||The Wolf and the Spider-ant Queen
The Wolf and the Spider-ant Queen|
Lyceum the Outdweller wrapped the heavy cloak around him. The cold that he had not noticed before now heavily cut into parts of him. The metal parts, the Meklan implants, the eternal itch behind his soul that reminded him what he had lost. What he had gained. Great gouts of breath turned to ragged white clouds that dispersed as soon as they were made, torn away by the howling wind. He stopped his troupe for a moment and gazed down the side of the mountain. Far below the landing pads stood, well below the snow line, and he thought he saw the shape of a shuttle landing before it was gone in a flurry big snow. He snarled and checked his communicator before pushing onwards up the mountain trail, called so only because to left was a wall and to his right a prodigious drop. But it was told at great expense that here was one of her secret laboratories. Time would tell.
Near the top of the mountain the trail ended in a flattened area, a disguised shuttle pad and a heavy blast door, the kind used in certain types of Laboratory. Lyceum looked around and scuffed his foot over the platform. From the look of it, no one had landed on this platform for a long time. He gestured to his troupe and they scattered, pulling our scanners and setting sensors. He walked towards the blast door and instintively over to the part of the wall where the control mechanism was usually, and he found it quickly. There was a Wolf Pack marking on the components, Kala's. He was on the right track. Pressing the largest button he waited while the great door squealed and opened slowly. Inside lights flickered and mostly came on, some of them having burnt out, others flickering. Climbing under the door before it was opened he walked in and looked around. It was slightly warmer inside, but not by much. Despite being close to the top of the mountain, the area inside was large and spacious. Heavy columns held up the mountain above them, and running his paw over one of them he realised it was part of the living rock. As more of his troupe came in scanners started bleeping and heavy torches were pulled out.
"Lyceum, we have remains here, mostly human but also some Dewiek.... and looks like some Hive."
"Lot of signs of fighting, debris that looks like medical equipment which has been destroyed, signs that other equipment has been removed."
"Uh Lyceum, you may want to look at this...."
Lyceum the Outdweller moved towards the rear of the complex and found something unexpected. There were several large transparent tubes that ran along the back wall. The lights in the area had long since died, and the beams from the heavy torches showed remains in them. Several were cryo-tubes, but from the look of the readouts all were dead. Some human, one that contained a large black furred Dewiek and one vast tube that contained what looked like the shed skin of a Hive Queen, but there was something wrong with it. The face was far too angular to be a purebred. It looked like some of the antenna were missing, but they might not have shed with the rest of the skin. There were two areas where it looked like vestigal wings might have sprouted from and the abdominal carapace looked to be much more heavily armoured. But the legs, the legs were more spider than Hive. Going by Hive Queens he had seen before, this one could have been a monster. A fitting project for Kala.
"It looks like one of Kala's experiments. Half Hive Queen and half Spider. Is there no end to her abominations?"
Lyceum looked at the shed skin and pulled his cloak around him tighter. It had obviously been in a fight, there were blaster marks on the carapace and it looked like it has been in the wars. The other tubes, the remains looked to once have been alive, and probably died in the tubes. There was a story here. Once.
"It doesn't matter. She isn't here, and all the equipment has long since gone. Call the shuttle to the platform outside then seal this place."
He looked at the creatures carapace and shook his head.
"Whatever happened here we missed it."
Walking away he stopped and turned around and walked back to the tube. There, at the bottom. A legend he had almost missed. He roared for more light and knelt down to read it. The burnished copper plate had a few words and a date on it.
Tshuh'Krek - TSH:KRK
Two years prior - Unidentified Location - Yank System.
In the basement of a rather non descript building on the outskirts of Balmorral the black marketeers came and spread out their wares. Others came to ask for things, items, drugs, weapons. Slaves were bought and sold. Technology stolen from secure vaults was paraded, partially for boasting, mostly for the potential buyers. Everything from nerve gas to structural modules was bought and sold, under the rader, away from authorities. Spies watched because it was their job, to gain agents and spot the other sides. Human rubbed shoulders with Naplians, with Aquaphibs and Dewiek. Every race was here, at Jacks Bazaar.
On one of the side tables several swarthy men were dealing. Their men were standing, keeping watch and keeping the curious away. It was a prize that many sought but had never been available. One man had seen it, though two others had been with him. They had died to keep the secret, only he escaped. Barely. His left arm was missing below the elbow and he had heavy cut across his chest, bound and sealed as best as the mercenary crew had been able to. He needed the sale to afford the medical bill if he wanted to live. And at Jacks Bazaar it was expensive. But his information was, if he could sell it right, golden.
