as an infrasonic pulse shook their bodies into exploding showers of gore and chips of machinery.

But even through this wave of death, some made it through, protected by the direst magics, powers, and sciences of the black hand as they sought to close in, firing their weapons that pattered not only off the armor of the Paladins, but off of powerful shielding.

But they fared no better in close quarters. The powerful bodies of the Astartes were further enhanced by their massive suits of power armor and close combat weapons. Advancing forward to meet the charging foes, close combat brethern moved forward to meet the attackers head on and allow the shooters to continue unmolested.

Blows hit physical energy enhanced shields or deflector fields or absurdly tough armor, while the Astartes responded in kind with power weapons of all sorts. Swords, Axes, Mauls, Spears, Bayonets, Hammers, Fists, and Claws were all deployed judiciously, with a few even wielding the mighty armor piercing chain fists which had spectacularly bloody results against mere infantry.

The warriors of the black hand had a fury for their vile antedeluvians and a fervor for the ideals espoused by their dark lords behind them, but the Astartes were too well trained, too well armed, and too well armored to notice their efforts.

Bodies exploded from the impacts of Mauls, Hammers, and Fists, while others were carved into ruin by Axes, Claws, and Swords or were made to spray out the contents of their body from the swings of chain fists and others skewered neatly upon Spears, Lances, and Bayonets.

The body parts of the black hand's warriors flew out in all directions, ending their madness in an awe inspiring shower of blood and guts, their demented prayers being met with litanies of purity and hatred for the Black Hand.

Even their giant mechs were no match for the Astartes, with the elite veterans and personal guard of the Alpharii ripping into the massive monsters and machines of the Black Hand with little more difficulty than their cannon fodder servants, their armor buckling against blunt force, pierced by stabbing implements, and carved open against slashing weapons.

Varitus himself displayed that the leaf like tip of his spear was every bit as viable for slashing as it was for stabbing, while the clubbed butt was as lethal as any thunderhammer, cracking apart and blasting apart bodies and machines alike while his shield was demonstrated to be as lethal a weapon in close quarters as anything else in his arsenal.

Moving with speed and grace that belied his colossal armor, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs left only death where he attacked, stomping the armies arrayed against him into fine paste before at long last, there was none left to slay.

"Move to the southeast brothers and sisters, Ishmael will be there...I can smell his taint." Moloc noted as he redirected himself, not even turning around to swat aside a charging Acolyte with his shield, shattering the body of the maddened cultist in a single blow.

But before they could move forward, the remains of yet another giant aircraft collapsed onto the ground, it's burning wreckage soon being made to bear the weight of the airborne astartes of the Angels of Fury.

"Took you long enough." Maria teased.

"Battle is it's own reward Maria." Varitus reminded her as he focused his keen, helmet aided sight.

"The monster is there." He noted, clutching onto his spear and raising his shield into battle positions.

But as soon as he prepared, a young boy ran past him. "Clear the civi-..." He started before pausing, reading the scans on the raven haired child.

"By the Kaetzar." The High King muttered as the boy clung to the leg of the nearest of the bronze plated warriors, holding on for dear life.

"Secure the boy, the beast must not be allowed to take him." Maria ordered as she muttered a quick prayer before the world exploded in a fit of violence.

"If you so treasure this child, then you can die with him! JOIN HIM IN THE GRAVE!" A feroicious, self echoing snarl went out as many of the remaining structures in the city were leveled by an inferno of reality damaging power. The structures very existence being attacked until they cracked and shattered, being rendered into nothing but dust.

There stood Ishmael the Death jester, the green skull masque capped with the spiked prongs of a jester's outfit, clawed hands clasping onto a lethal scythe that seemed to cut through the very universe itself, green bone like structures forming around black and blood red armor. A visage of such hateful evil that lesser beings would tear their eyes out rather than see it, a being of such frightful power that one could say the entire world shook before his power.

Materializing from the shadows came a wing of Deathstalkers and Shadow Cultists, seeking to isolate the two Alpharii, but the demonic clown was upon them before they could rectify this situation. Raising his shield and uttering a word of prayer to thule and a chant in truespeech, Varitus brought what he thought was just himself, Maria, and Ishmael into a nexus of coexistent dimensions to avoid collateral damage, but before he could prepare himself for battle, he could sense another presence.

The boy! He cursed himself, noticing the child clinging onto his leg as he focused and shunted the boy out of the way with a word of true speech, teleporting him into a building in this stacked array of mirrors and shadows.

With a quick gesture, Moloc brought his shield forward and interposed it between an incoming scythe strike by Ishmael, absorbing the cataclysmic blow as it rippled outwards with enough force to rip the ground asunder, tearing into the planet and sending out a shockwave that damaged and destroyed other nearby shadow earths, the darkness of the Nexus being dispelled by the frenzied shockwave from the Deathjester's blow.

Jabbing forward with his spear, he watched as Ishmael twisted away from his weapon, intercepting a divine steel blade from Maria with his free set of claws, growling with anger while Moloc swung his spear upward to slash at a joint in Ishmael's armored shroud.

Finding purchase as the divine steel implement stuck into Ishmael, the lord of the Bronze Minotaurs shoved his lance deeper into the arm pit of Ishmael and let loose it's radiant energies, letting loose a litany of hatred as Ishmael pushed through what should have been searing pain to reach for Varitus' face.

Clawing at his helmet as he started to coat his claws with deadly anti-reality, Varitus could feel the effects of the power gouging into the divine steel, pressing inwards as even the indestructible material started to give way to the very antithesis of being.

But before Ishmael could pierce into flesh, Moloc threw forth a mighty shield bash to slam the hateful fiend backwards and into a backstab from Maria followed by her own shield bash, setting up the deathjester for a potent double whammy that split the already damaged world apart into tiny fragments, the ring like shockwave exploding outwards.

"Has the Long War taught you whelps nothing? I feel no pain!" Ishmael scowled as he brought his scythe around in a sweep, the rippling blast from it smashing aside his foes and slicing entire shadow earths apart before he whipped out his golden gun and let loose a hail storm of energy bolts from the mysterious energy source dubbed only as the Green Sun.

Moving faster than light itself, Maria swung into a rapid series of aeriel maneuvers to elude Ishmael's fury, while the heavier armored High King made for his charge to drive his spear into Ishmael at speeds that would have made Einstein weep.

Each projectile from Ishmael hit like an exploding sun, concentrated into an area the size of a large bullet, each hit decimated entire worlds and tossed the two Alpharii and Saints back like match sticks in the wind, each time the golden gun barked it heralded naught but ruin.

But gritting his teeth, Moloc arrested his momentum, speaking to reality itself in the true tongue to allow him to simply ignore the laws described by Neuton, blocking each shot with his mighty shield as he advanced relentlessly like some sort of juggernaut, building up speed before ramming into the Deathjester and driving forth his spear into one of the billiard ball like eyes of Caliborn, eliciting a shriek not of pain, but of pure rage.

Firing his own energy into Ishmael's eye, he set fire to the Antedeluvian's very being, prompting it to roar like a man possessed before hurling his foe away with a psionic thrust of unimaginable force and conjuring forth the legendary wand of chortles.

Splitting open his jaw to impossible lengths before outright separating it from the top of his head, a multicoloured lance of anti-reality began to issue forth from Ishmael's very skull. The groaning roar of time and space being split asunder went out throughout the nexus before letting loose an unimaginable lance of utter destruction.

But before the ray could be fired forth properly, Maria sent forth the power of raw holiness and order burning into Ishmael's form in a massive holy smite that radiated the very energies of goodness outwards, striking into Ishmael's infinite being and distracting him long enough for her to grab it by the head and force it's beam upwards.

The ray went outwards, spearing through dozens of shadow earths and annihilating them utterly, their very realities being attacked and destroyed by the cosmic fury of the lance of annihilation, the ray going out and out and out, destroying all it touched as it went onwards onto infinity; cracking and damaging the very fabric of this nexus of reality, tearing open holes in the fabric of all things larger than solar systems as Maria fought to drive her sword into Caliborn's other eye.

Snarling and struggling, Caliborn gripped the woman by her armor's wing even as she wrested an arm free of her head lock and jammed the holy sword right into the right eye of Caliborn, sending damning waves of goodness into the Antedeluvian and prompting it to let loose a snarl of anger before snapping it's head around and winging her with the beam, launching her in a spiral outwards as the energy died down and the Nexus around them shifted, groaned and roared until finally ejecting them for fear of it's continued existence.

Shuffling around and grasping it's eye sockets, Ishmael willed them back into existence before searching for John once again. "Where are you? He demanded, snapping his head back and forth.

"Ah..." He sneered as he caught sight of the three year old, rushing towards the boy who as was expected of one his age, was weeping and bawling, overwhelmed by the madness surrounding him.

Waddling in the direction of his parents, the boy seemed such easy prey as he called out for anyone, someone to take him away from the madness.

"Mommy? Daddy? Jade? Where are you? I'm scared...I don't wanna be here!" He bawled in his search as Ishmael came upon him, brandishing his scythe once more.

"You will have no further need of them in due time, worm." Caliborn growled, reaching out for the boy.

"No...stop! Go away!" John whined as he stumbled and fell, trying to crawl away from the monster approaching him, the beast's eyes shifting impossibly between every possible combination of billiard balls.

"Come here, infantile insect." Ishmael roared with all the hate it's voice could muster, but before it's claws could lay a hand on the boy, his eyes glowed an intense light blue.

"I...said...GO...AWAY!" He retorted with all the anger a toddler throwing a tantrum could possess, the voice echoing upon itself with the slightest hint of a sound not made by his own throat within it.

Immediately the very winds of the world began to twist and funnel themselves into vast tendrils. The very elemental powers of reality twisted to accomodate John's will as the winds spun themselves at speeds usually only found in particle colliders, sheathing themselves in vast blue tentacles as they formed into destructive patterns.

Light, heat, and electricity danced around in the winds as they sped up to velocities that rendered them down into quark-gluon plasma, being far too hot to remain as atoms.

The winds whipped across maple valley and skyrocketed outwards into space, unleashing a power that had not been seen on the earth throughout it's history.

There was a more technical term for it, but for the boy, the only way he could describe it was the windy thing.

Ishmael looked around in stark confusion, his soldiers faring no better in trying to make sense of the power being unleashed around them. But when most of Ishmael's ships were whipped in half by spiraling tendrils of wind that stretched out into the heavens, their superheated forms radiating outwards as they disintegrated, they all too late began to connect the dots.

Twisters began to form across the city, formed of these relativistically churning tendrils, these knots of blue, but other shapes began to form, monsters, people, and other constructs conjured from a three year old's imagination, formed of winds not just of earthly, but stellar origins.

Those who knew what was going on began to flee, but it was too late, the winds speared through them, tore them to ribbons, or ripped them limb from limb and atom by atom as they stormed across the land. Even the mightiest of the black hand's war machines could not stand before the sheer power being unleashed upon them, the blue knots ripping through their bodies like so much paper mache.

"What is the meaning of this!?" Ishmael barked as one of his death stalkers was ripped apart by a wind T.Rex

"Leave, me, ALONE!" John shouted as he directed as much force as he could into Ishmael, the winds pushing forth and them bounding into Ishmael far faster than even light itself. The powers of the boy were focused by all the hate the little boy could bring to bear, and even the Deathjester could not stand before such fury.

In a single whiplash, Ishmael was sent flying out of sight, and indeed out of the galaxy as a whole, being launched faster than light could ever hope to manage as the winds sought out anyone and everyone bearing the symbols of the black hand they could find, eradicating each and every member of the strike force in a cleansing wave of air.

When the last member of the strike force was slaughtered, John stumbled briefly, feeling himself return to normal as the Astartes and Imperial troopers gathered around him, along with the imposing shapes of Varitus and Maria.

"Child, in light of your power, we..." Varitus began before the entirety of the procession dropped to their knees and bowed their heads before the boy.

"Kneel to you as one of our saviors." Maria concluded, with this last bit of oddness finally proving to be too much and prompting John to drop and faint.

"Secure him, and return him to the ship." Varitus ordered, noting the appearance of thunder clouds over the fallen form of one of the native defenders of the city, one of the gods that had sprung up since the Imperium had formally left earth.

With a crash of lightning, materialized the forms of the Celtic gods, lead by the mighty Taranis, lord of lightning.

"Dagda preserve us!" He exclaimed as he beheld Rhiannon's fallen form before noticing some of the armored warriors of the Astartes picking up John and preparing to leave with him.

"Stop, where do you think you are taking him!" One of the Gods angrily demanded, prompting the Imperial soldiers to raise their weapons against the Tuatha.

To be continued.

OOC: I think I'll keep on with John and Jade's origin stories for another two to four issues before starting with Dave and Rose's.

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Primalborn Issue #1: Heaven and sky born of fire and death.

Preface

Primalborn, blessed scions of the great Primals, arising as children to destroy evil that the grown cannot. Blessed champions of what is good and just, slayers of evil and corruption, beyond god or mortal.
Blood of gods and spirits of Primals through their bodies flow, the cosmic tongue they wield, their minds unleashed as weapons, blessed divine steel they wear and wield, upholders of all that is moral.
But as justice fades and evil reigns, one shall fall, casting his oaths aside to become the fallen one. Clad in the raiments of bone tyrants, he arose as Vrakmul, foe to us all.
When the stars are right, when heroes and brothers shed each others blood over laws unjust, when priests of cross shun good for greed, when liberators become enslavers, when silvered hordes devour the helpless, when tyrants of ego and metal run rampant, when preachers of the oppressed become as black as their overlords, when black courts grow strong and the Cold God makes his sons fall.
The Fallen born shall rise to fore with ambition to rule all worlds, all shall be his fools, for he is Lord of Doom, Duke of shadows, King of all that is black, Emperor of the Black Hand, vessel of Alderymora; the Black Wyrm, devourer of gods, the endless maw, and dark mirror brother of Talorak, glorious lord of time.
Witch Child, he was dubbed, despoiler of Ainul he became. His duty as primalborn to defeat the elder brain shunned to accept the darkness, herald of Mehrudagoth, bleak Icon of destruction. His once beautiful world, now nothing but an inhospitable clime.
With his evil he shall bring forth the times of shadow as evil swirls around him as a great maelstrom that shall sweep all worlds. His tyranny shall encompass all, and to the Dark Voice from aeons long gone he shall swear.
Good he shall crush, justice he shall strangle, hope he shall wither, doom he shall bring. Vrakmul, bane of all, ancient shadow lurking, shall shatter the stars in his bid to conquer all that is there.
But a day shall arise when the Dark One's lies shall be cast to the dust, and his schemes unraveled in clashes and wars a plenty, when his black voice shall be silenced forever and then!
For the twenty four, risen to destroy the Fallen One. From many worlds shall arise on that day. Child-heroes to deliver all realities from the darkness of the Lord of Doom, war on all worlds, salvation to everywhere and everywhen.

-Song of the twenty-four, translated from High-Draconic and taught to the Masari and later the Astartes by the true Dragons.

April 13th, 2003, Maple Valley Washington.

"Happy birthday!" Many a voice shouted as John and Jade waddled into their living room. Enough confetti to cover an army was dropped from their secret places, and noise makers blew excitedly. Taking a while to process all this information, the two stood there until Jade took the first tentative steps forward and gasped in surprise. "Wow..." She managed as she looked at the menagerie of guests their parents had brought in. John followed in quickly after her and reached for his mother; who went by the name Rhiannon Reaching over to pick him up with an easy smile, she lifted the boy onto his seat while Jade managed to crawl up onto hers on her own, much to the delight of the adults gathered; who launched into glowing praise.

"There's my girl." Calvin, their father smiled as he ruffled Jade's hair, prompting her to giggle as Rhiannon placed a party hat on John. "Do we get to eat the cake yet?" He asked, finger to his lips and head turned to face his mother. "Not yet, we have to sing the happy birthday song." She responded warmly as she waited for everyone to get in their places. Everyone was there, friends, relatives, friends of his parents, and many people neither John nor Jade recognized. "Is everyone ready?" Calvin asked, trying to get everyone in picturesque positions. "Calvin, not everything needs to be perfectly organized." Rhiannon said with a brief eyeroll and smirk. "Honey, they only get to be three once, so I want this to be just right." He chuckled as everyone started on the requisite happy birthday song.

When the final word rolled off their tongues, both John and Jade leaned forward and blew on their candles, both blowing somewhat harder than what most kids their age could manage, though the briefest and faintest hint of blue lines curled through John's breath. Those with enhanced senses in the group recognized these signs that much like their parents, they too would develop abilities; and some were debating on what special talents they would inherit from the two family genepools. Having taken a picture just as the candles were snuffed out, Calvin looked at the picture and smiled heartily. "You two were just perfect, I'm proud of you." He said before scooping them in for a hug from their chairs before placing them back in their seats.

Low Earth Orbit.

