The High Priest of Earth

Soldiers from the Achaemenid Empire faced off the ravenous destroyers of Ihk Ariun Tor. Earth is considered the “Holy Land” of humanity. Billions marched to the arid wastelands of Earth. The atmosphere was toxic, the oceans dry, and the soil poisonous. These warriors would embark on a crusade to take Earth, coming from the great expanses of the Galaxy. 

I exited from my drop pod, kneeling and kissing the toxic ground and taking a breath of the poisonous air smelling of feces and industrial waste. This was Holy Earth, and according to the captain, I wasn’t far from the Most Holy Place: the Garden of Eden, the birthplace of humanity. As a pious and devoted young soldier, I was excited to serve my Empire in the campaign to take Earth. Only the strongest and most skilled crusaders would have the privilege to even orbit Earth and destroy their enemy from satellites, much less to walk on the soil. 

“Blessed be the Achaemenid Crusade of Earth!” I shouted. “Even among the most distant stars, the light of Sol shall shine on us.” 

I closed the visors of my suit. 

The Holy River Hiddekel was a wide stream of industrial waste, sewage, and rotten corpses of humans and animals. We saw the crusaders of Ihk Ariun Tor march forward on their fast war vehicles: sturdy bicycles and tanks bristled with guns. Blimps and Aircraft found it easy to fly in the fetid atmosphere which was so full of burnt feces and industrial waste, the sky was brown instead of blue like it was once years ago. We only knew the Ariuns were approaching due to our faint infrared motion sensors. 

I felt no fear, only contempt and hatred for the Ariuns. They were our enemies. They took the Garden of Eden, the ancient Achaemenid Empire, and most of Earth for themselves. They even created massive arcologies in the lands of Russia, China, and their ancient home of Mongolia. 

We fired our laser cannons into the fecal mist. Our shots exploded a few of their war vehicles. They returned with exploding crossbow fire, and several of our men died. 

“STAND FAST!” I said. We were shaking in our small chariots. The Ariuns shot their crossbow bolts of fury from their towering siege machines. “BATTLE BROTHERS! STAND FAST! WE WILL NOT LET THOSE ARIUN CURS DEFEAT US IN OUR HOLY CRUSADE! THEY DESECRATE THIS HOLY LAND BY SETTING THEIR FEET ON THE EARTH!!!” 

We charged forward, holding fast our faith in one another, and in our nation. I knew the men beside me, but most of them I didn’t know well, or I just met during the crusade. Still we regarded one another as brothers and we were ready to die by each other’s side. We were bound by one tie, and that one tie was our strong ideology. 

Our laser cannons met their siege weapons, burning them and eroding at their armor. Thousands of lasers burnt the siege engines carrying massive crossbows, projectile cannons, and nuclear warheads. In a desperate attempt to make a last stand, they threw a series of toxic bombs on the ground. 

We laughed at their pathetic attempt. Sludge bombs? In a world as polluted as this? You might as well fart in a sewer system and call it a gas attack. We marched through the sludge and destroyed their siege weapons. They crashed on the ground in an awful mechanical shriek. 

In four weeks all of the holy Achaemenid sites were taken back: Babylon, Ecbatana, Pasargadae, Anshan, Susa… All those we took back and spilled countless rivers of blood. People were packed over our sacred site like pest wasps in our holy temple. Now all we had to do was remove the Ariun foothold on Earth. 

We laid siege upon the Ariun capital of Karakorum: an unbelievably ancient site almost dating back to their days as desert horsemen. Now you could say, they ride bigger mechanical horses in an even drier and more polluted desert. My Achaemenid brothers, weary and exhausted from fighting, sang a song as we marched towards their walls. For some of the battle brothers, this will be our last song. Many will die storming the defenses. 

I led the charge, running through cannon fire and aiming with our massive siege engines. I closed my eyes as shells that were as big as boulders exploded next to me. Hundreds of fellow crusaders were dying, disoriented by the atmosphere, deafened by the sound, and blinded by the thousands of bright flashes. This was a battle that will change the history of Earth forever. 

We all poured through a hole in the wall where we were rained upon by mortar fire. I led the charge, killing any devotees in the way and carving a bloody path towards the archaeological site of Karakorum. I manned the machine gun while my battle brothers manned the flamethrower. We took down the citizens indiscriminately. They stood in the way of our crusade of Earth, so they must be purged without question. 

We moved inward to the military bastion, planting explosives on our shells and crushing the walls. Military men stood guard and returned fire, but we kept shelling their walls with powerful attacks. The shells were weighted down and inaccurate due to the amount of weight, but each shot was strong enough to let bricks loose. We stared in awe as the mighty brick walls fell, bricks as big as shipping containers crushed the soldiers, the dust bathed our men and dirtied their armor, and the screams of pain and suffering grew louder. Still we traversed into the military bastion and began firing. 

After this part, we were entering the palace proper. This was the most secure area, guarded by millions of soldiers, the Praetorian guard, and the Khan himself who was not what you would call a pushover. We were met by shells of mortar fire and laser. My brothers were charging through, hundreds were being vaporized at once, sacrificing their lives and being trampled for the cause. 

We crushed the Praetorate’s defense, shelling their thick armor and sending their bodies flying. Missile support came from the outside of the city walls, ten times the amount of soldiers came to reinforce our unit. The missiles howled as they pummeled the fortress, sending shards the size of hills flying. The tower, thousands of feet high was crushed. I admired the sheer force, the strength of my brothers, and our certain victory. 

“I’ll take this from here.” I said to my brothers. “If I die, God wills it. If I win, I’ll owe all my strength to God.” 

I walked through the hallways, clearing out the surviving ranks of the Praetorate. There were a few thousand for me to exterminate. While I was looking for survivors, a giant hand grabbed me and pulled me into a room. 

“You think you can just smash your way into our walls, throw around some bricks, and laugh it off? No, you and your Achaemenid rats will pay dearly… with your lives!” he said, shaking with anger. 

“I’m just like you. I’m just another in the galaxy, vying for control of Earth.” I said. This was the Khan: the ruler of the entire Ariun Empire. I pulled out a missile and shot him in his chest. He grunted. 

“Was that supposed to hurt?” he said. “Hahaha! A chicken can hit harder than you.” 

I planted bombs at his foot and exploded them, it broke his knees. I aimed more missiles at his chest, cracking his armor. Before long, the Khan was slain. I marched out of the ruins alive, cheered on by my battle brothers. 

That was thousands of years ago, and I haven’t left Earth since. The atmosphere is so toxic, a human of ancient times without proper adaptations would be killed by a few milligrams of the atmosphere. The visibility is one mile at best, and the smell is of a concoction of incense, feces, industrial waste, and fires. 

I was dressed in a brown robe gilded with gold, stained like everything on the surface of Earth. I closed my book, retelling the stories of the past like I did many thousands of times. My congregation left back to their inns: tall towers which scrape the skies.