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The Star Sphere

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This thread is for The Faceless King to describe The Star Sphere and its armada, and for the weekly updates on its invasion.

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The Akashan Empire was known as a place of peace, acceptance, and enlightenment, but now that it has been reborn as part of the Faceless Empire it is a nightmarish mockery of its former self.

 

The shapeshifting Faceless Court were already rulers of a considerable empire but the accepting and pacifistic attitudes of the Akashans made them a ripe target for conquest. Through a mixture of the Comaghaz virus, careful infiltration of the Akashan leadership by hand-picked shapeshifter agents, and merciless invasion, the Faceless Empire laid the Star Sphere low and rebuilt the once proud realm in its own twisted image.

 

Out of two main things the citizens of the Faceless Empire are known for, the most troubling is their attitude regarding all other races. Believing themselves superior to all other species because of their abilities the Faceless Court declared that all non-shapeshifters were animals and could be treated as such. Because of this Empire has become a haven for all manner of creatures that are used to being seen with fear and suspicion, such as doppelgangers, changelings and even lycanthropes. To the citizens of the Empire humans and their kin are seen as animals that can be used as slaves, pets, or even food. To the average Imperial shapeshifter a human and a cow are exactly the same in both legal and moral rights, humans are simply useful for a wider variety of tasks.

 

The second thing that the Empire is known for is their mastery of biotechnology. The genetic manipulations the shapeshifters were capable of before were staggering, but now that they have also accumulated the Akashan’s great stores of knowledge and genetic blueprints they have become unrivalled as genetic engineers. All Imperial technology is either created from animal and plant by-products or is alive in its own right, as can be seen in the strange curving architecture of their cities. Besides shapeshifters and their sentient slaves the Faceless empire contains three main types of beings. Animals and plants, both natural and artificially created, are plentiful in Imperial Realms and much of their territory resembles a Core Earth rainforest in terms of biodiversity. Many animals are purposely created for specific purposes, ranging from small creatures bred as flying surveillance equipment to the massive Imperial starships that dwarf Core Earth aircraft carriers and bristle with organic weaponry. Organitons are living beings with little sentience or awareness of their surroundings and are mostly created as weapons, tools, or buildings. The soulless are the third type of being common in the Empire and are organic automatons created with no free will of their own. Soulless follow instructions blindly and require supervision in order to complete complex tasks, but are generally considered to be useful and, ultimately, expendable. Soulless creatures are engineered to be biologically simple and so they can be quickly produced in massive numbers with little expenditure of resources. Many shapeshifters consider soulless creatures to be the perfect soldiers, as they are unflinchingly loyal, know no fear, pain, or mercy, and are created fully mature and ready to fight, requiring no additional training whatsoever.

 

Since the conquest of the Akashan Empire and the discovery of the ‘stargate’ phenomena the Faceless Empire has grown at a terrifying pace. Although at first Core Earth was merely seen as another target for domination its rampant Possibility Energy has attracted the Faceless King’s personal attention. He will let nothing stand in the way of his quest to attain godhood and even now legions of his finest warriors and beasts are being prepared for the invasion. As his clawed fingers reach out to encircle Core Earth and it’s inhabitants it only waits to be seen what will escape his merciless grasp.

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The Faceless King is the ruler of the Faceless Empire and the most powerful shapeshifter in the known cosmverse. This fearsome creature can take any form and assume any persona at will, seeing his body as a tool to be reshaped depending on the situation. He does not merely manipulate his physical form, but his very genetic structure, granting him access to an almost limitless selection of shapes. He is known throughout the Empire for his ruthlessness and the joy he takes in the carnage of war, getting personally involved in combat whenever he can. The Faceless King is a terrifying monster who will stop at nothing to conquer and ravage anything in his path, but all these are merely stepping stones on his path to godhood.

