This is a non-canon piece as far as things go

Following another spell of "Do I underestimate my own fiction?", I decided on this short story to see if I can pump some power back into them. This is an exercise to get the imperssion Draconis in particular are fearsome opponents and is told through the perspective of an alien soldier

The Attack[]

Garada, colony of the Torian Confederation, a race of medium-sized humannoids on the fringe of Andromeda's inner-rim.

People had been migrating to the cities for days. There was word out in the coutnryside of strange killers, driving people out from less well-defended areas. One soldier, Galtain, watched as another batch of desperate refugees entered the city. He sighed, food supplies were running low, there was nothing coming in from the farms as something was raiding them. All they had access to was the food being grown within the city.

The next day he was on patrol when a woman bumped into him. She begged for a morsal fo food. Galtain had hsi ration pack on him but he had been ordered not to give any food to civillians. It had become a tough time News was spreading that other ssytems were going dark. War was on the horizon after a failed raiding attempt on a group of alien colonists who planned to set up on a world the confederation had claimed. As she begged, there was a roar in the sky. Bolts of energy impacted the city's shields and everyone panicked as the beams made tremendous impact. Shots were also fired, impacting and detonating on the shield.

Everyoen ran for shelter, and Galtain guided them, ever vigilant of the sky above. The shields flickered as the beams eroded away at the shield's energy supply. it was weakening, as a good 20% of the population made it inside fallout shelters a beam broke through and hit a tower block, creating a deadly fireball on the upper floors that spread that incinerated the inside structure and shattered every glass window, glass raining from the sky. Screams were heard as more shots were fired, more destruction, people ran in panic from the rain of glass. Through the hellfire there were aircraft on an approach to the surviving rooftops. Flying with them, the sky was filled with small strike craft that moved in swarms, shooting at any allied aircraft and anyone foolish to stand on the rooftops. Galtain pulled the rifle from his shoulder and gripped the handle tightly. He aimed upward and used his scope to identify the craft. His heart sank when he saw what appeared to be a three-clawed hand gripping a planet in its palm - It was as though the image symbolised what was happening.

The city burned around him. He had no time to think and fired his gun into the air, hoping to down a few drophips. The bullets bouncedd off the armour. He had ot take shelter as within minutes plasma was raining down on his location from the rooftops. He ran for cover, one of his squadmates' skulls exploded like a watermelon at the sound of a thoudnerous explosion. The shot had entered the back of his head and smashed the area of the visor over his eye. Galtain's heart raced as he managed to duck behind cover, narrowly missing a similar shot that split a chunk of fallen concrete.

Galtain hid behind the makeshift concrete barricade. Other soldiers joined him, he reloaded his rifle and ducked as shots passed over him. After a few deep breaths he looked to the other soldiers. They all knew they had to get to the fallout shelter on the other side of the block. They had to work together. Nodding they climbed out of the barricade and dashed for more cover while under fire.

There were soldiers of many variations of shape on the ground clad in smooth ceramic armour. Shots impacted energy shields and they looked at their targets with a faceless stare. Rather than a visor, their helmets were solid chunks of material, shaped to conform to their skulls. The shots fired by Galtain and his allies hit the shields and did litte, while the rifles of the alien soldiers killed in a few shots and with deadly accuracy.

Galtain's makeshift squad was thinning as they headed towards the fallout shelter. As he ducked under a shattered piece of road he pulled one of his allies with him, who was shot in the leg.

Ertham - Argh, my leg!
Galtain - Easy, easy. Keep calm, let me see to it.
Ertham - It hurts!
Galtain - Stop moving, I need to see how bad it is.

Galtain pulled out a medkit from his survival pack and tore away the fabric of Erthan's comabt suit, using a knife to cut at the tougher materials. The shot created a burn wound that had gone right down to the muscle tissue. The exposed muscle was mottled, the blood vessels had been cauterised. As he tended to the wound Galtain felt a few thumps from above. His heart skipped a beat, he panicked as to what was out there. It was still chaos above him.

He froze as, jumping in front of the entrance to the shelter, he could see a pair of enormous muscular legs, ending with three large clawed toes. All of it plated in armour. Punding sounds were made as the creature moved away from the shelter. before he could breathe a sigh of relief, he saw the feet turn around, directing themselves towards the shelter. Galtain's eyes widened, he used the but off his rifle to push an emergency hole out of the concrete as plasma hit near the entrance. Ertham's legs were blasted away, Galtain had no choice but to leave him behind as he broke through. he squeezed out and narrowly missed several plasma shots as he ran to take cover behind a wall.

10 shots left inside the current magasine. He had to do something, switching to an armour-piercing setting he took several deep breaths but as he did he ducked as the alien soldier had found him and run to shoot in his cover. Galtain ducked inside a building, he caught a glympse of a large pair of wings and a huge frame. The soldier could not fit inside the building's doorway but Galtain did not hesitate, he ran to find cover upstairs. Looking back, he saw the wall around the doro shake as the soldier attempted to force his way in. As he moved up a few floors he heard strange vocoder-altered sounds coming from above him. he panicked again and ran to find somewehre to hide. There was a "smash" as the alien solder created a hole he could fit through.

Galtain found a corridor, he had no choice; he pulled out a frag grenade, primed it and threw it behind him, the corridor collapsed. For now, he was safe....But for how long?

Brief Respite[]

Galtain rested uneasily. Soldiers could coem through any moment looking for him, after some time he reasoned that the fighting must have died down. He checked his equipment and found he had only one clip left. Finding some tape he tied the spare magasine to the rpesently-equipped one and heaved himself up, discovering he had scraped his knees in the chaos. There was a crackling over his communicator.

Command - Anyone on this fre---ncy, please res--nd
Galtain - Private First Class Galtain here, signal is bad but I read.
Command - Pri--te, your location is a no-go. En--my sold--- --erywh-re.
Galtain - Requesting evac sir.
Command - Neg--ive. Cannot s-nd evac. Too m--y host-les in ar-a.
Galtain - Command I am losing the signal.
Command - Gen--al fallback o--ers issued. Pu-- out n-w so---er!
Galtain - *sigh* Roger command.

