Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-05

The five brothers affixed their personal tethers to the gateway, which they concealed under a camouflage protocol, checked themselves and each other for readiness and then embarked down into what was once a thriving freshwater port and its surrounding suburbs in the Old World. Using a variant of the bike construct popular amongst the people of the Sky-Blue Republic, enhanced with stealth and speed hacks, the team swiftly descended into the ruins. Discreetly they scouted, sighted, scanned and identified the Bug forms that they found as they sought for clues to the governing intelligence that they believed to be present.

Silently, using only hand signs, the quintet progressed through their search for some time. As the sun soared through the sky, soon to fall behind the hills and cast the ruins into shadow, they paused at one of the many dig sites. Nala then pointed down into the open dig and motioned to enhance their vision: below was a humanoid figure, prone and unmoving.

Without deliberation, Nala dismissed his bike and motioned for Blue and Yellow to follow him. The three leapt down into the pit; Red and Green assumed an over-watch position, expecting trouble. Without missing a beat, the three landed, rolled to their feet in a single motion and approached the figure- now clearly one of the Sons of Ken, as his snow-white hairless skin and sunken yellow eyes made clear.

This Son fought the Bugs, and did not conquer- that much was obvious. Yellow checked his pulse while Blue used a diagnostic protocol to check for other injuries- or surprises; he wasn’t dead just yet, but had lost too much blood to survive and could not be moved due to mortal internal and external wounds. They looked to Nala, and Nala signed his response: fix the frame on him.

Blue and Yellow resolved a chestplate similar to their own while Nala made a copy of his chakram and affixed it to the backplate. They waited for the chakram to synchronize to the mind of the dying Son, and then Nala went to work using the inside circle as a holographic computer interface to initiate a rapid backup of the Son’s memories to the chakram.

Red and Green scanned the ground and the sky, watching for a reaction, and distantly they found it. A fast-moving Flyer group raced in their direction straight from the Hive, and Red linked his visual feed to Nala.

“As expected.” Nala thought, “This confirms that there is an intelligent Bug form present.”

The download finished well within the time before interception, and Nala detached the disc from the backplate. With his free hand, Nala ordered Blue and Yellow to rig the Son for a glorious death; they did so, and the three leapt out of the pit in a single bound. Regrouped, Nala gave the sign to exfiltrate and the five of them used their teleportation protocols to return to the gateway. As soon as their protocols reassembled their forms at the gateway and they got back their bearings, they witnessed the Flyers getting blown up by the bombs that they left behind- conveniently deresolving all evidence of their presence.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-04

The others took a look at the hive below.

“Brothers, we need to know just what is going on down there. This is reconnaissance, not engagement, so stealth and discretion is required. We can’t properly cure this infestation if we don’t know what they’re here for and how they get it.”

Getting out of sight of the Bug Hive, Nala and the Special Team sat in a circle as they created a holographic map of the area.

“Creating a Hive in the ruins of a major port suggests to me that the Bugs are not nothing more than alien insects of a rapacious nature.” Nala said, “Their activity suggests not only intelligence, but a level of knowledge regarding the sciences and the technology one may make of them.”

“It also suggests experience with warfare against life forms similar to us.”

“Correct, Red.” Nala said, acknowledging Red’s astute observation.

Another spoke. “While we’re quite capable of doing without access to the lake’s water, many of our allies are not so fortunate.”

“Especially if they’re still dealing with predation by the Sons of Ken.” Red said.

“Yellow’s political assessment is also correct.” Nala said, “You begin now to see the threat that this Hive presents.”

Another now spoke. “Is it correct that this specific Hive has not engaged in offensive action, but instead acts as a node in a logistical network? I notice that combat-specific Bug forms are few, and that they focus on rapid-response forms. This suggests a security force, not a staging ground, and therefore I suggest that what this Hive has for a mission has less to do with battles and more to do with strategic or economic concerns.”

Nala nodded. “Blue, you’re sharp mind never fails to amaze me.”

“Blue’s noticed what I noticed, and I think I know why.” The fourth spoke now. “These ruins are between the Bugs and what I noticed with previous operations in and near Bug Hives, which is the very natural world itself. They’re an alien life form, so they cannot help but to either adapt to our world or make our world adapt to them. As they are insectoid in nature, what they’re doing is to impose their form of life upon our world.”

“That would explain why the Sons of Ken are also opposed to the Bugs.” Yellow said, “I think that we could have quite the change in affairs if we could provide proof to the Sons that we share a common enemy.”

“At least they would lay off of us for a while.” Green said, wryly.

“So,” Red said as he turned to Nala, “what are we looking for?”

