Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Villains - or Heroes - of Old Ripley

"The town was an unassuming place named Old Ripley. It had a quiet population, a minor crime problem, but a security force that worked hard to make the streets safe for the general populace of this isolated town on Arcan. However, no amount of security in Drex can make those streets safe now."

The screen cuts away from the young NSI reporter, that smiling comely form quickly replaced by the snarling masses of erratics rampaging through a towns streets. Camera's swooped overhead on drones or light craft, capturing what they could before the tide of erratics - there were at least 50, maybe more - began hurling things towards the camera. Something struck hard, and the camera lost focus. The screen was replaced by the last image it clearly recorded - the erratic was about the size of a man, bipedal, covered in a light fur and snarling. Its open mouth revealed a set of fused-together teeth, and its eyes showed no compassion, no mercy, and barely any recognition. It was naked, and mounted on its genital was the skull of some unknown creature, still partially covered in flesh and blood. In the background, more of the display was pixellated than was actually visible. The screams, although digitally quietened, still spoke of terror.

Alexander quietly imagined the onrush of disgust from the people watching this from their comfortable fortress in the centre of Drex. Children turning away, mothers covering their eyes, fathers screaming in outrage. He didnt enjoy such slaughter. It was a battle well-won for his team, true, but he was a humanitarian above all things. He sought to rule as a God. What kind of God would he be without followers..

"However, within this tale of darkness, a brighter one emerges. Security camera footage leaked just hours ago speaks of a heroic battle between good and evil, and a story of, above all else, sacrifice and redemption. The supposed terrorists, known as LORE and Belial, part of the Apogee Four, were placed at this city only days before the current carnage. LORE's propensity for the dramatic was made clear when his announcement video of his location was broadcast service-wide on the Hyperreal. Security were quick to descend upon the Apogee pair - the supposed leaders of the Apogee Four, Ran-Samot Sako and Marjec Stone, nowhere in sight - and the town was evacuated."

"Many would speak of the coincidence of these events and call foul. However one eye-witness, present at the security station they were incarcerated within, had this to say about the team of surprising heroes."

The video cuts to an Onatan in shabby clothes. He smiles half-heartedly, not sure where to look, and begins talking in a soft, balanced voice. Alexander could recite the script off by heart, and he could even see the ANUBIS brand marked on his forearm. Another convert to his cause. Another poor soul purchased to redemption.

"Yep, I was in prison with them. The two Apogee guys, that robot and the Angel-"

"Aetherin..?" the reporter interrupts.

"Yeah yeah, with the wings. They knew the evacuation would help save the town from those erratics. They had two others with them too, a little Sigurn and a Ghoul, real mean fellow but kind-hearted. The four of them managed to get out of prison, knock out the guards, and take them to a ship - the one I pilotted out of there, at their request. They were kind fellows, real nice guys the lot of 'em. They wanted to save the town. And they knew they weren't gonna get out alive."

The screen cuts back to the reporter, who smiles her fake smile.

"But survive they did. In a research facility not far from the outskirts of town, long abandoned - or so the town suspected - these four heroes engaged in a battle of life and death."

A small window appears to the right of the screen. It has no sound, but the reporter is more than happy to talk everybody through it. It is blurry footage, hard to make out anything concrete, but Alexander was still surprised how much wasn't faked. They almost did appear to be heroes there...

"We see the team fight through the facility, fighting erratics and hoping to stem the tide, already aware of the impending flood of erratic soldiers. Further into the facility, you see them confront the leader of the erratics - none other than a Nonman, the reviled kin of the Exohumans. The creature rears itself, confident in its strength. The Flesh Sigurn, as you can see, risks his very life leaping into the fray to save another Sigurn, the only survivor of this terrible facility and its dark machinations. Meanwhile, LORE communicates with the AI of the facility and commands the release of the erratic army, held in stasis within the facility. The creatures, assumedly only half-way through their dark augmentations, are released dazed and weak, and flood clumsily through the facility. Belial, the Aetherin, fights them off with ease, the creatures still weak from their sudden awakening."

The screen only now goes full screen.

"But here is the real event. The Nonman, furious at the release of its legions earlier than required, rushes the group. You can see the Ghoul of the group debating with the team, and then waving them off. The Sigurn saving his kin, the one creature who may have answers to this horrible event, flees the facility, to ensure the town is safe at last. LORE and Belial both see the need to escape, and accept the Ghouls help with heavy hearts. Then, it happens."

