Author's Note: New story, everyone. As always, I am going to take more than a few liberties with the Terran. I will be stealing aspects from a slew of video games and movies—Terminator, Section 8, Stargate Atlantis, so on and so forth. It should be fun.
Chapter 1: Awakening
Within a small house of wood, a young man lied upon his cot. The outfit of coarse wool that he was wearing was soaked with sweat. His black hair was matted to his skull; eyes tightly shut. Despite his agony, his body lied in absolute stillness, and his face seemed almost peaceful. Two set of memories swirled together in his head, colliding against each other as they meld together in an attempt to find a state of equilibrium.
One set of memories was of a young man of eighteen who had grew up in a small town called Lixin in the Hauwin Province in the People's Republic of China of Earth. The memories of Earth were from a young man named Sky ti Huan. As far as Sky knew, his parents, Stone and Snow, were among the most normal people in the world; his mother work from home as an accountings for a couple of the local business, while his father fixed mopeds for a living. Beside him, his Earth parents had another daughter, a shy, sickly little girl of sixteen named Iris, after the flower.
The other set of memories was of this body, the one called Ashur, also eighteen and the son of a nobleman and one of his servant girls in the minor kingdom called Lira on a world named Devin (Devin territories are divided into three classes from low to high as follow: Sovereign States, Kindoms, Empires. It should be note that there could be a large gap in both power and territory even within the same territory class). Because of his mother status, the family of the nobleman and the nobleman himself saw Ashur as inferior, a stain upon their illustrious lineage. Even the servants looked down on him even though technically he was noble-born, and his mother, blamed for his birth, was given the hardest and most demeaning jobs. After years of being neglected and abuse, Ashur's mother had taken him and fled the capital city when Ashur was five. They had settled in a small village called Vina on the southeastern edge of the kingdom. Here, Ashur's mother, Lia, had fallen in love with one of the local hunters named Kanus. Together, they had two children, a boy named Namus and a girl name Ana.
Beside the two set of memories, there was something else, something that Ashur/Sky instinctively knew as the Core. What is it a database of? He hadn't a clue. At the moment, the Core was keeping to itself inside a corner of his mind, seemingly content to act as an observer as the two consciousnesses struggled.
He didn't know how long it took, but after a time, the memories beyond to settle, fitting together like an unbelievably complex puzzle. He was both Ashur and Sky, and yet more than both. In the next moment, his mind connected with the Core. It was a curious sensation. He felt like a computer, coming online for the first time and connecting to the internet. That, of course, was strange in and of itself since he hadn't a clue how a computer would feel, even if it could feel.
With an exhale, his eyes opened.
His mind was not the only aspect of him that had been transformed. He felt a power unlike anything he had felt before, surging through his veins. He felt…perfect; he didn't know how else to describe it.
The most dominant change he could notice at the moment was his sight. His eyes were exponentially better than either of his lifetime. He could see the roof above, all of it, every facet, every detail. Every flaw.
The Americans on Earth had a saying—God is in the details. He used to not give the saying a second thought, but now, he was inclined to agree. Even the flaws were mesmerizing. There seemed to be a beauty to the chaos, a silent grace to that random anarchy.
While his eyes see, his mind analyzed and calculated. A thousand bit of information flowed into his brain. He could see how many types of vegetables were dried and brought together to make the roof. He could see the age of the roof, and how much longer it would last. He could calculate how much weight it could bear, how strong a wind it could take, which part was strongest, which was weakest. His mind automatically calculated how to shore up all the weak parts, how to strengthen the entire roof.
All of it, seeing the roof and its flaws, all the calculations, all the analyzing, it all happened in a fragment of a moment. He might have spent a few seconds upon that roof, simply reveling in his new ability, but a voice interrupted him.
It was a woman, her voice filled with shock, relief, and fading tears. It was a familiar voice, at least to the Ashur in him.
"Mom?" he said, turning to her.
Despite that half of him recognized someone else as mother, his affection for her was undeniable and unshakable, and the word left his mouth naturally.
"Yes, it's me," she whispered, her eyes filled with new tears, and she reached out to cradle his face.
His Devin mother was only in her mid-thirties but years of hard labor when they were living living with Ashur's birth father had added a good decade to her physical body. Ashur could see numerous minor ailments to every system in her body. Skin, flesh, organs, bones, nothing was untouched by the abused she had endure. Her body could still hold up but in another decade? Ashur couldn't be sure.
Still, despite the toll of her life, her beauty was still noticeable. Ashur could only imagine how much more vibrant she was in her youth. He would give her back her youth. As the scientist in one of the older American television series had said, he had the technologies.
Standing behind his mother was a one-arm, rugged man with dark eyes and short red hair. He stood over six feet tall with broad shoulders and over a hundred and fifty pounds of muscle.
