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BUMP

We are currently in the middle of choosing the next mission for the player party. If you'd like to join this is a pretty good time as there is a bit of breathing room for new characters to be added. Once I approve of your created character, you can vote on which of the three options for the next mission you prefer on our discord.
"Answers provided suggest they were alone rather than accompanied, as was originally planned. Implications are concerning. The communicator can be left here. It will be analysed. Your compliance with the request is useful for long term gain. Operational patterns have begun a rapid shift in new phase of stellar geopolicy."

The lights on a nearby wire-spool table lit up, purplish-pink and blinking, awaiting the communicator to be placed. The machine-flesh-fog-clobe pulsed, staring at them both individually and yet past them. The whole room was its audience and the very sound of its voice bent through space as if it spoke right by their very ears.

"A broker of information, within the confines of our operations, entrapped within our control." Light travelled through the air to form a beam that extended a few feet from the perimeter of its swarming swirl, pointing at Rho-Hux. "There was another accompanying them. Your answers suggest an absence. Informant was unsupervised. Investigations shall ensue. You may meet again."

From the ground before the ixaxxar node, a spool-table emerged with a flurry of arachnoid shapes skittering from its wake. Orange-white lights flared on a perfectly spaced quartered arrangement as a holographic display of information manifested before them. Holographic text invited them to investigate and interact with floating, ghostly images as a projected interactable screen. A series of information dossiers symbolized by oxagonal cubes, each one containing a flurry of digital information in terms of documents, images, video recordings, spectrum-scans and other specifics poured from any analyzed.

"Multitude of Envenomed squads are in preparation. Performance on Zanovia has granted certain privileges, based on perceived strategic performance. The selection of missions are of immense longer-term significance. Determine your preference."
MISSION SELECTION: CHAPTER 1


Option A: Forgotten In Space




Option B: Inquisition Symphony




Option C: Worm Hunt




D20 Roll Acquisitions








The gealtirocht alone in his thoughts and in the bowels of the biomechanical vessel soon would be interrupted from his increasingly distorted thoughts by a notification on their personal communications device - MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE DESIGNATED ROOM.

Within separated rib like construction of the wall lights flashed just brightly enough for their eyes to spot their flicker, a linear pattern trailing down the hallway, past a windowed room, towards a series of automated doors visible to their honed sight. The little trilobite-esque creates flittering within their elongated crevices flashed their lights as if directing a plane to land.

Behind those doors the Invictoid's digital systems flicked through the channels on the television; flashes of jarring and increasingly alien text, channels intended for those whose perception of the world was of a more amorphous and ambiguous nature, before a different broadcast was settled on. A symbol covered the screen for a moment. It was a coiling creature of centipede appearance... no, not one but two emerging raised heads and triumphant in posture from a tripartite skull of curving ridges and upwards gazing eyes - impaled from all their would-be flat sides by long lances, some of which resembled insectoid limbs and others tribal weaponry.

It vanished not even leaving an afterimage. In its place was the familiar sight of the Rhodes Valley not as a distant rolling tapestry of a besieged but relentless armored advance but the beings who had stormed its length and driven out the foreign occupation. It was not a pleasant scene; the camera flickered on occasion, blurred artifacts clinging to the screen before it was wiped down in a wave of gentle light-teal light. The channel was no doubt one associated with the central Intransigence planets if that was all was needed to counteract the backwas of ethereal radiation interfering with electronics.

It could not however hold back the strange mixture of jubilation and anger that shoved, howled, celebrated amongst, and clung to the deceased. The armor of those they had seen scurrying and sprinting amidst blasts of cannon fire and machine gun spray now with rifles clacking against the biometallic armor plating and laden bandoliers, hanging limply on their shoulder straps. There was skin visible; human in its many colours or motttled-rotted green-brown-yellow amongst them - the great numbers of tarrhaidim present brilled with explosive emotion no different from human counterparts.

There was no real conversation towards the camera-holder; some of what was uttered were the mumbles of the mourning through the tears that poured from eyes adapted to see further and more precisely than a human normally might. One human desperately pulling out another mottle-camo patterned body, furiously shaking it by the shoulders, their tongue some bizarre mish-mash of adapted local tarrhaidim and English - "Not your time to rot. Not your time to rot. Not your time to rot." The specifics were difficult to make out, some local mantra, but the words became indistinct. The sorrow verbalized as hands placed themselves onto the now unrecognizable remains, extracting keepsakes and supplies alike of a fallen friend, clashed against the resonant howls and uproarious celebration the camera swung to next.