Galtain looked about, after trekking through the building he found an open window and kept his cover. Pulling out a set of binoculars he studied the area. it was then he got a good look at the monsters that had been chasing him before; Standing on two legs, larger than msot of the other soldiers with lerge bat-like wings and graceful curved horns.

He increased magnification and saw two smaller soldiers dragging out an injured Torian. They threw it at the dragon's feet and it looked at the body. He was too far away to make out what they were saying but after a few minutes he saw them dragging the injured soldier into a veicle. He lowered his binoculars, checked the strap of his rifle and jumped through the broke nwindow. Bending his legs to minimise the noise he kept to the rubble. He snuck through and dived into a rubble mound as one of the dragon-creatures plodded past. he kept as still as possible, waiting until it was gone.

After waiting he scrabbled up from the rubble and ran for the van. His heart was racing but as he was 10 metres from the vehicle he felt a searing heat radiate across his back that forced him to the floor. He turned around and saw the same soldier holding a pistol-shaped weapon that curved around his hand. It was pointing directly at him as the soldier slowly plodded over. Galtain rolled to dodge a second and third shot. He cocked his rifle and fired a short burst that bounced off the dragon-creature's shield.

The magasine was empty. He had no time to insert another clip and resorted to using his pistol as he stood up, the shots impacted the shield but did barely anything. He could still feel the pain on his back. The dragon-creature leaped at him and pinned him to the floor. The creature slowly drew out a large serrated knife as it pressed Galtain's face into the rubble. The creature's weight was immense, easily enough to keep him pinned to the ground. As the knife got closer, shots imapcted the creature's shield. This distracted it, turning around a few shots managed to get through its shield and impacted on its armour. It began to chuckle in a deep, booming, vocoder-altered tone. It rested a knee on Galtain's back and fired its main ranged weapon at the relieving soldiers, downing three. This laughter died down as one of the soldiers firing the shots fired a rocket at it. The rocket hit the dragon-creature and tore off a good chunk of its right arm. it could not stand up and collapsed next to Galtain. The allied soldiers fired on other enemy soldiers before running to help Galtain up, but not without their own casualties.

Soldier - Thank the spirits you're alive, we thought these draconis took everyone but us.
Galtain - Draconis?
Soldier 2 - Yeah. They're everywhere, turns out the countryside was full of them and their automated drones.
Galtain - Is there any refuge?
Soldier - Not here, Imperials are making a clean-sweep, this sector might be crawling with them before long.
Galtain - I'm glad some of us are alive.
Soldier 3 - These Draconis are frakkin tanks, man. We lost three guys to just one of them and needed a rocket to hurt it proper.
Galtain - How are we supposed to beat them back?
Soldier 2 - Maybe get a tank of our ow--
Soldier - Get down!

Everyone ducked for cover as a Torian jet was followed by two smaller ITN fighter drones. The drones picked it off and the jet crashed into a nearby building. Everyone waited for the craft - which had briefly hovered before flying off - to leave before they emerged from their hiding places.

The squad's sergeant checked hisi HUD system for signs of any nearby hostiles. he breathed a sigh of relief but turneed to hear one of his own soldiers firing on the escaping transport. As it flew out of range he threw his rifle to the ground in a fierce roar.

Tanoth - Bastards! All of them! My sister and kids are on that transport! Give them back to me you assholes!

The sergeant rested hsi arm on Tanoth's soldier to restain him.

Sergeant - Easy soldier. We'll get them back, keep a steady head. We can do it.
Tanoth - Every minute we wait sir my sister and children could be chipped and transported offworld. You heard the rumours, this isn't an extermination, its enslavement! We either die here or toiling on another planet.
Sergeant - Calm down.
Tanoth - No, I want them back I want them--

The sergeant resorted to smacking him across the face, staggering him. he held his head as he kept his distance while Galtain struggled to stand up. The sergeant looked over his shoulder to see Galtain and called for one of his squad to pick up a medpack from their downed medic. The kit itself was still relatively intact, a little charring and deformation was present from the intensity of the plasma shot that killed its former owner. The soldier took out a tube and squeezed a paste onto his hand which he used to rub into Galtain's plasma burn. The squad member then pulled out a set of banages and wrapped them around Galtain's torso to seal the pressure. Calling him to turn around, Galtain gulped down a painkiller tablet he was given.

Soldier - How's that?
Galtain - Little better.
Sergeant - That was a heavy burn, be thankfu lyou're not dead.
Galtain - Already am sir. Private First Class Galtain Morleo of the Tharov 34th regiment.
Sergeant - Sergeant Koren Khivv of the Tharove 36th regiment. Good to see another survivor.
Galtain - What is the plan of action, sir?

The sergeant turned his pack and took a few steps away from Galtain, sighing heavily.

Koren - We run. You saw what these creatures can do, no way we can prevail on our own.
Galtain - We have to do somethi--
Koren - What, eactly? Shoot them? With our peashooters, we need firepower if we want to stand a chance. Did you see that shielding, because i've certainly never seen anything like it.
Galtain - Where can we run sir, these aliens are everywhere.
Tanoth - They're nto aliens sir. They're demons, born from the deepest parts of the abyss, clawing at sanity and civility!
Koren - Don't mind Tanoth, we think he might be a few steps from succumbing to PTSD.
Galtain - And you're jut going to ignore him? He needs a psychiatrist.
Koren - What psychiatrist! We have barely anything left and loing more as we waste time. We either head to the country or--
Galtain - We can't. Unliek yo I was listening to news reports, the countryside is is where the death tolls began rising. they wanted us in the cities and now they've hemmed us in.

Koren looked about and into the air.

Koren - Aliens have the skies and the country, but we need evac.
Galtain - We have heavy ordinance, why not head for a rooftop?
Koren - Are you crazy?
Galtain - Do you have a better idea?
Koren - Fine, we'll do things your way. Maybe those beasts cleared themselves out of a few of the buildings...

