3.5 The Horned Triumph

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The Horned Triumph sliced vines out of his way with an ionic blade. The natives of this slave farm were puny ummins, so their footpaths were too short for Torth, especially for a large, magnificently enhanced Torth such as himself.

He could have gotten his knobby horns surgically removed when he'd received his muscle and bone upgrades as a Servant of All. But he liked the imperfections on his skull. He kept his head clean-shaven, so his horns were a visible reminder to lesser Torth that he had mutant flaws, just like them. Not every Servant of All needed to have a perfect body or a stellar pedigree. Some, like him, had out-competed the flawless candidates and proven themselves superior.

Prepare for battle, the Horned Triumph announced via the Megacosm.

He did his own preparation, and inhaled the odors of the jungle. He spent a lot of time outdoors, and he could read air pressure and clouds just as easily as he could read minds. Subtle shifts in the weather would provide an early warning signal that the Giant was alert and prepared to defend himself.

The Horned Triumph dropped out of the Megacosm, so he could give his full attention to the morning breeze, the air pressure, the dewy humidity, and the hum of bugs.

No hints of strangeness.

Just be sure, he ascended, and requested local telemetry and barometric pressure readings. Machines confirmed that all measurements were within normal ranges.

The Giant is unprepared, he surmised.

He allowed himself a rude smile as he strode towards his main troops near the slave village. The Giant was almost certainly hidden in the sulfur mines. It seemed the native slaves had not given him sufficient warnings, and his precognitive power was so weak, he must be unaware of his impending doom.

Triumph would be easy.

Whoever spots the Giant first will win a gift, the Horned Triumph announced to his troops. A slave, an outfit, a gadget, or cosmetic surgery, from any forum of your choice.

The minds of Red Ranks sparkled, eager to exult in the glory they had volunteered for.

The Horned Triumph nearly collided with a woman in white armor who stepped in front of him. She carried an enormous gun. Like him, the Swift Killer had unreadable eyes, milky white and empty, but he sensed an ocean of seething envy inside her mind.

I was here first. She tightened her grip on the huge gun. I deserve to be the One in command.

The Horned Triumph wondered how she could make such an absurd complaint. He was in charge because the Commander of All Living Things willed it, the Majority had ratified it, and now it was beyond question or doubt.

He carefully put away his ionic blade, since he didn't want to hurt a peer by accident. Follow Me into battle, he invited. With that portable missile launcher, you might kill the Giant with one shot, and win eternal glory.

He could have simply confiscated the missile launcher, of course. But commanding a major triumph would be glorious enough, and he saw no reason to make an enemy out of a fellow Servant of All.

She stepped closer. Her envy was disgusting, like standing near a slave. Did she truly believe that her individual desire mattered more than what the collective wanted? That was insanely selfish. What was she going to do; try to defy the Majority? That was just insane.

He could almost taste her seething, heaving mood. He wanted to spit it out. Any fool who had promoted this emotional wreck to such a high rank ought to be punished for their mistake. No wonder she'd been removed from leadership.

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