Sides of the Coin
Mireda. It used to mean "home." Home, a place of peace. Of safety. For centuries our trees were the envy of our solar system. People from other galaxies would fly lightyears just to meet our scientists. Even our youngest of minds were geniuses to those of other planets. Our animals, even the carnivorous ones, were the most docile in the universe. Our only need for defense was to keep those who wanted to bring violence out. We wanted no part of the terrors of other worlds. Diplomats from other planets would even come to us to arrange peace treaties and negotiations. But there's always something you overlook. And we found it out all too late.
Religion. The word was foreign to us. Each other group had a deity they brought with them. When they left, they traded their knowledge for ours. They left beads and crosses, any tools of their belief that they brought with them. we started to research them. Soon, like any other addiction, it spread and consumed. It began slow. One or two people shouting in the street. But after a few years it became terribly apparent. The disease had spread...
Mireda was once of peace....But now it is nothing more than a rotting wasteland. Nothing grows. We've bombed or poisoned all of our resources. Now all that we have are our...."gods." The deities are all that mattered in the beginning. They were worshiped and praised. those who saw differently were killed or ran off until only two factions remained. Now war is all we know. Our culture is all but lost. Our history is only war and religions. Only the oldest of us remember a time where there was peace or safety....Now for the clothes you wear or the person you believe in you could die.
But there is a ray of hope. A small speckle of sanity. In the council of the oldest and wisest leaders of both sides, a plan was made to ensure our survival. Now the fate of this once proud, beautiful world is on the shoulders of two young children. Both were bred of way but together they will forge peace. And I can only....pray, for lack of a better word, that we all learn from our mistakes and erase this purge from our home once more.
Amenophis, a tall, muscled hyena morph, grey brown and black fur over brown skin which itself is stretched tautly over a muscled frame. Wily gold eyes looked out at the battle field before him. His company, in which he was just a mere sargeant watched over the battle currently happening. His was a company of Adepts, powerful close quarters fighters, utilizing somewhat archaic close combat weapons like swords, staves, maces and in some instance just their armored fists. Amenophis himself fought with a fiercely curved great sword that carved swathes through his opponents. The company of adepts, egyptian shock troops, while some of the units used powerful bolts of lightning or tore apart minds with gentle thoughts, his company of adepts charged their bodies with magic to hit harder, move faster and step softer. Armoring their bodies with magic cords of power. They marched to take the battle into close range.
The company stood atop a small rise, down which they would charge when the order was given. Their captain stood down the row from him, speaking into a communicator, their commanding officer at the Headquarters relaying last minute orders before the word was given for the Adepts to charge into the fray. They waited, whispering prayers and words of courage and humility. Names of gods like Set, Anhur and many others. He heard the names of Ares and Oya even. Gods of war and death being called upon as the time to charge into battle neared.
In the middle of his prayers Amenophis thought back. Back to stories he heard as a child.
"Our world once knew peace Ameno, we did not want for anything. We loved and felt kindness for all. We were the most grand and smartest of peoples in the worlds beyond.... We had peace and plenty." The elder winced as an explosion went off somewhere outside, "Now look at us Ameno...fighting without end, our youngest groomed to be warriors. I remember that peace...barely. I wish I could see it again." Another explosion ripped the air apart, and the elder winced again. The old adder sighed and looked down at Amenophis, "Go now little one, you're training await. Remember though, think of peace..." Young Amenophis nodded and vanished out the door.
In the now, Amenophis came back to himself as one of the soldiers shook him, telling him they were to make ready to charge soon. He got to his feet and took up his sword in hand. There was no peace, not now...not for a long time. Amenophis wished he could see it though, some day. He hoped. But for now, he let off one more silent prayer to the likes of Horus, and Anhur before a horn was blown and the Adept shock troops began to move.
Ranya grunted, yanking an arrow out of her shoulder. Being a female in this time was never easy. The strong, musclebound shark was the leader of a platoon of a Sanctified Assault. She scoffed at the thought as she ducked behind a fallen pillar to avoid another arrow. Her clothes were almost nonexistent, only a few wraps keeping her breasts and lower parts from being totally exposed. Her pale blue skin was drenched with sweat and blood, both hers and others. Her red eyes still full of life, even when she saw so much death. She groaned as she began to feel the wound in her arm. She'd been pumped full of adrenaline through her implants, but it was wearing off. She sighed, and thanked God that even though she was stuck in this, she wasn't back home.