The Tower[]

The downtown Hrshemoor Hotel - one of the few fully intact buildings left. Others had holes blasted through them, frameworks melted, if one looked closely they could see the blood smears. Lying near the frotn door was A draconis, slumped on its size like a beached whale on rubble. It appeared as though someone had fired an RPG that had damaged its armour, the lack of any mutilation suggested it was bled out. The rubble sourrounding it was stained with dark red blood, providing evidence for his theory.

Galtain apporached it with his rifle tightly gripped in his hands. He knelt down in front of it and examined the body.

Galtain - Hell's pits, these things are massive...
Koren - What do you expect? They're demons, sent to punish us all!
Sergeant - They're not demons. Watch.

The sergeant primed his rifle and fired a burst between the plats on the creature's leg. Blood trickled out of the wound. Galtain was startled and looked at the sergent.

Sergeant - Demons don't bleed like that.
Galtain - Next time warn us?

Galtain returned to studying the downed soldier, He brushed his hand along its arm, between the plats he could feel firm muscle, the arm itself was, liks everything else on the creature, colossal compared to his frame. He tore one of the plates off and saw the body glove underneath. Pitch-black it glistened like black leather in the sunlight. it looked to him like corrugated material. He pinched one of the arches, which felt very tough. He took out his knife and made a delicate incision, it took some effort due to the matrial but as the seal broke the rupture burst open with a hiss of pressurised air and the surge of a strange liquid.

With this incision made, Galtain wanted to know more about their attackers. However the sergeant quickly hoisted him up and pulled him inside the building.

Sergeant - We have movement, inside. Now.
Galtain - But--
Sergeant - I don't want us all to die, not yet anyway.

The hotel was in ruins as they entered, the group resorted to using flashlights mounted to their rifles in order to illuminate the area. There was a thud outside, the sergeant knew it; more of themse marines had arrived. The squad decided to hurry inside, as they passed under a blacony that sat over an arch deeper into the hotel, they were set upon by marines lying in wait. One of the aliens jumped down and with a floor-cracking "thunk" he landed in full view of the soldiers. Panicking, the squad ran to look for cover, as they entered the next room, more marines jumped from the balcony. Galtain looked back quickly to watch as two soldiers were crushed beneath the feet of the landing mariens, accompanied by the stomach-churning sound of ruptured tissue and crushed bone, accompanied by cut-off screams as these goliaths crushed the torsos of their victims. Galtain had the misfortune to see a draconis foot land directly on the head of one of his squadmates, crushing the skull and helmet like a piece of fruit.

Galtain quickly turned around, feeling nauseated. The squad had used the hotel's reception counter as cover, not a good idea as the marines' plasma shots obliterated chunks of the wooden barricade. Koren managed to pry a lift open and they ran inside as a marine gave chase. The doors closed on the attacker's arm which forced its way into the elevator cab. Everyone stood back as the arm reached for Koren and grabbed him by the neck. With a shift in his position, the marine threw the doors open, tossed Koren behind itself and tried to grab another soldier. It was met with fire from the sergeant's assault rifle and reeled as the shots bounced off its armour. Galtain primed his rifle and fired above him, blowing off the vent on the ceiling. The marine grabbed another and tossed her behind it. Galtain's rifle bursts managed to crack the marine's faceplate as he was hoisted up. The marine was too big to fit through the vent and resorted to squeexing it arm through the vent, the action which was met with gunfire from the squad's surviving five members. A vocoder-altered roar was its response as the arm crawled back into the elevator cab.

They were safe momentarily and decided to climb the elevator cable to reach the upper levels. There was no turning back now. Back in the lobby, the female soldier, Ithira, crawled close to Koren, frightened as the draconis marines plodded to surround them. One primed its weapon and pointed it at their heads.

Marine - Torarh shalhael tor voror vali dral khus?
Marine 2 - Depfcha dralea aloumdii. Lilemur dralea. Arahh....slvornan dralea.
Marine - *chuckles* Voli Algunal slatofinan...

The first marine nodded with a chuckle. Two of them stepped up to the pair and grabbed them by the arms and feet The marines then brutally forced their feet down on the soldiers' outstreched legs. The pain was immence as the bone was shattered. The two soldiers' screams echoed throughtout the building, heard by the squad as they climbed the elevator shaft. Koren and Ithira were dragged by the arms to the building's exterior where a transport was flying low. Opening their enourmous wings, the marines carrying the two soldiers flew up to the transport. The process of opening the wings kicked up dust and ash that was blown back by the force.

Hotel Radio[]

As the group neared the 30th floor Galtain felt a tug on the cable. he looked down and could vaguely make out three smaller figures down below. Plasma and coilgun shots whizzed past them. The group began to panic, somehow their enemies were in the elevator. The sergeant pulled himself to the 30th floor and attempted to pry the elevator doors open. he pulled out his knife and rammed it between the doors in an attemptto pry them open. The figures were becoming clearer in the dark, some were monkey-like while two of them were mroe slim. They barked through their vocoders in a language the group did no understand so Galtain fired back. After three minutes the sergeant managed to get the doors open and climed inside. Helping his team-mates in. As Galtain was the last ot leave the shaft he primed a grenade and lobbed it down the shaft. As he was clear there was a fireball met with screams.

The group had made it to a corridor that had been charred by the heat of plasma fire. There was a low howl as wind blew through the rubble. The building creaked for despite remaining relatively intact, to say it survived unscathed would have been a lie. The team kept vigilant as they walked down the corridor. Coming clsoe to w blown-out office they saw charred corpses, some of which had been blown out of the room by plasma cannon fire from orbit. A few more doors and they found a still-working landline unit. Galtai nkept watch as the sergeant called for help.

Forvith - This is Sergeant Forvith Aime of the Vindicator's 3rd regiment. My squad and I are pinned in Central Vodermia, repeat we are pinned in Central Vodermia. At the Hrshemoor hotel.
Command - Forvith? Damn we thought you were MIA. We had a visual of your location an hour ago but our findings recall an enemy fighter wing?
Forvith - Yeah. One of them took down a jet trying to escape the city. Poor bastard never stood a chance.
Command - We can't send an evac until those strike fighters are gone.
Forvith - Any advice on how to take them out?