Upon the shattered body of some of the huge walkers, with the faint blue glow of where the stadium-esque League command center once stood in the background. The air blurred and the space around it undulated and twisted, sickly pinkish colours bruising into the strains of realspace sitll recovering from the Envenomed's horrific artillery strike. It was as if a fire burned there not with flame but colours that warped in and out of the visible spectrum, bending the image which they could see. Tattered walls and smoking gun emplacements stretched and blurred as if some gelatinous, invisible substance was being pulled and compacted around them yet one that took on strange and foul colours as it did so.

It was not an unearthly bonfire that the soldiers, rifles grabbed around their receivers and held high as if offerings, were celebrating. The camera closed in, shaking as a civilian figure - tall, gealtirocht clad in white-purple ballistic padding around its broad torso, striding with ease over the debris unlike the camera operator - walked onto the field. They were not alone; craggy skinned celaderaka, a tarrhaidim clad in overlapping robes fluttering as it walked with ceremonial moon-shaped medals pinned to the ballistic armor-implants beneath, and a berreted human whose darkened skin bore a series of bruises next areas of strangely lighter colouration, all raising their hands and welcoming the cheer.

The gealtirocht turned, cranial-mounted microphone letting them gesture and point as the audio mix momentarily diminished the sound of whatever meeting or reunion was occurring.

"Live here from the scene of the recent Rhodes Valley Offensive, where all constituent members of the Zanovia Reclamation Front participated. As you can see, the price paid is steep and the wounds on the people and the land will remain long after even the colonial occupation departs."

The digitigrade alien's actual tongue seemed far harsher than the english of the subtitles, live-translated with some sort of specialized digital intelligence program, popping up at the bottom of the screen. Its features were anguillid, predatory even with its semi-elongated head and the visible slightly curving knife-teeth it spoke through, but the rush of emotion on its features were kept barely in check. Something between a proud grin and a heavy emotional weight played across its features.

"Front infantry, many of which are veterans of multi-continential conflicts dating back to before the forceful renaming to New Prospery, even before Sazan's rise to planetary leadership of the umbrella organization, were deployed en masse. As one can see-

The camera swept this time to behind where they were all situated - far, far behind the mountain that the squad had been battling upon during their short stay on the planet. If the destroyed CivSec command centre looked like an invisible jellyfish wearing reality's skin ready to burst from expanding pressure, then the expansive of anomalous swollen wounds in the fabric of space was a whole field of pulsing wounds in the visible spectrum of realspace itself each one still seeping a sickly purplish-pink gaseous light.

"A massive level of void-artillery was used to try and stall the advance but soldiers report that the weapon later on ceased its firing, before firing again, destroying the main stronghold in the area and a mobile command centre, then a nearby bunker."

The alien paused for a moment, exchanging unclear words with a pair of soldiers, one whose fungoid skull was reduced to a lower jawbone at most and the two human troopers underneath both of its arms, hauling the hole-marked torso gurgle-intoning some sort of distorted prayer. Two optical-tendrils with bulbous ends peered at the camera before their comrades, grinning ear to ear looked away from the reporter to say some sort of half-blurred ring of expletives - something to the effect of bleeding the colonizers dry and mailing their distant League backers the fear-induced excrement of the nation sector's governor as a parting gift, to be mailed courtesy of a Sazan Kal-Hayalat .

The gealtirocht turned to the camera, their words momentarily muted by a roar of jeers and howls of violent support. Bodies laid upon stretches coughed and hacked, raising fists or clanging knives against armor plating. A joyous cacophony, one that even the anguilid xeno could not help but curl its lips into a smile with, revealing rows of teeth that began to curve backwards - it looked not hungry but smug in its satisfaction with the enthusiasm.

Slowly the energy died down.

"In more pressing news, a recent prisoner exchange was completed as part of the ongoing negotiations wherein the foreign-backed settler government was forced in exchange for the eldest son of a noble scielto househood, release a number of major leaders of the ZRF coalition - as you can see-"

He gestured off to the trio from earlier, now appearing to hold a small conference of their own. A private military channel with the crews operating the various forms of recording equipment all in much of the same motley uniforms and aggressively dated armor patterning. One did not need to hear or understand a word of what was spoken in order to see the vigor and hopefulness in them; the way their hands rose as if commanding not an army but an orchestra, the assembled soldiers behind them grinning through their battle scars, some of the wounded ones even hoisted up by allies, made it appear to be the least professional confefence possible.

"With the unfortunate loss of Sazan, means that negotiations are still ongoing with the remaining leadership, many of which are of ex-Dominion origin as well as trained by Intransigent forces. Face-saving measures including talks of a 'transitional government' have gone well in the hours leading up to the makeshift battlefield conference, with similar talks happening elsewhere on the world. For once, the native inhabitants have the position of power not only over the tables of diplomacy rooms but the very soil of they and their predecessors. I believe it is fair to say that-"

The screen flicked off and the skeletal machine turned back to the squad they controlled.

