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"I'm the size of a minivan and evolution's ultimate warrior form. There is nothing you can do to add to or improve upon my evolutionary, biological, and physical perfection on the battlefield." - Treana'ad warrior

"But what if I strapped miniguns, battlescreens, and missile launchers to you after covering you in warsteel armor and then give you armored unit training?" - Terran scientist

"You know, let's go with that idea!" - Treana'ad warrior

>Busy engineering sounds

"I am the the size of a minivan and the ultimate blending of evolution and science!" - Treana'ad warrior

-----

Sixty thousand years ago a Terran picked up a rock and the Universe made that everyone's problem. - Pubvian saying

-----

Yrler turned around and laid on his back on the rock, staring at the cloud in the sky, letting his eyes cross slightly to unfocus them even as he remembered the consistency and gel-like texture of all the times he ate spoiled nutrigel straight from the broken dispenser.

515 was next to him, having wedged himself in a crack in the rock. Yrler had one finger out, the induction datalink built into the suit's fingertip touching the end of 515's bladearm so they could still talk without any outside leakage.

Yrler's psychic shielding slowly ticked up, by a tenth or a hundredth of a percentage point.

He tried not to think about it.

More Atrekna drifted by, in their scintillating iridescent robes, lifted on glowing disks of phasic energy, with crystals and exotic metal jewelry. Some held staves, others held orbs, and a few held strange twisted structures of phasic energy.

He counted thirty.

Then the psychic shielding load began ticking back down.

Yrler didn't close his eyes, even though he wanted to. He knew if he would, he might imagine or remember something that would break through the sludge he was filling his thoughts with.

A long moment passed.

He was about to move when he saw it.

High up in one of the trees, on a thick branch, there was a slight distortion.

Yrler blinked at it and sent the captured image to 515.

"What is that?" Yrler sent via text.

--not know gonna try to clear it-- 515 sent back.

Yrler just stared at nothing, eyes still slightly crossed, as 515 unwove the interlaced multi-spectrum visual stream to the visor and started going through the various visual systems.

Ultrasonic and other ranging systems were turned off and 515 didn't want to turn them on and risk the ranging pulse giving them away.

Ultraviolent passive showed the thing in the tree.

It looked vaguely like an Atrekna.

"What is it?" Yrler asked.

--something different recording for NavInt for next drone pop upload-- 515 said.

"Good idea. Make sure our suit recorders are downloading compressed records into the drone," Yrler said. He sighed. "Run up the codes so that if our life signs terminate the launcher will fire a drone to upload the suit records.

--already done-- 515 said.

The Atrekna, if it was an Atrekna, dropped down in the tree to the lower branches.

--what doing-- 515 asked.

"Not sure," Yrler said.

His psychic shielding spiked for a second.

"More coming," Yrler warned. "Probably from that gate."

A lone Atrekna floated by, slightly wavering from the psychic shielding it had up. Yrler knew it would be protected by inertia dampening fields, light refraction psychic structures, and more.

His little survival carbine probably wouldn't even scuff its robe.

The lone Atrekna, wearing the standard robe that all Atrekna leadership caste wore and carrying a staff topped by a glowing orb, floated into the trees, lifting up above the fern-like plants, which changed color from green to amber as it passed them.

Yrler started to breathe a sigh of relief that it had passed by.

A shape lunged up out of the ferns, tackling the Atrekna, both figures tumbling into the ferns. Yrler's psychic shielding suddenly wound up to 22.85% as a loud screech erupted from the ferns.

Yrler saw a wooden spear, the haft decorated with a Terran Descent Humanity skull, raise up out of the ferns. It thrust down and Yrler's psychic shielding suddenly dropped to 1.5%.

--what-- 515 asked with a half dozen confused emojis.

A meme of a Treana'ad looking at an open box in confusion with "WHAT?" as the macro popped into Yrler's vision.

"What?" Yrler asked.

The robed Atrekna suddenly rose above the ferns. It was upside down, its robe fallen down to reveal its sexless mauve body, the arms limp, one leg falling off to the side while the other was straight up. The Atrekna suddenly sped up into the trees.

Yrler could still see it as it was wedged in between two branches.

A loud roar sounded out.

--what-- 515 asked.

The robe was stripped from the Atrekna, then, as Yrler watched, the skin was peeled away and dropped to the forest floor as one piece. The spine and skull was pulled free of the meat.

The skull glittered and vanished as the spinal column fell to the forest floor.

The Atrekna's skinned and gutted body fell, to hang from a vine, swaying slowly in the breeze.

"What just happened?" Yrler asked. "Some kind of indigenous predator?"

