In 553 BC, Cyrus of Persia begins a revolt against his grandfather, Astyages of Media, ruler of the powerful Median Empire. The two opposing armies met at Pasargadae, where history was to be decided. In our history, Cyrus uses his connections within the Median army, which betrays Astyages and gives Cyrus an easy conquest of one of the greatest empires in history. From there Cyrus and his empire effortlessly marches across Asia until he was at the gates of Greece, creating the greatest empire the world had seen.
But what if Cyrus' connections had failed? What if Astyages' soldiers, instead of being his betrayers, remained his protectors? How would history be different if Cyrus had no such easy victories but instead had to fight each dynastic lord and their armies of Guardians?
- Amel-Marduk of Babylon survives an attempted coup by his brother-in-law. Because of this, the expulsion of the Jews ends earlier and Babylon itself remains a formidable power.
- Cyrus the Great is unable to convince the Medians to turn against their king Astyages in the Battle of Pasargadae. Cyrus still wins the battle, but the lack of an easy victory means war against Media will drag on longer than expected.
- A slower Persian conquest strains the limits of the newly rising empire, which struggles to defeat a stronger Lydia and hold onto its possessions. This has ramifications for the future of Asia, Europe, and Africa.