The relentless rain was coming. A vast and assaulting sheet that left none beneath it dry or without being hindered in their movements. It was sudden and extreme as it always was, droplets fat and sticky in the low gravity. They clung to any surface, enveloping it all in a translucent skin that shimmered like miniature oceans in the breaking daylight which sliced through it all, clouds regardless. And with the glaring and extreme UV radiation night became day as the little world continued on its endless and solitary waltz through the complex trinary solar system.

Through intelligent and soulful eyes It welcomed the warmth. Neither a he or a she, It was all together different from anything any humanoid would be familiar with. A complex entity, certainly It possessed a mind capable of thoughts that rivaled and often surpassed the strange carbon based collections which stalked It even now. But that mind was devoid of only one crucial thing that ensured the survival of other non-humanoid species, ruthlessness. It certainly was not a pacifist by nature, like all sparks of consciousness it possessed a quality and drive that pushed it to do regrettable things. However, It's unrivaled ancient history contained no bleak wars, no crusades, and certainly It did not have a word which could be translated to something akin to genocide.

No, the conflicts faced by It's kind were shaped by nothing more than the requirement to feed. And with a self regulating population upon this lush world, there was always more than enough prey to go around. So It knew only the simply hunt of lesser, dimmer things. Creatures like itself, but devoid of the sentience which made It's kind sacred. To It, the purposeful ending of another intelligent life (or even something of suspected intelligence) was something that could be translated to blasphemy.

As the day rapidly approached, the landscape unfolded beneath It. The small world was suddenly a large space to those eyes (nine in all), filming over in partially translucent fifth eyelids to shield their delicate inner workings from the extreme light. It was a world if deep blues, purples and bleeding oranges that intermixed every which way. A world of deep canyons cut by raging rivers and lakes, shrouded in heavy chlorine mist and yellow belches that flowed like water. Certainly this land was fatal to unmodified humanoid life, it was far too warm, far too small, and the gasses which It breathed was a noxious chlorine mix, containing little if any oxygen. But this was home, the only one known. For the search carried out by It's fore bearers had found nothing out in the expanse beyond this realm. Nothing of value, anyway. The worlds encountered were either hopelessly lost to artificial manipulation at their current technological state, or already occupied.

So they quietly dwelled within their artificial constructs, tiny bubbles orbiting places of relevance. Or else they stayed here. Where they had existed, virtually unchanged for 50 million strong years.

The harsh light doubled in intensity as the second sun was rising, shedding light on the great family-herds that lay in the valley far below, partially lost in the chlorine cloud. At first glance from those sensory organs, they appeared to be moving landscape, their carapaces blending into whatever lay beneath foot. But as those eyes, far more sophisticated than any hawk zoomed in upon the center of it all, the landscape took on a richer detail.

These were It's people, more specifically, the family in which It had been born into.

They were odd creatures with their alien limbs in a perpetual state of running and hopping. Like some twisted kangaroo they vaulted across the landscape, propelling themselves high into the air by three rear limbs, then descending once again with an additional front six moving in a motion reminiscent of a millipede. And then it started all over again, moving in great waves of hundreds.

Their smooth skin, translucent by night was now becoming an ebony black tinged by greens that swirled like some perverted oil spill. They were beginning the morning's feast, sucking in the glaring day in addition to the tiny, human sized creatures that were mindlessly heading for shelter against the fast approaching day. But the rapidly breeding things didn't stand much of a chance. Their ultimate fate was to be halved at the beginning of every day. That was how it was here. How it has been since the beginning of their civilized society.

But It was well feed, as always in the morning. Possessing something that could translate to poet, or artist, this creature relished the grand natural sight which unfolded every day below. But today, It would witness something far more interesting than the usual sunrise coupled with the ritualistic culling. Something unseen to It's kind until now.


Fourth Deputy Centurion Marell Akantos lurked motionless in the shallow depth of the narrow waterway. The water was murky here, and even despite the elaborate filtering mechanisms built into her combat suit, the stench of chlorine and sulfur filled her cranial exoplating. Far below lethal levels, her commander had assured her and those under her command they were in no danger, for the odors picked up by their sensitive noses were only traces of the lethal atmosphere lingering. Nothing at all to worry about.

She was clearly a humanoid sentient. Beneath those thick, rubbery layers of her jumpsuit stood a woman whom bore little physical difference from most typical human subspecies. She was even a member of one of the two progenitor races, that of the Roman Empire. So it was her people that in part sparked this ingenious design, and little variations had appeared since it was first forged in the jungles of some lost terrestrial world.

This place would have killed Marell in seconds if not for the technological means which protected her. But it appeared surprisingly little to combat everything from microscopic alien bacteria to the highly corrosive atmosphere. It was nothing more than a thick sheet of seamless, spongy material not at all different in appearance to that of a wetsuit. It spread over her entire body, revealing only her face beneath an almost comically large helmet that clamped firmly to her collarbone. At the moment she was not required to give facial ques to those twenty four under her command, so she had set the elaborate thing to opaque. Her visor instead displayed a multitude of statistics regarding those under her command.

Most were talking to one another in private channels, their heart rates slow and relaxed. A select few were engaging in virtual combat with a vast array of opponents, displaying a flurry of mental and physical responses. Her second in command was playing a game of cards with himself. A solitary sentry on the outskirts of their secured riverbed was singing along to the latest musical craze.

They had been waiting here for a solid three hours ever since the drop shuttle had departed for the safety of their home encampment. They didn't have to worry about their life support, for that shiny black cranial exoplating was everything from a personal computer to a tiny self contained world. The bacteria which it housed somewhere out of sight would, in theory, keep them all alive indefinitely as long as their bodily functions remained. There was even a neat little tube that dispensed a multitude fruit juices.

Marell sucked on that now, enjoying the crisp, bittersweet and faintly metallic liquid which would keep her well awake for the coming day. It would have usually been no problem, but the days on this little world lasted for a gruelling eight point six of her standard.

As the suns erupted over the horizon, the rain came. The surface a few feet above them shuddered with countless impacts before a series of bright pillars descended upon them. The world was coming alive now, and their mission dictated that they would lead the sneak attack which would snuff that life out. So, marshaling her quarter of a century of soldiers, she began as her mission file commanded.


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