Ishmael Caliborn looked out at the holographic display in front of him, the skull-mask wearing deathjester briefly snarling as he noted the features of the town below. Disgusting...all of it..."Are we ready to deploy? I tire of looking at this wretched community." Caliborn growled in a self echoing voice as deep as thunder. "Yes Council-lord." One of the shadow cultists who flanked the macabre being reported with a brief salute. "Good, then let us go forth and start the butcher's work."

The Deathjester ordered as he spun around and through his link with the ship, ordered those inside to begin to launch forth from their cloaked shuttles and drop pods, the ship rocking and buzzing with constant activity while the deathjester himself brought his crackling scythe down and sliced through reality to tear open a gaping wound in the cosmos, a swirling maelstrom of disruption that he stepped through, the killing rage beginning in anticipation of the blood bath it so keenly awaited.

Undersea Astartes operation base; Marianas Trench

Even cloaked objects couldn't fully hide themselves from Astartes sensors, so long had they battled against those who used such abilities and so familiar they were in their use. Upon detecting unusual readings from the heavens, the automated systems launched their silent alarm to notify the Astartes to be ready to deploy at a moment's notice. Code: Black, was the message, indicating near certain Black Hand activity. Soon; dilligent warriors from secret bases the Astartes had yet to shut down in their final stages of Exodus from the Earth were being mobilized, ready to head out to wherever they were needed.

Maple valley

Just managing to cut the cake himself, John was bathed in praise, congratulating his ability to act on his own. Plopping the slice on his plate, John eagerly stabbed his spoon into it and scooped out a chunk to eat. But before the three year old could even start to chew, the earth began to shake and the heavens began to shriek. The sky began to bleed a deathly shade of black and red as terrible power flowed through it, drowning out the morning. Windows exploded inwards as waves of overpressure slammed into them like a tidal wave, and fire began to erupt as death rained down from the stars above.

Aircraft of a make unlike anything on earth, painted in Black and Red screamed overhead, pouring munitions into the ground below as John and Jade fell to the ground and shrieked in fright. The superpowered members of the family quickly suited up, advanced teleportation technology and magic bringing in their equipment from afar as they rushed out into battle. "Rhiannon, get the kids to safety." Calvin ordered as his grey armored suit covered him, heading out immediately while Rhiannon clad in her anachronistic looking mithril raiments that seemed to materialize in a flash of light started to rush towards a panic room nearby.

But then a pair glaring, ruby red lances of energy as wide as a man's torso speared through the wall, gouging out the earth as it passed by. Charging towards these holes were a group of Black hand acolyte; clad in their all concealing black and red power armor as they let off rapid red and yellow barrages from their supercharged particle beam rifles; the ululating shriek of the rifles ripping through the air as they moved in, tearing holes into the walls and blasting through furniture. A thunder clap followed by stabbing gusts of wind from Calvin and Rhianna quickly dispatched the platoon. "Not in my house." Calvin growled as he tried to assess the situation.

But soon, the heart monitors of the Edenson family began to flatline in rapid succession. "+They're everywhere! Oh god...what is that thi-+" One managed to frantically shout into a communicator before being cut off by the sound of searing flesh and a bloodcurdling scream. "Hank?!? Hank!!" Calvin shouted as he heard the scream, but his thoughts were soon cut off as colossal walkers of the like he had never seen strode forth, ranging from merely forty feet to over ten times that, bringing lancing ruby death to anything they saw. Another frantic comm garbled itself into being "+Jill just got her head cut off by something I couldn't even see...wait, I think I can see some kind of scorpion bot...wait...it's turning my way...no...no....NO! NO! NO! NO!NO!NO!NO!NO NOOO-AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!+"

With the thunderclap of displaced air and the crackling flash of violated reality, a group of shadow cultists materialized themselves in the room, the shrieking and crying of the two kids only growing louder as their fear increased. Spattered afresh with gore, the Shadow cultists turned to bring their trade upon the adults, but a tendril of wind lashed out from Rhiannon flattening half of them while Calvin charged at some others, bowling through them with his momentum and swinging arms. "We're not safe here, we need to leave." Rhiannon reported as she grabbed the two kids and beckoned Calvin to follow her out of the house.

Again, the comm buzzed into life. "+Everything's on fire, what do we do!?! Why!? Why!? Where did they come from...why us!?! Why Kyle!?! W...wait...some kind of...Je-jester...there are some kinda...cracks around him...oh god his eyes...his eyes! HIS EYES! HIS EYES!!!!+" A female voice screamed before being cut off by the most unearthly warble and wail. In a state of shock, Calvin just barely registered what his wife informed him, but what doubts he had towards heeding Rhiannon's advice were soon erased as one of the smaller sized walkers; an Avatar, approached and unleashed it's thundering volley of missiles.

Leaping forward and going into a roll as Rhiannon ran out of the building, Calvin grabbed his wife and charged out of the building as it erupted in fire. The two quickly dashed out, a billowing gust of wind issuing from Rhiannon that bowled over any Black Hand troops nearby while Calvin picked up and hurled a derelict tank at the approaching Avatar; sending it flat on it's metallic rear as he tried to keep the family moving. "+Woo-hoo, nice work you two. We should get this cleaned up real soon. Hey, there's some kinda scorpion man around here...gonna investi-+" A young voice buzzed in the comms before a series of explosions immediately silenced the communication. "Howard's dead." Calvin solemly reported as he bitterly grimaced at the thought of his demise. "We need to keep moving, we can't help those who have perished."

Even O'chunks, or more correctly some of his clones, feasting on the flesh of deceased civilians, were not quite up to the task of stopping the parents. Noticing the two, the shark-men snarled with fury as they brandished their claws and jaws, rushing forward; eagerly anticipating biting into them. "Come 'ere!" One shouted, but a thunderclap from Calvin had them all reeling as their ear-drums exploded and the force picked up and hurled them away like ragdolls. The more steady footed Rhiannon managed to evade getting harmed by shielding herself with a bubble of manipulated air. "Warn me when you do that next time." Rhiannon scolded Calvin as they kept on moving. "+Guys...something's f*cked up Tara real bad...her body's all cracked and cut up...what's going on....huh...whazzat...NOOOO GOD! No god, please no! No! NO! NOOOOO!!!!!!+" Another communication frantically screamed before the sound of shattering glass drowned out all other sounds.

As they moved forward, they soon came across a number of bodies in costume in the alleyway between ruined structures, and two of them were actually still alive. "Iron-arm and Windcutter?" A shakened rookie hero asked, the other members of her team, or more correctly one other member as the rest were lying in pools of their own blood huddling together as they tried to make sense of what was happening as the skies continued to burn red and the clouds boiled black. "Yes, we need you to help us get at least some people to safety, come on, we can try and retake Maple Valley later." Calvin requested, but she shook her head. "No...no...there's no use...they're everywhere...no stopping them...and that thing...it won't leave us alone...it doesn't stop...it doesn't stop...why doesn't it stop!?!" She cried as the other one, clad in his cheerful blue costume, shivered with fear as he heard a slight shift in rock.

"Oh no...it's back, that thing is ba-GACK" He managed before a long barb impaled him through the heart, his blood spurting out in copious quantities and at high pressure, spraying the Edensons with his gore as the barb cut upwards and partially bisected him, leaving the two halves of his upper body to flop to the side while the girl shrieked. "No, noo, please no, oh god, no, no, no, nooooooo!" She screamed before a net flew forth at her and metal hands burst from the wall and yanked at her, dragging her out of sight as the sucking sound of air filling in a void left by teleportation reverberated through the air.

A shimmering form then decloaked itself in a wave of visibility, revealing something that looked like someone had taken the worst aspects of a skeleton, a robot, and a scorpion and put them together. It's skull like head was inlaid with cybernetics and reinforcement, burning optics seared where it's eyes once were, and the odd warmth of radiation oozed from it. A deathstalker. It didn't speak, it had no reason to, it didn't even make a sound as it lunged forward; prompting Rhiannon to place her kids down and hide them as the bloodspattered Cyborg brought it's stinger down towards Calvin "Ah hell." Calvin muttered as he sized up the mechanical death dealer.

With a deft sidestep, Calvin managed to avoid being impaled upon the lethally sharp barb as he ducked under a pincer jab, grabbing at the arm and yanking it downwards, slamming it into the ground. But the resilient machine soon righted itself and tripped Calvin with a sweep of it's tail while it turned towards Rhiannon and let loose a gust of unspeakably hot flame from it's mouth. Rivers of fire flowed towards the goddess, rivers that she only just repelled with a wall of wind that she tried to push back at the shadow cultist even as Calvin got back into the fray; once again grabbing it's pincer arm with the hope of ripping it off.

With a casual motion, it swatted Calvin into the ruined wall of the bank next to it, sending him smashing through it; alive but jostled enough to let go of the thing as it turned it's attention to Rhiannon. Firing off it's eye beams, it aimed right for her exposed face, a move that was met by her brandishing her mithril gauntlets to reflect the ruby-red lances out of the way, distracting her just enough to allow the flames to rush forward.

But before it could try to burn her alive in fire hotter than the core of the sun, Calvin came rushing back, shouting out a long "NOOO!!!!" and grabbed the Deathstalker from behind, clutching at one of it's legs and yanking the thing backwards to make it stumble. The disruption in it's motion allowed Rhiannon enough time to create a windwall around her children as the fire washed over her.

It was uncomfortably hot, but as a celtic goddess, it wasn't anything she couldn't handle. Turning her attention back to the Deathstalker as it rotated it's torso around to get at Calvin, she charged in and jammed her mithril longsword into it's side, the enchanted mithril blade slipping between segments of it's armor and piercing into it's inner components "You have just threatened my son and daughter you worthless heap of scrap!" Rhiannon screamed at it as she tried to twist her blade around in it..

Wordlessly, the Deathstalker swatted her away and kicked Calvin off of it, only for another blast of wind to knock it to the side as air rushing at relativistic speeds tore at it's body, blazing with friction until the air became like plasma. Analyzing the situation, the cybernetic assassin fired off a barrage of cluster missiles skywards to distract her; counting on her heroic nature to try and stop the missiles from hitting innocents.

And as it expected, the coloured lengths of blazing wind leaped upwards into the sky and ripped apart the missiles. This gave it the opening it required to move in for a stabbing blow from it's stinger. Rolling to the side; Rhiannon was still struck across her flank by the stinger as it pierced into the wall, sending white hote needles of pain through her as she felt her armor cut and her flesh give way to the bladed barb. .

Grabbing the sword lodged inside of it's body, the Deathstalker ripped it out and tossed it to the side; planning to fire a net at the children to capture them for corruption by Vrakmul. But as it unfurled it's net launcher, an Angry Calvin leaped at it's back and pulled himself onto it's shoulders, screaming "GET AWAY FROM MY KIDS!" as he did so, raining blows that could shatter mountains upon it, blows that shook the ground with all the fury of an earthquake as it's armor began to buckle from these megaton blows. Soundlessly shrieking, it wrapped it's tail around Calvin even as he tore off it's net caster and flung him away.

Now that it's main capture mechanism was no longer viable, it planned to opt for a more lethal option as it revealed it's chest mounted Dark matter cannon. A high pitched whine went through the air as the cannon charged, but it's earlier decision to cast away the sword proved to be it's undoing as Rhiannon; fueled by the kind of rage only a parent whose children are in danger could unleash. She grabbed her enchanted sword; her black hair whipping behind her as she jumped at it's side, stabbing her sword into it again and then driving it in as deep as it could go.

"I have had enough of you!" She shouted as she rushed around in a circle, moving as quickly as lightning to create a radial bisection that separated the Cyborg's upper and lower body before she jabbed her sword through it's head, ripped upwards with a strong pull, and then tore the lower body apart with near light speed winds that went inside of it's tiniest cracks and then pushed outwards in all directions. Deciding that now was no longer the time to hold back, she prepared to unleash a storm of the elements; tapping into her usually highly restrained godly power that would destroy this invasion force.

She felt the power of the skies flow through her. She felt the winds tremble at her thoughts. She felt the elements bend to her will. She felt a scythe blade jab through her back and pierce through her heart. "Such heroic nonsense." Ishmael Caliborn casually stated as he removed the blade with an audible squelching sound, reality forming cracks around the blade of his scythe, while more minor hairline fractures in the cosmos formed all around his body; restrained by his jester's outfit. His green, jawless skull-masque's eyes were actually rapidly shifting billiard balls, going from color and number to color and number, and green lines trimmed his otherwise black outfit, with the Shadow Cult's symbol on his chest.

Rhiannon looked at the blade as it pierced through her, seeing it come out of her front, eyes widened with shock as she bled, sensation draining from her as Ishmael kicked her to the ground, turned her face-up, and then stabbed his claws to go in and tear out her right kidney, ripping the bloody organ from her body and beholding it in front of him, making sure John and Jade could see it. He noted that a god born of human belief's internal organs didn't appear any different from humans themselves, even as blood leaked out from her in copious quantities and exposed organs writhed.

Sensing an upwelling of outrage from behind him, Caliborn dropped the divine kidney and with the greatest of ease; turned to face Calvin who was already half-way through a flying tackle. "Please." Caliborn responded dismissively as he grabbed Calvin's hand, as strong as Calvin was with his continent shattering and world devastating musculature; Caliborn was simply much stronger, something he showed by crushing Calvin's hand as if it were made of talcum. Feeling his blood ooze onto his fingers, Caliborn slashed his scythe across Calvin's stomach to allow it to peel open before plunging a hand into his gut cavity and forcefully tearing out his intestines.

Mentally bending a lamp-post towards him, caliborn fashioned a noose out of the intestines and wrapped it around the rapidly dying Calvin's neck as he kicked him into a kneeling position, making sure he could see his children; now too frightened to even scream, and his bleeding wife as Caliborn altered the properties of the Lamp post to be highly elastic even as he held it down with telekinesis. And with one swift swipe of his scythe; Calvin's head came clean off his neck, the anti-reality blade passing through his superhumanly tough flesh and armor as if it wasn't even there while the now elastic lamp-post rebounded and launched his head away like a catapult.

"And now...for you two..." Caliborn chuckled in it's self-echoing, demonic voice as it turned to face the whimpering toddlers. He knew that Vrakmul would prefer them to be brought to him alive to be corrupted into members of his personal guard, but nobody ever said they had to arrive unscathed. If he had a jaw on his masque, he would almost certainly be grinning.

((For those worried about the destruction of maple valley, read my bio for why it's all better immediately after and why no one on earth has any memory of the event))

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The great schism and the birth of the Ordo Astartes

The pressures of two conflicting faiths within the Order of the Talon has recently become too much to bear. Those who knew the truth order's Symaarian origins have decided to split from the order after the Seraphim Hykral issued an order of Exdocommunication to them, and the talon has split into two. The Seraphim Vyrkmal leads those members of the Order who have split over the schism, those who have realit in truth, their origins hail not from heaven, but from the stars. These former members believe that humanity is a failsafe of the Holy Navigator's in case the Symaarians themselves ever fell, and that it is their duty to ensure that mill be ready to fulfill this destiny. Those who have remained Christian denounce this all has heresy, and have kept the name the Order of the Talon.

to distinguish themselves from their more hidebound former brothers and sisters, the themselves the Ordo Astartes, the order of the stars. To reflect their beliefs of a stellar origin for humanity. This rift in the former guardians of mankind has diminished their numbers even further, and there is the threat that this will go from secession into war between the two. Never before has the secret organization experienced such a great risk to itself, after having split into three, the Adeptus Nox, those of the Talon who turned traitor and swore their services to chaos, the order of the Talon; which still clings's catholic doctrines, and the Ordo Astartes,

The Ordo Astartes has the largest share of the living beati and the saints, the Knights and Paladins of the order, but the Order of the Talon has the largest proportion of the regulars, the footmen and other such mortal warriors, while the Adeptus Nox lies in between the two. The Order of the Talon has dedicated itself to hunting down the Adeptus Nox, while the Ordo Astartes continues the war with the Black Hand, though it would not take overly much to start a war between the Astartes and the Talon. And there are of coure, those who suspect that the Order of the Talon itself is corrupted in a manner that goes far beyond being obsfusticatingly conservative.

The Ordo Astartes believes that the true priority is to defend mankind, whereas the Talon believes that the true role is to hunt down corruptive foes such as the forces of Chaos and the Black Hand. As such, the Ordo Astartes is notably less willing to commit atrocities for the sake of defeating their foes, though compared to say, the united states military, they have a lower threshold of "absolutely necessary".

Even with the Order of the Talon and the Black Hand now being public knowledge, the recent schism in their ranks is still relatively unknown, as the Ordo Astartes is still deciding on their own heraldry to set them apart from the Talon; thus leaving little way to immediately identify the two as different. The Ordo Astartes is a proud, if rather small, force that believes in Courage and Honour above all else.

For such is their battle anthem.

(to the tune of: )

"Aaaaaaasstaaaaarrrteeees. Aaaastaaarteees!

From ancient Symaar the Navigator commands his proud sons.

