Holidays On Chickenworld pt 2

26 10 2008

Holidays On Chickenworld pt 2

“Get me out of this fucking rock you faggoty cockslappers!” raged Panthar, clearly his earlier good humour had left him. The others on the Jaunt found Panthars predicament to be quite amusing, even some of his peers in Battalion XV. Worriunt, taking his time to savour the monent strode up the pile of rubble and rock that entombed a furious Colonel Panthar, all the time disregarding the occasional pellet strike of the Soilers guns as he would the interest of a fly.

“You see Chorlee,” gloated Worriunt as he perched his leg on a rock above Panthar and turned back to the group “this is what happens when you underestimate The Enemy. Who would have thought these little chicken bastards had it in ‘em?!” The rest of the Jaunt gave out hearty laughs, the embarrassing failure of other Clansmen being a staple of Clan humour.

The torrent of abuse became more directed from Panthar and he demanded his subordinates to dig him out. Pulling rank on such an informal affair and especially when in a non-threatening predicament brought out by your own inebriation was a bit of faux pas.

“Now then Panthar, this is a Jaunt and we’re all equals here!”reminded Worriunt. “What say we teach the old colonel a lesson and leave him he to dig himself out aye what?” he continued. “Just like we dug him out of that mess in Fort Bointloane, eh?!”

The other Jaunters agreed, with the same air of boisterous conspiracy found on a stag night and with mocking jibes and the occasionally half hearted retailing fire to the Soilers around them carried on their merry genocidal way.

Quietly and over a private channel Worriunt took Panthar to one side and added “and if you ever fuck up like Bointloane again, or continue make insinuations with your other Ultra-Orthodox buddies about my character next time I’ll space you, just like I did the lying President of Betor Tipic , you clueless meatfucker!”

Worriunt slipped a non-threatening yet inconvenient virus to Panthars suit over the channel with his parting words. Though any Clansmen worthy of the name would have up to date infowar utilities and never allow attachments go unscanned the Colonel was notoriously lax in such affairs, believing them to be beneath his warrior nature and too much in the realm of the thinking machines. Though ferocious in character and daring in action the Colonels failure to adhere to these procedures cost him dearly at Bointloane, a spell trapped silent in a battlesuit buried under rock should give him time to think about his behaviour assessed the Field Marshall.

————————————

“We lost 14 of our men and three whose wounds have incapacitated them but one of the demons was caught in the blast and seems unable to get out, hopefully dead” reported one of Frontaars warriors. “Terrible losses any other day but those brave men have done what was only once spoken of in legend. Perhaps we might save our Kingdom after all” postulated Frontaar.

“We have learnt much from this but we must retreat back to the city to tell others of what we have done and that it is possible to stop these beings of metal and hate” he continued as he strode his mighty steed. “What of the injured” asked one of his underlings?

“We must be bold, and yes even cold in this time. We cannot allow ourselves to be delayed, for my father is preparing the city for the inevitable onslaught” replied Frontaar who lamented the death or misfortune of anyone under his command more than the strict training at the College of Gra’heim allowed.

———————————–

The Jaunters marched through the farmland and small hamlets towards the capital city of Frontaars kingdom, occasionally stopping to imbue their preferred narcotic or to stomp on village or two always remembering to ‘cord the havoc for the folks in the Mess back home. Worriunt took part in neither activity; he was busy in discussion with the more civilised members of the troop about the surprising change of tactics amongst the chicken men.

“Normally they just squawk and stomp at you then run away, sometimes whole columns of them come at you on those horse things but this was different, this was more advanced” analysed Mysfitaa.

“Agreed, this shows a whole new level of tactical thinking amongst the chickenmen,” added a rear admiral from the Honoured 67th Fleet. “Something our Ultra-Orthodox friends would no doubt find preposterous!”

“Hey, heads up!” yelled one of the infantry men as he tore open a barn full of farmers and threw one of them across to the committee of Clansmen. To riotous applause and whooping from the Jaunters by the barn, Worriunt casually head butted the squawking and flaying creature into a river.

To Worriunt it felt good to show that he had sense of humour even though a strange unease that grown on this trip. He pondered that his time spent in HQ these days distanced himself from the common grunt and their story on the front lines, there you had to dispel with manners and breeding just to get through the meatgrinder and perhaps he had been giving too much credit to the chickenmen. They were after all quite a ridiculous and comical species, and not one with the cunning and guile of even the lowliest human. Maybe the recommendation by Rear Admiral Voshal Hreen-Garld to come on this Jaunt was a quiet nudge to be careful not to end up being questioned by the Purity Council and found guilty to having overestimated The Enemy. Certainly his report on the U Caendevibel situation and how it might be inevitable the Community infect the system with their memes and cause the Clans to lose it without firing a shot must have ruffled a few feathers back home. Honesty was sometimes Worriunts greatest failing.

