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Cuisses de Grenouille (Closed)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Communist Xomaniax
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Cuisses de Grenouille (Closed)

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:28 pm

Ozun


A great blue giant turned ever so slowly, enormous and indescribably hot. Around it rotated another blue object, though one many thousands of times its lesser. Ozlu and Ozun, gas giant and moon. A small and frigid ball of ice, Ozun was young, extremely active and only just beginning to burst with life in the seas kept warm by tidal flexing. The surface of Ozun was barren, encased as it was in a shell of permafrost and ice as strong as granite, the ice offering up a mirror sheen in patches not yet covered in freshly fallen snow or sleet. Only here and there did the seemingly eternal emptiness of the tundra give way to chaos terrain and expanses of penitente formations hundreds of miles across. Stagnant cold hundreds of degrees below zero was whipped into a cutting frenzy by the knifing windstorms, generating huge snowy cyclones that turned into whipping hurricanes across the few cracks in the planet's ice where the underground oceans bled through.

The planet's grey-white expanse was interrupted by what seemed to be enormous craters, each one a massive hole in the ice as if smashed in by a giant's enormous fists. These were the hotbeds of Ozlukar civilization, villages crudely squatting along the icy edges where other peoples might have built shining metropolises. The largest of these was Haven's Peak, the so-called capital of the Ozlukar. From Haven's Peak, the Ushtar Uzgoth ruled all of the Freeholds Confederacy with an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove, giving gifts to those who followed and strangling those who did not. The core of the city, if it could truly be called one, was dominated by the Ushtar Uzgoth's palace. Made up of a series of enormous domes, each one made from thousand ton blocks and dragged into place by a crew of tens of thousands of slaves and reinforced by a skeleton of rebar. A cluster of domes seemed to pile atop each other in a crude approximation of a waterside ziggurat, this forming the place where the tyrant and his Oderus clan lived. Beyond the palace complex and its walls was the city proper, a disorganized mass of domed buildings seemingly randomly clustered around some form of industry.




A sharp smack awoke Zugor from his daydreams.

"Haven't heard a fuckin' thing I said, did'ye?" Ruga barked, cuffing him again for good measure. Zugor winced from the heavy blows but kept his head down. Ruga was chosen by the chief as champion of their tribe, that meant he could do what he wanted to the unblooded like little Zugor. That he, a veteran warrior was only a hair's larger than the comparatively fresh-faced Zugor seemed to rankle the grizzled beast to no end. Perhaps that was why he put so much force into his "discipline blows", as he called them. Zugor could think of no other reason, he had done nothing to insult the elder's honor.

"Now listen, that last raid we went on din go so well. We lost a lotta brothers. Good ones. Don't have the steam yet to get back out there'n get you lot blooded. So yer gonna shut yer dumb gob hole and let 'ol Ruga do the talkin'. We gotta convince Him to give us'n some 'o his brothers. You got that?" Ruga spoke with the confidence of a man who could see events playing out behind his eyes. Maybe that was why he was champion here, he knew what he wanted and acted like it.

"Yeah, I got it." Zugor could scarcely mumble out the words before a fat fist found itself crashing into his snout trunk. Zugor felt blood trickle out of his snout but knew it wasn't enough to be broken. He looked up into the one remaining eye of Ruga.

"Don't mumble at me, y'fuckin' halfwit!" Ruga snarled, spittle flying from a too-wide mouth of yellowed fangs.

"I got it, Bone-Snapper." Zugor swallowed venom and bowed his head in submission, using that familiar panting grunt that signified subservience. He even used Ruga's blood name. The old bully relented, something inside him tickled by Zugor's servility. He smiled wide, carved tusks glistening with drool in the mid-morning light. Their tribe's champion was a vain man.

He shrank back into his seat and stared out the window, taking in the view of endless streams of vehicles pouring out of the ice tunnels and into the city's traffic. Zugor watched a storm cloud lazily make its weight through the sky, darkening and spraying other clouds with lightning and pouring frozen rain onto the ground below. He wondered what clouds were made of. As boys, they'd been told it was the breath of their ancestors left over and given life by God. But Zugor was not so sure. He had been told many things. The warrior's eye darted quickly to Ruga, who was on his tele-slate and did not notice. Ruga said only the more important folk had those things. Zugor felt a pang of jealousy.

The going was slow. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles had filled Ozun's winding, erratic streets. Had to navigate a schizophrenic cityscape without signs or order. The accidents were routine. The sight of a gang of warriors desperately shoving their mauled truck out of the road, or yelling at passing traffic as they trampled the stuck ones, was common. Everywhere there were fremen, freed slaves too busted up and dumb to be any use but not yet dead. They crowded cars whenever the traffic screeched to a halt, hands slapping at windows and shrill cries of "Money! Need please! No starve!" in what little broken Ozlukar the fremen knew. The others in the truck struck the vermin with sticks and swiped them away, laughing and giggling as they did so. Even Zugor broke from his sulking, forgetting all about his bruised honor.

As they penetrated deeper into the city, its splendor began to dawn on Zugor. The buildings were bigger now, more permanent. In his home village, they made huts from unworked stone and blocks of ice, squat cyclopean hovels that did little more than shield you from the wind. But here they built, not just cobbled together. The buildings were enormous, hewn from pure white stone and accented with gold and elaborate murals. Everywhere there was a bevy of art, tall obelisks that spoke of the ancient deeds of wealthy clans, immense and elaborately detailed murals of tribal champions, bas-reliefs depicting the slaying of incredible monsters and the bounty awarded to the pious. The tune of a hundred melodies filled the air, snippets of haughty lyrics making him pine for some glory of his own. Vast chain gangs of slaves built Haven's Peak day and night it seemed. When one collapsed from exhaustion, another stepped up to replace them. The slaves seemed to pay no attention to their fallen brethren, who they trampled into the muck without thought. Zugor watched a taskmaster crack a lash above their heads. He supposed he knew why.

The imperial palace was within sight now. The thought that the one true God of the universe was just a few short miles away shook Zugor to his bones. He had never seen the Ushtar Uzgoth in person before, only on television and in pictures. He'd never heard Him speak either, only ever heard others talk about His glory. This being, who had created the universe and made the Ozlukar perfect, in his own image. The supreme being who had given them untold bounties of flesh to eat and wine to drink, until no pious man could remember with certainty when he had gone hungry last. The God who had given them fortune and slaves and who asked for nothing in return but their love. The very thought of the Ushtar Uzgoth made young Zugor's heart swell. He bowed his head in prayer, the others soon joining in. Ruga looked up from his tele-slate and nodded to himself. He did not take part in the prayer.

After hours of slow travel, they reached the Shaulak, the sacred lake that surrounded the palace. He and the others emerged from the truck, each one placing his things in a waterproof box pulled from the trunk. Forming up behind their champion, the group waded into waters so blue they seemed to be made of liquid sapphires. Even getting to dunk himself in the first waters created by God felt like a reward he had not earned. Zugor fought hard to choke down that feeling. If the waters were perfect from the surface, they were breathtaking from within. He gazed down to the bed as he swam through and was shocked at its depth, immense geothermal cracks casting enough light to make it clear the surface was inhabited by thousands of Yig'xe slaves, those aquatic vermin the Ozlukar had acquired from the Yn'gul years ago. There was a colossal Yig'xe village down there, though seemingly abandoned. They're probably all in the palace, he thought.

Zugor reached the shore first but knew better than to break the surface. The others arrived next, then Ruga last. Someone sniggered at the fat, slow champion loud enough for him to hear it. Ruga gained a murderous glint to his eye and drove a meaty fist into the face of Bolgug, who had been too far away to be the one to laugh but was close enough to the champion to be made an example of. Amidst the teeming masses of Ozlukar arriving on the islad, the event was unnoticed. Following their master, the rest of the gathered men bit their tongues. Ruga would get his soon enough. Revenge was like the weather on Ozun: always a blink away from turning nasty.




The Lapis Room
Palace of the Ushtar Uzgoth


The Lapis Room took its name from the gargantuan lapis lazuli blocks that made it up, polished to a mirror sheen to look like a slice of the unbroken sea. This was where the god of the Ozlukar, the Ushtar Uzgoth, undertook the difficult task of rulership. The chair sat in the middle of a whirlpool, foamy waters whipping around it in a way the old warlord found most soothing. Across it was a long, stone table in the shape of a semicircle, where his council of advisors sat. The table was low to the ground and beside a second pool, this one still but the waters warmed by steam piped in from the geothermal vents deep below. The members of the council could easily reach the table while laying back and floating in the pool, fat hands taking enormous portions from the feast assembled before them or dunking barrel sized tankards into the wine trough.

"M'lord, the time for action is now."

The easy quiet of the room turned to icy silence. Half a dozen pairs of eyes turned to the speaker.

"The Grippli have ambushed three of our slave convoys now. Two of those weren't even going to the Grippli in the first place!" Roared Shoshog, warlord of the Madhlug tribe.

"Forgive his outburst, your holiness. Only you have the right to make such declarations." Cooed Gulzhug, who had no formal title but was something like the high priest of their new religion.

"Don'chye ever tell me what I do or don't have, you worm!" Shoshog snapped back. "It's time to do something! Maybe when we raze their homeworld they'll learn some goddamn respect."

Shoshog and Gulzhug turned to their God for answers, who seemed not at all preoccupied with answering them. The Ushtar Uzgoth was an old man, older than all the rest of them. He moved slowly even for an Ozlukar, and spoke only when he was cajoled into it. He did not seem so eager then. Enormous even compared to the largest amongst them, the mountain of bone and blubber seemed content to lean back onto his throne, letting the water rise up past his ample belly. Slave concubines dutifully massaged his shoulders, neck, and head, tiny hands nimbly applying pressure and kneading out knots in ancient muscle. Others fed him morsels of food so that their master needn't more save to chew, while others emptied cask after cask of wine into his goblet, bringing it to his lips to drink. Indeed, with his eyes closed and his enormous chest gently rising and falling, it seemed the Ushtar Uzgoth would rather sleep.

Wait. Thought Lurg, chieftain of the Blogshakor tribe. He IS asleep!

"Boss." He said, raising his voice ever so slightly. The Ushtar Uzgoth did not stir.

"Boss!" He yelled, slapping his hands down onto the table.

"Urgh. . . hmm?" The warlord responded, smacking his chops. "What was that, Lurg? Din' catch it." He said, eyes half opened.

"I was saying, boss, that Shoshog is right. We need to do something about the Grippli." Shoshog beamed, Gulzhug glowered. The Ushtar Uzgoth stared down his advisor, Lurg feeling as if the god-king was peering into his very soul. He watched the man's second, malformed head drool, its one functioning eye lazily sweeping over the room as if half-heartedly looking for something.

"They're your vassals, boss. They swore an oath. That's supposed to mean somethin'. But they've hit the Shackle Road three times now, even though only two of those were there to collect their tribute. Sent some boys to investigate but they shot at 'em. Lost a few hundred brothers that way." He explained.

"Oh? First time I'm hearin' 'bout it." The Ushtar Uzgoth responded. Lurg bit his tongue. That was unusual. He wondered just how much time the most powerful Ozlukar in history was spending cooped up in his chambers, isolated. But that didn't make sense to Lurg. He knew the Ushtar Uzgoth was illiterate, just like most of their kind was, but he at least had somebody read the reports to him, if nothing else. Lurg wondered if he was getting the reports at all. But that was an issue for another time.

"No matter, your holiness." Gulzhug interrupted. "Remember that King Krök has been good to us in the past. He swore an oath to you without a fight, and it didn't take much arguing later to get him to sign over Mlougus. We have a mutual understanding. Why rock the boat over what I'm sure is a misunderstand-"

"Y'can't let 'em get away with this!" Shoshog raged. "I say get the boys and we hit 'em hard. Maybe they'll learn manners after we loot two or three of their planets clean.

The Ushtar Uzgoth held a hand up and the room fell silent. It was all the signal they needed to know their leader was thinking. They knew better than to interrupt his train of thought.

"Where's the Avan ambassador?" He barked at no one in particular.

"I don't know, your holiness. Should I send for them?" Gulzhug asked. The Ushtar Uzgoth grunted in affirmation.

"Get on the horn 'n tell 'em I want 'em here now. Can't make this decision without 'em." He spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. At once his eyes closed and he reclined back into his chair. The slaves began again their massaging and once more the room was filled with gentle snoring. Resigned, the others helped themselves further to the feast. Gulzhug whispered something to one of his slaves, this one wearing nice enough robes to suggest some kind of special duty. The critter scampered off in a hurry. Lurg rang a bell and called for more slaves. If he could do nothing else, at least he could get a massage while he waited.
Last edited by Communist Xomaniax on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:33 am, edited 3 times in total.
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Avlana
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Founded: Nov 22, 2017
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Avlana » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:50 pm

Hannur of Ouhes Ghenaal should have been cold inside the icy palace of the ozlukar god-emperor The Ushtar Uzgoth, thankfully though the scientists of Ouhes Ghenaal had developed a suit for himself and the other avan that had been selected to act as advisors and representatives to the Ozlukar that kept them warm despite the deadly freezing temperatures of Ozun. He felt the almost silky fabric move across his feathers as he continued to walk in a circle around the huge dome that had been set aside for the avan inside the palace of The Ushtar Uzgoth. Hannur looked up towards the top of the dome and wished he could stretch his wings and fly but he knew such an action would be folly. The Ushtar Uzgoth had tried to build an area suitable for the avan, and Hannur and the others were appreciative of his and the ozlukar’s efforts, but the avan needed the freedom to stretch their wings and to fly.

He was thankful that Ouhes Loong had constructed a station in orbit of Ozlu with accommodations more suited for the avan than Ozun was. Hannor along with advisors from Ouhes Huldinor, Kharthon, and Loong, however, were required to spend long periods of time on Ozun. It was during these stretches that Hannur would take time to study the data the avan had of their ongoing projects the Consortium had ongoing.

Reaching inside his cloak and pulled out what looked like a thin piece of glass. His feathered fingers made a few gestures in front of the piece of glass. After a moment the glass activated and several symbols appeared. Hannur looked over the data and was pleased with the progress he saw. Already the avan had seen a substantial increase in resource extraction and agricultural production for the ozlukar, the next stage would be building up the ozlukars industrial capacity and teaching the ozlukar how to automate. Hannur reflected on the hurdles that the avan had had to overcome as his fingers swiped through technical readouts of the armors the avan had developed and begun producing for the ozlukar. Already they were producing the power armors at a truly impressive rate of over a million units a GalStan month. The standard armors were being manufactured at a rate nearly three times that. It wouldn’t be long before entire armies of ozlukar equipped with avan produced arms and armor would be sweeping across human worlds while avan soldiers filled the skies.

Hannur stood for a moment and reveled in the thought of the Consortium finally being able to push back against their hated foe. Hannur knew it likely wouldn’t happen in his lifetime though sadly. Already he was over twenty-five standard years old, half the usual avan lifespan, and he knew the avan would be consolidating their power until they could finally push back.

A yellow symbol appeared on Hannur’s screen alerting him to the approach of an ozlukar slave. Hannur understood that slavery was an important facet of ozlukar culture, he still couldn’t understand why the pitiful creature allowed themselves to be enslaved though. The line of thought brought about another curiosity of Hannur’s and he waved his hand in front of the piece of glass causing more symbols to appear. It seemed several of the other Ouhes had already begun the transfer of non-human ozlukar slaves they had bartered for. Several thousand had already been loaded into avan ships and were being transported from the frozen moon to planets the avan had studied and deemed best suited for the former slaves. For the most part, the avan had kept their plans secretive from the ozlukar, only the most important ozlukar chiefs knowing fully the avan’s plans for the freed slaves in the future. Hannur had mixed feelings about their plan, on one hand, he approved of the Ouhes freeing xeno slaves and allowing them colonies where they could thrive, on the other hand, he knew the endeavor could fully backfire even though the avan had been careful in their selection of xenos species.

Hannur made several gestures and the symbols disappeared from the glass which he slid back inside his cloak pocket as the slave entered the room with its eyes averted. Hannur identified it as one of the krechthur, a primitive species that had the misfortune of residing on a planet to close to the ozlukar and had been raided several times by slaver parties who seemed to relish in the fear they invoked into the small white-furred creatures. Hannur neared the little creature, nearly twice it’s size in height, and kneeled before it noticing it was trembling.

“Is there something I can help you with little one?” Hannur asked the creature that he thought might be a juvenile of its species. Hannur took a moment to study the creature. Being from a colder planet as well as a benefit to them here on Ozun and they generally wore what others might consider clothes for a warmer planet. Thick white fur covered the body of the creature, it’s legs and arms both ending in hands covered in thick black skin. Atop the creatures head were two large rounded ears and a face that looked almost like that of a primate. Intelligence glinted in the eyes of the creature as it looked up at Hannur and the avan couldn’t but wonder what accomplishments the krechthur might have been capable of if fate had dealt them such an unfortunate hand.

“Your presence and the others have been requested by the Great One.” the small creature said timidly as it quickly diverted it eyes back towards the ground. Hannur felt pity for the poor creature, taken from it’s simple life so suddenly and dragged her to be a mere housepet for the ozlukar. Hannor wanted to tell it that it was fortunate that the ozlukar considered the krechthur adorable and that it should consider itself lucky that it wasn’t one of the slaves relegated to labor or combat. Hannor shuddered inwardly at the memory of how poorly the slaves had been treated.

Such matters, however, where not things that Hannor could judge the ozlukar for though. The ozlukar had been uplifted carelessly and then abandoned just as quickly from what information he could gather, much like the avan had been. The ozlukar had been primitive before and responded the only way they could, sheer physical force. The avan line of thought was that the ozlukar shouldn’t be punished for the sins of their creators and be cast aside as monster not fit to live. And it was because of this folly of their creators that the avan desired to finish what had been started. Hannor wasn’t certain the avan could help the large brutes but he did know the avan would work tirelessly to try.

“Lead the way little one.” said Hannor as he stood and bowed to the young creature. The creature seemed confused by the gesture of respect from the avan but quickly turned and led Hannor who was soon joined by the representatives of Ouhes Huldinor, Kharthon, and Loong.
“Does this have something to do with the recent skirmishes the ozlukar have been having with the grippli?” questioned Yunsee of Ouhes Kharthon as the four avan seemed to float down the corridor.

“Several tribal chiefs have appeared before The Ushtar Uzgoth to petition him for the opportunity to reply to the grippli in force after the grippli have attacked three ozlukar slave convoys” explained Hannur to the other three.

“Are they mad?” asked Veeno of Ouhes Loong.

“They must be.” said Shenla of Ouhes Huldinor.

“I suspect there is some outside force encouraging the grippli into action against the ozlukar.” said Hannor as the four avan arrived within The Lapis Room. Hannor looked about at the scene of opulence, decadence, and hedonism that was displayed before him. Various slaves rubbed down the naked bodies of ozlukar that weren’t in the sacred pool. Others within were stuffing their faces with the various assortments of meats displayed on the table and greedily downing entire goblets the size of buckets with wine. Hannur noted the only sounds were grunts of pleasure and lips smacking from the feast as the ozlukar gorged themselves on the pleasures of the flesh.

Hannur had been to these lavish occasions several times, the ozlukar were one of the few species the avan felt comfortable eating around curiously enough and Hannur noted the table that had been set aside for the avan still had a pile of food upon it for him and the others. Hannor nodded his head to the table and the other three avan gracefully moved towards the table and took their seats. Hannur approached the ancient warlord of the ozlukar and bowed deeply before The Ushtar Uzgoth.

“How may I assist your grace?” asked Hannur as he straightened his body from the bow and patiently waited for a response from the god-emperor.

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Communist Xomaniax
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Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:32 am

Lapis Room


“Thank’ye for comin’.” The Ushtar Uzgoth responded. He warmed at the ambassador’s presence, a frame twice the height of a tall warrior slouched visibly, the enormity of bejeweled chains and ceremonial piercings audibly echoing in the cavernous chamber.

“Seems we’re havin’ an issue with the hopping-folk again.” The ancient warlord gestured for the Avan to sit. The Ushtar Uzgoth remembered when he had first come into contact with them. Oderus of Urungus, who would become Ushtar Uzgoth but was known then simply as the Two-Headed, had been a pirate aboard some nameless ship he had long since forgotten. He was dumb muscle, as being more than twice the average size of an already colossal race had given him the edge in selling his sword. Like so many others of he had journeyed out into the galaxy to seek his fortune as a mercenary, hiring onto some human pirate lord's crew to raid a place he had never even heard of. Swift Winds, it had been called. An Avan trade route. Oderus hadn't known who the Avan were or what the Consortium was, or how the Ghost-Water could be called swift when it had no tides.

It was a good thing while it lasted, though it lasted only a short while. His captain was smart enough to repurpose every ship they captured into another part of his fleet, to keep their riches stashed elsewhere. They hit thirty-two marks before the Avan took notice. His crew had seen the signs but got greedy and ignored them. The Avan hit them hard and all at once, blowing up most of the fleet. His ship was the only one to survive, the crew seeking to make their last stand on the asteroid they had fortified to use as a base. Oderus of Urungus had been the only survivor, avoiding death by dumb luck. When the Avan disappeared there had been nothing left, not even bodies. He remained stranded there for days until he managed to bribe his way onto a passing cargo ship. He believed it to be fate that his life had been spared. It was then that he knew what fate held in store for him, knew what fate intended for him to do. Perhaps it was for irony's sake that fate had seen to make his would-be killers into the Ozlukar's closest ally. Fate was an unpredictable mistress.

"Let Lurg explain the situation." The Ushtar Uzgoth gestured for them to sit down.

"As y'know, 'bazhador," Lurg began, forgetting and quickly remembering to attach Hannur's title, "we beat 'em into the mud 'bout ten years back. Dey been good folks ever since, 'cept now o'course. We stopped raidin' 'em and dey kept de slaves an' de gold comin'. Even helped 'em fend off some knife-eared raiders a while back. Figured de Grippli chief understood de way shit was 'sposed te work-" Lurg explained, suddenly cut off by the sound of crystal shattering against the wall. The council turned to face Shoshog, who had thrown the thing. Slaves hurriedly cleaned up the mess.

"Goddammit, it's my tribe." Shoshog snapped at Lurg. "The goddamn fuckin' Gripplis hit us outta nowhere. All 'o de sudden dey won't pay no more gold, no more slaves. Dey even killed our 'bazhador, strung 'im up like some kinda carcass they was leavin' out te dry. Sent m'men to investigate, dey shot dem too. Don't even know we's 'scussin it." He spat, fetid spittle flying as the old warlord spoke.

"Stop cuttin' folks off." The Ushtar Uzgoth commanded. The warlord's gaze met his living god's and all at once the color drained from his ruddy flesh. Lurg could see that Gulzhug took some pleasure in that.

"M'bad, m'lord." Shoshog muttered sheepishly, his eyes turning downwards as if he was a slave receiving a dressing down.

"What Steel-Breaker says is right." Lurg began, using his colleague's blood name to mend the man's wounded spirits.

"We got no warnin' that the Gripplis was gon' stop bein' friendly-like. We had a fella there named Snigrog to keep an eye on 'em, make sure they was hon'ring they side. Knew it wasn't some kinda scuffle wit 'im 'cause Snigrog wasn't like that. He liked them hopping-folk, spoke up for 'em. So we sent some folk to ask their big chief why Snigrog hadda die 'an to get 'is body. Shot dem up, too. Den dey blew up some trade convoys we had runnin'. Now dey startin' te stir up shit wid some 'o de tribes 'round there. Gotta do somethin' quick or we're gonna end up lookin' limp." Lurg finished, cupping his groin for emphasis.