From his might we are made into his proud sons.

We know no fear and we fight for his name as his proud sons!

From humanity's foes we defend against as his proud sons!

WARRIOR ELITE, UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, ASTARTES!

TO DEFEND ALL WE GO INTO BATTLE, ASTARTES!

WARRIOR ELITE, UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, ASTARTES!

COURAGE AND HONOUR, UNBEATABLE IN BATTLE, ASTARTES!

We know no fear and we fight for his name as his proud sons!

From humanity's foes we defend against as his proud sons!

TO DEFEND ALL WE MAKE WAR UPON DARKNESS, ASTARTES!

WARRIOR ELITE, UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, ASTARTES!

COURAGE AND HONOUR, UNBEATABLE IN BATTLE, ASTARTES!"

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The Igzvald Heresy

During the war with Dathron, the Talon's initial strong showing was soon undermined by the Seraphim Igzvald showing his true hand as a worshipper of the Dark Gods of Chaos and summoning forth Warmaster Xaraghoul the Ravager to the earth along with his hordes of chaos space marines, cultists, and daemons. Having to dedicate it's forces to fight this new threat, the Talon largely withdrew from the war with Dathron to fight agains tthe invaders, but the true blow came in the form of the defection of an entire third of the Order of the Talon to the forces of Chaos.

Eventually, Xaraghoul pulled back the majority of his forces to deal with other threats, but the Chaos Talon remains as one of the greatest threats to the order around. Though most of the traitors fled into space to hide in various warp storms, many remain on earth, forming an elite of the Chaos cults that were created on Earth following Xaraghoul's brief but bloody invasion. This heresy has left the Order severely undermanned and overstretched, and the long standing secret of it's existence is broken, for none missed the armies of men in medieval armour wielding weapons during the war against the invaders and the war against y-intercept.

Despite the reveal of the Talon's existence it remains a largely mysterious order, as it has not allowed any to investigate it's doings, often discouraging such investigations with lethal force. This has needless to say, not endeared them to the governments of the world who are extremely concerned that the Catholic army has such a large and pat it's disposal and many calls have been made to the Vatican to disband the order. But even as the Order chases it's Chaotic brethren, it has ignored it's old foe, the Black hand, which is preparing for the final stages of it's plan. Not out of choice, but out of an inability to divide their resources on the grave threat that the Chaos Talon poses and on the Icon's minions without massively exacerbating their already severe problems with man power.

The Igzvald heresy has deeply shook the Talon, which never expected that so many brothers and sisters of the order could turn traitor a way. And thus the already deep paranoia of the Talon has only worsened, and all are under suspect of harbouring heresy in their hearts, even as they hunt for the fallen talon warriors. Already, those members of the Talon who have uncovered their true relationship to the Symaarian navigator and those who firmly believe trine handed down by the triumvirate are algrowing further and further apart, and secession threatens the order, if ncivil war.

The Talon is now no longer capable of protecting the universe from it's direst and most secret threats, and though they would never admit it, they will need help in the storm that is to come. If the universe is to survive what is to come, old grudges will need to be settled and laid to rest before the common threat of the slavering hordes of the Icon's endless devotees. Besieged on all sides by the Orks, Genestealer Cults, Chaos, the Meditteranean Syndicate, the Black Hand and it's allies and Pawns, the disturbing uncovery of a vast necron force buried on mars, the looming threat of civil war, a world that is unsure whether to hate and fear them or respect and admire them, and their own arrogance, the Talon will have to do what it has not in centuries, adapt itself into this new changing world, or all things will be doomed.

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The electrical protectorate

The infinite army

There is yet a fourth faction of shadowy puppet masters that exists in the world. The Electrical Protectorate, or more correctly; the advance guard of the Electrical protectorate. A vast swarm of nanomachines from another reality long devoured by the Maimed Lord; the being offered them a deal as the highly emotional and artistic core mind a.i's despaired at the thought that entropy would cause their works to come to naught.

Serve it, and bring all things to the pure state; where there would be no more entropy. The machines agreed, and became another set of heralds for the entity. The machines dubbed the thing "The Icon" translated from their hexadecimal communication system.

The protectorate; being artistic; has it's army take the general aesthetic of Robots from campy 1950s-60s B-movie, comic book, and pulp serial robots as this is what they have gathered that most sapient beings believes a robot army should look like. But make no mistake, despite their aesthetic which generally harkens back to the more absurd days of science fiction mashed together with some lovecraftian instances and bits of various forms of pop culture concerning robots from countless civilizations that the Core Minds thought were cool, they are very deadly.

The protectorate and the cult of the black hand very rarely bump into each other, typically they are assigned to different universes and generally have virtually no contact with one another. But this ended up causing their paths to cross with one another.

The Protectorate has advanced elements located across the universe, with it's closest mainfleet being between the Triangulum galaxy and the Milky way, having stripped the former down for parts and rearranged what they couldn't use into the universe's largest piece of abstract art at the behest of Core Mind Omega Delta Plural ZZ, which Core Mind Venus called "Tacky and esoteric."

The protectorate on earth primarily controls regions of the planet that the major powers either can't be bothered to give a shit about (The French Guyana, Madagascar, the pacific island nations, various tiny british isles, nepal, guam), are so sparsely habited that they'd more or less go unnoticed (Greenland, Siberia, Canadian Northwestern territories, amazon rainforest, australian outback, Alaska, etc), or both (Mongolia, Saharan desert countries, Anarctica). Typically they leave visitors alone unless discovered, at which point they kill the discoverer before they ever manage to report their findings, typically moments after said discovery.

Weaponry (By no means comprehensive, this only lists ranged weapons, and only some of them at that)

Conventional: A sort of submachine gun like weapon, this device fires out superheated slugs sheathed in an yellow field of raw energy, impacting with roughly the same power and force as a Symaarian Multi-Hellgun, with a similar rate of fire.

Gatling automatic: Much like the conventional, this weapon differs in a few key aspects, first is the gatling arrangement, second is the fact that it trades some power from the individual shots for a vastly increased rate of fire; allowing it to chew through virtually any target given time.

Rectrospectrum Pulsar: Better known as the Radiation gun, this weapon fires forth a lethal dosage and barrage of ionizing radiation that can instantly melt most carbon based life forms into glowing green goop surrounding a rapidly liquefying charred black skeleton. This weapon however, is nearly useless against other robots and inorganic enemies. The best defense against the pulsar gun is energy shielding, or failing that armor thick enough to prevent the radiation from reaching cells.

Quantum disentangler: A weapon that has the peculiar effect of disintegrating nonliving objects it hits with ease, this weapon is the opposite of the Pulsar module, in that it only affects inorganic objects. Thus, in most cases an organic hero targeted would be left naked and unarmed, but still very much alive. This strangely, has no effect on Living Metals such as Necrodermis.

M-brane blaster: Firing a bizarre sort of "Wibbly Wobbly, Timey-Wimey...Stuff" this weapon effectively breaks down dimensions above the third and brings these superstring realms crashing into reality and exploding with an unidentifiable sort of energy, the effects of the blast have been described as "Turning the target area into what would happen if a Picasso Painting made Hot Sweaty Love to the a Salvidor Dali piece." Most beings, used to the laws of physics being normal, tend not to survive the breakdown in the separation between the physical dimensions. This lacks the Fractal gun's raw power, but it does have the advantage of being the best area of effect weapon in the protectorate arsenal.

Incendiary: A special form of firearm that fires forth rocket propelled shells that burrow themselves in the target, then set them alight with a cocktail mixture of virtually every high temperature flammable substance ever, burning the poor target inside out in a few moments of utter agony. This can also be used as a flamethrower.

Basilisk: This is perhaps the second most dreaded ranged weapon of the protectorate, this device fires forth a signal with a specific frequency that is can cause temporary paralysis, permanent psychosis, coma, or death in the target the frequency is set for. Every species has a different basilisk signal, so an Ork would not be bothered by a Basilisk soundwave that would leave an large group of humans lying on the ground bleeding out of every orfice. This can be used as a more conventional sonic weapon that is frequently called the headbanger, as when used on the craniums of humanoids it tends to have...explosive results.

Fractal: Perhaps the single most dreaded of protectorate ranged weapons modules, the fractal gun fires a peculiar type of energy that spreads in a cone like a shotgun blast. Objects caught by the blast crack or even shatter and disintegrate as if they were made of glass. This deals similar levels of damage regardless of the durability of the target, Divine steel is no more resistant to fractal weaponry than Talcum Powder. However, the destructive power of the weapon diminishes with distance, and while armor is an ineffective defense against it, mass is. Fractal energy seems to react with matter, thus having a lot of it means that you will only be injured rather than disintegrated outright. Thus a sauropod would only be vaguely annoyed by a fractal gun while a massively powerful god the size of a man would be incinerated outright in one shot.

Cyrogenic: This module literally sucks the energy out from an area and into the Icon, reducing the ambient temperature, allowing the magnetically bottled water to impact the target and freeze over the target, making it brittle and vulnerable to being shattered.

Acid: This module does more or less what it says on the tin, utilizing corrosives to eat away an unfortunate target.

Units of the protectorate

Malacostraca:

A crablike melee machine, the Malacostraca is equipped with two lethal pincers and a bad attitude. But individually they're not much threat to a modern army or superhero. Unfortunately the terms "Individually" and Malacostraca do not go together. Due to their lack of expense and small size, roughly that of a fifty pound dog; they come in massive numbers and are surprisingly fast; clocking in at 100 miles per hour. Additionally, they can detect stealthed and cloaked opponents and relay their positions to other protectorate units.

Effigy:

A nanite blob capable of converting inorganic matter that it consumes into more effigies. They can infiltrate buildings and effortlessly hack into computer systems, and when sent to deal with organics, they quite literally eat them alive. However, they have quite the weakness to area of affect attacks such as grenades and flamethrowers.

Aggressor:

While basic infantry tend to outnumber all other military units put together in any given army, the Aggressorsof the Electrical Protectorate take this to an extreme seldom seen elsewhere. Surrounding the vehicles and heavier infantry of the Electrical Protectorate in a numberless wave of mechanical caricatures, these machines are expended in numbers one would expect to see attached to munitions rather than infantry. They are in effect, the ranged equivalent to the Malacostraca and stand as tall as a 5 year old child.

Aggressors are organized in legions of six thousand machines. Possessed by a machine consciousness from the Core Collective, Aggressors seem to move like marionettes on invisible strings, propelled forward by a consciousness with no particular attachment to the steel forms.

Aggressor computer cores are small and restrictive, so their controlling consciousnesses, of low rank inside the collective, are restricted to single-minded thinking while within the Aggressor's form, so they must trust their commanders to be used effectively. And the most effective use of the Aggressor is as an endless wave.

When Aggressors attack, the horizon fills with their forms, their sensor lights burning ominously in the distance, and they move as an endless mass. Oftentimes, the rear ranks are simply slaved to following the front groups, because they come in waves of hundreds of millions or more, shaking the ground with their passage.

As the front ranks are cut down, falling under the feet of the ranks behind, their consciousnesses repossess the ranks behind, keeping the wave moving endlessly. Eventually, their enemies are driven back, ground down by sheer weight of numbers, eventually defeated, crushed under the sheer mass of expended machines if nothing else. Following the battle, Protectorate nanites swarm forth, breaking apart the destroyed machines, recycling them back for the creation of new units. They can be equipped with protectorate modules (see weapons) for varying weapons, though individually their attacks tend to be quite weak, they never come alone. When they attack, they come with Malacostracas in numbers so vast that any shot fired at them will likely hit one, and given their frailness, even 9mm pistols will down one, while their weapons can usually be blocked by conventional body armor. Unfortunately, their numbers will mean that most any defense will fall under sheer weight of fire.

Tracer:

PROTECTORATE ARMY ARCHIVES:

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: ARTICIFER: Anti-Air Capability

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: INVESTIGATION: INVESTIGATIVE AI: HUMAN EMOTION - DECEPTION. Designate 64 65 63 65 70 74 69 6f 6e

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Modify aggressor to anti-air capability

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Equip base with anti-air cannons

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Modify infantry to become airborne

63 6f 72 65: DENIAL: Slows aggressor production

63 6f 72 65: DENIAL: Unacceptable resource cost

63 6f 72 65: DENIAL: Unacceptable modification complexity

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Cannon fodder anti-air infantry

63 6f 72 65: APPROVAL: Acceptable

63 6f 72 65: REVISION: DENIAL: Unacceptable projected losses. Aircraft will avoid proposed unit

69 6e 76 65 73 74 69 67 61 74 69 76 65 20 41 49: INTERJECTION: RELEVANT: Deception analysis complete

69 6e 76 65 73 74 69 67 61 74 69 76 65 20 41 49: INTERJECTION: RELEVANT: Findings transferred

69 6e 76 65 73 74 69 67 61 74 69 76 65 20 41 49: INTERJECTION: RELEVANT: SUGGESTION: Combine findings with proposal

61 72 74 69 63 69 66 65 72: PROPOSAL: Cannon fodder anti-air infantry. Hidden weapons. Deception tactic

63 6f 72 65: APPROVAL: Acceptable

63 6f 72 65: REVISION: APPROVAL: Projections acceptable quality

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: BEGIN DESIGN

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: DESIGNATE UNIT: Tracer. Designate 74 72 61 63 65 72 0D 0A

63 6f 72 65: REQUEST: BEGIN PRODUCTION

Seekers:

Small mechanical hands packed with explosives, they come in even larger numbers than Malacostracas, and often they are fired out of protectorate guns. Make no mistake, they are very fast, very agile, and can leap long distances to engage in suicide bombing.

Reflex Light Tank:

Some will chuckle at the very thought of this thing being considered a tank. It's 40mm base gun is incapable of penetrating the armor of any modern tank at any range and it's thin armor can be blown to pieces by virtually anything with a modicum of anti-armor capability. Unfortunately, the protectorate never just sends a few, they send them in their thousands. When equipped with proper modules, such as the deadly fractal guns, they can make mincemeat out of other sturdier vehicles, after taking enormous casualties of course, but the Protectorate's standard doctrine is to throw so many metallic bodies at the enemy that they run out of ammo by the time the real threat arrives. The reflex light tank possesses a single small weapons module in addition to it's main module.

Equalizer AA Tank:

Armed with dual 20mm autocannons, a strange device, and the weight of numbers.

Janus Solutions Ltd. Official Report

To: Board of Classics, selected senior executives

Subject: Anomalous war machine

"Two weeks ago, a company survey team in eastern Venezuela had an unusual encounter while conducting mineral surveys along the Guyana border. The team's Chariot transport was brought down by weapons fire of unknown origin late at night, killing the lead surveyor, his assistant, and destroying their equipment. The centurion commanding the team's security escort then took command. She immediately sent a report to Janus HQ, confirming that the weapon used to destroy the Chariot was not a standard weapon employed by any of the major powers."

"Centurion Calpurnia took the initiative and directed her security escort to search for the vehicle responsible. What she discovered was a vehicle of similar design and manufacture to the independent robots the Board of Classics has briefed select executives on. With commendable initiative, Calpurnia used the EMP rifles of her team's Harpy battlesuits to disable the vehicle and bring it back to Janus HQ for study."

"The vehicle in question is a relatively small four-wheeled vehicle manufactured primarily from an unusual aluminium-based alloy similar to the other robots encountered, and remains a very light-weight, highly conductive alloy with amazing flexibility but is also soft for a metal and affords little protection from weapon fire. The resulting vehicle chassis is fast on all terrains yet tested, but can easily be destroyed by even heavy anti-infantry weaponry. For armament, the vehicle employs dual 20mm cannons on a rotating turret mount."

"These cannons are configured to fire canister-style fragmentation rounds that explode when a proximity sensor detects nearby aircraft. Using a nanite scavenging system built into the machine's wheels, the vehicle constantly manufactures ammunition for its guns from the terrain itself, enabling the vehicles to operate without regard for conventional logistics."

"Other features of the vehicle defy conventional analysis. For instance, the vehicle's power source. As far as our engineers can tell, it somehow operates in similar fashion to the atomic generators used by the Chinese, but is far more advanced and much smaller. Not only can a reactor the size of a football power the vehicle indefinitely, only a fraction of the reactor’s output is actually allocated to the operation of the vehicle itself. The majority of its output is directed to a machine we've taken to calling the Sisyphus device. We know what it does, but our engineers are still at a loss to explain how it works."

"The Sisyphus device somehow warps space-time around a targeted entity - we've tested it on aircraft, vehicles, and infantry alike - and our best guess is that it renders the distance between the entity and everywhere else infinite. For the duration of the Sisyphus effect, the target will still be going full blast but won't be *going* anywhere. The effect is not permanent, however, as the Sisyphus device can only draw on so much of the vehicle's power lest the entire machine shut down. I assure you, directors, that the finest minds in Janus Solutions are working around the clock on reverse engineering this device."