———————————

“The fiends, look what they do to that village! We are nothing but playthings to them” exclaimed Frontaar as he viewed the horror of the barn from his telescope.

“What do you see Eldestson?” asked a cavalrymen.

“Only that which to strengthen my resolve” he turned dramatically to the cavalrymen, “only the knowledge that we must fight these monsters to the death for they will burn us from this world if we don’t!” Frontaar had been schooled in the ways of kingship, on how to project yourself to the crowd to win their allegiance but this was no show, this came from his hearts and to the fruits of his kingdoms labours finally coming through it was exhilarating to see all the talk and planning finally amount to something positive.

—————————————

Before the capital city of Frontaars kingdom the clansmen stopped for lunch. After sweeping the perimeter of the increasingly irritating chickenmen a few of the Infantrymen erected a grotesque scaffolding from the rubble of the levelled settlement onto which they pinned the bodies of the local townsfolk killed in the attack in a bid to scare off more chickenmen whilst their sandwiches were being laid out. Some of the Soilers were still alive and squawking to deaf ears for mercy, the humans arranging the creatures with the same disinterest an employee in a factory farm would on a Monday morning.

“What’s that you’ve got there?” enquired Worriunt to Chorlee. “It’s called pastrami and rye, dunno where’s its from” replied the young corporal.

Mystfitaa released another scout into the air, its little plastic wings buzzing away like a dragon fly whilst she sipped a glass of wine. “Y’know, I don’t want to sound too bloodthirsty” she paused as she nibbled on a small pie “but the smell of these burning villages is quite genuinely aromatic” she laughed. “Especially in the morning!”

The others laughed; Mystfitaa had a reputation for being a frosty old bint sometimes so it was nice to Worriunt eyes to see her relax like this. Recent conflicts between the fields of Psy-Ops and the teachings of the Ultra-Orthodox had taken its toll on her she had privately confided before coming on this Jaunt.

“Uh, hey ho. Looks like the chickenmen are really up to something” she advised, finishing a Kekken Ham Roll. “They seem to have dug a great trench around the city and started great smoking fires around the place. Seems like this is turning out to be not the chickenshoot we had imagined!”

“What say we walk on down and end this now?!” commented a Infantrymen. Another butted in “Yeah, we should fuck up that chickentown and then dig the Colonel out, hell is he still in that sulk?!”

Worriunt belched loudly and with good timing. “He can dig himself out, he’s a big boy now,” Worriunt noticed though, that the Battalioniers were not happy with leaving their Colonel buried and could sense the friction between the two groups building as the hours went on. “But let’s get this show over with and drag the fucker out before he sobers up eh?”

“I really think we should check out what they have planned in the city a bit more Worri” advised Mysfitaa as the Jaunters packed up to march. Worriunt spun her a wincing glare and privately messaged her “ I really don’t think a bunch of alien chickens with muskets should worry a man who with one thought could burn down the city to bedrock from orbit! This is turning out to be the biggest fuckup since that Sergeant from X Squadron drank too many herbals and vomited in front of a whole chicken city”

Despite victory being within their grasp before high tea the Jaunters spirits were curiously low. Though cloaked in boisterous pranking, the dispute between the Field Marshall and the Colonel was symptomatic of the wider dispute threatening to pit the Nuur Clans against each other again. Everyone knew it, it was an open secret but the divisions were getting too severe now between the more liberal and conservative clans as to best to guard the lives of Humanity, even if so much of it was no longer under the Clans ward.

The constant shoot and run tactics of the chickenmen were also starting to get tiresome, as were the traps they laid in their towns and villages along the way. It was in one of these that a corporal from the 1st Fiddich Legion on secondment suffered a full suit failure after being dowsed in a oil like substance and set ablaze when falling into a trap laid in a gaudy and rich looking temple. By then the decision to use levitators had been agreed on, seeing as the chicken were upping the ante then so should the Clansmen.

As the disgruntled corporals’ charred and rigid battlesuit was hauled away by two others back to the dropshp waiting out to sea the rest of the clansmen launched off to storm the capital, by now enshrouded in smoke.

“We’ve harassed them as much as we could, even killed one of them by incinerating the most holied Temple of Hef-le. You were right that the demons would be enticed by the Gods glory of the Temple, one of them barged in looking for treasure and we burnt the monster to the ground!” reported Frontaar, short of breath to his father.

“I know, our spirits were greatly strengthened when news reached us” coughed the king as the smokescreen which had enshrouded the city seeped in through the castle.

“I only wish so many didn’t have to die just to slow them down father, not even to stop them” said the saddened prince.