"We've never been in this situation before, ambassador. You have to understand, the Ozlukar nation is young. We haven't had vassals before. Now more chiefs are complaining that we're not doing enough about it." Gulzhug chimed in.

"The Consortium is our closest ally. We trust the Avan. We trust you. But we don't know how to respond to this situation. The Gripplis are in a good position to threaten our access to the rest of the Gul Stars, but raids aren't going to cut it. The Avan have had experience in situations similar to these, we were hoping you could offer us some advice. The Ushtar Uzgoth cannot go before the assembled chieftains without an answer."

There it was. Laid bare, they had admitted ignorance and sought advice. To the Ozlukar, who prized honor above all things, that meant something.
Last edited by Communist Xomaniax on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Avlana
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Founded: Nov 22, 2017
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Avlana » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:26 pm

Hannur nodded at Ushtar Uzgoth’s offer to sit but chose to remain standing out of respect for the warlord and his company. Hannur closed his eyes for a moment and his mind drifted back to his youth and the time he spent on the avan homeworld of Arcerio. He remembered the smell of the Emera Gardens, one of the smaller rainforests of Arcerio with some of the largest trees on the planet. The huge towering sephlona trees were over one hundred and fifty meters tall with branches larger than a man’s torso reaching out like giant arms from halfway up the tree to the canopy and leaves as big as an avan chick.

Hannur and his friends knew there was a danger to be had by flying through the branches of the jungle instead of over but that was part of the excitement for the youthful avan who were no longer considered juveniles by their society. The darkened areas underneath the jungle canopy were rife with predators who would have been more than happy to snatch up an easy snack like an avan.

The young group had heard of the ancient avan villages that had once lived amongst the trees here in the Emera Gardens and were eager to explore one of the cradles of avan civilization before it had ascended to the skies and then to the stars where they mostly lived now. Hannur and his friends had learned of the villages and their youthful curiosity had gotten the better them.

They had left the relative safety of Huuthon, one of the great sky-cities of Arcerio and flew down into the Emera Gardens eager with excitement. Hannur had looked down at his wrist to view his GPS coordinates when he heard one of his flockmates, Fensur, cry out in pain. Hannur altered his body and wings and stopped almost mid-flight. His eyes scanned the forest carefully for his friend as Hannur’s other friend Chethur flew up beside him as well, both avan treading air as they searched for their friend.

“Their!” Chethur pointed excitedly. Hannur followed his friend’s finger as he saw the fleeting form of Fensur passing through the thick branches of the trees. Both avan started after their friend, his screams of pain giving them a beacon to better home in on. As they closed on their friend both avan pulled up mid-flight again as they witnessed what had caused their friend such pain.

Fensur tore at metallic green forms almost larger than his hands, the creatures that had swarmed the unfortunate avan had large mandibles that ripped flesh from their friend. Both Hannur and Chethur looked on in horror as they tried to figure out how to help their friend.

Seconds later Fensur’s wings became weaker and he slowly dropped to the ground below. Hannur heard an angry buzz near him and he swatted at the sound only for it to return louder and angrier. Hannur looked around and noticed one of the large angry insects was now near him.

“We have to leave now.” Hannur said as he grabbed his friend and the two avan’s powerful wings gave several thrusts and they burst through the canopy of the forest seconds later.

“What were those?” Chethur asked incredulously. Hannur had had the foresight before the trio of avan had left to go exploring to study some of the more dangerous fauna they might encounter. By far one of the more dangerous ones where the hornid. A hyper-aggressive species of insect that built large nests and attacked anything that came near them. They had a highly potent form of neurotoxin that would shut it’s victims nervous system. Hannur knew that Fensur would have died from just one sting. As many of the damned things that were on them, Hannur was surprised he had lasted as long as he did.

Both avan flew back Huuthon quietly. Once they reached the city they reported the incident at once to their mentors who scolded them for their foolishness. Two of the elders left shortly afterward and retrieved Fensur’s body from the jungle. Their mentors made Hannur and Chethur look upon the swollen and distorted body of their friend so that they could fully absorb the folly of their decision.

Hannur looked silently upon his friend and made a decision then and there. Later that night he slipped into one of the armors from his training. The fabric flowed over him like a liquid with almost no restriction to his movements. The plain armor of the avans had been an incredible feat of avan ingenuity. The somewhat thick fabric looked like any other cloth and seemed normal until it was violently struck by something, then the molecules within the fabric immediately tightened up making the fabric as tough as any steel plate.

Hannur slid on the helmet for the armor and punched in the coordinates for where the attack occurred. He flew straight to where his friend had been killed. Hannur knew his course of action was not logical, the insects had attacked out of base instinct to defend their nest. Hannur, however, wanted to exact some sort of vengeance against the creatures to make himself feel better.

He flew beneath the canopy once more intent on his goal but ever aware of the increased danger of nocturnal predators being prevalent. He didn’t particularly care though, he was focused on the goal and one goal only. As he neared where he suspected the nest was he turned on his helmets thermal imaging and scanned the area until he noticed a large bright circle. Not being nocturnal creature he knew the hornid would all be safely tucked into their nest for the night.

Slowly approaching the nest Hannur withdrew a small plasma torch and approached the nest carefully. Pushing the trigger on the torch a bright light emitted from the end of the torch. He stopped and noticed the opening and held the torch near it. The almost papery nest instantly burst into flames and even though he knew it was impossible Hannur swore he could hear the screams of the insects as they burned alive.

When he returned back home Hannur relished in the satisfaction he felt from destroying the lesser creatures. He had sought vengeance and achieved it. He knew his actions wouldn’t bring his friend back but it did give him a measure of peace.

Hannur didn’t know how much time had passed since Ushtar Uzgoth had asked him his question. Hannur looked upon the warlords present and saw the same look of vengeance he had so many years ago. He felt a sort of kinsmanship with the ozlukar for a brief moment before he stuffed the emotion back down deep inside himself before he responded. He also knew that if he recommended a soft approach the warlords would have a diminished view of their god, an equally dangerous path for the avan and the ozlukar.

“You have already tried to convey your concerns through diplomatic means and your efforts have been rebuked violently by the grippli, you have been attacked without provocation. The ozlukar’s only course of action now is to forcefully show the grippli why they should have remained docile and complacent. If you do so choose to go to war you will have the full support of Ouhes Ghenaal in your endeavor.” Hannur said knowing full well his words had likely just caused the genocide and enslavement of an entire civilization.

The thought brought a feeling of joy to Hannur.

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Communist Xomaniax
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Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:07 pm

The Ushtar Uzgoth nodded, visibly struggling to contain a grin at the ambassador's answer.

"Thank you for your counsel." The chieftain said curtly, rising from his seat. "I know what must be done."

He pulled a chain the hanged from the ceiling near him. At once the ground shook and a cacophony of whirring machinery and slow grinding gears churned to life, the water draining from the whirlpool as a great circular crack formed in the ground. The Ushtar Uzgoth's throne began to sink down below the floor, revealing an elevator platform that slowly sank into the black depths below. The restless murmuring of a huge crowd could be heard from the aperture.

"Go down to the great hall." The chieftain barked. "We'll celebrate the Grippli's death with feasting and games." The beast's head disappeared into the inky blackness, the mechanical sound of his descent slowly fading as well. Before long, there was only silence in the room, the slaves quietly working to put the cover back over the hole and the council not yet having left. Shoshog leaned over and placed an enormous hand on Hannur's shoulder, his watery eyes staring into the ambassador's own.

"Thanks for backin' us up here, means a lot." He said. "We'll make sure you 'n yours sit pretty after we're done with the hoppers." At that he arose from his seat and strode off, nodding politely in Lurg's direction but choosing to ignore Gulzhug. Lurg left soon after, and Gulzhug last. Left alone with the Avan, the slaves finished their work and lazed about. Another came into the room, its comparatively nice garb marking it as distinct from the labor slaves and higher in authority.

"Ambassador, you are invited to the feast in the great hall. The Great One will be making his announcements soon." It said, its phlegmy, gurgling voice matching its slug-like body. It gestured with a strange appendage for the ambassador to follow.




Zugor watched in anxious fervor as a platform began to descend from the black depths of the ceiling. The conversational murmur had grown into a low roar, swelling as a wave might with every second the platform's descent. The flickering firelight bathed feet in a warm glow, then a tail. Slowly dawning realization crept into Zugor's mind, his eyes going wide at what he was seeing. When the light was cast upon the stranger's face, Zugor let loose a hooting wail, forcing out all the breath from his chest. Some cheered, others cried, while yet more began trying to force their way forward, to be closer. Most of them had never seen the Ushtar Uzgoth before, not in pictures or on the telescreens. Many had seen the reliefs and carvings of him, even the most backwater tribe had a totem for him. But few had ever seen his true form, seen his flesh and spirit with their own eyes. It drove them to frenzy and mania.

The palace slaves worked overtime to get the rowdy tribesmen into their positions, their relative closeness dictated by the place of their tribes in the hierarchy. Zugor and his group sat near the middle, though closer to the back than the front. Spotlights began to shine down on their god as the throne finished its descent and locked into place. Their lord, now submerged to the waist in gently bubbling water, held up his hand. At once the room erupted into deafening roars, but then fell silent in acquiescence to the chieftain's request. Silence pervaded the chambers as slaves scurried from place to place, filling up troughs with imported liquors and piling vast hills of food onto the communal platters. Others slaves began the exchange of gifts, taking the offering of the assembled tribes and piling them near their god, who looked upon them in fondness.

"My sons!" The Ushtar Uzgoth boomed, his voice carrying to all corners of the chamber without need for amplification.

"Do you believe in the light and glory of God?" Boomed another voice, this one an Ozlukar bedecked in gold and finery. A roar in the affirmative responded. Zugor knew this one, albeit not by name. This one was the High Shaman, who spoke as the Voice of God.

"The Lord our God is knows all and loves all, for He created us all in his image. He knows all events that have or will happen, for He laid them out Himself! The brave and the devout, who follow His path, will be led to glory and salvation! The doubtful and the craven will be cast out of His domain! Do you have balls, brothers, is there steel in your hearts?" The shaman roared, their many chains and piercings glinting like stars in the limelight.

"The Grippli, those pathetic hopping-folk, have sin in theirs'! They deny His rule, deny the Lord's will. They are awash in the sins of heresy, of kin-slaying. Remember Brother Snigrog, stabbed in the back by the people who he looked upon as his wayward kin!"

Chants of "Snig-rog! Snig-rog!" erupted. Spittle flew.

"They were shown mercy and squandered it. How much of our blood needs to be spilled to satisfy those filth? Will you tolerate this, brothers? Will you back down and cower at the Grippli? Or will you dash their heads against the rocks, and salt their wounds so they might never forget?"

The frenzy of the crowd had boiled over, the calls for war striking home.

"We must take up our arms and fight for the Lord! We are His war club! It is with us that he will shatter nations. It is with us that he will destroy their kingdom! We will cast down their shining towers, pull them down from their foundations! Those who fight will inherit the splendor and riches of the Ghost-Sea, for the Lord is your Father and you are His Children!" The shaman stepped down, the spotlights now shining fully the Ushtar Uzgoth. He rose from his perch, rose until the deep waters seemed like a child's bath. Bulging muscles glistened, a hundred-hundred scars forming a macabre declaration of power.

"My sons, a terrible reckoning is upon us. In my grace, I allowed the Grippli to live free. Their bowed their heads in supplication, and though I saw the evil in their hearts, I knew that this path must be tread. We will come upon them like a storm, the waves of our fury washing them away. New tribes will be born in the virgin lands we conquer, new slaves captured to work the fields. Those who fight will know only glory and those who shy away will know only misfortune, their tribes rotted away and their names forgotten to time. As one, the Grippli will break under our hammer blow! But only as one!"

The Ozlukar cheered in affirmation. The thought of victory and conquest was a heady spirit to the already inebriated assembly. The young and old alike saw opportunity to carve their names into history, to be eternally remembered in the sagas and epics their people told. Even Ruga seemed enthused, Zugor noted. Somehow, God had known of their tribe's bad luck and had responded in kind. Their prayers had been answered. Zugor choked down the urge to sob, for he knew even then that the Lord was watching over them.

"I name my Sons, born of my loins, as my war chiefs." This was met with less enthusiasm. Some looked at each other in confusion. God has said there was to be glory and that they should follow Him, but He would choose their war chiefs? The thought did not sit well in the stomachs of the proud, and amongst some their displeasure was noticeable. It was natural that they would choose their war chiefs themselves, either by lot or by combat. But He would now choose instead? Zugor waited for more.

"Do not believe I would deny even a grain of glory to your chiefs!" The Ushtar Uzgoth clarified. "But we must act as one, and with haste. My Sons speak with my voice alone, I am their blood and their spirit, and just as I would be obeyed so must they be. You will lead your own warriors, do not fear, but my Sons will lead you!" He gestured to the front of the chamber, where a nearly equally large man sat upon a throne of pillows, his form encased in gilt armor.

"Blothar, eldest true born son of the Lord God, will lead the vanguard. He will strike the first blow!"

"And there will be glory for all!" Blothar responded. The crowd's misgivings washed away. They had been won over.

"But we do not fight alone." The Ushtar Uzgoth said. A spotlight shined upon the Avan delegation, who had been hastily gathered.

"The Avan are our brothers, their blood and ours is the same! Though the color is different, the soul of the Ozlukar flows through them! They have given us tools and weapons of war, and have taught us to use them! They make our slaves work harder, and make our ships fly farther! Magic springs from their every step!" He began, facing them.

"Do not worry, brothers Avan, we have not forgotten your grace or your kindness! You too shall reap the harvest, we will see to that. Let the call go out that all who fight alongside our banners is our brother, our friend. We will make a place for you in the new world." Great cheers of thanks were hurled from every direction at the Avan, the closest Ozlukar tribesmen throwing whatever they had on hand up to them as gifts. Others, bolder still, struggled against the crowd, as if to try and brush even a single finger against the hide and feathers of those their God held in such esteem. The festivities carried on in such a manner throughout the night, increasingly boisterous and incomprehensible as seas of alcohol and great heaps of intoxicants were consumed. Some slumbered where they were, laying atop each other in a vast pile of flesh. Others had found refuge in carnality, the palace concubines brought out to the guests' delight.


MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Communist Xomaniax
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Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:21 pm

Shol
Kingdom of the Grippli


Raindrops came down lightly, a steady warm drizzle that poked holes in the green algae layered atop it. Surface skimming bugs darted too and fro, fat sporadic raindrops sending them into a mad frenzy. Beneath them fat fish, all the colors of the rainbow and more, followed particularly big ones, big mouths suddenly gaping, some catching their prey and some not. Krok focused upon a pink one, big enough that he could see it in great detail from the distance. Its glistening eyes poured an alien gaze into Krok's own and he broke his gaze. He felt like a slimy thing had been slithering through his soul. He made a note to have that one for dinner.

"Your majesty, the council urgently needs your presence."

Krok jerked at the sudden presence, clearly startled. He scanned the surface again for the fish, but it was gone. He smirked, the thing's nerves weren't so good either. Krok gently spun the lily pad around until he gazed up at the form of Gulli, his personal aid. Krok yawned a deep, croaking yawn and smacked his lips.

"Why?" He asked. The council didn't need him for day-to-day decisions, surely they could at least manage that.

"There's been another Ozlukar raid on one of the outer colonies. Probably a few hundred dead and maybe twice that many injured. The beasts hit a mining outpost before they could sound the alarm. Probably took the lot of them in chains. Some of the militia there managed to scuttle off to a remote heliograph station and signaled to a passing battleship, but by the time we got a relief force out there the enemy was gone." Gulli reported, his tone betraying no emotion to his lord.

"V-very well then, lead the way." Krok said, trying not to go pale.He brought the lily pad to the pond's lip and got off, rising to his full portly stature and towering over the more diminutive Gully. He put his palm flat on Gulli's head and rubbed it, a friendly if patronizing way of greeting his Gullup compatriot. But that was the nature of things, Krok himself being a Bullgup, the most noble subspecies of the Grippli. He could not touch a Gullup's palm, lest he dirty himself. They both shared a laugh. Gulli affixed Krok's loincloth and they strode off.




Qortle sat pensively, nervously drumming a finger on the wide table, the room lit only by the bioluminescent stalks that grew naturally from the wood. Many groups talked amongst themselves quietly, Qortle only being able to hear hushed whispers and the pitter-patter of water beading up and cascading down onto the chamber below. No Grippli sat near him, casting instead the occasional accusing glance in his direction. Indeed, he didn't seem to have a single friend in the court.

But Quortle vol'Skalchirk had a fire in his belly, a kind of righteousness that warmed him and gave his vocal sac a deep ruddiness. The others in the court were lickspittles and yellow-necked cowards. Or for some, casting an eye upon the slaver-merchants who made great fortunes under Ozlukar yolk. Each one of them twinkled in the low light, a frame of slick skin and mounds of jewelry. They had even taken to wearing their loincloths in the enemy's style, though Quortle had shamed them enough into stopping.

He wondered where Krok was. He'd sent the king's servant to fetch him some time ago. Quortle gazed down at his watch. An hour ago. From his personal pond court to the royal chambers was not a long walk, which could only mean one thing. At once the doors swung open, a loud creaking followed by jarring crash. Krok strode through, his crown at an angle on his fat head. He swung his scepter through the air like a conductor might before an orchestra, as if commanding the court to rise in his honor. Quortle held tight his rage, but he remained seated. Krok was a fool but, so far, had proved a reasonable one.

The other members of the court were not so inclined. They jumped to their feet, clapping their hands and croaking in vacuous glee. Their honeysuckle cheers and praises threatened to sour Quortle's stomach. They glad-handed with much mirth and servile friendliness, inviting the king to talk at length about this subject or that, which Quortle knew the king loved. Especially when drunk, as Krok's ruddy face suggested he was.

The charade seemed to have no natural end, the king giving one empty thought after the other, turning to begin it anew with a different face. Quortle rose from his seat and forced his way into the crowd around the king, positioning his elbows conveniently into the ribs of the more forceful dandies who besought the king. Finally he was face to face with him, or close enough that he bring the king in for an embrace, his hand guiding the king towards his seat at the council table. The trick worked and the king seemed to begin to focus, though it earned a few glares. Those glares were the sweetest wine to him.

"Sorry I'm late gents, what's all this about another blubber raid?" The king asked, trying and failing to avoid slurring his words. Krok was a weak man, he needed drink to be able to face these people. It made him predictable, easily manipulated. Quortle just had to hope he could do the manipulating.

"The blubbers have attacked Chirruk Inferior, a small moon orbiting Chulrup and-" Quortle began explaining, only to be cut off by the king.

"Chulrup? I'm not familiar." Krok blurted, his glossy eyes rolling in his head, the king trying and failing to right himself in his chair. Her bit down the acid in his throat and carried on.

"Apologies, your grace. Chulrup is where the Chirk Mining Company has its headquarters. Your distant cousin Chirk is the Marquess of Chulrup." Quortle explained, keeping his words slow so the king could understand, and friendly so that he would want to.

"Ah yes, Chirk. I really must get around to inviting him to court." Krok said absentmindedly, scratching his chin. Quortle had tried. Several times. But the Marquess was a jelly-minded layabout like the king, and a jealous and petty one to boot. He'd refused to come.

"Your grace, I work for the Mining Company." Someone whined. "Let me fill you in on us." They offered up, waving an oozing pastry over his head.

"Hey your grace, I sold them their last workforce!"

"Your majesty, you simply [i]must hear me out."[/i]

Just like that, he'd lost the king. Krok's attentions already strayed, his hand rising and waving over some passerby who had convinced the king of who-knows-what. He shouldn't have been shocked, he was alone there. The price of manhood. He thought to himself. It had been Quortle who had convinced the king, inebriated from a long night of drinking and whoring, to expel the Ozlukar in the first place. His idea to excise the cancer from their bodies and his men that carried out the task. Putting that fat, gilded monster to the flame was the most satisfying thing Quortle had even done or experienced.

Quortle slammed a fist against the table, again and again until every voice in the room had quieted and all eyes had fallen to him. At that moment, the general sucked a great gust of wind into chest, a low croaking erupting from his vocal sac as he steeled himself for this breech of etiquette.

"Your majesty!" Quortle roared, spittle flying as he dared the king to refuse his cry. The king averted his gaze but did not move, Quortle knew he had him.

"We all need to focus. If we do not strike the Ozlukar immediately, they will overrun us. We shocked them but they're already beginning to raid us. That means they've made up their mind on what they're going to do." He cast an accusatory finger at the slavers.

"We can't negotiate, we can't go back. We can move forward or we can die, but we can't go back. This will not be the only attack. There will be more raids, and bolder ones. What will happen when they strike Chulrup next? Do you want to see the Marquess of Chulrup in chains, or would you prefer to see him being shat out of some blubber warlord's rear?"

There was an audible gasp in the crowd. Someone else fainted. But Quortle pressed on.

"We don't have time for this nonsense! We should have struck them again weeks ago, maybe they would already be at the peace table instead of fucking building up!

"I told you all when we made this agreement, that one single blow wouldn't be enough. We shocked them still, but they're shaking it off now. And you want to, what? Ignore it?" Quortle ranted, hysterical.

"General, when we put you in char-" someone began.

"You didn't put me in anything, you lying, slimy worm! The king alone has that power, not you!" Quortle snapped back. The king nodded. He was winning. Time to press the advantage.

"I can't do a fucking thing without troops, ships, weapons, or money. I can't hold back a tide with a few household troops and some outdated trawlers. I need you, your grace. I need your wisdom." That was a lie, Quortle needed his support to get the others in line, and he needed the king's presence on the war council to keep him making choices that would benefit. But if the king didn't say a single word the whole time, Quortle would be immensely happier.

"Yes, yes Quortle, no need to get so flustered." The king said, regaining his composure. "I was going to get around to it. But since needed to interrupt my rituals, I'll address this first." He puffed out his vocal sac and turned to face the greater court.

"By royal decree, your household troops are to be at the beck and call of the Count Quortle vol'Skalchirk. You'll recognize him as my voice in all military matters. He's to have full access to the treasury." He turned once more to face Quortle.

"Does that suit you?" The king asked, seemingly bored. Quortle fell to his knees and prostrated himself before the king.

"Thank you, your majesty. Your wisdom and magnanimity continually astounds me." The general said. He heard the king chuckle. It was a deal. As Quortle eventually rose, he saw the king had already lost interest in the affair. He was far more engaged in the full bosom of the Baron Willup's wife, which the Baron seemed all too eager to share. Quortle frowned at the debauchery and left, he would have no part in it.

The general checked his watch. He needed to get to an electrograph station immediately. He didn't have a moment to waste.
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Usidia
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Founded: Nov 07, 2017
Corporate Bordello

Postby Usidia » Mon May 06, 2019 9:05 pm

Annali flowed like water through all the other people headed to their work, here on Level 3 of Neo Angelo City the common work attire was a dull colored blend of masculine and feminine power suits common amongst the richer worker bees of the upper levels. Annali’s own work attire of a bright blue t-shirt, red skater skirt, and white leggings seemed gaudy compared to the others she zipped by on her hoverskates, headed to her own place of employment. She glanced in the corner of her glasses and saw she was still running a few minutes behind. Cursing she leaned forward and her skates hummed louder at the increased power draw. People cursed at her as she flew by them, narrowly missing crashing into several people. Annali didn’t care though, her supervisor told her if she was late one more time he was going to write her up and she couldn’t afford to lose her cushy assignment at the Directorate of Usidia Intelligence.