The sergeant was interrupted when the wall in front of him exloded. As the dust cleared he looked out to see a n imperial fighter hovering in mid-air, looking right at them with no clear sign of an exhaust. SOmething was working though as it hovered with a loud hum.

Forvith - How's that damn thing staying in the air?

Galtai ntossed Forvith the RPG, he aimed and fired squarely at it however the jet simply hovered ot the side. He reloaded another as Galtain fired his assault rifle at it, revealing it was sheathed in an energy shield.

Galtain - Run?
Forvith - Run.

Galtai npulled Forvith up and they managed to evacuate the room as the fighter fired a pair of cannons at them, tearing through the concrete as if it was tissue paper. They both ran to look for a method of escape. However even while they kep out of the way of windows, bullets burst through the concrete walls around them as if the fighter could tell where they were. The squad ran deeper into the core of the building butthe bullets kept bursting through. This building wasn't designed for foreign assaults, it was an office buidling, but for the bullets to pierce concrete this easily was confusing ot say the least.

Forvith - We go down those things grab us, we stay here that fighter will shoot us to pieces. We go up we'll be more exposed and those things might catch us on the roof. What now?

Galtain paused as the fighter's shots richoched through the building. There wer etwo ways to go. After a shot burst through a wall he peered through and saw that some of the other city buildings were still intact. This gave hi man idea.

Galtain - I say we go along the rooftops!
Forvith - What?
Galtain - Keep to cover, find a way down. Maybe we can get to safety via the sewers.
Forvith - You're insane. So where do we jump?

Galtain peered through the hole. The ITN fighter had changed angle to look for them. That was their chance and the squad opened a door and darted for a smashed-open window. They leaped to a nearby rooftop and managed to grab the ledge. Galtain was in a stronger position, he climbed up, grabbed Forvith's hand and hoisted him up. Looking out they saw a dropship on approach and ran in the other direction. The fighter flew into view once again and sped up its guns, firing a hail of concrete-penetrating fire at the squad.

They darted from cover to cover across the broken rooftops, dodging gunfire and keeping low. Jumping over narrow alleys or through fire escapes to escape their pursuers. They began to tire, ducking into a partially destroyed apartment to avoid the fighter. As Forvith entered, Galtain followed behind and found himself thrown against the wall by a hard push to the chest. Looking forward he saw another human figure, its helmet hiding its face completely leaving only a blank mask. No visor, no reflection, nothing. Scrabbling up, Galtain tried to punch back but the human blocked and hit him some more with strength to dislocate his jaw. The power was tremendous, Galtain felt uneasy and the figure punched his stomach several times before knocking him to the floor with a backhand punch to the face. Forvith tried to wrap his arms around the soldier in a bear-hug. However the soldier easily broke out of the hold before Forvith could lock his arms together and Forvith received an arm into the side of his face. Two other soldiers burst in and either killed or incapacitated the rest of the squad.

Galtain's vision blurred as he blacked out, he could make out the soldier walking towards him and kneeling down to inspect him in his final moments. He heard vocoder voices, muffled as his ears rang as he slipped into darkness. Forvith's groans and spooky mutterings were all he could hear before passing completely into the realm of unconsciousness.

Armoured Core[]

Seritef watched from the upper hatch of a tracked battle-tank as it rolled in an armoured convoy towards the city. Instead of moving to help secure another city, the column had in fact retreated with Draconid forces in hot pursuit. The buggies that drove alongside the tanks and supply vehicles were able to pick off drones with repeater cannons but things grew mroe desperate. The column arrived in an empty village some twelve kilometres from city limits. Smoke rose from smashed houses while others had been left completely intact. The streets were narrow, some blocked by rubble or abandoned barricades but the smell of death was evident. This city had been abandoned and later swept through by the enemy as most of the bodies were either trampled or shot in the head or back.

There were very few civillians who had died from unfamiliar gunshots, most had wounds inflicted by weapons the expeditionary force recognised; small-calibre coilguns wounds which entered smoothly, plasma burns or large-calibre rounds were only present on soldiers who must have stayed behind.

The leader of the expeditionary force was Vortan, a powerful female clad in heavy ballistic armour and wielding a stocky carbine. As she and her team wandered into the village centre they saw the body of a soldier, sitting limp against a wall. Vortan ordered her squad to spread out but almost immediately two were killed as one suffered a gunshot wound that caued his head to explode like a juicy piece of fruit, the other screamed as a plasma round hit him in the throat, dissolving the flesh. The soldier collapsed, his head almost severed from his body, his head and shoulders blackened or corroded by the plasma. Turning around she saw them, one dragon-like creature clad in the same ceramic armour as those worn by the creatures Galtain encountered and several stranger-looking aliens.

Vortan aimed her rifle and fired a bust of slugs at one of the dragons, watching as the shots bounced off a barrier that surrounded them. Her instincts kicked in and she ran the way she came, before she realised it a trunk0like arm had wrapped and pressed itself like a vice around her neck, she squirmed and shouted trying to break free from the rock-like grip of her assailant, even firing a few carbine shots either in the hopes of hitting someone or at least alerting the rest of the convoy.

Seritef heard the gunfire, the signal there was trouble in the village. He banged his fist against the ablative material of the tank, signalling it to reverse and slid himself inside. Smashing through a building and easily two, stories high, was a tank-like vehicle adorned with two large emitters on a swivel-mounted barrel. The tank crashed through like a lumbering giant, aiming its devilish turrets and charging them up. The tank crews were aware of this and tried to move, one of the tanks in the convoy received two simultaneous beam-like volleys, the intense heat and energy tearing at the frame, disintegrating whatever armour it had in one side and exposing the crews to thousands of degrees as well as a steel-crushing pressure wave from the impact, reducing the tank to a gutted husk that had just been bathed in the light of two stars inches from it.