You see the Ghoul, a tide of erratics behind him, rush the Nonman, and begin throwing punches at its face and chest, pummeling the towering giant.

"You see, time and again, the Ghoul throw a flurry of blows at the Nonman. Erratics clawing at his sides, the pain coursing through his broken body, he knows the only way his team can escape is if he distracts them long enough. The Nonman, overwhelmed by the Ghouls bloodlust and faith in his comrades, is pushed back, attempts to escape, and is faced again and again with the intensity of this lone Ghouls violent attack. You see one final blow, the Ghoul physically tearing out the Nonman's throat with his teeth, ripping off its head and rising it to the crowd of stunned erratics."

"But their leaders death does not weaken their lust for violence. Only now, with pinpoint timing, does the Aetherin Belial swoop down on her mechanical wings, and carry a weakened Ghoul out of the facility and into the arms of victory. The erratics, weakened, stunned and confused, turn to the town to satisfy their bloodlust, but find it practically abandoned."

The screen changes suddenly to show a flesh Sigurn standing centre screen. His body is bruised and weak, and he is obviously very tired. He is flanked by two steel Sigurn, bodyguards from Viatga no doubt. He talks, again soft and focussed with his words.

"The Nonman was breeding those erratics, raising an army. By releasing them early, those things were slow and clumsy and allowed everyone in the town to escape in time. They put me on the last ship and flew me out of there. I could see the tide of erratics in the distance, could see those heroes - that's right, I said heroe's! - returning to their own ship. They saved the town, no doubt. You saw the two huge erratics on the video, well, all of them would have been like that if it wasn't for those guys. All of them. I owe them my life."

The video is cut off. Only a picture of the Ghoul remains, now full screen, holding the Nonman head aloft, roaring in victory.

"Who was this Ghoul? How did they learn of this facility? Why was the town of Old Ripley important enough for these make-shift heroes to risk their lives to save? And were we wrong about the morality of two of the most hated terrorists in recent Cradle history? We continue these thoughts tonight on an Inside the Dyson Sphere special; 'Belial and LORE; Traitors or Heroes?' "

The feed cuts off, and Alexander sits in the darkness of the Scales of Judgement bridge. He crosses his arms over his chest, and smiles.

"Release it. It fulfills our needs, although a little more ham-fisted than I'd have liked. Make sure the Onatan is paid, and kill the flesh-Sigurn actor - we can't have him revealing to anybody that he is a fake. Ensure the real captive is ready for questioning soon."

"Yes, Alexander.." Calib, the ships AI, responds.

"And make sure Charybdis gets a fair reward. Not everybody can kill a Nonman. Or lead an army of erratics to destroy a city, half-abandoned or otherwise.."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bryante's Last Nightmare

It was like every bad dream he’d ever had. That shiver up his spine, as if he was cold. That ache in his bones, as if he was trapped and unable to move. The tightness in his chest, as if he was breathing cold, liquid oxygen. The pinch of his skin, as if a dozen hands had simultaneously dragged him, silent and unable to scream, into a world he was totally and utterly detached from.

Of course, this was no dream.

The Sepsyon sorcery, bringing forth the detached hands of the spirits of the Unreal and forcing them to do the sorcerer’s bidding, had grasped him so completely, their grip so utterly tight and unbreakable, that when the spell had worn off and the singular will keeping the hands in the Real had faded, not only had they returned to the Unreal, but they had dragged poor Bryante with him.

The breach of the barrier separating the two worlds, side by side for all intents and purposes, had sucked the air from his lungs and drained the life from his skin. He was ever so cold and ever so afraid, but found his tongue clung to the roof of his mouth, and when he tried to speak, he found the words that he knew, that he had spoken all his life, had no place here.

All around him were buildings that defied reality, and creatures that did significantly worse. The dozen hands that had brought him here were gone, mere spontaneous beings living spontaneous lives in a place that cared not for structured existence. He tried to walk forward, but found the path he was on curved in ways that his legs couldn’t follow. When he tried to run, the air seemed heavy around him, and he quickly began to tire.