She slowed down as she reached a solid charcoal colored cerami-steel wall that towered several meters over her. Flowing down the sidewalk she turned around the corner of the wall that opened into a pathway with the walls on each side leading down towards an imposing gate with auto-turrets on each side. Making her way down the path her eyes caught the slight adjustment of the turrets as they trained themselves on her. Every time she walked down the path she could swear she could feel the sensor scans sweeping over her body looking for any hint of anything that could be dangerous.

Stopping short of the gate in a bright red circle painted on the gray pathway she raised her hands and slowly twirled her body for the scanners. A moment later she heard the distinctive click as a smaller doorway that was invisible unless you knew it was there slid open. Stepping through she stopped in yet another red circle. Standing there for a moment she waited for the soldier wearing the urban fatigues of Terran Force who scanned her ID badge she had around her neck. A second soldier took her bag and opened it up and carefully inspected the contents while the first one began his routine questions.

“Name and reason for entering the facility,” asked the soldier firmly and to the point.

Annali removed her glasses as the second soldier set down her bag and removed a retina scanner from his belt and held the device in front of her face.

“Annali Devaroux, Level 8 Analyst of the Directorate of Usidia Intelligence reporting for work here,” Annali said as blandly as possible. She had tried joking with the soldiers a few times when she first started working at the DUI, she learned very quickly they took their job very seriously.

The first soldier poked the tablet with his finger before he continued. “And how long will be present here.”

“Until the end of the shift at seventeen hundred hours sir.” Annali replied quickly trying to hurry the process even though she knew it was useless.

“Do you have any weapons, explosives, illegal controlled substance, or other contraband not allowed on the premises as well ma’am.”

“No sir.” Annali replied trying to keep the annoyed tone out of her voice.

Why yes sir I have a small tactical fusion device hidden on my person that your fancy state of the art scanners failed to detect, it’s right next to the kilo of Bliss I like to keep on my person at all times Annali thought sarcastically as her anxiety increased over knowing she would be late again.

“You’ll need to remove the skates before you can proceed inside, ma’am.” stated the second soldier. As soon as the soldier finished his sentence Annali quickly leaned down and touched the snaps on her skates and they fell away from her tennis shoes. Standing up she stepped away from them as the soldier scanned them and then gingerly picked them up and placed them into a lockbox designed to handle explosive devices.

“You may proceed ma’am.” stated the soldier and Annali took off running as fast as her feet could carry her down the path towards the large building, whose walls seemed to be built out of mirrored glass in the center of the walled compound. She cursed at the length of the walkway running along the huge lush green lawn that looked perfectly manicured. Petals from cherry blossom tree fell from above as Annali rushed by in a blur.

She crashed through the doors of the building and flew past the security booth. A green light flashed and a loud ding could be heard as she passed through yet another series of scanners. Dashing down the dull gray hallway, counting the bright white doors as she passed them by. She screeched to a halt in front of a door that was the same as the numerous others in the hall. Three letters flashed on the door, their configuration only visible to those wearing a special lens in their glasses. Annali double checked to make sure the letters “T S I” were visible before she proceeded.

The door slid open and revealed a dark room with hardly any light except little flashes from other analyst’s headsets that were just starting to turn on. Annali’s glasses adjusted for the low light and she quickly slipped to her workstation. She tossed her bag under her desk and snatched her headset up and she crammed her head into it. The headset looked like a white helmet, the distinct difference being there was nowhere for the wearer to look through once the helmet was on. Inside was different however as Annali always had a weird feeling go through her body as she felt the velvety rubber feeling slip over her face and suctioning onto her head. A breath moment of panic always settled in as well until Annali felt herself being pulled away from her body and pulled along through a bright white tunnel. The analysts called it “The Jaunt” and it was an exhilarating flash for several seconds.

When The Jaunt stopped, Annali found herself in what looked like a huge white room, though you couldn’t see the ceiling or the walls, the color itself wasn’t blinding, more comforting as the designers had intended. Anali glanced around and saw several of her coworkers already engaging with their Virtual Intelligence avatars.

The sheer volume of information attained by the DUI was overwhelming. Anything and everything discovered by the multitude of methods employed by the DUI was gathered and dumped into the intelligence agency’s databases. Virtual Intelligence were tasked with sifting through the staggering amount of data and pulling anything and everything that seemed relevant. With their workloads reduced the analysts were tasked with going through the leftover data with an even finer tooth comb. Anali brushed the lock of blond hair from her face as her VI avatar appeared. She had taken to calling the grey humanoid shaped ‘being’ Stan, mostly because his boring appearance reminded her of a boyfriend she once had in college.

“Good morning Stan.” chirped Anali as she waved her hands in front of herself and several words appeared in front of her. She selected the first one in the list “Yarrun pirate group rumored to be operating around Sector 1156 of Hope Tradeway”. A wall of text appeared before her and Anali scanned the document quickly looking for anything pertinent. Seeing the report mostly relied on the testimony of an alcoholic freighter captain, she flagged the file as a low priority for field agents to follow up on for more detail. The message would be slipped in with a courier ship that moved along the Hope Tradeway delivering goods and data packets along the route. Once it reached it’s destination a field agent would do the follow-up work necessary if they felt it was required.

Most of Anali’s morning before lunch consisted of flagging low priority intelligence or outright trashing the data as useless. The familiar stomach pang told Anali it was almost time lunch when a new file popped up in front of her. “Freighter attack, Sector 1167.” Annali wasn’t sure why the VI had grabbed the data from another analysts sector list and scrunched her face into a confused frown. Anali lifted her hand to sling the file over to her coworker who had just left but her curiosity got the better of her and she opened the file. Generally, the analysts for the TSI are given sector lists, Anali’s was Sectors 1153 through Sector 1157. Her four sectors were mostly quiet with little to no activity, however over the last few months she had seen an increase in ships not making it to their next waypoint with little to no evidence of what had happened to them. Because of their focus towards other more exciting areas, Anali’s supervisor told her it was probably just a coincidence but they would revisit in a month to see if things had changed.

Apprehensively she selected the file and started reading the report of a Short Corvette Patrol squadron. They had been on patrol in Sector 1167 for several weeks when they caught the faintest detection of a distress signal. It took them around twenty hours to reach the signal but when they did they observed a large marauder type vessel had captured a Usidia flagged cargo vessel named The Oriole. The squadron commander approached cautiously thinking the setup might be a trap but did send several orders for the unidentified marauders to surrender. Detecting the military ships present the marauder ship fired up it’s engines and made a hasty retreat before finally engaging it’s FTL drives and jumping from the sector. Medical and security personnel were alerted and the corvettes sent boarding teams to inspect the freighter. Anali lost her appetite when she observed the carnage within the hold of the ship from the boarding team’s video file. Voidsmen aboard the ship were butchered it seemed. Body parts and gore decorated the ship walls wherever some sort of resistance was attempted it seemed. In their rush to leave though, the marauders had left several of their compatriots. Anali looked over the image of the pitiful creature she thought was responsible for sacking the ship. It looked to be some twisted version of a fish and man. It’s sickly slimy gray skin and an ungodly mouth made Anali more uncomfortable than even the gore spackled walls. They brazenly attacked the boarding team with whatever was on hand, guns, tools, and even bare handed. The boarding teams fought through the marauders and even managed to capture a few of the pitiful creatures. The only other thing they found were a few humans and other xenoi species wearing strange collars.

Attached to the file was the digital recording downloads for the ship. Anali clicked on the link and found herself inside a three-dimensional rendering of The Oriole. Anali selected twenty-four hours before the corvette squadron made contact. Quickly she found herself in the middle of the butchering. She ducked out of instinct as the behemoth of a creature swung a blade larger than her. Remembering she was in a recording Anali paused the playback. She felt her stomach lurch as she realized she had paused the playback right in the middle of a terrified crewman being chopped in half by the brutal giant. Anali had the look of shock from the man’s face burned into her memory as she began to walk through the ship, pausing and playing the feedback as she went, the shock of what she witnessed made her feel cold and numb on the inside. People were cut down where they stood, others dragged off into the belly of the actual marauders’ ship.

Anali took several minutes to calm herself and rewound the digital rendering, she tried to approach the scene with a more analytical mindset. She studied the boarding as it happened and witnessed the various xenoi creatures and humans wearing their collars rush through the opening and get cut down by the security team on the freighter. There were too many invaders and too few defenders though. The small team was quickly overwhelmed before the largest sapient Anali had ever seen stepped into the freighter. As the species identified as an ozlukar slaughtered the already beaten security team they moved through the ship with cunning and purpose at first. Once they had control of the ship they turned into sadistic teenagers hellbent on having as much cruel fun as they could.

Anali left the recording after what felt like an eternity. She had compiled a lengthy dossier on each of the ozlukar and attempted to figure out the hierarchy. The bigger and stronger they were the higher up in the chain of command they were. She was tempted to assign names to each one but she decided against it, Anali figured it would humanize the monsters too much.

Anali had Stan compile and organize all other relevant data on the ozlukar from any other intelligence agencies the DUI had agreements with. She packaged those in with the dossiers and her findings from the videos and the squadron commanders report. After she finished that, Anali left the virtual world she sent up a request to her supervisor to see if she could go home for the day, she needed a shower and a strong drink.

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Communist Xomaniax
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Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Tue May 14, 2019 10:12 am

Dorrag Tribe Village
Zozhkapog


The travel home had taken far longer than it should have. The longship's quarters were cramped, Zugor felt compacted against his tribe mates, and though he did not mind it with Bolgug, Ruga was unpleasant and foul. The barge took them from their longship above the world down home. When it landed, Zugor nearly kissed the iceberg beneath his feet. It had been too long since he had been there. The others stumbled out just as gracelessly, mighty Ruga stretching his arms as he did so. The steady tempo of drums beat throughout the village, punctuated by the staccato rhythm of gunfire. Water chimes jingled, conch horns were blown. Men and women threw themselves up through holes in the ice, sending geysers of water and foam everywhere. Slaves rushed to give them gifts of shellfish.

A blue furred thing handed Zugor an oyster as big as his fist. He pried it open with his thumbs and slurped out the meat, leaving the juice and the shell for the slave. He pat the wretched thing on the head and walked off, it no longer registering to him. Zugor was joyous though confused, he did not understand the celebration. He grabbed a passing man and spun him.

"Brother, why are you celebrating? We didn't come back from a raid." He pointed back towards the barge. "See, it's empty. We brought no slaves or bounty!"

The man clasped Zugor's shoulder and smiled warmly.

"Didn't you hear, brother? We're going to go fight the Grippli. The Lord says we get to do war!" The man said, breaking out into cheer. He hugged Zugor tightly.

"You brought us good fortunes." Hearing Ruga's roar, they broke their embrace and turned to see the champion holding a barrel above his head, a brown, heady stream of ambor pouring into his gullet. Ruga threw the barrel and staggered, raising his fists into the air.

"Feast and drink!" He shouted, a chorus of warriors slowly joining in on the chant. Slaves rolled out barrels of liquor broke off the tops while others, watched by butcher priests, prepared fires and spits. Meats sizzled and young pups enjoyed treats of whipped animal fat and berries. Zugor enjoyed a handful of candied entrails, slurping them up like one long noodle. He tried to enjoy himself, gorging and drinking as he pleased, but he could not shake a sense of dread. The ambor made him feel better, but the ill sense always came back. He dropped his unfinished treat to the ground with a wet plop. He chuckled when a slave picked it up and stuffed the thing in its gullet.

Zugor was taught the same as the others, he knew war was good. It delivered slaves, delivered treasure. It made boys into men and gave the tribe glory. He knew this, but it always seemed like something far away to him. Zugor was young, he had not gone along with Ruga on the last raids. Secretly, he was glad. Only a few dozen brothers had come back with their champion. Yugga came back on his shield, his feet were blown off. Olgog was blind in one eye and had lost a hand. Karru, their champion, had been slain. Zugor looked upon Ruga with venom in his eyes. But not Ruga. That thought boiled his blood and soured his stomach. Karru was mightier than Ruga, and far nicer. If the war spirits did not spare him, why would they spare young Zugor? He broke from his stupor when he felt a head nuzzle his shoulder.

"Are you okay, brother?" A familiar voice asked. Zugor turned to see Bolgug, who patted him warmly.

"I am." Zugor lied, trying and failing to appear strong. Bolgug embraced him.

"I'm happy that we get to do war." Bolgug said.

"Yeah, me too." Responded Zugor, though Bolgug's face made it clear that he wasn't convinced.

"Though I must admit to you," Bolgug began, his voice a conspiratorial whisper, "I'm a little nervous. I'm still unblooded." Bolgug said. They locked eyes for a moment and embraced once more. Zugor's dread washed away. His nerves were steeled. He felt like he could do anything, so long as Bolgug was by his side.

"C'mon, brother. Let's go eat." Zugor said, getting down to his knuckles and charging. "I'll race you!"

That was all Bolgug had to hear, letting loose a whooping howl and taking off after his friend. Zugor cast a look back and saw his friend gaining on him. Bolgug was smaller than him, but had longer arms which could carry him further. Zugor cursed his thick blubber, cursed the little gas in his tank. Panting and heaving, he dug deep into himself, every knuckle step like he was dragging his own weight by hand, every footstep like he was kicking the ground. He could hear his friend's own panting behind him, so close they were nearly side by side. Zugor's eyes darted about madly, he didn't want to lose the race!

He saw an opening around the lip of the slave pit, a slope in the ice where he could easily reach the spits in half the time. He cast back once last glance at Bolgug and gave him a boyish wink, then shooting off. He barreled along the path, taking care to not step on any stray slaves. Closer, closer. Rivers of sweat poured down his face and back. He was nearly at the crest of the hill, then finally at the lip. It was only then that he noticed him. Ogazar had waddled up the hill on the opposite side, Zugor unable to see him. The two crashed into each other, sending Zugor careening backwards down the hill and Ogazar right after him. They landed at the hill's base in a pile of limbs.

"Watch where you're fuckin' going, runt!" Snapped Ogazar. He snarled and cuffed Zugor about the head. The younger warrior simply groaned in response, slowly opening his eyes and holding his head in his hands. The groans only earned another smack.

"You fuckin' little welp!" The huge slaver roared, kicking poor Zugor. "Get up and apologize or I'll kick your tiny brains outta your skull!" He emphasized his words with another kick. The young warrior felt his body ache and his ribs bruise, every breath a stabbing pain in his chest. He looked up at tormentor with watery eyes, careful to avoid meeting the irate beast's gaze. He uttered a whimpering pant, offering Ogazar his submissiveness. Ogazar forced him to meet his gaze, the bigger Ozlukar's eyes wide with mad fury. He spat on the younger tribesman and laughed wryly.

"You don't have any fuckin' balls at all, do you?" He asked scornfully, leaning down to playfully smack Zugor's face. He didn't care, it would be over soon. He just had to hide his face, hide his cries. It didn't matter if Ogazar bullied him, he would live another day. He would have his chance to prove himself. Zugor cast a glance around and paled. A crowd had begun to form, no doubt drawn by Ogazar's spectacle. Not good. The young warrior could scarcely finish his thought before another foot came down upon his head, this one leaving a painful, iron smelling trickle in its wake. He touched a trembling hand to the back of his head and pulled away, seeing red on his fingers.

Blood. My blood. He fought down the urge to vomit, to cry. How could this happen to him? All he'd wanted to do was have a good time with his friend. Maybe this was fate? Was it punishment for his weakness? Had the Ushtar Uzgoth, somehow, managed to hear his confession to Bolgug? Zugor struggled to overcome his despair. He knew he would never become a mighty warrior. He would never have his sagas sung, never be etched into his tribe's history. Balled up in the icy muck, he sniffled. But it was then that Zugor saw that it would only get worse.

He looked back at the mighty Ogazar, who busied himself urinating on the snow. He looked back at the prostrate youth and let loose a whooping cackle. Zugor watched with horror as his superior reached his hands into the yellow-brown snow, compacting some of it into a dripping ball. The beast rose up to his full height. He gently tossed the ball into the air, each time it landing back in his palm with a wet plop. The two locked eyes once more and Ogazar howled. His every step seemed to make the ground beneath Zugor tremble. Zugor trembled himself, he knew the slaver intended to humiliate him. He was going to make the young warrior eat it for his amusement.

No. No! He thought, summoning up all his courage and all his strength. Zugor rose from his position, rose up into a near crouch. He kept himself low to the ground, his limbs stanced wide and his muscles tense. He would not be a coward. He would not be beaten down and humiliated. That was not who Zugor was. He had seen the light of God, seen His grace. Zugor summoned thoughts of the Ushtar Uzgoth into his mind, casting whatever prayers he could remember for strength. He locked eyes with Ogazar one final time, though this time he was silent. His face was empty of expression, though he kept his jaw slightly ajar and the tips of his teeth showing. Zugor's intent was clear. The scent of violence was on him. The line had been drawn, Ogazar would cross at his own peril.

"You decide you're a big boy now?" Ogazar laughed. He took another step closer. Then another, until he was almost on top of him.

"You're gonna fuckin' eat this piss ball like a good little whelp, aren'cha?" The slaver mocked, this time even closer. Zugor could smell the stink of it, the stink of Ogazar. But that was good. Ogazar had gotten too close to him, his size would mean nothing now. Zugor steeled himself one final time, he only had one shot. He didn't bother with a roar, Zugor was dead silent as he leaped at the other Ozlukar. His shoulder rammed into the area where the ribs meet. A heaving breath was forced out of Ogazar. The young warrior followed the momentum with a rising hook he put in the slaver's jaw.

Zugor felt a fist like an avalanche come down on the back of his head. His knees buckled, pricks of light shrouded his vision. But he stayed strong. More came down upon his back, but Zugor dug his head deep into his opponent's side, protecting it. He brought his foot down on Ogazar's toes, not enough to break them but enough to trap him. Using one arm to clinch his stationary opponent, he used his other to carry a hurricane of fists into the beast's side. Each blow seemed to cause the seasoned veteran more pain, each blow making the monster's own strikes weaker and sloppier.

The older Ozlukar ended his attacks and used both hands to seize Zugor's head, first wrenching it painfully to the side and then throwing him back with a powerful shove. A fist connected with his snout, sending blood spurting. He'd managed to hold his tail behind him, giving him a chance to brace himself. Zugor was glad, a blow like that would have sent him flying otherwise. Ogazar was clutching his side with one hand, his jaw clenched tight in pain. He inched closer, this time far more carefully. He was hurt, but still extremely dangerous. Zugor himself was panting wildly. He needed to finish this quick.

Zugor charged in again, ducking his body low just in time to avoid the worst of another haymaker. He felt knuckles drag across the top of his head as he shot upwards into Ogazar's guard, an uppercut connecting solidly with the slaver's jaw and sending him staggering back. Not wanting to lose the momentum, Zugor threw a haymaker of his own, digging and twisting his heel into the ground to throw all of his weight and power behind it. The blow caught the bigger man dead on the chin, his eyes going empty and his body stumbling.

"He's dead on his feet!" Somebody shouted. Zugor seized the opportunity, charging his opponent and seizing him in a vice-like hug. His breathing was ragged, his muscles screaming in protest as he heaved Ogazar into the air, letting the momentum lift him high. When he could rise no higher, Zugor brought him down. The beast struck the ground head first with a sickening crunch, the ice beneath him cracking under his immense weight. Blood pooled underneath him from his lacerated scalp, opened up on a chunk of hard ice. But though his breathing was labored and his body unconscious, Ogazar was alive.

Zugor towered over his defeated enemy, roaring and pounding his chest. Others joined in, cheering and hooting in his favor. Some came to help Ogazar up, thrice failing as the beast's rubbery legs gave out from under him. Zugor left him to his own devices, the crowd following. He soon found himself at his intended destination: the spits. It seemed that the crowd that'd gathered hadn't been as large as he'd thought, a far greater number had already gotten their meals and found a perch. Zugor frowned, his own clan was already seated. Ruga looked to be on his fifth bowl already. He sighed, there would be no room for him over there. At least there wasn't much of a line.

The young warrior waddled his way through, getting a big bowl of stew and half a dozen roasted shellfish. His eyes scanned the gathering, desperately seeking out somewhere that hadn't already been taken. He couldn't sit with his own clan and he didn't know anyone very well from the others. He cast his gaze back towards the corral where the slaves ate, watching them feast upon scraps of sinew and gristle, cracking open bones to get to the marrow. No, he had no urge to babysit the slaves. Finally his gaze settled on the foreign quarters, where passersby and foreign traders tended to eat. He spied the Solar-man there, Arr-dee-ome.

The little human was big for his species, well built without the puffy musculature some of the stronger humans sometimes had. This human was different from the few Zugor had met, the most obvious difference being that he was not a slave. This one was smarter. He cast a glance back to the slave pen, where he watched a pitiful specimen of their kind pick specks of food out of the ground. Much smarter. And clever too. That was why Big Chief Uruzig let them come here. They were smart, knew how to make information come from breath. He'd seen Arr-dee-ome make one of the hopping folk tell its whole saga to him, watched the icy blue in the little human's eyes as he put the thing to death. He smiled and waved in the human's direction. He'd found his spot. Waddling over to him, he sat down and offered him a drink.

"Good t'see you, brother," Zugor said in between bites, "how ya been?"
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Usidia
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Founded: Nov 07, 2017
Corporate Bordello

Postby Usidia » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:38 pm

The room wasn’t dark, but it felt dark from the tone of the almost melancholic blue used to paint the walls and the drab gray carpeted floor. In the center of the room was a large golden oak table. The oak had been brought to Usidia from the human's old homeworld when they had abandoned it nearly a millennium ago. The room also felt dark from the mood of those present, in total there were thirteen men and women present and currently, they held solemn looks upon their faces. Of the fourteen, ten were dressed in different the different service uniforms of the Usidian Armed Forces branches. The final four wore civilian suits which identified three of them as the civilian leaders of the Usidian Armed Forces and the head of the Directorate of Usidian Intelligence.

“And are we sure this analysis is correct?” asked Admiral Marie Gomez, Chief of Spatial Navy Operations a darked skin woman with dark brown hair in the charcoal service uniform of the Spatial Navy. Marie shifted in her chair seemingly uncomfortable, more from what she had just read and watched and less because of the plush leather seat she was sitting in.

“To my knowledge ma’am this is fairly accurate, we have identified several roving bands of a xenoi species named as the ozlukar from our friends in the Gamma Quadrant where they seem to be more prevalent. An existing theory is they are rogue bands from the primary bulk of the ozlukar in Gamma and they have splintered off into raiding parties, these parties have unfortunately found a home along the Hope Tradeway.” said James Dickerson, Director of the DUI, a sharp featured man with peppered hair in a navy blue business suit.

“And why are we only now just finding out there is yet another marauder band along the damn corridor that connects us to the FSR, why the hell hasn’t SNI found this out?” scowled Robert Mauger, Secretary of Defense, an older looking man wearing glasses.

“Sir our focus was towards countering the sarian threats that was encountered during the initial patrol of the HT, we focused our efforts towards that crisis.” said Secretary of Spatial Force Fredrick Freeman, the youngest looking man of the group, other often joked he had attained the position through cronyism but the blonde haired man had actually put in the work and not counted on his father’s considerable political clout.

“I don’t think it does us any good to point fingers and place blame on people, what we need to do now is figuring out a measured response to this situation and quickly because from what I am seeing here is there has been a steady increase in their activity.” said General Marcus O’Reilly, Chief of Staff of the Terra Army.