"Now, who among you would have preferred the bloodshed to continue? Purely on my own terms, I would not have minded - strategic possibilities were endless. These are not however, my people or my planet. Did you know that it was not even Sazan's? You do not need to read intercepted coms and intelligence to know that he was not even a native of Zanovia. Why, there was a televisted broadcast a day or so ago while you were on the way to be dployed; a vrexul veteran mentioned his work writing speeches for Yrrkradian leaders, went so far as to say that tarrhaidim was not our friend. Truthfully, he was not wrong about him."

Its movements were sudden. Machines were not of flesh, blood and skin, and its steps were strides that brought it before Alice. There was no shadow to loom over her, only byzantine details of advanced cybernetics to stare back.

"Sazan was useful but not a believer in revolution; neither are the others who back the Front. He knew warmaking but his desire to prolonging the conflict for a distant total victory would mean drawing in the League and the Dominion alike as things further escalated. An expansion of the conflict and the diminishing of Intransigent allies there; cruel as what we did was, crueller still would have been the cost of throwing our prayers to wind. A transitional government may not sound glamorous, but I would prefer the transfer of power into the hands of the liberated masses. It also gives us time to sort out issues with the Dominion-backed elements in the Front and less trouble transitioning into popular governance; we are completing our goals with a lesser body count."

One of the Invictoid's hands raised, a single digit pointing at her between her eyes.

"Know this; the very nature of what you are here for crosses more lines of interstellar relations than you can even begin to fathom. You are not fighting a war of right and wrong; right and wrong exist, but they only exist because of the presence or absence of armed power and implicit threat. You are not speaking out of line, but I will advise you now; we fight within a grander series of interconnected causalities and phenomena where the fate of a single world echoes far beyond its atmosphere. Your reservations are dangerous moreso to yourself than anyone else and I will only ask that you guard them closely from what is to come."

He walked to the door and motioned for the rest to follow.

"Take Kleo to the medical bay, then follow the navigational marker on your personal device across the connector-bridge to ship we've docked to. We have a rather unpleasant group of people to attend to."




The medical bay of the vessel was best described as oddly green, soothing even. From a first glance it resembled some sort of mossy chamber where the expected curtained partitions and blocky medical equipment stood. The more traditional elements of a hospital room felt incongruous amongst the fresh smell of a rain-soaked forest and the crab-like drones that walked across the ceiling, each of them moving about various tubes, casts, and monitors with long spider-leg claws ending in many fingered appendages, gingerly ensuing the comfort of all visitors.

A semi-spherical rock-like thing floated towards them. It was a gealtirocht, craggier upon closer inspection almost as if a series of cubes crushed into the imitation of a spherical shape, multiple complex cybernetics jutting out of its body and no doubt keeping track of the silhouetted figures behind the biofilm curtains. Arms like cranes emerged from its body as its ball joints whirled and it seized a variety of tools from various night-tables. One of the crab machines pulled back the curtains and a bed, just a normal mattress, was revealed.

It motioned to the voidhanger to puts its human compatriot there before it would get to work with the rest, silent and its various jutting camera-ports on its "face" visibly focused all throughout the room.




The docking-bridge was the last of the vessel they would see before they stepped into something more conventional. Sleek corridors of a grayish and light reddihs tint, jutting supports that arched from the ground to brace against the walls, and personnel all in a variety of reinforced silk-weave naval officer gear walking about. They were not in a living beast but a mechanical equivalent to one and based on the Invictoid's rapid gait, in a hurry as well. The doors were not some sort of elytra that retracted as if trying to conceal themselves when they neared; instead they split apart like blades being sheathed.

Past one more set of these sharp and imposing if starkly professional and proper doors and they found themselves within a wider space; multiple computer stations along its side, multiple large projector modules rising from the floor to waist level, and high ranking uniformed personnel dour and stringent in dress and expression calling out orders when not marching past. Three-dimensional images of worlds distant and near, camera feeds of goggle-eyed armored helmets speaking with mission control operatives, handheld devices flicking in the laps of headset wearing personnel as information updated in live time - before the Invictoid sped up in long strides up a set of stairs towards a large blade-door. Fast enough their compatriots were nearly left behind.

The door opened and the connecting room's purple hues and faint lighting emerging from the glowing doors on all four of its sides did not prepare them for the fury that greeted them.