 

The Faceless King's Darkness Device is an intricate but bizarrely shaped obsidian symbol of change, chaos, and madness known as Madarian. This fearsome artifact is kept at all times inside the Faceless King's body and not only serves to increase his shapeshifting abilities even further, but allows him to channel and control madness. He can use the powers of insanity to force someone to bend to his will or destroy a person's mind utterly by subjecting them to nightmarish hallucinations the likes of which no sane being can survive intact.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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Week 0:

The great ship moved through the vast depths of space, it's smooth curves marred by great jagged horns that erupted from the superstructure. Although it's black surface was nearly invisible against the background a skilled observer could still detect it, as its several mile long bulk blocked out the stars behind it. Having just emerged from the stargate it began to coast, not giving off any energy signature the Earth's sensors could detect.

 

Inside the ships massive bulk a beautiful scarlet haired woman strode down one of the dimly lit corridors, her long black dress a contrast to the dull flesh colour of the chitin walls and floor. Only the woman's royal bearing and the long claw-like nails at the end of her fingers betrayed the fact that she was not human. She walked through a bone door that retracted into the ceiling and stepped into the vessel's main nerve center. A number of human slaves scuttled around the periphery or stood still with their heads bowed, waiting for orders.

 

A tall pillar rose from the middle of the room, connecting the floor and roof, and carrying a likeness of the Faceless King's visage halfway up its surface. The woman stepped forwards and placed her hand against the pillar, her gaze drifting up to the face above her. "Is everything ready for the invasion Exalted High Emperor?" She asked.

 

Red eyes opened in the otherwise featureless face above her and a low, powerful voice answered her. "Yes, I can feel that all is in readiness. Once we land at our destination I will release our troops and the invasion will begin."

 

The woman smiled, thinking of the armies held within the ship's immense stasis holds, over 20,000 soulless warriors alone, as well as shapeshifter raid leaders and warbeasts, not to mention the legions of slaves. "And once the army is released you can regain your usual form?" She asked as she slowly caressed the pillar in front of her. "I've missed your presence during the journey."

 

"Do not worry," the booming voice replied, "as soon as the army is released I will reshape this mass into our fortress, then I will seperate myself from it and walk the land once more. We will conquer this world together my Empress, and then you will rise with me as I achieve my destined godhood!"

 

The Empress smiled and nodded slowly, "yes my love, I look forward to it."

 

"Now I must prepare for landing. I will speak to you again once we have landed." The Faceless King's eyes closed as his consciousness flowed once again through the entire ship, giving him the awareness he needed to guide his miles-long body through the atmosphere to land in the peaceful park of Rio Abiseo. Landing at night disguised the craft's nature as it roared through the sky. Most nearby people would assume it was merely a very large shooting star, unaware of the payload of death and destruction it was carrying to Core Earth.

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June 15, 2009.

Adriana drove towards the park of Rio Abesio near her hometown of Huicungo. Her brother and some of his friends had headed out in that direction earlier that morning with a pick-up and a radio to see if they could find any sign of the shooting star that seemed to land there last night. After no word from the group all day Adriana had armed herself with her father's hunting rifle and borrowed her neighbour's old jeep to go looking for them.

As she neared the park she became more and more uneasy, as the plants she drove past took on unfamiliar shapes. Thick curling vines the likes of which she had never seen before curled through the treetops and the sky seemed to darken as she got closer to her destination. Things seemed to move beyond her field of vision, rustling the undergrowth or making strange noises like no animal she knew of. She had just passed the large sign welcoming her to the park when she turned a bend in the path and saw someone standing in the middle of the road! She swerved to avoid the figure and careened off the dirt road into the ditch beside it. Her head hit the steering wheel and blackness swallowed her up.

 

She awoke with a start, for a moment not sure where she was, and screamed when she saw the thing crouched on the hood of the jeep. It was humanoid in shape but far too lean and covered in bony armor. It's face was featureless except for two small holes where she could see its dark, soulless eyes. Seeing that she was awake it took a crouched step towards her and she realized that each of it's hands sprouted three metallic blades which were easily two and a half feet long. She turned, looking for the rifle, to see that two more of the creatures stood silent and unmoving next to the jeep.