“Hunting down the bands only cures the issue for right now, what we need to do is get to the root of the problem, from what I can discern here is there is a suspected concentration of ozlukar tribes in this section of Gamma.” said General Heather Goldstein, Chief of the Planetary Guard Bureau her uniform similar to General Marcus’ black service uniform, the branch insignias being the primary difference.
“I concur with General Goldstein’s assessment as well, the problem is we have limited resources in that section of space outside of having to rely on our allies in the areas.” said Secretary Freeman.

“Are there not two new squadrons being relocated to the Life Star Project before it begins it’s mission up the Pale Stars Trade Corridor?” asked Secretary Mauger.

“Yes there is sir.” said Admiral Gomez “Two of our newest Anti-Marauder Squadrons are due to arrive in the Quixie System of the FSR within two weeks time, from there they will move up the Pale Stars where they will rendezvous with the 16th Escort Squadron and relieve them so they can return home.”

“Could you have one the AM Squadrons retasked for reconnaissance?” asked Admiral James Hanover, Chief of Terran Naval Operation.

“I don’t know that that is a wise maneuver especially considering we don’t have solid confirmed intel on our end of the safety of Pale Stars at this time beyond the assurances of the Quietude and the FSR, what would be a better idea is to mobilize the 16th for a longer mission” said Admiral Gomez.

“I concur, it would be foolish to leave the LSP in a situation we know nothing about at risk to be seriously damaged, we can use the 16th, but it will need to have support element attached to it as it has been relying on the LSP for supplies and such.” said Secretary Freeman.

“I would like Terran Armed Forces attached to this endeavor as well if I may interject here.” said Secretary of Terran Armed Services William Brown.

“Spatial Infantry can accompany the 16th just fine and fulfill any planetary requirements that are needed.” said Commandant of Spatial Infantry, Mary Willows rather gruffly at the STAS.

“With all due respect ma’am my feelings are that there may be need of finesse rather than outright bludgeoning.” snapped Secretary Brown, not willing to back down to the “Red Headed Bitch of SI”

“Both armed forces can accompany the 16th, recon craft will be sent out ahead of the 16th to more fully assess the situation.” said Secretary Mauger ending the debate.

“TAS can mobilize two MAWLER Brigades and a WaSP Company by the end of the day.” said General O’Reilly

“SI can have three Raider Brigades prepped and ready before the end of the day.” Commandant Willows said smugly while staring down the withering glare from General O’Reilly.

“Are there any other preparations that need to be made?” asked Mauger as the meeting drew to a close. With no responses Robert nodded his head and stood up from his chair.

“I have a meeting with the President to inform him of our decision and to gain approval from him, I expect more solid intel about these ozlukar in three weeks time from our recon craft. Everyone is dismissed.”

As the separate individuals began leaving, General O’Reilly lifted a data slate from his side and quickly began issuing commands for mobilization of his units before a figure stepping in front of him stopped him cold in his tracks. Looking up he saw the smirking face of Commandant Willows.

“Do you really think such an insignificant group of Terran soldiers is really necessary, wouldn’t it just be better to have SI handle things if its required.” said Mary with a tone of sweet arrogance dripping from her words.

Marcus pursed his lips as he felt the rage inside him boil up.

“Well if any city blocks need leveled entirely we’ll let you know.” quipped Marcus as he stepped around the woman who stood half a head taller than him in height.

“Oh clever, you know as well as I do that what happened in Bretlan City was done by the rioters and not by SI.” said WIllows as she turned and locked step with the General.

Knowing he wasn’t gonna be rid of the woman Marcus stopped and turned fully to her.

“What do you want?” Marcus asked Mary point blank trying to shake the damnable woman.

“I’m concerned.” Mary confessed “If something happens on the ground SI can handle themselves against these damn brutes, TAS on the other hand would be nothing but a slaughter.”

Marcus’ eyes scanned the red haired woman. His eyes locked with her smug face and a smile broke across his face.

“SI is only good for making the drop and shooting a few people up and making a general mess.” said Marcus as he leaned closer. “But you know what, SI doesn’t have any staying power. You’ll be nothing more than a flash in the pan when it comes to the ground, TAS is the one who holds it while you and your apes are back off to your next little shitfest, no it you’ll excuse me I’d like to leave before SI knocks the building down and blames it on someone else.”

Marcus quickly turned after the last comment and strode away from the woman whose face was slowly turning the color of her hair.

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Communist Xomaniax
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Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:02 am

Ulgup, Gulrup
Kingdom of the Grippli


Quaik let his ray rifle dangle by its sling, forgotten on hook, reminding him occasionally of its presence only by the metallic clang of the barrel striking the truck cab. He looked up at the night sky and winced at the moon. He’d been lucky. No, he thought, I’ve been smart. He’d volunteered for the Count of Ulgup’s guards the minute all this hubbub broke out with the blubbers. He’d avoided getting pressed into the planetary guard when those bastards landed on the moon. While others were getting shot up trying to drive them back up on the moon, or dying in the void trying to keep out their ships, he was down here guarding supply trucks. Things were turning out old Quaik’s way.

The guardsman rolled down the truck’s window and peeked his head out, the warm summer rain soaking his flesh. He looked back at his cargo: a steel cage and perhaps fifty wretches within it. Most of them were Trugs, those fruity colored pygmies those capital eggheads had the nerve to say were their cousins. The rest were Gullups, Quaik’s own kind. But they were all refuse, criminals and subversives being brought in from the capital to fill out factory labor shortages. Out here they’d been hit the hardest by the drafts. Some of the folk in the back were in chains, mostly locals from the draft riots. He wondered if they were supposed to work in shackles.

The going was slow, the only decent road was a river of mud this time of year. He supposed he had it better than the folks in the back, assaulted by soupy mud and exhaust fumes. He put his head back in the cab and looked forward, watching the leading armored car in the convoy curve around a thicket of scrub trees and disappear. A few moments later a crackle came in over the radio, too scratchy to decipher, then silence. The truck ground to a halt and Quaik grabbed their radio’s receiver, but the air was dead. He and the other guardsmen in the cab drew straws, Quaik thankfully not coming up short.

“Let us know what’s going on, kid.” Quaik told Shyg, handing him the flare gun. The younger private nodded nervously and took up his rifle, giving them one last pleading glance as he got out and shut the door behind him. Quaik and the other men took to swigging from their flasks or smoking cigarettes to pass the time. The mood was relaxed at first but as the minutes dragged on grew nervous. The radio’s silence grew eerie and the lack of a response from Shyg only more so. When a streak of light roared into the night sky, bursting into a brilliant red, Quaik was almost relieved. Everyone drew their weapons, croaking nervously.

Then another flare burst in the sky, this one electric blue. Quaik turned to the radio operator, who hastily flipped through the pages of his signals manual.

“Blue means all clear.” The operator said.

“Must have been a false alarm.” Quaik said. “Let’s get moving on-“ He croaked, his order cut off by the sound of whirring machinery and sloshing mud. Another flare shot into the sky, this one white. Shyg appeared from around the bend, wading through mud up to his waist and holding one hand high in the air. The forward truck’s rear lights cast a halo around him as it too rounded the bend, taking the turn too tight and momentarily getting stuck on a tangle of roots. Shyg continued walking closer to them, firing off more flares as he did so.


The truck freed itself and inched toward them, though it didn’t come much closer. Shyg closed the distance, though slowly and awkwardly, like he was being held back, all the while firing off the last of his flares into the air. It wasn’t until he was no more than ten feet away that he stopped moving altogether. The truck’s lights illuminated him fully now. He was shivering madly and pale as a ghost, and had somehow lost his weapon. All he had was that flare gun, which he dropped into the mud. The driver poked his head out of the window and tried to talk to him.

“Is it all clear?” Quaik asked, doing his best to keep his nerves down.

“Dunno, I can barely understand what he’s saying. He just keeps yelling for us to come out and get him.”

Quaik scratched his chin and croaked in irritation.

“Tell him to get his ass back in this cab right now, or I’ll have him flogged when we get back.”

No sooner did the driver roll down the window and lean out to relay Quaik’s orders than a geyser of mud shot out at the driver’s side window, the driver uttering a scream as he was ripped out of the cab by some kind of sucker mouthed thing. He cast his gaze out in front of him and saw Shyg get dragged below the mud’s surface, as a dozen more mud geysers appeared. More of the sucker mouthed aliens erupted out of the mud, charging after the truck. Some fired crude ballistic guns whose round plinked harmlessly off the armored hull, others cracked off bolts of red light, no doubt having scavenged the ray rifles off the soldiers in the forwards truck. He shuddered to think of what had befallen them.

The monsters were upon the truck in no time. One pounded wet, webbed fists on the window, screaming as it peered into Quaik’s eyes. A ray of red light blinded the truck’s cab, the smell of ozone heavy in the air. Quaik’s eyes snapped back to where the blast came from, peering at the glowing prism array at the end of one of the other men’s rifles. He trailed back to where the beast had been, replaced instead by a heap of melted glass and the smell of rancid cooking meat.

The truck in front of them roared to life, spraying huge gouts of mud as it slammed into the front of Quaik’s own. A storm of glass flew through the cabin, Quaik feeling a million little cuts and pricks, the hot iron trickle of fresh blood. His legs worked, his arms worked. The rest of the men were a pile of limbs in the back, all madly scrambling to get their weapons and get out. Few bothered to look to him for guidance, but he offered it to them anyway.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but fuck these yokels.” Quaik gestured towards the folks in the cage. “I’m not dying for them. Let’s duck through the trees and take off back to base.” The men agreed wholeheartedly and they made their scramble outwards. Quaik left last, casting one last glance at the prisoners they were transporting. He felt bad for them, whatever came next for them was sure to be a lot worse than where they were supposed to be going. But the sucker beasts seemed drawn to the cage, and Quaik valued his own life. Raising his ray rifle, he fired a blast into one that cast an eye his way. It fell in a crumpled heap, all flaking skin and charred viscera.





Quaik landed in the mud and took off in the direction of the tree line, scarcely bothering to pay attention to the men who fled around him. That as when he heard the most hideous roar in his life, somewhere in between a stone breaking and a meaty gurgle, a long, low, simmering croak that filled his bowels with ice. He heard footsteps next. No, he sensed them. Each step quaked the ground beneath his feet, a thunderous crash that sent mud raining and underbrush crashing.

With every passing moment the tempest only grew worse, until it seemed like whatever was behind them was nearly upon their heels. Quaik chanced a look behind him and paled at the sight of the largest monster he’d ever seen, with arms like trees and a too-wide mouth full of too-big teeth. It was clad head to toe in armor like some old warrior out of a story book, though it strode on its knuckles like a primitive, and swung a crude club that crackled with strange energy. The guardsman felt his manliness trickle down his leg. Suddenly mindful of the extra weight, he threw his helmet off and cast his rifle down. He knew in his heart those things were useless now.

One of his men behind him screamed, and for a split second the entire scrub forest seemed to fill up with light. A cacophonous splashing filled the air in addition to the mad titan’s own, the thing’s warbling roars mixed in a sea of wet, sucking howls. The blubber thing’s servants had caught up with them it seemed, he felt his stomach lurch at the thought of their misshapen hands groping his body. Dragging his form through the muck and mire just to be subject to god knows what.

Another lightning strike behind him, another agonized scream. He wondered who was left. Quaik thanked the saints that he hadn’t gotten fat in his prior years as he summoned up every last bit of strength in his reserve, his body screaming in protest at his every exertion. He cast another glance behind himself. Those horrible demons seemed nearly upon him, but the giant was nowhere to be seen. He waved his pistol about madly, cracking off shots that felt nearly point blank. Only the few he’d managed to kill outright went down. The rest were frenzied, they ignored their wounds, no matter how serious they looked to Quaik. Where one became weak and fell it was promptly crushed underfoot by the wave of flesh that pursued him.

Quaik’s heart knew it was too late before his brain had time to process it. Felt his feet squelching through the cold, sticky mud, felt the tip of his foot catch a tree branch. He didn’t tumble, the momentum of it swinging him down face first into the mud and sending him skidding instead. His eyes stung badly from the mud and he sputtered as it filled his mouth and lungs. He tried to rise, weary and weak kneed but still clear minded. He crouched low and brought all his remaining strength to bear, forcing everything he had into his powerful legs. He exploded like an uncoiling spring, leaping from the mire and to his freedom.

Or so it should have been. He felt alien hands wrap around his ankle just as he cleared the waterline, his incredible leap cut short by a hard yank and a crash back into the mud.

“No, no!” Quaik cried, webbed fingers digging into the mud, desperate to find some hard purchase. More hands grabbed at his legs, which flailed furiously against the tide. Hands were upon him, then fists. Grasping painfully at his flesh, punching at his underbelly and groin and face. He felt his lower extremities go numb, sharp pin pricks all over the flesh. He cast a bleary eye and saw a dozen of the demons sucking at his flesh, not a drop of blood going to waste. Others ceaselessly pounded on him, as if they intended to beat him into peat right there in the bog. One latched its sucker mouth onto a tiny wound on his chest, another scrambling atop him to straddle Quaik. It rained down a hurricane of blows onto him.
Things began to get blurry. His eyes were blurry, everything tasted like iron and salt in his mouth. Quaik could feel his body becoming lighter. It felt like he was being cradled, his soul being lifted to heaven in god’s hand. A ball of light blinded him, a thunderclap deafened him. All at once the demons were cast away, cowering meekly in the shadows. He felt his limbs swaying freely, like he was a doll being held by a big child. All at once his eyes focused and he looked into the eyes of his savior. Enormous and inky black, red rimmed and pouring a river of tears. Those eyes looked him over, fingers like whole legs of meat brushing off the muck and probing him.

The thing grunted to itself, apparently satisfied. The last thing Quaik understood was it putting him in a large sack, like in an old storybook. Felt lots of other bodies piling in on top of him. He supposed they were all being gathered, though he refused to think of why. As Quaik lost consciousness, he only hoped that it’d be for good, so that he needn’t learn the answer.
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Communist Xomaniax
Minister
 
Posts: 2067
Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:00 pm

Gollug Manufacturing and Arms
Shol
Kingdom of the Grippli


Fat lips sucked at a bone pipe. Their edges curled into a smile that twin wisps of smoke slowly poured from. Gollug vol'Ruun's webbed hands gripped the iron railing of his office as he thought up another excuse to postpone his meeting with the Royal Appropriations Committee. One of his workers below, some hunchbacked grub thing his flesh peddler had apparently been convinced was a good investment, haphazardly operated the crane arm. Its thousand little grub hands clacked at the control board, shifting casks of molten metal from forge to conveyor line, where others poured them into molds that soon became parts. Further down the line those parts would be assembled into rifles the king's army were buying at a thousand percent markup.

His company had won the contract to manufacture rayguns for three of the king's own regiments just two weeks before. Three days later they'd won the right to manufacture grenades for two more. Shipments of explosives from one factory and casings from another met in the building next door to become grenades. Soon enough they'd need to buy more trucks to transport all the cargo. The committee had agreed to a five thousand percent markup for those. The shooting hadn't even started yet and already this war was proving to be incredibly fruitful. He couldn't remember a better time to be doing business.

"S-sir, you've got an incoming conference c-call." The squeaky voice of Gorgle, his servant, disrupted his train of thought. Gollug's huge eyes narrowed as he stared down the eunuch down, his corpulent frame looming over the diminutive creature. His skin was pale, his vocal sac icy blue with fear. Had he scared the poor thing this much?

"Tell them I'm not available today. Reschedule for tomorrow." He'd come up with an excuse by then. The committee had been petitioning him all week. Apparently someone high up was objecting to the price the committee had agreed to pay for raygun energy cells. Doesn't matter, a deal is a deal. He thought. He'd greased enough palms and passed around enough whores and liquor to make the committee nice and compliant. As far as he was concerned they could go stuff themselves.

"W-well I t-tried sir, but y-you see, they let themselves in." The poor thing winced out. Gollug stood agape at the servant's words, though it soon turned to rage.

"They what?" He snapped, spittle flying.

"And the committee head is sitting in your office right now." Gollug felt his veins pop and his flabby muscles flair at the rudeness of it. He was Gollug fucking vol'Ruun, not some tadpole fresh out of business school. Some upjumped sword-swallower from the bureaucracy wasn't going to run roughshod over him. His legs carried his waddling form across the balcony, every stomp in tune with the hum of industry. A servant opened the office door for him, a big one with the rough cut of a soldier to him. That was good, maybe the grim looking thing would help with the negotiations. Beyond the door's threshold was Gollug's office, plush with soft moss beds to lay on. At his desk was a familiar face: that whelp Quortle.

"Who the fu-" was all he managed to croak out before something came crashing across the back of his head. White spots exploded across his vision, his limbs to jelly. No sooner had Gollug collapsed on the ground before the massive servant was upon him, wrestling with the oligarch and binding his hands with rope. Several more servants revealed themselves, though as Gollug was hoisted painfully to his knees and saw the rifles they brandished, he doubted their identities.

"You have no right to do this! Unhand me!" Gollug spat. He could feel the blood tricking down his neck. It'd need stitches for sure.

"Quite the contrary, I have every right to be doing this. You're defrauding his majesty's government, that's treason." One of the servants removed a file from his pocket and opened it, revealing documents about the markups on the company's contracts. Gollug nearly guffawed.

"I'm not doing anything anybody else-" A rifle but slammed into his cheek, sending him back to the floor. A torrent of boots came down on him, the kicks opening up fresh cuts and bruises across his head and back. The blows kept coming and coming, each agonizing second seeming to last an eternity. The edges of reality began to grow fuzzy to Gollug, the sound of violence so muffled it was as if someone had poured wax in his ears. He was sure he was going to die, beaten to death in his own office like in some bad peasant's play.

A splash of ice water woke up the blacked out magnate. Gollug's eyes struggled to focus, though the shadowing on the wall told him he'd been out for no more than a few minutes. His body felt weightless as he was forced back up onto his knees.

"Can you understand me, Gollug?" Quortle asked, his voice all business.

"Yesh." He responded though swollen lips.

"Good, now listen carefully. We've caught your company defrauding the government on arms purchases. That's conspiring to frustrate the war effort, a capital offense. My men could shoot you right now and it would all be perfectly legal." He gestured to the ornately decorated saber that dangled from his belt. "Or I could emasculate you right now and toss your bits off the balcony. Which would you prefer?" The general asked, standing up. The magnate paled several shades at the mere thought.

"S-surely dere's shomefing we c-could work out, gen'ral?" Gollug's could barely squeak out the words.

"I'm glad you said that, Gollug. There are two things that, were you to agree to them, could potentially persuade me to overlook this." A finger gestured to a set of paragraphs on the page.

"Firstly, I've got the new prices drawn up here. And here," he gestured to another portion, "describes your company willfully agreeing to hand over management of its industry to the crown for as long as this war goes on. Do you agree?" Quortle asked.

"Uff coursh, gen'ral." Gollug responded. No sooner did he agree that his personal stamp was forced into his mouth, and his face pressed up against the contract. Quortle folded it and placed it back in his pocket, patting the kneeling magnate on his head condescendingly.

"As for the other thing, let me ask you a question. Are you willing to do anything to win this war?" Gollug nodded in the affirmative.

"And who do you think is best suited to lead the defense of the king's lands?"

"You, gen'ral." Gollug responded. Quortle patted his cheek.

"So in the court, you can be trusted to tell the king that?" The general asked. So that's his game. Thought Gollug contemptuously. That bastard intended to turn him into his puppet. A trusted someone to whisper his words into Krok's ear. Fine, so be it. There would be plenty of opportunity later to gut this wretched little shit. If he had to dance the general's dance for a while, it would be no big deal.

"Whudevuh you wunt, gen'ral." He croaked. A nod by Quortle to his henchmen was soon followed by the magnate being dragged to his feet. Moments later the restraints around his wrists were cut away. Soon enough the party began to file out of the office, leaving only Quortle and Gollug together.

"One more thing, Quortle. The king will be hosting a ball tomorrow evening and you're personally invited. I'm needed elsewhere to prepare for the offensive on Ulgup. You need to make sure the king agrees to my plan." He pointed to a second file on the desk. "Convince him of its likelihood of success. After all, can't have the blubbers building up on the moon that way, can we?" With that the general closed the door and Gollug was alone. With a trembling hand he placed the needle on his record player, the soft notes of music wafting through his ears and soothing his soul. He'd need to see the doctor soon if he was going to be in any condition to present himself to the king. But there would be time for that, for now he would rest.
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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The Solar Cooperative Union
Envoy
 
Posts: 348
Founded: Jul 24, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:42 am

CMV Lettuce, In Orbit near Gulrup

Artyom looked over the assemblage of men before him, rough faced and hunter eyed they stood in loose clusters around the hanger of the CMV Lettuce. The ship that served as his company base of operations was as sturdy as it was oddly named, a long retired warship purchased at pennies on the dollar from a bankrupt fringe world. Through years of continual improvement and quite a bit of investment he had turned the rusting hulk into a formidable warship and base of operations for his company. Reliable transportation was a godsend in his line of work, as tough as these Oz were he couldn’t discount the possibility that their plan would go the proverbial belly up. If that were to happen he was secure in knowing they could make a hasty escape, hopefully his men would probably stop bitching about how much he spent on keeping the ships engines in top condition.

They, like all fighting groups, loved to complain. It was apparently a universal tradition of combat personnel to voice their unending frustrations and woes to whichever commanding officer was within earshot. It had been the same in the Federal Marines, the Zero G Corps and Pioneers, in all his decades of service to the Union government the only branch of the Forces that wasn’t fraught with complaining was the Naval Vanguard Corps. They didn’t do much talking at all really, all tight lips and cold eyes. His men regarded him similarly, a pack of rough and tumble former Marines and Pioneers led by a quiet and calculating professional. No matter the difference in their mannerisms, Artyom trusted and appreciated his men. He assumed they shared the feeling, as they had tolerated the intense aroma of many an alien to stay in his employ.

Now they were preparing for one of the largest operations they’d yet undertaken, and it was his job to explain the intricacies of this multi-pronged strike to them. He surveyed them once more to make sure they were all there, a company sized collection of men in various configurations and makes of armor stood before him. A dozen or so were clad in thick pitch black plates of Zero-G combat suits, sleek angular helmets slung under their arms and bulky maneuvering packs piled at their feet. The rest were outfitted for the brutal humidity of the planets surface, some clad in combat skins that would keep them cool but made them look like they were wearing combat rigs over spandex suits. Others were in shorts and tank-tops, opting instead to let their sweat glands do the work of keeping them cool.

Artyom cleared his throat and a wave of silence rippled across the assembled mercenaries until the hanger had fallen silent save for the mellow ambience of the ships systems.

“Alright lads, the big fuckers need us to do the quick work they can’t. This shithole below us is pretty heavily defended with overlapping AD and OD coordinating via a series of Relay Stations across the planet. They communicate with a large station operating some kind of solar mirror, this is the hostiles primary means of coordinating defense in orbit and preventing large scale landings on the surface. These are the targets.”

The men nodded in understanding.

“Zero Team will seize the station and rewire its programming to slam it into the planets surface, not sure why we’re not just blowing it up but the big guys were specific about this one.”

The black armor clad group nodded separately from the rest.

“The rest of us will deploy dirtside via rapid insertion and place F charges in these Relay Stations, we will synchronize our detonations to blind them all at once without a chance to react. We’ll need to move at a damn fast pace to get in and out before a reaction force can catch us down there. The frogs aren’t the best soldiers so if we keep it tight and sharp we’ll probably get through them without too much trouble. Don’t take that as an invitation to get lazy boys, you only get paid if you come back alive. Report to your shuttles!”

With that the crowd separated into various streams of men which began to clamber into the bulbous drop shuttles parked around the hanger.