Where before he was ignored as some passing fancy, in the way a normal man might ignore a ghost seen only for a second, his continued presence here began to attract creatures of greater permanence within this realm. Those spirits were short lived because they were weak, the passing souls of the deceased who had lived satisfied lives and died old and warm in their sleep – they existed here for hours, maybe days at a push, and where the Sepsyon could call upon these weak, peaceful souls to perform their bidding, their strengths tended to lie in numbers, and one was no stronger, no weaker, than the next. Those whose deaths were more brutal, lives cut short through suffering and agony, they were the real dangers here in the Unreal.

Bryante, for once, knew true fear. A thousand eyes glared at him through the darkness and mist of the Unreal. The creatures that began to slink through the fog were deformed and monstrous – a one-eyed beast with three long, thin arms, grasping wildly; a beast with five heads mounted on a tiny body, each mouth screeching soundlessly in pain; a giant slug-like creature, suspended on a dozen hands, with fat oozing arms pulling it along the floor. They began closing in on Bryante, these abortions of reality, the experiments of a braver, less noble existence.

A single voice echoed through the Unreal, powerful enough to be heard between planets, if such distance meant anything here. It was soundless and without feature, but he could feel it, as a shooting pain through his skull. The creatures turn and flee, exploiting the shifting geometry to vanish in mere moments, lost in the distance and the fog beyond Bryante’s sight. He tries to breathe a sigh of relief, but his lungs are still tight, now getting tighter. He manages a few meager steps before another shot of pain brings him crashing to his knees. And then…



He feels no pain.

He feels… nothing.

He feels his body slowly pulled to its feet. Gentle movement, as his arms fall flat to his side, and his head slowly raises. His smile is hollow, empty, and on the inside, he knows he should be afraid. The strings moving his limbs should frighten him. And the face staring back at him should terrify him.

He couldn’t even focus on the creature before him. Not for lack of trying, more, the creature seemed immutable. If it existed at all, it seemed to exist in all realities, taking every form and no form at once. A dozen set of arms stretched from a dozen different torso’s, as a dozen set of legs held it aloft. Even its face was a mis-match of a thousand different features, all with that same empty smile staring back at Bryante. He found his eyes couldn’t focus, he was always looking away, and then forced to look back. He felt dazed, sick to his stomach, but that soothing wave of peace kept everything hidden, in a place he couldn’t mentally reach.


The voice was all at once familiar to Bryante. Although it hadn’t made a sound, hadn’t spoken a single word, it was clear in his mind. It spoke from his memories, taking the voice of his family, his friends, the victims he’d left dying at the side of the road. The creature abused Bryantes memories in a vague attempt to talk to him, stripping them into their component pieces and reorganizing them to get its message across. He couldn’t reply, couldn’t force his throat to move even if he tried, but found that a reply wasn’t needed.


The creature raised itself on its numerous legs, standing easily 12 feet tall, and towering over small, petty Bryante.


It stretched out its mismatched arms, and slowly began to encompass Bryante, wrapping him in a blurry, unfocussed darkness to which he didn’t even try to escape.


Where he expected the empty smile of the creature to open, he was surprised to find the mouth actually sat beneath the head, a wide maw opening on his throat, tilting back the limb that he once confused for a head. The eyes continued to blink aimlessly as they fell from view. He felt again the sensation of a dozen hands locking tight on his skin, but these were harder, sharper, with a significantly more nefarious purpose.


He knew he should be scared. But found himself unable to scream. Unable to even fear. And that quiet, hollow grin remained on his face, as he was stripped down to the bone by a creature with a hunger utterly alien and endless..

What replaced Bryante still had that empty grin on its face. It turned, walking through the Unreal with a ruthless confidence. Nothing dared approach it now. It slowly closed the second mouth just below its head, and began searching for a way out of the Unreal…

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Ties of Fate

Bryante sprinted across the room at full pace, breathless with aching limbs, pushing past the guards in his way. The bloodless 'virgins' immediately moved out of his way, but the more experienced, those with more marks on their environment suits, they stayed put, forced him to go round. His visor was steamed up, his oxygen tubes strained and stretched out of shape, by the time he got to the entrance into the newly-christened Throne Room. He didn’t have time to marvel upon the bloody trophies mounted either side of the wall of this once-grand hall, once filled with Cendran elites and dignitaries, now a dusty shadow exposed to the elements – the ceiling above sported a large hole, an explosive reminder of the trouble they went through to claim this territory.