Another of these monster tanks rolled up, firing its deadly beams at a supply truck and then at another tank, one of the buggies of the convoy tried to block the vehicle but with its size the raging monster of a vehicle merely trod over it as though the buggy and its crew were insects beneath a giant boot, a fitting metaphor as the buggy and the souls within were crushed under patterned treads. Other tanks fired at the monstrosities, their volleys merely chipping at its armour as it trundled forward without a care, a lumbering titan of steel, uncaring of the insects that pricked and prodded it, instead turning its fiery gaze on the dealers and reducing them to gutted, half-melted shells with but a look from its hellfire eyes. Seritef watched the carnage from his tank and attempted to escape. Driving down the road the tank abandoned the hopeless cause, the tanks proving too vigilant to let any escape but him and his crew...but why?

It took him a few moments before he realised, an explosion from underneath send the tank flipping into the air, the base dissolving away with Seritef safe in the turret...or at least partially safe, the blast had pulverised his leg bones and the tank came crashing down into the dirt, burning and upside-down, he thought he was going to die, burned alive in this shell of steel and carbon. Among the blaze he could hear his own heartbeat racing, he struggled to get out, pulling his way through the wreckage, punching at the hatch screaming, he wanted to escape this inferno.

Just when he gave up, the hatch was torn open, he felt a metallic hand grab him and rip him from the confines of his twisted coffin as though he was a rag-doll trapped in a poorly-built storage unit. He looked up to see the titanic dragon-like figure that held him by the arm, an eyeless stare peering into his soul. "This was it" he thought, "the demons have come to end me".

He was right, not moments later he felt a burning sting rush though his stomach, the soldier had plunged an intricate dagger into his guts, a pulsing field of plasma enveloped hits surface. He could feel the burning sensation and the heat from the blade burned the wound and his insides. He was overcome by pain as the alien drove the knife upwards, slicing him in half.

By the time the blade cut into his upper torso, he was already dead, the soldier merely threw his corpse away from the tank like some discarded and unwanted toy.

Vortan continued to writhe about, sensing its prey was trying to escape the arm pressed harder against her throat, making it difficult for her to breathe, slowly and gradually she found it harder to take in air before hre vision began to cloud up, drifting into a state of unconsciousness, in her air-deprived state she let go of her carbine, the weapon harmlessly clattering to the ground as the last few moments of her senses slipped from her, blackness enveloped her eyes before she slipped from the waking world.

But Vortan did not die, in her sensory-deprived state she did feel some measure of place, she felt herself bobbing about, cast around before it all stopped and for the first time in days she could sleep, even if it was against her will.

Office Raid[]

Selbeth was working late along with several others in the Trest Imports Ltd. office in Merithma. News wasn't coming in from other cities but a few office workers were talking as Selbeth passed with a pile of audit documents "aliens" people were saying "destroying frontier colonies" others were whispering. Selbeth's supervisor was watching so he kept quiet, walking over to a desk close to the room's exit to deliver the documents.

There was a loud humming resonating though the glass. Looking to the windows, people saw ships descending, hovering parallel to the windows. This caused a stir, several people got up from out of their desks at the craft they had never even seen before. Doors opened to reveal armoured beings taller and more massive than any of the office workers. Selbeth's supervisor stared up as one of the entities pulled out a weapon attached t otheir sides with one hand and aimed it at the crowd. The supervisor's eyes wodened and she screamed for everyone to get back as a white-hot blast flew from the weapon's end and shattered the glass, another entity at the other set of windows had done the same and moments later a dozen of the aliens jumped from the hovering ships and into the office with crashing thuds, toppling office workers too stunned to move.

Selbeth saw the chaos and ran as the rest of his colleagues ran for the exits, flashes sped over them as if the aliens were trying to shoot them, missing each time. Selbeth didn ot want to be in this potential bloodbath and used the crowd as a chance to duck into a nearby utility cupboard. Inside he heard screams and more blasting, perhaps this was ahppening in orther areas of the office, people were being fluished out of their cubicles like cattle. Selbeth took a chance and opened the door slightly, peeking towards the office scene where he saw that a few of the aliens had lowered themselves to inspect fallen captives. He caught a glympse of one of them with a co-worker in its muscular arm as the poor woman was tossed to the dropship.

His heart raced and he shut the door, he could have sworn one of the aliens jerked their head to see the ajar door and he backed into a corner. He could hear the "thump thump thump" of the alien's approaching footsteps, each heavy stommp shook bottles and rattled jars, drawing him further against the wall, panting rapidly, perpetually afraid of what might happen.

Then, The pounding stopped. Looking down he saw as something was obscuring the light that seeped under the door. The obscuring object passed with more stomping, gradually getting fainter. Selbeth relaxed and ran his hand though his hair before slumping to the floor. He was about to let out a laugh of relief when the wall opposite to the door exploded inwards and a colossal, three-toed foot attached to a digitigrade leg slammed itself int othe middle of the room, crushing flat a plastic bucket in the process. An arm easily of similar with to Selbeth's own torso emerged out of the dust, a hand of four fat digits spread itself out as it creached towards him and latched itself tightly against his chest, every moment this beast was moving Selbeth heard the creaking of leather, perhaps it was the cord-like coating it wore under its armour, which seemed to bend and flex to the creature's movements.

Selbeth felt himself violently yanked from his hiding place and carried towards the other alien sodliers, he kicked and pounded at his captor, screaming for release. His efforts were interrupted when the alien's other hand wrapped itself around his mouth and nose, suffocating him but moving away before he compeltely blacked out and was left feeling drowsy. In his semi-unconscious state he was dropped to the floor, the aliens' communications were a distorted blur to his ears, words bleeding together. He had been cast-down beside another male coworker, the poor man had been visibly punched in the stomach, another taactic to disorient captives.