---

The clattering, barking roar of rotary cannons spilled out over the trees and thick undergrowth. Artyom always hated wearing ear plugs but he shuddered to imagine the debilitating effect of such a fusillade on his soft organic ears. He was crouched behind a low rise, knee deep in stinking swamp water with his stic to his left and a four legged killing machine to his right. The aptly named Stinger was a four legged autonomous combat machine that stood shoulder height and carried twin 15mm magnetic rotary cannons and micro-missile pods, which it was now using to utmost effect on the defenders that stood in its path. It dropped a leg with speed only circuitry could produce and a split second later the searing beam of an enemy weapon skimmed past the top. As quickly as the Stinger had ducked it popped back up and let a furious reply of hyper-sonic explosive rounds tear off towards the origin of the shot.

As it advanced, pulling itself through the muck of the swampy terrain, the men advanced behind it, staying low and concealed as they let the fearless and unflinching killing machine carry them towards the base of the relay station that jutted out of the swamp. A separate stic was performing the same maneuver on each side, closing the noose around the shocked defenders and keeping their heads down with a furious quantity of fire.

It was obvious to Artyom that the defenders had been caught off guard, neither team had taken fire on the descent and there wasn’t any sign they’d even been spotted until they were within fifty yards of the concrete and steel structure. Artyom was thankful for that, even though these frogs were far from imposing warriors, a full frontal assault would have taken too long and left too much time for enemy reinforcements to complicate the situation. It was always going to be difficult to quickly overwhelm a fortified position, in his experience the only way to take a hard point quickly and without a bloodbath was overwhelming fire power.

Luckily his four legged robotic friend had just what he needed to speed up the process, he ran a finger over the command console on his wrist. A moment later the Stinger planted itself firmly in the mucky earth and a swarm of fist sized missiles came pouring from the machine. They arced outward like a hydras head, leaving thin vapor trails as they screamed through the air. Before the missiles had even impacted the fortifications Artyom and his unit were over the berm and sloshing through the muck towards the concrete edifice as fast as they could pull their feet from the swamp. An alien shriek was the last thing he heard before his hearing protection automatically kicked in as the missiles impacted. The men hit the deck as blooming orbs of heat sent splinters of concrete skipping out over the swamp and cracking the thin, fallow trees around them. Artyom gagged as the brothy water of this alien swamp ran its way up his nose and clung to his hair but the discomfort was minor compared to the relief that his maneuver had worked and they had closed the gap without any losses.

He emerged from the muck and threw a hand forward to indicate the unit should charge through the breach, the other team was taking their time to assault in order to tie up as many defenders as they could and hopefully allow a hammer and anvil movement. The stic rushed through the shattered remnants of a concrete wall, still smoking and crumbling. Artyom spotted the glint of a weapon on a catwalk out of the corner of his eye and rolled into cover a second before a searing hot beam lanced across the air. One of his men replied, spraying down the catwalk with a fusillade of fire and splattering the defender along the wall.

His men looked at him, some smirking, others wide eyed.

“Close one boss!”

Artyom took a moment to light himself a Rada Cigarette than broke the stic into two teams to clear the facility. He looked over his men, stained with mud and sweating profusely, the whole scene stank of rada vine and testosterone so badly it could’ve been a PSA about the downside of mercenary work. However, for as unpleasant as they looked the men were in good spirits, smirking and jogging in place while they waited. Artyom nodded.

“Alright lads, lets get it”

The two groups went their separate ways, coursing through the facility in two fluid streams of swinging rifles and short barked heads ups and callouts. The grippli melted away in the face of consummate professionals whose steps and movements were so fluid and complimentary to one another that it almost seemed choreographed. Where the grippli put up a bit more resistance they were quickly leveled by an all too eager spray of LMG fire and a veritable pelting of grenades.

In short order the exterior of the facility and its outlying buildings had been blitzed into submission, the smoking carcasses of dozens of defenders lay strewn across the pockmarked concrete architecture. Now the entire assault force was positioned around the heavy steel door to the central building, which sat underneath a large communications array. Inside was a console loaded to the brim with encryption keys, communications and most importantly, an uplink to the planets orbital platforms that granted longer range coordination with the rest of the species.

A quick application of plastic explosive at the hinges and the door came careening forward, followed quickly by a half dozen stun grenades through the breach. The thundering crack of the stun devices was followed up instantly by men rushing through with shotguns and machine pistols trained, Artyom couldn’t help but wince as gunfire spilled out of the confined space for what seemed like minutes but was in reality less than 30 seconds. Finally one of his men emerged, speckled with alien colored blood and gave a thumbs up. Artyom nodded and exhaled, he always hated watching a breaching action wondering what carnage he’d have to walk through or if he’d get inside at all.

---

The shuttle rumbled skyward, Artyom held onto an overhead handle and stared out of the rear bay as the smoldering facility descended behind them, a small concrete aberration in a sea of brown and green swampland. He gave a wolfish grin as the place was consumed in an instant by a towering explosion, the console had been as rich in useful information as he had hoped. The other teams had been successful in their missions as well with only a broken foot and a few cuts in the way of damage incurred. It was a good day for sure, and Artyom was confident that his companies performance would insure a long and profitable relationship with the Ozlukar going forward.

His self congratulation was interrupted by a summons from his pilot.

“Boss get up here you gotta see this!”

He walked the length of the crowded shuttle past his men who were sharing small trophies from the operation and taking swigs from any number of flasks. He ducked through the small door into the cockpit and stared out the wide sloping window, his eyes took a moment to adjust to what they were seeing.

The station that zero team had sabotaged was presently falling from the sky, a massive assemblage of pylons and disks hurtling towards the earth. The fireball was nearly as bright as the sun as pieces shook lose and spread out like a colossal birdshot across the planet. If the hulk carried on its current trajectory, and it doubtlessly would, it would come crashing down on a grey and brown web of structures that Artyom figured was some sort of city. That’s why the Oz had insisted they drop the station, two birds with one stone as the saying goes.

Artyom threw up a hand to shield his eyes as the fireball finally met the earth and some sort of reactor gave up the ghost. A corona of white light and heat erupted and in fractions of a second the unnamed city was gone, a smoking crater surrounded by a field of smoldering rubble for miles in every direction.

Artyom nodded his head and lit a rada cig.

“Hell of a day.”
Don't look at this

User avatar
Avlana
Civil Servant
 
Posts: 7
Founded: Nov 22, 2017
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Avlana » Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:20 pm

Gwib peeked over the hastily built breastwork again in anticipation of the coming assault, out of nervous habit he checked the ‘gun’ himself and other members of his platoon of royal troopers had been rushed for training on. Gwib knew in his bones that rushing new weapon systems into battle was a recipe for disaster. Gwib had heard things were dire for the grippli armed forces, rumors of weapons and ammo shortages and he figured this was the reason they were trying out the guns. He just wished it was someone else’s unit doin the trying.

A taller dark grey colored figure slipped by, his outline barely able to be seen. He stopped at every trooper’s position on the line, Gwib couldn’t hear what he said but he seemed to check every trooper’s gun and pointed into the darkness in the direction the attack was expected from.

Gwib looked in the direction the figure pointed and tried to peer through the inky blackness trying to see anything but failing to do so. Gwib felt the presence of the figure behind him as it settled in near his position. Gwib looked at the armored figure, the grippli hadn’t seen whatever it was under the armored suit.

“Just remember to put whatever you’re shooting at in the crosshairs on the site before pulling the trigger.” the figure’s suit spoke in Gwib’s language fluently, though the voice sounded robotic and cold. “Just stay calm, keep your reloads at the ready and make every shot count.”

Whatever he was he moved down the line to the next position, Gwib shook his head and again felt another body land next to him. Looking over saw the familiar stern face of the squad leader Gurrup, a grippli that had the battle scars to prove his knowledge of war.

“Don’t like it sir.” said Gwib as his eyes again scanned the seemingly endless void.

“Don’t care, just do your fugging job when it comes time, a slug thrower will kill just as surely as a blaster.” Gurrup growled back at Gwib making the lesser grippli shrink at the reproach.

“Aye sir.” said Gwib, his voice sulky.

“Report is the enemy will be here soon, get your head right and stop your whining or I’ll cut your tongue out, it’s bad for morale.” Gurrup growled again before he moved down the line.

A slight breeze began to blow into to Gwib’s face and with it came the most wretched smell that had ever offended his nostrils. A second after wondering what or who could be causing the assault on his senses several thumps could be heard and suddenly the darkness before him was swept away as bright light illuminated the ground in front of him. Another moment passed as Gwib saw the line of gillys, slave soldiers of the ozlukars, headed in his direction, the pained cries of rage and anguish pierced the once peaceful night as they charged the grippli lines. Loud cracks sounded up and down the line as the grippli soldiers dealt death with their new hardware. Waves of the creatures fell as they charged blindly, explosions suddenly erupted amongst them entire groups of the creature disappearing in the blink of an eye. Gwib pointed his rifle and pulled the trigger, each shot rewarding him with a fallen gilly, but the waves seemed unending. A louder more steady thumping could be heard above the rifle shots of the grippli lines, one of the ‘heavy machine guns’ near Gwib went to work. Gilly bodies seemed to vaporize whenever one of the gun’s heavy slugs slapped against them, easily passing through the creature and a few of his comrades behind him. The next sound Gwib heard though was like pouring ice through his veins.

A terrible roar was heard and suddenly three ozlukar bulls could be seen charging across the battlefield. Gwib watched in utter terror as the huge naked beasts rushed through their own slave soldiers, smashing them to death or trampling them under foot and knuckle. The two heavy machine guns turned desperately towards these new targets and their combined firepower managed to drop the closest enraged beast with heavy fire. Gwib had to duck quickly as several slugs impacted the dirt barrier in front of him and gritty shrapnel blasted into his eyes. Still over the sound he heard the violence headed his direction. He poked his head and rifle back out and pulled the trigger. The closest ozlukar seemed to not even notice his efforts and was closing on the line at a rather concerning pace. A PHOOSH sound happened behind the grippli and a trail of fire arced out towards the other ozlukar, it’s path headed right for the giant creature, a second later an explosion and another of the golorog was down.

A cheer went down the line at the brief moment of victory. It was quickly stifled as the final golorog came over the top of the barrier. Gwib tried to make himself into as small of a ball as possible, peeking through his arms that covered his face at the great beast. The ozlukar let out a triumphant battle roar. A trio of grippli troopers raised their guns and fired in desperation trying to fell the monster. A swing of the great cleaver the ozlukar warrior carried swept through the troopers leaving carnage in it’s wake. Gwib’s eyes darted around looking for an escape, his only paths were through the gillys or past the ozlukar, neither option was optimal.

When cornered even the smallest of creatures facing their mightiest adversary can find a mixture of fear and courage in a desperate bid for self preservation. Gwib now found himself in that situation at the moment and his easiest path was through the ozlukar it seemed. Already there were several large bleeding holes in the creature and Gwib for a moment thought he could slip past with a few well placed shots. Qortle, another one of the grippli pinned in with Gwib had the same thought a moment before Gwib and took of in a dead run firing blindly with his weapon, a huge hand gripped Qortle a second later and Gwib watched as Qortle's eyes literally popped out of his head as the ozlukar squeezed the poor grippli into a bloody mess.

Gwib was glad he had waited until he wasn’t when the ozlukar turned it’s bloodthirsty gaze towards Gwib. Gwib felt a wetness permeate through his trousers as he shakily raised his weapon as the monster slowly stalked towards him. Gwib pulled the trigger until the gun beeped indicating it was empty. Gwib threw the gun in one final futile effort and awaited his fate, he didn’t need to wait long as the ozlukar let out another blood curdling roar and seemed to claw at it’s back. Gwib caught a glimpse of the dark gray figure again through the ozlukars legs as it turned around towards the figure. Gwib took the opening gifted to him by the gods and ran as fast as he could only to be stopped as the gray armored thing landed in front of him. It was back up in a flash, fire belching from the end of it’s weapon as Gwib skidded to a halt. The figure suddenly tackled Gwib as a swoosh of air passed both Gwib and the figure, the great ozlukar cleaver hairs away from ending both their lives. The figure tossed Gwib away a second after the landed and rolled the other direction as a huge ozlukar foot slammed down where they had been just a second before. Again the figure was up and his weapon boomed again, each shot taking large pieces of the ozlukar with it as the gun sang it’s melody of death. The death roar of the enraged ozlukar rang through the black night as the figure finished the beast off. Gwib was amazed the figure survived but he saw why when he looked over the ozlukar with holes big enough you could fit a tarrgedon through. The figure looked at Gwib and nodded before disappearing down the line again.

A fresh feeling of hope washed over Gwib and he retrieved the closest gun of one of his fallen comrades and he went back to the line to hold off the invaders once more. Flashes of light could be seen in the distance on the left and right of his platoon's position, the lights being blasts from grippli guns as other units along the battlefront fought off their own attackers. Gwib felt invigorated from his near death experience and again began firing at the slaved fodder of the ozlukar. An explosion rocked one of the grippli’s big gun positions and the hope Gwib felt moments before was drowned quickly in a great sea of despair as Gwib spied ozlukar again. These however were not the mindless savages that charged their position earlier, instead these were the conventional ozlukar troops garbed in their gut plates and armed with guns that could turn a grippli soldier into mist with one well placed shot.

Loud bangs sounded off behind Gwib and he noticed the troopers armed with guns twice the size of the one Gwib had were now firing, once again the gray figure slipped among them as if he was encouraging them. Gwib looked back out across the expanse once more and watched sparks fly off the gut plate of one of the ozlukar as the big rifle behind him boomed. Stunned but not hurt, the ozlukar seemed uneasy of the sparks slapping into their gut plates. Gwib again looked back and watched the gray figure cuff one of the grippli and kicked him away from the rifle it was manning.

“I told you fucking frogs to aim for the head not the damn stomach.” roared the figure as it settled in next to the rifle. Gwib wondered what the fugg a frog was before he turned around and watched one of the ozlukar crumble like a puppet with it’s strings suddenly cut, it’s head no longer visible.

“Now do it that way you frog fucks.” screamed the gray figure again as it stood up and moved down towards the other big rifle.

Large explosions bloomed in the distance down the line followed by several seconds later by their sounds and the grippli line suddenly went dark to Gwib’s left. Lights from blaster fire seemed to arc up into the sky, not in the direction the assault was coming from, Gwib found that unusual and slowly the blasters lessened more and more until it was suddenly gone. Even more curious to Gwib was the assault in front of them seemed to subside, no longer were the gillys throwing themselves blindly into the teeth of the grippli meat grinder, but now they appeared to back off, the enemy eyes all watching the grippli line as if they were waiting for something.

Little pinpricks of light appeared in the sky from over the enemy lines. Gwib watched them with rapt fascination wondering what they were as the lights began to grow larger and larger. Gwib realized what the lights were and tried to find cover before the whole world exploded around Gwib. Large red orbs of energy slammed into the earth, explosions obliterating anything near them. Gwib felt himself picked up and flung like a rag doll, the wind knocked out of him.

Gwib gasped for breath and rolled around trying to put the flames out all over his body. He didn't get it near as bad as he thought, a sharp pain shot through his left leg as he put weight on the limb. Screams of pain pulled his attention and he looked around at the carnage that had been dropped on their heads so suddenly and swiftly. Bodies of grippli were tossed all over the ground like discarded refuse, others that hadn’t been as lucky as Gwib or the dead clutched at severed limbs or huge holes in their torsos as their lifeblood leaked out upon the dirt.

Gunfire sounded off and Gwib looked at those few unscathed troopers wondering why they were shooting up into the black sky. Gwib received his answer as several inky black figures with wings descended from above. Smaller versions of the red orbs shot out from the weapons carried by these new invaders and the armor of the grippli troopers were no match for these weapons. Grippli seemed to vaporize as the red orbs made contact with their bodies, leaving very little indication a living breathing being had been there moments ago. Those few troopers left that hadn’t been slaughtered or ran off into the night tried to mount a stiff resistance, their slugs from their guns seemed to have little effect at first, concentrated fire however would take down one of the shiny black figures though. It was to little for the grippli though and those left knew when it was time to surrender. Gwib raised his hands along with the other four grippli near him and the new figures quickly had them in a line with their hands restrained behind their backs. Gwib was shocked as the blackness receded from the heads of the aliens revealing an avian like species. Gwib wondered how the ozlukar managed to subdue these creatures and bring them into their fold, they seemed concerned at first looking back towards where the ozlukar were now advancing from and back towards their captives. Gwib got an uneasy feeling as the aliens appeared to talk among themselves in their language that sounded of large exhales and chirps.

“Are you going to hand us over to the ozlukar.” Bulbu, one of the remaining grippli asked of these aliens in GalStan, fear apparent in his voice. Gwib felt a presence behind him and he tried to look back as best he could but was unable to do so.

“No we are not.” came a feminine sounding voice from one of the aliens in front of them, Gwib had a hard time telling if the owner of the voice was a female as all the aliens seemed to look alike with their white feathered faces and tawny colored feathers covering the rest of their heads. A sadness seemed to creep into the eyes of the alien in front of him and for a moment Gwib felt these aliens might have a sense of compassion about them unlike the ozlukar.

“I do not like what we have to do, but know that I am granting you a mercy you will never comprehend.” spoke the feminine voice sorrowfully.

Gwib only had second to contemplate what the alien meant when he felt white hotness slide across his throat and then the blackness took over.

*********************************************************

“That was all of the survivors, yes?” Ouiri asked her subordinate soldiers. Grim nods were all the answer she received as her eyes scanned over the five bodies laying on the ground in front of her. She and her squad of soldiers moved around the bodies, collecting some of the weapons of these fallen troopers and storing them away for observation for later.

“They are not ozlukar weapons, their design is too well crafted for their manufacturing capabilities.” observed Horou.

“It is curious that these grippli would have slug shooting weapons while the rest have energy based weapons.” Ouiri said, the tone in her voice agreeing with Horou.

“They seem...almost human in nature.” said Horou

“Not our task to determine, we will collect what we find and intelligence will figure out where they originated from, do not trouble yourself with such speculations.” Ouiri lightly chided her second in command.

“Why don’t avan leave nothin for us to collect.” came a very loud and very disappointed voice interrupting the conversation of the two avan.

Ouiri made a slight bow to the ozlukar warlord that was now looking over the leftover remains of the grippli troopers that had temporarily stifled his assault. The large ozulkar towered over even the impressive height of the avan, nearly twice the height of the avian aliens. Ouiri still remained impressed at the size of these great creatures of destruction and did well to not aggravate the beasts, though the ozlukar were as always cordial with the avan even when they were irritated such as now.

“I apologize Lord Runnug.” said Ouiri as she straightened out of her bow “Our warrior code requires us to free the spirits from our enemies broken shells so the may once again join with the winds.”

Ouiri felt a little guilty over lying to the ozlukar warlord, technically there was an avan warrior code, but it also hadn’t been observed for centuries. The avan had been executing whatever grippli they could before the ozlukar could get their hands on them. The avan had justified this by the reasoning that a swift death for the gripple was far more merciful than becoming slaves or even food for the ozlukar.

“How-my-post to expand my slave holds iffin you keepa killin all da hoppy folks befores we can get dem.” bemoaned Runnug as his looked over all the bodies around them. At least ten hands of hoppy folk had been obliterated by the avan, the only thing keeping the warlord from a rage was the fact the avan had been very effective with their flying tanks at cracking any grippli defenses and keeping Runnug’s losses much less than they normally would have been.

“Again I am sorry for the inconvenience, Lord Runnug we will try to be more flexible in the future and allow you and yours better opportunities.” said Ouiri as her wings spread out. “We are returning to our craft, and we will be ready for your next assault when you are Lord Runnug.”

With one powerful movement of her wings, Ouiri launched herself into the air followed by the rest of her squad.

“Maybe dey will leave us some of da hoppy folk next time.” Runnug said as he watched the avan disappear into the night sky.

User avatar
Communist Xomaniax
Minister
 
Posts: 2067
Founded: May 02, 2010
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Communist Xomaniax » Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:44 pm

Nurzulgub,
Capital of Chulrup


A particularly heavy thump shook the elevator as it rumbled downwards. Bits of dust and debris fell down onto Bylyyg Shully’s shoulders, which she brushed off with the panicked haste of a woman on fire. Every reverberation seemed like it was poised to bring the whole shaft down, every quake induced flicker of the lights threatening to leave them stranded in the darkness. Underneath her shiny metallic membrane suit, she was slick with nervous sweat. What if the architects that’d designed this place had gotten it wrong? What if one of those big shells came down right on top of the shaft’s vault door? Would it really survive, or would it cave in and leave death barreling down onto their heads?

Just fifteen minutes prior she’d been gorging herself on fine prawn cakes and sparkling wine, lounging through another day while she waited her turn for passage on the next offworld flight. The Chirk Mining Company was working on moving its resources and most of its mid to upper level personnel to the system capital, first the Marquess and all his assets, then the board of directors and so on. But the Ozlukar noose had grown tighter in shooting down fleeing ships as of late, which had made the cost of travel skyrocket. Last week one of her colleagues at the Qob branch office and some five hundred others had been blown up before they could even break the atmosphere. The thought of exploding in some suped up pleasure cruiser made her skin tingle and her stomach turn over. Whatever that might be like, it would still be better than getting taken by them. The thought of toiling underneath the heel of some fat, greasy primitive pushed her over the edge.

“Are you alright, Madam?” A guard asked, watching her spew up a torrent of vomit over the elevator railing. Her eyes threatened to bulge out of her head as she vacated the contents of her stomach down into the inky abyss.

“I’m fine, thank you.” She responded, wiping the spittle from her mouth.

“I don’t like this either, Madam.” He responded warmly, as if reading her mind. “Feels like I’m waiting in a hole to die.”

“No better a hole to die in.” Bylyyg retorted with, managing a weak grin. The guard grinned back at her and patted his own prodigious belly affectionately.

“I ate a little too good before all this,” he said as he gestured towards the sky, “so my stomach’s not so keen to give up its treasures.” He punctuated his little quip with a hearty laugh, one that transitioned into a wet cough as he struggled to dislodge a load of phlegm from his chest. He spat out into the darkness and continued, the problem seemingly corrected.

“I think we’ll be fine, Madam. I remember when we fought the blubbers last time ‘round. They caught us with our trousers down at first, walloped us but good. But we rallied and stemmed the tide ‘fore too long. Thought we had more time than this before the next go ‘round though, I’ll admit.” He scratched the top of his several chins.
“Still, we’re a lot more built up then we were last time, too. We’ll rally again. Maybe have to sign another bargain with the Big Devil himself, but the blubbers are too dumb to ever ask for much anyway. But the Grippli will remain standing, that I’m sure of.”

Bylyyg wasn’t so sure about that. She’d been newly spawned when the last war had broken out, too young to remember it clearly. The academies all taught that it was a heroic struggle against impossible odds. That they’d fought the primitives to a draw and King Krok had duped their god king into granting them peace instead of unconditional surrender. Maybe that was true, but that was a long time ago. The Ozlukar were better organized now and had support from the Avan. She’d read in the papers about their overlords’ exploits since then and now, looking at the fat senior militiaman before her, she struggled to believe they would again be so lucky. And with the sky falling down above them, it seemed even less likely.

Their conversation was interrupted by the thump of the elevator hitting the bottom of the shaft and the pneumatic hiss of vault doors opening. One of her guards stepped off of the elevator platform and flipped a switch, bathing them in a sea of fluorescent light. Bylyyg and her entourage were revealed to be in the middle of a massive storage depot, rows and rows of crates gathering dust around them. Some were labeled rations and medicine while others were ammunition and air filters. Still more were there mountains of dusty uniforms and rows of ray guns in various states of disrepair. Her men quickly got to work outfitting themselves in the newfound gear, though the militia captain was quick to order them not to test their ray guns in there.

