The warship Romulus just over half a mile long was the largest and most powerful of all the Order's Dreadnaughts. This new ship, which represented the technological superiority of the world's newest and greatest power, descended through the clouds and came in low just over four thousand feet above the Atlantic Ocean; headed west towards the eastern seaboard of what had six months ago been the United States of America.
Its massive engines rumbled, easily heard for miles in all directions. The Romulus was the flagship and pride of the Order's grand fleet, and onboard was the most powerful man the world had ever known - an immortal - a man that was not a god, but more than human.
All along the waterways, rivers and streets, even among the tops of the tallest buildings, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people looked on in amazement as the massive airship flew over the city, displaying the Order's military and technological supremacy. They knew who was on board, and while they wouldn't get to see the emperor, just seeing his power this near, was awe-inspiring.
Its slow descent, however, wasn't meant to end in New York City, but further west at a military compound inside of New Jersey.
Onboard was Tyrannus, who looked down at his city as his ship flew over Manhattan. In the distance, almost close enough that he could have reached out and touched, were the five towers that he had called his home for over twenty years.
Six months ago, Tyrannus went by another name, one he had lived under for nearly half a century, General Gaius Farrell. And while Gaius was his real name, or at least it had been when he was a Roman citizen centuries ago, Farrell had been the ruse. He had taken many names in his long life, and played many roles over the past two thousand years, but the role of General Farrell had been one of his favorites.
Few people, not even his closest commanders within the Order, or his adopted daughter Velvet, had known that Tyrannus was also Farrell.
Even now as Tyrannus looked down on his city; his empire, he knew that not everything had gone as he had planned. While half of this country was his, his rule over North American only went as far as the Rocky Mountains. And even with Excalibur in orbit, two hundred miles above the earth, there were those beyond his reach that continued to resist his authority, and openly opposed his rightful place as ruler of this world.
Most troublesome for him, and most unexpected had been his seeds - his children's defiance against him.
A son by birth who went by the name of Halo; Tyrannus' heir to his empire, and a daughter, adopted but still loved, Velvet, had both betrayed him during the Order's final hour of total conquest.
As Tyrannus looked down through the large window that gave him the most amazing view of New York City, he knew that down there somewhere, hidden beneath the streets his two children, who he still loved in his own way, fought against him alongside the rebels, who like the famed New York cockroach had been hard to crush. He had faith, regardless that they still could, somehow, someday, see the world that he sought to create, and return by his side; standing as equal rulers and heirs of the world he now governed.
The Romulus came down on the field that had been cleared to house the massive warship.
Tyrannus could see the parade that awaited his arrival as thousands of his imperial troopers, mutant officers, stalkers, hunter killers and all other sorts of Order military units and their commanders stood in formation.
This had been the first time that Tyrannus had returned to North America since the invasion had ended. His first capital was Rome, his true home, which he had rebuilt to its former glory. This time, he did not intend to leave. There was so much that needed to be done as the empire he had first dreamt of centuries ago, had still a long way to go before it was complete.
And still, despite all that he had accomplished, there was a war that needed to be won. Tyrannus would not allow anarchy to continue, not when the future of the world was at stake.
The engines of the Romulus stopped a few minutes after the ship landed safely on the tarmac.
The honor guard of twenty thousand Order soldiers stood ready, in silence as a large ramp cracked open and lowered.
When it touched the ground, the first out of the Romulus wasn't Tyrannus but instead, his elite guards.
The Imperial Guards were covered in long and flowing dark purple robes that touched the ground. Their heads were topped with hoods, while their faces were adorned with a fearsome, seemingly demotic mask.
In each of the two dozen guard's hands they carried a fifteen foot lance, their only means of defense, but the only weapon they needed.
These men and women, no one but Tyrannus commanded. Their oath and existence were to him alone. It was he that they would lay their lives down without a moment's hesitation.
Once the Imperial Guards reached the bottom, they stopped and turned, facing one another as they awaited the emperor to come down next.
Once Tyrannus did come into view, the officers down below called out for the honor guard to snap to attention and salute their ruler, which they did.
The bright summer sun glared into his eyes as he stood at the head of the long ramp. It didn't bother him nor did he feel the need to cover his eyes from the sun's glare. To consider doing so would have shown weakness in front of his men.
He felt pride in seeing his grand army stretched out before him, standing in the open. No such force had ever existed before, or since.
In the past, for a thousand years since he had created the Order, they had existed in shadows as myths and whispers. Now, the whole world knew of them and what it represented for the future of humanity.
Tyrannus moved towards several awaiting high ranking officers. He knew them all. He also knew that more than a few weren't altogether happy that he had decided to return to New York City, after his six month absence. In his time away, some of his top generals had come accustomed to believing they had full authority over this region. None more so than the woman who stood first, ready to greet him.
"We are honored that our Emperor has returned," Legate Gideon spoke for the entire group.
"I am sure you are." Tyrannus commented with a slight grin.
He looked at his legate, taking in every detail of her unusual dress, which was long, made from hard black leather that had many straps attached to the front, running down to the floor. She looked devilishly elegant and attractive, even Tyrannus had to admit. However, it was not the accustom uniform of Order officer of such stature, at least not what the general civilian population got the chance to see. But Tyrannus knew that Gideon was more than likely trying to make some silent statement, in seeming equal to him by not wearing her standard uniform.
Of all the officers under his command, Gideon was the one he knew he could trust the most. Even so, he knew she was ambitious and cunning. She had been appointed as Legate of the Order, highest ranking officer in the empire; second only to him, by chance.
Several months ago, three previous legates had all been murdered by the one man whom Tyrannus had continually underestimated. That man was Arkady.
Despite the protection they had, Arkady somehow continued to find the means to eliminate the former legates, throwing the Order into such disarray that it was still trying to recover from his actions.
Gideon had then been appointed the fourth legate in five months. She too would become the target of Arkady, and just narrowly escaped his bullet. However, Tyrannus knew, or at least suspected that Gideon had more knowledge of what was going on than she would admit about how Arkady had managed to gain access to three of the most protected men in the whole empire.
Tyrannus had known that she craved power and authority above anything else. She wanted more, even if she never said it out loud. And above anything else, she wanted the position of the legate, but she never showed any ambitions to take the office until it was given to her by default.
He suspected what the truth might have been; that Gideon, in her quiet hunger for power, did not want to be the Legate of the Order that existed in the shadows and name only, nor did she want the position when they ruled over Europe. No, Gideon wanted the entire world, which is what she got.
Even though Tyrannus knew that her ambitions might cause her to want more, perhaps the seat of the Empress itself in the future, he knew she was his most devoted and efficient officer who had furthered his goals more than any other man so far. With her, the Order was stronger, but still, he made it a point to never turn his back on her, or allow Gideon to have too much room to move around, which was why he partly decided to return.
"I trust the ceremony is still on schedule?" Tyrannus asked as he walked through the ranks of his Order army, all of whom, even in the heat stood their ground in perfect stillness.
"Yes, my Lord," Gideon answered as she walked beside, but slightly behind Tyrannus.
"The rebels have, however, shown a desire to prevent the ceremony from taking place."
"So I've heard."