Selbeth had only been partially asphyxiated, each breath slowly returned him to composure. When his head finally cleared he slowly stood up, the alien soldiers paid little attention to him. Lokin at the three aliens he gauged them all before taking a step forward, then anther, before he found himself running at one of the soldiers away fro mthe rest of the group. As he twisted his body, ready to punch the alien in the side it swiftly turned around, its tree-trunk like arm flailing in unison, smacking Selbeth in the chest and sending him flying into a cubicle wall. He lay bleeding as his would-be target walked up to him and picked him up, lifting Selbeth to his elongated helmet.

Soldier - Tenraus dask nesserag infimrius attenarag. [This one requires medical attention]
Soldier 2 - Confima, entharis. [Understood, lieutenant]

The lieutenant chuckled and walked away from Selbeth's limp body as the other soldier approached and administered a silver spray of some kind before pulling him up from the cubicle wrechkage by his legs and carrying him onto one of the dropships, dangling humiliatingly all the way. Despite this he did not complain, he could not resist, he could not fully understand what was going on due to partial blood loss. But his life was over, that much he knew. The end of his life marked by the stomping of heavy feet and the leathery creak of some unknown jacket.

Talk of Splendour[]

Two police officers were driving down one of the main thoroughfares of the city of Palerinos, a major settlement on the planet of Calenias some 12 light years from the colony besieged by the Imperium. The two of them talked mirthfully of experiences, with the co-drivor, Orris, talking about a prior drug raid downtown a week ago. Liniva, his driver and partner, smiled as she listened to the story, her eyes darting from the road as she noticed Orris gesturing excitedly with his hands, portraying the situation. Aster he reached a funny moment the two laughed before the police scanner interrupted the two of them.

Scanner - Attention all units in sector twelve we have a picket protest occuring at Craven Square all units please respond, over.

Orris tapped a button o nthe scanner and then tapped a device inside of his ear.

Orris - Control this is patrol 820 we are point-four kliks from disturbance site, over.
Scanner - Roger 820 you are the closest to the site of distress, be advised protesters appear agitated, over.
Orris - Roger control 820 is en route to Craven Square, ETA two minutes, over.
Liniva - Bloody traffic.
Orris - Just stick the sirens on.

Liniva nodded and pressed a panel, activating a device built into the car that generated a high-pitched wail, signalling for other cars to drift sideways and move out of their way. The car hastily propelled itself down the clearing road towards the square where a large crowd had gathered around the metallic statue of a war hero laying on his back, pointing a rifle towards shrouds unrecognisable, outstretching arms as if to claw at him. Hundreds of people had turned up, jeering and shouting towards a government building, some of them holding banners and signs that all conveyed messages such as "the dragons did nothing", "Give the Imperium a chance" "Down with Mortink", "How about we smash your palaces!"

Orris and Liniva arrived and stepped out of the car, donning shades to hide their eyes and walked towards the crowd.

Orris - Alright everyone calm down, who's leading this protest here? Speak up, don't worry we're not going to harass him or anything liek that.

The crowd turned to them angrily.

Protestor 1 - Shove off beat pigs.
Liniva - We jsut want to know what all this is about, can we speak to any organisers?
Protestor 2 - We said shove off, bloodletters!

Liniva ducked as a shoe came flying from the crowd and towards her. She had ducked just in time and the show hit the police car with a thud. She looked back into the crowd and with one hand on her belt and another with an extended finger pointing towards the crowd, she glared sternly.

Liniva - Hey! I'll be nice and let that slide. But I will not go easy on the next genius to try that again.

Out of the crowd walked a man in a suit, holding his arms out to his sides and his palms open as if to feign surrender.

Asivil - I apologise the crowd are a little...worked up. They just want justice.
Liniva - Oh, justice. What is all this?
Asivil - These good people have merely come to the conclusion that we have our alien intruders all wrong.
Liniva - Oh yeah? I find it heard to believe I am misunderstood about anyone who comes to our empire and starts flattening cities.
Protestor 3 - You and your selfish government started this! This is justice!
Asivil - Well, he has a point. After all, our government did fire on their transports. It was envy really.
Liniva - Envy? What in blazes are you on?
Asivil - Spires of golf and glass. Imagine it, every city a metropolis of palaces, gold as far as the eye can see, cities reaching up to height of cruising airliners. We are mere insects to them and until now they have overlooked us out of kindness.
Liniva - And this justifies them committing genocide how?
Asivil - Our government is complacent. They were jealous of the Imperium's prosperity and they thought they would not notice a few freighters missing.

Asivil's words riled the crowd, more police arrived, wearing ballistic vests and armed with handguns strapped to their sides. This was all obviously to repress the crowd in the hope to intimidate them back into dormancy. Asivil looked through Liniva's glasses and into her eyes with al ook of contempt.

Asivil - Oh come on dear, they rile a giant and you still see yourself as a victim. All these people wish for is asylum in the place at their side, away from the current government who actually thought they had a chance of victory against these aliens.

Liniva snarled and grabbed Asivil by the collar, pulling him close. The crowd stepped closer ,those around Asivil looking very aggressive towards her and her partner.

Liniva - The fuck is wrong with you!? You all want to side with these murderers, have you not been seeing the news!? People are dying and you spout hippie gibberish about giving monsters a chance!?
Asivil - None of this would have happened if the colonial parliament knew their place. I bet they would have welcomed all of us if we had just asked. But rather than ask, we steal. And we think they wouldn't notice.
Protestor 2 - Screw premier Mortink!
Protestor 1 - Down with the colonial parliament!

Asivil's smooth words and kind gestures slowly stopped working and the crowd charged for the two police officers. Liniva tossed Asivil towards the car and Orris opened the door to push him in. As he did, Liniva scrambled to the front and activated a code that created a wail and a sonic pulse from the car that caused those in the near vicinity to back away holding their ears. Liniva used this chance to close the car door and take off. In abducting Asivil for questioning, the crowd was no longer contained and charged the other officers at the scene armed with their signs, rocks, bottles and bricks. The car sped away towards the local precinct with Orris holding him down.