"The problem is, my wounded hero, can we trust your information?"
He pulled a memory crystal from a hidden pocket and slipped it into a viewer and keyed in a code. He handed it to the buyer.
"Here, Francoise. Here is proof, and if you want more, you can look at my wounds. I tell you it is there, and the location is yours for the price I demanded."
Francoise looked at the viewer and shuddered. He handed it to his second and rubbed his chin.
"By the True One, what a monster!"
"Worth the money. I don't care what you do with it, I just want the money. I just know it's a lot, but you can sell it for ten times the price."
"Have you seen the size of this Boss? Are you sure we can handle it?"
"We can handle it. Okay, once we have it you can have your money."
"No way man, I need that money now. I need to fucking heal these wounds!"
The Boss dragged on his nic and stubbed it on the table and clicked his fingers. His crew pulled out weapons and pointed them at the guards of the wounded man.
"Don't move if you want to live. You are not paid enough."
He watched as they raised their hands and stepped back. The wounded man turned to them but could see the defeat in their eyes.
"No hold on, this ain't right!"
"You are in Jacks. If it is right here, there is something wrong. You guys, clear out. Chalk this up to bad luck, and experience."
The Boss looked down and smiled. He reached over and punched the wounded man.
"How about we drag you to the back rooms and go to work on you with a welding torch until you tell me where it is."
"Your agent told me you could be trusted!"
The Boss clamped his hand over the wounded mans mouth and punched his wound.
"You tell me where it is and I will stop punching you and when we have it I will pay you."
With his strength fading the wounded man pushed the Boss off and reached into his jacket. A silenced pistol shot took him under the nose and blew the back of his head out.
"Damn it! What did you do that for?"
"Shit, thought he was reaching for a weapon."
The second reached in and pulled out a shuttle key and some papers out of the dead mans jacket. Pulling out his communicator he spoke into it briefly and waited until he got the reply and then grinned.
"I'm guessing he didn't have time to blank his shuttle memory as his shuttle is out on pad delta tango 3. Lets go and check shall we?"
"If this doesn't work, I'll shoot you like you shot this idiot. If you've let a bloody Hive Queen get out of our grasp I swear to the True One, you are dog food."
The smugglers got up and looked around. No one was looking at the body, and on the next table there was a body slumped over, snoring loudly. The Boss walked over and nudged it. Around the table were empty liquor bottles, on top was a tool bag. He sneered.
"Drunken Dewiek engineer. Leave it. Lets get to the shuttle pads."
Kala waited until they were gone and then sat up. Slinging the tool bag over her shoulder she stretched and stepped over the body and went to another table. A very large and almost black furred Dewiek was bartering with a couple of humans. Some artifacts were on the table and the language going between them was fierce. As she pulled up they were shaking on the deal and he was pushing the artifacts into a bag.
"Aah Kala. Just in time, take these to our ship and then...."
"I need to talk to you in private. It's important."
He backhanded her and knocked her into wall, following up by grabbing her throat and lifting her off the ground. He spoke to her in a calm manner, almost caring.
"Now you know what I told you about disrespect before, girl. So I know you didn't do it lightly?"
"No My Lord.... but it's important."
"Spell it out. Slowly and quietly."
"Hive. Queen. Kidnapping."
He dropped her and looked down at her and ruffled her head fur.
"Now tell me everything and don't leave anything out."
There are few places in what is loosly termed as 'Human Space' where the Hive and Hexamon consider home. None of them are found in Yank. So it was with much consternation that a group of opportunistic thieves broke into an abandoned outpost and found a cave complex stacked with Hive Eggs, Hive Silk and Hive Warriors. Before they died they saw the opportunity that both scared and excited them. A Hive Queen unlike anything anyone had seen before. Only one of the thieves escaped. But that was all that was needed to create problems.
The Hive Queen TSH:KRK moved around the cave with several minions, her eight legs moving silently, her carapace shimmering. Her antenna flexed and twitched. Her angular face looked around at everything with a sadness. Once again, she would have to move on. How could she learn about the aliens if she kept having to move. Perhaps the hard liners were right, the only good human was a dead one. But then again, it was a new time and her adoptive family were very understanding.
<We must evacuate. The Humans will come>
<My Queen, we have already begun transfering everything to the secondary hive. When it is complete we will bury this cave>
<Scout out the surface. We must be ready if they come>
A high pitched keening sound came from one of the corridors followed by the sound of high velocity gunfire.
