Week twenty-four and part two of the who’s who in Acts of War: Aftershock. This time we’re talking about the secondary POV characters, which are the antagonists for the novel. We get inside these characters’ heads but to a more limited degree than the primary POV characters. That’s not to say they aren’t important. Quite the opposite. In many ways these characters drive the story, forcing our heroes to make incredibly tough decisions that will echo into the next book and beyond.
Khador fans will certainly recognize these names, and once you read the novel, I think you’ll agree they’ve done the Motherland proud.
Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk
Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk was born to make war. Irusk’s meteoric rise to power is the product of sheer determination, devotion, and strategic brilliance. His instinctive grasp of tactics allows him to see weaknesses where others do not, his commanding presence inspires his soldiers to greatness, and his innate magical capabilities enable him to exploit every situation to the utmost. His accomplishments have inspired a generation of Khadoran officers and made his name known throughout western Immoren.
Perhaps the greatest military genius in the Khadoran army, and arguably in all of western Immoren, the High Kommand has named Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk “the empire’s perfect officer.” He exercises absolute control over men and machines in the chaos of battle, and his accomplishments inspire awe and respect in both allies and enemies.
The invasion of Llael cemented Irusk’s reputation as one of the greatest military leaders in history. He began the campaign against Llael with a series of lighting attacks on the nation’s western cities and fortifications in the heart of winter. Not expecting an attack until spring when the traditional campaign season in the Iron Kingdoms began, these early assaults caught Llael completely by surprise. Irusk flawlessly coordinated his subordinate warcasters together with artillery, heavy infantry, and cavalry to win decisive victories against Llael time and time again. His attacks were performed with such speed and brutality that some parts of Llael surrendered without firing a shot.
Irusk is a perfectionist with an icy demeanor that promotes an air of absolute authority. He is devoted to the Motherland and despises the political machinations of men he considers beneath him, and he tends to negotiate in court with the same brutality he displays on the battlefield.
Irusk’s inability to capture Northguard in his initial assault stands as one of the few blemishes on his military record, and the empress’ scathing indictment of his failure shamed him deeply. After a short leave of absence, he returned determined to redeem himself in the eyes of his sovereign. When Irusk marched on Northguard a second time, he did so with the finest army ever assembled by the Khadoran Empire. The Cygnaran fortress fell after a single day, and Irusk personally raised the Khadoran flag over its ramparts. This was one of the highest points of his career.
Since that time, Irusk has endured a number of setbacks including Khador’s failure to secure the Thornwood in the last major clash with Cygnar. He believes this effort would ultimately have succeeded had he been given sufficient time and resources. Instead, the empress deemed the effort too costly and ordered him to withdraw to consolidate the empire’s other gains. While he understands the value of rebuilding Khador’s treasury, he considers the recent invasion of Llael by Cygnar to be a direct result of letting the enemy recoup its losses rather than forcing them to the breaking point. He intends to take whatever means are necessary to crush Cygnar’s recent invasion attempt.
Irusk enters combat with a saber that once belonged to his father, which he had transformed into the fearsome mechanikal weapon he now calls Endgame, a hand cannon, and a stunning array of arcane abilities. Though he is one of the greatest military minds in the Iron Kingdoms and excels at leading vast armies to victory, Irusk does not shirk from entering the fray personally. He is a formidable swordsman and his precise control of his warjacks and his human troops often make him more than a match for his counterparts in Cygnar and Llael.
Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov
Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov has spent decades carving a bloody trail through the kingdoms of western Immoren, eliminating high-profile targets and destabilizing opposing forces with well-orchestrated strikes. Strakhov stands as a Khadoran legend. Those who tell of his deeds speak of him as more specter than man, an unseen force capable of accomplishing impossible tasks under cover of night and leaving no evidence of his passage.
One of the most hated and feared warcasters in the Khadoran army, Oleg Strakhov has earned a well-deserved reputation for tactical genius and utter ruthlessness in battle. He is the consummate special-operations soldier and has served Khador for nearly two decades, though the particulars of his missions were only known to a select few until the invasion of Llael. Here Strakhov rose to prominence by eliminating many of Llael’s most competent commanders, including Archduke Alreg Vladirov and his command. The archduke’s removal early in the war was a crippling blow to the Llaelese.
Strakhov’s wartime accomplishments earned him the notice and respect of Kommandant Irusk, who called upon the kommander’s talents to help him create the new Assault Kommandos. Strakhov trained the kommando officers, forging them in his own image and instilling in them many of the tactics and brutal battlefield doctrines that made him so successful in Llael.
Strakhov has also been active in the hostilities with Khador’s greatest enemy: the nation of Cygnar. He led the Assault Kommandos in many battles against Cygnaran forces occupying the trenches surrounding the fortress of Northguard. There his Assault Kommandos were sorely tested but inflicted terrible casualties on the Trenchers opposing them. Eventually, they were instrumental in overrunning Cygnar’s forward positions in Irusk’s final attack on Northguard.
Many of Strakhov’s greatest successes involved covert missions where his improvisational skills were pushed to the limit. Fluent in multiple languages, Strakhov is an expert in operating behind enemy lines. He has performed feats such as disguising himself as a Cygnaran warcaster to gain access to city defenses during the Khadoran attack on Point Bourne. He subsequently infiltrated a Cryxian base to rescue Kommander Alexander Karchev before that revered warcaster could be turned into a weapon against the Motherland. Yet his skill and luck cannot always protect him from the risks he takes. Strakhov lost his eye in a brutal battle of wits and reflexes with Cygnar’s most esteemed gun mage strike team. Strakhov might as easily lost his life, so considers an eye a fair price. This setback only fueled his animosity toward Cygnar and its defenders.
Recently raised to the position of Assault Kommander, Strakhov continues to strike terror in the hearts of Khador’s enemies. Joined by his elite kommando escort and armed with a pair of mechanikal trench knives and a deadly death whisper carbine, Strakhov eliminates adversaries as readily either in the brutal press of melee or with a well-placed bullet from range and cover. He is skilled at using his warjacks and Assault Kommandos in ambushes or strikes against enemy positions, inflicting devastating casualties before the enemy can respond.
Note, the information in these two entries is drawn primarily from the Khador Command book (and some earlier resources).
If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:
Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.