"How are you still alive?" the man said.
There was a moment of silent before Ashur spoke. "It's nice to see you too, dad."
The man was Kanus, and while he was not Ashur's biological father, he was more of a father to him than his actual father was. The man had raise him, taught him how to hunt, how to shoot, how to fight, how to protect his family.
"A man isn't a man unless he was strong enough to protect those who are dear to him, or die trying." That was he had taught Ashur since even before he became romantically involved with Lia, and he wasn't the kind of men who couldn't act in accordance with his word. A few years ago, on a hunting trip, he had lost his arm protecting Ashur.
"Kanus," Lia said, frowning at her husband.
"I'm sorry," Kanus said, "but he was shot in the heart."
A flicker of memories in Ashur's head confirmed his words. Though Vina was part of the Lira kingdom, like many other small village and settlements, it was too remote to fall under the protection of the crown. Out here, they were on their own, forced to pitch their feeble power against the might of nature but also the greed and lust of their own kinds.
The arrow that had pierced his heart was the result of a group of bandits attacking Lira. The attack of the bandits was an oddity. Though the whole of Lira contained less than fifty families with a population that was barely above one hundred, it was a hunter settlement and thus boasted a considerable number of combat-capable people, virtually everyone having learned how to shoot a bow. This resulted in the settlement remaining virtually unmolested by the various group of outlaws that roamed the remote regions of the kingdom.
The attack of the bandits had been a bit of a surprise. Still, the denizens of Lira, protected by their crude wooden battlement put up a very effective defense. After an afternoon of fighting, there had only been a few injuries on the part of the villager. The battle was drawing toward its end when a stray arrow had slipped through a miniscule hole in the wooden wall, more or less threading the needle, and struck Ashur in the chest. The last thing he did before he lost consciousness was to wonder what he did to piss god off so much.
As for how Sky got to inhabit this body, the last memories in Sky's consciousness was a flash of light in the sky. He suspected that it was a bolt of lightning but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Coincidently, the last thought Sky had was to wonder why the Jade Palace's Duke of Thunder was pissed at him.
"How long have I been out?" Ashur asked.
"A day," Lia said.
"What happened after I fell?" he asked.
Kanus answered, "We won."
Ashur eyed his father. "You don't look like we've won."
Kanus and Lia exchanged a glance before he spoke, "One of the surviving bandits said that they would be back. We don't think his threat was emptied." He hesitated. "The bandit also stated that they are of the Blood Talon."
Ashur's eyes flickered. The Blood Talon was an extremely powerful group of outlaw. Boasting near a thousand strong, their power rivaled that of many earldoms. (Devin utilizes a medieval-like system of noble titles. From lowest to high: knight, baron, earl, duke, and archduke.)
There were even rumors that the Blood Talon was led by a Master-class warrior. For peasants like them, a Master class was no different than a god. (Devin has many professions such as Wizard, Warrior, Archer, Assassin, Thief, so on and so forth. They are collectively known as the Gifted. All the Gifted are divided into several classes. From lowest to highest: Apprentice, Adept, Elite, Master, Grandmaster, and Emperor. Each class has nine levels. It should also be note that there are two classes above Emperor that will be mentioned later in the story.)
To make thing worse, the Blood Talon was notoriously cruel. If the settlement they were raiding simply submit, then that would be that, but if any resistance were shown, then they would wipe out the entire settlement, selling some settlers into slavery and killing the rest.
"I'll take care of it," Ashur said after a moment.
"What are you talking about?" Lia said. "You wield neither Magic nor Radiance. How can you possibly 'take care' of a Master?"
Radiance was a force wielded by the physical combat classes. It was a system of energy that allowed classes such as warrior and archer to transcend their physical limitation and attain superhuman power. It was call Radiance for the signature glow that its user emitted in battle.
Of course, Ashur now possessed something far more powerful than either Magic or Radiance, but he didn't argue with his mother. The only thing close to the technologies he now commanded was the ancient gnomish civilization of legend and he was a good ten thousand years ahead of them. It wasn't something he could explain to his mother, however. He supposed that there was no choice but to just…do.
"In any case," Ashur said. "I need to take a bath. I'm covered in gunk."
He turned his arm and grimaced. He could feel the grime all over his body. He knew where it came from. Part of his transformation was the appearance of billions of nanites that saturated his every corner of his body. It was the nanites that had repaired his heart. Afterward, they had rebuilt his body to its ideal state. The gunk was all the contamination in his body.
Lia startled. "I…I didn't even notice."
"How could you not notice? I stink enough to choke the sun."
"You just came back from the dead. How you smell is of rather low important."
"Not to me, Mother," Ashur said, getting out of bed. He glanced at the stain cot and muttered, "We might have to burn the sheet."