“I know, but the Gra’heimists taught us that the price for victory would be terrible and no quarter given. It’s a tough lesson to learn but cannot live like this anymore, we do not deserve it and nor should we have to put up with it!” roused the King.

“Get to the castle, dig out the king or whatever those fuckers have then nail him to the castle wall. That’ll show ‘em and then we can get off this chickenshoot!” shouted one of the infantymen over the groupnet.

“Balls! No wonder you Orthos’ got things so screwed up in U Caendevibel, the game has changed gentlemen and once again you’re living 5000 year old fantasies of the good old days” retorted Mysfitaa who had long since tired of the Ultra’s insipid nostalgia and rigid doctrine.

He was tired of the bickering, this Jaunt wasn’t fun anymore and his inner turmoil had only worsened. What was more Chorlee hadn’t said a word since lunch at the village, for some he had become pre-occupied with the scaffolding of death erected by the Battalioners and when Worriunt attempted to explain that its best not to humanise those beings for his own sake he seemed petulant. “Time to end this debacle once and for all” he reasoned.

“We storm the goblin city guns blazing, nail the king, dig out that colonel and get the fuck back to civilisation” commanded the Field Marshall, displacing his renowned talent for cutting the nub of the matter and making split second decisions that made him such a bonus in the field.

So the righteous Jaunters stormed the walls of the capital city, which were three stories high and cunningly disguised as steep mounds to avoid detection from above. Cunning though they were they were no match for a round of rail-canon fire, the supersonic pellets ripping through the brick and earth with concentric blast waves. The winding rounds and half scale of the Chicken City made travel difficult but for those of the Orthodox persuasion the fun to be had ripping down the chickens buildings and stomping on the dog sized beings with their amplified feet was too much to resist.

The others of the jaunt hovered disparingly above the ruined city walls as their cohorts violated their way through the city. Despite their displeasure with the Infantrymens’ “tactics” they didn’t want to show they were afraid to get their hands dirty and begrudgingly joined in.

The chickenmen had laid more traps in the city and they were starting to take their toll, amongst the smoke, confusion and ill advised narcotics things were starting to descend into anarchy like a first year cadet exercise. The com traffic had become as coherent as an argument over a mobile phone in busy nightclub.

“Watch where you’re shooting you barbaric cretin!” shouted Mysfitaa as the third infantryman particle beam whizzed past her head in the blinding smoke. “Well get out the funtlicking way!” came the retort.

“Shove this” blasted a voice as a small nuke was fired across the city.

“No nukes, no nukes! What the hell did we all agree on!?”

“Shit-rimmers!” as a stone granary was levelled on top on a clansman.”….get me out of this shit”

“…where are you?!”

“I dunno, find me you xenofucker!”

“Grakkk, I’ve fallen into some sticky well……oh grak, I know why its sticky! Oh. Come. On!”

Things among the clansmen had fallen into disarray. They had in part for the Children of the Soil too but the wise beings had expected the battle plan to change from minute to minute and had a small army of premature nurse-breeders to scuttle round (for they were the smallest and nippiest of the three sexes at that age) as runners.

At the centre of the city was what appeared to be a steep hill as too geometric to be natural. It looked was if a castle had been made out of earth and though the Soilers had tried their best to hide the artificial nature of the large construction the majesty of the edifice was clearly hinted at throughout. During the chaos involving the rest of the Jaunt Worriunt had snuck around the side of this castle, away from the main fire fight and under the shadow of the mushroom cloud that had risen from the far side of the city. Concussion grenades went off behind him to dispel the smoke but were so haphazardly aimed that they infuriated those Clansmen caught in the crossfire even more.

“I know what this is all about, its civil war again isn’t it? You ignorant thugs, you’ll tear us all apart again with your rigid doctrine” heckled Mysfitaa.

Worriunt used his sonar to probe the internal layout of the castle and to find the probable throne room. “Let them argue amongst themselves, I’ll blast out the king and get the glory for myself!” his patience wearing thin. Under heavy fire from palace guards he made three attempts to scale the castle wall before admitting he wasn’t as young as he used to be and used his levitators to jump. The citadel itself was built like a terraced garden and was to the subjective eye quite the most beautiful Soiler constructed thing. Even shrouded in thick smoke and gunfire Worriunt caught a glimpse of its alien beauty. But the garden, a riot of exotic plants, water features and sculptures had a purpose too; it was designed to hide the structure from the heavens so the “sky-demons” would pass over and raid somewhere more obvious.

Drowning out the increasingly dangerous argument coming over the groupnet Worriunt for briefest moment allowed himself to credit these ridiculous chickenmen with their achievement, a marriage of beauty and practicality in their martial design that was almost human in its accomplishment.