--something weird-- 515 put back. He scrambled out of the crack, moving carefully, and put what looked like a pebble on the rock. He carefully spooled out what looked like a clear piece of fishing line as he moved back to the crack and wedged himself in. After a moment he touched Yrler's fingertip.

A window opened up, showing a 360 view around the rock.

--we should move but can not-- 515 said.

"Yeah. We're kind of stuck," Yrler admitted. He used his eyes, blinks, and nudging helmet switches to set the window that showed the input from the little panoramic camera connected by a thin shielded superconductor wire.

The large clearing looked no different.

The forest was silent. Beautiful with glowing bio-luminescent plants but still silent.

The Atrekna corpse slowly swung back and forth, headless, torso split open, skinless, dripping purple blood onto the plants.

The origami flower unfolded again and four Atrekna came out of the glowing archway. These all held in their hands some kind of weird upside down spider with crystals sticking up from it. They had shoulder plates of chromium-warsteel with runes and inlay on them, and were looking around. Two had huge intricate lenses, held in geared frames that clicked and rotated as the two Atrekna slowly looked around the forest.

shit shit shit

Another Atrekna came out. This one had an elaborate headpiece of strange glittering metals and gems, had crystals over its eyes and more crystals floating around it. The phasic shields rippled around it.

The first four spread out in a diamond formation around the newcomer and slowly moved toward the forest.

They passed so close to Yrler that he could taste Rigellian jalapeno-oranges.

The five moved into the forest. One of the Atrekna without the complex lens system floated up and cut the corpse down. It crashed into the ferns and the cutter lowered down slowly.

Yrler watched as the four gathered and looked down at the corpse. The ones with the lenses turned and looked up into the trees, then began looking around.

It took a few seconds, but Yrler realized that the lenses were somehow allowing the Atrekna to see what had happened over the last hour or so.

"Uh, they aren't going to be able to look back far enough to see us, are they?" Yrler asked.

--hope not-- 515 said.

Reaching down and fumbling around slowly, working by feel, Yrler took one of the short grenades off his hip that was roughly the size of a tube of lip balm.

Yrler watched as the five Atrekna carefully looked around. The one with the elaborate headdress was looking at something in its hands. It would point at sections of the forest, the ones with the lenses would move over near there and look around, the one with the headdress would study the thing in its hands.

Long minutes ticked by.

The Atrekna were moving back toward the arch, leaving the forest, and Yrler tensed slightly.

The one on the left with the lends suddenly screeched and pointed at Yrler.

All four of the others turned and looked at the patch of rock Yrler was sitting on. The other one with the lens adjusted its lens and added its screech. The one with the headdress lifted up slightly, its shielding increasing so thick that it looked like it was on the other side of heavy heat distortion.

Yrler thumbed the button on the top of the grenade, lifted up and rolled onto one side, then side-armed it up over the rock.

All five were rushing forward as Yrler brought the carbine forward.

The grenade flew across the ferns, tumbling end over end.

The five Atrekna brought up shielding and their weapons glimmered. One lifted the weird spiderlike thing and a burst of a half dozen crystals shattered on Yrler's hard plate over his chest.

Yrler pulled the trigger, spraying the group. The rounds hit and exploded in a shower of phasic sparks.

The grenade hit the ground on the other side of the ruler straight line and bounced.

Another Atrekna fired at Yrler even as Yrler's psychic shielding spiked to 65% load. The crystals sang in the split second they were moving before shattering into fragments on Yrler's hard plates.

The grenade bounced again.

Yrler was on his back, prone, and he knew it was one of the worst positions he could be in, and he squirmed, trying to adjust where he was. He saw 515 start to come out of the crack, his microrifle cocked and ready.

The origami flower started to unfold, revealing the arch and over a dozen heavily armed Atrekna clad in shimmering crystal and phasic armor.

"No, stay hidden," Yrler snapped. He paused a second, one hand dropping to his waist and fumbling for another grenade.

The three seconds were up and the grenade detonated with a purple and gold flash even as the explosive went off and shattered the casing into glass and warsteel shrapnel.

Some of the Atrekna screamed as the arch collapsed and the origami flower crumpled and was crushed.

Blood and gore sprayed out of the opening as the flower vanished.

The five screeched as Yrler threw a grenade at them and rolled off the rock, crystals shattering on the rock behind him.

Yrler scrambled to his feet and took off running, firing the carbine one handed as he plunged into the ferns that came up to his neck.

A lucky round hit the phasic disk at the Atrekna's feet and richoeted straight up, hitting it in the crotch and exploding out from the shoulder after destroying the shoulderblade.