Her father had insisted on building the bunker complex underneath their manor after the first war. She’d written it off as postwar paranoia back then and thought scarcely more about it since, the whole thing costing so little to run that it had long since gotten lost in the milieu of her holdings. But her father had always been obsessed with its development. Now, with the world seemingly coming to an end, she understood why. The veritable sky could split open above them and as long as the reactor down here held fast, they’d be okay. She watched a torrent of dust fall from the light fixtures shake with every impact above. Or so she hoped at least.

“Major Gupp?” She asked as she stepped across the huge concrete expanse.

“Yes, Madam?” The fat old militiaman responded, waddling over to her side.

“Have your men start loading as much gear as possible onto the train. Leave no spare room, rip out anything extra you have to.” She explained, removing a small blueprint of the complex out from the breast pocket of her membrane suit and handing it off to the major.

“Here’s the main office.” She said, pointing to a spot on the map. “I’ll be in there. Have someone try and radio the board, let me know when you succeed.”

“Yes, Madam.” Gupp responded, turning to face his men.

“Oh, and one more thing.” She said, quickly cutting him off.

“Yes?” He asked.

“Have someone prepare a hot meal. I’m starving.” Bylyyg ordered as she wandered off in the direction of her office.

“Of course, Madam.”




Bylyyg’s fat hands tilted the bowl upward, pouring the steaming broth down her gullet. The steam awakened her senses and made her eyes water, the rehydrated spiced meats tasting as good as any fine dinner ever had. When she was done she crumpled up the plastic packaging and threw it lazily into the corner before kicking her feet up onto the office’s desk. Another hand turned the power knob on the side of the dusty computer. Immediately the pixelated, amber logo popped on screen, and with just a little fiddling she soon found the music library. Bylyyg and her father had never seen eye to eye on music, but as the tinny orchestral piece began to swell throughout the little concrete room, she’d never felt so relaxed. The arrhythmic shaking of the carnage up above blended into the thumping bass and took a load off of her mind. Before long her eyes had grown heavy and, soon after, she’d fallen totally asleep, her gentle snoring drowned out by the music. The troubles of the world seemed ever distant.

A heavy knocking upon the office door awoke Bylyyg from her dreams. She scrambled to make herself presentable, readjusting her suit and shutting off the music.

“What is it?” She asked.

“We’ve got Director Quilib on the line, Madam.” Replied the voice of Major Gupp.

The junior VP of shipping? That was the highest ranking board member they could reach?

“Come in.” She responded. In an instant the major threw open the door and crossed the threshold, seeming to fill up half the room on his own. In his hands he held a radiotelephone, gesturing for her to take the receiver. She did so and dismissed him with the wave of her hand.

“Good evening, director.” Bylyyg said politely into the receiver, keeping her tone neutral so as not to rattle the man on the other end. She had no idea the state corporate was in.

“Yes, Madam Shully is it? Junior accounting head for the tar refining division in Nurzulgub, right? Gyb’s kid?” Director Quilib responded. He sounded friendly but tired, like he too was just trying to make the best of a bad situation. That hardly filled her with confidence.

“Yes, Director. Bylyyg Shully. I sponsor the Shully Militia.”

“Mmhmm.” The Director said, sucking air between his lips. “And how many men do you have, you think?” He responded.

“Fifty. The militia itself numbers about two hun-” She began to explain.

“Okay then, right. Fifty men.” The Director said, cutting her off. “Does your rail line to the central hub still work?” He asked.

“Yes, Director.”

“Good, don’t try and go to the central hub. It’s gone, the last thing our boys there managed to do before we lost contact was seal the tunnel doors. Take the line up past Kolgu station and keep going, that’s lost too.” She grimaced at that, Kolgu was the station nearest to her plant. If it was gone, likely so was most of her men and the workforce she was responsible for. The few dozen personnel who’d followed her down here very well might be all that was left of that entire branch of Chirk.

“If you can, keep going to Bool. That’s the only station hub near you that’s still reporting in. Rendezvous there and hand over your men to the commander. Until further notice consider yourself on paid administrative leave. Is there anything else, Shully?” The Director asked. She hesitated to answer.

“Y-yes, Director. The small issue of my flight-”

“Offworld? Not happening. There’s no starport in Nurzulgub anymore and we have no idea what’s been overrun, who’s dead, or what’s still functional. Didn’t you feel the blast? Wunun station deorbited, most of the city’s gone and what’s left is being hit hard by Ozlukar invading from orbit.”

That hit Shully like a kick in the gut. No chance to get off world? Oh gods, what if they got to her?

“Wouldn’t it be safer to stay here and wait for reinforcements? We don’t know how much of the city’s rail network is still usable or-”

“There won’t be any reinforcements. Everybody still alive is regrouping at Bool station, underneath the company HQ. Or what’s left of it, I suppose. We managed to get our secondary shield generator up and running. Your portion of the city is flat glass right now. Those booms you keep hearing? That’s the Ozlukar shelling the city. They’re all over the place up there. They’ll rip you out of your hole if you stay there for long. Get your men to Bool station. Do you understand me?” The Director let his question linger pregnantly in the air.

“Yes, Director Quilib. I understand. Once I surrender my men, what’s to happen to me?” She asked, almost sheepishly. That elicited a hoarse chuckle from the Director.

“Don’t you worry, Shully. You’ll be staying in the executive suites with the rest of us for the duration of this. We’ll leave the lights on for you.” At that the line clicked and the conversation ended. Bylyyg let the receiver hang limp as her face sunk into her hands. Everything around her seemed to be collapsing. Already she could feel iron shackles around her neck, or worse. She shuddered at the thought of being under some Ozlukar’s thumb. A fate worse than death, she’d heard. If Quilib was still on Gulrup then things very well might be lost.

Bylyyg took an inhaler out from her suit pocket and held the end up to her lips. In one swift motion she pulled its trigger and inhaled a gust of terribly bitter wind, the sensation making her gag a split second before the high kick in. An incredible warmth and numbness swept over his clammy, trembling flesh. Every muscle seemed to spasm and relax on its own, as if she was being massaged by a hundred invisible hands. She writhed in ecstasy as white pinpricks of light exploded across her vision and her body began to grow incredibly heavy. The executive laid there in such a state for what seemed like hours, though in truth her mind had become so cloudy that it could have just as easily been a few seconds. She embraced the blanket of unconsciousness that began to sweep over her. Whatever frenzied sleep the high brought her, sweet dream or nightmare, it was better than the reality that awaited her. Anything, Bylyyg began to feel, was better than that.




The men of the Shully militia worked hard through the night. They shuffled hundreds of supply crates by hand onto the train, their clockwork momentum halted only momentarily whenever the bunker shook especially hard, a sign that a nuclear shell had touched down right on top of them. But immediately they got right back to work. From his perch atop one such crate, Major Gupp watched. A hand fell down and caressed his leg, one thumb tracing the metallic ring at its base, just above where his knee had once been and where now his cybernetic prosthesis started. An older model he’d called it, he wasn’t cleared to be lifting heavy weight. That was what he’d told his men upon ordering them to load, a lie to give his old bones a rest while the younger men sweated and strained.

Staring into the lighting fixture above him, he saw the sun beating down on Gwillyput, his homeworld. That was where he’d lost his leg, fighting some blubber warband in the stifling muck for three days before the line broke and the Grippli forces there were chased halfway across the planet. Never saw Gwillyput again after that, lost as a concession to the Ozlukar. It was some slaver port now, all Gupp needed to know to know that whatever he’d left behind there was well and truly gone. Hell itself had bubbled up and swallowed the planet whole. He traced the outline of his blaster in its holster on his hip. Not some dinky company issue piece. He thought to himself. A charged particle gun, it had some real stopping power to it. He didn’t know if it would be enough to put down one of the blubbers, but their gully fodder? It would work on them just fine.

“We’ve got the train car loaded up as best we can, sir.” Gupp’s thoughts were interrupted by the captain’s report. He eyed the room over and frowned. Half the room was still packed with crates and who knows how many rooms had gone unexplored. If only they’d had the time. Another quake rattled his bowels.

“Good. Get the train running and have the men board it. I’m going to fetch Madam Shully. We leave in five minutes.” Gupp responded.

“Yes, sir.” Said the captain as he whisked off.

Gupp rose slowly from his station and lumbered off into the direction of the office. In a few moments he was knocking on the door, once again waiting on that woman.

“Come in.” She sounded out of it. No good. Gupp thought. Hopefully he’d still be able to wring something out of her.

“We have everything ready to go, Madam. What did the board have to say?”

She looked at him with bleary eyes that took too long to focus. The sensation of waiting made him itch.

“We have to go to Bool. There’s nowhere else left, everybody who’s still alive is heading there. Once we’re there, the Shully militia is no longer under my control. You report to whoever the commanding officer there is.” She explained, forcing herself up onto shaky legs.

Together they walked back to the train. Nowhere else left? Bool’s the big one. The thought made him feel uneasy. Before long they had arrived, the major helping Bylyyg up into the cabin and laying her down some place. As the train screeched to life and began to roll forward, Gupp couldn’t help but look back and wince as the depot station shrank into the distance. The dying light reminded him again of Gwillyput, how it’d looked from the window of a cargo hauler. Just like then, it felt like a chapter of his life closing. Gazing up to the ceiling and thinking of the hellscape above, he wondered how many more he’d get.




Bool Station

Private Sheel felt an immense sense of relief wash over him as the train car came screeching to a halt. Though he’d tried to banish it, a creeping fear that, at least by the time they’d get there, Bool station would be lost too. It ran directly underneath the Chirk Mining Company’s headquarters on Chulrup, the most heavily fortified place on the planet. If this place had fallen, then they might as well have been dead already. The death grip on his raygun lessened slightly. The noise coming out of the station was loud and chaotic, but it was Grippli.

The CMC headquarters, affectionately called the Dome, imposed over the industrial landscape district it had walled in around it. A hundred thousand employees worked in some capacity there at any given time, spread out across a medley of refineries, factories, foundries, and warehouses. The vast amounts of electricity needed to power such an operation, not to mention to run the shield generators that protected it, was provided by the private reactor deep underneath it. As long as Sheel was here, it didn’t matter how much of the city was gone. He felt safe. But as he watched Major Gupp and Madam Shully rise up and waddle through the cabin doors, he couldn’t help but feel doomed.

Though his watch said they’d been waiting twenty minutes, it felt like hours. Sheel’s initial sense of relief was beginning to erode away now. The others were growing restless as well, some taking the occasion to smoke, though none made even the attempt to talk. At least I’m not the only one feeling it. He thought. Before long the Major rejoined them, a nasty look on his face. What was once dread turned into cold fear. That was not the reaction he’d wanted to see out of his superior.

“Men, I’ve got some bad news. They’re bringing the sky down and then some on the HQ above.” He explained, jotting a fat finger towards the ceiling. “The shields went down for a few minutes when Wunun station crashed and the whole complex suffered heavy damage. They got them back up, gods be blessed, but the blubbers were able to establish a beachhead on the southeastern side of the area and are pushing hard to break through the smelting district about five miles out. HQ’s troops are stemming the tide as best they can but they’re on the verge of getting overwhelmed.” He hacked out a wet cough and spat onto the train floor.

“Corporate’s putting together a counter assault force to push the blubbers out of the complex altogether, before they end up destroying one of the auxiliary generators and shutting down a piece of the CMC’s shielding network. We’re going to be joining them. We’ll be going up to the surface here soon, so get ready.” With that he turned around and walked out once more.

A few minutes later they were marched out and joined with the rest of the assault force, or at least what they could see. Gathered in the station were other militias, each one numbering no more than a few dozen and with every color and cut of uniform under the sun. Not all had helmets, some instead being outfitted with decorative caps of some kind or another. Reaching up and touching his own helmet, Sheel felt immensely grateful his own militia’s patron wasn’t so inclined. The assembled soldiers were lined up in neat rows, their officers walking down the ranks and inspecting weapons. Whoever’s was found lacking was quickly replaced, and a few energy cells shoved into their hands for good measure.

As they boarded the freight elevator up, the quaking began to grow worse, more distinct. Each blast was harsher, shaking bits of concrete loose from the ceiling. The sound of explosions rose from a low rumble to a heavy blast. The racket made his ears ache his stomach turn over. When they reached the uppermost portion of the station’s underground, the sight put Sheel in awe. Thousands of men were gathered here, and not just militia. Among the counter assault force’s ranks were corporate’s elite troops, decked out in better armored suits and holding shiny new positron rifles. Sheel felt jealous of them, though their presence made him feel better.

The counter assault force was again organized into neat ranks, split up squad by squad as the freight elevator carried more and more loads of troops up. It seemed like thousands more had joined just in the short time they’d been standing around, and with every one Sheel felt a little better. He was one amongst a sea of guns and every one added just meant a little more protection. Seeing the men in power suits sidle up to join them, heavy weapons in tow, he no longer worried about surviving. We’re gonna win this! He thought to himself.

As they reached the surface and poured out from the station, Sheel’s jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe his eyes at what he saw. Far on the horizon, towards the city center, an enormous mushroom cloud rose up tens of miles high like some kind of obscene monument. The sky was totally black, blotted out with soot and streaked with clouds of fire. Pillars of smoke covered the horizon as far as the eye could see. Ash rained down from the sky and seemed to blanket everything. The world really was ending.

The staccato of gunfire grew louder the closer they came. Hot, howling winds brought the iron stink of death. The first sight of bodies nearly brought Sheel to tears. He’d never seen death up close like that, it was horrifying seeing his brethren crumpled like that. My god, he thought, please don’t let that become me. He wiped a fat bead of nervous sweat from his brow and matched glances with a trooper next to him. The man was a little older than Sheel and wore a different uniform. In better times it might warrant a bit of playful inter-militia ribbing. The man must have been able to read Sheel’s anguish and offered up a slap on the back and a smile.

“Don’t worry, friend. Y’see them guns the corporate guys’re packing? We’ll knock them cavemen out just fine, I think. I’m Kilpi, you?” The other militiaman asked, reaching out and shaking Sheel’s hand.

“Uhh. . . Sheel.” He responded, working overtime to keep his voice from cracking.

“Just calm down, okay Sheel? The blubbers just got lucky, y’know? Ain’t gonna happen again, not now that we’re paying attention. Fought ‘em to a draw last time once we figured out their tricks. This time we’ll finish the job.” Kilpi said, grinning wide. Sheel couldn’t help but share his enthusiasm and grinned back, earning himself another slap on the back. He was beginning to like Kilpi.

As they drew up nearer to the battlefield, the carnage told Sheel a story. The closer they got the greater proportion of gully bodies there were twisted among his own Grippli. Despite their grisly deaths, it was a good sign. They were pushing the Ozlukar back. They passed the remains of one of the blubbers, half its body dissolved into a pile of smouldering meat, its disgusting face wracked with agony and rage. Casting a glance into the sky, he saw a war in heaven. In the skies above Grippli fighters battled things too small for Sheel to make out. From the ground they appeared to be black specks, buzzing around the CMC’s saucers and striking them down with balls of red light. He shuddered as he watched a ship get badly struck and crash into the shielding above, the energy making the thing pop like a fiery balloon.

A veritable trail of bodies led to a barricade the survivors of the previous assault force had erected from pieces of rubble. A few defenders chanced a look behind them and threw up a cheer. To them, this was the relief force coming to save the day. Streaks of raygun fire erupted all along the line, beating back the tide of flesh that assaulted the Grippli line. Here and there another fell, the volume of fire lessening. Was this the blubbers’ goal, to grind them down like this?

“Over the line! Over the line!” He heard Major Gupp shout. Officers throughout the force blew their whistles and shouted the same order, some firing shots into the air above their men’s heads. The men obliged, flowing over the barricades. Sheel was in good company as he leapt over, bullets whizzing by his head as his feet hit the ground. The man next to him was not so lucky, some enormous blubber round finding him and nearly evaporating the upper half of his body. In the next few moments of frantic sprinting more men fell all around him. Sheel merely lowered himself as he ran.

“Hit the deck!” The Major yelled. Sheel took no time in obeying, practically throwing himself onto the ground and laying prone. Beside him Kilpi had laid down, the other man already quick at work sighting an enemy and firing. Sheel cast a glance behind him and saw that they’d advanced a hundred or so feet from the barricade. Good. He thought. We really are pushing them back. Surveying the smoky battlefield, it was only a moment or so before Sheel found his own target. Naked save for a pair of sandals, the sucker-mouthed gully fired its crude slug thrower from the hip as it charged. Sheel squeezed the trigger and watched with grim satisfaction as the monster dropped, a burning hole where its chest was.

A moment later and he sighted another, striking it in the upper thigh and making the thing drop. It rose without hesitation, running like a wounded animal in his direction. A blast from Kilpi vaporized half its head, earning a grunt of appreciation from Sheel. The gullies seemed to have lost their steam, they were crumpling all along the line. The Major ordered them up and forward, this time moving steadily as a unit. The gullies were running now, this time fleeing back through the edge of the complex ruins and beyond. Much of the assault force gave chase, sprinting hard and firing into the invaders’ backs. Many hooted and cheered as they did so, Sheel among their number as he shot down another beast.

Further up someone had unfurled the royal battle flag and hoisted it atop the ruins of a building, waving it like mad in victory. Sheel grabbed Kilpi and brought him into a tight hug. Others threw their helmets into the air in triumph. Jubilee sounded throughout the assault force as they began to realize the gravity of what they had accomplished. All but Major Gupp seemed elated, the fat old officer’s face wrinkled in confusion and suspicion. His commander’s look spoiled the sensation for him somewhat and so Sheel approached him.

“What’s wrong, sir?” He asked.

“Don’t rightly know, son.” The Major said, his brow furrowing deeper. “Never seen this happen before.”

Sheel grinned at that. Gupp was an old timer who remembered the last war, he’d probably lost a lot of friends just to see the kingdom beaten. All that time had built up the blubbers to be more than they were. The old man just couldn’t believe what his eyes had shown him. The blubbers were a bunch of cavemen, half their armies were slaves. Of course they’d get beaten. Last time really had been a fluke, just the beasts getting the jump on them.

“Not one time did the gullies ever retreat like this. They throw themselves at you ‘til they’ve got nothing left. Never seen ‘em break like this.” The Major said aloud, as much to himself as to Sheel. Gupp turned around and surveyed the battlefield, his bulbous eyes tracing the thickets of bodies here and there. Sheel soon found himself joining him, straining his eyes to see what the Major could possibly be looking for.

“What’re you looking for, sir?” He asked. Gupp didn’t answer at first, opening his mouth as if to speak but saying nothing. He began coughing, a fat fist beating on his chest as he struggled to jar loose whatever was bothering him. After several moments Gupp spat a torrent across the ground and turned to face Sheel. The Major’s face had turned grim like it had been when the order to come to the surface first came down. Before he could answer, a terrible screech sounded distantly on the air. Another charge? Sheel thought as the world filled with blinding light around him.

At once the corpses of the Ozlukar slave troops exploded all around the battlefield. The Grippli relief force had found itself mired in an expansive minefield. Each gully body erupting into a geyser of offal and fire, ripping apart anyone nearby. Suddenly the entire expanse from the edge of the complex extending all the way behind the first force’s makeshift fortifications was awash in another sea of carnage. Tens of thousands of men became mist and meat that soaked the ground that had been beneath them. The relief force had been shattered in an instant, those shellshocked survivors able enough to run fleeing in the direction of the Dome. The howling winds carried the sound of barbarian war horns blowing with them.

Chirk Mining Company Headquarters
CMC Industrial Complex - Nurzulgub


Zugor’s eyes marveled at the mushroom cloud that towered over the horizon. That was where the iron star had fallen, where the Ushtar Uzgoth had cast it down with His powerful magics onto the hopping-folk’s heads. The longships above had cast down their shells, sprouting other mushroom clouds, so that from a distance it seemed as if they had grown a forest of them. This world was hot and mucky, difficult to operate in, and the hopping-folk had dug themselves in deep. But they could not outsmart the Ushtar Uzgoth, Zugor knew this. With His magic bombs he’d blanketed the sky in ash and hidden the sun. Now it was dark and the winds blew cold and hard, the muck mixing with the ash and soot and slowly beginning to freeze over. The winter would make it easier for many Ozlukar to live here when they were done doing war.

His thoughts were interrupted by another deafening blast, this one in front of him and much closer. The hopping-folk had fallen into their trap. This part of the hopping-folk’s village was tougher than the rest, they’d cast their own magics to protect them from the bombs, and their warriors here fought harder too. Warchief Skog drew them out with the snagarog fodder, made them spread wide before setting the dead slaves’ collars off. In one swoop they scattered the hopping-folk’s host and blew open a hole in their fort’s walls. Zugor raised his snout up and sniffed at the air. The iron stink of victory was on the air.

All throughout the war party its champions blew the conch horns. Ruga raised his head to the air and pointed his snout in the direction of a pyramid in the distance, only its glowing top peeking out over the horizon. He roared and beat his chest savagely, as if baying for its blood. Zugor and the others pointed their snouts and hooted loudly. We go there. Smash it down. Big fight. It was understood. Somewhere behind them a flare was shot off. Zugor watched the brilliant golden slight streak across the sky, skidding along the underside of the hopping-folk’s magic shield and falling deep into their buckling host. That order too was understood. It was time for the rukurog, the bull rush.

The war party had been gathered in loose mobs in preparation. The elder, blooded warriors gathered at the front and sides behind the ologars, enormous turretless tanks. The younger and unblooded made up the mass in the middle and rear. Each mob was led by a champion, a particularly skilled or mighty warrior, under who were a score of younger ones. Between the tanks and the warriors were the best remaining snagarog slave troops. These were not the Yig’xe suckermouths, but Agorax, void dwelling bugs his tribe had received as a gift. Their bony shells were all limbs, a tiny body nestled amongst a tangle of skeletal limbs. They had no guts as Zugor knew them, just a bunch of tubes the shamans said did everything, and were incredibly fast. The whiplike tail extended from its rear with which the things cradled their rifles, using their frontmost limbs to hold it steady.

Zugor dropped low to the ground, his chest and belly nearly dragging across the ruined pavement. As a single mass they began to barrel forward. He cradled his battle cannon in one arm as he ran, choosing to focus on the beating of his knuckles against the ground and the jingling of the ammo belt rather than the whizzing of ray blasts around him. The cacophony of battle grew louder with every passing moment of the charge. His nerves were steeled by the deafening roar of the ologar’s. A moment later and a walker exploded into a shrapnel storm that vivisected the surrounded hopping-folk.

Ruga let loose a whooping roar and sprinted around the ologar, firing blindly into the fleeing Grippli’s backs as he led the mob amid their ranks. Just as Zugor rose upright, a ray gun blast struck the edge of his gut plate, sizzling his skin. Immediately he dropped to one knee, slamming his gun’s heavy blast shield down in front of him as he sighted the culprit. The young warrior could hear the shield’s protective coating sizzling as it was struck again and again. His eyes desperately searched the rubble-strewn battleground.

Found you. Zugor thought as he pulled the trigger. The battle cannon’s twin barrels came to life instantaneously, a string of rounds evaporating the hopper who’d fired on him. He twisted his gun and lit up the upper floor of a storehouse where several hoppers maniacally worked a machine gun. Ahead of the war party the Grippli were beginning to rally. More of the hoppers’ warriors had joined the fray and were firing upon the Ozlukar in organized volleys. One of his fellow tribesmen attempted to rise up and charge, only to meet a volley himself and be turned into a pile of smoking meat. Another’s blast shield was melted through, his head bursting a moment later. More Grippli swarmed over the horizon, now charging the advancing Ozlukar.

