Posted on 25 February 2011   Races

Garbed in full battledress, the Atum-Brahd sits in the high chamber of the massive fortress known simply as Throne. Around him, several large viewscreens show the stellar blackness around the immense planet of Gron punctuated in a thousand places by the remaining bulk of the Mahu Brahd fleet. As he consumes massive quantities of water to fill his water-organ for the coming battle, he reaches a decision on a matter that has plagued him for several days. Never has a decision eluded him for so long. He chastises himself for indulging in the vice of philosophers, and does what should have done seconds after the thought occurred him. He orders the fortress computer to open a communication to the battlecruiser Nok-Farn. The massive chamber’s primary viewscreen now offers a split view of his two sons aboard the Nok-Farn. His massive fist slams down on the square, red, footlong button which dominates the right armrest of his chair. The channel is made active, and the two sons of the Atum Brahd can now see the face of their father.

The two Brahds listen as their father speaks in the plain, precise language of their people. The constraints of the Mahu Brahd tongue allow for no misinterpretation. They are to leave before the battle begins and are not to return until they posses sufficient force to take back Gron. The Atum Brahd’s makes two final statements. The first informs them that he will be sending half of his legendary Nos-Lar Atum to accompany them. The second forbids them the rite Trial by Combat until the Nari are defeated. Before either of them can react, the channel is closed. Both are rendered speechless as they realize that neither of them will be able to take their father’s place as Atum Brahd until the Nari are defeated. Cooperation has never been among their outstanding qualities.

The Atum Brahd stands, and relays his order to a predetermined selection of the Nos-Lar Atum. His word is obeyed immediately as law, and he stands to give his battledress one last check. He stands nine feet tall, covered in patches of assorted armor and weaponry. Three fingered hands the slowly check the magazines of several formidable projectile weapons. They proceed to check the powerpacks attached to a gravmaul hanging at his waist. Finally they test the resistance of the defender patches on his shoulders. The ceramic studs remain undamaged, each one producing a tiny gravatic field capable of deflecting all but the most powerful of blows. He grunts a single word, and a life-size rotating holographic image of himself is projected several feet away. The Atum Brahd inspects this image.

The reptilian face with traces of simian features, like all of his people’s, is hairless. His deep red hide is scarred from a lifetime of conflict, but his wide frame still carries several hundred pounds of equipment with the ease of a young warrior. His left eye is covered by a carbonized steel patch, outlined by the four neat rows of rivets which secure it directly to his skull. The House Atum tattoo miraculously remains untouched by the signs of battle etched throughout his massive scalp. Satisfied, he ends the projection with a single word. He returns to his seat, and the wait begins anew.

An hour passes without event, and then several Omnitech News Probes enter the vicinity. Laughter floods the comm channels as three members of House Kamo in vacuum armor pursue them like children hunting speckled pahn beetles. The Atum Brahd laughs heartily as he watches the viewscreens, but after a few minutes of hilarity the probes are destroyed and silence once again dominates the area.

Another hour passes, and then within a breath: the Nari arrive. The fleets engage one another without a moments hesitation. Still the Atum Brahd sits, and waits.


* * * * *

Fifteen hours have passed. The Atum Brahd has witnessed the destruction of the fleet from atop his high seat of power. The skies of Gron are now thick with Nari as the initial ground assault  descends on landing platforms resembling pieces of fleshy sod. As the first ground battles begin, he fights the urge to abandon the mountain fortress an join the fray below. He stays. The Atum Brahd will be the last Mahu-Brahd standing on the planet of Gron. He stays, as legions of loyal Nos-Lar Atum guard the halls and exterior of the fortress. Turning his attention to the viewscreens, he watches first as the planets denizens fare well against the initial waves of translucent skinned invaders; then as they are slowly overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers.

The hours pass like seconds,  and soon the mountain fortress of Throne houses the last remaining defenders of Gron. The Atum Brahd barks two commands at the fortress computer, and watches the viewscreen intently. As the last (and largest as well) of the Nari landing platforms completes its descent, his fist slams down upon the large red button. Viewscreens emit a blinding white light which bathes the entire chamber before they can compensate for the sudden change. The ground shakes. The monitors slowly reveal several mushroom clouds completing their characteristic motions.

The defenders of the fortress begin to feel the disturbing neural chorus that can only signify that the survivors of the holocaust are now seeking them. Several Nos-Lar Atum are stricken dead, and fall to the floor still clutching their heads. The remainder manage to ignore the din which swiftly rises to a crescendo. The viewscreens show great plains of destruction, with pockets of unaffected areas outlined by the telltale purple outlines of psionic shields. The largest of the landing platforms remains undamaged by the blasts and begins to ascend from the ground. It trails huge intestinal tracts which scrape the ground as it flies toward the mountain fortress.