"YOU! Just the treacherous swine I wanted to see!" A voice wet with phlegm and bile shouted out, a finger jabbed accusatorily into thet orso of the Invictoid. "The stunt you ordered back on Prosperity should have you stripped of your rank and sent before a tribunal! Don't think that show of force you had hiding at the artillery platform, just waiting for your pawns to leave, means anything to me!"

It was a human who spoke, tall but not towering, gruff and white haired which his commander's hat did not wholly hide, and of which the medals that adorned his uniform seemed to take on an almost sickly glow with the light around them. Two massive vrexul soldiers, each one bulkier than Echo and their rifles thicker and denser than any of the other bodies in the Envenomed squad, stood at off to the side impassive but watching the Invictoid's retinue closely with swivelling, stalked eyes and ocular domes.

"We should not even be in conflict! The outcome even the Dominion reformists agreed on was-"

The air around the Invictoid flared as light itself diminshed and recovered around them but the human flinched not an inch. If anything he grew angrier at this display of whatever ethereal power the Invictoid contained, the white-red glow of its cybernetic eyes failing to make him even squint.

"I seem to remember, no we seem to remember that there was meant to be a vrexul support squad to assist us in the taking of the artillery platform. A team that had been prepared for weeks in advance, that from what I had learned, had been moved out an hour ahead of time to greet my assets. What a shame their position was revealed so quickly; the show of force I had cover the exilfration will not be pleased to learn they now have to deal with that as well."

The Invictoid had gestured back to the rest of the Envnomed with a wave of its hand, its voice oddly calmed. If previously it was akin to a series of people speaking entirely in synch now its tone of voice was dense but almost relaed... smug even, but steeled by a resolve every bit as unbending as its torso's armor.

The human seethed through his teeth, glancing towards them from the corner of his eyes before turning back to the machine-biped.

"Tit for that is beneath a hero of your stature, so is the poor instruction towards the branches we operate in conjunction with! I cannot account for all of your personal inconveniences, especially not when I have to live-feed intelligence to a multi-hegemon rebel army! It is uncharacteristic to suddenly make a fuss about the loss of a handful when you may have handed the world to the worst kind of revisionist scum."

A sound like a snort emerged from the skeletal giant; unfiltered of cybenetic enhancement, biological in nature.

"And how out-of-the-blue it is for you to have suddenly acquired such fervor for the grip of ideology's blade. You are an adaptable man, General Trelevoss, but I believe it is best if you air your complaints to the ixaxxar node, not a mere upstart like myself."

The human's anger did not subside but he soon turned to the Envenomed.

"If you all have the slightest ounce of sense, know that you are just as disposable to him as the vrexul squad splattered and rotting back on Prosperity. You've every right to be upset, but it will mean nothing if you do not realize what this fool has gotten you into."

Without a word, he stomped past them all, the vrexul following suite somehow quieter in their lumbering footsteps but no colder as they brushed and pushed the rest of the squad out of their way. The door sliced shut behind them.

"That was the easy part. The next is easier." The Invictoid lead them through another room, this one quieter and even more poorly lit but eyes that had adapted to the dark noticed flurries of movement. Flickering streams of hundreds of swarming pieces and forms, all small by themselves but flowing like rivers across the ceilings and walls. Faintly lit computer screens watched by figures of concealed features beneath blocky visor-like headsets and wire-ridden full body cybernetics, others vaguely scielto in nature hovering or rather suspended above the ground on floating platforms of holograph screens.

All of which seeemed to centre around a strange mass receiving the flow of strange particles. It was a roughly spherical thing at least when its form did not fluctuate like television static. It was at least 10 feet in diameter, not of singular components but a swirling madness of arthropod limbs and shells linked with splintering fragments of cybernetics, behind which fluctuations of pinkish-red ethereal power swirled and morphed into an almost organic and fleshy redness. The lunacy of its surrealist appearance was contrasted with the near silence of its operation, at most making at best a rustle amidst the ambient throb and hub of the chamber.

The invictoid stood before it and then turned to the Envenomed squad.

"Echo, turn on a camera feed. I will link it to Kleo's handheld device. The ixaxxar node will be taking over. We'll be getting information on our next mission soon."

As he stepped off to the side, the light that seemed to try and escape the pseudo-spheroid's body congealed into a shape almost akin to an eye. An eye whose gaze was so dreadful in its power it did not feel as if it looked at any one of them as much as through them; not at personhood and individuality but some realm of unknowable possibility and knowledge.

The voice that emerged did not radiate outwards from a central source. It started off quiet but amplified in volume never an unpleasant level as if the very words took time to travel towards them, almost bassy as if from underwater, but with a clarity edited to remove any unneeded distortion or ambiguity.

