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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.>
<I...will try>
<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]

 
News
Is open for business...
 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."


 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic