Round 20 — An Alternative to Freedom — was the Independent’s chance to affirm their position as not just a loosely held together, scattered group of unrulable factions. Was their past victory just luck borne out of Commonwealth surprise and Imperial brashness?
What was the alternative to freedom?
Oppression. And the Empress made sure to deliver on her ironfisted promise to command the world. The indomitable Black Orcs were deployed and, on the final day, stood strongest by thousands of acres.
But how did we get there?
It started, as most things do, small.
In a blaze of glory, a swarm of Ants took early control. Supported by a Firewalker, the pair took on the initial, foremost threat: a Lycanthrope. Very little attention was paid to what else was brewing under the Imperial flag, or among the free Independents.
It would soon turn out to be a grave mistake to focus their military might on the Lycanthrope as it allowed the Black Orc to rise.
As the Firewalker ran out of fire and as the Ant ran out of advantage, the Independents started their ascension. There were Growths, Dimensionalists, Myconids, a Marshling, a Void, a Simian, a Merfolk, and a Beastfolk.
While the Black Army rose to the top, the Independents grew by taking lands from nearby Barbarians and taking from what was left of the once fierce Lycanthrope. Skirmishes between the three factions were rare but occurred on occasion.
And the Myconids kept growing.
Events continued and became predictable normalcy until one day, when the Spirit sent out a massive army, leaving itself with very little defense at home. So little that the Independents launched multiple attacks, led by a Dimensionalist and a Beastfolk.
This set off a cascading chain of events that continued until the very end. Attacks between the Commonwealth and the Independent increased drastically, but anyone who grew too large was promptly invaded by the Black Army and had their land claimed for the Empire.
The slow-burning strategy of the Dimensionalists was finally paying off. Mighty militaries were summoned from galaxies beyond recognition. The eery, vacuous silence before a portal opens up and the incomprehensible roaring begins became a recurring trauma for many Barbarians and Commonwealth warriors.
The Spirit became large and strong, as did the Dimensionalists. And the Myconids kept growing. Dwarven forces made great strides in the final moments but it was not enough to change the outcome of the round.
There were brief moments of hope for the Independents to pin down and maybe even take down the Black Orc, but the Black Army was always there and always stronger.
Strongest. Largest. Winner.