"Envenomed Squad - designation to be determined - mission completed under subpar conditions - assessment of initial performance is as effective. Mission ready; deployment to be determined. A question awaits before selection."

Light flowed from beneath the blinking gaps in its swarming body, forming a three-dimensional holographic image before them of a familiar face they had met during the mission. It was the messenger in the village, the one who had left soon after they had filled them in on their mission.

"This figure asked of you to destroy League artillery cannon or capture it? Were they accompanied? They had something with them and another accompanying them. Materials confidential in nature; there were supposed to be two. Recount any relevant information from when you encountered them."
*CLANK*

The air around the skeletal being shimmered, pond-like if a stone had splashed into it, but no such sound emerged. A hard thud sent the projectile bounding back, clattering on the tiled floor.

There was no response from the commander, far more interested in what pressing questions had demanded.

"Nobody here can say they are being granted a mercy being placed under our command. Elsewhere, your comrade may have simply been made to face a wall with their hands behind their back. Mere service to the League in some circles is the greatest transgression. Truthfully, I cannot blame them; many bear the scars of the League's humanitarian generosity even before it was a single imperial alliance rather than two. I can however, veto certain complaints and injunctions. Consider this a sentence with more leeway for her than was originally intended; even command level accusations of reactionary belief have their limits in our domains. If she wants it further shortened, I am sure the rifles of those you are sent against will gladly oblige."

Echo would detect an electronic flicker as a signal was transmitted from the cyborg to a wall adjacent of them. Four corners formed those of a rectangular shape and holographic light extended, a luminescent and soothing green-blue that resulted in the formation of a screen of raking lines and fizzling static. Definition gradually overtook them and it would appear to gain an entirely solid construction as if light itself had become tangible. It blinked; a news channel manifested, League in origin based on the quad-winged x-shape of wings and the eye-hilted blade that stabbed down the middle that flashed before the screen. It shrunk into the corner and, next to a capitalized stream of pressing news, but far less so than the footage of a familiar, half-sizzled, planarian-headed creature stumbling forth on the screen. Stumps where tendril wings should be were visible on its back and its once majestic figure rested with its arms draped over two shades-wearing human bodyguards. Low-light camera flashed serenaded its return as a voiceover spoke.

"The Solar Broadcast Federation news has learned that roughly 30 terran hours ago the ZRF completed a series of high-profile prisoner exchanges as part of the ongoing territorial negotiations with the New Prosperity planetary government. After the recent Front offensive in the Rhodes Valley, which has resulted in massive losses for the Intransigence-armed rebel group suspected of multiple terrorist offences, a number of captured personnel were exchanged to enforce renewed ceasefire talks, believed to be pushed by more moderate members of the Front leadership. The death of Commandante Sazan, which insurgent leadership has refused to comment on, is believed to have forced them to the negotiating table.

"An impressive piece of the free press serving the iron boot. I believe I do not need to lecture on you which details they left out; details that you no doubt painted by your hand. You have helped; the peace talks are in full effect... but 'peace talk' is doing quite a bit of heavy lifting."

The news-reel continued; scenes of the Artelesia Nation Sector governor wiping the sweat on his bald head under the sun, a distant fire off in the background as heavily armored League marines stood just within peripheral sight of the fish-eye camera lens - a scielto broadcast. His words were subtitled in the alien cursive of the seraphic aliens but his words in the meantime were resolute or bluster depending on the inclination of the viewer; the radical factions that had undone years of benevolent market development and post-Yrrkradian reform but especially that a narrative of 'economic apartheid' based on the productivity of individual city-sectors and economic zones, was little more than foreign interference from Intansigence propagandists and inner-system college protesters blinded by authoritarian trickeries.

"I suppose I have just earned myself the ire from more fanatical of those we ally with for not a single yet two feeds of market-profitable disinfo-news sludge, but an ex-League economic policy greaser like that does not sweat like that when he merely needs to rouse the ire of the foreign-imported business owners and bourgeoisie against a threat. They could not even find an angle that would not hide the smoke in the distance; what's that they called it again? Minor damage from a failed rocket strike? I'll switch to proper news eventually, but tell me, what do you think you were ordered to actually target? A command centre is one thing, but what do you think prompted the peace talks to accelerate? The vassal-state of the League could never retain control forever and this was merely a wake up call. Yet for a most favorable outcome, someone had to go and you have yourselves to congratulate for that. Connect the dots; some of you are special forces, yes? I would fail you now if you could not."

In the meantime, he glanced over to Kleo then to Alice.