The Bandit King looked around the room as if bored of the proceedings. Although he’d never use the title himself – he was far too proud to refer to himself as a Bandit, and far too humble to refer to himself as a King – he was seated on a throne that caught the attention of everybody in the room. It was a mess of melded steel and cracked plastic, forged into a throne by sheer force. The blacksmiths of their crew spent weeks working on this single item, foregoing all other jobs. The Bandit King had had them whipped and marked for their time-wasting, and ordered them back to more important work immediately. Of the dozen spikes and shafts of steel that jutted out from the back of the throne, almost every one had the environmentally-sealed helmet of a single Cendran Archivist, their races highest ranking citizens, mounted for all to see. A savage display of power. Only two remained free of such gore – a middle-set spike, which would leer over the Kings right hand, and the top-most spoke, sitting above all others, mounted high over the chair. They were reserved.

The Bandit King seemed immune to the noise and commotion before his throne, as Bryante fell prostrate before him. He rested his chin idly on his clenched fist, glancing up at the dusty sky visible through what once was only ceiling. A storm was coming. He could feel it in his bones. He glanced from person to person in the room, seeing nothing but Cendran environment suits and blank-faced visors staring back. Each customised just enough to be different, just enough without compromising the security of their poor immune systems, their weak bodies.

Bryante was silent all this time, catching his breath, forming his story, patient and penitent before his King. His suit was scuffed, soiled. The pitched combat in the town of Boundary was rough, and to outside eyes, he looks like he’d seen the worst of it. What they wouldn’t know, however, is that Bryante fled as soon as the first shots were fired, and kept fleeing as soon as the combat looked to be a loss. A crazy sword-maiden challenging him to a duel, and a Sorcerer summoning ghostly masses to drag the unsuspecting into the void? He didn’t sign up for that! He sighed deeply and raised his head, to see if his King had even noticed him. The voices around the room were getting louder, looking for answers or results from his latest raid, but he remained silent.

His silence was soon rewarded. The Bandit King lifted himself up from his slouched position, glanced over the room. They were criminals, thugs, bandits, almost every one. Used to taking what they want, not waiting. And the less information Bryante offered, the more worked up they got. They formed their own obscene arguments and scenarios in their heads, and had the audacity to simply shout them out into his court, as if making them real simply by uttering them. The arguments ranged from Cendran military action, to Ghoul infestation, to the arrival of an entire TOWER Colonisation fleet. All of them ridiculous, all of them haunting the dreams of every bandit living on Cendra, a haven for people like them.

As two bandits looked to come to blows over their opposing scenarios – one sure an Apaex patrol had killed every last citizen of a Ghoul city not far from here, as his friends friends brother had seen an Apaex warship not two days ago; the other, positive a Ghoul legion had been found not 20 miles from their very position, loaded with Apaex gear after a victory over an Apaex unit, as confirmed by an Uncles cousins friend a few days back – the Bandit King raised his hand, demanded silence in the most regal way he knew how. He may not have believed he was anything equating to a King, but he knew that’s what they responded to.

“How about we let Bryante talk...” commanded the Bandit King, who then slouched back into his chair. Bryante stood, cleared his throat.

“Well boss, three days ago, we caught sight of a ship landing hard not far from here, near that dusty vlieg-town, Boundary. Turns out a guy had escaped that prison,Dante-01, and had fled here to get away from his pursuers – in a Dante marked ship, of all things! He fled into the town, bunkered down with that Doc Meyers and his family. Pretty big reward, we thought. Clean money. Single guy, how hard can it be? Turns out, the Doc was a real do-gooder, had to rough up his family, still he wouldn’t give the guy up. By the time we got the info, he was long gone, Inhert knows where. So we’re patrolling the area the last few days, a guy by himself in this heat couldn’ta gone far, right? Well, what’s our luck, we gets a report of another ship in the area, one of our scouts shoot it down. No way there could ‘a been survivors in that mess, so two look around, while the other two come fetch the rest of us to take a look. Well...” Bryante shuffles nervously, aware of how bad the next part’s going to sound, especially with so many higher-ranks around him.

