“You do realize how absolutely fucking disgusting that is, don’t you?” Rieze, perched on a boulder a dozen feet over Mercy’s head, stared down her nose at him as she picked at her teeth with her bloodied claws.

            Mercy, ignoring the bloody gashes around her freshest victim’s neck and abdomen, had turned the hapless human over and taken off its shirt. He’d then pulled his skinning knife from his boot and cut a clear line from its head, straight down to below its tailbone.

            “Don’t watch then.” He was growing excited at the sight of all the uncoagulated blood pouring out of its wound, licking his jagged canines at the sight of its spine jutting outwards. Rieze’s eyes narrowed to slits when, in one swift and brutal movement, Mercy reached in, snapped the corpse’s spinal cord from the base of its skull and ripped out its entire vertebrae. The sickening sucking sound it made was enough to make her shudder.

            “Hasn’t anyone ever told you not to play with your food?” Mercy didn’t bother with muscles, tendons or ligaments, he simply plucked out the bones he wanted and dropped what remained by his feet. One at a time, he put the pieces in his mouth, using his teeth to crush them up further and suck at the soft marrow tissue inside. Once he’d licked them clean, he spat the whole thing back out, “Why do you even do that?” She asked him pointedly.

            “Why not?” Happily oblivious, Mercy wasn’t about to explain his old habits to his not-so-old hunting partner when they both knew better, “I told you not to watch.”

Rieze sneered in revolt but Mercy was facing the other way. She turned her head, her contempt replaced by pure, unadulterated glee as something else entirely caught her attention,  “Well if it isn’t lady karma being a fucking cunt.” She announced with a mad grin on her face.

            Mercy spat out another mouthful of broken bones before he shot her and her twisted smile a glance, “What is it?”

“You are never going to fucking believe this.” Rieze had the back of her hand covering her mouth in a half-ass attempt at not stifling her laughter, “You better come take a look.”

            His curiosity effectively piqued, Mercy stuffed the corpse’s innards back in but backwards, wrapped its shirt around its neck and kicked it off the edge of the cliff they’d found it on. It bounced off some stones below, disappearing into a large crevice too far down for daylight to reach or Mercy’s night vision to see. Satisfied with his work, he turned and climbed up the boulder to stand next to Rieze.

            “In what universe is that fucking funny?” Mercy couldn’t have missed it if he’d tried.

            “What do you fucking care?” It was her turn to shrug him off, her assessment of him too accurate for his liking; he was having a damn well near impossible time believing what was happening. ‘CARING’ was an altogether different matter, “Unless deep down you think your precious pet is still on board?”

            The former human colony ship they had collectively overrun and assimilated to their cause not long ago. The nigh impenetrable floating fortress they had used as a weapon of mass destruction against its entire fleet and Cirxci when the ‘intelligent’ life had refused to bow down to the Maestro. Their mothership, lovingly re-christened “The Ezramatheia” by said Maestro…

… Had inexplicably appeared and was now hovering a dangerously short distance away, belching out thick plumes of smoke through the cracks spreading across her otherwise solid shell as she leaned precariously over to one side. The surreal spectacle took Mercy aback, drowning him in nearly forgotten memories stemming from the time he’d decided to come live on the surface, much to the Maestro’s protests. Rieze, on the other hand, didn’t care to admit or explain why she’d come and found him. She had turned up on his doorstep one day and now stubbornly refused to return to her consort.

            “Can’t say he didn’t have it coming, the narcissistic bastard.” Mercy, not entirely processing her spite, kept his expression blank as she talked, “Hey, do you think it’s going to…”

Mercy never got the chance to dignify her comments with answers. As though they had been waiting for her cue, colossal chunks of hull broke away from the mothership. Riding the shockwave of an ear-shattering blast, they came hurtling towards Rieze and Mercy’s heads at breakneck speeds. Diving out of the fiery projectiles way, neither of them had much time to notice her exposed engines were engulfed in flames. One after the other they exploded, punching more holes along the side of the ship. Unidentifiable pieces of stone, metal and machinery were sent flying, setting most of the forest that surrounded them ablaze as they landed.