"Relocate her to the medical bay, follow the directions on the signs or your personal handheld device. Your comrades will fill you in on the rest when you return. Kleo reeks of a certain sort of Celestial arrogance that would typically cause her to become the subject of re-shared interpersonal media controversies; I can already feel the perversity of her kind's culture vultures ready to pounce on every word. Perhaps that would be a more suitable punishment than death; participation in their discourse of emptiness. In the meantime, I have acquired an additional asset for your assistance." Their smoothly metallic head turned over to the so-called King. "A construct as some of you must have surmised or sensed, hardlight and ethereally near-untouchable. Consider this an exception to our policy on monarchial rule for the convenience of your missions. Something we shall get to sooner than later."
Is it possible to see a short list of the characters you already have? Even just something like "Danno, rough and tumble gunslinger with a heart of gold; FlakJacker, pint-sized alien hacker with a dirty mouth; Cadence Zinestra, exquisite infiltrator and close-quarters specialist" just so one might identify a character niche that feels exciting?

Very interested though!


Thank you for expressing interest. You can also join our discord if you would like to ask questions.


BUMP + Updates


We have just finished the first mission of the roleplay, essentially a test-run to see how well you all adapt and get everyone used to it. Due to the mission-based structure of the RP (at least as it currently stands), this leaves quite a bit of room for others to join especially in these intervals between missions.

If you would like to join the roleplay, we are still accepting and currently during the in-story downtime, it is a good time to introduce your character and even participate in voting on which mission you would like to have next when the choice is presented.
There was nothing for an awkward few moments but the sound of grinding gears and ripping dirt. The enormous walker had taken a comically large stumble down the slopes after having had multiple weapon and movement options crippled. None of the damage was inflicted was to core systems and as much as it had smashed and rolled its way down the hill, but it had probably done far more damage to the stones and the trees that had dotted the ascent. They would have heard bark and stone shattering alike between the groaning and screeching of tormented metal and they did, breaking the silence of the whirring rumble of a distant battle falling away into the distance.

The Envenomed heard all of the carnage layered beneath a sound that filtered into the air like the creeping ring of tinnitus. No sooner than Salvator had made his call had it began to appear, easily mistakable for residual electronics interference or the return of clear communications. At first it was only from their coms, near smothered by the sounds of the horrible machine they had felled no doubt rising to its chunky legs, stripped of wheels and pilot no doubt pride, but it grew too loud and insistent to be incidental. Where there was once just silence from command soon there was its pulsing hum, soothing the pastiche of shattered bodies and scenery they awaited.

Light fluctuated, blinked, not with the passage of absent clouds upon a clear sky but curving trails of yellow beams bent into shapes expected of glass sculptures that might filter them. Beams that once would peak through the foliage landed a few feet off and visually trailing them upward saw them curve and splinter around and against unseen turns and forks. There was a shape implied, one that covered much of the area of operation they had previously battled in even if it cast no shadow amongst the wreckage of being and machine. It was an aberration and it neared, the tops of trees and their leaves leaning away from it as if pushed by unseen barriers, scans of which soon were revealed to be sustained antigravitational force.

Closer now; shape manifested to augmented sight whether by HUD's, specialized biology, or internal computer systems if not combinations of such. A vessel of sort clad in the appearance of reality itself; see-through, invisible, the world as it appeared stretched over it like a stolen skin for a shape censored for the sensibilities of the squeamish. It was a long vessel not long as a typical jet or plane like aerial transport would be like, its body was enormous in its dimensions turning the space above them into a realm of distorted texture and bending sky. Segments lined its body, a long and predatory shape, large enough to fit at least a handful of tanks. Heat-like distortion near its end suggested the shape of tails and where realspace bent around sufficiently revealed the implied presence of a cockpit head - the entire thing was akin to some enormous predator lurking beneath the mundaneness of the sky, now hovering above them.

The visual consistency of distorted vision was broken when black lines manifested across the false sky in their sight. Where was once the calm blue above split open and the body of the beast was revealed; a rectangular entrance blacker than the afternoon of the day that stared back at them with the intensity of its murk. Shapes were visible within; long appendages of irregular jagged joints that twisted themselves into strained patterns, all receding as the doors spread, retreating from what light was outside. The faint red of visored, goggle-like eyes - infantry, Intransigent, species unknown and specific loadouts difficult to perceive. A growing purplish glow emerged from the ceiling as dirt, rock, rubble, and leaves began to float and bump amongst themselves in a wide radius beneath - wide enough they could have taken likely two warforms in there.

"Low-gravitational well established. Board then depart."

