Imperius

From Chaos To Eternity

Aug 16th, 2013
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  1. >Another explosion rocks the city as an artillery round detonates against a violet forcefield.
  2. >Standing upon the ramparts of your castle you are afforded a complete view of the battlefield.
  3. >Arrayed before Canterlot mountain is an army numbering in the millions with technology that vastly outclasses your own.
  4. >Great swathes of earth are chewed mercilessly beneath the treads of colossal war engines.
  5. >But above the swarming army, towering over the lesser machines, eye to eye with the city itself is a machine of terrifying power.
  6. >An iron god of war lumbers steadily towards the city, your city, firepower to level empires trained upon Canterlot, the last bastion of life for the people of Equestria.
  7. >With a thunderous crash the godmachine unleashes a beam of burning destruction at your city, the surrounding shield only barely holding back its fury.
  8. >It’s now at the end of your hope, in the final moments of your life, that you finally acknowledge the true desperation of your situation, the measures that will be required to save you.
  9. “I’m going to call him.”
  10. >Your sister lets out a shuddering sigh.
  11. >”I was dearly hoping you wouldn’t say that.”
  12. “There is no other way out of this, Celestia, it must be done. We need his help.”
  13. >”We will see how much his word is really worth, if nothing else.”
  14. >You offer no response, rather taking a moment to recall the name you so sorely wished you would never have to utter.
  15. >The first alien syllable spills from your mouth, an unnatural echo cracking like thunder succeeding it, your sister wincing as the unpleasant sound grates against her mind.
  16. >Another syllable slithers painfully out and the world goes silent while you sister clutches her head in discomfort.
  17. >The third and final syllable comes out and the name is whole, the call complete. Something warm trickles from your nose.
  18. >It’s time to see if Anonymous really is as great a friend to Equestria as he proclaims.
  19.  
  20. >At first all is quiet, but soon the last lingering vestiges of the daemonic name fade from the air and all returns to normal.
  21. >Then comes the laughter.
  22. >For a moment all you hear is a booming laughter that seems to emanate from everywhere at once, sounding at once distant but eerily close.
  23. >The laughter grates against your mind and brings to thought the sensation of nails scraping against the inside of your skull.
  24. >For some reason you find that the malevolent laughter is oddly infectious and against your will you find the edges of your mouth turning up in a grin while a chuckle bubbles up.
  25. >Your sister is likewise grinning, a few small chuckles of her own escaping.
  26. >Suddenly the space before you ripples and distorts as though it were a pond, the surface of which soon bulging as something from another reality seeks entry.
  27. >The resistance of worlds gives way in little time, a great red claw, twisted and wicked, tearing through.
  28. >Another claw soon follows and reality is soon rent utterly, making way for the owner of the claws.
  29. >A hulking beast of twisted flesh and iron soon steps through, its monstrous visage fixated upon the two of you.
  30. >Soon its fang filled maw splits in a horrible rictus and the armored beast growls a semblance of mortal words.
  31. >”You haven’t aged a day.” it says far more eloquently than it has any right to be.
  32. >Managing to pull yourself from the creeping horror brought on by the creature’s arrival, you finally manage to process that, though horribly distorted, Anonymous’s voice was coming from this daemon’s mouth.
  33. “You’ve... changed.” you intelligently stutter.
  34. >”You came?” Celestia asks, more surprised by that fact than his appearance.
  35. >The terrible grin grows wider, exposing yet more jagged fangs.
  36. >”Of course.” it booms, taking a great thundering step towards you. “Is it not only right that a prince comes when his princess calls?”
  37.  
  38. >”Prince? That’s hardly a word I’d use to describe you.” Celestia comments.
  39. >”Ah, our time together, though brief as it was, was more than enough to garner me great favor with my masters. I dare say I owe all of this,” he says indicating his new body, “to the two of you.”
  40. “I certainly hope it was worth the effort then, because you may lose it sooner than you think.” you say indicating the forces arrayed against you. “Unless your masters were very pleased with you indeed I would hope you’ve not abandoned those mortal friends of yours, we will need all the help we can get.”
  41. >Anonymous ignores you, stepping forward to observe the invading army himself, staring pensively down from the ramparts.
  42. >”Time flows strangely within the warp, how long has it been?”
  43. >”Fifty-four years.” Celestia offers.
  44. >”Half a century...” Anonymous mutters.
  45. “You didn’t answer me, are your allies with you?”
  46. >Anonymous remains annoyingly silent, still staring out at the landscape, lost in thought.