Due to multiple poisonings, females were in abundance on the Christian side. Men were considered a blessing, and were given higher positions in command than women, whether they deserved them or not. Fertile women were even more scarce than men. They were still made to serve in war, but in their "time off" they were little more than sex slaves, passed around from man to man, forced to bare children to continue their war. Some girls liked it. After all they were trained to have almost endless stamina and endurance. But most women loathe it and considered it the imprisonment that it truly was. Some left to go to the other side, others left the war entirely. It's hard to say who was lucky, the women who were caged as deserters, still forced to reproduce, or the women who walked into the now toxic forest, where their death was certain. Either way Ranya kept herself on the front lines and her fertility a secret. However, that secret would cost her her life if she was found out. She was grateful to be out here on her period instead of in there.
She stopped thinking. Grunts are taught to do that for good reason. She gripped her two assault rifles and pulled away from cover, killing two archers that had been hindering her team's progress. She gave a cry to charge that was amplified by her upgrades, and her entire platoon joined her in a bone chilling shriek as they rushed their enemies. Many of their opponents were gunner down long before they could fight back. when they got closer, Ranya smirked and shredded through what seemed like the entire army of warriors. Her implants granted her strength and speed, as well as two 7 inch blades that ejected from her wrists when she thought about it. Before her team could reach them, the remaining troops had fled. Ranya looked over to them and grinned before signaling for them to fire on the deserters.
The Adept Shock troops started their charge. The soldiers below didn't see them coming until the first of the Adepts gave into the urge to cry out in some form of battle shout. And then almost everyone else joined in. As they engaged the enemy reports started to flood into officers and NCOs alike. Units were engaging, men were dying, groups of the enemy managed to cut down teams before they could get in range with their weapons, while others thundered into enemy units before they could bring long range weapons to bare.
Amenophis' team thundered into the fray, their bodies humming with internal magical energies, charging their strikes with enhanced power. One of their number taking a shotgun blast to the stomach, which should have killed him, but the power of the enchantment he had put on himself helped him survive the attack. Amenophis kept in close to his prey, cutting and scything his sword into them, keeping close so they could not use their mid-range weapons effectively, always keeping one of their own to his back so a missed shot would score friendly fire.
It was about then that news came of a Sanctified assault unit having been sighted. No other unit was close, so Amenophis was ordered to disengage and take his unit that direction. The hyena NCO said he'd do that. Ordering his few men to break off the attack, and follow him. Soon the six fighters were running through the carnage, making a deadline bead for where the enemy assault team was supposed to be. Amenophis and his unit came around some wreckage in time to see the messy end of another of their units be decimated by the assault squad. He motioned to his team, splitting them up so they can attack from many sides.
The unit waits until the group of women warriors are seemingly at ease. They want their attack to be a surprise. Amenophis looks at them from his hiding spot. Watching them, studying them. Women in the Empire of the Sun are not outnumbering men as they were in the Christian Kingdom. But it was not often to see them in the Empire of the Sun outside of command or support positions. So it's interesting to note that Amenophis spends awhile just staring at the women. Admiring them quietly, finding them oddly alluring. He waits there for longer then he had intended, just watching the women, especially a large muscled shark women. But soon one of his men call his attention back to the moment. Amenophis raises his hand to his communicator slowly, ready to give the signal to attack.
Ranya felt the silence was too soon. She noticed the Sun worshipers watching them on a hill and called two of her girls to flan them while the rest prepared for reinforcements. Ranya wasn't much for conversation. She learned the less she said the easier it was to hide what she truly was. her orders were thus issued in short grunts, making her team have the fastest response time in battle. She and the other women in her team to spread out. She knew the Sun Worshiper's tactic. As long as they kept their distance and worked together they'd drop like flies. Ranya gave one final growl. She knew they would try to use friendly fire as a cover. But that only works so long as you won't shoot.
Battles were won or lost with mercy. that was the motto of the zealots. Mercy was only a weakness. Ranya hadn't the time nor patience to worry about deities. She refused to be a slave to men. She refused to be another corpse in this war. And above all, she refused to die before she could see the flowers her mother spoke of before dying in the cage they trapped her in. Being the child of a deserter was bad. But for a fertile woman to be born from one meant their lives were hell from then on. They immediately were caged and beaten, supposedly to "cleanse the wickedness of the first generation." Ranya remembered her mother's death as if it were yesterday. Her own people had beaten her and tortured her, just because she wanted to stop fighting....
Well Ranya didn't want to stop fighting. She wanted to start fighting the ones who were truly in the wrong. The ones who permitted such atrocities to so many people, all because of one cultist group or another. "They call us the 'Sanctified Assault,'" she said, growling angrily and gripping her assault rifles so tightly that the metal bent. "There is nothing 'sanctified about my team. We are the Angels of Death. No 'religion' will slow down our onslaught!" All around them, friend and foe, heard her words. At one point some of the groups actually stopped fighting. And with that opportunity, Ranya rose from cover and started lobbing grenades at the hill the reinforcements were hiding on.