The voice spoke as easily as one completing a purchase for an order, unfazed by the shapes moving through the foliage in the distance. Shapes bearing the same red eyes as the ones in the vessel, hidden behind cloaks over armored bodies - Intransigent forces, some enormous arthropod-like things of claw-hand appendages thicker than human bodies and torsos like inverted triangles broken off into almsot disjointed, incongruent segments some holding weapons that were autocannons rather than rifles in spite of their fitting size. Others were clad in armour seemingly made from night itself, not flat colours of endless dark but criss-crossing complexities of hard padding, magazines, and reinforced collar protection. Weapons ponly spoken of in the tall tales of veteran insurgents and security forces, those who had survived strange incursions they were told never happened, aimed towards the slope where the enormous walker no doubt had returned to its feet.

"Do not remain nor interfere with the rest. This is where your mission ends."

Vrexul, definitely vrexul, each of them a foot taller at least than the endoform band bearing weapons grotesque in their combination of innumerable, independently moving parts and savage in how it had been molded into jagged, pointed forms took up a perimeter position. It was deliberate that they moved past the Envnomed, not so much as even turning one of their living symbiote-limbs to peer or point at them. The entire group of reinforcements did not appear to even notice or acknowledge them, only the slow and rhythmic thud of the slowly approaching armored thread.

As the Envenomed ascended the gravitational column, flashes of light and missile trails streaked underneath. Projectiles that would have struck the ship detonated harmlessly beneath, vanishing their allies beneath the angry glare of explosions. A sound like a hammer, pounding in the depths of a mythical place of post-mortem soul punishment, responded in turn to the roar of mecha weaponry. It dimmed and dimmed as the vessel's body closed and Zanovia became another memory in a legacy of quiet shame and unspoken deeds.






Time had turned into a standstill on the biomechanical vessel. The carnage that once surrounded them and which was visible just a turn of the head past a cliffside was gone and in its place the dull drone and meditative pulsing of the living cybernetics of the strange vessel they found themselves on. The lights were low but their eyes adjusted to it, the faint purple-white of ambient dome-like growths along the ceiling and walls draping their surroundings in the nocturnal glow of an imagined evening. The metal of the floors clanked yet shifted beneath their weight just so slightly, as if generously accomodating them, and in little slits and crevices in the shell-like material of the walls, shapes skittered faster than shape could be determined beyond carapaced and multi-sectioned.

Whatever sounds of battle they might have wondered about were absent. At most there was the slight rumble of the vessel as it presumably left the atmosphere... but then there was nothing but the alien mundanenity of it; long corridors that widened until rooms of hardened biofilm windows, behind which figures human and inhuman paid little attention.

It was tempting to think some of them were elite commando forces but they were not like the reinforcements from earlier. Mismatches of weaponry from across the hegemon across armore painted colours fitting for the Intransigence yet not concealing of the smoother shapes of League issue hardware, the mismatched jaggedness of the Black City's rank and file, the ballistic living padding of fungal-kevlar worn by many Yrrkradians... it was familiar in an odd sense. It was not often one might see scielto not draped in the heavenly splendor of their ethereal nobility but clad in the same bandoliers and infantry-issue shield generators as the celaderaka next to them, clutching at where once was a quarter of their skull, the rest of it silently hovering around his skull connected by lightning-beams of tenuous, faint energies green and sickly.

The infantry that had been leading them said nothing, clad in the general infantry armor of Intranszjednota bipeds, having said nothing but merely motioning for them to follow. Yet they stopped at the corridor, shaped like a gigantic spinal column ribbed and lined with matter that resembled muscle beneath where bones did not fully connect. At its end was a figure no less skeletal.



It was more human than the rest of the assortment of species they had seen yet something more than that. In spite of being a mimickry of structured bone, it was greater than what a human skeleton would have been. There was volume to its mass, not spindly and crackling but rife with vigour in its motions, the striding of its six-feet-seven-inch height as vigorous as whenever it once had flesh and organic strength. It was not a skeletal grin but a harsh grimace hidden behind the tinted visor, steeled to whether coming trouble and terror alike. Intransigent forces did not often salute but the two that had lead them paused for a moment and muttered something inaudible and likely non-verbal, almost as if verses of a song.

An affirmation in the form of a buzzing pulse emerged seemingly from the walls itself, the air, or the very space around the skeletal machine as the two soldiers left.

"Speak, freely. There is much to discuss and others to meet. The vessel has docked and you are to be briefed on what is to come. I had expected little given the constraints of time, but my decision had been correct. There is little time to rejoice. We are expected soon. Yet not so soon I cannot gleam a few things. With me."

Its voice was difficult to determine; it was not the voice it would have had when it was of flesh and blood but there was something distantly buried beneath the layered echo-speak that seemed to emerge both from its body and the very space around it. As if it was a singular being who was the vessel of an audience they could not see save for itself. It had not even introduced itself and its voice was still hurried. Attempts to scan it returned fragmented false readings from its ambient electronic warfare security measures but they were busy with an agenda of their own, too much to care for little prods like that.