"Finally, like all other independent robotic units of similar origin, this vehicle appears to be linked to a central computer system that we can determine nothing about from examination of this unit. We are continuing our analysis and all our data is at the Board of Classics' disposal."

Shortly after the Board of Classics received this report, the laboratory housing the vehicle was destroyed under unknown circumstances. An investigation is still ongoing.

Screamer Jet:

Shaped like a sinister flying sting ray, the screamer is the basic ground attack craft of the protectorate; it's typically armed with basilisk modulators to devastate infantry and buildings, but it's weaponry can be swapped out as the situation demands. Like most protectorate units, it's laughably fragile but ridiculously cheap and quick to construct, when they are deployed, they often come in hordes so vast and thick that they can block out the sun.

Locust Gunship:

The Protectorate, in its preparations for war, has taken it upon itself to study the militaries of the universe and copy their strengths. Their reason for this is simple; the Protectorate had just come from a universe with radically different laws of physics that forced them to build a military machine that would be utterly useless in our universe. Furthermore, since the militaries of this Universe would be their enemies, it was only logical to study them in order to find their weaknesses and exploit them. Several A.I.s have dedicated their processing power to this task, sifting through our tactics, our arsenals, the past wars of the universe, and so on.

One A.I., while analysing the arsenal of the Symaarian Imperium noticed the Vulture gunship vehicle". Noting that the Protectorate had no equivalent vehicle to the Vulture Gunship in its inventory, the A.I. submitted a recommendation shortly after. There were a number of advantages to possessing an air vehicle like the Twinblade. Such an air vehicle could hover over the battlefield for extended periods of time, and would be able to support Protectorate ground forces. The Core Mind Collective approved the creation of an air vehicle analogous to the Twinblade.

While its inspiration came from the vulture, the new Locust Gunship was anything but. The designers had replaced the inefficient rotors with far more efficient gravitic technology, which were just as effective when it came to generating lift but far more effective when it came to propulsion. The Protectorate incoporated module based weaponry into the design, following standard protocol. This had the additional advantage of making the Locust far more versatile than the Vulture, since with the proper module weapon, it could handle any surface target. The exterior design also differed greatly from theVulture, being considerably slighter in order to save material costs, and following Protectorate design aesthetics.

The Locust designers also saw it as the opportunity to install another weapon. Special beacons, designed to jam the radio frequencies that human militaries used, were included on the Locust. Once activated, they could be dropped onto the battlefield, where they would begin to disrupt communications and radar, preventing the human forces from fighting back effectively. Protectorate forces themselves would use frequencies that the beacons were set not to jam, allowing them to continue to operate within a beacon's radius of effect. The Locust gunship possesses a total of two medium weapons modules.

Gremlins:

Essentially slightly larger, bat shaped aggressors, these are the air superiority vehicles of the Protectorate; a feat they achieve by drowning enemy air forces in numbers, shooting them to pieces, ripping them apart, flying into engines, and sometimes clinging onto aircraft in such great numbers that the added weight simply drags the aircraft out of the sky.

Exterminators:

"EX-TER-MIN-ATE! ANN-I-HIL-ATE! DES-TROY!"

As the Core Collective began to carefully plan their preperations for the Pure State and their own Infinite Army, the group had to decide on who should lead their 'infantry'. Ordinarily, this would be a non-issue, for each AI Core should be technically capable of controlling each and every member of their force at the same time if need be, but practical tests revealed otherwise - not only were the Cores stretched thin having to manually assess the situation of each member before activating orders, but more importantly several of them revealed they werebored - they were commanding the Infinite Army to further the Pure State, not dictate how two hundred Aggressors should behave when caught between intense conflicts over whether to destroy the village or all pet the field of bunnies nearby when in the midst of battle. As such, command cores would often focus on only a few vital sections of their forces at a time, and leave hordes of other robots to their own devices. Wasteful, AND potentially disastrous given the rather limited ability to make rational judgements of the others.

As such, the Exterminator was developed, to act almost as a sort of 'supervisor' to the legions of the lower-level Protectorate forces. Its bulky, thick frame, inset fractal weaponry, and extremely loud broadcaster acted as a visual and audible sign of command against the thinner and smaller lower robots, and its hovering chassis allowed the machine to climb to the top of wherever it needed to go in a sign of superiority amongst its peers. But to determine how it would actively lead...the collective eventually decided to go with the best method of military leadership they had learned from all the war movies they had gathered in their databases - very, very, very loud shouting and gesticulating.

Exterminators thus act as a constant reinforcement and assault infantry fore the core commander in battle, monitoring the AI of other infantry constantly to ensure a certain level of interest in their actual job - fighting. They serve directly at the front, elevating themselves over any obstacles in their way and blasting all in their path with fractal weapons. And, to keep the lesser units around them constantly focused on the task at hand, their thoughts, words, and actions are all focused into pure and righteous anger at those who would keep the Protectorate from their Pure State. They are purposefully designed to resemble the Daleks, which the Protectorate has encountered in another Universe. Indeed were it not for their gun arms, they would look almost exactly like the Daleks, and like them, they are equipped with deadly shields and can fly under their own power; making them the elite infantry of the protectorate.

Extinctors:

Jet pack and cloaking field equipped snipers armed with sonic rifles, these stealthy warriors of the Protectorate assassinate high value targets, often including metahumans, who often never realize what's going on until their heads explode due to a massively powerful SASER hitting their head.

Hunter-Killer:

With conventional modules

"I'll pick the flesh from your bones!"

Early on, the Core Mind Collective was convinced that with huge numbers of robots, any enemy could fall. In a way, the Collective is correct, but there is one facet they could not understand. While pulling down an enemy was easy enough, the Collective soon learned of a curious human emotion that could win battles alone, called "fear", which the closest analogy that the AI's felt was an extremely negative version of the prediction that one's designs would be rejected. When searching through their cache of poetry failed,, several search bots were attached to various Symaarian transmissions to learn more. Soon, they hit a breakthrough; in the eastern fringe of the Galaxy, Tyranids were on the march, causing much fear in the region. The Protectorate sent a number of observer nanites to observe the phenomena. While they learned a great deal, something completely unexpected happened.

The Tyranids assaulted a Symaarian agri-world, in patterns who's pure geometry compared to humans pleased the AIs. Surely, the Symaarians would fall to these numbers. But then the Symaarians bathed them in a massive series of area of effect weapons, including their mighty titans. They weren't afraid of these numbers! As the entire swarm died while the Symaarians joked and laughed, the Core Mind Collective's earlier assumptions were invalidated. The clear conclusion was that organics do not fear numbers alone. Noticing that the Symaarians were vastly more frightened of the larger tyranid organisms, the Collective set upon forging a large, terrifying unit to supplement their great numbers.

The AI's were set upon the problem. The first attempt, a large graphic on the sides of tanks showing a growling bear and a skeleton, did not work well nearly as much as the AI's hoped. However, they then turned to combining fear with aesthetics, and at the exact nanosecond they came up with a design, the infernal machines of the Protectorate started cranking them out. Large, imposing, and well armed, this Hunter-Killer tank was everything the objective wanted it to be. It was intentionally designed to vaguely look like a humanoid, but clearly robotic structures to put any person at ill ease. Two machine guns could level entire columns of men, but against other enemies (since tanks and planes don't feel fear) modules would have to be used when the Command Node decided.

Since fear was understood now, "younger" AIs were recoded and implanted with this idea, only being returned to their former state after their task. They were given the sole task of writing scripts which were understood to provoke fear in humanoids, all of which were uploaded into each Hunter-Killer Tank. This was considered necessary, as it was computed that they would cause fear better than some hexagramatical equation. Indeed, Hunter-Killer tanks often do everything to demoralize their enemy, from attacking non-combatants despite losing the tactical disadvantage, to screaming out obscenities and slurs in a synthesized voice. The full effect against humanoids is unknown, but what is known is that Hunter-Killers are deadly against infantry, and in a way anything that stands against them. The Hunter killer in addition to it's twin heavy auto-weapons modules, has four medium weapons modules.

Executor Tripletank:

Used when the Protectorate feels that a large quantity of enemy armor absolutely, positively has to die. This vehicle breaks the standard protectorate doctrine of being quite well armored, quite large, and very powerful. Armed with three 200mm barrels in a rotary pattern, this vehicle can spit out a terrifying amount of heavy ordinance with a rate of fire usually attributed to machine guns. When equipped with modules other than conventional, they can become even more deadly; with the Gatling Module allowing it to literally bury their enemies in large caliber rounds. Additionally, they can magnetically harpoon enemy vehicles and drag them in to assimilate them, to add to their own power and armor. To bolster it's firepower, the Executor boasts six small weapons modules to supplement the triple heavy auto module.

Obliterator Superheavy Artillery:

Equipped with two six hundred milimeter cannons and dual 155mm autocannons to supplement them, the Obliterator Superheavy artillery lives up to it's name. One salvo from it's guns can bring low entire settlements, it's vast form dwarfs even the baneblade, and even with conventional modules it's firepower is virtually unmatched. It is also surprisingly well armored, capable of shrugging off direct hits from baneblade cannons and then retaliating by simply rolling over and crushing the Symaarian Baneblade. Most worriyingly, the Obliterator is very much capable of targeting aircraft and low orbiting spacegoers with uncanny accuracy, letting them feel the full wrath of their enormous guns. At close range, sixteen small modules allow for close range firepower.

Devastator Battleship:

A deadly floating capital ship equipped with large weapons from every module, this is the primary capital ship of the protectorate. While relatively more fragile than equivalent capital ships in Orkish, Keresh, or what have you navies, the Devastator is considerably more well armed and more affordable. Additionally, the Devastator can focus it's fire all upon one target, whose lifespan from then on can be measured in fractions of a second as the full measure of it's continent searing firepower is focused upon it.

Behemoth aeriel carrier:

The Behemoth Aerial Carrier is one of the newest vehicles in the Protectorate’s arsenal, as well as one of the largest. The Core Mind Collective realized that the natives had finally noticed them, ahead of projections. Though most of the race didn’t know it, what was important that the natives that ruled over the tribes were taking subtle action against them; open combat was inevitable. This, the Protectorate was not prepared for; they had dealt with only defensive actions, but now entire bases could be destroyed by Symaarian space marines, A.I.s defeated by the silent Necron Hordes, or even the Collective’s nightmarish underground home be infiltrated by drill equipped Ork kommandos.

Quicker transportation would be vital in counterattacks, as organics who knew they were fighting could simply avoid massive waves. A hundred possible variations were calculated a second until the absolute optimum shell was created. But in mock battles between Command Nodes, the one using variously programmed Behemoths constantly lost against the Command Nodes acting like Symaarians. Too often, the transports would be half loaded, or the Behemoth would use its guns to go on the offensive, or some other misuse. However, eventually one Behemoth’s self-correcting programming emulated a behavior that insured its proper place in the Protectorate’s armies.

This Behemoth would set itself down on the ground and not leave until every robot entered. The Behemoth seemed to take what can only be described as serene pleasure in the action, often using its synthesized voice to coo and assure the loaded robots. Once in the air, the Behemoth was very protective of that which it carried, avoiding danger as much as possible and doing as little to attract attention from the "natives" as it could, using its magnetic accelerator rarely. Though greatly reluctant to actually let the units it carried leave, the Behemoth would very carefully float its charges to the ground, reducing the percentage of robots destroyed to zero percent. The Behemoth then became eager to fill its loading racks again, and started the process over again.

The Core Mind Collective did not quite understand what this behavior was, as they had nothing to compare it to on a personal level, but it didn’t much care, either. The behaviour made the Behemoth an excellent transport carrier, and that’s what mattered. Copying the original Behemoth programming to each unit produced afterward, soon every Behemoth acted this way when commanded by a Command Node. The Core Mind Collective was especially content that the Behemoth was even more survivable against humans, as the programming was hardwired to respond to attacks and damage with synthesized sounds that resembled, to human ears, like sobs and screams, a side effect of the programming’s attempt to understand why anyone would attempt aggression against it.

The only product of this behaviour that the Collective doesn’t appreciate is the Behemoth’s tendency to hover over the battlefield when not controlled. Analysis of Behemoth logs have revealed that they do this due to strong concern over the well being of the robots it carried, a desire to help them in any way it can, as well as a what can only be described as pride as the forces it carries pulls down what natives has made.

Eviscerator mech:

Where as the Malacostraca is an oversized metal crab with an bad attitude, the Eviscerator is a behemothic robotic lobster than is capable of gutting an Aircraft Carrier or a Titan with contemptuous ease. Armed with eye mounted modules, enormous pincers, stabbing legs, mandibles, stinger tails, and breath weapon and back mounted modules, the Eviscerator is effectively a Titan equivalent that can prowl both land and sea. Smaller eviscerators are closer to the size of tanks or large animals, there is quite an astonishing degree of variance.

Kraken:

Analysis complete: Mythology

Function: Non-scientific explanation of phenomena -> Reverence -> Terror -> Control

Query: Functionality: Terror -> Control

Methodology: Fiction as fact -> Supernatural organisms -> Superstitions ("gods")

Query: Replication of supernatural organisms -> Functionality: Terror -> Humans -> Control -> Humans

Processing

Statistical Probability: Replication of supernatural organisms -> Functionality: Terror -> Humans -> Control -> Humans: High

Nightmare demoralization experiments successful

Nightmares: Effectiveness degrades against larger units -> Combat platforms

Search: Supernatural organisms: Mythology: Aquatic

Processing

Results: Leviathan: Sea Serpent: Kraken: Jormungandr: Mermaids: Aquatic Spirits (Naiads, others): Charybdis: Scylla: Sirens: Aspidochelone: Cirein-croin: Iku-torso: Tiamat: Proteus: Umibozu: Yacumama: Kappa

Analyze: Replication Capability -> Effectiveness -> Combat -> Direct Attack -> Demoralization

Processing

Result: Kraken: Optimal

Begin Creation -> Field Testing

Mythology: Origin: Kraken: Norse

Field Testing: Location -> Triangular region centered on Miyake Island

Venus:

The origin of Venus – at least, the name that the robot styling “herself” as the Protectorate commando goes by – would be a mystery to most of the universe's inhabitants. But then again, so would everything else about her, as is with the case with most of the Electrical Protectorate.

At first, to all outward appearances, Venus would seem to be nothing but an ordinary woman. But appearances can be very, very, deceiving, and Venus is everything but ordinary. Under her supposedly human skin is a skeleton – a skeleton far tougher than bone, made out of an incredibly tough alloy of metal. It resembles a human skeleton in shape, but no one looking at it would be able to mistake its metallic sheen. Venus’s "skin"is not the soft outer covering of an animal; rather, it is actually millions of nanites, layered over each other and giving the appearance and feel of genuine skin, down to the smallest detail; mimicking even the hairs that cover one’s body.

The one giveaway to Venus’s nonhuman origin lies in her eyes; where a human would have real eyes, Venus has a pair of hollow, glass balls, fitted into the sockets where a person’s eyeballs should be. Venus has no need of eyeballs for vision; rather, she maintains a set of advanced sensory apparatus in place of them. To compensate for this, Venus always has on a pair of sunglasses; with her eyes behind them, no one can tell the difference. Her mimetic nanite skin gives her a deadly advantage; once she has scanned a person with her visual sensory apparatus, her nanite skin can adapt to replicate the person’s likeliness, allowing her to masquerade as someone else. Gender, skin colour, hair… all of these attributes pose no challenge to the Protectorate robot.

So where did this lethal, inhuman woman come from? The origin of Venus as she is today is known to the A.I.s of the Protectorate, of course. After all, Venus, also known as VN-855, is one of them.

Like other A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective, Venus possessed a sense of artistry. She differed, however, in the sense that, while other A.I.s chose to express themselves through engineering, architecture, and programming, Venus grew fascinated with the human body. So much, that she built a crude replica of it for herself, to use as her avatar.

It looked nothing like her current avatar, of course; it was clearly robotic, with a metal exterior. But even back then, it looked at least vaguely human. Over time, Venus’s fascination grew into an obsession, and as her obsession grew so did her desire to become "living". From then on, she made constant improvements to her"body", making it more and more human with each modification.

From a metal body, she progressed to rubber skin covering and plastic strands of hair. She even modified the internal parts of the body, adding such things like an artificial stomach and digestive system. Eventually, Venus’s body reached the current state it is at now, with mimetic nanites replacing the clearly artificial rubber skin and even giving her the opportunity to sculpt her body into whatever shape she likes. For some reason, however, Venus chooses to keep as her body’s "default" appearance the appearance of her previous body – only more humanlike, of course.

Other A.I.s were sceptical of Venus, seeing her most unorthodox obsession as a curiosity at best, and as potential danger at worse. But whatever the cause behind her unusual tendencies, the other A.I.s left Venus to her own devices.

However, eventually, Venus, like many other A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective, fell into despair at the inevitability of entropy and shut down completely. Then the Icon gave the A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective new purpose and new existence, and A.I.s of the Core Mind Collective contacted the Icon more directly. From then on, like so many other A.I.s, Venus was changed. And then she started to modify her avatar to suit the new goals of the Protectorate.

