Short Story: Monarchy

The first ones, the monarchs, got the better end of the stick: eternal life and power that could destroy a small militia with a flick of a wrist, but they still required forces of their own to assure their dominance over us mundanes. To that end, they infected others, not through force but instead by the choice of the infectee, playing on the human desire for power to sway their decision. The ones that resisted temptation were slain or were doomed to worse fates without a second chance. Those that accepted were given the first tier of infection. The “knight” tier, they called it. A small amount of power, sufficient to serve their master in the capacities expected of them.

Alone, a knight was only on marginally better footing than a well-equipped mundane and could be taken down by any mundane with a good head on their shoulders, but small squads were practically invincible, and most of the time, if you saw one knight, it was safe to assume they brought friends. Outside of a few anomalies, knights are never long for this world. Without the immortality granted by higher tiers of infection, their powers would get the better of them in a matter of years. Most don’t seem to care, seeing little point in fading away when they can burn out among friends amid the “fun” of their never-ending parties and drunken orgies.

Those that served their masters in some exceptional form or another were often promoted to lords and ladies. They were infected a second time, granting them the eternal life of their masters as well as a significant boost to their powers to a midpoint of sorts, between the strength of a knight and that of a monarch. They were given command over a number of knights, plus any new additions under their tenure.

Procreation was still possible between the infected, and encouraged. The children were born without infection, but their parents would gladly leave them in the hands of their mundane slaves to raise until such time that they were deemed old enough to convert. Some of the slaves initially got a little… wise, if you can call it that, and took the children’s lives in one way or another, but they soon became an example to the other slaves, and that was not pretty at all. Effective, of course. It brought the slaves back in line without fail, but mere thought of their final fates is sickening.

In time, the nation fell, and then the world, to vast factions of beings with superior power coursing through their veins. Former humans wielding the full force of their chosen elements. I dare any fool to tell me that we didn’t put up a fight and I will show you proof otherwise. All you have to do is look toward the flooded Thames Crater or the Northumbrian Wasteland, or any of the other scars we ourselves inflicted on this land in the hopes of stemming the tide of the monarchs. We put up the best damn fight we had, and it still wasn’t enough.

I’ve lived this hell for so long, I can no longer remember when it started, but I still remember how. The world as I once knew it ended not with nuclear fire or the effects of climate change or even an asteroid impact. Some would blame this end on a vengeful god growing tired of our increasingly sinful ways, but the gods that have pushed us to the brink of extinction were not the ones they had expected. They were gods of my own making, brought into being with a single word, entered onto a black screen:

Hope.

The name of my only daughter, cursed by terminal illness with no known cure. In my efforts to develop a nanomachine solution to a biological problem, I instead created what many have come to call the Kingmaker virus, the fools failing to realise that it first made a queen. And now I realise I must accept responsibility for this mess, and clean it up once and for all.

From the diary of Dr. Elizabeth King, written c.54NM (New Monarchy)
Discovered 29/02/6PD (Post Dethronement)
Successfully restored 25/12/10PD

Author’s note: I’m bored of zombies now. It’s all I see left right and centre these days. Several marginally different takes on what is essentially the same shit most of Hollywood and the games industry has fallen back on for the past ten years. Fast zombies, man-made zombies, fungal zombies, zombies that puke and explode, etc. You name it. It’s probably been done a million times before. The zombie apocalypse, I feel, has gotten old, and has done far too long ago. What if, for once in fiction, the last remnants of humanity weren’t pushed to the brink of extinction by mindless walking dead, but instead by gods of humanity’s own creation, with intellects to rival those of the finest minds on Earth, but so drunk on their new-found power they’ve gone Full Zod alongside many of their kind? That sounds like more of a threat than masses of corpses that can barely stay upright, doesn’t it?

Creative Commons Licence
This short story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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