            “Hey, do you think she’s going to make it?” Mercy shot Rieze another glance. The murderous look on her face made it abundantly clear that was not what she’d been about to ask. Quite the opposite, in fact… But while the explosions subsided, the Ezramatheia herself was completely overcome by smoke. Mercy sucked in some fresh air, convinced he could hear those on board screaming in panic and in death. He found himself praying that it wasn’t nearly as fucked up as it had sounded and, for the extended moment she stayed afloat, it did look as though she had pulled through… Except any and all hope evaporated faster than the staling air in his lungs as the smoke began to clear, revealing the full, horrifying extent of the damage she had taken.

Hanging onto her top section by the metaphorical skin of their literal, metal-plated teeth, her engine blocks were already dragging her downwards as her thrusters sputtered out and died. Her lines and pipes sparked and gushed as they ripped apart while the few bolts holding her together twisted out of their sockets, bisecting their beloved mothership in one final, languishing shriek of despair. Unceremoniously, her broken, smouldering husks crashed into the mountains, burying themselves under the rocky avalanches they caused upon impact.

            It was Rieze, muttering profanities under her breath, that snapped Mercy out of his daze. Neither of them had any more use for words as they scrambled to their feet and jumped over the edge of the cliff, flying down its steep face in a bid to see who would hit the ground first. Once they’d reached the forest however, Mercy stopped dead in his tracks, watching an unwitting Rieze as she kept racing towards the ship. Maybe deep down she hoped her consort had survived, but Mercy had other, more pressing urges to attend to first.

“… Please … Help me…” It always made it so much easier when they found him. Without looking at who was calling out, Mercy stepped on its neck with his heavy boot, snapping it like a twig and putting the dying human out of its misery. He then dragged the body behind some nearby rocks, returning to scout the area more thoroughly. Already he counted; five, six, seven… Humans dead from falling, from being impaled, from being burned alive. Much to his dismay, a number of them had been crushed under fallen trees, catapulted boulders and flying debris, making their retrieval all but impossible… But where most were ripe for his taking, it wasn’t long before he’d amassed a veritable smorgasbord of corpses, neatly piled up and awaiting consumption. So caught up was he in his grisly scavenger hunt, what sounded like his newest capture suddenly talking to him nearly gave the veteran hunter a heart attack.

            “What the fuck do you think you’re doing with Basha, dummkopf?” The static-charged, inhuman voice had barely registered when Rieze’s screams of anger filled the air, “Nice to hear that fucking banshee still can’t find her way back home.” Mercy’s head swiveled towards the source of all the words being spoken. He wasn’t disappointed.

“Long time no see, little sister.”

            “For fuck’s sake Mercy, spare the formalities.” Hyde, in all its bionic glory, wore unlaced combat boots and a dusty, sleeveless white shirt under ripped green overalls that did a phenomenal job camouflaging it in the tall grass it sat in. With its slightly misshapen gas mask perched on its knee, it glared at Mercy as though daring him to say something about the sad state its face was in… But the tense anticipation was ruined when Rieze let out another series of frustrated screams.

            “… So I would strongly suggest you drop Basha before I pop your eyeballs with my tweezers, steal your knife and go hack out her vocal cords.”


            It was enough to make Mercy drop Basha’s leg although he waited until Rieze’s voice had trailed off before he spoke, “Be my guest. You know exactly what will happen to you if you do.”

            “In this fucking mess? I’ll take my chances. I doubt anyone’ll care.” Hyde shrugged, banging out the dents in its gas mask with a fist-sized stone.

“Care to explain what happened?” Mercy was keeping an ear out, expecting either another outburst, the sound of people dying or, in Rieze’s case, more than likely both.

            “With what? Rieze or the ship?” Mercy couldn’t help but stare as Hyde locked its gas mask into its gullet, pulled it up to what should have been the bridge of its nose and firmly reattached it to the back of its head. It had the effect of clearing up its voice but dropping it lower in pitch, “Jesus, haven’t you been paying attention? Piece of fucking shit blew up, killed a bunch of people and left the rest of us stranded down here.”

            Mercy blinked a few times and tried again, “So what actually happened?”

Hyde let out a long sigh, “Damn princess here was complaining about his life sucking and saying he wanted to leave. Big brother obviously couldn’t have that so he got Faustus to build Basha a new reactor. Figures the day it’s supposed to happen and ‘KABOOM!!’ there goes the motherfu-…”

            “Mothership.” Mercy finished in its stead.