  47. >”I can still see the scorch marks where I carved the pantheon star into the ground.” he observes.
  48. “Anonymous! Are your-”
  49. >”Do you recall that I entered the rift first?”
  50. “What?” you ask, caught off guard by the strange question.
  51. >”When we left, do you remember how I was the first to enter the rift?”
  52. >”Yes.” Celestia says. “You entered, then the barbarian, the raptor, the witch and his thralls, and then the reaper.”
  53. >The daemon lord nods, still absorbed in his thoughts. “Yes, I suspect they’ll be along shortly.”
  54. >Against your better judgement you cast a glance into the roiling madness of the rent in reality left by the daemon lord’s appearance.
  55. >It is a mistake.
  56. >Your eyes widen in shock as the events of decades past play out before you.
  57.  
  58. -FIFTY-FOUR YEARS EARLIER-
  59. >”Ah, the guests have finally arrived.” the giant says, the ground shaking beneath the weight of his ancient armor.
  60. >”Yes, and now that we’ve arrived perhaps you might explain to me what madness it is that so compels you to open a rift to the Sea of Souls within sight of my palace?” Celestia demands, her temper only barely held in check.
  61. >The armored giant bows ostentatiously. “I am Anonymous, lord of Chaos and leader of this humble band.” he says, indicating the four other giants with him. “And I do apologize for the rift, it is integral to my plans.”
  62. >”And would you mind sharing those plans with me?”
  63. >”If you would so desire. I am here to see about the return of two of my servants, they have failed in their missions you see, and not only have they failed me, but my masters as well. And my masters do not take kindly to failure, even less so than myself.”
  64. “And who are these servants that you summon to yourself with this rift?” you inquire. “What manner of monsters do you treat with?”
  65. >”They are daemons, of course.” Anonymous says as though it were nothing out of the ordinary. “Sent here with the mission of safeguarding the interests of Chaos. However they have both failed in their missions, and repeatedly at that, and so I am here to relieve them of their burdens. I suspect you will not be sad to see them go.”
  66. >”You have sent daemons to my land?” Celestia demands furiously, her eyes turning a burning white as the might of the sun fills her. “And you have the gall to admit this openly?”
  67. >”Now before you reduce me to ashes and scatter me to the winds, I would ask that you let me speak.”
  68. >”Though you threaten the wellbeing of my entire kingdom, I shall be generous and will grant you a moment to convince me that your life is not worth snuffing out this instant.” she replies.
  69. >While your sister and the giant go back and forth you find your attention drawn to the Chaos Lord’s curious companions.
  70.  
  71. >Never in all your life have you seen beings as strange as these, so alien, yet so startlingly similar to your people.
  72. >One is a hulking beast of a man in blood red armor, two great brass horns protruding from his helm. His right arm is unarmored and the skin that is visible carries a sheen like polished brass, riven with angry red veins. Across his back lay strapped a gargantuan mace, the head of which is comprised of four intersecting icons similar to the ones scrimshawed across his armor.
  73. >Another is thin and sleek with a turbine pack strapped to his back. He prowls the outskirts of the congregation on all fours. His back-jointed legs end in wicked talons and the hooked beak helm he wears completes the image of some avian predator stalking prey. His armor is a garrish pink, and two long knives strapped to his waist dispel all doubts as to his lethality.
  74. >The third wears armor of blue with gold trim and swathed in azure and gold robes. A long, sweeping collar rises up about his horned helm. He floats several feet above the ground, held aloft by a magic disc. Within his hand sits a golden staff that crackles with ethereal lightning, and all about his robes are fixed talismans and trinkets of all sorts. To his belt are hooked several tomes and scrolls covered in skittering black runes. This sorcerer is also flanked by a dozen other similarly colored super soldiers who stand stock still at parade rest, appearing for all the world as statues.
  75. >The fourth is a horrifying specimen, clad in hulking armor just as imposing as the Chaos Lord’s, though colored a sickly green and appearing worn and even infected. In his right hand is clutched a towering scythe that gleams with an infectious green light, and in his left an immense rotating canon. A single horn protrudes from the forehead of his helm, and rising from his back are two towering vents, appearing unsettlingly similar to those made by insect colonies.
  76. >You decide that perhaps ‘horrifying’ is a more fitting word for this band.
  77.  
  78. >”Though you may dislike what you will hear, I ask that you withhold your judgement until I am finished.” the giant asks.
  79. >”I make no promises.” Celestia says dangerously.
  80. “I would hear you, Chaos Lord.” you declare. “I am curious as to how he might justify unleashing daemons upon us. So speak, daemon worshipper, you have my ear.”
