Blood and Iron: The War in the Heavens

It figured that the event that changed my life would happen when I least expected it. The fact she caught me in bed with the leader of a heretical guerrilla group is one that never ceases to amaze me. I can be stubborn with opposing points of view, but the sheer irony of one of the "gods" of Aztlan willingly bedding a heretic was something I could rarely believe I was doing. Nor could Ix. The situation was made even more dramatic when the agent forced her way into my bedroom, right when Ix was in mid-bob.

Scathach barged right into my room, casting open the thickly looked door as if it was a piece of cloth. She looked at me, then Ix, and me again and snorted in contempt.

"So, the mighty god is in bed with one of the darkie locals?" the redhead sneered.

I was speechless. "How the hell-"

"So this has what you've been up to for the last five centuries," she looked around. "You and the other two were busy creating this interesting empire."

Having my libido so rudely interrupted, I withdrew and turned to face the arrogant intruder. "Scathach, where have you been, and what are you doing in this world? I thought-"

"You thought only you, Amali, and Shin made it to this world," she mentioned. "Well, you thought wrong. The Party sent me to follow you, though I must confess, I've become sidetracked myself."

"How? Build an empire of your own?" I asked.

"Yup. Far east of here," Scathach replied. "There, I am the undisputed leader. I see here, you share power with Shin and Amali, or Itzli and Tonacoya , as the locals know them."

"What the hell is going on here?" a shocked and angry Ix interrupted, standing up. Even though she was quite naked, she grabbed one of the blades I kept near my bedside.

"Remember how I mentioned I'm from a parallel dimension?" I asked Ix. "That woman, Scathach, is a former classmate of mine. Her specialty is-"

"Primeval thaumaturgical engineering, more commonly known as the supernatural powers of nature," Scathach interrupted and clarified. "Has my friend here ever told you his real name?"

Ix nodded her head. "The others call him Atl, but he calls himself Peter."

"Quite a dramatic change," Scathach taunted. "However, I have come searching for old friends of mine."

"You could have at least waited for us to finish," I told her. "And why act that racist?"

"I do apologize for that. You see, I had some troubles getting in here. Those constructs, which I assume were your handiwork, were quite troublesome to bypass," Scathach replied.

"You destroyed my golems? You know how long it took to create those? The hours of calculating the right materials to use, the maximum forces they could withstand, and the initial thaumaturgical energy needed to animate them?" I protested.

"You can rebuild them," Scathach mentioned. "I have come to you with a proposal."

"Forcing your way into my house is not a good way to win people's favor," I mentioned. "But I'll hear you out."

"Good. As you are probably well aware, our two former comrades are setting in motion plans to take over this world," Scathach explained. "Since you were never much of a power-grabber, and I have my own nation to worry about, I would like to ask your help in fighting them."

"How do I know you're being serious?" I asked her.

"I have brought a sizeable fleet of my own. You can take a look at it outside your window, if you want," Scathach mentioned. "And, the fact you're literally in bed with the leader of a guerrilla group fighting the other false gods tells me you're also interested in undermining their power."

I wrapped myself with blanket and looked out my window. Gazing out towards the sea, I saw Scathach was not bluffing. She had brought a powerful fleet, alright. There were longships with strange, glowing gems on their bows. There were giant sea turtles with perches on their back for giant vultures to land on. Even under the sea, a kraken would occasional pop up. They were just offshore, with my own coastal defense force unsure of what to make of the new fleet. My wingships, theurgemes, and even plesiosaurs were uneasy around the new arrivals.

"Yes, but what happens after we defeat them, which can be more summed up as if we defeat them. They're both much better tacticians than I am," I retorted.

"Amateurs talk tactics. Pros talk logistics. There are more ways than land roads and canals to move supplies," Scathach explained. "Training for air-troops goes on in the next territory over, from what I've heard."

"True, but at present, I only have a small army protecting me," I added. "Not the kind that can wage an offensive civil war."

"Hey! Don't forget my group! We've got base camps and supplies all over the Empire," Ix replied. "Not to mention, we have the Garden nearby as well. Shouldn't we have Miss Nature recruit the Garden?"

"The Garden has long loathed the other two. Convincing it to help us shouldn't be too hard," I mentioned. "Ix's guerrillas should give us a good edge in the jungles. My city is a center for arcane education, so we might be able to count on good thaumaturgical support. However, many students are indoctrinated to worship the Gods fanatically. We'll have to watch for internal sabotage."

"Don't forget, if we can recruit the Garden early on, we can gain a significant ally. If we can take over the Azca training center, we can gain some good air power," Ix mentioned. "In addition to our own fleet, Scathach's should be able to hold our eastern coastline."

"Excellent thinking, dear!" I told Ix. "Once this is over with, you'll be my top general. Your guerrilla operations certainly earned you the post."

"Let's worry about that later," Scathach replied. "For now, I would try to rally your people. Say, perhaps, denying you're a god."

"If I publicly announce I just a human, instead of just vague hints, I think it might also rally some potential support for your group," I told Ix

"Yes, but there's also the issue of high priests or acolytes who deny it. The education system is mainly based on propaganda, remember. We can fix that, I think, by playing the patriotism card," Ix added. "We allow high priest and acolytes to help use their powers for the glory of our nation, rather than the imposter gods who usurped control of it."

"Right. The people will also need to know that the imposters will not be happy, so we're going to have to take the war to them," I mentioned. "However, I can think of one way to prove I am not a god."

"And that is?" Ix asked.

"Fight a battle with the intent of being wounded," I responded. "Nothing major, but the intent is to show that even gods bleed. And they can die."

"Promise me you'll use that mobile stone suit of yours after that," Ix pleaded.

"I promise. After all, a single demonstration should be enough for most," I answered.

"Well, Peter, I hate to interrupt, but I'm going to be heading back to my ship," Scathach said as she locked her gaze with me. "I will be seeing if I can find some male courtesans worth my time. Should you desire it, my cabin is open to you."

"I'm already taken, Scathach," I said sternly.

She stared down Ix again. "If you lie with dogs, do not be surprised if you get fleas."

"There's a lot more to it than just fornication," I replied. "Perhaps you should look into a serious relation sometime."

"Anyway, I shall be back in my boat, and my offer still stands," Scathach replied.

"Close the door on the way out!" I yelled at her.

Scathach, in her flowing turquoise robes, and fiery red mane, slammed the door in my face. Ix turned to look at me. "Was she always that arrogant?"

"Only when she's planning something," I answered. "I'm staying on guard around her. She definitely has ulterior motives here. However, for the short term, our goals match. It's just what happens afterwards we have to watch out for."

"So, are you going to make that announcement publicly?" Ix inquired.

"Right after we finish something that bitch interrupted," I replied. I laid back down, and we continued.

I knew, after this, there would be war. Aztlan was a large empire, and my foes would be unrelenting. It would be important to take the initiative while I still had the chance. I do not know how long I could trust Scathach. Or rather, I did know how long I would have to tolerate her potential distrust. That woman had more motives than the other two imposter gods had sacrifices. For now, however, it did not matter, as Ix and I melded with each other.