            “Shut up. It’s not a cult, I don’t care what the stupid troglodytes on board used to say.” Mercy didn’t bother arguing. He’d left the ship some time ago and everyone knew it, “I was running out to meet Faustus, all of a sudden there’s smoke everywhere. Next thing I know, Faustus is dragging me out of the dirt saying Basha’s unconscious but alive. I’ve been sitting here watching him ever since.” Hyde’s face was flushing red from her own, barely suppressed rage.

“You haven’t seen anyone else?” Mercy risked asking regardless.

            “No. I haven’t seen anyone else. I don’t even know if any of my family members are alive, never mind where any of them might’ve ended up. I fucking told you. I’m stuck here babysitting HIM until Faustus comes back.” Hyde jabbed a finger at Basha, “How the hell he can still breathe with a busted reactor is beyond me.”

            “I don’t know anything about any of that.” Mercy bent down and pulled his skinning knife from his boot again. Hyde’s eyes lit up like the sun when he handed it to them, “I’ll let you keep it if you tell me which way he went.”

Hyde took the knife from him, carefully examining the razor-sharp blade before using the tip to tighten the loose screws around its neck. “Faustus said he had to go dig up his tools or some shit. I’m supposed to drag Basha to this abandoned settlement somewhere back there.” It gestured behind its left shoulder. Mercy could see plenty of hills but nothing that looked like a city or a camp, “Always best to keep princess hidden until big brother is found.”

            “Nice to hear that mask hasn’t dampened your sarcasm any.” Hyde rolled its eyes at his comment, “Try not to kill anyone and I’ll try to send some extra hands your way if I find any.”

            “I promise nothing.” Was the best Hyde had to offer, “Wait, you mean real people and not just… hands… Right?”

“I promise nothing.” He parroted back as he began making his own way towards the Ezramatheia.

            “Did you hear that, ya fucking princess? You and I are going to have some fun…” He overheard Hyde say but didn’t stop or turn to see. Nor did he remember to look for Rieze’s footprints in the singed earth until he’d almost reached the ship’s mangled thrusters. As such, he didn’t think it strange she had never made it closer than ten feet away from the Ezramatheia’s melting outer shell. All he bothered to notice was the path she had taken towards the ship’s top half, where most of the survivors were rallying together and trying to salvage what remained of their already meager existences.

Mercy got closer and put a hand on her scorching hot surface, burning his fingers and his palm and relishing the sensation. After all this time in self-imposed exile, he had forgotten how absolutely overblown their mothership had become. Not only had she crashed into a mountain, she’d utterly obliterated it and taken its place. It was truly a fantastic ending for such an impressive piece of machinery.

            (Who Said it’s The End?)

            He heard… Thought he heard… What did he think he’d heard? Mercy involuntarily moved up a step. Was someone whispering to him through the cracks? The holes that perforated the ship were more than big enough to hide a person. His fingers traced the smaller lines while smoke kept billowing out, forcing its way down his ears and mouth and filling his drying eyes with tears as he tried not to choke on the noxious fumes. He kneeled down, leaned back for some fresh air…

            … And promptly disappeared. Bound, captured, forcefully pulled through the mothership’s gaping fissures and swallowed by the inky darkness that lurked underneath.

            (Welcome Back)

Destruction in D Major

Basha only vaguely remembered the Ezramatheia exploding. He didn’t know he’d been thrown out and knocked unconscious when the ship had fallen out of the sky. Nor was he aware Hyde had found him, dragged him over to a ratty bed, strapped him down to the frame and was now attempting to force her way into his chest cavity.

No. As far as he was concerned, it was the tinkling of music, playing backwards from Eremis’ broken box, that lured him back from the edge of oblivion. It wasn’t nearly loud enough to cover the growing sound of sarcastic snickering that followed it as it slithered up and inside his ears, coiling itself around his backbone and made him cringe. The sudden and brutal attack continued on his other senses as well; he could also smell acrid smoke, wafting up from somewhere below. It too, forced its way into his mouth and nose, down his windpipe and settled at the bottom of his lungs like scorching hot lead. When Basha doubled over in a coughing fit that left him gasping for air as tears streamed down his face, the subtle burning itch he’d been feeling in his lower extremities erupted. It raced up his limbs and across his chest, the pain nearly forcing him in the fetal position as he thought for certain he’d burst into a ball of literal hell fire.

