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1 The Gutu Empire!

 Every village in the Gutu Empire had an orphanage, and at least one orphan. The Gumbo village, though tiny and on the outskirts of the empire, was no exception. It was perhaps incidental to the Gutu people's warring way of life, and to the volatile times which encouraged such a lifestyle, that so many children lost their parents.

That being the case however, the orphans' formative years were spent being fostered by villages so closely knit and caring. So when when the gossip mongers peddled their stories about Taku and his strange behavior, one could be sure that it was not prejudice towards his orphan status. The villagers just found it slightly odd to see him react in amazement to the most mundane everyday events.

Just the other day he had betrayed his surprise at seeing one of the village women breaking the bones of an antelope with her bare hands as as she prepared the beast for eating. He would linger just a little too long watching warriors grinding large stones between their fingers, and watch in fascination every time someone jumped from one end of the village to the other, which was often.

The astonishment on his face every time one of his peers returned to the village with a baby elephant slung over the shoulder was enough to raise suspicions. It was puzzling to the villagers why an eight year old who had grown up in this environment was suddenly looking at it as if it were foreign.

It would be a pity for Taku's behavior to intensify, as the village had little patience for those who lost their minds, preferring instead to release such people from their torment through death. Taku had become aware of this, and did his best to curb the fear and awe and wonder he felt at every turn. Moreover, it did not seem wise to him to disclose to his village, though they were family to him, the reasons for the change in his behavior.

The Gutu people were believers in reincarnation, believing that death would not be a shackle to great warriors, who would instead live on and mark their paths once more in this world or another. Even the Gutus, though, would probably attribute to madness the dreams Taku had been having - dreams of the strangest world for which he did not have adequate vocabulary to describe.

These dreams, over the year during which he had been having them, had evolved into stronger and stronger memories, so much so that rather than getting used to the marvels he was now seeing daily, Taku had grown more bewildered by them. He began to identify more and more with these memories, and his view point began to mirror that of the twenty first century man from earth he remembered being.

The magnitude of the change Taku was experiencing was not immediately apparent to the villagers. For one thing, as soon as he began embracing it, Taku did his best not to advertise the change. In addition, while the village took care of Taku, he was still an orphan, so while the village looked after him collectively, no one individually took it upon themselves to keep a close eye on him. It also helped that, in these unstable times, everyone always had one eye focused on the next battle and tomorrow's survival.

Taku therefore could explore his "previous life," as he liked to call it, relatively undisturbed. What a fascinating life it was. He had been a programming prodigy, creating artificial intelligence capable of independent thought by the time he was twenty.

He was a billionaire soon after, a thought leader and a captain of society. He was cementing his legacy, perfecting the last touches to his conquest, and preparing for the boredom that comes with conquering the world, when he died. He didn't quite remember the details of his death, but he remembered just how many enemies he had, and he knew he had been tricked somehow. It was easy to conclude that the people who craved his skill and his inventions had finally got to him.

They could not exert control over him, and, given his influence and stature, instead of just being not useful, he was an inconvenience to his enemies. This was Taku's deduction, little did he know how wrong he was...

Thus his life on earth ended abruptly. Tossed from the top of one world to the bottom of another. Thrust from a fashion of the finest tailor made fabrics to being dressed in poorly cured animal hides. He didn't mind though, and the more he thought about it the happier he was with this particular outcome.

When the dreams first began, he would spiral into that abyss of mixed up memories every night, driven to the brink of insanity. Yet, as he the memories had taken over his consciousness, he had embraced this fate, knowing that on earth he had achieved everything he wanted. He had been revered by the masses, seemingly holding an entire civilization in the palm of his hand.

When the enemy attacked the Gutu village on that afternoon, Taku was once again day dreaming about the life that had been and the life that now was. As warnings of the attack rang throughout the village, mothers hurriedly tried to scramble their children into the safety of their huts, and warriors wielded their weapons, ready for battle. Warriors leaped the length of the village, moving to meet their opponents. The sounds of clashing spears and bellowed war cries soon filled the air.

Every person left in the village wore the same intense expression, because in the Gutu empire villages came and went as often as babies' cries. Yet there was one person who was happy and smiling. Despite the turmoil unfolding, and the imminent threat from the ongoing battle, Taku was consumed by the invigorating thought that this was the chance he wanted and needed; a chance to take over the world again.