“Fuck you, you stuck up old witch!” yelled an Infantry man and only just missed Mysfitaas head with a plasma beam that zummed through the smoke like a beam of sunlight. The shockwave of the beam knocked her to one side and struck a large mound behind her which was covered in Soiler dwellings and full of hundreds of Children of the Soil flinging bricks and bodies clean into the air.

———————————-

“We have fought bravely and wisely my son but I fear our time my soon be over” capitulated the old king, wobbling his throat dongles sadly. “No, there is still more time. We can escape and build again, like we always do but this time we can build on what we learnt about the demons too!” pleaded Frontaar.

“Demon in the courtyard!” screamed one of the immature nurse-breeders as e scuttled in.

Not waiting for an answer from his father Frontaar gathered up his musket and his sword and stormed out to confront the giant.

“Frontaar, no!” exclaimed the King.

“If I am to die, it is on my two legs and holding up both my heads, proud of who I am and what I’ve done” squawked Frontaar, boldly stepping out into the fire and smoke.

—————————————-

Dazed for a moment by the explosion and falling rubble of the habitat mound Chorlee mistook the situation and screaming vengeance for Mysfitaas murder unleashed a volley of diamond fletchette rounds in the direction of the Battalionier who had fired the plasma beam. It riddled his battlesuit with crippling blows and tore off his arm.

“Fraakkkkkkk!” exclaimed the Battalionier as nanocytes throughout his body worked quickly to stem the loss of blood and bring his body out of shock.

Unaware of the civil war outside Worriunt stormed across the courtyard, ignoring the assorted Soilers running around in terror in a manner that could only be regretfully describe as that of headless chicken.

At the entrance of the citadel, an ornate affair looking like a sea shell covered in moss and big enough to drive a truck through he was confronted by another chickenman, but this one was different.

The creature was squawking and jumping up and down waving in its comical little arms as was the fashion for his species but this one had a strange nobility to it. Even though Worriunt didn’t know what all the gesticulation from the mildly offensive looking front orifice and the wobbling sensor heads meant he somehow derived a sense of what this funny little thing was about.

Worri knelt down on one knee to view the creature on its on terms, unaware for a moment as to what strange compulsion made him do this. Standing defiantly at the entrance to what might he one of his species greatest achievements and seemingly unbothered by how outmatched it was in both physical strength and technology the little being had earnt Worriunts respect. Although the Field Marshall couldn’t quite get round admitting that he, a Warrior of the Nuur Clan, a Defender of Humanity, a Protector of All That Is Good and Homo Sapien had given his respect to an alien that looked like a chicken it had happened and there was no denying it.

“WORRI!” exclaimed Mysfitaa over a secret channel that over-rid any ignore codes the Field Marshall had set up. He snapped out of his crisis of conscious, stood back up and turned around to log back into the chaos of the groupnet.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m really fucking sorry!” repeated a distraught Battalionier over the network.

“Its Chorlee, he’s hurt bad” said Mysfitaa , the emotion coming over strongly. “He took a railgun strike to the head from that prick there, we’re doing the best we can but we need to get him back before irreversible brain death.”

The Field Marshall sighed within. Were he of lesser rank he could be forgiven for tearing up the city and the trigger-happy Battlioner to pay for what had happened to Chorlee, an innocent caught up with the gathering storm about to strike the Clans once again. And it was because of this storm that Worriunt had to compose himself and try and sort things out despite his personal feelings.

Even before the shock of the moment had time to die down the recriminations to start flying the dropship was already hypersonically thundering towards the chaos to medivac Chorlee who was haemorrhaging cerebrally and would be permanently dead and the other wounded, most of whom struck by what the Community called “blue on blue.”

The shock wave of the arriving dropship blew away most of the smoke from the courtyard as the Field Marshall turned away from the entrance to the citadel and the now dumbstruck Frontaar. Just before the mighty human activated his levitators to return to his ship he looked back to the proud alien warrior and gave a casual salute.

Like a superhero the Field Marshall flew off in his suit with the other Skydemons to the dropship, (some being carried there) whereupon he received the news that they were to leave the planet immediately. Contact had been lost with the frontier system of Banu Perodolte (no doubt another insurrection) and the Clan destroyer which had brought them all this far out was already on its way outsystem to respond. No time was to be left to argue and bicker on Chickenworld anymore.

—————————————–

“Finally I had a chance to meet one of the Skydemons eye to eye and stare Death in the face. The metal and flesh obscenity, soiled from the murder of our brave countrymen intended to storm into our beloved citadel and plunder and slaughter until our kingdom went the way of Efralm. But I was there, we were ready, it was finally our time and I stared down the Beast and it knew who’s soul was the strongest and who’s people where the Righteous.