The Atrekna slumped, still hovering in midair even as its protections vanished.

Yrler ran, ducking low into the ferns. His breathing was loud in his ears as he shoved through the thick glowing fronds.

The other grenade went off with a crack that tasted of fresh sunwarmed blackberries even though Yrler had never tasted them.

515 watched as his friend and comrade ran for it, activating his camo field and pushing himself further back into the crack, turning off his electronics, even his implanted microforge.

Scrambling around another rock Yrler lost his footing, ate shit, and rolled down the slight hill. He landed in the shallow creek and scrambled out.

Behind him three Atrekna floated forward, one adjusting lenses and the other firing short bursts at random intervals in Yrler's direction. The phasically guided crystals hit stalks and stems more often than not, but the odd one shattered on Yrler's plates.

Yrler got to the top of the gully and began running, picking them up and putting them down just like he'd been taught in basic training. He was breathing hard as he headed for the ferns. He stopped his breathing, chinned up a stimgum, ignoring his burning lungs, bit down hard on the gum and swallowed it before taking a whooping breath.

The Atrekna floated over the stream gully as Yrler thrashed through the ferns. The one with the headdress pointed at the one with the pistol floated forward, aiming carefully.

Yrler had almost reached the thick tree trunks, reaching toward one, intending on going around it, breaking line of sight.

The crystal round hit his leg, right at the gap of the armor plates, punched through his pilot's suit, and exited out of the front of his thigh.

His leg gave out on the next step and he crumpled down in a heap even as the suit's autoseal feature covered the puncture with clear gel that firmed almost instantly.

The Atrekna drifted forward as Yrler squirmed around in the ferns, bringing his carbine into play. He flicked the selector from burst to full auto.

The fully automatic selector is only there for when your need it, Yrler heard his instructor in his memories. You will know, without a doubt, when that time has come.

Yrler struggled up on the knee of his uninjured leg, lifting the carbine to his shoulder and looking down the sights. His scope and red-dot were gone, ripped away during the fall or when he was rushing through the ferns.

Lady Iron Sights will always love you, will always be with you, will never fail you, even when those cheap harlots red-dot and smartscope leave you, Yrler heard his instructor's voice again as he lined up the front aiming post.

He pulled back the trigger, the action cycling rapidly enough he shivered like he was having a seizure, the bolt carrier scraping away the amblok to slap the slivers into the chamber. The weapon roared, flame on the end of the barrel even though the process didn't use any chemical reactions.

The ammo counter fell rapidly even as he hosed the weapon across the three oncoming Atrekna. The rounds sparkled and exploded on the shields. One got through and nicked the conical head of the Atrekna with the spider-pistol. It keened and slapped a hand to the scrape, stopping firing.

The one with the headdress waved a hand and Yrler was tossed into the air. A blow hit him and he flew across the open space to slam against the trunk of the tree he had been running for. He fell halfway down when a hand grabbed him, pulled him back, and threw him against the tree again.

He fell in a heap, his armor beeping that his kinetic gel was shock depleted. He inhaled, feeling a burning pain around his chest. His chest rings weren't cracked or broken but Yrler could tell they were badly bruised.

A cough splattered blood on the inside of his visor as he rolled over, reaching out, trying to find his carbine.

The two Atrekna floated forward, the one with the headdress making a motion and lifting Yrler out of the ferns.

Yrler managed to snatch his short cutting bar off his hip and trigger it, the chain clattering around the blade. The back of the blade had a guard on it and Yrler wished he had taken the time to take it off like he had seen the infantry and other line-slime do.

He was slammed against the tree again, dropped on the ground, and picked up by one leg again.

The cutting bar and carbine were lost in the ferns.

Yrler grabbed his pistol off his belt and was pulling the trigger before he even had a shot line up.

One shot exploded on a distortion dropping from a tree but Yrler didn't consciously notice.

The hand holding onto him slammed him against the tree and he felt the hot liquid squishy pop of his hip popping out of joint. He fell to the ground, landing on his wounded leg, and screamed inside his helmet as something popped in his knee.

The hand grabbed him again and pulled him into the air.

Yrler pulled his pilot's knife off his chest and put his hand behind his back.

The two Atrekna moved forward, the one with the headdress dropping back. The one with the pistol and the scrape on his head moved forward.

Yrler gasped as it felt like a fist squeezed him and alarm wailed inside his helmet as the pressure increased and his suit tried to compensate. He was being held upside down at head height of the two Atrekna moving forward.

The Atrekna reached forward with long fingered hands and put its fingertips on Yrler's visor. It paused a moment, then pulled off Yrler's visor. A third eye on its forehead opened up as the feeding tentacles parted, showing a lamprey-esque maw full of spirals of teeth and the hand reached out to cup his helmet.