Within the halls, several Nos-Lar Atum begin to convulse, and fall to the ground. Their faces contort. Their bodies twitch in synchronized agony. Elsewhere, the viewscreens show legions of assorted Nari surrounding the fortress. Thousands continue to step through portals which appear just outside the energy shields. The translucent skinned, vaguely humanoid invaders look as if they were spawned in the darkest nightmares of a tormented marine biologist. Their blue-red organs pulse and shift beneath the skin. Their eyes stare maniacally at the fortress, and their lips are permanently parted to reveal pathological alabaster grins. Behind them are seen the hulking forms of former Mahu-Brahd warriors, to which translucent sacks are threaded by organic tubing.

The foremost of their numbers raise their hands towards the fortress. The entire visible spectrum seems to randomly flash from their hands as they bombard the shielding. Within moments, the shields fall. Nos-Lar Atum weapons and automatic defense systems within the extensive entrance hall of the fortress respond in union. An oncoming tide of Nari scarcely breaches the entrance before it is broken by the defenders. In with the second wave come the weavers. The hideously bloated weavers stand several feet taller than the shock troopers around them. Their limbs are trunks of clear fatty tissue and their stomachs swelling paunches. Gron’s setting sun illuminates them from behind as they shamble about in pregnant mockery, filtering its evening light into putrid rays.

One of the weavers glares at a group three Brahd. Two of them begin to scrape their dental ridges as their own flesh attacks. Tendons snap, sinews contract into impossible configurations as they grind bones to pulp. All that remains are two swiftly congealing pools of equipment and flesh. The third Mahu Brahd jumps back in disbelief as the quivering mass lunges for him. Several rounds from his Mauler Cannon reduce the heap into a red mist. Before the weaver can react, the Brahd hurls a Grav-Imploder. The deadly sphere arcs through the air, and activates just before making contact with the Nari’s chest. Everything within a six foot radius is suddenly drawn to the sphere which momentarily possesses the gravitational pull of celestial body. Psionic blasts from every direction are focused on the victorious Nos-Lar Atum. He dies before the perfect sphere (now wrapped in layers of flesh and stone) falls to the small crater left beneath it.

The remaining Brahd charge into the ranks of incoming Nari with elephantine grace, their rifles and grav-mauls sowing devastation at point blank range. The incoming tide of Nari is supplemented with former Mahu-Brahd warriors which now stare blankly, and engage the defenders at the whim of the Nari organs grafted to their bodies. The Nos-Lar Atum continue to fight.

Night falls upon Gron as the last of the incoming Nari are dispatched by the few surviving defenders. The Atum Brahd witnesses this from his seat of power, and dares to hope that reinforcements from House Taub will arrive before the Nari make another attempt at the planet. There is a purple flash towards the rear of his chamber. Instinctively he draws his Mauler-Pistol and fires before the arriving Nari have a chance to move.

It approaches the fortress as the handful of Nos-Lar Atum stand guarding the now ruined entrance. For an instant, their minds abandon them. Jaws slack, weapons drop, bowels vacate. One holds a grav-imploder to his head and detonates it. He falls to the floor a three foot sphere weighing as many tons, and rolls across the floor. A few regain control just as it glides into the fortress.

They are shocked into inaction as they gaze upon the ever changing, vaguely humaniod, fleshy cloud which approaches them. It floats, full of eyes and hands which are forever relocating themselves. It causes minds to ache as its depths hint at childhood nightmares long forgotten. It glides past a drooling spectator, and seems to slowly tear him into its pulsing mass. White noise fills the ears of the next Brahd in its path as he fires round after round into the shifting invader. The noise increases, like a dead comm channel amplified a thousand times. The Brahd falls to the ground, and is spared the sight of his comrade’s death.

The Atum Brahd prepares himself. He will face the invader in front of the High Seat. An eternity seems to pass, and then he gazes in awe at the being entering his chamber. A grey skinned Mahu-Brahd stands at the entrance, garbed in piecemeal armor representing nearly every era in Gron’s history. A vast arsenal hangs from his belt, again containing modern components as well as those from times before the first Atum Brahd. An impossible number of names are tattooed across every inch of his hide in the simple characters of the Mahu Brahd tongue. It is Nar. It is Death incarnate.

He has been preparing for this moment his entire life. This is the culmination of his existance. This is a battle with the greatest foe a warrior could face. This is the inevitable fight with death that every Mahu-Brahd strives to be worthy of. He stands from his seat of power, and yells and ancient battle cry: “Karn Dap Nar.” He levels his rifle at the imposing figure of Nar, pulling the six inch trigger. The tattooed incarnation is engulfed in white flame as the concussion shells explode on contact, and stands unimpressed as they dwindle. A volly of grav-imploders arc twords him, detonating at close proximity. His face twists into a howl of pain as portions of the walls and floor rip through him as they speed their way towards the grav-imploders. The Atum Brahd rushes in.

He charges at the humanoid fleshy cloud which stands where the incarnation of Nar stood. Anger swells deep within him as he recovers from the thing’s psionic illusion. His ears begin to fill with the sound of white noise. He unslings the grav-maul hanging at his waist. The noise becomes louder, vision blurs. Still he charges the amorphous Nari with a thousand eyes that stands at the entrance. He hefts his grav-maul and activates it. It impacts with the weight of a thousand tons. Then, the Nari attacks…