<My Queen, retreat to the tunnels! TSH:KRK, you must escape!>
Scores of hive warriors swarmed into the room as human troops in smuggler garb appeared at the bottom of the corridor and started shooting at everything moving. The boss Francoise appeared, two pistols in hand and pointed.
"Secure the Hive Queen! Kill everything else that moves!"
Troops with net launchers began firing nets at her, trapping her legs and making her fall. Warriors fell trying to free her, bullets ripped into her carapace and pain leeched through her. As more nets landed she looked up at the human before her.
<One day we will wipe your species from the galaxy. You are vermin>
The Smugger Boss Francoise stood over the heavily netted form of the Hive Queen and looked at her.
<Hkf'hehio lh'shfy'khy. Hlekup'akhhy>
He laughed and loaded a charge into a very large stun gun.
"I don't know what you said. But I don't care. End of the day you are just a bug to be squashed."
He fired the weapon into her and watched her twitch.
"Load her up boys, and as much of the goods here as fits in the shuttle."
Frowning he turned around. His men were lying on the ground.
"By the True One....."
A shadow detached itself from the wall and he looked up at the largest Dewiek he had seen. The razor sharp teeth that filled the mouth looking at him came close quickly and he screamed. And fired.
Kala came down the corridor with a handfull of Dewiek and looked on the scene. The Wolf Lord Black Mane Weak Heart was lying on top of the Smuggler Boss, his teeth around his throat. Both were dead. The dewiek pulled them apart and Kala leant down and ruffled his fur.
"Oh Master, why did you have to die like this."
<Please get me out of here, little dewiek>
Kala walked over to the netted Hive Queen and cleared her throat.
<Do worry not great leader.... king... Queen yes Queen help with silk and talon>
"Damn I hate speaking Hive. Bad on the throat."
<You speak my language. Please, save me and my people will reward you. Take us all away from here>
<Your people are without carapace.... dead yes dead. I will help great leader... Queen. Help and heal>
Kala looked at the Queen. Was she smiling? How do you tell when a giant ant smiles at you?
"Get everyone here loaded up into the shuttle. Even Black Mane. We are heading to the mountain hideout."
The heavy combat shuttle landed on the mountain pad and she walked down the landing pad. WIthout a sound the blast door opened and employees swarmed out and started emptying the shuttle.
"Take the Hive Queen to the medical facilities at the back, put the rest of the bodies in cryo storage until we are ready for them. Make sure the Wolf Lords's body is taken care of."
"Who will take over now old blackie is dead?"
"I don't know, but nothing changes here. This is still my lab."
She waited until everything had been unloaded and then went to the medical facilities. The Hive Queen was lying on the floor, her legs under her, shaking.
<Great.... Queen. You are.... wounded. How can... I spin silk... help?>
<Help me to shed my carapace. My wounds burn.>
<What is your name>
<Tshuh'Krek or TSH:KRK in my mother tongue. I am the Spider-Ant Queen>
Kala slapped her chest and howled.
<Kala Godslayer, I am Dewiek>
She summoned her most trusted medical assistants and together, into the night they worked. Piece by piece the carapace of the Spider-Ant Queen. While others took care of the humans and the dead body of their Wolf Lord Kala sat with TSH:KRK. As her new carapace hardened Kala fed her and talked softly with her. It took days, but eventually she was ready to move.
<How will your people know you are ready>
<They have been outside for the past two days. It would be impolite to trespass on your territory without permission>
<I look forward to the day when I can see you again. Call your people>
TSH:KRK's antenna twitched and the blast doors opened, hive warriors made their way in and prostrate themselves before her.
<Kala of the Dewiek, I look upon you as friend. You are always welcome in my home>
Kala watched them go and turned to the discarded carapace. Piece by piece it was arranged in the hermetically sealed chamber and she put the legend on the bottom. Tshuh'Krek - TSH:KRK[/P]
|GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.
With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.
With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
Star Date: 221.30.5
A Forlorn Hope
The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.
Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.
The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.
Newstart is lost
Star Date: 221.27.2
End Game Lost
A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.
While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.
Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.
ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game
Star Date: 221.22.5
Assault on End Game
The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.
The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.
ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships
Star Date: 221.11.4
The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.
Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?
Star Date: 221.3.3
Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.
Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble
However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:
“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”
Doomsday On Pause
At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.
Star Date: 220.50.5
Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space
As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.
Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.
Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.
Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.
When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...
Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease
Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.
What they found will shock you!
Star Date: 220.45.1
Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.
Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.
Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.
We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."
Valhalla Stargate Reopens
Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.
*** Inter Galactic News ***
Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt
After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
|News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----
(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.
This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...
(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )
... it is time for a word from our sponsor.