The sound of a horn shattered the deep silence of the Blackridge Plain. Surrounded by a throng of heavily armed warriors, the tribal leaders of the Seven Stone Nations exited their tent and stood in a solemn line before the murmuring crowd.
The war against the Dominion invaders had been raging for weeks. Although the battle-hardened Granok had fought fearlessly, the superior technology of the Dominion was too powerful. Hundreds of thousands of the Seven Nations' mightiest warriors had fallen in battle. The War of Gnox was all but done.
"We will not betray the ancient creed," they said. "To the end, we will follow Way of Stone."
Their words were terse and few. They would not adopt the ways of these strange invaders. They would not steal their weapons or use their machines of war. If this path led to death, then so be it.
The assembled Granok stoically accepted their fate - all but one. Driven by a seething hatred of the Dominion, a young warlord named Durek refused the elders. Proud and defiant Durek and a band of bold warriors gathered in secret then swore a blood oath that they would destroy the invaders or die trying.
"That was the hard part" Durek rumbled to his followers. "Tomorrow, we get to have some fun."
They attacked a Dominion military camp at dawn. With a thunderous shout Durek waded into battle wielding a mighty warhammer. The Dominion soldiers who challenged him were scattered like broken toys, their armor shattered from the force of his attack. Dropping his hammer, Durek reached down and picked up a Dominion rifle, his finger just barely fitting inside the trigger guard. The weapon let loose a powerful barrage of energy, felling another dozen soldiers. Other Granok warriors soon did the same.
Moments later, a massive explosion threw Durek to the ground. Stunned but alive, he staggered to his feet and ran towards the armored Dominion vehicle that had launched the explosive. Closing the distance in a matter of seconds, Durek leapt on top of it ripped off its access hatch, and threw the vehicle's terrified driver to the ground.
Durek squeezed into the cockpit looking over the blinking lights on the console. Despite the disapproval of the tribal elders, Durek had closely studied the shattered wrecks of Dominion machines - and now he placed his hands gingerly on what he assumed was the steering mechanism. The machine lurched, and then rumbled forward in response.
A red button was blinking just above his thumb. Weapons systems.
Durek hesitated, his finger poised. The words uttered by the Chief Elder the day before echoed in his head: To betray the Way of Stone is to renounce what makes us Granok. It chips away our identity and will lead only to suffering, misery, and death.
He gazed through the viewscreen at the Dominion soldiers. They had invaded his home. Killed his people. Destroyed everything that he held dear.
Setting his jaw, he hit the button.