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Temporal Conqueror

Avenger Assembled

Temporal Conqueror




Conquest is not in our principles; it is inconsistent with our government -Thomas Jefferson


The Qajarite Shah is a mystery. To students of Freedom City’s history, his story is a familiar one: God of Gods and King of Kings, the Shah is lord and master of the galaxy in the year 4000! Dissatisfied with the mere mastery of stars and planets, the Shah has set himself the mighty goal of conquering Time! Itself! Again and again, the Shah and his mighty armies of power-suited, genetically engineered warriors have tossed themselves against the heroes of Freedom City. Possessing mighty weapons like plasma cannons, antigrav troop carriers, and warriors wielding everything from flaming swords to whirling chain-swords, the Shah and his armies have been a formidable threat at every appearance: in his powersuit, the Shah was the equal of the Centurion himself (though not, as the Man of Adamant graphically demonstrated to the Shah, his superior), while the mightiest of his personal guard, the Immortals, can fight most superheroes on even terms. The Shah is not a particularly imaginative conqueror: a direct ground invasion was defeated in the 1940s, an attempt to conquer the Earth from space in the early 1960s was subverted by the genius of Alexander Atom, a strike against the Lor defeated by Daedalus in the 1980s, and most recently the time-traveling Freedom League teamed up with the Patriot Regiment to crush the Shah's invasion of the 1860s, Each time he has been outsmarted, outgeneraled, or simply crushed by the weight of superior power. Despite all this, he is a potent threat, particularly since his era (which he describes as simply "the time of LIGHT that came after the time of DARKNESS," focal point for his CRUSADE THROUGH TIME) lies so far beyond the era of even the Freedom Legion that his technology is largely a "black box" even to Freedom's finest scientists.

But why hasn't he killed us all yet? It's a logical question: surely someone with regular access to time travel and a galactic empire could simply pour never-ending waves of Space Warriors into the past, burying Freedom's heroes in unstoppable waves of supermen and women from millennia in the future. Why hasn't he dumped a nanite plague in the past to devour people with super-genes, or sent agents back to strangle the Centurion in his rocket, or any number of other simple, logical things that anyone with a time machine and no morals could do if they sought to crush their enemies in the womb? Granted, there have been collapses of civilization between our day and the Shah's, but some records must have survived for him to come this far. Even so, the Shah could surely use his command of time travel to find out something. When directly confronted by these contradictions, he grows visibly enraged, booming that the "WEAK and FEEBLE" minds of the past could never understand a 10th-level intellect such as himself. With his combination of great power and complete lack of strategic forethought, he is a frustrating enigma for hero and villain alike. (Indeed, both Mastermind and Overshadow have sought the Shah out with feelers for an alliance over the decades, planning to steal and subvert his power for their own: the Shah, however, notably does not share his resources with others). Too, that our grandchildren's distant descendants are evidently enslaved by a world-conquering tyrant, and an inept one at that, is certainly a depressing thought for any optimist about the nature of the human condition.

The truth about the Shah is at once much better, and much worse, than anyone in Freedom City knows. The Qajarite Shah is no king, no god, particularly in his own era. In an age of universal prosperity and peace, where men, women, and the rest from a thousand different species live together in brotherhood across the Milky Way, the Shah is a freak: socially stunted and given to intellectual obsessions, the Shah lives in the lower dimensional reaches noosphere where he was born, still sharing space with the ancestral members of his birth plurality. Unable to function in "modern" society, he turned his attention to the grim violence of the past, a dark era where there was only conflict and bloodshed! Deciding he could make himself a king in those past worlds, he used cloning banks and nanite fabricators to build himself an army of toy warriors, and again and again has used a temporal generator with access to the past of an alternate dimension (thee are fairly common for household use in the 4000s, given how easy they make waste disposal) to assault the past for the pleasure of his hindbrain. His legion of concubines are synthetic faux-intelligences that are the only members of the opposite sex who have ever shown any interest in him; his armies are so many toys created by the impossible super-science of the future, his "playing" with them making him the subject of scorn and derision by his peers. The Shah of Shahs and King of Kings, like many so-called great conquerors, is ultimately a small, petty man in control of something much larger and more important than himself. If ever he came truly close to victory, the Shah would have no idea what to do with himself.

The best lasting way to defeat the Shah near-permanently would be to send agents forward into the future to speak directly to the locals: true, the local authorities would do nothing to help inhabitants of an alternate world's past, but the Shah's embarrassing antics pose a serious problem for his birth-plurality in a culture where social esteem and tolerance are very important: one young man's obsession with violent imagery and conflict makes everyone involved look bad. The evidence for this will be easy to find: the Shah proudly boasts of his 'conquests' to his fellow social deviants, living for their praise and worship being one of the few things that gives his life meaning,. If the heroes can manage the trip to the distant future and navigate the bizarre, alien world of humanity at the cusp of the technological and social Singularity, they can end the Shah's campaign of terror with the man himself near-tears as the elders of his plurality take away his cloning vats and his temporal projector, all the while lamenting to each other about where they went wrong with this one. Oh, he'll storm and fuss about how this isn't over: one day he'll get out of his home noosphere and be his own man, one day he'll get his revenge on the past by leading an unstoppable army of warriors to crush all that lie before him and become a god! But in the end, he'll come up with excuse after excuse not to leave the noosphere, and he'll ultimately sink into the haze of virtual realities and hallucinogens that mark the typical deviants of the world of 4015.

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