“And wouldn’t you imagine, you haven’t opened your eyes yet.”

That voice… That godforsaken voice… Basha believed for sure he had buried it along with the Monster it belonged to. Yet here it was, haunting him from the edge of doom as the force of gravity threatened to make him collapse under his own weight. Basha haphazardly teetered in place, covering his eyes and ears with his hands to little avail.

“Do you remember when we watched them dance in their throes of death?” His voice kept talking to him. No, Basha couldn’t recollect the thought. He couldn’t even understand what the voice was trying to tell him. “Such misery we’ve wrought together.”

Basha could barely hold on to his thoughts and already they were spinning completely out of control. His attempts at trying to place himself in his surroundings were failing harder than his efforts at tuning out the incessant fucking racket.

He wasn’t aware he’d either been knocked unconscious or fallen asleep… So where the actual Hell was he waking back up?

“Such death and fucking destruction.”

His deep and deadly ominous voice was racing through the growing whispers, coming closer and becoming much clearer. Basha slowly slid his fingers out of his eyes to take a peek around but could only watch with growing terror as his own shadow grew three times in length. Wings appeared on his back while horns sprouted out of his head. His mouth, covered by the palms of his hands, split into a shit devouring rictus before Basha shuddered and shut his eyes again, wishing it would all go away and leave him the Hell alone.

“Do you truly believe you killed me?”

The booming laughter that followed his rhetorical question bounced off the floors, walls and ceilings of the cavernous space they were now sharing.

There was no fucking way.

This couldn’t be happening.

“Of course it is.”

But of fucking course it was. Basha didn’t need to lift his head to know what was now looming directly over it; the tense chill of impending dread was dripping down his neck and back, making his skin crawl and his hair stand on end.

Dead fucking silence.

“Tell me, how are you feeling, little brother?” A soft whisper. Lips behind his ear. The light brush of razor sharp canines over the skin barely covering the arteries in his neck…

… Except the hopelessness that had been growing in his gut… The desperate scream that threatened to escape his vocal cords… Was abruptly muffled and then entirely cut off as the Mad Maestro fell upon him like a blanket of ashen snow. Using one hand to grip Basha’s wrists and pin them both behind his back, he made a show of licking the blood, dripping down the serrated claws of his other hand as he dug them into Basha’s narrow cheekbones.

Basha, stubbornly refusing to fully open his eyes, struggled and tried to break free, but standing a full head above him, the Mad Maestro wasn’t having a single problem keeping him wrapped up in his inhumanly strong grasp.

“You are dearly missed, little brother.” The Maestro smirked into his ear before moving his black lips down his jawline. He then forced Basha’s entire head to turn in his direction, drawing more blood between his fingers as he took a closer look at his pale features, “Being away is making you frail, I see.”

The Maestro kissed Basha’s forehead, running his elongated tongue down the bridge of his nose before biting into his upper lip hard enough to make him wince, “I have a present for you, little brother.” His voice sounded as jagged as his teeth as he let go of Basha’s face and spun him around, “Something for all the pain you’re causing.”

Basha finally managed to open his mouth to protest but was far too slow with his words as the Maestro interrupted him once more. Never letting go of Basha’s wrists, he placed his freed hand between the boy’s shoulder blades. Basha’s heart slammed inside his chest once, twice, skipped a beat and then stopped completely as the bones in his back and chest splintered and snapped like dried twigs. His knees gave out, his spine buckled and warm blood gushed down his upper body, drenching the clothes he wore in dark red. Nearly blacking out, the sole reason Basha found himself still standing was the Maestro, unmercifully holding him upright while he failed to register what the Hell had happened to him.

“He ripped your heart out. Can’t you see how beautiful it is?” Said another, distinctly female voice. In the state he was in, Basha only recognized Eremis because her tone nearly matched the timber of her music box, still playing out of tune somewhere in the background.