The Beast took a last look at me and gesticulated one of its gargantuan and malformed limbs, no doubt in some offensive capitulation but it knew, it knew it was a powerful but worthless animal, not fit to walk this world”

Frontaar was relating his now increasingly embellished tale of how he stared down a Skydemon to some assorted immature nurse-breeders, who were already excitable today having being honoured for their brave work scuttling through the alleys and sewers of the city during the attack. A commemorative tapestry by the kingdoms finest (surviving) artisans was being weaved and the story of how they had finally defeated the Skydemons was travelling as fast around the planet as the roads and seas of the alien world allowed.

Despite the death and carnage things were certainly on the up for the Children of the Soil and few had yet to hear of the exciting news from the valley where it all started.

————————–

When he heard the landing pods self destruct Panthar had feared the worst. He wasn’t particularly worried about being left behind, right now he wasn’t particularly worried about anything but that had more to do with the narcotics he ingested to pass the time rather than piece of spirit. Whereas Worriunt had hoped the firebrand colonel would use his time entombed at the valley entrance to reassess some of his recent failures Panthar instead decided to defy the pompous ass by getting more wasted than he was before.

He hardly noticed when little hands began to move the rocks around him away and was so oblivious as to how things had turned out that as soon as his arms were free he removed his helmet. “Well,” he said as his suit hissed “it’s about fucking ti…..”

He noticed the Soilers gathered round him, silent with rage. One had blowgun pointed directly. This time the Colonel didn’t find the Chickenmen so funny.





Holidays On Chickenworld pt 1

26 10 2008


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Holidays On Chickenworld

It was Rear Admiral Voshal Hreen-Garlds’ idea. Amongst the officer classes of the more civilised Nuur Clans it was understood that such professional and glorious defenders of True Humanity needed to unwind in ways more fitting to their demeanour. So instead of debasing themselves with simple “civilian” amusements Worriunt lead his most trusted staff on what was boisterously known as a “Jaunt.”

Much of the preparation was just for show, the exercise and equipment maintence in the hanger, the bawdy fighting songs as they swaggered into the dropship and the cheeky sexual innuendos as they slipped into the individual landing pods. Some even felt cocky enough to joke on the way down through the atmosphere, the re-entry flames and jarring motions of the descent rockets seemingly just another day at the office for them.

The planet they were falling towards like a drunken rugby team on tour was a secret, or rather a little surprise that almost forgotten, far out beyond explored space. Halfway between the hellish Tarantula Nebula and the sphere of Humanity in the LMC lay the humiliatingly named “Chickenworld.”

It shouldn’t be named “Chickenworld” of course, the intelligent inhabitants of the planet had many names for their homeworld, and when the day came when all the tribes of the planet became nations and those nations started bickering among themselves as to who’s name should be used to refer to their planet to the wider cosmos they would choose a name less demeaning than that of a simple minded and somewhat comical terrestrial farm animal.

The resemblance to chickens was passing anyway; chickens don’t have two independently moving sensor heads nor four prehensile limbs where their wings would be. Nor do chickens wear shawls and adorn their bodies with beads and tools. The intelligent beings of the planet where the size of dogs anyhow, and no group of chickens (except that horrific experiment and art project at 37 Geminorium) could ever hope to create a wealth of culture and technology comparable to Terra in the 15th century.

Sadly when angry and waving their four arms around as about to attack they did dance and squawk like a chicken, a fact which made them so hilarious to fuck around with.

The Nuur Clans liked to pride themselves on their notion of honour, fair play and honest humanity as they went about their business defending Homo Sapien affairs. Sadly, this was not a charity passed onto the other intelligences in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Anything which had the audacity to speak not through a human mouth or not to have been created by the wise hand of humanity was The Enemy.

It was The Enemy which had lead to the downfall of Humanity ten thousand years ago, The Enemy which had turned humankinds machines against them in an orgy of megadeath and self destruction and therefore where-ever The Enemy cropped up (even if that particular species or culture had never even heard of the Tri’Ef’Fid and their war with the humans) they must be smacked down before they could strike again.

It was this rapant xenophobia and genocide which kept the Nuur Clans such a viable empire throughout the millennia. Descendants of the military forces that survived the Nanopocalypse which destroyed the Ashenar civilisation the Clans had cornered the market in playing up to peoples fears of the unknown. Thousands of worlds, habitats and outposts had sworn featly to the Clans in return for their protection form enemies real and imagined (sometimes after a degree of coercion and gunboat diplomacy.)

——————————————–

“More demons, from the sky” noticed Frontaar Eldestson and using his sensor heads, gestured towards the shooting stars in a motion that sadly could only be described as “chickenlike.”

The King fluttered his neck dongles (a sign of his great age) which in most of the kingdoms along the southern coastline of this particular continent was considered a dignified and wise expression, much the same way an old human male would thoughtfully stroke his beard.