Orris - Great now the plaza's in uproar, well done smartmouth!
Asivil - Me!? They are only now engaging in violence because you decided to abduct me and now I am sure I will get a wonderful time in an interrogation chamber.
Orris - Liniva do I have permission to beat this smartalec's brains out?
Asivil - Oh very eloquent, very professional.
Liniva - If he doesn't shut up you can smack him in the back of the head.
Asivil - You know my followers won't stand for this.
Orris - Shut it. As far as we're concerned you're destined for the slammer for inciting insurgency.
Asivil - That was free speech you imbecile.
Orris - Sure looked like insurgency to me. That's, what, 15 years?
Asivil - Imprison me and you'll only make things worse.
Liniva - Oh that's it, Orris smack him.
Orris - With pleasure.

Orris pulled his nightstick from his belt and despite the struggle from his captive, once or twice elbowing him in the jaw, smacked Asivil i nthe back of the head, sending him forward and into unconsciousness, with Orris slumping in the back, panting. Liniva looked behind to see the results of the scuffle and lumped in her chair as she set the car's autodriver systems to take the best route to the precinct. A she looked back again, Orris gave a nod of accomplishment to and Liniva nodded back in the same way to her partner before Orris turned to look back to his unconscious captive.

Hazardous Flying Object[]

Kelfane Vanso - Ground control this is Razor-1 reporting an unidentified contact on radar at three o'clock from my position.
Ground Control - Copy Razor-1. Razor squadon is clear for interception. Identify and report.
Kelfane Vanso - Roger. Razor-1 out.

Flying high above the desert on another planet, Kelfane Vanso - a squadron leader of the Torian Colonial Air Force - was on patrol with Razor, a squadron of seven hypersonic jet fighters on aptrol for recent unidentified contacts. Kelfane was no stranger to the cockpit. He had spent years and was almost a natural at the stick of his jets.

The squadron turned to investigate the contact, a signal that appeared for less than a moment. It was possible that a trail could still be followed. After travelling for ten miles, Razor-4 jerked out of control as if something rushed past it, kicking up a layer of turbulence under its right wing. Razor-4's pilot panicked for a moment over the comms as he struggled to get his jet under control but as he did there was a microsecond-long "zing" sound as Razor-4's fuselage suddenly exploded fro mthe engine in a fireball that worked it's way up. The panic caused the rest of Razor squadro nto break formation

Razor-3 - Mayday! Mayday! Unidentified impact on Razor-4!
Kelfane - Do you see his ejector seat or a chute?
Razor-3 - Negative Razor-1. No seat no chute.
Kelfane - All squadron can you back up?
Razor-5 - Razor 5 here, my gunner did not see the cockpit o--

Something rushed past and fired a hypervelocity volley on Razor 5 that tore the fuselage down the middle.

Razor-2 - Razor-2 here, I saw soemthing on my four! Watch your left and six!

Kelfane swerved his jet to angle towards the direction. He looked out the cockpit and saw an object streaking towards him. Banking right, he narrowly missed another volley as the object streaked past, its effect on the air seared the underbelly of his jet.

Kelfane - Target is engaging knife-fight manouveres. Cannons out and watch your six!
Razor-3 - I have a lock. Razor-2, fox one!

Razor-3 launched an air-to-air missile fro munder its wing. THe missile roared though the air and chased after the unknown craft, its guidance systems keeping it in a locked-on path. As it was a hundred metres away something completely unexpected occured; the craft flipped around on the spot as if it were a gyroscope and fired at the missile, causing it to explode mere metres from impact. Kelfane stared bewildered at what happened as the craft had just pulled a maneuvere that should have theoretically torn it to pieces. He had little time to react as the object; something very vaguely the shape of an aircraft with forward-pointing wings. its entire frame, in contrast to the arrowhead shape of Razor squadron's jets, appeared closer to an elongated disk shape, with a needlepoint at the front and gaps where the wings would normally connect. It appeared ot be flying backwards, keeping its distance from Razor squadron despite the direction its was pointing. Kelfane had but a moment as it spewed forth missiles from the ports on the sides of its body, downing Razor-2 and hitting Razor-6 on the left wing. Kelfane heard the screams of his squadmates, but felt a sense of relief as after several minutes of tumbling, the schutes of Razor-6's pilot and copilot opened up. Razor-2 however had been hit in the cockpit by the missiles, killing its pilots instantly.

Kelfane managed to deploy flares after turning ot avoid a missile that was heading for his jet. The craft turned back around and sped along its way, a rumble was heard and shook though Kelfane's body as the craft went supersonic. He took flight after it, thinking that while it was cruising at these speeds it wouldn't dare pull a stunt like that again. Sweat began tricking down his forehad waiting for the signal, when it did, he sent a message to others in the squadron.

Kelfane - Razor-1, fox one.

He fired his own missile but the craft broke out of supersonic, the missile hit but the blast passed over a watery bubble that glistened like a layer of water over the skin of the craft. Scowling, Kelfane punched a button to deploy the laser cannons built into the wings of his jet and used them to fire repeatedly at the craft, hoping to break though that liquid skin.

The craft however, had none of this. It darted left and right to avoid Kelfane's tracking systems, it swerved about, pulling manouvres with a fercoity that would have torn Kelfane's own jet apart if he tried. It was several minutes before he saw the unmistakable sign he had punched through that instead of hitting the bubble he had hit the harder flesh of the craft. This was his signal and as soon as he saw laser light hitting whatever alloy this craft was made from, he fired two of his missiles. As both approached the craft once agaiin pulled some frighteningly dangerous moves in the air. While Razor-1 moved though the air like a small bird, this craft was frantically darting around like a wasp of epic proportions but still jsut as nimble. He watched with conern as the two missiles he had launched danced around each other as they pursued it. Seeing this futility, he readied his laser cannons again and fired towards the craft, hoping he could cause enough damage with his cannons to down it. He was struck with dread as the craft flipped around again, losing almost none of its momentum and managed to destroy one of the missiles before the other one managed to hit it, exploding on one of the wings.