Yrler whipped his arm around and slammed the density enhanced blade of the pilot's combat knife into the Atrekna's third eye.

The Atrekna went rigid, staring at Yrler.

The milky white eyes were suddenly bisected by long slit black pupils that slowly widened.

Yrler ripped the knife out and stabbed the Atrekna in the head again.

The Atrekna collapsed, pulling the knife out of Yrler's hand.

The last one drifted forward, making a motion.

Yrler groaned as the pressure increased.

Another motion.

Yrler screamed as his knife arm was broken as it was wrenched around behind him. His suit injected him with painkillers and amphetamines.

The one with the headdress had almost reached him.

It slowed, reaching out toward Yrler. His head was pulled side to side and his neck burned with pain for a moment before his helmet was ripped off.

An Atrekna stood up behind the one with the headdress.

It was completely naked, its body covered in scars from slashes, puncture marks, and shrapnel. It reached out and grabbed the Atrekna with the headdress.

"Farm. Yard. Guard. Regards," the nude Atrekna said in Confederate Common, it's voice grating and bubbling at the same time.

A blade burst from the headdress wearing Atrekna's stomach, leading the way for a carved wooden stick.

"Does. It. Hurt?" the naked Atrekna asked.

The Atrekna with the headdress screamed in agony.

Another Atrekna appeared and Yrler goggled despite the pain of his injuries.

It was wearing a Terran wedding dress that Yrler recognized from Terran movies. It was missing two of its feeding tentacles, revealing its cavernous mouth. It had a dent in its head surrounded by scar tissue. The hand it raised was missing two fingers.

Its eyes burned a lurid crimson.

The headdress wearing one was lifted up into the air even as the spear was yanked from its guts.

Another Atrekna came out of the ferns. It was surrounded by shining loricated armor, wings of phasic energy and chromium endosteel blades hovering behind its back.

The one with the headdress screamed as the one in the wedding dress moved away, pulling the injured headdress wearing one with it.

The one with the wings of blades followed the disfigured one.

Yrler paid no attention.

He looked at the naked one, wearing only a rough woven bandoleer that human and Atrekna skulls hung from. It had a spear with a Terran Marine Kbar for a tip in one hand.

It leaned forward, putting a hand on the naked fur covering the front of Yrler's face.

"Free candy?" it asked.

Yrler was glad the suit's systems were still working as he pissed himself.

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A note from Ralts Bloodthorne

Writeathon Stats:

Chapter Length: 3,249

Total Length: 44,565+3,249= 47,814

(Had to fix dropped line)


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About the author

Ralts Bloodthorne

Bio: The Wordboi, the Creation Engine, the Mad Arch-Angel TerraSol. I am Warlord Ralts Bloodthorne, the crazed speaker, the dark whisperer, the chronicler of dreams who's mind's eye peers into the spaces beyond for the sights to show you, such sights I have to show you, should you choose to look.

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Comments(19)
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Caskie ago

So is the Predator Atrekna type of Madness spreading, or has the Predator joined with the Cult of the Defiled One, who I’m pretty sure the Atrekna with blades belongs to?

Just don’t recognise the one in the wedding dress, anyone?

Edit: Oh holy shit is this Dalvanak the Defiled One, the Atrekna who started this whole thing? I forgot his description of his clothes but the fingers and the feeding tentacles seems conclusive?

Also well done Yrler, you fought well, and to the end, and you haven’t even died

    Leahcim Zanathax ago

    I think this is the Atrekna that did the whole Predator movie scene with the Terran from a while back, where they both basically went Arnold on each other, but neither could actually kill the other one off, even though they both killed off tons of other Atrekna.

      Caskie ago

      So that’s the naked one, the Predator one yeah, but there’s 2 other abnormal Atrekna present, one wearing a wedding dress and another with blades hovering around it. The one with blades is the Mistress of Blades, from the Cult of the Defiled One, and I think the one with a wedding dress, missing fingers and feeding tentacles, is Dalvanak the Atrekna to start the Cult.

Aimisar ago

I knew Yrler was a bad ass.

Allubaellchen ago

Sixty thousand years ago a Terran picked up a rock and the Universe made that everyone's problem. - Pubvian saying

I love that quote, I laugh every time I read it.

Gasmaskbro ago

I do hope he remembers to get his candy before getting in the truck.

Mr Yar ago

The Cult of the Damned has joined the fight!

WalkingInWonder ago

That… would be an appropriate response, given what Yrler knows. Poor guy.

Thanks for the chapter.

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