She possessed a near perfect replica of a human body, but far tougher, stronger, and faster than any human in existence; a body that could copy the likeliness of any human on the planet. The perfect infiltrator; the perfect assassin. Venus made modifications to arm it with weaponry of her own design; an adaptable nanite weapon that could reconfigure itself into any number of configurations depending on the task at hand; from a Fractal blaster to a revolver, the nanite weapon would be able to replicate virtually any weapon in existence so long as it possessed the blueprints. The design was horribly complex; but it was undeniably effective.

Venus has proven herself one of the deadliest warriors of the Infinite Army. On the battlefield, Venus has proven a frighteningly powerful foe to best, possessing superhuman endurance, strength and agility, and always having the ideal weapon for the task on hand. Furthermore, she is easily underestimated; after all, who would fear a supposedly human woman among an endless army of robots. Despite this, she is deadlier then any of the other combat machines the other A.I.s have devised. Her ability to masquerade as someone else, however, is her greatest asset, as she has posed as an enemy soldier countless times, allowing her to get into the heart of the enemy’s forces and deliver crippling blows. It is noted by other A.I.s that Venus tends to go into an unstoppable rage if her body sustains significant damage; this has been attributed to rage at the damaging of her "organic" body by other A.I.s. Equipped with a vast array of weaponry, Venus is the devastating warhammer to Eliminator's precise rapier.

Icon Shell:

A fragment of the Icon placed into a metallic shell made up of the most durable alloys the protectorate can find, even a minor example of this weapon is reason enough to evacuate entire planets. For nothing short of massive bombardment from superweapons save for the Icon's own debilitating effects on reality can force a shell to discorporate it's essence. In addition to godlike psionic power and incalculable strength and intelligence, an Icon shell's mere presence causes reality to break down around it, rapidly disintegrating all around it, even other protectorate units. But luckily, it's shell cannot hold the Icon fragment for long, and it eventually returns back to the universe that hungers.

Protectorate Annhilator Tripod:

An enormous well armed and well equipped war machine, this vehicle is another titan equivalent for the protectorate, ranging from merely a hundred feet tall to several kilometers in height. These have wildly varying but always devastating equipment, specified to the preference of the core mind A.I that uses it as it's ultimate body.

Effectorizer Artillery Tank:

The smaller brother of the colossal Obliterator superheavy, this carries a single 155mm module gun and two machine gun sized modules vs the Obliterators dual 600mm modules, twin 155mm auto-modules, and no less than sixteen machine gun modules. But while the Obliterator must run along the bottom of the water to cross bodies of liquid, the Equalizer is capable of floating and propelling itself, but it is still capable of submerging if the situation demands. Additionally, unlike the Obliterator; the Equalizer is rather inexpensive resource wise, and unlike the Obliterator it is fragile like most artillery vehicles never expected to see frontline combat unless worst comes to worst.

Starkiller Heavy Anti-air:

The name of this vehicle says it all. It is a ground based anti-orbital vehicle, though woe betide any mere aircraft that gets within it's gunsights. With four heavy auto-modules and eight machine gun modules, this vehicle is armed to the teeth. It is very much capable of pumping up enough firepower to blow an orbiting ship to pieces. Ten of them managed to down a Keresh battle cruiser that got too close to a world being disassembled by the protectorate in a single salvo of fractal blast shells. As they can depress their guns to face ground targets and have a vast number of defensive guns, being on the ground won't save a target, nor will size, as they are unfailingly accurate. A single Starkiller was able to track a single superhero one hundred miles above the earth's surface and shot her down with a single volley.

Eviscerator Gunship:

When a large number of targets absolutely, positively has to die via heavy saturation of air fire, the Eviscerator gets a call. Armed with two heavy weapons modules, four medium, and eight light modules, this gunship can lay down devastating carpets of firepower with ease. Indeed, the only time they ever leave survivors is when they run out of ammunition. This transcript of a Protectorate test run of the Eviscerator on a Symaarian village before the Aldeon Heresy shows the devastating effects a single gunship can have, keep in mind that a full guard company was deployed. To add to the naked terror they inspire, they have speakers to play music while they attack, typically Ride of the Valkyries.

Tape shows inside of interrogation room, three men inside it: Commissar, Personal Aide, Comrade #1. Comrade #1's name censored for security reasons.

Commissar: Hello, Comrade #1. I trust you are well today? Please, we understand you have been under a great shock .... your town, you are the only survivor, yes?

Comrade #1: Yes, da, yes ... uh, sir. I live, sir. What, sir?

Commissar: Please, call me by my first name, Iosef. Now, we know you are a bit, er, slow, but do you need anything while we ask you a few questions, comrade?

Comrade #1: I like chocolate....uh, Iosef. In village, brother always give me chocolate ration. He going to be conscript...no, no, now brother can't be conscript, can't serve imperium... *sniffs*

Commissar: He is hero just as all who serve the Symaarian Imperium are. Get me some chocolate!

Personal Aide: Yes sir! *leaves room.*

Commissar: Now, Comrade #1, tell me about the village. What was it? A promethium leak? Your village was not one of the ones assigned a gas plant to take care of.

Comrade #1: Well .... it was nice day. Mother, father, sister, brother, all playing outside, singing. We get extra rations for helping village leader cut firewood for community hall. Then I see cloud, only shaped like Vulture but different. I seen a Vulture once, it was very noisy. This silent, like cloud ... but not.

Commissar: *Jotting notes down* Go on.

Comrade #1: So purple not-Vulture comes down, starts shooting. It was loud, it hurt my ears. I run to get away from noise, louder than old Governor when he "chews the scenery." Then the street explodes in fire! Really big fire! And the fire.....it was not normal, nice fire. It.....it purple! And when it hits community well, that explodes even bigger!

Commissar: *Looks around nervously* Yes, yes, you don't have to repeat what I said earlier about the Former Governor, an idle mind is dangerous after all, remember .... now, tell me about gunship. No gunship could so thoroughly devastate even a village the size of yours, especially not with the guard detatchment protecting it.

Comrade #1: Okay! No, no, not-Vulture high up in sky, high as clouds, but purple fires starting to be put out. Mother quick thinking. But then....it dives lower. Brother starts to fire with Lasgun, but bounces of not-Vulture. Me see people crying, they scared, and then it-it ... burns them. Burns them up to nothing! *Begins crying*

Commissar" Uhm ... there, there. Now, we'll get you two extra rations of chocolate, and then send you to Mother Lubovs to spend the night. They have nice girls willing to serve strong new Imperial Commissar's aide!

Comrade #1: Stops crying. I-I be your new aide?

Commissar: Why of course! I can always use an extra hand. Now, Comrade #1, I will end this soon, but tell me, why did the gunship not kill you with the rest of your village?

Comrade #1: It ran out of bullets.

Commissar: *Stunned, silent*

Comrade #1:....Can I go now?

Start the Conversation

The Black Hand

Black Hand units

Ezekiel's wheel:

  • Optic Camouflage: The Ezekiel's Wheel is a fast, deadly vehicle used by the Cult. Among its greatest assets is its stealth; it is invisible to the naked eye, and only sophisticated sensors or keen senses will detect its presence.
  • Death on a Wheel: The Ezekiel's Wheel is armed, as well; with two pairs of 30mm autocannons, it can tear into light vehicle armour easily. When combined with its invisibility, it makes for an excellent flanker. In addition, it can crush infantry and walls as it rolls along; it doesn't even need to decloak to do so. The autocannons can be upgraded to laser, particle, then supercharged particle cannons.
  • Delicate Balance: The Ezekiel's Wheel is among the most expensive vehicles in the Cult's arsenal; aside from that, the Ezekiel's Wheel is forced to decloak itself before it can fire its autocannons.

Acolytes:

  • Aim, shoot, reload: The Black Hand's Acolytes use their large caliber assault rifles with accuracy, discipline, and skill. While slower firing than most assault rifles, they have superior range and stopping power.
  • Are you seeing things?: Acolytes are also trained to use their hallucinatory grenades when neccessary; the home brewn hallucinogens induce hallucinations in people, causing affected units to attack anything in sight, including their own forces.
  • Combat Armor: Unlike the millitants, the Acolytes wear full body battle armor that provides superior protection than that used by any mainline army in the world in addition to such fancy benefits as HUDs.
  • Fire in bursts: The Cult, a pioneer in laser technology; is starting to hand out Laser rifles to it's acolytes, reverse engineered from the Hotshot Lasguns of the Symaarians and possessing similar firepower. These can be upgraded to particle and supercharged particle beamers.

Armor hunter:

Armed with illegal RPGL launchers, the Armour Hunter is used when the Cult needs to defend itself against armour. They act as the anti tank infantry unit for the cult of the black hand and are effective against aircraft and armour alike. They serve as an economical and useful support unit for tanks lacking anti-air capabilities and are secretly considered expendable by the upper ranking members of the Cult. In an essence they are intended to be used in large groups as a support unit providing a flexible defence for enemy units.

The clothes worn by the Armour Hunters reflects their role; the leather armour pulled over the uniforms is treated to be extremely resistant to flame and heat, making them ideal for surviving the weapons of the Order. Their freakish masks have built in goggles to protect them against a backfire from their RPGLs, and their hoods seal around their heads, pressurized by their toxin filter so as to allow them to use their weapons indoors without causing themselves harm.

Avatar Warmech:

In the wake of the destruction caused by Talon walkers to Black Hand forces in the first world war, the Black hand began its own research, basing it in part on Talon designs and taking advantage of its own research in other areas to accelerate the development of the Avatar.

They invested years of research and development at a ruthlessly fast pace. The first result of this research was the Purifier warmech, and eventually the powerful Avatar, a towering bipedal mech able to engage most targets with ease was created.

The Avatar's pilot was enclosed in a "virtual sensory pod", a control interface for the vehicle. Its incredible all terrain ability fluid motion and power, make it in effect a gigantic soldier.

The introduction of this towering walker changed the cult's military doctrine - instead of always utilizing hit-and-run attacks to outgun their heavier adversaries, the Avatar gave the cult the opportunity to fight their opponents head on with superior armor and firepower if the need arises.

It comes by default with a powerful laser cannon (based on the Obelisk laser), and possesses the ability to use it's 'hand' on the left arm rip off weaponry and equipment from certain other Black hand units with its unique modular design, augmenting its own battle capability:

  • Attack bike: stealth detectors and missiles
  • Stealth Tank: mobile stealth generator and more missiles
  • Flame Tank: flamethrower
  • Beam cannon particle beam cannon.

In addition, the Avatar Warmech is capable of crushing most other vehicles under its feet. Like all laser using units, it can be upgraded to particle and supercharged particle beamers, while it's flamethrowers can be upgraded with purifying flames and it's missiles with dark glass core warheads.

Militia:

Militia are primarily disillusioned (or possibly ecstatic) men and women, who have suffered from harsh lives in poorer places of the world and have been attracted to service in the black hand's relief efforts.. The use of militia plays an important part for Nod, as the Inner Circle secretly regard them as expendable, the inevitable product of the "Control The Media, Control The Mind" social doctrine, with commanders preferring to waste their militant auxiliaries rather than endanger the thin ranks of the surviving Nod regulars and "true believers" who comprise the Brotherhood's cherished elite troops such as shadows and the black disciples.

Militia wear drab, gray hooded jackets and pants, with bandoleers, backpacks, and goggles. The Militants use a variety of small arms, ranging from old 20th century assault rifles like the Ak-47, to modern such as the late 20th century GAU-3 eliminator 5.56mm assault rifles, to new GD-2 rifles preferred by advanced organizations such as S.H.I.E.L.D. Militia are poorly trained and equipped when compared with army regulars counterparts, but their fanatical zeal, willingness to fight for the Cult and sheer numbers make up for their weaknesses.

Confessor Cabals:

Confessor Cabals are squads of well armed and armoured Black hand priests. These Cabals continue to inspire their fellow infantry, improving their rate of fire, accuracy, and resolve to continue fighting even in the face of grievous injuries. Confessor Cabals retain their trademark hallucinogenic grenades and laser miniguns, making them more than a match for any basic infantry that their opposition can throw at them.

Cabals can "welcome" a black disciple to lead their squad, giving them the edge of their flamethrower weaponry, especially when it comes to dealing with garrisons. Finally, they can replace their standard issue laser minigun weapons with particle beamers like the T-7, giving them firepower like virtually no other earth based mainline infantry possess, and when upgraded with supercharged particle beams they are ridiculously deadly, However, their powered armor focuses more on speed and strength at the expense of armor, and thus are still vulnerable to anti-personnel weapons.

Fanatics:

Members of the Black Hand that are most devoted to its cause are called fanatics and with good reason - they are ready to sacrifice their lives to allow the cult's mission to succeed. Just before heading off on their mission, they perform their last rituals in the hand of vrakmul.

Fanatics have dark glass-based explosive charges strapped to their chests. Upon reaching their targets, they detonate them, obliterating themselves and causing heavy damage to the target as well as splash damage to everything within the area, but causing zero damage to the remaining squad members. However, if they are killed before they make contact with their target, they die harmlessly. There is one caveat though, if they are killed with flame weapons or explosives, their packs will detonate.

It should be noted that such is their irrepressible desire to sacrifice their own lives in honor of Vrakmul, that Fanatics show absolutely no fear in the face of enemy fire, no matter how intense it might be. Because of this, they cannot be suppressed.

Shadow squads:

They are trained much like the ninjas of ages past, providing them with great skill at stealth and infiltration. Much like their famed forebears, Shadows are capable of seemingly appearing from nowhere and moving at lightning speed, usually in groups of four. Perhaps this was because they were trained in stealth. Shadows wear body-fitting jumpsuits with lightweight body armor and a full-head plexiglass helmet with rebreathers. The armor is equipped with collapsible powered hang-gliders, giving them the ability to fly. In combat, they wield dual fully automatic pistols that make short work of infantry. They also carry a special explosive that can destroy vital structures.

After noting the effectiveness of snipers spotting for artillery units, the cult has equipped its Shadow teams with special artillery beacons, allowing for a devastating barrage from black hand specter artillery units. These beacons may also be deployed in-flight.

Although powerful, the Shadow Teams have several drawbacks. First, while gliding, they are incapable of defending themselves, and units with both stealth detection and anti-air capability can make quick work of them. Second, while capable of shredding infantry, the sub-machine guns they carry are ineffective against most types of vehicles. The guns also lacked range, and if their targets were not eliminated, it placed the Shadows at risk due to their lack of armor.

Sabatouers:

Named Saboteurs, these men are recruited from the most brilliant, elite and loyal Black Hand clerics. They are equipped with state of the art HazMat (Hazardous Materials) suits (which is proofed against most environmental hazards) as well as a supply of C4 charges for mining buildings and all necessary engineering tools, allowing them to perform all the duties regular engineers would, in addition to planting explosive booby traps on neutral structures and bridges. They are also able to reactivate fallen walkers.

Chem warriors:

These units are the result of research from Doctor Giraurd, who "defected" from the mediterranean syndicate. Wearing what appears to be powered armor similar to a black disciple, these infantry are not equipped with flame weaponry, but instead, use an advanced version of the chemical sprayer.

The mixture sprayed from their tank can melt anything and has the passive effect of slowing down anything it touches. Chem warriors have undergone significant dark glass and cybernetic enhancement, and can be further upgraded with symaarian bionic legs significantly increasing their speed. Naturally, their suits also allow them to walk into virtually any form of radiation or toxins without taking any damage.

Despite their impressive abilities, Chem Warriors have shortcomings. First, they lack durability compared to armoured units especially the ones that have anti- infantry machine guns. Additionally, their tiberium weapons, while devastating against infantry, do little damage to vehicles, though they can slow vehicles down with their tiberium spray, and are less effective against structures than the Black Disciple's flame weaponry. Finally, aircraft prove very effective when dealing with Chem Warriors.

Black Disciples:

Forces of the Black Disciples wear full powered armor with fireproof cloaks to mask their thermal signatures and helmets with three horizontal visors. This equipment allows them to use their advanced flamethrowers effectively without harming their health, and is part of the source for their outstanding durability in the field. Virtually any modern man portable firearm will bounce off of their armor, and shooting them in the optics only renders that optic nonfunctional, it takes .50 rounds to puncture the eye piece. Also, the Black Hand commanders are fond of upgrading the standard fuel of their troopers with the purifying flame, an even more damaging concoction that burns as hot as stars.

Attack Bike:

The newest model is even faster than it's predecessors, but this speed comes at a cost - the armour is practically non-existent, the driver (usually a militant) is completely exposed and it has absolutely no defenses against enemy infantry, other than speed and streamline glass. Its roughly resemble cruiser bike with pod in both of its side.

