The [Commander] looked on at the plains in the distance. His eyes struggled to open against the howling winds of the raging, magical storm.
From this height, he watched the errant tornado, made of devouring flames, as it obliterated the small village.
What a waste. He seethed.
Feeling a hand on his shoulder, he turned, only to find the cause of this indiscriminate slaughter staring him in the face.
“What do you want?” His tone towards her was frosty. The imperial [Pyromancer] looked irked, “Oh, come on, [Commander], you know it had to be done. We have our orders, and they come from The Magisterium and the Emperor himself!”
Talius felt an overwhelming urge to bash his fists into something, or someone. Instead he refrained, whispering, “There were civilians down there! Families! Children!” His voice was barely discernible against the howling wind.
“And they are the enemy. Given a chance, the savages would’ve risen in arms against us and stabbed us in the back.” She pointed to the south. “You know it’s the only way we can advance our supply lines, and we can’t afford to enslave them on this tight schedule.” Aylin said, her voice lacking any remorse.
“I hate this damn world.” Talius turned to observe the village once more.
She shrugged. “There will be peace someday.”
He snorted. “You mean when the empire controls everything and everyone, and there’s nothing left to conquer?” Talius looked back with disdainful eyes. “You really think that’s ever going to happen?”
From any other man, this talk could be considered high treason, and perhaps be the grounds for a slow and excruciating execution at the hands of The Hands — the Empire’s elite secret service.
From the seasoned [Commander], however, it was simply an outburst. Nobody in their unit would report such a thing. She certainly wouldn’t. The [Commander] – and even worse, The Hands – terrified her beyond measure.
Feeling uncomfortable with the topic, she made an attempt to change it. “Let’s go back into the tent. It’s going to get cold soon.”
Talius was having none of it. “I think you should go. I’ll stay here a while longer.” His tone harboured no warmth.
She shrugged her shoulders and withdrew. She knew how terrible his mood could swing and decided not to tempt fate.
Backing away, she heard a shout leave him, “I hate this damn world!”
Ethan West currently sat within his lab.
While his field of study was applied quantum physics—a field which had appeared not too long ago—he strongly disliked pure theory, instead enjoying “getting his hands dirty”. So, he was also an excellent mechatronics engineer and computer programmer.
With help from his cerebral implants, he had managed to study multiple fields of science, like many of his peers had. The implants granted one eidetic memory, and could hold hundreds of years’ worth of knowledge. Many scientists naturally used them to further their research.
The implants weren’t sentient, but they were pretty close. The artificial intelligence that operated them was state of the art, and worked as an extension of his nervous system and cerebral cortex.
The research project he currently worked on involved 3 things: a quantum computer, a projected field generator, and a mechanical arm.
What he was trying to do, in actuality, was considered madness by his peers. Though, he didn’t share their predominant opinions, completely disagreeing with their sentiment.
He believed that his experiment was completely feasible.
What the experiment entailed was a simple objective. His attempts were to pull objects, from a parallel dimension, through the field.
A little orange ball was the object in question. It was positioned on one side of the field, while the robotic arm was situated on the opposite end.
Any dimension with enough similarity to his own would suffice.
For instance, if the robotic arm extended into the field and grabbed a green cube, it would mean that in a reality similar to his own, an alternate version of himself had chosen to experiment with a green cube instead of an orange ball.
However, the experiment proved to be quite a challenge, as the projected field failed to consistently manage to project a portal to another reality. The single time it did, the automated failsafe measures had to immediately abort due to decompression. It had opened a portal to some point in outer space.
Ethan wouldn’t accept defeat that easily though. The field projector was connected to the quantum computer, and would simply project a field with the parameters supplied through the data connection. Said parameters were constantly changing as the quantum computer evaluated simulation after simulation of parallel realities.
After sitting unoccupied for hours on end as he waited for something to happen, he resorted to playing a game. It was a state of the art prototype “quantum role playing game”, where the game’s engine didn’t use a pseudo-a random number generator—but an algorithm which was capable of true randomness.
This was another advancement to science coming with the advent of the quantum-computing revolution, the computer could pick a true random state, and the game’s universe reflected that in every way possible.
His mind wandered as he contemplated this. It was stunning how the entire game universe resembled real life. It was a shame he had to run it on a lower graphical quality setting, since it was sharing the CPU time of the simulation.
He knew he wasn’t supposed to do this, but it was so mind-numbingly boring…
It wasn’t slowing the simulation by much anyway, he reassured himself. A quantum computer could simulate all possible states simultaneously, so it was no problem.
His focus dimmed as his thoughts returned to the stimulation. Calling it quits, he saved the game.
He was close. He felt it in his bones. Just a bit more time and…
He pressed the “Save Game” button absentmindedly.
Just a bit more…
That was his last thought before three things happened at once. An error message appeared, a new portal opened, and the lab imploded around him.
[Commander] Talius currently rode alongside his unit to join the main host of the imperial army near the frontlines at the Krashi Plains to the north.
He was still brooding about the civilians they’d had to kill along the way. He knew there was no other choice; their tribal nature would’ve eventually caused them to rebel if The Empire decided to enslave them without specialised slavers around to take care of their training. However, he could still not stomach the act so quickly and easily. It was simple- there was no route they could take to end this conquest peacefully. The empire was determined and the Krell…
The Krell were proud foes.
He fought against thinking of the massacres yet to come when Aylim, the imperial [Pyromancer] sidled up to him on her mount.
“[Commander] Talius… I wanted you to know that I’m… sorry – about earlier, I mean. I don’t enjoy slaughter.” She apologized, meekly. “Don’t apologize. We’re all following orders.”
Shocked at his response, her eyes widened in disbelief. He raised an eyebrow, asking, “What? Did you think I’d disobey orders?” “No, no, of course not. I’m just surprised you’re taking it so well. After your outburst I mean. You looked very upset back there.” She cast her gaze downwards.
“Don’t worry about it.” His reply was curt. Stiff.
“How long before we arrive?” She questioned, after a bout of silence.
His eyes shifted to the setting sun. “Tomorrow morning, we’ll join the battle, and the Krell will meet their maker.”
<WARNING: MULTIPLE UNKNOWN TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL SHIFTS DETECTED! HOST STATUS IS UNDETERMINED! MINOR INJURIES TO HOST’S BODY DETECTED! RADIATION DETECTED! UNKNOWN SUBATOMIC PARTICLES DETECTED! UNKNOWN DATA INTERFACE DETECTED!>
The first thing he heard when he came to consciousness was this. The implants’ AI was warning Ethan about something—or many things—but where to begin?
He attempted lifting his eyelids but felt utterly dizzy and extremely nauseous.
Deciding to lay down with his back on the ground, his eyes finally opened against the harsh glare of the sun—wait… the sun? Wasn’t he in his lab?
He tried to focus.
After flailing around a couple of times, he sat up slowly and looked around, his heartbeat accelerating with each second. Smack dab in the middle of vast plains, two opposing war camps with pitched tents were to the north and south of him. Two massive armies stood at opposing ends in orderly lines and were at a standoff. It seemed as though they were preparing to battle just when he appeared… out of nowhere?
He jumped to his feet.
One of the armies was not even… human? Were those gigantic horned people?
At that moment, a loud horn sounded.