“Well... we get there and our guys are gone. Totally gone. Takes us a short while to find ‘em, but find ‘em we do. Dead. Whatever survived, survived well enough to take down two of my guys and high-tail it out of there. We rush Boundary to see what we find, but the storm slows us. Me and 20 men get there as the Sun sets and the storm kicks in, and what do you know, the guys are holed up in the bar there, The Trigger Finger with that straight-and-narrow Seb. We call them out, and fuck it, if they ain’t got a whole army there. Snipers and sorcerers and all sorts coming out of the woodwork, Seb’s finally done it and fucked us over like he’s been saying for so long. Well you know me boss, I stayed till the last man was down – “a few laughs from the men around him causes Bryante’s voice to falter, but he continues, “– and fled when things were looking rough. I don’t know who they were, but they were packing heat. Musta been travelling with the first guy, they had to be, no two ships fly that close together this time a’year, especially in this dead-end hole. I think...”

With a raise of his hand, the Bandit King silences Bryante. He crosses his arms tight over his chest.

“You’re not here to *think* Bryante.” More laughs. Bryante slinks back, fully aware of his position in the crew. “Forget this... this... *bullshit* with theDante-01 escapee. If you want to be a snitch to make a quick credit, be my guest, but don’t you dare return here with your ‘clean’ money. You said there was a Sorcerer? What did he look like?”

Bryante is now visibly panicked. The Bandit King is not a large man, nor is he especially strong or agile, but he was well known for his incredible brutality. Bryante tries his hardest to speak loud and clear, but ends up merely whispering “I don’t know...”

“What was that Bryante?!” The Bandit King now stands from his throne, and makes his way down the three steps of his raised dais. His voice was a roar, echoing down the corridors of this dusty old building.

“I don’t know!” Bryante squeals, terrified. The Bandit King now stands next to Bryante, who has once again fallen to his knees and leans so their faces are next to each others, the faceplates on their environment suits practically touching. “Cimmaronis, please don’t hurt me...” whispers Bryante, a coward in the face of his King. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I didn’t see them. They attacked from the bar; they were attacking out of every window. A few even ambushed us from behind, they were everywhere. Please don’t Cimmaronis, I’ll do better next time, I’ll do better...”

The room was silent, and Bryante’s whispers may have well been screams. Few dared mock or laugh, for fear of inciting their Kings rage. They all knew that, in the same situation, they would be equally as scared.

“Make sure that you do...” And Cimmaronis, the Bandit King, stands straight. He walks past Bryante, as if the weeping bandit wasn’t even there, as if the whole scenario hadn’t even taken place. He turns to one of his men near the door, and places a hand on his shoulder. “Take Bryante, and a team of scouts. You go to that village and you search, quietly. Observe from afar if you have to. Find their ship, what remains of it, and get their tracking number, their serial number, anything we can use to trace it. A dozen men escaped from Dante-01, and if there’s a chance, even a tiny chance that he is back here...”

Cimmaronis sighs deeply. “I can’t take that risk.” He leaves the room, and looks down to the arm panel on his suit; sat there, mostly scratched away sit three numbers –191 – he scratches at them once more, away from prying eyes, away from expectations and demands. For a moment he is nothing but a lost Cendran on an old ship with a formidable master and mentor by his side. His reverie is soon broken. Soon after, the other bandits in the room begin to leave, one by one, until only Bryante remains, quivering on the floor until the shakes stop wracking his body and the tears stop flowing from his eyes.

He releases the clasps on his helmet, and removes it, setting it down beside him. He brings his Human hands to his Human eyes and wipes the tears from his Human face.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Clear-Caged Beast

Zacharael roars. He smashes his fists hard against the plasteel cage he’s locked in, but to no available – the walls don’t even shake, let alone crack. He paces side to side along the front four-foot wall, trying not to look at the Humans on the other side, the scientists just waiting to have a crack at discovering his secrets. The other three walls, as transparent as the first, provide sights of nothing but machinery, tools, and cameras. So many cameras.

Another inhuman roar, and Zacharael collapses onto the floor, falling into a tight sitting position as if trying to contain his rage. He’s short, shorter than most the Humans in the room, but wide. His body is all muscle, bulging out of the loose fitting white surgical robe he woke up in. He has no genitals, no marks on his skin, no impurities or imperfections – his whole body is smooth, tempered. The only noticable marks are self-inflicted, five valves, two on his chest, one on each arm, and one on his back.