 

"Well well, what do we have here?" Said a soft hissing voice as Adriana heard footsteps approaching the jeep from behind her. She twisted around as best she could to see a humanoid covered in scales with a long tail and long bone blades growing from its forearms. It's head was lizard-like but possessed four eyes and a strange crystaline membrane on its forehead. The creature reached forward without warning and grabbed Adriana by the chin, eliciting another scream from the terrified woman. The creature looked her over and then closed his eyes as if concentrating. "She's the sister of one of the humans who came through here, their genes are very close." He said to himself, before hauling the woman to her feet. "You'll be coming with us." He said matter of factly and turned to go. The other three creatures closed in around her while the leader walked over and retrieved something from behind a nearby bush. He hurled four small caterpillar-like animals at the jeep. They landed with a plop and began slowly gnawing at the metal. The reptilian monster smiled and turned to go, the three other humanoids escorting the scared and bewildered woman into the jungle.

 

...

 

Malnikor stood on the spire that rose up from the Faceless King's newly constructed fortress, surveying the lands surrounding it with a hungry eye. He was one of the King's oldest and most trusted lieutenants, he had helped his lord conquer the Earth of their home reality and the thought of doing it a second time was somehow even more satisfying. This invasion was strange to him though, as instead of having to change the flora and fauna as they went things merely 'popped' into place as their armies advanced. He smiled to himself, thinking of his lord's armies advancing and destroying all who opposed them. This world was rich and soon it would all belong to the Empire. He was interrupted by the sound of a slave walking onto the balcony behind him. "What is it?" He snapped as he turned around.

 

"I am sorry for the intrusion sir," replied the man, wincing. "I was told to inform you that a woman was captured entering our borders. Unlike the previous ones she was taken alive and is being brought here for questioning."

 

"I see. You may leave now," Malnikor said to the slave without turning. The young man scuttled off immediately, leaving the shapeshifter alone once again. He turned from the view and began making his way down the tower, already looking forwards to the interrogation of this new prisoner.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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June 26, 2009

For the past two weeks there had been a rash of strange events occurring throughout Peru. First there had been the reported meteor hit in the national park of Rio Abesio. Then there had been an explosion of growth in the sorrounding area. Besides the unusual speed of the growth there were also dozens of new plants that were so far unidentified by science. Peruvian scientists had been unable to explain these strange occurances.

 

Over the next few days the area of growth had spread and reports of missing persons increased drastically. Talk of strange creatures and bizarre noises became common as it seemed the natural world was going mad. A scientific expedition was sent out with a military escort but contact was lost with them almost as soon as they entered the park. Screams and inhuman roars came over the radios before they went dead one by one. After small towns and villages in the area began to fall silent the military was sent to block off the park and determine exactly what was happening.

 

The military convoy never reached Rio Abesio. En route the entire force was massacred by the invading army that was heading south toward Peru's capital. The engagement lasted less than an hour and the military forces were completely destroyed. Besides the many soldiers who were taken prisoner and sent to the Faceless King's fortress as slaves one man was sent back to Lima in an old jeep to spread fear and panic.

 

The soldier arrived, insane and injured, at Lima but his warnings were nearly incoherent. Despite attempts to calm him all he could do was babble about legions of fearless soldiers, creatures capable of changing their shape and gaining new and terrifying abilities in an instant, rocks that came alive and leapt at soldiers with fang-filled mouths, and huge burrowing worms longer than a bus that could destroy tanks with invisible blasts of force.

 

...

 

The next evening Nadrenia, leader of the first legion to leave the Faceless King's fortress, looked over the burning ruins of Peru's capital with a feral smile. she only wished she could have seen the human leader's faces when her army crested the hill, thousands of soulless warriors advancing towards the city. The human resistance was poorly organized, no doubt brought in suddenly from other areas once the survivor had reached the city, and had fallen quickly under her army's merciless assault.

