The Storm, part II
Stardate 76136.7; February 19, 2399
E P I S O D E S
Edited by Peter Bossley
Written by Chris Adamek
Lieutenant Steven Marizex
Lieutenant Jayla Trinn
Prime Minister Vallis
Ii’zyyr’aa • (ih-ZEER-ah)
Once, not long ago, Lylat VII was a serene, peaceful world near the Federation border. An agrarian colony, it thrived upon the myriad crops planted each spring: wheat, corn, tomatoes, and a plethora of other vegetables… It was truly a delightful place to live, especially when the harvest came a few months later.
The warm sunlight shined upon the verdant hills as villagers plucked tomatoes from the vine; children frolicked through the endless cornfields, all the while their parents hunted for the perfect ear of corn to serve with dinner…
Tall trees, filled with yellow songbirds, dotted the gently rolling hills. A small stream snaked through the valley, and the horses grazed upon the grasses near the shore—utterly oblivious to the nearby fishermen, all of them thinking good thoughts as they reeled in what might have been the big one.
On the other side of the river, nestled in the heart of the valley near the forest, was a quaint little village called Kippo. Rustic medieval townhouses and attractive little shops—complete with brightly colored awnings—lined the wide cobblestone streets. Both villagers and vendors milled about the horse-drawn carriages. Most were there to shop or sightsee, but some had come with the sole purpose of relaxing in the shade beneath the giant birch.
The elegant white tree stood by the windmill in the center of town, its dark green leaves rustling gently in the warm breeze. A pair of lovers nestled on the nearby bench, whispering sweet nothings into the wind…
In the distance, loomed the only sign of technology—the Federation Consulate. While the building blended in perfectly with the rest of Kippo Village, the Federation flag that danced in the gentle wind was indication enough that technology loomed before the colony’s rustic surface. And it would soon need all the technology it could get…
For a brief moment, the sun flickered. Shadows moved across the land, and in that very instant, Lylat VII’s idyllic serenity was shattered. Overhead loomed a Velora warship…
Swirls of glittering pink light filled the town square, planting for the first time dozens of armed Lycorian soldiers on Federation soil. They immediately took root, shooting countless beams of ragged pink light into the crowds. Screams echoed in the wind, blood burst into the air, and bodies hit the cobblestone walkways… In a matter of seconds, Kippo Village was conquered.
The Velora’s Lycorian henchmen immediately ended their assault, and a few additional soldiers—Velora soldiers—subsequently beamed down to inspect the aftermath…
And the Velora were immediately pleased with the results. Casualties were virtually nonexistent—though considering the villagers’ level of resistance, that was to be expected. The Velora commander promptly ordered the dead bodies removed—thrown into the river. Those who managed to survive the assault were already infected with the blight; they would spend the rest of their days mining the tetralithium that lurked beneath the village.
Within days, a refinery was constructed. It was a massive, blocky conglomeration of metallic parts. The windmill and the giant birch were razed to the ground to accommodate the ghastly structure, which now poured thick clouds of black smoke into the air. Much of this was from the refinement process, but bodies—dead or otherwise—often found their way into the fires burning inside the complex.
By the end of the first week, death was in the air. The emaciated villagers walked around like zombies as they performed their solemn duties… The Lycorians, oblivious to the putrid smell, were always nearby to provide motivation, mainly in the form of additional killing.
And of course, the harvesters lurked in the background, patiently waiting for the next sickly human to collapse. And then, dead or otherwise, the manky, mottled Lycorians would fall upon the unfortunate individual like vultures, pulling teeth and clothing—anything of value from the body—to sell or treasure. But once the desecration was complete, the bodies were left along the river to rot…
And rot they did.
Flies now swarmed the muddy embankment by the million. Naked men, women, and children of every shape and size were piled haphazardly along the shore in a mountain of mangled, body parts. Maggots squirmed in decaying flesh alongside a host of other feasting insects… Once these had been people.
But now their maggot-covered bodies rotted beneath the merciless sun, slowly being devoured from the inside out, innards oozing into the land. The river that carved through the once pristine valley was now tinged red. It had become a river of blood…
In an instant, Prime Minister Vallis snapped out of his daydream. He shook his head, suddenly realizing that those terrible thoughts were just that—a dream. A simple figment of his imagination… None of it was real…
“Prime Minister Vallis,” said the voice a second time. It was Sor Dalem, and she stood impatiently at Vallis’ side hands upon her hips. “We mustn’t delay,” she stated once she had his attention. “The ship is about to leave.”
For a moment, Vallis was tempted to inquire further; in the aftermath of his daydream, his mind was still a bit hazy, and the Prime Minister had no recollection of a waiting ship. But then he recalled his earlier conversation with Dalem and Ambassador Corrin. There was a dire situation that needed attention, and the Drinar would be leaving shortly.
“Yes, of course,” said Vallis, nodding agreeably. “The Ii’zyyr’aa.”
“The incident in the Azel Cluster has infuriated them,” Dalem placidly continued, as if she dealt with such delicate situations on a daily basis. “They are massing a swarm near the Phendrana Drifts.”
Vallis smiled thinly. Now it was all coming back to him. “How many ships?” he asked.
Dalem shook her head. “Unknown,” she stated. “That is why we must act quickly. We cannot allow their swarm to proliferate.”
The Ii’zyyr’aa could start with only four or five ships—but after a couple of hours, they could literally spawn an entire fleet. It was a terribly efficient way to bolster troop numbers, and in this case, terribly inconvenient—for the Velora—because an angry swarm was a deadly one. For once, Dalem’s legendary impatience was completely justified, because time was not on their side.
“You go ahead,” said Vallis, his voice sounding a bit strained. So vivid had his daydream been, he could practically smell death in the air. Of course, he stood in the very heart of the Command and Control room, so the notion was preposterous. He just needed a moment to compose his thoughts. “I’ll be there in a moment.”
Dalem did not question the order. She hastily turned on her heel and departed, leaving Vallis alone with his sordid thoughts.
“Put it out of your mind,” Vallis quietly sighed, keeping his voice low so not to be overheard by the few remaining officers in the command center. “It was just a daydream…”
But in his heart, he knew it was anything but.