As the unseen gas slowly pumps its way into his cell, he yawns, revealing his pure white teeth, all fused together to create not a row of smaller teeth, but a single tooth across his whole jaw. His eyes begin to droop, then close completely, opening in shock only a few more times until he is out cold.

The single doctor in the room approaches the cell. He stops for a moment, stoops to look at the unusual backpack that the creature came in with – akin to a huge vial of liquid, now empty, with five tubes trailing off, severred from the brutal struggle to bring the creature here. With a dozen men working on the remains of the liquid, people are hopeful for a cure, or at least a defence against, the dreaded Jackal virus. The dozen or so men in this room are more interested in its creator, Zacharael, the creature confined within this cage.

“What genetic analysis we’ve managed to get done reveals a simularity between the virus and the creator.” The doctor now stands. “It seems he modified his own genetic material to create the virus. Weaponised his own genes, although the analysis shows he was already pretty weaponised himself. The creature has gone entirely into a violent, animalistic state, as if an imbed defence mechanism to protect whatever secrets it holds…” The doctor shakes his head, frowns at the implications of his words.

“You’re saying..” interrupts one of the scientists, nervous. “..that this creature is artificial? Himself, created?”

“I’m saying..” frowns the doctor, “..that whatever unleashed this beast on the world, did so with the express purpose that he would assist in destroying it.” He taps the plasteel of the cell. A few of the fresher scientists jump, but the gas’ effects have already long taken course, and the creature is fast asleep. “He is a violent creature, that’s already established. From our discussion with the ‘fugitives’ who brought him in, his focus was solely on the virus, and how he could release it into Drex. It wasn’t something he discovered, it was simply something that he knew, something he was created capable of creating. He is a creature they called an ‘Arch-Angel’, something they’re apparantly hunting. And when a group like that hunts for something, you know its going to be trouble!”

“So its body is artificial then? What materials were used to create it? How did they bond together, how did they create the mind, the soul, the intelligence? And best of all – who created it?”

“Our analysis was only surface structure and rough genetic outlines. We need samples. Thus, the gas. So far it appears almost mechanical in its composition, but still living. We suspect Hyperalloy, or an extremely reformed version of such.” The doctor removes his glasses, cleans them with a deep breath, masking his worried sigh in the process.

“Hyperalloy? Please. Even the Exohumans have forgotten its use! No, it must be something else. Besides, no scientist in Drex has been able to create artificial life since NOAH, and even those tales are highly suspect! An already living creature who has undergone extensive nano-augmented genetic shifts. Altered DNA. That has to be the cause.”

Already, guards had begun to approach the cell, preparing to remove the creature and begin the required operations. They seemed almost fearless, confident in the doctor’s hypotheses about the gas, and began the sequence to unlock the cell.

“Please!” The doctor smashes his hand against the desk, refocussing everyones attention on him. “A living creature couldn’t survive such a procedure. The genetic structure is artificial, I tell you, and weaponised at that. It is so focussed on destruction, even to the point of self-destruction, that no living creature would willingly do that to themselves, assuming they could even survive!”

The door of the cell slides open, and the guards step back to allow room to get the grav-stretcher in. Too late, they release their mistake.

Zacharael was fast, far faster than his size should have allowed. One of the guards was ripped in half before anybody even realized what was happening. As guns were being drawn, already a second and a third had fallen. His fingers were like talons, razor sharp, and his raw strength allowed him to lift a guard up and tear him in half with a gentle ease. His jaw had split in the middle, dividing that perfect single fused-tooth in half, and opened wide enough to engulf a Human head whole; it snapped back shut, hard, and the scientists saw that the now-dual fused teeth acted much like a axeblade, cleaving through flesh and muscle with ease.

The doctor was already away. Smart, and experienced, enough to realize when to leave a dangerous situation, he had fled for the door, and engaged a manual lockdown on the room. Alarms were blaring, distractingly loud, and the rooms light were a mix of red and white flashes. The scientist he was arguing with slammed hard against the security-locked door, and was begging mindlessly for help.