Worried, Lia followed her son out of the house. Her husband walked by her side. They occasionally traded glances, the relief and concern in the gaze mirroring each other. They were glad that their eldest son had survived, but his, for lack of a better word, resurrection had them worried. Ashur still felt like their son, but he seemed different. There seemed to be an air of power to him and an atmosphere or regality to the way he carried himself.
As they walked through the village, there were hushed whispered of shock and fear. Many of the villagers had seen him struck in the heart by the arrow, and being the only fatality of the battle, everyone in the village had heard that he had died. Seeing him up and walking about was more or less like seeing a ghost.
As they headed for the gate that led out of the village diminutive figures rushed toward them. It was a boy of ten and a girl of eight, both with fiery red hairs and exceptionally adorable faces, at least to his eyes.
"Big brother, big brother," the boy called. "You're alive."
Before he could answer, both of them through ran up and threw their arms around him, the boy hugging him by the waist while the eight-year-old clutched at his leg. In the next moment, they both recoiled from him.
"Ew, you stink," the eight-year-old said, clasping her little hands over her nose.
"I know. I'm heading to the river."
He smiled reassuringly at them, but his smile was weak when he noticed the little bow in his little brother's hands. It was his bow, and it was too big for the ten years old boy, who was barely above three and a half feet.
On earth, most ten-year-olds barely grasped the concept of death; on Devin, he already knew how and was ready to take a life. Under the threat of the Blood Talon, Namus had probably taken Ashur's place on the battlement. Ana, being a girl and a bit younger, had probably spent all day making arrows. Such was the life of peasants in a small town on Devin; Ashur knew this. He was beginning to hate this stupid planet.
Their little group left the village. Lia and Kanus dropping behind slightly while Namus and Ana trailed slightly closer to Ashur, though not that close.
About fifty yards from the west gate of the village there was a stream about five yards across. This was the village primary source of water. Ashur took off his shirt and entered the river, letting the water wash away all the grime on his body. He stayed neared the shore, where it was shallow enough that he could sit on the ground while keeping his head above water.
After about five seconds, Ana and Namus joined him in the water, chasing and splashing each other. It was one of the wonder of youth; they lived from moment to moment, giving little thought to the past or future.
Ashur didn't have that luxury. While he was still young, according to the information in his head, he was now the Supreme Commander of the Terran, the governing will of the entire civilization, as important to the Terran as the Overmind was to the Zerg.
The Terran, one of the three races of the Starcraft universe, standing with the Zerg and Protoss as the three dominant species of the Milky Way galaxy. While the Terran was arguably the weakest of the three races, it was a testament to their ingenuity that they hadn't been wipe out by the Zerg. More than that, the Terran he now commanded was only based on the Starcraft universe Terran. From a cursory glance at the information in the database available to him, the Terran he commanded was a civilization of pure machine far more advanced than the Starcraft Terran.
In any case, he couldn't afford to live in the moment. Sooner or later, the Terran would come to light on Devin. Conflict would be inevitable. Worst case scenario, a worldwide war would break out and he would be forced to crush the entire planet beneath the boot of the Terran. It was not a future he was shooting for.
Ashur sighed and dipped his head beneath the water, washing the sludge from his face. He had such a long road ahead of him. It was a glorious road, but it was going to take years. He could only guess how panicked his Earth parents were. If it took even fifty years for him to get back to Earth, he would never be able to forgive himself.
Ashur raised his head out of the water and exhaled. There were so many things to do, and the damnable Blood Talon was being an incredible annoyance. He had the power to crush them, but it would probably delay his first Command Center by almost ten days. Problem was he didn't have a choice; he couldn't very well let any of the people in the village come to harm. Even if he could be that callus, his mother would chew him into little pieces.
He glanced at the shore, where his parents stood watching him and his siblings, but mostly him, in concern. They looked exhausted, especially his mother. His sister had mention that his mother had been crying all day yesterday, and from his analysis, neither of his parents had slept in forty hours.
"Mom, dad, go home. You two looked dead on your feet. I'm fine. I'm not going to drop dead or disappear," Ashur said.
There was a few seconds of silent while Kanus debated Ashur's words before he led Lia toward the village. The woman made a few protest but they were rather feeble; she was very tired.
Night languished in the water. Part of his mind was contemplating and refining all the necessary details and plans for the birth of the Terran civilization. The rest of his mind was keeping tab on his siblings. With his nano-enhanced mind, it was a simple thing for him to multitask. As it was, his brain had far more computing power than the most advance supercomputer on Earth.
After a bit of time, his younger brother ventured close and was staring at him.
"What?" Ashur said.
"You're pretty," he said, "like a girl."