Using the Maestro’s forearm to prop himself back up, half-dead    Basha couldn’t process what was going on in and around him. He’d stopped breathing, felt paralyzed from his chest all the way down to his feet and had to force himself to close and open his eyes a number of times before his vision began to return… But there it was, jutting out of the front of his shirt, resting precariously between the Maestro’s fingertips as it kept pumping blood out with rhythm.

“Impressive how it keeps beating.” Eremis giggled from somewhere behind him but, crippled and almost completely blind, Basha was unable to see her.

“… No, not you too…” He muttered, muffling a scream as the Maestro pulled his arm out of his chest. Impossibly weak, Basha was unable to stop him as he finally let him go and evaporated into the inky black backdrop of their shared delusion, bringing Basha’s heart with him.

“Is this making you upset?” It was a stupid question with a loaded, dishonest answer and Basha, unsure of who had asked, chose not to     dignify it with a response.

“Don’t be rude, little brother. Open your eyes and look.” With his heart, now a toy nestled into the Maestro’s hands, Basha could merely, mindlessly do as he was ordered. He spun around on his heels, opening his eyes wide, and found himself facing Eremis’ entirely naked figure. Her matted, waist-long, chestnut hair did nothing to conceal what little curves she had, all while her glowing, fuschia eyes seared another hole straight through his skull.

“Come closer…” Eremis beckoned him with a finger as the relentless snickering, giggles and whispers returned with a proper vengeance. Basha struggled not to slip over his own feet as he stumbled forward, taking a step, then another, and a third. That was when he saw the full extent of the horror that had been standing bare alongside him much of the time they’d been there. Utterly speechless, Basha was unable to make himself ask if someone had practiced on her… Or if she’d fallen off the deep end and inflicted her wounds upon herself as she’d done so many countless times before.

The skin on Eremis’ neck had been slashed… No… That wasn’t right. It had been ripped to shreds, exposing the muscles, tendons and ligaments still pulsing with blood underneath. Her torso and stomach were covered in deep bites, long scratches and multiple stab wounds while her arms and legs had been slashed to shit, revealing the bones that remained under her flailed and battered skin.

Much fucking worse was the way she’d been sown back together… Or rather, someone had tried. Thick strands of coarse, black threads crisscrossed in and out of her mangled and mutilated flesh. Of course, Basha knew Eremis had lost much of her humanity a long time ago… But this… He found himself clamping both his hands over his mouth before he could say anything they’d all regret.

“I promise. It didn’t hurt when this happened to me. Please try not to overthink it.” She said as she came closer, burying her nose in his blood-soaked shirt as she dug her chewed off nails into his forearms with a strength she shouldn’t have had. “You have no right to be standing   either, Basha.” She added before the thought had barely finished crossing his mind. She wrapped her arms around his neck, the loose stitching   getting tangled into his shaggy, white hair along with her tiny fingers. Basha smelled nothing but vanilla as he pulled her in close and held her there.

“Big brother’s watching.” Eremis whispered as, unbeknownst to him, the Mad Maestro had materialized behind him, his heart still beating between his claws as he flicked his forked tongue out from the back of his venomous fangs, “How are you feeling, Basha?” She asked him in turn.

“Big brother can go fuck himself.” Basha told her as she freed her hands from his hair and ran her fingers over the fresh cuts on his face. She pulled his lips towards hers, allowing them to connect and melt into each other as she traced a path down his chest, avoiding the gaping, bleeding hole there to reach for his leather belt instead.

“… Always happy to oblige, little brother…” The Maestro replied, too quietly for Basha to pay attention as Eremis undid his buckle and pulled down his zipper. The boy held on to her small, battered frame as she wrapped her frozen fingertips around his rapidly growing inches, making him gasp from both the cold and the sudden, insanely pleasurable friction.

(… He could feel it… That slow warmth… That ever rising          pressure… Basha would have never admitted it… But dear GOD could he absolutely fucking feel it…)

“Tell me you miss me.” The Maestro hissed in Basha’s ear as they both watched Eremis play his swollen member like a true artist, sucking on his neck before biting her way down his abdomen. She kneeled in front of him, pulling on his pants until they’d reached his knees.

“… No…” Every other word he’d conjured up in his head until that point completely evaporated as Eremis ignored his weak reply and placed her full and tender lips on the tip of his throbbing erection.