The creature exited its cell and entered the room. A few of the guards were opening fire with both stun-guns and real weapons, but it seemed to have no effect. Zacharael batted them aside, carving through anything in his way. Huge gas-release systems on the roof were already releasing plumes of smoke into the air, highly potent paralyzing gas, enough to kill a human ten times over. The creature was already showing the effects. It slammed against the nearest wall, as if trying to break through, but the reinforced room was far too secure to allow the specimen to escape.

The doctor watched in rapturous awe as Zacharael lifted the scientist over its head, and began feasting voraciously, before collapsing in a bloody heap on the floor. The room was a mess. The doctor was equal parts horrified and proud – proud that he had the chance to see this engineered weapon unleashed against both unsuspecting and suspecting prey. Horrified in the joy he was taking in this experience..

Meanwhile, unseen, silent, Masquerade watches everything unfold. Every camera is an eye, every microphone, an ear. He is nowhere and everywhere at once, unconcerned with the lives of the Humans down there. Concerned only with the Ark-Angel. Concerned only with Zacharael.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Rise and Fall of the Apogee Four - a C9/HNN Report

Breaking News;

Today, the verdict was out.


Four months after the devastation of the atrocious Apogee terrorist attacks, the four perpetrators of this tremendous crime were sentenced. Although many thousands had spoken out asking for the death penalty, including a number of high-profile entertainers, business-men, and politicians, the courts had decided otherwise. Opting out of the usual process by jury, the crimes the Apogee Four were accused of were so vast, so unfathomable, that the only fair jury that could be considered was a conclave of Exohumans, the progenitors of Drex. This has been the first conclave assembled in over 500 years, according to the few remaining records of that time, and their authority superseded that of any CORE or political entity, aside from the Isolus. Their deliberation took only 30 minutes.


Life imprisonment within the facility of Dante-01, the high-profile high-security prison at the farthest outreaches of the system. As the guilty were carried off by a team of Ghosts, we now look to the results of this most heinous crime, and how the people of Drex have managed to pull themselves back onto their feet.

No one doubts that Apaex, once the largest Private Military Corporation in Drex, were struck the hardest. Apogee, their headquarters within the Human Ward of the Cradle, was devastated, as was the skyline of Prima Drex, the so-called Silver City, and once the largest city in all of Drex. Moving their HQ to a secret location, TOWER provided a massive donation to Apaex, supporting them in the relief effort. The only surviving member of the board, Jacob Edwards, took the reins of the PMC and forged forward in a new direction. Re-outfitted and stronger than ever, the new Apaex are an unceasing force, constantly adapting and developing their unique position within Cradle society.

Jacob forged ahead with a new policy; zero tolerance. Reported crime in TOWER-controlled cities, patrolled by Apaex, has dropped almost 80% in these four months. Their weapon development budgets have tripled, and their warships can now be seen from any portion of the Cradle, eclipsing even the Aetherin vessels, to ensure this tragedy never happens again.

Jacob himself has become an overnight hero. From an Exohuman board member hiding in the shadows of a large corporation, he has risen exponentially to become the driving force behind Apaex, and a political figure the likes of which have never been seen. His rumoured invite to the CORE, and possibly to the Isolus himself, Drex’s highest political body, is said to be formally announced - and accepted - over the coming days.

Meanwhile, the vessel which carried out this attack, the Scales of Judgement, has been impounded by TOWER scientists, who pour over it day and night to attempt to unlock the secrets of this mysterious Hypertech vessel, and understand how it got into the hands of the terrorists. So far, progress is slow; only one individual has been known to be able to access its controls, and that is Ran-Samot, the head of the terrorist group, who remains uncooperative despite numerous attempts to bargain for information. Still, the terrorist leader shows no remorse.

Already the Prima Drex skyline grows. Relief organisations from a dozen races and hundreds of corporations based around Drex have funded this phenomenal growth. The largest construction rises above the skyline and the ruins like a symbol against the tyranny of Humanities oppressors; Zenith, the new Apaex HQ, expected to be completed in only 6 months time, twice the size of the Apogee tower, and 100 times more secure. It is truly a glorious time for the Silver City.