Ashur knew the reason for Namus' surprise; the nanites had all but remade him. Muscles, skins, skeletal structure, all had been optimized, giving his body flawless symmetry. He knew that his younger brother did not mean it as an insult but it certainly sounded like one.
"Thanks for that," Ashur drawled.
Namus shrugged and returned to playing, diving underneath the water to chase after fishes. Ashur smiled. It took so little to entertain younglings. Though he had seen only a few years, the burden of knowledge made him feel as though as he had seen centuries. Little fishes in a small brook could not interest him anymore; he wanted all the stars in the heaven. Not to possess them, there would be no point to that; he wanted to see them.
He gave them ten more minutes before ushering his siblings back toward the village. They arrived to find the village's gate tightly shut, and their parents having a heated argument with the people on top of the wall.
"What's going on?" Ashur said as he drew closer.
"They won't let us in the village," Kanus said. "They said your mother sold her soul to Azalus to bring you back from the dead.
Azalus was the death god of Devin. He was the equivalent of Lucifer, and making a deal with him was a very serious offense.
"That's ridiculous," Ashur said, turning to his mother. "Right? You didn't, did you?"
"Of course not," Lia said. She paused. "While I am more than willing to trade my life for your, I couldn't bring that kind of evil into our home and risk Namus and Ana." The anger she felt at the villagers vanished, and she turned a remorseful gaze at her first born. "I'm sorry."
"It's nothing to apologize for, mother," Ashur said. "I wouldn't want you to risk them." He looked upward at the people on the wall. "The accusation against my mother is baseless and foolish. You all heard it; my mother has a pretty good defense against her selling her soul."
There was a moment of silent followed by heated whispers from atop the battlement.
"Do you think we think we would take your words for it?" a loud voice called from above. "You are of the dead, unclean, and we will not allow you near our family."
Ashur's eyes narrowed. "Wait a minute, I know that voice. Saldan, you overgrown little rodent, this is your doing."
Saldan was the strongest hunter in the village, a title that used to belong to Kanus before he lost his arm. When Lia first arrive at the village, both of them had vied for her affection; Saldan had lost. Angry that she did not chose him, his attraction to Lia quickly turned bitter. Since then, he had went out of his way to make things difficult for her entire family.
Whenever something went wrong, he always found a way to blame someone from Ashur's family. If a hunter got hurt, it must have been Kanus let his guard down and failed his obligation. Whenever something went missing, Ashur, Namus, or Ana must have stolen it. Every time they divided the spoils of their hunting trip, he had deserved more while Kanus and his family had deserved less, because Kanus had only one arm and was a burden to their group, never mind that his skill with traps oftentimes result in bigger and more frequent kill.
It was beyond petty and vindictive. Unfortunately, because of his strength, he held considerable influence in the village. It was the nature of the people of Devin; they gravitated toward strength, and those weaker tended to follow the cues of those stronger than them.
From above the wall, a face whose jaw Ashur had dreamed of breaking for years poked out. "Take your family and go, boy. It is a mercy that we let your family leave unharmed."
Ashur's face darkened. "Is this the decision of everyone in the village?"
A flicker of power laced his voice, carrying his words to the ear of everyone on the battlement.
"Of course it is," Saldan answered him, and it wasn't difficult for Ashur to hear the poorly hidden smugness in his voice.
Ashur remained silent. He wanted to give Vina one last chance. If one voice speak out for his family, that was all he need not to write off the village entirely, but no one spoke.
"As you wish." Ashur sighed. Part of him was holding out hope. He turned to his family. "Let's go."
Without even realizing it, he had assumed the role of the head of the family in all but name. Of course, it was not unusual. Kanus was forty-one. The life-expectancy of peasants on Devin was in the mid to late forties. Even in Vina, where everyday life was not as hard as it was in the city, the life-expectancy was in the early fifties at best. It would be expected for Ashur, being the eldest male member of the family to assume a leadership role of the family.
Fortunately, Kanus wasn't the kind to cling to the position of the head of the family, more than happy to step back. He was strong and silent type, being much more comfortable to remain in the background, ready to step forth when his family came under threat. Used to be, he would only speak once every few days. Once, when Ashur was nine, Kanus spent two and a half month without saying word. Ashur had very nearly forgotten what Kanus' voice sounded like. That he had spoken so much this particular day was a relatively large oddity, but then, Ashur did technically came back from the dead.
Ashur led his family away from the village. About a twenty minutes walk from Vina, there was a relatively large grove of tree. Ashur used to play at the grove when he was young, before responsibility made his life a bit more hectic than he would like. Because the grove had very few wild animals and fruit bearing tree, it was largely overlooked by the village, but it was a special place for Ashur and, in recent years, his brother and sister.
He had chosen the grove as the site of the Terran's arrival on this world.