Reign of Ashes: The Drone Bringer War [Prologue]

Posted: May 22, 2014 in Creative Writing, Fiction, Random Stuff

Vetaya’s digits ran through the sand, slowly taking a deep breath. The sand was still damp with blood, the smoke in the air from the fires stung xyr olfactory gland along side the trauma, pain and fear still in the atmo made xyr thin skin prickle. Even without facing him, the soft glow of Betay’s luminescent words could be understood.

“Have you found anything new,” Betay asked, the color of his words a soft, calm, amber that rarely deviated. Betay was a Vruud, possessing two genders and both of them being male. Vruud were hulking, towering, Ves that stood easily double the height and triple the weight of even the largest females. Despite their appearance, however, they were gentle giants that bonded to a single Ves. They would be bodyguard and councilor to the Ves they were bonded with until the day they died, and woe be to poor soul that stir the gentle giant into the need for violence.

“No,” Vetaya responded, xyr words glowing silver and starting to radiate into the quiet of the infrared spectrum. “More of the same. Pain. Shock. Horror. Fire. Black shadows.” Xe was smaller than the rest of xyr species, ganglier, xyr limbs longer and xyr sense organs significantly more developed and pronounced, but totally lacking reproductive organs. It was a good omen to birth a Hyol, and their position in Ves society was a cherished one, because they could see things that other Ves could not. Xe was a Hyol, the seventh of the Ves race’s seven genders.

The pair had been walking on the blasted landscape for hours, Vetaya periodically stopping to run xyr digits through the sand or across a ruined wall and always wincing at the flood of emotions and flashes of imprinted memory flooded xyr mind. Everything had memory, from the sand to the alloyed hull of a ship, and the Hyol could see those memories with a mere touch.

All of the memories of this place were bad.

“Always the black shadows,” Betay asked, helping the Hyol to xyr feet again with a hand that was nearly the size of xyr.

“Drones,” Vetaya said.

Betay was quiet for a long moment, mulling that statement over.

“You are sure about this?”

“What else would do something like this?”

The blasted and charred rock they stood on, now windswept and begin consumed by the sand, had once been the colony hall. It would have been the last defensible structure of the main colony. Nothing remained. The air was sour with the shadows of panic and despair, and blood soaked sand clung to all thee of Vetaya’s bare feet, causing xyr to periodically feel the sorrow and rage trapped in the blood.

“Do you think anyone survived? Surely a few had to make it to shuttles, or at least to the comm gem to send an assistance beam.”

Vetaya glowed softly at Betay’s optimism, but it didn’t last long, the dark truth of the situation sapping xyr of anything good to tell xyr companion. Xe rubbed a bit of the coarse sand better xyr digits, holding it up to xyr face to examine it and allowed the gains to fall one by one from between xyr digits.

“No one got away from this,” Vetaya said, xyr tone shifting down towards the whispers of Infrared light.

The Ves had no eyes as most species would recognize them, and in comparison to most species, they didn’t even have a face. Their epidermis was their eyes, a highly complex and sensitive organ containing the rods and cones for sensing light. Ves communicated with light, being able to impart their thoughts and intentions in the light generated from the bioluminescent glands in their heads and chest while being able to perceive and make sense of any light that touched their skin.

Vetaya and Betay’s flickering conversation was interrupted when a comm gem hovered down near to them, gently pulsing as it awaited activation, Betay running a digit across it’s surface to open the light link.

The massive gemstone flickered, then glowed a familiar hue of lavender before the image of another Hyol Ves appeared in its facets.

“Hyol Vetaya,” the gemstone pulsed.

“Hyol Po,” Vetaya responded.

“We have found something, you should come to my coordinates at once.”

“What is it?”

“They killed one.”

Fitting a Vruud into a shuttle was no easy feat, and while Vruud sized craft were available, it was not often readily so. When Vetaya and the other Hyol’s had been dispatched, the few Vruud sized craft were all already dispatched with their massive occupants on official business of the state, leaving Vetaya and Betay to make due with a ponderous cargo hopper. While Betay fit in the ship, the only way he did so was by carefully crawling into the cargo compartment and keeping himself curled into a tight ball. Traveling this way was uncomfortable to say the least, but Betay did it without complaint. The bond of a Vruud meant he would follow his bondmate anywhere, and endure any hardship.

The flight to Po’s location was short, an outer settlement as blasted as the rest, but now being swarmed by the military and other investigators. Betay urged Vetaya to go on while he extracted himself slowly from the back of the cargo hopper, and maybe take an extra moment to massage the cramps out of his legs. The focus of all the Ves was a crater on the western edge of the settlement and Vetaya was met halfway by Po who matched Vetaya’s hurried pace.

“Is it a Drone,” Vetaya asked, barely sparing to turn xyr head towards Po for fear if xe took any attention from the site the find would vanish.

“Yes,” Po began, less afraid of their subjects magical disappearance than xyr counterpart. “It appears to have been brought down by -”

Po trailed off as they reached the rim of the crater, doing dark and silent as the other two dozen Ves had as they all stared down into the charred black pit. Vetaya had only paused the briefest second, shocked by the sheer size of the ruined craft. Large chunks of the hull were missing, slagged off or torn off from the impact, but the bulk of it was intact. Black metal, some untouched portions still gleaming, curved and bent to create a hull roughly ten meters long and standing taller than a Vruud. A slagged wound was in the metallic beasts flank, the scar from the impact of an air defense weapon. The other Ves were standing around the rim of the crater, in a mixed state of shock and awe, as Vetaya circled the craft to inspect it.

Po had been about to say that xe wouldn’t suggest touching the craft, but Vetaya was a step ahead of xyr. Visions of a cold womb, the rumble of its mother breaking atmo, being birthed into blinding light with fire and death, larger brethren lumbering in the distance as they-

Vetaya ripped xyr hand away and turned to look up towards Po.

“You saw?”

Po nodded.

“Has the land east of here been examined?”

Po nodded again.

“And?”

“Stripped of every mineral, the land churned and ruined. The same at over a thousand other locations.”

Vetaya’s second stomach roiled as though a school of Damdari Eels were living in it.

“Get me a comm gem,” xe said towards Po between shifting attention to the rest of the group which had roughly quadrupled in size. “I want this thing extracted, get a cargo barge down here to ferry it up to the Divine Light. Get the defenses back online.”

The group hesitated, forcing Vetaya’s words to shift into the loud Ultraviolet spectrum.

“Now!”

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