But it is not all good news. The Jackal Plague spreads daily amongst the darkest reaches of Drex. Transforming the deceased into abominations equal to that of an erratic, the Jackal Plague was said to have been constructed by LORE, the Construct servant of Ran-Samot, and distributed by the terrorist named Boris, a Human tricked into following these terrorists, both of whom were captured by brave Apaex soldiers. A sample found in Ran-Samots possessions was confirmed as an early-prototype of the virus, but a cure for the mutated virus is still a long way from home.

Recent news has also seen the burial of a war-hero, the Commander who stood against his former soldiers as he was betrayed and stabbed in the back. Joseph Barton, posthumously promoted to Admiral, was betrayed by the soldiers who he trusted the most, shot down in cold blood by the terrorist Dryad, Marjec, as he attempted to assist his men as they fled from the perilous danger of a Jackal Plague outbreak. This backstab was seen as the catalyst of the terrorist attack, the beginning of the Apogee event. His death saved the life of over three dozen Apaex soldiers, and Admiral Barton was today praised with a plaque at the building site of the new Zenith tower. His burial site is unknown, and kept private for the sake of his family: his wife and two young children.

Meanwhile, while on show at the Museum of Hypertechnology on the Cradle, an ancient hypertech eye known as the Eye of Judgement was recently stolen in a daring midnight raid by unknown fugitives. The eye, found discarded in the command centre of the Scales of Judgement, is a hypertech artifact appearing to be over 350 years old. Although scientists were eager to study the item, it was decided to allow the public to view this rare artifact, one that many consider involved in the terrorist attacks, before study would begin later this year. Apaex security are investigating this theft, but there are currently no leads.

Outside of the Cradle, Human tensions have been tight. Sensing a power vacuum, Deimos, Grand Emperor of the Imperial Order, has been pushing hard for greater Human security across the Cradle, and has spoken out time and again against the Aetherin, whose insistence on attacking Apaex vessels only contributed to the destruction. The Aetherin defence fleet struck out against Apaex warships, and then deployed teams within the Scales of Judgement to apprehend the terrorists. After being mercilessly slaughtered by the vile terrorists, brave Apaex soldiers boarded the ship and took down the terrorists in only 15 minutes. Aetherin spokespeople have remained quiet, but Peabodysan, current Archangel and Protector of Aethersun, has announced a full investigation into the events of the day.

Many multi-race cities are experiencing increased trouble due to racial difficulties. Human groups have began rising against oppressive anti-Human regimes, finally standing up to the tyranny they have experienced for years. These terrorist activities have engaged a fire within Human hearts that will not be easily quenched.

Regardless, life continues in Drex. The spirit of our noble enclaves stands unshakeable, only united against the aggression of these hated enemies.

This was a report for Channel 9, the Human News Network, a subsidiary of TOWER.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Orasi and Difha

The love between Orasi and Difha, two Eridarians, garnered no special attention. They met, were married, and were soon planning on children; until that heart-wrenching day when Difha, a city guard, was killed during a Dravn attack. Orasi was devastated; her love was gone, and with him, her heart felt empty. All she had was her husbands soul-stone, with Difha's soul stored safely inside, away from the evil of the Unreal.

But rumours of Sigurn science ressurecting the dead reached through her desperation, and took her on a fantastic voyage to Viatga. She petitioned Sigurn and Eradrean alike, hoping that they would let her into Napra-Sigurn, hoping she could be the first Eradrean - the first non-Sigurn - to learn the art of golem construction, the delicate construction of a creature capable of supporting the soul of another.

She studied for years, in a small stone building outside the gates of Napra-Sigurn. She fought the cold-summers and the freezing-winters, battled with Helos invaders and the planets vicious natural predators, only to be turned away, time and again, from the only dream she had left. For twenty years she struggled on..

..until she met Berlar Gurud. The Gurud family had practically invented soul-stones centuries ago, and as The Grand Hammer of Anvil looked upon poor Orasi, he saw a longing he had never seen in all his 200 years of life. He took her in, brought her under his wing, and taught her everything he knew. Bit by bit, piece by piece, she constructed a golem out of Siofra Soul-Wood, imported from Eradrea, and shaped it like her husband.

It took years.

But when she implanted the soul-stone into her golem, and heard Difha's sweet voice echo from its lips, she felt complete again.

Even today, they live happily together. Lost in the forests of Eradrea, away from prying eyes who may disagree with their love, and more importantly, away from anybody who may tell Difha that he had already died once.....