  81. >He inclines his head in thanks. “You have my gratitude.”
  82. >”Just get on with it,” Celestia growls.
  83. >”Very well, very well. As I have said I am Anonymous, champion of the dark gods and enforcer of their will. Ten millennia ago my masters were made aware of a weapon, something deadly, something so powerful it would strike unease into even the gods themselves. Something with the power to destroy Chaos utterly. I was tasked by them with the removal of the threat this weapon presented, for if our enemies were to ever secure it it would surely spell the end for us.”
  84. “And what has this to do with us? This land is peaceful, its inhabitants kind; we possess no such weapons.” you argue.
  85. >”The weapon was found to be upon this world,” he continues, “and when I located this place I observed it. I watched you use its power to unite your people and forge a powerful empire.”
  86. >Celestia shoots you an uneasy glance. “Are you perhaps referring to the Elements of Harmony?”
  87. >A grin splits the Chaos Lord’s face. “The very same.”
  88. >Celestia’s expression turns stony. “So you mean to say you sought to take the Elements from us.”
  89. >”And can you blame me?” he asks, catching your interest.
  90.  
  91. “Blame you?” you ask incredulously. “Can we blame you for wishing to steal the heart of the kingdom?”
  92. >”Your dealings with daemons have had a far greater effect on you than you believe, I think.” Celestia remarks.
  93. >”Think of it.” Anonymous interjects. “We are creatures born of Chaos, it is the core of our being as much as harmony is for you. And Chaos is at war, my dear princesses, at war for its very survival. The entire galaxy seeks our destruction, we have few friends and our enemies are beyond counting. And now we have learned of a weapon that can utterly unmake everything that we live for which is in the hands of those with the most cause to use it against us. Our very existence is at stake, so can you truly blame me?”
  94. >By all accounts you should be able to, but when the situation is laid out in such a manner you find to your surprise that doubts are beginning to form. If it is truly as he says, though you’re sure he isn’t being completely truthful, then you would be hard pressed to blame him.
  95. >”And make no mistake,” Anonymous continues. “our enemies will find you, and when they discover the power you hold they will want it for themselves. The slaves of the Corpse God will wash over this world and scour it of all life. Your people will be slaughtered, your kingdom shattered, your power stolen, and when all is said and done and you’re left standing alone amongst the ashes of a million dead souls, they will wipe this planet from existence.”
  96. >”Do you take me for a fool?” Celesia demands. “Do you think simply scaring me with tales of some fictional world killers will make me hand over the Elements?”
  97. >”These world killers are very real, princess. Look to your lands and see what you rule, then look to the sky and see what they do. The stars belong to them, Celestia, but that isn’t enough, they want everything.”
  98. “And how can you know this?” you demand. “How can you know of these enders of days?”
  99. >Another infuriating smile comes to his face. “Because, little Luna, I used to be one of them.”
  100.  
  101. >”I was once one of them, I’ve slain thousands, millions of His enemies. And let me tell you everything is the enemy of the False Emperor. Hundreds of worlds, trillions of lives have been ended purely for the crime of not being human, or for thinking differently. They oppose Chaos in all its forms, but they are not of harmony like you, at their core is order, pure and brutal. Subjugation, domination, annihilation; these are the things that this empire stands for.”
  102. “Assuming this is true, we’ve remained hidden for this long, who is to say they will ever find us?” you counter.
  103. >Anonymous laughs, a booming, malevolent sound. “Why do you think I’m here in the first place?” he asks. “They come now, time is short and I will not have the weapon fall into the hands of the enemy. I have grown rather desperate, you might say.”
  104. “So you have tired of slinking in the shadows and wish to face us in person?” you surmise.
  105. >“My dear princesses, I have burned worlds and ground empires to dust beneath my heel. I am mighty, true, I am many things, but your match is not one of them. Even with the aid of my brothers here I doubt we would be much of a challenge. I simply do not have a large enough force to oppose you openly.”
  106. >”You didn’t think to gather aid?” Celestia asks suspiciously.
  107. >”This task was appointed to us five,” Anonymous says, suddenly deathly serious. “I will have no other rival steal this victory from me and I will not throw away the lives of my fellows so pointlessly.”
  108. >”Then what do you want? Speak plainly so I might be done with you sooner.” your sister demands.
  109. >The giant takes a deep breath and clasps his great gauntlets behind his back. “For ten thousand years I have endeavored towards your destruction, but as I said I do not have the power to face you head on, and so I worked from the shadows spreading chaos and disharmony wherever I might. A great many of the ills that have befallen you are in some part because of my machinations.”
