“Together, yet alone. Alone, yet together.”
***Hierarchy, Empire's Flagship***
***Jules, the Seventh Emperor***
The zombified creature steps forward, shaking the earth with its weight. Without magic, such a monstrosity would crumble under its own weight. Even while it was alive, it had to be ‘fed’ with the energy of a power stone, just to keep it functioning. The old Empire used them to break entire armies. And now, this mad necromancer had brought one of those things back to life.
It was a good thing that the reincarnated agreed a long time ago not to employ such weapons.
“It has been a long time since I saw one of those things. Send a signal to the whole fleet. We'll advance immediately. This thing has to be taken care of before it gets out of control,” I mumble, watching the huge monstrosity. As if they are frightened by the creature, a whole flight of Wyrms takes to the sky, flocking around the pyramid like a dark cloud of doom.
I watch everything from the bridge's front window, which allows me a good view of the scene.
Wisen shudders. He is standing next to me, like a proper heir. “How do you know what that is? It must have lain there for centuries.” His voice betrays that he is awed and impressed by the spectacle.
To me, it’s nothing impressive. Back in those days, we, the reincarnated, unleashed hell on this world. The earth screamed beneath the might of our magical creations and mountains shook when our armies battled for supremacy. It took a long time until even I got tired of it and agreed not to use weapons of mass destruction. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t have them.
I point my finger at the pyramid and activate the zoom-function of the spell which was embedded in the window. A moment later, I can see the necromancer who seems to control the undead. It looks like he was corrupted by… something. I have been around for a long time, but even I can’t claim that I know all the secrets which are buried in the soil of this world.
“A millennium would be more accurate.” I pat Wisen's lower arm. “Don't worry about that, boy. I've been around for a long time. People like me were steering the fate of this world since time immemorial. That necromancer is nothing special. Just a man who found something which he can’t control properly.”
I suppose that the power went to his head. As I watch, the man gestures wildly at our engaging forces and the huge creature slowly turns to face us. I have no doubt that it will be hard to take down, but at least it seems to be very slow.
Wisen studies the creature, fear showing in his face. He reaches up and touches the amulet around his neck as if he wants to take it off. Unfortunately, that's impossible. He has firm orders to keep it on at all times.
I gesture at the communication officer. “I want a secure connection to the other forces. Use the communication crystal which I gave to you.”
The man nods and turns to his instruments, manipulating them with trained ease.
The bridge of the Hierarchy is a large, circular room, allowing a grand view on everything beneath the cigar-shaped airship. The disc-shaped bridge is mounted at the bottom of the ship and heavily reinforced with magical protections. The intention is to grant me the best possible view on a ground-based battle.
At only five hundred metres in length, the Hierarchy isn't one of the largest ships, but it's a formidable ship nonetheless. I always preferred speed to size. The hull is a single piece of perfectly polished metal. Every surface is covered with sparkling runes, channelling the energy of ten power stones. As far as I know, the Hierarchy is one of the few airships on this world which are made completely out of metal. Only the Consortium has comparable ships.
My thoughts are interrupted when the communication officer manages to activate the private connection with my associates. The privacy field flickers into existence and the area around my command chair blurs beyond recognition. I find myself inside an empty, grey space which is completely disconnected from the outside world. Even the noises of the bridge-crew fade out and are gone.
Wisen stays next to me, keeping his mouth shut, so I enjoy the silence for a few moments.
Five familiar faces appear in front of me and I immediately turn my whole attention to Fin. “Do you have it?”
The elf scowls as if the mere act of talking to me is disgusting. “I have it. The bigger question is, do you have it?”
I nod and retrieve the enchanted capsule with radioactive material from my pocket. “I hope that this machine of yours works. It's hard to refine the ore to such a fine degree with this world's technology. Making it almost pure is hard.
“Over a thousand slaves died of radioactive poisoning to gather just a few small slivers of the rare material. Or should I say abundant? I guess calling it rare is accurate, since you can’t find it in its elemental form.”
Turning the little capsule in my hands, I regard it critically. It would be ironic if its magical containments fail, resulting in me dying of radiation sickness. “To be honest, your device sounds more like a nuclear bomb.”
“That little capsule is nowhere near enough to cause a critical reaction. You know that as well as I do. The radioactive material is just needed as a non-magical radiation source to gauge the spell’s energy field, nothing more, nothing less.” Fin shakes his head.
Rufus draws my attention away from Fin. “All of us have seen the blueprints. I even had my subordinates make a few prototypes. The devices worked as advertised.”
I raise an inquisitive eyebrow. “I thought that your country doesn't have access to radioactive materials? Isn’t that why you even involved me in this plan? Why do I have to bring you this, if you already have a prototype?”
The man clears his throat. “We have some radioactive material, but nothing of such a high quality. The prototypes didn't work quite right without a reliable radiation source. Not everyone can afford to sacrifice hundreds of slaves for a fingernail of uranium. Neither do we have the largest mines in the known world.”
I smile. The Empire’s mines are known for being the largest, and most lethal, in the known world. The possibility to use slaves allows us to ignore even the smallest of safety measures. “Or has the foresight to gather materials like that in the first place?”
Sirra, Holy Mother of the Sociocrathy’s Church, snorts. “We aren’t willing to pollute hundreds of kilometres for centuries to come.” She closes her eyes and shakes her head. “As much as I dislike working together with you, the necromantic threat has to be stopped.”
She reaches between the folds of her white robe and retrieves a blue crystal. My eyes widen at the sight of a mana-crystal of such magnificence, a rare, nearly mythical substance. It’s one of the largest I’ve ever seen and will work perfectly with the mechanism. Some say that the mana crystals are pure, condensed mana. Energy which is somehow locked in a solid state and nearly indestructible. They can only be found on worlds with magic.
On every non-magical world on which I’ve reincarnated so far, these crystals were completely unknown.
Sirra smiles and plays with the treasure in her hands. “We have the other rare element which is required for this project. Where do we meet in order to put an end to this abomination? My people still have a war to fight with the orks.”
The shadowy face of Artemis, Leader of the Adventurer’s Guild, narrows his eyes. “I am sure that you can put your animosities for each other aside until we are sure that we have dealt with outside intervention.”
“Yes.” The fifth face, Marigold the Wise, nods solemnly. He is the only reincarnated who doesn’t bother himself with managing his nation. Nonetheless, we never were stupid enough to ignore his power.
I force myself to smile. “We can all meet on my ship, while our forces hold off this necromantic nuisance.”