 

The plan had gone perfectly, while her warriors had distracted the main force wreckworms had burrowed under the city and erupted behind enemy lines, catching them in a trap they could not escape from. She looked down from the rise she stood on at her army, still visible in the city below despite the thick clouds of smoke that billowed up from it to melt into the night sky.

 

Her soulless legion had sustained heavy casualties but what concern was that? The creatures were bred to fight and die at their master's whim and the corpses of those that had died could always be reclaimed, melted down, and used to grow more soldiers.

 

Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted as she felt an enormously powerful presence slip into her mind. "My lord Emperor," she said and dropped to one knee. She knew that he would not see the motion but the gesture of reverence was so ingrained in her as to be automatic.

 

The voice in her head was a deep rumble. "The human capital has been crushed, correct Nadrenia?" The question carried with it the unsaid but clearly understood warning that failure would not be tolerated.

 

"Yes my lord," she replied eagerly. "The city's defenders were destroyed quickly and the population is being rounded up as we speak. I have planted a cityseed and once growth is complete I will continue onwards."

 

"You will continue now, reinforcements will be sent to you soon." Nadrenia bit back a request for more time, knowing that to do so would invite the Faceless King's terrible wrath.

 

"Very well Emperor, I will leave the ruins immediately and continue with my legion." She felt the touch of his mind withdraw, leaving her alone once again in her own thoughts. She released a breath she didn't know she had been holding and then began walking down the hill. She smiled as she realized that even though her forces had been weakened there was not likely to be any major resistance before her reinforcements arrived.

 

...

 

The Faceless King's faceplate spilt into a predatory grin as he sat on his throne. His first steps toward crushing this planet had been taken, and now his plans could truly begin to take shape.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 3rd, 2009

The empress of the Faceless Empire lay on a small couch on one of the open patios of the newly grown palace. She stretched languidly, the wonderful feeling of the tropical sun against her skin reminding her of the royal palace back home. Suddenly she sat up, the link she shared with her mate alerting her to his sudden distress.

 

The woman quickly leapt up and made her way down the open and well-lit corridors to the throne room where the Faceless King was waiting. The door opened as she approached, just in time to hear his roar of anger rip through the palace.

 

The roar was long and almost deafening, carrying with it a rage beyond human comprehension. "What has happened my love?" She asked as she stepped into the room and walked across the chitin-tiled floor.

 

"The humans have destroyed one of our armies," he snarled. "Nadrenia has failed." He turned to the winged shapeshifter messenger who was in the corner, trying not to show his fear. "Bring me Nadrenia!" He roared, "I will punish her for this myself!" His entire armoured black body shook with rage and his red eyes burned like hellfire.

 

The messenger, who had originally brought his lord the news, immediately bowed and dashed out to complete his mission.

 

The empress sat on the arm of the throne and laid her hand on her mate's shoulder. At her touch the armoured giant's muscles relaxed noticeably and the blaze of his eyes dulled to an angry glow. "Soon we'll show them what happens when they resist us, won't we my love?" She asked with a sweet smile.

 

"We will," he said, his face turning to a feral smile as she knew it would. His claws flexed hungrily as he imagined the horrors he and his kind would inflict on those humans who dared to resist him. Although he had already ordered the creation of thousands of new warriors he would increase that, as well as starting the breeding of larger and more horrifying warbeasts in order to punish the humans for their audacity.

 

"Now why don't we get your mind off this setback?" She asked as she slid down to share the throne with him. He smiled as she began to caress his faceplate.

 

...

 

Kelgranen, the messenger, was barely tired from his flight to the palace and was now heading back south. He soared, riding all the thermals he could in order to rest up for the return flight. After several hours of flight he saw the smoking wreckage of the battlefield where his lord's army had been destroyed. He dropped, piercing the canopy of trees and landing next to a small cave where his captain, Nedrenia, was hiding.

 

"The Emperor demands that you appear before him for your failure." He did not want to deliver the news, but the Emperor's word was law.