Among their number were more walkers, each one resembling a metal disk mounted on three insectoid legs. One passed its evil eye over a grouping of snagarogs and, for just an instant, the air between them and the walker shimmered like sunshine through rushing water, before it was encased in a pillar of light. An instant later and the light faded, leaving only glowing plasma and dust. The hoppers began to march behind it and followed its shot with volley fire of their own. Just as the ologar nearest Zugor turned to adjust its target, an evil eye fell upon it, too. It erupted into a ball of fiery light, sending shrapnel everywhere that sliced into the warriors unfortunate enough to be too close. All that was left was a pile of molten slag and the stench of burning fat.

The advance was beginning to stall. A horrid feeling of rage and humiliation began to grip Zugor. How awful it would be to have come this far, just to get pushed back. His wet eyes looked around at his surviving kin, spread out and under fire themselves. What would the others think if they returned home, having been beaten by hopping-folk on their last leg? How would the tribe survive if it had to be bailed out by another? He banished the thoughts as another Grippli fell into his sights, though this one wore better armor and held a shinier gun. Before the creature could use it Zugor reduced him and the ones nearest him to paste. Better armor or no, nothing they had would stand up to his battle cannon.

To his side the powerful blast of Bolgug’s recoilless rifle sounded off once more. He sat behind its blast shield, taking his precious time to line up a shot. Every few moments it would roar and another hole would be punched through a walker or a hopper would get pasted behind cover. Quickly seizing the advantage, Ruga and the others began coordinating their fire down range, strafing the Grippli from multiple opposing angles while Bolgug pasted any one of them that tried to take cover. Another tribesman fell and Zugor made a note to honor his death after the battle. Zogg, Balurog, Udarus, nearly three hands of his kin had fallen so far. Each one he would honor.

Ruga rose up and roared, beating his chest like a madman. No sooner had he finished than he raised his cannon to his shoulders and began waddling forward. The others soon followed suit, moving slowly but methodically forward. Zugor was the first to fire, setting his sights on a group of hoppers occupying a hole in the ground further up. Their waddling march continued past the hole and many more, their occupants reduced to slurry and splinters of bone. The hoppers were stubbornly refusing to break and run, opting instead to beat a fighting retreat and trade space for time. They’d learned enough to not let the Ozlukar get close, but as the pyramid drew nearer, they were increasingly running out of room.

The perimeter around the pyramid was much more heavily defended than anything Zugor had seen so far. Here they didn’t have to cower behind smoking rubble, they had huge webs of concrete trenches with which to fire from. All along the trench line pinpricks of light sent smouldering death crashing into the snagarog horde. Wherever an Agorax would die, another would take its place, trampling the dead into the rubble and muck. Behind them the Ozlukar began to support them with covering fire, being tall enough to shoot above their slaves’ heads.

Slowly they pushed closer to the pyramid. The snagarog had died in droves trying to cross the trench parapets, but their sacrifice had not been in vain. The mobs nearest the trenches, some couple hundred feet back, took cover behind their blast shields or behind rubble where they could. Zugor watched through the armored slats in his blast shield as the area in front of the trenches exploded, taking much of the first trench line with it and leaving a smoking crater in its stead. Under covering fire the remaining snagarog swarmed into the crater and into the trench network.

“Hold the hole open!” Ruga snapped. “Keep it open so we can blow the building!”

Zugor breathed heavily as he scrambled atop the trench network, balancing atop the concrete walls and spraying down into the Grippli below. One seemed to be overwhelmed, swinging his ray gun from one charging snagarog to another, then to Zugor and back. A hail of bullets turned it into a red mist. The others had clambered atop the trenchworks to join him, quickly finding some fun in pasting the little creatures at point blank range while the snagarogs chased them. Every second of the battle so far had been a dangerous slog, paying in blood for every inch taken. Not now, Zugor and the others waddling back and forth over overlapping sections of trenches, spraying down into them from the hip like watering the ground with a hose.

A ray blast stitched across the edge of Zugor’s gut plate and gouged into his side. He dropped to one knee and felt vomit in his throat as he smelled his own meat cooking. The warrior snarled as he scanned the trenchworks for his attacker, reaching his hand down into the gore soaked trenches to swipe at cover. Another blast struck him, this time in the helmet. Had he not bent over at the last moment, it would have cooked his brains. Zugor spotted the barest hint of movement behind a pile of wreckage and opened fire, holding down on the trigger and hosing the trench corridor down. Red soaked the splintered rubble and Zugor smiled to himself. Another victory to tell of later.




The tanks overran the lead trench lines and opened fire on the pyramid building, blasting huge torrents of concrete out of it with every shot. As Quaik leapt over the parapets and into the trench he landed amid the grisly remains of half a dozen Grippli troopers. Bodies as far as he could see had ripped asunder by a hail of Ozlukar bullets. The towering beasts lumbered over the trenches, nudging apart bits of debris in search of survivors. The sounds of childish laughter and the screeching whir of their guns was all he had to hear to know when they’d succeeded.

Quaik kept low as he rushed closer to the building. He cradled his rifle close to his chest, hip firing in that direction whenever he detected hostile movement. All he wanted to do was to stop, to rest, but the collar kept him moving. It controlled everything his body did. He’d always wondered why the gullies never rebelled when the Ozlukar gave them guns, thought it so strange that someone would let themselves be worked to death by the dumb animals. The collar answered all of his queries.

When he was captured, he remembered being taken to their camp. A strange looking Ozlukar, Quaik guessed some kind of holy man, had fished a dirty looking leather collar from its pocket. In the center of that collar was a flat, rectangular computer. On the back of the computer was a long spike which the holy man had pressed firmly into the base of Quaik’s skull. It was the worst pain he’d ever felt and it felt deep. How would they pull it out if he was ever rescued? I’d die! Then the holy man put a tiny data cassette into the little computer’s drive and he instantly felt himself become a puppet, totally without control of his body’s movements.

A ray blast hit the wall a few feet from Quaik’s head, splashing him with concrete chips. Quickly he took cover, his big eyes popping up ever so slightly to get a bead on his attacker. He saw movement on the second story of the pyramid, where a tank had blown a gaping hole in the wall. The slave raised his rifle and fired off a burst into the hole, not paying attention to whether it hit anything or not. In an instant his body was back up and running forward to the next piece of cover. Though this sector of the trenchworks had been effectively cleared out, the pyramid overlooked it and could pour down direct fire. He was so close to it now.

Under the cover of fire from the Ozlukar, he and dozens of others scaled the trenchworks and rushed the building, the defenders no longer able to keep them at bay. Quaik watched the wave in front of him get mowed down from the troopers within. He didn’t hesitate as he crossed the threshold, aiming his rifle in the direction of where the blasts had come from as he dove around the corner for cover. A heinous pain wracked his lower leg at the calf and foot. First a burning pain and then cold. The slave’s head wouldn’t look to check the wound but he was certain he’d been hit.

Another snagarog fell dead beside him, Quaik wasting no time in looting his magazines and his remaining grenade. Immediately he pulled the pin on it and threw it around the corner, other slaves quickly doing the same. He heard groaning around the corner and no returning fire so he and the other snagarog resumed their mad charge. Several of the Grippli had been only wounded but the slaves’ bayonets quickly finished them off. He wanted to scream as he rammed the blade home into the trooper's chest. He wished one of their shots would finally kill him, it would be better than this.

Every step shot a lightning bolt up his leg, the pain nigh on unbearable. His lungs burned from exhaustion. But his body wouldn’t slow down, wouldn’t stop even for a second. He turned a corner and ran face first into a Grippli trooper. The two’s bodies slammed into each other and Quaik fell to the floor, already scrambling to get up and raising his rifle. The man’s face was a mask of shock as he saw Quaik, though he didn’t seem afraid. Oh gods, he thought, shoot me! Save yourself, you damn idiot, and shoot me!. But the trooper was too slow on the draw. Quaik pulled the trigger as he rose upright, stitching a diagonal pattern across the Grippli from hip to shoulder. The man collapsed against the wall and looked up at him, his mouth trembling as if he didn’t quite have the means to speak. Quaik slammed the heel of his foot into the man’s head, splitting it open against the wall. As he continued to run, he could hear some of his fellow slaves feasting on the body.

They were getting deep into the bowels of the pyramid now, deep enough that the cannon blasts blowing the building apart were merely a dull rumble. Only the barricades that the troopers had erected could slow their pace down now. Every other hallway seemed to be blocked off, every other door barred shut. It didn’t matter. Whatever the snagarog couldn’t beat down with sheer weight of bodies they would blast open with explosives. They cleared the building room by room, floor by floor as they descended, leaving no survivors.

The signs on the walls told him which way to go to find the generator room. The other slaves, most of which were aliens who couldn’t read the language, followed him through the bowels of the complex. Soon enough they found a pair of heavy metal doors, the sign above marked “generator room”. Quaik tried the door but to no avail, it was blocked from the other side. He put his ear to the door to listen for life inside and signed in affirmation to the others upon hearing rustling. He couldn’t tell who or what was behind those doors, but he knew there was something.

Quaik extended his hands out in front of him and moved them far apart, signaling “large”, then mimicked an explosion with his hands. The others nodded dumbly and pooled together the grenades they had between them. He strung them together and tied them to the doors’ handles, pulling the pin and running off around the corner immediately after. A few moments later and the floor shook terribly with the blast, the hallway filling with smoke and dust. No sooner did the blast go off that the snagarog resumed their animal charge, crashing through the blown open entrance into a firestorm of ray gun fire. A score of slaves crumpled underneath the defenders’ onslaught, but it wouldn’t be enough.

He tailed a pair of Agorax slaves as they headed in and used them as cover as he gained a bead on one of the defenders. Quaik splattered the brains of one across the walls as a white hot pain struck him in the gut. He dropped to one knee and pressed his hand to his side, immediately feeling it soak with blood. Despite the agony he was happy, at least this journey would be over soon enough. The last few defenders in the room were finished off by the others as Quaik dragged himself to the mainframe computer. Not knowing any of the site’s passwords or what to look for, he was unable to pry any important information, save that this was the control room for this sector of the industrial complex’s shielding. A moment later Quaik collapsed to the floor. He stared into the fluorescent light fixture gently swinging above him.

The room began to fill with more and more snagarog. They piled on top of each other, stacking themselves like firewood as high as the ceiling. Quaik was painfully crushed into the ground by dozens of bodies atop him. As the space got tighter, those in the hallway began ramming more through, until it was well and truly packed. His entire body was numb underneath the weight of bodies. He couldn’t see anything, couldn’t hear anything. Opened or closed, all he could see was darkness. It was as if the outside world had simply ceased to exist. But a moment later, for just the slightest fraction of a second, Quaik saw and felt a heavenly light wash over him. For just the slightest fraction of a moment, he was content.




The gathered Ozlukar on the surface retreated several hundred feet from the building. All at once the ground beneath them quaked as if it would split open. An enormous patch of the ground bubbled up and smoke soaked out from the ground. The pyramid began to collapse as a pillar of fire exploded upwards from its base, reaching high enough to touch the energy shielding above. A moment later and a loud, electrical whining filled the air, static making hair stand on end. Above that sector of the complex, the shielding began to fail. Where once the air shimmered, now it was clear.

The tribesmen erupted into a thundering cheer as they saw their hard fought goal come to fruition. From the exposed skies above a cloud of black specks poured into the compound’s airspace. Though they were too far away to adequately make out, the Ozlukar knew that these were the Avan. Their allies rained down hellfire onto the heads of the fleeing Grippli, the latter having abandoned their fortifications or any sense of organization. Throughout the war party conch horns blew and the tide of flesh and blubber began to flow once more. Zugor and many others waved feverishly at their allies as they marched outwards, some futilely throwing captured trinkets into the sky. Though the battle had yet to be fully won, victory was all but assured. Zugor only hoped that the rest of the war would be so easy.
Last edited by Communist Xomaniax on Tue Jan 05, 2021 2:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
MT: Union of Socialist People's Republics (Jhengtsang)
FT: Ozun Freeholds Confederation

tren hard and eat clen
The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.

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Usidia
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Founded: Nov 07, 2017
Corporate Bordello

Postby Usidia » Thu Feb 11, 2021 7:31 pm

Collabortive post written with Communist Xomaniax


Godwin had a typical Usidian naval military career behind him. Having fought nothing outside the occasional marauder or pirate, Admiral Godwin the seventy-five-year-old man had seen his star begin to rapidly rise from his well documented and praised defense of the Life Star Project when it came under threat of the sarians a few years ago. And while the admiral’s little fleet had taken some losses it had been deemed acceptable for the security of the LSP. And now the Spatial Armed Services had decided to have it’s nearest combat-experienced admiral rise to the challenge again.

Terrence inwardly laughed at the irony of that thought, he had won a minor engagement against a well-outnumbered foe. The accolades thrown at him were primarily propaganda and nothing more. And now after having been out in the coldness of the void the brass had decided his fleet was going to stay out a ‘little’ while longer. His fleet had been relieved of guard duty of the LSP, now, however, they had been sent into the depths of gamma on the hunt for whispers from the darkness.

The Admiral’s fleet had been supplemented with more combat ships along with a healthy number of support vessels, troops ships from the Terran Armed Services, and several cargo ships with war materiel interestingly enough. Admiral Godwin found the last bit especially curious since there were no known friends or allies of the United Systems out in the cold expanse of Gamma. At least that’s what the Admiral had thought until a courier ship had reached his position weeks ago and informed him of coordinates he was supposed to reach and offloaded a diplomat onto his ship.

When the Admiral met the diplomat she had only given him the name Mrs.Smith and a letter from the Secretary of Spatial Armed Services himself and orders to accommodate as best he could. Godwin had tried to engage the woman multiple times but each time she was evasive and answered questions incompletely or not at all. After a few days of this, the Admiral suspected the woman wasn’t a diplomat at all but had no real proof the white-haired woman was anything more than what she said she was. The whole situation gave the Admiral an uneasy feeling, however, he was a dutiful sailor and he would do what he was told.

They had been waiting out in the void for several days now, ordered to do so by Mrs.Smith for some unknown mysterious reason, Godwin had arrayed his fleet out into a defensive sphere with his escorts and fighters on the outer fringes of the group, screening the blackness for anything out of place.

“Incoming signatures sir” Admiral Godwin heard as four blips appeared on his TAC-screen.

“Flagging signals as Usidian sir.” reported the scan officer. Godwin furrowed his brow and his eyes locked onto the enigmatic figure of Mrs.Smith who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. She only smiled and nodded at the Admiral before leaving the bridge, leaving Godwin to wonder how the hell she managed to get to the bridge in the first place.

“Begin a burst transmission to the ships to verify they’re Usidian.” ordered the Admiral as his voidsuit let out a slight hiss from him sealing the unit.

“Are you expecting trouble sir?” asked Commander Sharie, the ship’s executive officer

“No, but I don’t like surprises, sound too general quarters for the fleet” ordered Godwin as he settled in waiting for the verification response from the mysterious ships.

*****************************

The Admiral had been again lightly surprised that the ships were indeed Usidian. Four of them being the covert gunboats favored by the Directorate of Usidian Intelligence, the last one though was shaped in the manner of the UFOs from ancient myths from old Earth, flying saucer in shape and silvery in color. The Admiral was beginning to form a picture of what the DUI was up to in this part of Gamma, why they were he wasn’t sure.

He now sat in the conference room of the Olympia with Mrs.Smith, no one else was present per Mrs.Smith’s orders. He observed the white-haired woman closer. With her glasses and hair, he initially thought she was older than he was due to the brief glimpses he got of her. Now he realized her hair was dyed and Mrs.Smith was much younger than the aging Admiral, she was neither attractive, not unattractive, her appearance could be described as plain, someone you wouldn’t take notice of if you walked by them in a crowd. A look that was likely cultivated by the mysterious woman.

“You are here as a courtesy Admiral, please be quiet and observe and say nothing.” Mrs. Smith said politely but sternly as the doors to the conference room opened and the mysterious guest arrived.

Terrance felt revulsion at first when he laid his eyes upon the completely alien creatures before him. The largest one was slightly taller than Terrance, the red jumpsuit the creature wore and the green skin bulging out of it made the creature look like a sickly overstuffed sausage. The face and head of the creature was huge and the mouth looked big enough to swallow a large dog. Dashes of gold color could be seen on the creature’s boots, belt, fingers, around it’s neck, and elsewhere the gold accent could be added. To top the creature’s gaudy display a very rich and expensive looking cloak covered its shoulder and drooped down its large and portly backside.

Accompanying the large obese figure were smaller skinny versions of it with a more vibrant jade-colored skin again covered in the tight fighting red jumpsuits and carrying rather unusual rifles clasped in fingers the ended in bulbous digits.

“Greetings Lord Hulglup val'Quib, I’ll have to ask your entourage to remain outside until the meeting is concluded.” Mrs.Smith said in that tone that meant she was being polite, but the matter was not up for discussion.

Hulgup frowned, forming deep crags across his corpulent form. With a peevish look he waved his men off.

“Yes, Mrs. Smith,” he began, bulbous lips smacking wetly, “I suppose we do. I’m going to be frank, this whole business with the Ozlukar has me a little concerned.” He began. “No, more than a little concerned. It’s got me proper spooked is what it’s got me. My associates and I have a large financial stake in a magnesium mine on the moon.” His bulbous, wet eyes met Smith’s.

“A very, very large stake that can’t pay dividends anymore because a goddamned horde of barbarians is squatting on it!.” Hulglup angrily croaked out. His fat lips sucked air after his tirade, he clearly not used to such outbursts. A webbed hand swept away beads of sweat from his brow.

“I want you to know that when I speak, I speak with the voice of the king. His majesty is still trying to martial a force big enough to drive them out of the system, but we’re experiencing some, shall we say, red tape. Our boy on Gulrup, Chirk, has some planetary forces already set up, but they don’t have the long range equipment to do much more than reinforce the big cities, and there aren’t enough rifles to go around to arm the civilians either. Things are stretched tight down there I’m afraid, we can barely keep the supply convoys guarded.”

The frog man’s neck tinged yellow in agitation and his voice took on a severe tone.

“The king is prepared to offer you whatever you want, but we need guns, we need armor, and we need reinforcements. Besides,” he explained, clearly struggling to suppress his emotions, “you won’t like these beasts anymore than we do. If you help us now, we can break them before they’re raiding for slaves on your doorstep.”

He winced at his own words. “I apologize for rudeness, Mrs. Smith, but I really cannot impress upon you enough what the Ozlukar are capable of. Help us out now and Usidia gains a friendly outpost here in Gamma for life. We Grippli have a long memory, we’ll remember that you did good by us.”

Mrs.Smith's eyes narrowed at the implied doom that would befall Usidia if they didn't help the Grippli. A grin crossed her lips though, the same grin a cat has when he knows he's cornered the mouse.

"Your lordship, the Usidian government knows what type of predicament you and yours are ." Mrs.Smith began, reeling the Lord in with false sympathy for the situation the Grippli had brought on themselves.

"There is no end to what we could bestow upon the Grippli to help them through these troubling times." Mrs.Smith said, her wicked smile growing wider.

The hair on the back of Terrance's neck raised up as he watched the Usidian agent work her magic upon the Grippli, he knew she was setting the poor creature up for a trap, he just didn't know where the jaws would snap shut on the poor wretched being.

"However, what you are asking…" Mrs.Smith paused to draw her victim in "It would be a considerable investment on the part of Usidia you know."

Mrs.Smith blinked her eyes sweetly at Grippli as she waited for his response.

Fat beads of sweat glistened on ambassador Hulgup’s brow, dropping onto his elaborate suit and running down to the floor. His primary and secondary eyelids closed as he ran an oversized, webbed hand across his head.

“Mrs. Smith,” the ambassador croaked, “I’ll have you know that His Majesty’s government is prepared to offer Usidia complete and total access to all fortresses, outposts, depots, stockpiles and ports throughout the kingdom. Your ships, your men, all will be allowed to move freely anywhere they please. They can make use of our shipyards to refit and refuel at their leisure, the expense will rest entirely with the crown.” His face grew dark for a moment as he spoke the next words.

“In addition,” he began, stumbling over words that clearly brought him distress, “His Majesty will place Usidia firmly in charge of the war effort from here on, with all Grippli forces subordinate to their Usidian counterparts. Our own forces are small but what we have is yours. Our seniormost commander is the Earl of Nulgulup, Lord-Elector Quortle vol’Skalchirk. He’s not had much luck getting all the big magnates to cooperate with the war effort but you’ll have no such problems I’m sure.” At that the Grippli removed a communicator from his pocket, opening it up to reveal a shimmering hologram of information.

“Don’t think that we’re expecting to get all this help for free either, in the short term the His Majesty is prepared to wire a sum of fifteen billion credits from his personal account for the emergency purchase of equipment and materiel from Usidia. A further fifteen billion credits is lined up for transfer for the hiring of mercenaries from abroad. Galactic trade has been good to us, we’re prepared to shell out what we have to.”

Terrance had to mentally check himself to make sure he wasn't sitting there with his mouth agape like some fool. Mrs.Smith's face remained the same as before, showing neither shock nor pleasure at the windfall the Usidian government has possibly achieved.

"That certainly sounds like a good start to what we'll need, but I'm afraid we'll need something a little more long-term" said Mrs.Smith.

"There will need to be certain guarantees in regards to trade, and preference towards Usidian bids for rebuilding efforts also I'm afraid" Mrs.Smith explained. "If that's an issue, the Usidian government would be very understanding and would wish you the best of luck."

There thought Terrance, that was the sound of the trap closing shut on the Grippli, a coldness seemed to emanate from the woman. Terrance looked over at the lord and waited for either outrage or acquiescence.

The Grippli lord’s jowls turned a ruddy yellow as he grinned, his too wide mouth splitting open to let a hearty laugh bellow from it. Rivulets of tears and spittle ran from his enormous eyes and rubbery lips. If a trap had been sprung on the man, he was either too dull or too mad to have noticed. The chucking continued for several moments before it suddenly ceased and the ambassador’s face became a mask of uncaring sloth once more. Hulglup finally began to speak, letting the wetness summoned from his charade drip down onto the cold floor.

“Madam, let me assure you that the King will find all the Usidian government’s requests perfectly reasonable. If we lose this war, there won’t be a Grippli kingdom left to trade with Usidia” he explained, his tone no different from a man telling someone the weather, “we’ll all be dead or enslaved, and I’m sure the blubbers won’t be in much of a trading mood, either. His Majesty is only concerned with preserving our freedom and our honor. Let the Usidian government know that we’re happy to become their vassals if it means staying out of some fat illiterate’s bowels.”


**************************************

Admiral Godwin’s fleet had had to make no less than three jumps in order to finally arrive at the coordinates Mrs.Smith had given him after she had concluded her meeting with Lord Hulglup. Terrance was disturbed by how quickly the alien lord had capitulated to Mrs.Smith’s demands. Evidently their situation was extremely dire for the Usidian agent to put the screws to them and them to agree without so much as a blink.

He looked over the planet on the Holo-Tac, a ball of viridescent and muddled dusky colors with multiple beacons of lights on the dark side indicating several cities of some size. Around the planet were glitters indicating several stations littered the planet’s orbit with a large volume of the Grippli saucers and other xenoi ships moving around in chaotic fashion.