  110.  
  111. >“Such as?” your sister asks “I think it would perhaps be better to know your crimes before sentencing you.
  112. >Anonymous reaches out with a gauntlet, a great bladed talon extending towards the slinking, predatory giant.
  113. >”With the raptor’s cunning I seduced the Crystal Queen to the ways of Slaanesh, turning her into the monster you now call Chrysalis.”
  114. >The talon next points to the azure mage. “It was with the witch’s guile I corrupted the noble Sombra. When the young king sought a way to overcome Chrysalis’s newly formed swarm he went to him with promises of power, a way to save his people. It was not long before the warp corrupted his once pure heart.”
  115. >The talon next came to rest on the horned warrior. “The rage of the beast and his promises of strength turned Tirek quickly to our cause. I believe he resisted the least of all of them.”
  116. >Next the talon came to rest on the hulking pestilent scythe-bearer. “And when the necromancer Grogar’s research took him just a little too far past the point of morality, the reaper showed him a way to attain mastery over death itself.”
  117. >Finally his gauntlet came to rest on his chest. “And finally it was I that summoned the daemon lord Discord.”
  118. >The flames burning in Celestia’s eyes flare dangerously with each confession, though just as her temper grows perilously close to breaking Anonymous says something particularly interesting.
  119. >”But you always won the day, didn’t you?”
  120. >“Won the day? What we lost to your schemes is beyond quantifying!”
  121.  
  122. >”Yes, you lost much didn’t you?” Anonymous says bitterly. “But you gained so much more. Every scheme foiled, every challenge overcome, every servant bested! And always you emerged harder and stronger for it! Every one of my attempts availed me nothing while you grew stronger. And all the while I had to stay in the shadows knowing you were my better. But now your kingdom is at its most brilliant, and I have accepted that I shall never best you.”
  123. “Then why are you here at all? Why do you tell us these things? What do you hope to achieve?” you demand.
  124. >“I have something of a reputation amongst my brothers. I was always known for my... shall we say ‘unorthodox’ methods. And after ten millennia of failure I think the time has come for a change in tactics.” The Chaos Lord then puts a taloned gauntlet to his chest and bows his head. “I wish to apologize for my transgressions against you.”
  125. >You and your sister are both stunned at his words. After all he has just confessed he seeks forgiveness? You quite honestly don’t know how best to respond to this. Your sister however suffers no such doubts.
  126. >”Apologize?” she hisses.
  127. >”I ask that you do not think too badly of me for it. Though it cost you much, do you see how great you have become for overcoming me?”
  128. >”And how great could we have become without your interference?” Celestia demands.
  129. >”Then tell me, what would you have done in my stead?” he asks.
  130. >Celestia raises an eyebrow. “What?”
  131. >”I did what I believed was in my brothers’ best interests. Your very existence was a threat to ours and I will never put another before my own. Would you not see it the same way? Would you not do whatever you could to safeguard your people no matter the cost?”
  132.  
  133. >”You would dare liken your actions to protecting one’s people? What you sought was genocide, the destruction of my entire kingdom for a relic we possessed. These are the actions of a madman, not a protector!”
  134. >”That relic was no mere ornament, it holds the power to unmake everything I stand for.”
  135. >”We had no cause to even consider that, this is a peaceful land, such needless destruction is not our way.”
  136. >”Celestia, you must understand that you are an abnormality in this galaxy. When we discovered this land the sting of betrayal was still fresh in our minds, and ten millennia of endless war has taught me that if one possesses the means to harm you then they shall. It is the way of the galaxy and we thought you no different.”
  137. >”Did you not watch us? Could you not see that we were different? After so long did you not even consider that such blind aggression is not our way?”
  138. >For a moment Anonymous is silent. “No.” he says, the haughty tone gone from his voice. “I could see nothing past the threat you presented, past how much you could hurt us. It never crossed my mind to simply... talk. It was desperation that drove me to this point, and now looking back I see all the wasted effort and it shames me. Now I wish to salvage what may be left of the situation and simply ask. Will you accept our friendship?”
  139. >”Do you truly believe we’ll just hand you the Elements because you asked nicely?” Celestia begins.
  140. >”I do not ask that you give them to me, only that you don’t use them against us.” Anonymous says.
  141. >”We do not use them unless we have cause to. Simply refrain from giving us cause to use them and we won’t. However after all you have just told me I would suspect I have more than enough cause by now.”