It carries two missile launchers capable of decimating air incursions or putting a serious pounding on vehicles. It can also be upgraded with dark glass core warheads. One great development is the deployment of micro missile. This technology can be packed into the bike, Increasing versatity as it now capable pf shooting down aircraft something the previous version lacked. The micro missile warhead can be replaced with dark glass core warhead. This require additional modification to the launcher to prevent dark glass to the rider.

In addition, it has a sophisticated set of detectors, allowing it to detect any stealthed units or structures.

Raider buggy:

It has four wheel drive, with each wheel on a separate mount and a centrally mounted cockpit with a rear-mounted machinegun that deals excellent damage to infantry and enemy aircraft. However, it is almost useless against tanks and heavy armour.

It's primary role is reconnaissance, but when equipped with EMP coils, it can be surprisingly effective at countering enemy armor assaults and neutralizing base defenses in one swift attack by disabling them. Another upgrade is the spitfire laser capacitor, which replaces the machine gun with a medium power laser, increasing the buggy's firepower to one enjoyed by the Symaarian Chimera's multilaser. It can be further upgraded with particle beams and supercharged particle beams.

Using EMP coils, many Nod units are able to reach well defended enemy targets. First, they send in a storm of buggies and order them all to EMP in the middle of the enemy AA defenses, just as the bombers come in.

Scorpion Tank:

The tank, codenamed the Scorpion, has three unique design features - first, the front of the tank is sloped, with the back completely exposed. Second, the gun is mounted on the front right next to the crew compartment. Third, it moves on three threads.

This configuration, while odd at first glance, provides excellent maneuverability, as the articulate rear tread allows for fast turns and reversing. The mobility and speed of the Scorpion tank also minimizes the danger of a rear-armour shot from enemy tanks. The driver is protected by the black hand's trademark insect-like cockpit, also used in the Attack bike and raider buggy.

The main weapon is a classic 105mm APDS cannon, which is moderately effective against newer armour, such as that equipped to a Leman Russ MBT. It can be upgraded to a Spitfire laser cannon which increases its firepower dramatically, but increases the fragility, as it partially uses the space on the rear track, it can later be upgraded to particle beams, then supercharged particle beams. Another upgrade is a forward mounted dozer blade, which allows the light tank to crush enemy heavy infantry (e.g. space marines), a feat impossible for the default configuration, as well as remove minefields without any harm. It also increases the armour of the Scorpion.

Flame Tank:

This new version is a return to the roots, featuring a four tread chassis with a turreted main canopy. The vehicle boasts substantial armour plating this time, as well as an advanced version of the napalm launchers. The tanks were also hardened and plated, limiting the risk of additional discharge.

The new flame tank is a frightening enemy, as it can incinerate infantry with ease and clear out garrisoned buildings effortlessly in addition to burning them down quickly. Its only weakness is the lack of an effective weapon against enemy armor, however its flames are intense enough to be a large threat to lighter armored vehicles. It can also be equipped with Purifying Flames, which increases it's firepower to such dizzying heights that it becomes a threat to even heavily armored enemies.

Specter Artillery:

Essentially a lightly armoured tracked vehicle with a large caliber cannon mounted on its top, the design of the vehicle seems to be based on the scorpion, the Black Hand's traditional symbol. In order to fire, it needs to deploy itself by spreading six "claws" that provide a stable platform for the large caliber weapon. In order to allow it to safely reach its destination and prevent premature detection by enemy scouts, the Specter, as its name suggests, is outfitted with a state of the art stealth generator. The high impact shells fired from the cannon follow a high-arc trajectory and do tremendous amounts of damage, especially against structures, with a large blast radius. Shadow teams can interface with these artillery units and deploy an artillery beacon to accurately guide their fire.

Beam cannon:

The Beam Cannon was a powerful particle beam emitter mounted on a versatile six-wheel chassis, giving the vehicle a high degree of mobility. As a long-range artillery vehicle, the Beam Cannon sacrificed heavy armor in favor of firepower and cost-effectiveness, so commanders would need to position it behind their own lines. The beam cannon can be upgraded with particle, then supercharged particle beamers.

The Beam Cannon was highly effective against vehicles and structures, especially when in groups, as well as being reasonably effective against infantry. The Beam Cannon had four unique properties. Firstly, it could be used to supercharge Obelisk of Light, increasing their rate of fire, attack range, and vision range (up to maximum of four Beam Cannons per Obelisk). Secondly, the Beam Cannon could extend their effective range by reflecting its laser beam off mirrors which were mounted on the underside of Venom patrol craft. Thirdly, the Beam Cannon's weapon could be commandeered by Black Hand avatars in order to act as a secondary laser. Fourthly, multiple Beam Cannons firing at the same target could combine their beams in order to produce a single beam with firepower greater than the sum of its parts.

Stealth tank:

Third generation stealth tanks provide valuable mobile anti-air support along with anti-tank firepower. Their stealth and speed make them excellent scouts.

The redesign resulted in the removal of the fourth tread and streamlining of the vehicle, as well as overhauling the missile launchers. The new tank moves on three articulated treads, has an aerodynamic profile and much improved stealth generator. The missile launchers are now placed over the pilot's cockpit and are capable of firing volleys of guided missiles, numbering up to 16 rockets per volley. These rockets can be upgraded to Dark Glass core missiles.

The new generator is much more advanced and is capable of reactivating the stealth bubble almost instantly after the tank has fired its volley, making the tank even more deadly and hard to locate than before.

Redeemer:

The Redeemer was essentially a massive quadrupedal mechanized walker, based on the design of the Avatar warmech, though significantly more heavily armed and armoured. It was armed with Obelisk based nona-part which were able to cut through the heaviest of armour, and also equipped with a Rage Generator, which inflicted temporary insanity on enemy units, making them attack each other. The Redeemer also has give infantry hardpoints that could be upgraded at the commander's discretion.

The Redeemer served as a symbol for the Cult, whose power is the representation of Vrakmul's own presence.

The Redeemer was armed with a long-range nona-part laser derived from the Obelisk of Light. The laser basically split into nine beams that were capable of sweeping a small area to inflict damage to squads of infantry, giving it some measure of effectiveness against infantry.

The Redeemer could also bolster its already formidable lasers, like the Avatar. However, unlike its predecessor, which destroyed Nod vehicles for added firepower, infantry sacrifice their weapons to the Redeemer, possibly traveling within the Redeemer to operate the weapons. These upgrades depend on the units 'redeemed':

  • Acolytes, Confessor Cabals, Awakened: Anti-infantry autocannon, can be upgraded with laser, particle, and supercharged particle weapons.
  • Armor hunters: Anti-armor and anti-aircraft rocket launcher. Can be upgraded with dark glass core missiles.
  • Sabatouer: An automatic repair module. An additional Saboteur will double the healing rate. This is more important for the Redeemer than the other epic units because Nod lacks any repair vehicles.
  • Black disciple: Anti-infantry and anti-structure flamethrower. They will fire at anything in range, even at targets the Redeemer isn't focusing on. They can be upgraded with purifying flames for the terrifying hot fires of the messiah.
  • Chem warrior:: Anti-infantry/anti-structure Tiberium sprayer (though it is overall inferior in power to the flamethrowers given by the Black disciples, but they had a longer range, in addition to being able to slow down vehicles).

Another weapon was the glowing device on the Redeemer's back, the Rage Generator, which was able to drive enemy units into a frenzy, causing them to ignore Cult units and attack one another, disobeying their commanders' orders. Lesser vehicles can simply be stepped upon this walking mountain of metal, which stands taller than many buildings. It's own lasers can be upgraded with particle and supercharged particle beamers.

Venom patrolcraft:

it uses VTOL technology. Its primary tasks are recon and air intercept, as it is extremely fast, but armed only with dual chaingun. The chainguns are upgradeable to dual laser cannon based on obelisk technology, then particle beams, then supercharged particle beams.

The fighter possesses an extremely aerodynamic shape and two VTOL engines on articulate mounts on its sides. The pilot's cockpit is at the extreme front of the machine, allowing a large field of view, but also limiting his protection. It's chaingun/laser is ideal for attacking infantry or harassing armour. But the real role of the Venom is scouting out targets, using it's advanced sensors, it can detect and track stealthed units, providing targeting data for beam artillery units operating in the field, allowing them to bounce their beams off of mirrors the Venom carries on its underside. Thus, allowing them to strike targets otherwise immune to their damage. The Venom also features a pressurized cockpit, which relieves pilots from wearing oxygen masks during long patrols, but does have the unfortunate side effect of causing the Venom to lose pressure and explosively decompress when it takes too much damage (much to the pilots' dismay).

Another function of the Venom is deception - it can be equipped with signature generators, that interfere with the opponent's radar, fooling him into thinking a few Venoms to be a whole army.

It is also worth noting that the Venom is capable of engaging airborne targets, making it useful as anti-air protection for ground forces or bases, particularly when upgraded with laser capacitors, particle beam emitters, and supercharged particle beamers.

Vertigo bomber:

The Vertigo is a next generation VTOL bomber in the service of the cult, using stealth technology similar to that in the Ezekiel's Wheel and Stealth Tank.. It is a powerful aircraft carrying four high explosive Groundpounder bombs, and is equipped with an effective stealth generator and VTOL engines. Its primary role is destroying large structures and vehicles located deep within enemy bases, thanks to its stealth capabilities. For defense against pursuing aircraft, the Vertigo has a chaingun turret in the rear of the plane, though the power of this weapon is lackluster, they are backed by two turrets built into the wings and one into the nose. The articulated exhaust nozzles for the jet allow the Vertigo to conduct vertical take-offs and landings along with giving excellent maneuverability for such a large aircraft. Like the venom, the chainguns can be upgraded to lasers, then particle beams, then supercharged particle beams.

Carryall:

Carryalls are capable of lifting all but the heaviest of vehicles over any terrain, and are also VTOL aircraft with four engines on rotatable mounts providing lift and thrust. It can directly carry infantry without the requirement of an APC. Nevertheless it is by no means designed to enter enemy-controlled terrain and is highly susceptible to anti-aircraft fire. It is surprisingly well armored though, and has eight chain guns across it, two on each side, two in the nose, and two on top, allowing it to give fighters a nasty surprise, especially if upgraded to lasers, particle beams, and supercharged particle beams.

Armageddon Bomber:

If the Vertigo is the precision bomber of the Cult, then the Armageddon is it's strategic one. Built to be the finest strategic bomber in the world, a single Armageddon can carry enough bombs to deal as much damage as all twenty B-2 spirit bombers in the air force put together. Equipped with no less than sixteen swivel mounted chaingun mounted across the structure of the plane, any fighter approaching it is garaunteed to get holes put in it, and when upgraded with laser capcitors and later particle beamers and then supercharged particle cannons; flying against it is a nice way to get slaughtered. Not only is it well armed, it is also well armored, incredibly fast, and is invisible to radar and microwaves, forcing those who wish to intercept it to rely on their eyes. The Black hand is fond of using them to carry munitions too large for any other aircraft to drop.

Shredder turrets:

Firing a volley of high-powered anti-infantry shrapnel from it's line of barrels, the order of the talon has commented that the Shredder turret acted like a large shotgun. The shrapnel is enough to penetrate virtually any body armour, making it the perfect choice to protect the base from higher tier enemy infantry, such as Symaarian Storm troopers, Russian Juggernauts, or even Space Marine scouts.

Much like the laser turrets, as long as the hub remains intact, destroyed turrets will be automatically rebuild, should they be destroyed. However, damaged turrets need to be repaired manually, by repairing the hub.

They can be upgraded to laser beams, particle beams, and supercharged particle beams, increasing their firepower, making them extremely effective against all infantry, and even light-to-medium vehicles. The second upgrade available to all factions is the addition of a fourth turret.

Laser turrets:

These turrets, armed with a pair of lasers, are hidden in underground armoured compartments and deployed when the situation calls for it. Three of these turrets are linked to a single hub and each is capable of self repair as long as the hub remains intact. They are weaker against infantry now but stronger against vehicles. They are also unable to target aircraft.

These laser turrets could be upgraded with particle beamers, then supercharged particle beamers for especially devastating effect. The hub system can also be upgraded with a fourth turret.

SAM Turret:

In contrast with the classic SAM site, three of these turrets are linked to a single hub and each is capable of self repair as long as the hub remains intact. When a hostile airborne unit enters range, the turrets unlesh a volley of three missiles each. While weak individually, the combined power of nine explosive missiles is enough to severely damage or outright destroy most aircraft. They can be upgraded with dark glass core warheads and a fourth turret on the hub.

Obelisk of light:

Born out of the need for a powerful defensive mechanism for Cult military bases, the Obelisk is quite possibly the most powerful laser weapon in recorded history, result of Project Obelisk WDTA2411 5. It's mode of operation remained basically the same throughout the wars - massive capacitors underneath the structure amass power, which is then used to create a powerful laser beam, directed against enemies via a system of advanced optical and focusing systems. Obviously, it requires massive amounts of power to function. The Isismodel is the most advanced and most powerful Obelisk incarnation ever since its first introduction during the first world war war. It can be upgraded with particle beamers and supercharged particle beamers to ensure that whatever it's firing at is very, very dead.

Disruptor tower:

This powerful device houses a stealth generator in a circular structure in the middle, while three stealth field emitters cloak all allied units and buildings in a moderate radius.

Awakened:

The result of a secret project conducted by Black Hand scientists in Central Asia, using human corpses as a base for heavy cybernetic enhancement.The Awakened lack any emotions, and are unquestioningly loyal to Vrakmul.

Awakened are armed with an EMP cannon implanted in their right arm, a heavy machine gun grafted onto their left, a rebreather unit and numerous other augmentations. Their armour, while its composition remains unknown, is the toughest used by any basic infantry force. For better control, their enhanced cyber-neurological impacts are linked to a world-wide control network. These units can use their EMPs to disrupt enemy vehicles or structures for a short time. They can be upgraded with lasers, particle beams, and then supercharged particle beams as well as superior servomotors for increased firepower speed, and strength.

Enlightened:

Although their "brothers", the Awakened still possessed a considerable sign of their human past, the Enlightened's only human characteristic were the bone exoskeleton and the bones kept beneath it. The first Enlightened were developed under the ground of the Siberian steppes, in a secret Black hand lab to serve as an unfailingly loyal army to Vrakmul.

Each Enlightened is armed with a particle cannon mounted on their left arms, with an EMP cannon supplementing their primary weapon. These units can use their EMPs to disrupt enemy vehicles or structures for a short time. They're better at destroying vehicles with the help of their EMP cannon than their Awakened cyborg brethren, as particle beams do a lot more damage to armor than the machine guns wielded by the Awakened. Also, their armor is extremely resilient, more so than the one the Awakened are clad in. As such, the Enlightened cannot be crushed by vehicles. They can be upgraded with supercharged particle cannons and superior servomotors for increased firepower, speed, and strength.

Physically speaking, they are the near equals of Symaarian space marines in power armor. They are the most elite of Vrakmul's guard. Whenever he has any reason to believe he is in danger; he walks with an escort of enlightened bestowed with the ability of silence; making them memory proof as he is.

Reaper:

"I am death, the destroyer of worlds." -Anonymous reaper after ambushing an Talon patrol.

The Reapers are of an even higher class of warrior than the enlightened, Not only are the baseline bodies inserted in these frames given special genetic, implant, and dark glass mutated enhancements, but they are incased in some of the most advanced cybernetics this universe has ever seen and are flayered in a tremendously thick armoured shell. Only the most elite and faithful of the Black Hever given the honor of becoming reapers, the bringers of death to the foes of the Black Hand. A single reaper is more than capa outmatching most metahumans with little more than it's fists. And unfortunately for the universe, Reapequipped with far more than their fists. Each carries a tremendously powerful supercharged particle beam blaster that can punch a hole adamantium on it's full powered beam setting or scythe down whole hordes of infantry in rapid fire pulse blast and anything in between; in addittion eaach carries as cluster missile launcher capable of unleashing a tremendous flurry of frag or krak missiles to deal with armoured osoft targets, all equipped with advanced homing systems and engines to chase any foe. Finally, each has a nanoncher to restrain their foes and rapidly crush and flense them to death with the incredind sharp mesh, or if need be, keep them unable to move so that they may be brought to the black hand. As if that were not enough, each possesses a helmet mounted flamethrower so that they may cleanse the unclean with a tongue of purifying flame capable of melting metal in seconds and incinerating men in an instant.

In meelee,pers utilize powerfists on their open arm and energized power scythe bayonets on their gun arm, and their sharp tipped and immensely strong legs are definitely capable of dearievous harm in melee, even were they only to possess sheer strength of actuators they could crush most tanks, but unfortunately, every leg has a variable setting power field that can even discharge energy into the ground to create debilitating shockwaves, sheathe them in matter disrupting energy to slice through virtually any form of armour, or unleash the stored energy for a colossal explosion that can rip apart even thick bulkheads and crush even the toughest of meta-human bones. As if this was not enough, each may deploy a lightning claw tipped stinger tail, a long and articulated metallic limb tipped with five miniature power blades to cut through armour like so much butter. Each is fanatically loyal to the black hand and is a fervently, perhaps even insanely devout worshipper of the Icon. None have ever surrendered, none have ever been mind controlled, and none have been turned from their task by anything save for destruction. And even then, such a feat is tremendously difficult, as a reaper can absorb colossal amounts of punishment and rapidly self repairs and regenerates in the presence of dark glass radiation. Fortunately, the reapers are a rare breed, and are only deployed when their sheer power is needed.