Amenophis stopped, his finger pressed to his communication bud in his ear, about to press it to give the word to attack. He froze. The words of the woman stopped him, made it so he could not act. No religion could stop them she had said. Was that the conviction of the enemy? Could their faith really not bring them down? For once in his life Amenophis was unable to act. He sat there, and was only dimly aware when the corporal who was his second in command in their 6 man team was the one to order the attack. But the attack was disjointed and easy to content against. Amenophis himself could not bring himself to step forward and attack.
He sat and watched, those grenades ripping two of his men apart, and the guns of the others bite and rip into the others. He just sat and watched this whole thing.
But at the same time wondered to himself, If no religion will slow their onslaught what more can I do at this moment? Perhaps it would be better to sue for peace. Amenophis turned away, not wanting to watch the last of his men die. And he did what he was taught never to do. He fled. Fled in the face of a scar on his armor of faith.
Ranya laughed as her team tore through everything in its path. The Sanctified Assault was an ever-growing group of female fighters. At the time there were seven of them. If this had actually been a fight it would have been mighty close. The leader of the group of spies had dropped the ball and could be seen running from the battle. Desertion had a high price on both sides. Plus Ranya didn't feel like letting him go for some reason. She gave chase after the last of them, commanding her team to report back to base and hold their positions. They were at an ambush spot and she knew her girls would get it done. When she was just out of sight, Ranya dropped her guns. She wasn't sure why, but for some reason she didn't want to use them. She didn't really need them anyway, her multiple upgrades and implants could turn her into a human cannon with unlimited ammo if she so desired. She kept them because no man had been able to wield two effectively. But he made that unnecessary to prove.
She followed his trail, falling back if she felt there were others nearby. With constant fighting privacy and secrecy were near extinct. But she made sure at least he didn't see her, even if it did mean killing a few platoons of soldiers here and there.
[I had this playing the background while writing this, not sure why it goes so well. Linke-poo ]
Amenophis knew he shouldn't have run. He'd be labeled as a deserter for sure. Run from a fight that he should have lead his men into, and died with them, but he hadn't, and betrayed his Empire in the process. He ran, away from the fight in it's entirety. After the battle he might be able to return after the battle rage had faded from his people's minds, but at the moment he couldn't go back. His commanding officers would only put him to death all the quicker if he went back now. For now he runs. Until he can still hear the fighting but there is no fighting around him.
It's at this time that he first senses he is being followed. He slides his sword away on his back and like a ghost fades into the tall brush around him. Nothing shows of his stripped coat among the brush. The black and brown of his coat blending in with the brown and green grasses. Not even his golden eyes show clearly in the brush. He sits and waits, slowing his breathing and stilling his nerves. Who ever was following him was likely an enemy. He wondered who it would be.
Amenophis is truly surprised to see the shark woman appear. He freezes even more, and taps into his inner magic to try and make his scent, heart beat and breathing quiet even more then before. He waited, hoping she'd pass on by. And then he could hunt her.
Ranya panted and gasped as she saw him escape into the woods. He was too well equipped for hiding in there. A shark had no camo and he knew it. It was a hunt now, him for her life, and her for him...Not any one part. She just wanted to have him. She wondered if this was the "love" her mother once spoke of. She followed him into the woods, wondering what was going on with her to make her do this. She was his enemy after all. What could they do besides fight...?
Ranya could feel his magic being used to do something. Did he expect to mask his scent from her? She wondered what good it would do. She had sonar and heat seeking implants buried in her eyes. Looking back on the "strength" she had been given made her cry a little. She'd gone through a nightmare as a child just to become a stronger tool of war. And now all she could do was sit there in the forest and cry like the little girl they'd done these things to.
She couldn't stop. Every time she tried something else would hit her psyche like a ton of bricks, pounding more sorrow into her. First what they did to her mother. Then all of her sisters. How her one brother was tortured to death in front of them all. Her sisters' deaths, one by one giving up hope for freedom from the captivity put on them for wanting to be free from war. She cried for her father, whom she never knew beyond her mother telling her that he wanted her to be at peace and learn to be happy in safer times. her friends, who were all used and passed around by their commanding officers until they either killed themselves or became addicted. And finally she cried for herself. The sad, broken girl hiding herself so as to not become one of these, too afraid to stand for what she truly believed in. Her chest felt like it was going to explode. She almost wished he'd finish her off.