“These frogs seem almost as bad as the ozlukar Mrs.Smith.” said Terrance to the peculiar woman. He’d been finally read in on what the Directorate of Usidian Intelligence had been up to out here.

“Not even close, Admiral.” Mrs.Smith responded curtly. “They have their flaws, but the DUI remains certain they can be steered in the correct direction, the ozlukar on the other hand are butchers, monsters from your darkest dreams and each day they’re left uncontested they grow in size and power with assistance from as of yet unknown benefactors, but even without their benefactors they are and will remain a serious threat to Usidian interests and allies in the Gamma Quadrant.”

The response left Terrance more than a little peeved, he had read over the dossier on the Grippli, slavers and a caste society were the highlights, something he didn’t think was possible in such modern times, oblivious to his own country’s unspoken castes that were ever prevalent. He was also annoyed that the DUI were already embedded with the Grippli and causing minor issues for the ozlukar.

“The ozlukar barbarians need to be checked now, otherwise they spill across Gamma in a tide of carnage and slavery, and how long before they reach the borders of the Free States? Or swarm across Alpha and terrorize the Hope Tradeway, lord knows that place is a complete shitshow as it is with all the marauder civilizations there.” said Mrs.Smith.

“If these ozlukar are as powerful as you say they are, how are we supposed to stop them with barely a division of troops and a vastly outnumbered spatial fleet?” protested the Admiral.

“You’re not alone though Admiral.” Mrs.Smith said with a smirk on her lips.

“You have the Grippli to help you.”

User avatar
The Solar Cooperative Union
Envoy
 
Posts: 348
Founded: Jul 24, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:29 am

Artyom looked over the thin glass slate a final time to confirm he had read it right. The Oz weren’t what he would call articulate communicators and their messages often employed more colorful language than what Artyom was used to. He slid the slate back into the faraday box in his desk and locked it. He wasn’t too worried about data security this far out, doubtful the locals would be much interested in his little outfit with such a war going on. That was no excuse to get lax though, like his old sergeant Viloona had always told him ‘Probability is no substitute for responsibility’. Artyom reached for the piping hot cup of black coffee and sipped at it, reclining in his chair.

Viloona, the grouchy old bastard, had to have done something right because Artyom had built quite the career off of his wisdom. He considered his office with its wide wooden desk and potted plants, warm lighting and sleek stylish furniture, a strange sight on a military craft. He stood up from his desk, mug in hand and walked to the far end of the room. Even stranger than the furniture was the wide panoramic window that afforded him a sweeping view of the beleaguered planet Gulrup. The engineers had assured him that its inclusion wouldn’t weaken the ships armor, but sometimes he had his doubts. Now though, he could see black clouds and spiderwebs of light disfiguring the planet far below. These were the telltale signs of war, he had seen the same sight over Vost during the battle against the Satabhites there, and again during the siege of Velograz. He felt for the opposition, he truly did. The brutality by which they were being subjugated was beyond anything the Union had witnessed in centuries. However, that subjugation would carry on with or without he and his men and so their role in it was of little difference. These frogs were doomed to this fate since evolution had put them and the Oz on a collision course many millions of years ago, what was the harm if he and his crew made a profit from their inevitable collision?

That was the beauty of working so far from home, no real morality in the mix. Pounding cities into dust from orbit turns the stomach when you know the dust used to think like you, speak your language, fear your fears and enjoy your joys. But out here, among these aliens? Obliteration was pure business, and business was always booming.
He sipped his coffee again and considered. Assassination, not work he would’ve gotten mixed up in back home. Waxing a political figure back in the Union was a good way to get yourself wrapped in a whole season of shit storms. Luckily he was far away from the Union. He walked back to his desk, leaving the sight of the battered planet behind him. Once there he pressed a button and spoke aloud into the ships comm system. He was hailing the modest lab the cruiser hosted, his chief- and only- scientist answered.

“Calvini, did that communications equipment we jacked from the frogs have anything we could use to get past their security?” he asked.

“Good news sir, we got a whole list of cert codes that should let us blow right past any air defense, at least until they tumble their encryption” the man on the other end answered.

“Good work Calvini, upload those codes to the shuttles and get me a program that can make us sound like the frogs” he finished.

Artyom switched the comm to his XO, Nurhaj Alzidi and gave him the order.

“Nurhaj, gather the men for a briefing in 20” he clicked the comm off. His coffee was the primary concern until then, and he would hate to neglect such a fine roast.

---

Artyom looked over the assembly of men and women, all of them trained to kill in one fashion or another. There were the former soldiers like him who made up the majority of the outfit, burly framed men who had deep wrinkles cast into hard faces. Veterans of the Satabhite wars or the colonial rebellions, witnesses to the immense maelstrom of interstellar war. Then there were the corporate assassins and wetwork operatives, smoother in features but with sharp eyes that took in too much information too quickly. They’d crawled through the bloodsoaked underbelly of the Union, serving as the scalpel where the hammer was too much. Finally there were the outlaws, smugglers and pirates who’d decided to try more legitimate work. They stood out like sore thumbs, thin and wiry from a culture of hard drugs and covered in tattoos.

Despite the diversity of backgrounds and specialties he’d assembled, or because of it, Artyom knew he could count on them all to get the job done. Out here, a years journey or more from home, they had infinitely more in common than any differences. They hadn’t stopped in a Solarian port for going on two years, in that time the Crew had become family. Artyom was beginning to question whether or not he could ask any of them to do something so dangerous as this mission. He’d pondered it, and decided he would silence his worries by joining the mission himself. His officers would no doubt object, but they were his officers so their objections wouldn’t amount to much.

As the last of the fighting force took their seats he clicked on the large projected screen behind him. A satellite image of the city of Korroak bloomed to life. It was muddy affair, a spiderweb of low buildings and unplanned streets coalescing around massive rectangular structures in the city center. Slums sprawled in every direction, occasionally broken up by the contrasting form of walled estates where the local elites lived in protected opulence. It reminded Artyom of Metratethys, a putrid ammonia rich swamp clogged planet clinging to existence on the distant edge of Solarian space. Ruled by criminal syndicates and only ever visited by the Union to conduct punitive raids when those syndicates forgot the rules of the game. Anyone with experience on Metratethys would be more comfortable with the conditions of this operation, so that’s who he’d ask for first.

He gestured towards the city and spoke.

“This is Korroak” the name was ugly and unfamiliar on his tongue.

“It’s a big frog agri hub, think Jerash but instead of crops its big ass roaches they’re farming. I imagine it smells like shit. I’ll be taking a small team in to wax this ugly asshole.”

He clicked to the next slide which was a grainy image of a frog adorned in stately attire, he was clearly of importance judging by the guards on either side.

“This is Marquis Chirk, I’m told he’s a vital asset to the frogs. We’re gonna deny them that asset.”

A slight murmur of discontent went through the soldiers of the group, clearly finding an assassination distasteful.

“I know its not the usual gig but the big guys are paying us so damn well you’ll be able to afford all the booze you need to get over it”, he wanted to appear casual about the whole situation. If he revealed his own misgivings it might call this whole venture into question.

“I’m hitting the dirt and I’m taking three of you with me, anyone ever do work on Metratethys or Gerbrant?”

A dozen hands shot up, mostly from the corporate assassins and pirates. Artyom immediately recognized the most capable of them. There was Sileena Lusanaria, a former corporate wetwork agent who could speak every Solarian dialect and hit a fly at half a kilometer away. She had the sharp features and bright white hair of a Luminaen, when they had first met he had thought she looked more like a dancer than a killer but she’d proven him very wrong.

Then there was Asman Liche, a dark man with a very dark past. He’d been instrumental in putting down a workers uprising on Gerbrant and earned himself the dubious moniker ‘Swamp Devil’ in the process. Where his superiors wanted a show of force, he had opted to stalk the unfortunate rebels and take their leadership out one at a time. The tactic had worked and he got them to surrender without any such pitched battle.

Finally there was Ricky ‘Glassy’ Vurlazes, so called because his love of quicksilver meant he was often time glassy eyed and hung over. Artyom had been unsure about recruiting him, but he had graduated top of his class in electronic engineering and had promptly wracked up a six figure bounty in a half dozen systems for his escapades in hacking and sabotage. He’d be necessary for bringing down any frog security systems.

“Alright, Lusanaria, Liche, Glassy, you’re with me, the rest of you dismissed.”

---

Artyom bit hard into his mouthguard, it was all he could do to stop his teeth from clattering around in his skull as the shuttle screamed through the planets upper atmosphere. Just a few kilometers above them some fleet action was taking place and blooms of light occasionally filtered through the cockpit and illuminated the dim interior of the shuttle.

“You damn certain these codes’ll work Calvini?” he asked through his mouthguard.

The radio crackled and Calvini answered from the safety of the Lettuce far above.

“Yea boss, if you get blown out of the sky it won’t be on my ass” he answered wrly.

“Thanks, thats a real comfort” replied Artyom.

The shuttle rumbled furiously as it descended into the ever denser atmosphere of the battle torn planet, soon a green light came on and illuminated the cabin. Artyom and the others stood up and latched their booster harnesses into an overhead rail. Machinery clicked and crunched and the rear door of the shuttle slid open.

They were only meters above the fetid swamp water, kicking up a huge tail of muck as the shuttle ripped overland at lethal speed. Artyom clenched his jaw, checked his harness one last time and then gave a thumbs up. The rail overhead yanked him forward and in a second he had been slung out of the shuttle. His suit constricted around his neck and chest to keep him from passing out and he thought he might vomit. Another fraction of a second later and the booster harness kicked to life and slowed him down enough that he met the water with a splash rather than a squish. He tumbled head over heels for another moment before the water finally absorbed his energy and he was able to right himself.

He emerged from the muck and immediately shed the bulky harness and spat out his mouthguard. First thing first he made sure the rest of the team was in one piece. It seemed they were, Lusanaria was already busy checking her gear, she didn’t seem to be ruffled at all by the high speed insertion. Liche was surveying the area around them and shaking water out of his ears. Glassy on the other hand was bent over spilling his lunch into the swamp. Artyom sloshed his way over to him and clamped a hand on his shoulder until he was done retching.

“Pop a hydro tab man, we got a long walk” Artyom ordered.

“Yea.. Yea, fuck this place smells like a squids asshole” he grouched.

“Get used to it bud, its gonna get worse when we get up in those bug farms, ever smelled a rendering plant?” prodded Liche.

He seemed to delight in his comrades' discomfort, but Artyom knew it was only harmless teasing. Liche and Glassy were both from Calista and had become fast friends upon joining the crew.

“Shuttle you make it clear?” asked Artyom into his headset.

The radio cracked and the pilot confirmed she’d already cleared the atmosphere. With that, the focus was solely on sneaking into Korroak.

“Liche you’re on point, target is twelve clicks from here so let's get moving”

---

Night was falling and the dull lights of Korroak were soon to be the only illumination. A long and taxing trek through the putrid swamps had only become more taxing as they closed in on the outskirts of the city. The water had slowly gone from a sour but familiar scent of decaying plant matter and abundant microbial life to a sharper and more caustic scent of animal waste and run off. All four of them were now tightly sealed in enviroskins and had long since strapped on filter masks to stave off the gagging stench and keep it from coming anywhere near their mouths or eyes.

Apart from the sewer-like environment, the march had been uneventful save for a few distant fly overs by Grippli patrols. Artyom was confident they had remained undetected and the fact that life seemed to carry on with relative normality on the outskirts of Korroak bolstered this confidence. Glassy had complained the whole way and Liche had teased him in turn. Lusanaria remained mostly quiet, giving one word answers when asked about her background or experiences.

Artyom felt the cool sensation of the enviroskin IV rehydrating him as he surveyed the area before them. They could try their luck at navigating the winding hive of domed insect farms and shanty blocks, but Artyom didn’t like their odds. Even from here he could make out the whooping and popping speech of frogs spilling out into the night. Beyond the enclosed lakes and scum filled pools of the cities periphery he could see the shanties grew in density and complexity until they looked more like rolling hills of sheet metal and mismatched construction than a city. Even further he could faintly make out spotlights and the radiant glow of arc lights illuminating the huge industrial facilities at the heart of the city. Connecting the whole affair was a hodgepodge of rails and roads, most of which were clogged with mud and trash.

Not entirely clogged however, occasionally a flow of water would gather enough energy and send a swirl of garbage and waste vanishing into barely discernible grates alongside the streets. It seemed that despite their disregard for sanitation, the frogs had bothered to construct something of a sewer. That was their ticket.

“Thats it” declared Artyom to himself.

Lusanaria who had been following his eyes blanched beneath her mask.

“Oh spirits boss really?” she asked, breaking her calm demeanor at last.

“What? Whats wrong?” enquired the other two, but Lusanaria was already preoccupied pulling her enviroskins hood up over her head and taping over every possible opening.

“Glassy hand me a survey drone” Artyom said and reached out his hand.

Glassy pulled a small, disc shaped object no larger than his dinner plate out of his pack and gave it to Artyom. Artyom held it over his wrist console for a second which prompted it to spring to life with a whir. With little more than a whoosh it picked itself up out of Artyoms hand and began hovering. He tapped a few commands on his wrist console and a second later it whirred away and splashed into the nearest sewer opening.

“Alright, seal up, and really double check, we’re going in” he said as a wireframe projection of the cities sewer system began to form on his wrist console.

---

Artyom could’ve been personal security for some corpo brat on Strinda. He could’ve been making perfectly good money standing there making sure some rich kid didn’t get grabbed while they lost their shit on drugs at the club. Instead he was up to his shoulders in a dozen different kinds of shit, and he had no one to blame but himself. Comfort was an illusion anyways, all those cushy jobs back home really did was make you less prepared for the next time things actually got bad. Out here, you realized comfort was fleeting, you made the comfortable moments count.

Now was not one of those comfortable moments, they were sloshing through a putrid medley of sewage agricultural runoff and offal to the industrial core of the city. The plan from there was simple, reach a high vantage point and lay low until there was a moment to strike. His wrist console vibrated to indicate they’d reached their exit, he shot a hand up and gestured towards the heavy metal grate overhead. He dared not open his mouth to speak, even though his suit was fully sealed he still wanted every layer of protection between his insides and the utter poison that was this place. He boosted up Lusanaria who dropped down a small rusted access ladder.

The team quickly ascended from the stinking sewer into a dimly lit space filled with dusty equipment. Artyom took a second to ponder their next course of action, still coated in raw sewage and reeking of decay and refuse.

“Alright get your suits off, we’re gonna give ourselves away by the smell otherwise” he ordered.

“Don’t have to tell me twice” replied Liche as he began unclipping the various seals on his suit.

A few minutes later and they had tossed the disused suits back down into the sewer and changed into more basic combat gear. Hopefully they wouldn’t have to leave the way they came or things would get very very unpleasant.

“Alright, we’re going to ascend up this structure and exit onto the roof where we should have a clear line of sight on the target. He’s set to arrive within a few hours so let’s move fast” Artyom finished and checked his carbine.

They began a fraught ascent up the dim corridors and catwalks of whatever building they were in, it appeared to be a warehouse for storing industrial equipment. Mostly uninhabited save for a few lackadaisical guards making their rounds, probably happy to be here instead of the frontline. Glassy made himself useful by disabling lights, alarms and locks when they impeded their movement. The frogs technology was alien but ultimately simple enough that he had been able to easily manipulate it when needed.

Finally they reached the top floor and slipped out into the early morning light of the planets star. The space was clogged with all manner of vents and pipes which provided excellent cover from any overhead patrols. Around and below them the city sprawled out in every direction with warehouses and slaughterhouses much like their own continuing for miles in every direction. The sky was clogged with smog and steam and the whole place was coated in the acrid stench of industrial agriculture. Immediately below their perch was a wide plaza, set up with hundreds of folding chairs all facing towards a raised stage and the podium at its center. At the far side of the plaza was an imposing, brutalist building that commanded the whole space. That must’ve been the headquarters for the company that held so much power here.

It reminded Artyom of the corporate colonies, cities centered around the physical manifestation of their corporate overlords. Despite the miserable architecture and subpar living conditions, there was still beauty to be found in these places, a million small wonders of life. He thought of his years on Velograz after the siege there, how even in the face of such adversity the people had lived. The early morning bustle of people making their way to work, saying goodbye to loved ones and hello to coworkers, stopping for a snack or enjoying a few quiet moments before the workday. These aliens, frogs or whatever they maybe, were doing the same. In the face of terrible foes they were getting up and going to work, saying goodbye to their kin and filling their stomachs.

At home they taught children that aliens couldn’t be trusted because they saw Solarians as nothing but animals to be enslaved or consumed. That the best you could hope from an alien was a business partnership. Yet here he was, assisting in making the terrible nightmare of slavery and genocide a reality for this species. He was all the reason a species needed to be wary of outsiders.

He shook away the growing knot in his stomach and took stock of the situation. Citizens were beginning to flow into the plaza below and the sun was starting to fully dissipate the last vestiges of darkness. He’d have Lursanaria and Liche take up positions on each corner of the roof, both with rifles ready to take the shot. Glassy would cover the door while Artyom scanned the other buildings for any counter snipers or other security.

“Alright, everyone dead silent until we exfil, this is it guys” he said with finality as everyone quietly took their positions.

Time passed and the crowd grew and grew until the plaza was brimming and observers had begun watching from any windows or rooftops that gave them a chance to see the Marquis speak. This was gonna be a problem, Artyom gestured for Glassy to bar the door. Wordlessly he set about using a small torch to weld it shut, satisfied that it would hold he returned to his concealed position and everything was once again going to plan. Security was tight with armed guards in abundance below, fortunately the sheer size of the crowd in the plaza seemed to be drawing all of the available security away from the rooftops.

Aircraft swept by overhead but evidently didn’t spot them. A commotion went through the crowd below as the doors of the company building opened to reveal a regally dressed grippli flanked on either side by almost as impressively dressed guards. The crowd erupted in applause and Artyom took the opportunity to signal the shuttle to begin its descent for exfiltration. The proverbial rubicon had been crossed, the shuttle was locked in and they would succeed or fail in the fleeting minutes before it arrived. He prayed to any god who would listen that the frogs hadn’t changed their security codes since they’d landed.

The Marquis stepped up to the podium in clear view of his shooters, but he couldn’t singal them to shoot until the shuttle was mere moments away or else they would be doomed. It was a delicate balancing act where the slightest miscalculation could result in everyones death. In the plaza below the Marquis began his speech and the autotranslator implant went to work in his ear.

“The spirit of our peoples is insurmountable. Beset by no small number of obstacles, our forefathers, having united the Grippli into a single kingdom, first reached up to the skies. Knowing not what lay beyond, they reached out with grasping hands into the darkness. They left the white sands of Shol with the dream of tapping the vast riches of the cosmos and in just a short span of time expanded across more than a half dozen worlds. Each one of them a beautiful gem, each one providing a bounty that our ancestors could scarcely dream of. But just as the barbarians of old had, with great jealousy and violence, attempted to wrest that bounty from our ancient ancestors’ hands, so too did a new scourge sail across the stars to menace us. Coveting our wealth, coveting our civilization, they came in numbers greater than any earthly army, great enough to darken the skies of a hundred worlds. Against the onslaught our forefathers defended our civilization, never wavering in their duty. In those dark days, the kingdom paid for its freedom with the blood of its young. Though the price had been high, we paid it. Their barbarian king had come as a conqueror, but we were not conquered.”

There was a heavy thump at the door. Fuck. Artyom locked eyes with Glassy who had gone totally white and raised his carbine towards the door. Artyom fervently shook his head no and raised a finger to his lips to indicate a need for silence. He drew a long serrated knife from its sheath and crept towards the door.

There was another thump at the door, this one heavier and more violent. It was quickly followed by another and another. The door came flying open and a heavy set Grippli came tumbling forward, his eyes went wide as soon as they met Artyoms. It threw up a hand but Artyom swatted it away and wrenched the poor creature around.

“Now, the barbarians come once more. Again their fetid numbers swell from across the cosmos, no longer content with our offerings of peace. Again they have come to wrest the fruit of civilization from our hands, their own being incapable of growing it. Again must we Grippli men take up arms in defense of our homes and families. And again will their tyrant chieftain leave empty handed, back to their own frozen squalor."

Artyom swung his knife up into the creatures throat before it could make much more than a yelp, hot blood came spilling out over his hand. He tore his knife sideways and with it came the poor frogs windpipe and life, the creature fell limply forward in a torrent of its own blood. Just in time for Artyom to lock eyes with its companions who came rushing out after their fallen comrade. Glassy came down on the first one with his own blade and connected hard into the side of its skull.


“The brave soldiers of Chulrup stand undaunted in defense of our frontier, having thrown the Ozlukar hordes into a standstill. On the surface and in orbit around the planet, we have weathered blow after blow wrought upon us, exacting a toll of blood beyond any measure for every inch. But though our men have wrought a terrible wrath upon them, the Ozlukar have pressed on. Against such a massive force, one that enslaves the conquered and turns them against their own brothers, none could stand alone. Even the mightiest mountain is eventually weathered down by the tide.”

The third grippli punched Glassy hard in the face and sent him reeling back where he tripped over a pipe and fell backwards. The time it spent focused on Glassy was more than enough for Artyom to sink his blade into the creatures throat from behind and with a sickening wrench send the creature spluttering limply forward. There was one more, shrieking in terror as it stumbled down the stairs in shock.

“Stand proud, Grippli man! You fight not just for your own freedom, but the freedom of every race in the shackles of bondage. You fight for the freedom and sanctity of all the Gul stars. You, hand in hand with our allies, stand against evil. You stand against all that is wrong and wicked in the cosmos. We will win our fight against this evil! Against any challenge the Grippli will remain undaunted and unbent! We will accept nothing but complete victory! Glory to the King! Glory to the Kingdom!”

Artyom could hear the crowd roar in delight and pride as the Marquis finished his speech, at the same instant he propelled himself forward in a spear tackle and caught the final witness in the waist. It let out a final desperate scream as he plunged his blade into his throat. Its eyes twitch with pain and fear for a moment before the life left its body, Artyom stood up shakily and shook his head violently.

“Closing fast boss” came the shuttle pilots voice through his earpiece.

Artyom raced back up the stairs. In the plaza below the Marquis was waving to the crowd confidently, meanwhile a guard was rushing his way.

“Do it!” Artyom demanded.

Two shots rang out in perfect unison, one landed square in the Marquis chest and the second in the center of his forehead. Both connected violently and the regally clad form of the inspiring leader went twirling around and then settled into a heap.

A cry of desperate terror went through the crowd, as if the illusion of hope and victory had been shattered all at once. As if this singular act of violence had finally illustrated to the assembled crowd the utter hopelessness of their situation. Terror turned to wailing grief quickly as no more shots rang out, but terror once again gripped the crowd as an alien shuttle came roaring low over the buildings.

It swung itself around and sat still for a fleeting moment, in which time Artyom, Glassy, Liche and Lusanaria all lept on, and then roared skyward. In its wake there was nothing but the grief and terror of a doomed world, millions of voices lamenting the cruelty of Artyoms actions, all motivated by profit.

The shuttle rattled and roared as it fled the pursuing craft, with a final burst of thrust it cleared the atmosphere and entered the safety of the Lettuce flak field.

Artyom stared out the small rear window of the shuttle at the world below, from here the spiderweb lights of cities and towns were indistinguishable from those back home. He remembered Velograz, how its widows and orphans had offered desperate hands skyward as their world burned, praying or lamenting to the heavens. He looked down at his own hands, still gripping tightly to his blade, soaked in blood, trembling.
Don't look at this


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