He thought he'd downed it, but watched as the craft zipped out of the fireball and gained altitude despite its shattered wing. In a last-ditch attempt to cause damage, Kelfane fired another air-to-air missile, accompanied by Razor-1's laser cannons. As the craft ascended, three mroe rushed past and in a flash of blue light, the cockpit exploded around him, and Razor-1 tumbled towards the surface. His last missile hit the body of the unknown crafr and some mechanism within caused the whole thing to explode in a ball of fire that led a streak like an arrow though the sky. If only he had lived long enough to witness his victory play out.

Army of Ghosts[]

The escalating conflict had led to many officials barricading themselves in their residences to protect themselves, surounding their persons and their homes with small armies of dedicated soldiers. The Garest-417 system senator's residence in the heart of Praliat was an example of this fortification with guards on every wall, patrolling every path and gun batteries pointed outward and skyward wary of anyone not allowed to pass through.

One night was quiet, briefly broken by the sound of the wind holing between skyscrapers and the rustling of grass. One guard, perched on the roof took notice of a rustling in the nearby maze. To investigate he pulled out a pair of binoculars and held them ot his eyes with one hand.

Just as he pressed the lenses against his eyes there was a high-frequency "chink" as one of the lenses shattered and the guard fell backwards as one of his eyes trickled blood. But he did not make a thud or fall off the ledge, as invisible hands grabbed hi mas he fell and dragged him behind one of the chimneys out of sight.

Two security guards were walking down a corridor, quietly talking about their day. Since word of conflict had reached these inner systems, a few of the population became nervous. These two however, kept themselves confident by telling jokes, breaking the silent air with their laughter. This laughter was broken as they passed a junction. The soldier on the right of the pair felt something wrap around his neck, causing him to gasp before a hand pressed itself against his mouth. This murmour was noticed by his partner who turned around only to fall on his back as something knocked his legs and swept his feet into the air, causing him to crash to the ground. He managed to get a glympse of the figure as it slammed her pertner's head into the wall, knocking him unconscious; a thin humannoid body - slightly shorter than she was - enveloped in a glossy black material. The figure turned around to reveal a pair of huge black-lenses that hid the eyes and a mouthless mask. WHen the guardswoma nreached for her gun, the figure swung a leg and kicked the weapon cleanly out of her hand before crouching down and pressing herself against the guardswoman's chest a speed she only just managed to register, but had enough time to draw a combat knife.

The guardswoman thrusted it upwards towards the intruder's torso a split second before she let out a scream as the figure grabbed her wrist and twisted it, shattering the bone and forcing her to drop the dagger. Her screams ended when she witnessed a shiny black knee collide with her vision, sending her into a world of permanent black.

The alarms went off, triggered by the severed signal fro mthe heartrate monitors being worm by a few of the guards. At the security centre another guardswoman was looking at the screen, listening to her charge shout at her incessenly as the entire building entered into a state of panic as no one conscious had yet to report who the intruders were. The woman looked at the monitors in panic, she couldn't see anything; the corridors were empty, even the ones reporting cases of MIA. She frantically worried, she could lose her job. Then, the door to the room - which she had sealed due to the lockdown, emitted a clunk, a shunt, then bathing the room in the light of the corridor. She swiftly turned around to see this same figure that had knocked out the guards earlier walking towards her after removing its hand from the frame. The guardswoman moved fast, drawing a pistol and firing several panicked shots, all of which the figure managed to anticipate as it then lunged forward and wrapped its hand around her throat, lifting her off her feet. She watched herself on the figure's eyes feeling helpless as she struggled to breathe, she took a quick glympse and another figure entered, this one of similar height but a reater mass and an athletic build aside form some roundedness around the waist.

Darkness began to envolop her vision as she watched the other figure rested his hand over one of the device insertion ports of the security room's main computer, she didn't see him for long enough to understand what she was doing before she slipped into blackness. The figure that held her up set her down gently before sprinting out the door.

"I demand answers, now! What in blazes is going on!?" Senator Ralmaoz cried out while he paced around inside his bunker. He had his best guards with him, a dozen of them who stood wiating at the door, ready to hred with gunfire anyoen who came down i nthe elevator.

The ping signalled someone's arrival, as the doors opened the hailfire began, the elite soldiers used ricocheting bullets and a single-direction forcefield to make sure that no inch of the elevator was spared form the hail, which would have rendered anyone inside a bullet-riddled mess. But after firing for long enough that the guards ahd to reload, they looked closely to see that there was no one inside.

Two of them were odered inside to make sure the hostile was not hiding anywhere secret. After they entered, something prompted the elevator's doors to close, trapping the soldiers inside as they sealed up. The sound of something heavy impacting the floor caused te soldiers to turn around to see a colossal humanoid emerge fro mthe hatch above, and with his silver arms, both of which were as broad as tree trunks, slammed the soldiers into the elevator cab walls and he tore open the lift doors to be met with a hail of gunfire once again, which ounced off a shield that emerged over his body.

In all this chaos, the Ralmaoz had backed away to keep out of the action, thinking he was safe, he took a sigh of relief a moment before feeling something cold penetrate the side of his throat, right out the other side. A slender figure, who had their body hugging the senator tightly had impaled a long knife into his kneck, the blood stained the carpet, the damage to his windpipe prevented him fro mcrying out as the attack had sliced it in two. The figure set him down as he bled out and repositioned itself so that it sat on his torso and plunged the knife into the front of the throat, a swift slice downward to cut open the chest, removing the knife so quickly that it remained as pristine as it was before they had cut their mark open like a butcher's meat. Before finally returning to the shadows. The colosssu that stood at the elevator retreated back inside and climed up, followed by a few of the elite soldiers who continued firing out of the hatch, but it was too dark to see and whatever their target was wearing, they were invisible to infrared vision.

After the shadows disappeared from sight, the soldiers turned around, one of them approaching the back of the sofa to see what remained of their charge. A collective gasp emerged among them when they realied how close the real killer was, and all of them bewildered as to how these mysteriosu assailants moved so fluidly between all of them and the numerous security measures. This night, there could be no answer.


Monet47's associated fiction
DI Emblam V4d.png
An ancient empire
Old as seasons beyond count
What secrets lie within its boundries?
Shall we find out?
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