“Information, Red. I think that this Hive, being that it’s one that links up so many closer to home with points further north, has a higher-order Bug form somewhere within its perimeter. If not, then I am certain that something else exists within that space which performs the same function. Nothing else explains why this Hive isn’t constantly throwing war-form Bugs at us. We’re going in there, we’re going to find it and then we’re going to pull a job on its brain.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-03

The Encounter at Duluth’s Bluff

Nala arrived overland on a personal light jet, setting down at the point where one of the uncounted ley lines coming out of the Sky-Blue Republic crossed with another that intersected it. This point stood atop a ring of hills that shadowed the ruined harbor below, a complex of stone and steel that once stood proud as the Old World’s largest freshwater port. In those ruins, far in the distance, arose a series of alien towers—the surface presence of a Bug Hive—and about those towers a consistent screen of specks revealed Flyers fluttering about.

“Yancy said that they maintained a regular combat air patrol.” Nala thought, “If I hadn’t put down here, I probably would have been detected.”

No longer needing his personal jet, he deresolved it out of existence and rejoined what were the joysticks into a single baton. Through his helmet, he enhanced the sight before him as if he were one of those old-timers that still used binoculars or telescopes and examined the hive below. In addition to the Flyers in the sky, Nala now noticed a large number of other Bugs of various sorts: workers, guards, sentries and more. He observed the Bugs clearing out the remaining ruins as if they mined a quarry, not caring one whit for what they destroyed in service to their own ends- or any hapless creatures that they encountered.

“This looks to be worse than I heard.” Nala thought, and he resolved a palm-sized sphere-like thing into existence. Holding it forth, he scanned the scene below.

“Masters, we need to move on this now.” Nala said, “By the time you receive this message, I will have the anchor point erected and resolved. I recommend a special team. End of Line.”

Nala waived the sphere off and, under its own power, it dove into the ley line and disappeared- heading back to the Sky-Blue Republic at the speed of light. Then Nala pulled out his baton, and then drew a second from a boot sheath. Separating each one into halves, he used them as anchors to some as-yet invisible tent; he touched one side in a swift, slicing motion and then waited for it to resolve into existence- to solidify into a single thing. After a long, anxious moment—Nala had to watch for any sign that the Bugs knew he was there—it finished and before him stood a gateway arch.

Some moments later, the interior of the gateway illuminated itself. In a rapid sequence, one after the next, four others appeared and approached Nala. They, like he, were young members of the order that served the Sky-Blue Republic.

“Special Team 1 reporting as called.”

Nala smiled. “Welcome to Duluth’s Bluff, brothers.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-02

The Azure Flames not only destroyed the Old World, it unleashed long-quenched wells of power and let them flood the world once more. Creatures of might, terrible things of old, which relied on this flow of power stirred from slumbers ageless in their length and arose into the ruined remnants of what once was Man’s civilization. This is the Age of Monsters, the time of the Wars of the Damned, and it is the age when much of what endured from the end of the Old World fell in struggles with the inhuman things returning from Elsewhere.

After the fall of the Necromancer, the Dominion of the Sky-Blue Republic rose from its ashes. The Society took the lead, using its increasing mastery of science and sorcery to scour the corruption from the land and build the center of the City-State—the Tower Pinnacle—where the Ziggurat of the Necromancer once dominated the land. During this time, the Society encountered a returning race from the time before the Old World, now known only as “The Bugs” after their resemblance to natural insects as well as similar tales from the Old World of such beings.

The Bugs are an inhuman thing, demons in word and deed. From whence they came none knew for some time, for they are intelligent as a whole and cunning in their ways. However, typifying the Bug way was a mastering of biology far beyond—initially—that which Man possessed in the form of the Society; Bugs, as one would expect from things mocking Creation’s perfection, are specialized creatures acting under the control of a hive mind. Specific types of Bugs would come and go as the Hive Mind saw fit, depending upon what the Society did, keeping the Society and the Republic on its toes.

The Sky-Blue Republic could not endure against the Bugs were it not for the Society and its mastery of magic and science, employed as technology and techniques, and in the 5th year of this war our story’s hero completed his studies at the Hidden College of the Inner City and joined the war full time as one of the Society’s many warrior-savants. His name of birth is lost now, but we know that he did not take the name of “Nala” until he became an Initiate at the Hidden College of the Inner City and thus committed himself to the Society.

Nala learned as an apprentice to the First Founder, Roger M. Ire, the sole surviving founder of the Society and the Sky-Blue Republic at the time of the Bug War. From him Nala learned more than the principles of energy and matter, more than the mastery of number and mythology. Nala learned music, poetry and athletics- always relating back to the mastery of principles of natural law. The practice of the many martial arts taught him how to comprehend flows of energy that study of physics and chemistry never could, the recital of monologues and soloist pieces taught him more about anatomy and sonics than medical studies ever did. This mixture of arts and sciences produced superior development of Nala’s capabilities than any alternative regime could allow.

So, despite Nala’s youth he was a well-rounded and highly-experienced man when he left the Hidden College. At the age of 21, Nala possessed a quality that many of the people of the Republic envied- and that the Bugs would soon come to fear and despise.