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!

——————————–

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.

———————————

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!”

——————————————–

“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.

————————————

“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.

——————————————

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.

—————————————-

“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.

————————————

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.”

————————————

(continued in Pt 2)

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