All they got out of any scans was that they were designated as INVICTOID AUTHORITY NODE 04/10

Soon it lead them to a chamber, one at the very least had recognizable furniture not merely for humanoids but based on the enormous cushion-like memory-moss clump on the floor, it was meant to be comfortable for the endoform and any other sufficiently large as well (the warform had to be parked in a vehicle bay from earlier). The ceiling still resembled flattened insectoid features glazed over and laminated, the floor did not shift so much (it appeared to be solid tiles for once), and the table was... a table. A wide, circular table with chairs that bore no biomechanical perversity, even having cushions of the actually-a-cushion variety with a few neon lights above that aggressively clashed with the rest of the dead-yet-dreadful decor.

"You have questions. I have questions. Speak your mind. Then I will speak mine."
The mass, power behind the thrust, and velocity of the warmachine made it a functionally unstoppable force on the battlefield. Even bereft of missiles and autocannons, that much weight at such speed had no equal amongst the envenomed. Unstoppable however was not a synonym for insusceptible and "unstoppable" did not merely mean external forces forcefully ceasing its motion either.

A convergence of events would demonstrate this in short order.

The first was a volley of needle rounds. A few pinged off of the thick plating of its legs, inches from the wheels where others had scored. Here the metal was not of the same make and density which rendered theme easy pickings for the hyper-accelerated projectiles. The layered materials were meant to take the strain of a massive machine already partially supporting its own weight on ski-like railings, not precision needles peant to pierce the solid-yet-not-metallic mass, rending at first trenches then breaking the underlying supports, joints, and gears that held it together.

The second was a series of long bursts of larger, thicker, far less precise yet sufficiently clustered bullets mere eyeblinks later. These slammed across the back of the machine. A fireworks displays of sparks peppered the boxy bulkhead out of which emerged the antennae yet the thin appendage fared no better. It was a smaller target than the wheels but where it connected to the vehicle was soft enough for rounds to bite and tear into. Sparks sputtered out and comms channels sputtered and coughed back into life, the raw feedback burst a breath of relief and of surprise. A trail of smoke and blinking, popping flakes of light were left in the machine's wake.

The third involved multiple autocannon rounds slamming into its body, accompanied with a generous spray of .50 calibre bullets. The heaviest bullets and shells available to the squad indiscriminately bust, battered, and smashed against the bulk of the enormous war machine. Rifles and machine guns would scratch and maybe dent. Echo's autocannons gnashed and devoured, ripping out bigger and bigger chunks on its nearing approach. Yet it had something even heavier than those: its own mass. Lesser in size and bulk than the enormous frontline titan but with its already sustained damage to critical components, it was in no position to dodge the massive, wounded bulk of Echo slamming against its side.

The fourth was a few hair-raising moments before the critical impact. As if in retaliation for nearly being mulched by antipersonnel missile barrages earlier, the ulvath loudly roared as the targeted components paid the price. Machine gun rounds swarmed hornet-like into blasted camera-pod atop the autocannon, gouging, gutting, and dismembering it into a withered stump. The trail of bullets traveled over shoulder padding and into its back, bursting open the base of its antennae and turning vital systems into a fiery inferno of smashed electronic and jolting arcs of electricity.

In the timespan of under half a minute the enormous threat went from akin to a condensed train barreling towards a notably smaller hexapodal walker to a partially burning effigy belching fire and molten slag. The wheels that would have supported its crouched stance were but parodies of their former stability and integrity, its jamming systems and fearsome shoulder-cannon in similar condition, and its body smashed off course by a short-ranged ram. 45 degrees off from its intended path, a tree in its path practically burst into woodchips as the others that had fallen crumpled and cracked apart as it slid straight through them. Huge clods of dirt split and flew into the air as it slammed down the slope, sliding now on its side as its free hand tried to dig its fingers into the ground rending trenches nearly big enough to lay down prone within.

It was hard to tell where it had stopped. The sound of groaning metal and coughing thrusters was not the angry, ambient roar as before but a now threatening if muted cacophony. Not in the distance yet not near either. Movement could be heard as the weight of the machine worked against its splayed, stunned body. The pilot within was slamming fists into the ground perhaps in rage but by the rising sound of grating gears and whirring servos, likely forcing its body upwards. There was struggle but a struggle spirited and enraged in its alternating tones of crackling whirrs and mechanical growls sounding out over the hissing crackle of its various annihilated components.

In the midst, all comms jamming had vanished. A window had been forced open but already it was beginning to narrow.
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