 

"I knew he would," the woman said from within the cave. She came staggering out, still bleeding from the wounds she had suffered in the battle. As she walked towards the winged shapeshifter in front of her she bowed her head in shame. She knew that the Faceless King would not forgive her failure, despite the fact that he had known her army was weakened. She stepped forwards and sighed, knowing that she had the entire flight back to the palace to imagine what her punishment would be.

 

The thought of fleeing or disobeying the order never crossed her mind. Like all Imperial citizens she knew that the Faceless King's word was law, to disobey it was almost completely unthinkable. The messenger leapt into the air and grabbed her as gently as he could, lifting her into the sky and carrying the unfortunate woman away to face her fate at their Emperor's hands.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 5th, 2009

"So exactly what are we looking at here professor?" Asked general Alberto as he walked into the tent containing the makeshift laboratory.

 

"Well," began professor Mateo as he turned from the skeletal body laid out on the table in front of him, "I've almost finished my autopsy on the soldier you recovered."

 

"And what have you found? Time is of the essence here," the general reminded him as he walked over and peered down at the corpse, looking at the strange layout of organs.

 

"Well as you can probably tell this creature, whatever it is, is certainly not simply a human in armour, as some people have suggested." He pulled his blood-soaked gloves tighter and bent over the body, pointing to the organs to illustrate his point.

 

"Well have you figured out a way to kill it professor? That's all I really care about right now." Alberto replied, rubbing his eyes in frustration. Not only had his entire world been turned upside down but now he was expected to fight something completely inhuman. As if that wasn't bad enough, according to his radio operators the other army units were scattered all over Peru and many had fled the country. More worrying was the number of units that didn't respond at all. It seemed his was the only force still fighting these monstrous invaders, but at least they had beaten them back for the time being.

 

"Well," said the professor, a biologist who had been rescued from the university when the capital had fallen, "I'm amazed at how simple the creature's systems are. None of the organs seem to be as advanced as in a human or even most animals."

 

"So that means they should be easy to kill?" Interrupted Alberto.

 

The professor looked over at him impatiently, "that's the thing, as I was trying to explain, simple organs tend to be tougher. Without the sophisticated systems a human being has these creatures are more rugged and less susceptible to damage."

 

"So what can you tell me that might be helpful?" Asked the general, leaning down and looking at the systems that provided life to a creature like the ones who had slaughtered so many of his men.

 

"Well one thing you might take heart in is the size of the brain," Mateo said as he stepped over to the head, the top of which had been removed. "The brain material is also primitive, and there is far less of it than in a human, combined with what you've said about how they behave I would say that these creatures are only of animal intelligence. I believe those other creatures your men reported must be leading them somehow."

 

"I see, go on, anything you can tell me might be helpful."

 

"Well besides the simplicity of the organs I found nothing in the stomach except liquid, that coupled with the lack of any real mouth except for the grill you can see on its face makes me think they are fed some kind of a liquid solution."

 

"Alright, so they must have some kind of special food source." The general took time to think over this new development. "If we can cut off that supply it might weaken them. Is there anything else at all that could help us kill them?"

 

"Yes, I think so," the professor agreed with a nod. He wiped his brow on his shoulder, trying in vain to wipe away some of the sweat that was growing there in the heat. "The creatures are covered in bone armour all over their bodies but all the organs are arrayed along the center line, I would suggest your soldiers aim there. Although a single shot might not kill them that's still the closest thing to a weak spot they have."

 

"What about a head shot?" Asked the general, trying to find any other weakness he could.

 

The professor shook his head slowly. "I doubt it, the skull is too thick to penetrate and the brain is wrapped in bone too tightly to allow for a concussion."

 

"I see," sighed the general, "what can you tell me about their weapons?"

Mateo gave him an exasperated sigh and shook his head. "I haven't slept in two days general, I've been doing nothing but looking over these corpses."

 

Alberto was about to reply when an infantryman burst in through the tent flap, a terrified expression on his face. "Sir!" He yelled, "Movement's been reported to the north, they think it's those creatures again sir!"