  142. >”Then let us start over, this time as friends. See for yourself how great an ally Chaos can be.” Anonymous proposes, reaching out a gauntlet.
  143.  
  144. >Celestia stares at the proffered hand, disdain written across her face.
  145. >”After all you have said, all that you’ve just confessed to, you think you can simply say a few words and make it go away? I would sooner-”
  146. “We accept.” you say flatly.
  147. >Both the armored warrior and your sister look at you, confusion on both of their faces, both likely having forgotten your presence altogether.
  148. >No matter.
  149. >”Luna?” Celestia asks in confusion. “What did you-”
  150. “We accept your offer of an alliance, Anonymous. From now on you will be valued friends of Equestria.”
  151. Here you glance pointedly at your sister before addressing Anonymous again. “No matter how terrible one’s deeds have been in the past, none are beyond redemption. Sometimes all it takes is a second chance.”
  152. >You reach out your hand to take Anonymous’s gauntlet, the size difference being almost comical, making it appear a deal made between a god and a child.
  153. >All are silent for a time, but after a moment of clear disbelief Anonymous smiles a toothy grin and his hand closes slowly and gently over yours, exercising a surprising delicacy you didn't think the monstrous warrior capable of.
  154. >”Wise words, little Luna.” he says, quickly making eye contact with your sister for a fraction of a second. “And there is no other more fitting to utter them.”
  155. >Any protest your sister may have been preparing dies in her throat, Anonymous’s last sentence rendering her silent.
  156. >”Are you certain of this, Luna?” Celestia asks warily. “Do you really think this wise? If all he has confessed is true can you really forgive him?”
  157. “You forgave me.” is all you say.
  158. >Apparently it’s all that needs to be said. Celestia simply lets out a sigh, seeming to deflate before you, her hostility seeming to completely evaporate.
  159. >”You knew that would happen, didn’t you?”
  160. >Anonymous’s smile turns sly. “I’ve been quite gambling on it, yes.”
  161.  
  162. >The Chaos Lord’s gauntlet falls away from your hand. “It is settled then, forevermore the forces of Chaos shall call Equestria our ally. Now... let me honor our newfound friendship.”
  163. >Faster than he has any right to be, Anonymous takes a step forward shoving a crackling gauntlet into your sister’s midsection and flinging her backwards like a doll.
  164. >At the same time the bladed talons of his right hand close about your head in a vicegrip turning your world dark.
  165. >He lifts you into the air as though you weighed nothing and before you can react what feels like lightning courses through your body. You try to cry out but your body refuses to obey you.
  166. >Before long though you hear a furious scream and the world turns to fire.
  167. >The fire does not harm you, but you can hear Anonymous hiss in pain.
  168. >”Do not resist, little princess.” he says quietly. “I will not hurt you.”
  169. >You feel ethereal claws sink deep within your mind, gripping tight your soul. The claws begin pulling.
  170. >Panic floods you, the daemon worshipper is tearing your soul out and there’s nothing you can do to stop him.
  171. >Without warning you feel a serpent coil tightly within you and something black thrashes against the grip.
  172. >”Come out, come out, little nightmare, you cannot escape me.”
  173. >Confusion fills you at his words. Nightmare? He can’t possibly mean...
  174.  
  175. >His bladed grip tightens and you feel as though your skull might crumple.
  176. >The claws in your mind likewise tighten their grip, closing about the serpent wrapped about your soul. They begin to pull and the serpent is helpless.
  177. >As the serpent screams the Chaos Lord cackles. “None escape the Ruinous Powers.”
  178. >Then all goes white.
  179. >When you come to you can feel your sister’s arms around you while your head lays in her lap.
  180. >Her attention is however fixated on something in the distance and you follow her gaze. What you see causes you no end of fear and confusion.
  181. >Anonymous stands with a thrashing monster held fast in his grip where you had once been.
  182. >The monster he holds, however, is something you had hoped you would never see again.
  183. >The Nightmare thrashes furiously against the hand about her throat, the futile resistance only seeming to amuse Anonymous.
  184. >”Did you think you could hide?” he demands. “Did you think I would not find you? That I might simply overlook your failures?”
  185. >The Nightmare’s motions still and you can see the beginnings of fear creep into the daemon’s visage.
  186. >”Anonymous?” it hisses in surprise. “You... I...”
  187. >”You have failed.” he says with a blunt finality.
  188. >”No! No I can still fulfill our bargain!”
  189. >”Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice...”
  190. >Violet lightning arc from the Chaos Lord's gauntlet, surging through the daemon in his grip.
  191. >The Nightmare screams and Anonymous laughs.
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