“This day comes sooner and sooner as the years come by” The King consorted to his eldest son. “Why it was barely three seasons ago when the great port city of Efralm was smited from the land by the sky demons. I had always said they never hid themselves from the heavens as they should but it was so difficult to hide a city as large as that and the merchant classes just would not take head of the blessed teachings.”

“You were right father, but we shall punish those wicked giants for their bloodlust with the new sciences we obtained from the Eastern Lands” replied the eldest son, clearly fired by the chance of vengeance. “The townsfolk will already be as aware of demons coming as we are, they need their king to lead them in their darkest hour and no doubt in your absence the nurse-brooders will be interfering as is their way these days.”

“And you, my most wise and passionate son must attend to your duties too and remember all that I have taught you about the sky demons and their thousand cursed ways.” His throat dongles quivering with rage, the King spat the words out in a rare display of primal emotion, of the sort not seen since his queen had died of the pox three years. Composing himself for the Masses he descended from the watchtower of his castle to where the townsfolk were already extinguishing their fires and switching off their steam boilers to hide the heat signature of their town.

—————————————

“Dawn is in an hour folks so realign your assholes after that rough landing and lets break out the morning after pills!” joked Worriunt over the local net. He enjoyed the lack of informality you had with Jaunts. So much of his day to day work life was an exercise in front, his personal image as a stout and noble transhuman guardian of Humanity with the legacy of ten millennia behind him had to be maintained at all times in public. Showing weakness amongst the civilians would lead them to getting ideas of running the show for themselves and while that fruitless exercise in democracy was allowed The Enemy could sneak up behind them in the night and slit their throats.

“Maybe Chorlee needs a bit of extra realignment from you, Worri” whispered Psy-ps Squadron Leader Mysfitaa over a private message. Since their brief but adventurous congress ninety four years ago during the Banfaald Cluster insurrection, Mysfitaa and Worriunt had a private understanding that whenever their paths would cross they would always find time to consort and unload their personal troubles on one another.

It was in these private and brief liaisons that both parties vented a lot of psychological baggage. Despite her cold exterior (again, mostly a front) Mysfitaa was a deeply empathic individual who by now knew more about Worriunt than any Purity Council inquisition could find (or so he hoped) and she was more than understanding about the Field Marshall’s predilection for young males whilst on a Jaunt.

Corporal Chorlee was one such hopeful. To the outsider his presence on the trip appeared to be the kind of astonishing opportunity to progress up the ranks by hanging out with the big boys and girls that the Clans liked to throw out to the lower classes once in a while. It was an example of how egalitarian the more progressive Nuur Clans thought themselves to be, no matter what a persons’ background if they had the strength of character they could still get as far in the Clans as any Clansborn transhuman warrior could (but maybe not quite as far, after all glass ceilings had to be maintained and the millennia old linage of the Clansborn had to be protected.)

Chorlee had been only recently fitted with the cybernetic and genetic upgrades as befitting a solider of his rank, a commission obtained on the battlefield during that most frustrating and troublesome insurrection in U Caendevibel (and to Worriunts weary eyes there seemed to nothing but insurrection these days.) Still recovering from his recent modifications at the Clans’ expense the harsh G-force of the drop had struck Chorlee the worst and he staggered out his pod like a sickly child off a rollercoaster.

Stifled chortles ricocheted around the group net as everyone else noticed Chorlees’ newbie state. Most stifled their amusement not so much out of respect for the Field Marshall’s rank but out of respect for an old friend with amusing predilections. Knowing winkies and smileys were distributed across the Jaunts’ network as Worriunt helped his latest “special Jaunt friend” out of the pod and helped him adjust his bio-rhythmic settings.

“Thanks Field Marshall, I feel like a bit of an idiot” said Chorlee looking up to the Field Marshall with those piercing blue eyes. “Don’t mention it, why even the best of us can come a cropper from a Drop” Worriunt winked fraternally back, at the same time suppressing a wry smile as rampant thoughts raced around his head.

“I am ready to get me some chicken-bashin you fuckers!” exclaimed Colonel Panthars as he fired kinetic rounds with reckless bravado into the dawn sky. His fellow members of Battalion XV yelled in approval and fired off a few rounds themselves in a cacophony of phallic abandon. In his youth Worriunt was as boisterous and arrogant as Battalion XV were today and after the psychological mindgames, memewarfare and cyberassaults of U Caendevibel he thought it refreshing to be around good old fashioned infantry soldiers. He reasoned that harking back to his glorious past in the lower ranks might have been just the tonic he needed to settle his troubled mind. In reality they were turning out to be just annoying, tiresome and unprofessional with the drunken Colonel seemingly the worst of the lot. Their little fireworks display would have alerted the “chickens” in the valley of their whereabouts and no doubt the ridiculous creatures were relaying their position to whatever kind of freakish poultry had for a leader.