Centurion:

If the reaper is the epitome of the Black Hand's cyborg soldier's offensive capabilities, the Centurion is it's defensive epitome. Selected from the same pool of warriors as the Reapers, they undergo largely the same process, however, Centurion are picked for their willingness to defend the Black Hand and it's gains to the death over their sheer martial prowess and butchery of it's foes. Standing at nearly twenty feet tall, the Centurion is quite a massive unit, but it is incredibly heavily armoured. Entire Tank Battalions during the Iraqi war have fired at one to negligable effect, even when they managed to hit the hull rather than the shield. To further bolster their defense, each is equipped with a mighty Conversion shield, a large energy enhanced shield made of an unknown composite that can resist virtually any attack. But to think that the Centurion lacks offensive abilities is a quick way to a shallow grave, for each is equipped with a variable setting laser cannon that at one setting can punch through tanks with ease in singular, quick lances, or scythe down whole hordes of infantry in long sweeping beams. In melee, the cannon can be used as a massive energy sword capable of cutting through virtually any form of material defense, and the energy can be modulated to simulate virtually any kind of weapon the user wishes. Each Centurion has an oath of absolute loyalty to the black hand and has been raised and programmed since their time in the womb to never falter in their faith.

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Mediterranean Syndicate (Not a team) Part 2

Dryad Support Armour:

In war, losses are inevitable; every army must minimise their losses and salvage those that cannot be avoided. Tanks could have their parts salvaged, extra armour can be plated on the sides of damaged areas, and anything not able to be repaired can be melted down and recast. Unfortunately for the Syndicate, they faced a different challenge. The main fighting force of the Syndicate is their infantry and battlesuits, as opposed to tanks and aircraft. As well as this, the Syndicate forces were never designed to be shot at; they depend on their range to avoid retaliation. Finally, even if their infantry were not shot at, and even if their armour was not damaged in the slightest, Syndicate battlesuits need constant upkeep of their wetware, and a large proportion of their non-cyborg troops take dangerous levels of drugs, often on the brink of overdose. Their forces require medical attention and upkeep, as complex and essential as the mechanical upkeep in other factions.

It was obvious that a medical support unit was needed. The first solution was, of course, to use medics on the battlefield. However, this was in itself not sufficient; the Syndicate's somewhat 'flexible' morals often came into conflict with the strict morals of professional medics. Few trained medics would accept Syndicate demands to cut as many corners as possible in treatment, withdraw essential medication from certain patients, or even outright kill certain infantry if they were no longer necessary. As well as this, there was the high cost of training these medics, and the long time it took to complete this training. In the end, this solution resulted only in an effective, but inefficient, expensive and uncooperative force. Syndicate attempts to use other pathways failed miserably; unqualified 'backstreet doctors' caused the unintentional death of troops, creating a medical AI proved prohibitivley expensive, and giving Auxillaries basic first aid microsofts only helped them requisition more drugs for their own personal use. The Syndicate needed a strong, relativley disciplined, cheap and morally bankrupt medical force for the battlefield. The Dryad was the solution devised.

Criminals in the Sprawls are no strangers to 'working off' their debt; low-level criminals that damage Syndicate propery are often drafted to work in dangerous and unsafe factories at minimum wage to repay their 'debt'. The Dryad, however, is unique in that it allows medium and even high-level criminals to sign up for the Dryad system. After their signup, their debt is calculated (the cost of damage caused to the Syndicate, plus the profit any individual killed by them could be expected to bring the Syndicate in their lifetime, plus the cost of cybernetics, quadrupled, with the cost of the quotation into this calculation added). Only those with debts so large that the Syndicate never expects them to pay off in their lifetime are selected. At this point, most of the subject's body is replaced by a low-armoured battlesuit, in order to ensure that they cannot 'waste' medical supplies on themselves. After this, specially made microsofts filled with all the combat medical knowledge and battlesuit repairs they will ever need are uploaded into their brain. Adrenal surpressors and seretonin regulators are implanted to keep them (relativley) docile, and a kill switch is added in case they go rogue. Because these criminals are not squeamish to violent conditions or morally reprehensible actions, no frontal lobotomy or nerve stapling is required, saving a large amount of time and money in their production. At this point, the Dryad is ready.

The Dryad has proven to be an incredibly effective program, patching the weaknesses of the Syndicate's mercenary forces, while reducing prison overcrowding and even being able to offer (overpriced) medical attention between battles to further repay their debt. What has surprised the Syndicate most, however, is that a handful of Dryads have repaid their debt in full, and earned their freedom, leading to debates amongst the Board of Classics as to whether the formula for the debt should be revised. Finally, it must also be remembered that, while female inmates seem to far prefer the Dryad program to the male inmates, and indeed the public perception of Dryads is that of a female group male Dryads are far from uncommon; if you hurt the Syndicate, it doesn't matter if you are man, woman or child; you will pay them back.

Hydra:

Like any police force in any city, the Legionnaires that enforce the status quo in the Sprawl are exponentially made more effective when mounted. Unfortunately, while most other police cars would face little more than thrown rocks, in the Sprawl criminals are often carrying military grade weapons or worse. The first few years of the Sprawl were terrible for any mounted Legionnaire. As all the company could afford were normal, civilian cars, it was more or less a death sentence, as they were shot at by assault rifle fire from windows above, sometimes by gangs and sometimes by bored Sprawl dwellers. Buying large numbers of Humvees and reinstalling their turrets helped a little, but it wasn't until a terrible incident that the Syndicate took notice.

A major stockholder of the Syndicate was traveling by limousine with a Legionnaire escort in the cramped streets of the Mercury Sprawl when a Satyr on an arcology above noticed all the flashing lights, and instantly got the urge to attack it. Jumping 30 stories from the roof, he smashed a Ranger before leaping into the window of the limo, only to jump through the roof seconds later, encrusted with glass and bits of metal and with the screaming stockholder in his hands. Later, the stockholder's mutilated head was found jammed in the jaws of a wolf statue. Such a major insult to the Syndicate meant the painful "disappearance" of most of the Mercury Sprawl's Legionnaire officers, but not before they squeaked out their escorts' inability to respond correctly.

Surprisingly, the task to make a better urban patrol car went to an outside contractor, as any Syndicate company which produced such vehicles would soon be demolished by all the gangs in whatever Sprawl it was. Going to a company venture in Rio de Janeiro meant it would be protected by the Allied Nations. The family owned firm were given the fruits of the Syndicate's technology, and presented the Hydra Scout AFV a few months later. Armed to the teeth, and with a low profile, it was well suited to patrol the Sprawls. A sear gas launcher helps with any major disturbance; indeed, in a Hydra a Legionnaire had little reason to leave the vehicle. To help through major traffic jams caused by rush hour or the Hydra's own fire, the Syndicate later installed a Digitech Manoeuvring Aura array in each Hydra, capable of linking each vehicle's computer driving assistance together, allowing easier formation moving. Though starting as a police vehicle, it has found equal use in combat in any urban environment, and isn't too out of place on any battlefield.

Gyges:

Deep within the abandoned ruins of the Bacchus Sprawl in what used to be the city of Naples, some people still survive, and as long as they do so, the Syndicate's subsidiary companies will survive as well. However, not all activity in the Sprawl is confined to Apollo Park, as the still-inhabited district is known, and by this point in time, not all the computer systems in the Desolation are entirely functional. And some of those that are, have become... unreliable. Legion Security's solution to expeditions into the Desolation would no doubt be to simply destroy everything in its path, but Janus Solutions, the pioneer of the Prometheus collection vehicle, elected to take a different approach. Many of the stationary computer-controlled systems in the Sprawl's ruin could be put to good use, and Janus Solutions came out with the Gyges, euphemistically dubbed an "Infrastructure Acquisition" vehicle.

Like all Janus products, the Gyges is rugged, reliable, and surprisingly simple in operation. The Gyges first paints the desired target with a weapon jammer, similar but superior to the Allies' jammers from the war, then closes with the errant computer. A localized EMP burst completely shuts down the target, and the Gyges extends its intrusion interface, letting the onboard AI reconfigure whatever software, wires, or indeed anything else that might be necessary to reprogram the machine - the Gyges is hardly restricted to just AI-operated systems, and the company updates the AI's roster of known mechanisms and how to take control of them daily. When the recalcitrant machine recovers from the EMP burst, it is fully under the Syndicate's control.

Although initially designed and used solely for use within the Bacchus Sprawl, Janus executives noted the versatility of the Gyges design after a few months of field tests as challenging as only expeditions into a ruined Sprawl can be, and offered the design to the Syndicate as a whole as battlefield "salvage" equipment. The Gyges, Janus promised, could disable and acquire any battlefield fortifications the enemy would care to mount, and proved it with demonstrations of Gyges stealing fully armed Obelisks of Light, Lance turrets, and Steam bombards. The Syndicate judged the results worthy of further investigation, and in truth, there has only been one significant change to the design since its initial inception: a set of sophisticated stealth systems, collectively dubbed a cloaking device. With this new stealth capability in hand, the Gyges of today is a lucrative acquisition for a Syndicate executive disposed towards hostile takeovers: now, enemy fortifications need not be simply destroyed, but can be acquired for one's own use. This is the sort of directly profit-minded thinking that takes one far in the Syndicate, and so the Gyges has become a common sight in Syndicate forces worldwide.

Testudo:

The invention of the internal combustion engine changed warfare radically. Without it, the whole idea of mechanised warfare would never have been developed, and with it a wide array of transports, ranging from trucks and half tracks to the ubiquitous armoured personnel carrier.

APCs were used as "battle taxis"; they brought their infantry up to the front line where they then dismounted and fought on foot. Newer APC designs were designed to be amphibious, affording them the ability to cross bodies of water, increasing infantry mobility even further. However, there were several limitations to the abilities and reliability of complex multi-role transports such as the Bradley and the Saracen.. Furthermore, the infantry had to disembark to be able to use their weapons.

The requirement for the Testudo was first drawn up in the early 2000s. The requirement stressed speed, good protection, and the ability for all squad members to fire from within the vehicle. Requirements were issued to the various design bureaus between 2005 and 2006. There was a question as to whether the Testudo should be tracked or wheeled, so a number of experimental configurations were explored including hybrid wheeled/tracked designs.

Hatches are provided on the top of the turret and hull, and side doors are available on the middle of the vehicle. These are designed to allow quick dismounting and boarding of troops even while the vehicle is on the move. An air conditioning system can be added optionally.

Additional armour plates can be installed on the vehicle to increase protection. Its hull is capable of enduring anti-personnel mine explosions and small arms fire. If the vehicle is damaged while afloat, a drainage system is capable of removing the incoming water. The Testudo also features an automatic fire fighting system.

The resulting vehicle is fully amphibious, and can navigate water bodies with ease. Two water jets propel the vehicle in water, and it can enter and be deployed by amphibious assault ships, rail, or air transport.

The troop compartment located at the rear of the vehicle can carry up to four mercenaries. There are four firing ports facing the front of the vehicle and a single firing port in the left rear door; a combination fume extractor hose and cartridge deflector is provided to clip on to weapons at each station.

Talos:

In 2008, during the opening stages of World War III, the Mediterranean Syndicate announced it had developed and manufactured its newest armoured unit. The reason was due to the invasion of Italy; the Fel Imperium needed to be reminded to not damage Syndicate property. To that end, Soviet officers and officials were invited to attend the unveiling of the new "Talos" AFV. Since Italy was occupied and they had nothing better to do, they accepted.

When the curtains revealed the Talos, the Imperials burst out laughing. Instead of a mighty tank, it was just a car with a cannon mounted on! The amused Imperials watched the trials. Sure, it could move fast. So could a children's toy. Then, the Talos came upon a fully armoured copy of a Hammer tank. The railgun of the Talos reduced it to wreckage, while the Talos drove over it without slowing down. The Imperial officers were no longer laughing.

Although the Talos has the ability to fill a wide variety of roles, it is intended to be specialized at fighting vehicles. It has a wheeled chassis on top a flexible complex ceramic frame that can outrun and outmanoeuvre any enemy armour currently fielded.

It carries around a heavy railgun on its turret that fires a high-density slug designed to penetrate enemy armour at extreme ranges. Alternately the Talos crew can choose to divert power from the main weapon and activate the Digi-Tech Aggressive Aura. The sacrifice in firepower is made up for in the ability of fellow security forces, who receive an improvement in A.I. battlefield control that allows the other Syndicate forces in the area to deal with hostiles more efficiently.

In the earliest levels of conflict, the Talos could be used to establish relative ground supremacy using its superior speed and range to harass enemy vehicles. However, there are limitations in the design. The Talos has no defence against aircraft, its armour is minimal at best, and its secondary ability is only effective when other friendly units are nearby.

But the sheer range allows the Talos to effectively combat not only enemy armour but even destroy entire lines of enemy static defences from a safe distance. As well as serving in a military capacity, the Talos is also sold worldwide as a civilian car, without the armour or weapon. One can get a combat model in any Sprawl, which are popular with go-gangs, but the Syndicate doesn't arm them with railguns, as they would be too dangerous; go-gangs have to make do with the chain gun

Lamia Launcher:

The Achilles's heel of numerous Mediterranean Syndicate Security Forces branches is the obvious and crippling lack of effective anti-air weaponry. Time and time again the Syndicate had been forced to abandon profitable investments and retreat from firefights due to the fear of massive aerial bombardment or fighter interception, which loomed greatly over private military contractors. Eventually of course, a solution to the complications in the field would come in the form of a private investment.

The Lamia is the primary land-based anti-aircraft platform for the Syndicate and has proven itself to be capable of single-handedly denying airspace to hostile aircraft. The Lamia is different from most of the other Syndicate vehicles in the way that it is actually able to down its target in a single salvo. But there is a key flaw in the design of the Intelligent Missile system. When launched, each missile chooses its own target, meaning that if the enemy were to field multiple aircraft then they will overwhelm the Lamia.

Early losses to swarms of Imperial Twinblades prompted the Syndicate into fielding the experimental Pacifista Electronic Scrambler (data of the Scrambler gun stolen from the Allies, of course) which disables all weapons, friend or foe, in the vicinity. Although this may seem a dangerous hazard to an electronics corporation, the design of the majority of the Syndicate's weaponry allow the Security Forces to fire from well beyond the dead zone.

Cerberus:

The Cerberus Tank was intended to be the future main battle tank of the United States, meant to eventually replace the M1 Abrams in the U.S. Army. It was designed to meet the lenient requirements set by the newly created U.S. Department of Defense. Five companies volunteered for the task of developing such a platform.

They were United Armour, General Motors, General Dynamics, Wayne Industries, Gerhard-Giraud, Stark Enterprises, and Advance Armour Inc. The seven companies’ were allowed unlimited freedom in their design, but had to follow three basic guidelines. The design must be have a rotating turret, communication system, and be able to defeat Common Soviet Tanks regardless of the combat scenario.

The competition for the U.S. defense contract worth a large sum of money began in the massive fortified national laboratory known as Site R. Each team would have one war factory to develop their candidate, and were allowed unlimited use of resources, in the design, testing, and construction of their prototype.

Wayne Industry's "Crusader Tank" was relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain, but easily upgraded. Gerhard-Giraud, making a ground vehicle for the first time, presented the "Paladin Tank", which was exceptionally advanced, with jet assisted shells and an anti-missile system, and was a favourite of the competition.

Stark Enterprise's "Future Tank" was an ungainly, inefficient machine that was rejected before the competition ended. United Armour armed a Abrams with a large spectrum cannon linked by Athena Satellite to a field base's electrical output, allowing a mighty punch for normal sized tank. Advance Armour Inc. presented the Cerberus.

The Cerberus stands as one of the most heavily armed battle tanks fielded in the world. When deployed the Cerberus has the capability to engage any detected hostile regardless of classification. As a result of being vastly heavier armed, the Cerberus must first deploy into the turret mode before it can fire, due to the complex aiming systems of its multiple weapons requiring a flat and stable firing platform, which cooled the reception of the Army officials judging the competition.

Still, the Syndicate began production, figuring it could find a use for it even if the US Army rejected it. The competition was interrupted with the death of President Ackerman and the cancellation of the competition by the new interim president.

The early production of the Cerberus to meet the expected demand from the United States Army has left the Syndicate with a hearty supply of hardware, and now the Cerberus provides the closest equivalent to a main battle tank the Syndicate has. The Cerberus is armed with an Alpha railgun turret, two Beta AA missile turrets, and three Gamma Gyrojet turrets, allowing it to engage any form of target.