“Say it, little brother.” The Maestro kept taunting him as Basha half-heartedly attempted and still failed to move his hips away from Eremis’ mouth. He could merely grip her shoulders and choke on his non-existent breath as she drowned him in sensations he’d forgotten he could feel and made him rock to the rolls of her tongue, “Tell us how much you miss us.”

“… I said no…” But Basha was far too distracted to care if he’d spoken the words out loud or not.

“Such a feeble answer. You must be on the verge of losing it.” The Maestro’s voice was dripping with ill-intent as Eremis reached the bottom of Basha’s shaft. He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he’d been this aroused… Was unable to recall the last time he’d so desperately wished he wasn’t. This wasn’t the place for games… But the Maestro and Eremis clearly had other ideas, “You’re fucking close…” The madman moved away from Basha’s ear as the boy knotted his fingers in Eremis’ hair and thrust his engorged cock down her throat. He unwittingly let out a grunt, his eyes rolling back in time to catch the Maestro’s face, mere millimeters away from his own as it spread into a wide, fanatically sadistic grin. He hung Basha’s heart under his nose, the tender organ beating in time to his throbbing member, on the verge of exploding at the bottom end of Eremis’ mouth.

“Come now, little brother. Let it go.” The Mad Maestro ordered him obscenely when all Basha had left to do but obey. The Maestro’s booming laughter reverberated across the room once again, all while Eremis    swallowed all of Basha’s frustrations in one, big, satisfying gulp. Then,  instead of returning Basha’s heart to its rightful owner, the Maestro went ahead and crushed it in his fist, ripping the defective muscle into barely recognizable chunks before letting them fall through the cracks below, never to be seen again.

Eremis wiped her mouth while the Maestro cleaned his hands of the bloody mess he’d made and sneered at Basha’s limp and lifeless corpse. It slowly crumpled in on itself and fell to floor in a heap as Hell erupted in a wall of flames. Both the Maestro and Eremis vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving as suddenly as they had appeared, taking their music, their sarcasm and their laughter along with them when they went.

It was all over. They were gone.

Basha was alone.

All over again.

Catharsis; A Prologue-

Still alive and thinking, Ameidjin was hopelessly wishing for a reset function she knew didn’t exist.

She, at first, had believed she was losing her sight. She thought her surroundings were beginning to fade to white. Her head had begun to spin as her memories flashed behind her eyelids at an increasingly alarming rate. There had been a burst of color… Black, blue and red… But that had been followed by nothing but static… Black… White… Grey… Continuously rolling, never ending… Static.

Ameidjin shook her head… Tried closing her eyes and opening them again but nothing was helping her at all. Nothing about her surroundings changed.

It couldn’t possibly be over already.

This wasn’t meant to be the end.  

Except standing in what had now become a mass grave, she had a round view of the Mad Maestron’s extermination in all of its twisted, rotting beauty. An ironic display of morbid grotesqueries rendered live and in high definition under the cruel glare of their planets’ sun. All of which layed within what had been a Sanctuary…. What little of it still remained.

“It was a massacre” didn’t even begin to describe the true horror that had clearly happened here. It was “Utter annihilation”… “Complete and total domination.”

Ameidjin truly thought she was losing her sight… And yet she could clearly see how there had been too many deaths in a ridiculously short time frame; blood still pooled from the piles and piles of putrefied, mummifying carcasses littering the ground… All of them butchered, mangled, mutilated… Shot, skewered, crucified to the stone beneath them… Stuffed into every crack, crag and crevice with every manner of weapon jutting out of ripped skin and broken bones… All of them… The warmth of their collective bodies still slowly rising into the atmosphere, dissipating into nothingness.

And the smell… The fetid scent of death and decay was threatening to engulf her whole. It had begun its assault on her senses long before she had made landfall. As she had moved up the shore, her bare feet had landing ankle deep in puddles of guts and gore, it had become all the more intolerable.

Now it was absolutely overwhelming… It made her failing eyes well up with tears, her nose and throat burn and her skin itch until her entire body felt wrapped up in nothing but a dull, numbing sensation. It was a stark contrast to the growing fire searing a hole in her chest.