Mysfitaa relayed a similarly disapproving emoticon to Worriunt and then announced to everyone “Now, we know there is a sizable chickenmen settlement over the bough of that valley so it’s a good old fashioned root march of 10 klicks which should get the juices racing and work up a thirst for beer. Huzzah!”

“Huzzah!” bellowed the fellow Jaunters. This was a curious expression to Worriunt that had seeped in (along with a lot of things) from the Community, apparently a reference to age when the Terrans were all on that one planet in the Great Galaxy and happily knocking the hell out of each other with primitive firearms and swords. Around that time the Terrans were like savages Worriunts’ great-grandfather, Worriunt The Redoubtable was leading the final and glorious cleansing of the traitorous Clan “Memory of the 7th Fleet” before the misguided maniacs could defect to the greedy and cowardly Federation. If the Federation were bad enough nothing about Community (of which the Terrans were a founder member) sounded good to Worriunt. From their blasphemous allegiance with all manner of non-humans, half humans and half animals, to their claim that Earth was the home of all Humanity and to their almost laughable naivety in how civilisations should all just try to get along and live and let live it all sounded like poppycock and balderdash to the Field Marshall.

So many among the rank who had dealings with the Community played up to their stereotype of the Clans being overgrown cadets blundering around on ill advised campaigns purely for long obscured traditions of glory and honour. Shouting “Huzzahs” and growing extravagant facial hair like the caricatures ‘cast on Community networks was a way many appropriated and threw back the insults peddled by the devious Community.

Scout drones were launched into the air to get a full view of the area and a path of destruction was plotted to the nearest large settlement which the dropship now meandering down the gravity well to the prearranged “after match” rendezvous point out to sea recommended as a good chance of sport.

Despite a flood of information now coming over the Jaunts’ local net Worriunt was still pre-occupied with the Community. Its genetically engineered talking animals, its deceitful and freakish xenos, and the thinking machines they thought to be people in their own artificial right meant that by rights they just shouldn’t be. In all the schools of thought that he had been educated in they should have descended into chaos and self destruction centuries ago, like all the perversions that came out of the Dead Core. Nothing quite so extreme and subtly dangerous had been seen in the LMC for many thousands of years. Some amongst his peers even referred to the whole meta-civilisation as a Blight, a seething mess of rampant technology and social chaos almost as dangerous as the Posthumans of Prastoj that threatened to pollute the rest of Humanity with its insanity. And by Great Ashenars Memory they were smug!

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Frontaar held the seeing tube the ocean merchants used to view at distance to spy the landing site. Though the fireballs in the sky lead to this direction he couldn’t make out any smouldering craters. This could either be confirmation that the sky demons with their stealthy magic had come down or maybe he had miscalculated and the demons were in another valley. For a moment Frontaar was gripped by fear of failure. His father and his kingdom had trusted so much in him and that he might, through his own weakness and stupidity have let everyone down already sickened.

TWACK!, a distant clap of thunder echoed around the valley.

TWACK, TWACK,TWACK, it went again and Frontaars’ dual food and sex orifice curved into what to his species was a devilish smile. He squawked back to his trusted steed, (which on this continent was a creature the size of a pony and with the appearance of a furry caterpillar on eight deers legs) and led his men down to the entrance of the valley leaving no time to explain the plan formulating hurriedly in his head.

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On the invigorating march out the valley (vehicles and levitators were tradionally eschewed on activities like this) the Jaunters amused themselves with AV footage and memory-cordings of previous Jaunters out “chickenbashin” The members of Battalion XV were clogging the groupnet with cruel laughter and de-humanising jibes. A scene of a Clansman burning down a market town made out of mud-dwellings that were disguised as piles of rocks prompted one infantrymen to gleefully comment “man, I’m gonna cook me up some of those chickenmen with some old Granjee herbs and some baked potatoes and we’re gonna have ourselves some good old fashioned meat-fry!”

“I wouldn’t.” icily chided Mysfitaa. “This whole planet is an Original, nothing here is edible. It all evolved without the Hand Of Man so don’t eat it and don’t fuck it!”

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“It’s a bottleneck, like when the Enflaat tribe made their stand at Tempus Ridge in the old legends” explained an excited Frontaar, his arms flapping excitedly. “We use the new exploding power to collapse that narrow passage there and then while they are trapped we unleash a timely vengeance for Efralm and for all the times those sky demons have plagued us!” embiggened the Kings son and stamping the ground in a manner which to his species expressed noble defiance but to humans could only be described as “chickenlike.” His fellow countrymen stomped their feet in agreement and emboldened by the possibility of finally getting their own back for centuries if not millennia of oppression and death from the skies.