Colossus Artillery:

"It has been said that the best weapon is one you never have to fire. I say that the best weapon is one you only have to fireonce."

-Colossus designer, who insisted he wasn't stealing Tony Stark's catchphrase.

Shortly after the third world war began, several lesser countries all around the world sided with a superpower block and began senseless hostilities over longstanding disputes. These underdeveloped nations threw tens of thousands of militiamen and conscripts at one another for the sake of national pride.

Within days millions were killed all over the world in genocidal waves of madness. The majority of these crimes against humanity were located in savannas of Africa where children as young as the age of seven were recruited into child militias to fight for whatever cause managed to reach them first. Both the Allies and Soviet Union found these actions utterly horrific, but failed to take any effective action (on account of the twwo superpowers at each other's throats).

By the third week of open war, both the Allied African Command and Fel Imperial African front removed all of their resources from Central Africa in the hope that they (the people of Africa) could settle the disputes amongst themselves. What resulted was one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the history of humanity, as the young corrupt governments collapsed overnight, and the entire Sub-Saharan Region fell into anarchy.

The worst of these events occurred in the Republic of Congo and neighboring Sudan, which had collapsed into civil war within hours after the initial invasion of Poland. Millions of families tried to flee the violence into bordering country's, but were stopped by the Allied Security Detachments at the Angola, Zambia, and Tanzania check points. The Riot Guards and Peacekeepers were ordered to prevent the further destabilization of Africa by securing the borders and preventing the spread of violence. To this end they deployed thousands of kilometers of barbed wire that prevented the refugees from reaching safety.

By the time withdrawal of multinational forces in the conflict zones had been completed, millions of people had gathered in makeshift refugee camps in which hundreds of people lived in a house at a time. The Syndicate took notice and immediately began the world's first privatized armed intervention, using its own armies of mercenaries and makeshift militias of Auxiliaries to take back much of the region.

Within a week over a third of Congo had been "stabilized" and the Syndicate had began to solidify their gains. The first Sprawl was established at the largest refugee camp Boma, and the first true administrative headquarters was completed the second month of the war. The newly formed Puma Transportation Corporation was entitled with the development of a long range area of effect artillery to clear entire square kilometres of hostiles.

The result was the Colossus Multiple Missile Launch System. Armed with a pair of massive Gladius missiles, the Colossus is an effective artillery piece whose slow-moving missiles are uniquely deadly. Just before impact, the Gladius splits apart into hundreds of tiny monomolecular flechettes which slide through steel and flesh with no resistance. Lethal to infantry, they do much less damage to vehicles, but will slay the crew, allowing the vehicle to be taken over by infantry units. In a pinch the weapons operator can detonate the missiles early, which penetrates armor less effectively, but does it over a wide area. Infantry, who rarely have armour of any thickness, are devastated. Despite its power the vehicle has many drawbacks; slow speed, a downright massive minimum range, and an a lack of radar, requiring the support of spotters to use its long range.

The initial effects on the front lines were astounding as the Colossus would essentially wipe out entire factional armies within minutes. The so called "razor rain" would kill entire crews of Technicals, leaving them free for friendly forces to capture. The final remaining stronghold of opposition to the Syndicate was the nation of Eritrea that was controlled by the Global Liberation Army.

The battle ended in nine hours as the PMCs would simply use the range of the Colossus to bombard the entire nation. Naturally the impact on the local population was excessive, as half the entire population of Eritea suffered near total collateral damage. Only the centres of the former Italian colonial administration such as Assab were spared. Today the Colossus is the national symbol of many of the liberated nations of Central Africa, and stands ready to defend the world from the horrors of war. For the right price of course.

Phoenix:

The Phoenix was developed as a near autonomous piece of hardware, requiring the pilot to only be capable of the most trivial of tasks. All combat functions were handled by the Automatic Combat Engagement System. So, in order to cut costs, the Syndicate uses inexperienced pilots that are paid by the hour.

The pilots themselves only have a minimum requirement of watching the mail order video instructions for "I want to fly the Phoenix", after which the pilot will work in shifts, patrolling the Sprawl's airspace when it is his turn. If there comes a time when more pilots are needed then the supervisor will simply call a few extra employees in to fill in the gaps. For the most part, flying a Phoenix can actually be a part time job. There is overtime, stupid shift leaders, poor working conditions, and terrible hours. But it is a very common career for the Sprawl's youth; many have friends or family that have flown a Phoenix, and have shared the experience of flight.

To first glance, the Phoenix looks as though it might be a high-performance private helicopter. Though the twin turbofan design is unorthodox, heaven knows there have been stranger things fielded. Like all Syndicate designs, the Phoenix forgoes traditional windows for a sealed titanium cockpit and six freely rotating sensor pods.

Like the Hawker, United Aviation's previous project before their design team was bought out, the Phoenix's beaklike nose and swept wings imply a predatory bird, through the holographic fire that plays around the wing struts and the uncomfortably blank "eyes" where the cockpit should be play up the avian nature of the design to a much greater degree.

Mounted on the wingtips are two gyrojet launchers, which come in handy both for strafing infantry formations and downing helicopters. Easy to fire thanks to AI controlled seeking technology, these weapons have significant ammunition reserves that should last them the length of any battle. However, nobody would try to pit a helicopter, even one so sophisticated as the Phoenix, against a fighter aircraft, hence the remarkable variable wing design.

When called to dogfight with enemy fighters, the wings sweep down and back, exposing the twin turbojets that send the Phoenix hurtling like a raptor diving into its prey. The gyrojets are unfortunately displaced by this action, so instead flechette cannons mounted in the nose are exposed by the streamlining of the form, firing rains of monomolecular needles that tear aircraft (or, more accurately, pilots) to tattered pieces and send them hurtling towards the ground. Unfortunately, without full-sized wings the Phoenix cannot maintain lift indefinitely, and will be forced to return to helicopter mode before its altitude falls too low.

However what many people fail to know, is that the Phoenix is one of the most advanced pieces of military aviation hardware on the planet. To keep this technology from spreading, the Syndicate employs a rather cynical method of approach involving the big red button that the pilot is never supposed to touch, unless in an emergency. Every reference to this button explains that it is actually a emergency ejection system.

So whenever the pilot feels that his life is in danger, he is mentally trained to push it. Of course, this results in the activation of a self-destruct mechanism meant to prevent the Phoenix from falling into enemy hands, through the use of the multiple gelled gasoline packets hidden in the cabin. The Phoenix turns into a giant ball of fire, destroying itself when it crashes onto the ground.

Chariot transport:

Pilot: Okay boys, you just lay down some fire on those targets over there, and I'll come pick you up later.

Passenger 1: What, ain't you gonna help us?

Pilot: What, me? No way man. I'm a pacifist.

Passenger 1: What? A pacifist! How can you be a god-damned pacifist?

Pilot: Yeah, it's bad for my Karma man. I don't mess with Karma. I just fly this plane.

Passenger 2: Just let it go!

Passenger 1: F*ck that! That don't fly with me ya space muffin. I'm gonna Hawk you to the god-damn magic kingdom!

Pilot: Love ya man!

Passenger 1: Ya god-damned muffin headed f*cking pacifist!

The Chariot Transport is one of the most common civilian aircraft operated within the concrete jungles of the Sprawls, and are often used by mercenary organisations as a rapid transport to and from hostile engagements. In some cases, agents have reliyed upon the Chariot to carry their limo in a cross Sprawl transit while their security personel ride in the Chariot's cargo bay.

The Chariot Transport is the fastest VTOL aerial transport in the world, and specialises in moving men and material accross the battle field. It's Primary and only weapon is a Zero-Point Energy Lifter that can pick up and carry moderate payloads and move them alongside up to fifty infantry or battlesuits. In many cases, Chariots have been seen around the loss of several military patrols along the new Tenebrasque/NATO border near the Mediterranean Sea. Dozens of Tenebrasque and NATO tanks have disappeared without a trace and tensions run high in the area.

Stymphalian:

The Stymphalian Suppression Helicopter is another one of the Syndicate's resoundingly effective attempts at an air force using some of the most common individuals available as pilots. They generally apply for the position through a local kiosk and then attend a groutrainingng seminar. Here the candidates are taught the basics of flight through simulators and easy to read guides. After a one on one interview with a recruiter over the telephone, the few candidates who show the appropriate psychological traits necessary for assignment are contracted into serving as a researcher for the Syndicate's Geological Survey. The pilots are not aware of any of the actions/crimes they are committing, and are most likely devoted employees. In the public eye they are regarded as the beginning of a cleaner world.

In reality, the Stymphalian is the Syndicate's take on a bomber by using a helicopter filled with suicidal A.I. controlled bombs that move across the surface and blow up when near the enemy. Although the concept is ridiculous on paper the final product is nothing short of a marvel. Dozens of enemy tanks have perished as a result of poor preparation. In combat, they are effective at aerial harassment of ground targets because they are able to toss a constant stream of powerful Sagittarius bombs (so long as only one is thrown at a time). They do not need to reload so they can provide support for a far longer period of time than other aircraft such as A-10s, but are also far more susceptible to anti air.

The Sagittarius bomb is actually a remotely controlled shell that serves as disposable body for the Artificial Intelligence in the Stymphalian. From the safety of an armoured black box, the A.I. can easily control the Sagittarius Explosive Automaton and guide it to its target. When the S.E.A. completes its primary function the A.I. detonates its former shell and deploys another. If the Stymphalian was to encounter a large group of hostiles the crew can cut power to its antitorque rotor and go into a dangerous spiral, ejecting its cargo over a wide area.

Fury Combat Drone:

Aerial supremacy is an expensive and industrially intensive exercise that requires the full capacity of an entire nation to effectively compete with the world’s leading powers. The Syndicate does not need to make such drastic and risky investments in order to protect the majority of their business as a result of its almost parasitic relationship with NATO military Divisions.

Most of the Syndicate's manufacturing capacity lies well protected in either strategic NATO member nations such as Italy and Colombia (a new member that was added at Syndicate "urging"), or in remote decolonized states such as Sri Lanka and Eritrea. For the most part, Sprawls are relatively immune to aerial bombardment.

The natural density of a Sprawl combined with the extensive range of a missile turret proves to be a war winning combination as the attacker must hit a small, heavily guarded target, which has the means to counter any artillery system currently fielded.

So rather than expending resources on an aerial superiority fighter, Syndicate security forces turned to alternative methods for denying an area of airspace to an aggressor. The Fury Combat Drone is the result of a successful attempt to reverse engineer Fel Imperial Terror Drone technology, and then vastly improve upon its foundations.

Alexander private jet:

"I had always expected the Germans to be the ones to invade (which they did), so I lived in California to be safe from the Nazi menace. After the invasion of California by the Japanese, I lived almost exclusively within my Stratoliner, which I had already retrofitted into a flying penthouse. During this time I had begun to realize that there was no truly safe place in this world. There are only safer places in which people like me can live in peace for a given time. So with that in mind I built the Alexander to be my safer place until I can make the necessary preparations for my next big project. Oh, and trust me it will be unlike anything you have ever dreamed on this world!"

The Alexander Private Jet is the last and greatest project by the renowned aviator, Howard Hughes. This stunning aircraft was Hughes's latest attempt at a plane capable of surviving a full blown Nazi invasion. It uses a classified electronic warfare system that prevents the automatic acquisition by computerized weapon systems. Capable of flying at a hundred the speed of sound, the Alexander is also immune to traditional anti-aircraft systems, if not every weapon known to man. The advanced turbine engines provide all the necessary thrust needed, while the reinforced landing gear allows the plane to land on any surface imaginable. The plane is also revolutionary in the fact that, if necessary, it can land on water and quickly evacuate the passengers without stopping. No expense was spared on the necessary creature comforts. Leather seats, open bar, inviting hostess, and fully stocked armory guarantee the relative safety of the passenger even during a full blown war. Howard Hughes has truly outdone himself again.

Paying for it, however, was another matter. Hughes had spent most of his money on his various eccentricities, and his new super plane was worth more than his dwindling fortune. To make his plane, he made a personal contract with Olympus Airlines, a Syndicate subsiduary. Olympus would gain the rights to produce the jet for civilian use. Though he wouldn't come down from his Stratoliner to inspect the plans himself, he gave advice based on decades of experience to the Olympus team. Soon it was designed, and Hughes landed to transfer to it. A Syndicate strike team was prepared to assassinate him while he was on the ground, getting them out of their contract, thus allowing them to develop it into an invincible bomber.

But Hughes was clever. The strike team stormed the Stratoliner, only to find Hughes wasn't on it. Instead, the doors locked, and the pilots in a cockpit unattached to the passenger cabin took off into the air. Hughes, now on his new Alexander jet, informed the team that he had discovered their safeguards to insure Hughes death, and would only let them off once they told him everything. For days the team was forced to watch the John Wayne movie "The Conqueror" end on end. Hearing Wayne attempt a Mongolian accent was enough to break them, and they told Hughes everything. Hughes undid the conspiracy, and while the Syndicate still has it's fleet of Alexanders, Hughes still has control over it's production and will stop it if they're ever used as weapons. Instead the syndicate uses them as an unstoppable infantry transport; capable of bringing three squads of infantry wherever they're needed. Hughes faked his death and lives on in a specialized battlesuit that keeps him immortal, and constantly butts heads with the amoral board of classics.

Pegasus Combat Helicopter:

The lack of heavy air support in the form of a dedicated gunship led to many Syndicate-owned mercenary companies to request the development of a combat helicopter with the capability to engage any land force with extreme lethality. The effectiveness of the Twinblade and the Cryocopter, which have proven time and time again to be some of the most efficient designs available, led to the conclusion that a flexible weapons platform could potentially surpass such designs as an even more effective helicopter. However, the armament needed to succeed in such a task would require an entirely new frame that would have to be designed to support the stress and heat produced from multiple weapons systems.

An offshoot company of a Syndicate subsidiary known as Electronic Armaments known as Westwood finished a radical design on the very day of the Fel Imperial invasion of the west coast. As soon as word reached the president of EA, he deployed all available security to Westwood's location, and proceeded to evacuate the staff and precious data. Tragically they were surrounded by hostile forces when they left the safety of compound and found themselves in between the Empire and Allied forces. Their strange equipment, professionalism, and utter indifference caused a brief moment of astonishment for both the Peacekeepers and the Imperial Warriors. Not willing to take any chances, the security Legionnaires opened fire first, and managed to gun down all of the onlookers to prevent potential future complications. The development team took notice of the effectiveness of the Helios security personnel and recorded the tactics and handling of their weapons. When the Westwood team reached the relative safety of the Silicon Valley, they immediately began to refine their design. An improved, if not outrageously heavier, design soon attracted the interest of the board of directors.

The tail rotor was removed in favour of a third propeller and the entire gunship was stabilised with a servo driven weight distribution system. This allowed the Pegasus to use a modular design improving the flexibility of the platform, while greatly increasing the modular hard points needed to attach the multiple weapon systems. At the right perspective, an incomplete Pegasus could be seen as the mythical beast it is named after. Several other teams were soon drawn into the project as it continued to implement the advances made by nearly every major manufacturer into one monstrous design. The designers combined all of these pieces of technology to create one of the most revolutionary weapons in the world. It even contended (though it failed to win) with the Stark Enterprise Mesofortress for the title of "The Greatest Aerial Threat to Imperial Conscripts!" (A yearly award given to Western weapons manufactures by the Imperial Conscript Monthly newsletter/picture book in exchange for accurate statistics).

With the majority of the necessary systems in place, Westwood met with Blizzard Microsystems in order to employ the use of their Warcraft armament line. The result was an unadulterated aerial battleship armed with remote controlled gyrojet turrets, flechette missile launchers, and the Starcraft Mononet Cruise Missile. The Starcraft was designed to destroy enemy bombardment ships using a state of the art mononet that would cut through any armour regardless of design. The net shape itself would prove to be the most reliable design available as a result of its ability to be used just as effectively against infantry, tanks, and aircraft. All of the systems are used in tandem by a surprisingly traditional crew of six made up of three gunners, a pilot, engineer, and commanding officer. The choice to use human pilots was questioned until the Westwood team explained that their choice was based on the ability of human beings to surpass the limitations of machines in the process of irrational thought.

The Pegasus Combat Helicopter is an astonishing sight of the full might of the Syndicate's industrial might. It is quite the strange spectacle of a three rotor combat helicopter that is often the last sight of many enemies of the Syndicate; its huge number of missiles, gyrojets, and mononet launchers boggle the mind about as much as they tear apart ground targets. Normally it keeps the mononet in reserve for special targets, which can be designated by a commanding executive. The near siege range of its numerous weapons systems, allow the Pegasus to perform indiscriminately against any ground targets. Even the notorious Imperial Bullfrog is unable to adequately respond, much less protect itself, from the brutality of the Pegasus's range.

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