And she’d barely just arrived.

Still… She thought… Taking it all in… Allowing herself to feel what her brothers and sisters must have felt… The fear, the pain, the sadness… she allowed all of it in, let it crawl under her skin, let it climb its way through her nervous system until all she could feel anymore was her unbearable, insurmountable anger. At “THEM”.

It was all their fault she knew. Those life sucking leeches… insufferable, unkillable insects. Rumours had foretold of their arrival but there had been warning… No indication of what was to come.

“Here”… On Cirxci… The small blue and yellow marble planet with one sun and two moons Ameidjin and her people called home. Left to its own devices, alone in a distant corner of the universe, it had developed, matured and flourished. Cirxci was separated into three major continents surrounded by countless islands and cradled by clear, emerald green waters. It had been primordial, exotic and teeming with life; a gentle nature befitting an equally gentle balance.

Then… Those ‘THINGS’ had arrived.

Even living on a not-so-distant island they had all heard the whispers floating back from the mainland. ‘THEIR’ arrival had coincided with one of their festivals and their new guests had been received as their Greater Gods finally returned. A passive people, unaccustomed to confrontation and war, they had let their guard down. They had let their friendly curiosity get the best of them and welcomed ‘THEM’ with open arms.

Ameidjin sneered in disgust as she remembered.

They had so easily accepted these newly arrived ‘Deities’ floating by some kind of unexplainable, supernatural force needed their help. Only when their Honored Ancestors had suddenly disappeared from their hallowed stone hallways had they understood not all was as it seemed.

And then it had gotten so much worse.

No one knew exactly what had happened that day. They had woken up to their sky covered in thick black smoke; one of their floating ‘Gods’ had been badly damaged, a chunk of it’s hull having been blown clear off. But by some kind of miracle, ‘It’ had survived… Jolted, tilted precariously to its side and barely functional… But ‘It’ had somehow lived to float on another day.

They hadn’t known their ‘God’ was angry.

Not until it was far too late.

Ameidjin balled her hands into fists so tight her claws drew blood from her palms. The stories they had told… The rumors that had spread… The tales of the floating mountain-sized craft along with the smaller ships they had unwittingly allowed to roam over their lands… How ‘It’ had suddenly opened ‘Its’ hatches and unleashed Holy Hell on doomed Cirxci and her defenseless people.

The insects… All those insects… Had come swarming down by what had seemed like millions. They had spread out like a plague, destroying everything in their path. With the help of their ‘Gods’ and those still aboard, the mindless soldiers had razed entire villages, captured who they could, killed who they couldn’t and taken everything they could get their hands on until there was nothing left to take.

It had been carnage. Everything and everyone had either been decimated or had simply vanished into thin air. Their waters had been contaminated; their ports reduced to ashes and their once great cities left smoldering shells of their former selves, spewing out more smoke so thick, it had blotted out the light in the sky. Even their islands hadn’t been spared. Of course, there had been survivors… But where some had died over the seas, most had been extinguished by heat, starvation and foreign diseases. The older generations had suffered shock and trauma at the terrifying sight of the newly warped landscape; their thick jungles had been razed, their lush forests reduced to dry, barren deserts and their wildlife had been completely eradicated. There hadn’t bee a single bird in the sky, not a single movement on the ground or even a quiet breeze to keep them company… nothing at all but deafening silence on their increasingly desperate and lonely journey here.

Ameidjin sucked in a breath. Her time was growing short. Every moment gone was a moment closer to her inescapable demise. They were done. Her species had been rendered extinct and already she could sense ‘It’ coming back… Their flagship was still hovering overhead… Looming in the background behind their sacred mountains waiting for her arrival. She could practically hear ‘Its’ engines; the menacing, mechanical sounds of technological torture.

“The Black Machine of Death.”

And God could she ever feel it… All the pain… The suffering… All that misery and anguish. It felt absolutely excruciating.

It felt like Hell.

‘It’ was coming closer. Sucking them all into the Void.

Ameidjin closed her eyes. There really was nothing left but the same, grey, never ending static; the dry, death-filled landscape left frozen in space and time. It couldn’t be over… This couldn’t be the…

She closed her eyes even tighter.

Flash. White. Blank.

“The End”