In an interesting cross-cultural co-incidence many of the “chickenmen” referred to themselves in their own languages as “Children of the Soil.” This relates to their egg hatching nature where “Soilers” emerge from their fleshy pod into a nest half buried in the ground. These days and particularly in Frontaars affluent kingdom artificial nests that were warmed by steam boilers were more and more common which had led to a major societal change in for sexless “nurse-brooders” of the species. Due to the long gestation of the fleshy pods and the high death rate the nurse brooders traditionally found themselves tied to their nests all day, rarely playing a part in larger affairs. But now, with the steam boilers allowing some escape from their domestic servitude they had suddenly become a lot more vocal in the running of the Soilers affairs if only because they liked to chatter and gossip. Times were certainly changing for the Children of the Soil so maybe an omen for victory against the Skydemons hoped Frontaar.

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“Am I right in thinking that my sensors show there are chickenmen and those weird horse things along that ridge near the valley passage?” asked an unsure Chorlee. Worriunt smiled, despite what some had said (never to his face, mind) the young man was not just along to be Worriunts plaything. He had promise, as shown at U Caendevibel when Chorlees’ quick action in his native world of Betor Tipic had prevented his squad from being sucked out of a domed city and into the hardly breathable air of the barely terraformed planet. Corporal Chorlee (as he was after that) had shown a lot more strength of character and allegiance to the Clans than many of the others in U Caendevibel the majority of whom seemed ambivalent to the insurrection. Chorlee was one of the few good points in the whole misbegotten mess of that system, perhaps the only.

“That’s right, I spotted them about half and hour back but there’s nothing they can do at that distance. Even though the Chickenmen now have chemical projectile weapons they make as much dent in our armour as their poison darts did so nothing to fear” advised Worriunt.

“They look even more stupid with guns than they did with the spears” laughed Colonel Panthar and fired an aimless shot towards the general direction of the Soilers, who were by now quite close. “Take that your alien fucktards! Whoo, YEAH!” heckled the Colonel who was gyrating his groin offensively, which his fellow battalion members found to be the height of wit.

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Frontaar had forgotten how terrifying the sky giants weapons were close up. As Panthars’ volley hit the ground around them some were flung from their steeds but Frontaars’ heart swelled with pride as his fellow warriors who had hidden themselves in the valley entrance kept their subterfuge and nerve despite the explosions around them.

“When confronted with a more powerful foe, evade. Lead them into a trap, try and turn their own weaknesses against themselves” a wise old Soiler had taught Frontaar. The Kings’ son had spent years away from his family and his homeland being taught by the wisest and most experienced Soilers in all the lands (including some kingdoms which Frontaar thought only existed in legend) on how to possibly fight back against the sky demons. This was a recent change of events, for so long the Children of the Soil had thought the devils from the sky to be a mere force of nature or god, something only prayer or fate could deal with and not something they could realistically do anything about.

But then a fateful day three centuries ago one of the giants appeared to remove its head after destroying the city of Gra’heim. It turned out it wasn’t the demons night-black skull but a helmet, protecting some kind of horrific one headed being which then proceeded to stumble and vomit over the charred remains of the Holy Gardens of Gra’heim.

The Priestess of Gra’heim saw this bizarre and unholy event and soon told all she could of it. Though the sky-demons were mighty and in their suit impervious to all that the Soilers could throw at them they were but of flesh and blood like them. And if they vomited, they could be killed. Having only one head put them at a disadvantage too.

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“I think it’s about to kick off, they’re jumping about on the path ahead” commented Worriunt.

“I’m going to run up ahead and kick the little fuckers to death” laughed Panthar and he galloped up the path, the powersuit amplifying his movement so it felt like a giant gorilla in crimson and gold embossed armour was charging up the passage. His cohorts followed him in wild abandon, like troops who had spent too long in a jungle and let the primal frenzy get to them.

Out the corner of his eye and just as he passed through the tightest part of the passage a chickenman jumped out to the side the Colonel with a flaming torch. As he turned his arm with a maser pistol mounted on it one side of the valley exploded, catching Panthar and the chickenman in the blast. The dust from the bellowed down the passage to a stunned Jaunt and was then followed by Panthars cursing which had reached new heights of obscenity. A second explosion went off, this time higher up the valley side and a massive boulder came down to trap Panthar which was then followed by a comical trombone like sound.

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Frontaar wept for the death of Wantsee Thirdson, even though he knew his role was dangerous and he was given every chance to decline with honour the chance to get one back for his people fired him on. He sounded the mighty and noble horn his father had given him to lead other into battle. “Wantsee will be honoured” thought the prince, “ if there was a kingdom to get back to.”

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(continued in Pt 2)