 

"Very well," the general turned to leave but spoke over his shoulder to Mateo. "Keep working professor, I think we'll need all the help we can get, if it does us any good."

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 10th, 2009

Nadrenia stood in front of the Faceless King and his Queen in their throneroom, trying not to let her terror show. Her emperor stood, towering over her at a height of nearly nine feet from his black faceplate to his taloned toes. His lean, armoured bulk radiated strength and a barely controlled rage that she could almost physically feel pulsing from his jet black body.

 

"You have failed me Nedrenia, allowing the humans to defeat you and destroy your army." His voice was a hiss like a venomous snake ready to strike. "I will not allow failure in my servants," he snarled as his fingers flexed slowly. The empress was sitting on the arm of his throne as she usually did, and she craned her head to see what as happening.

 

"I understand that Exalted High Emperor," said Nadrenia, doing her best not to let her voice waver. Although she knew that the Emperor could smell her fear she would not allow herself to appear weak.

 

The Faceless King's faceplate split near the midline and his mouth of shark-like teeth opened into a feral snarl. A low growl built up in his throat and rumbled out to echo around the chamber before dying down again. As he began to step forwards he turned in response to the small, soft hand laid on his back.

 

Nadrenia had been too focused on the emperor to notice that his mate had stepped forwards, but now she watched the woman with curiosity.

 

"Perhaps you should be lenient my love," she purred with a voice like honeyed velvet. "She has been a good and loyal servant so far, and it was her who ransacked the human capital."

 

"Perhaps," said the Faceless King, considering the idea of mercy as one might puzzle over a new word after hearing it with no explanation of its meaning.

 

Suddenly, before Nadrenia could even see his arm move, pain exploded in her head as three deep cuts appeared running from her cheek to her temple. She had a quick glimpse of the Emperor's upraised arm ending in sharp metal talons as she collapsed to the floor.

 

Before she could hit the ground her lord grabbed her throat with his other, still fingered, hand and lifted the woman into the air. His grip was like a beartrap, crushing into the woman's windpipe and causing black spots to form at the edges of her vision as the circulation to her head was cut off.

 

"These cuts are to remind you of your failure and you are to wear them in all of your forms from now on," he snarled into her face. "If I ever learn of you hiding them or if you fail me again I will personally tear you apart. Do you understand?"

 

Nadrenia couldn't speak and could barely manage a weak nod. That seemed to satisfy her lord and he dropped her onto the cold, hard chitin floor. She gasped for air and tried desperately to avoid blacking out completely, as the rush of blood to her head caused the wounds to spurt afresh.

 

"Now get out of my sight," the emperor hissed. The injured servant wasted no time, fleeing as quickly as she could while she clutched her injured face.

 

...

 

An hour later Nadrenia sat in the courtyard garden outside the fortress, recovering from the recent ordeal. Although she had survived her emperor's wrath her body was still battered from the battle she had barely walked away from and the flight here. She grimaced as she pressed her fingers to the new wounds on her face. She could tell that the cuts went all the way down to the bone of her skull, and the damn things would not stop bleeding no matter how hard she tried to heal them.

 

The sound of footsteps drew her attention and she turned to see the empress approaching her. She bowed her head in respect and turned to face her. "I thank you for coming to my aid Empress," she said.

 

The empress nodded her scarlet-haired head slowly, "you are welcome Nadrenia. I have also arranged for you to be assigned a new army to command. You will head east to secure our territory. I think after what you have been through a quieter and less risky assignment would be preferable."

 

"I agree, thank you empress." Nadrenia bowed again, awed that the second most powerful shapeshifter in the entire Faceless Empire would take such a personal interest in helping her. "You are far too kind."

 

"Perhaps I am," the other woman said with a smile as she turned to go, "but someday you will be able to do something for me in return." With that she walked away, leaving Nadrenia to ponder and tend to her wounds. The Faceless Queen smiled as she walked back towards the fortress, the girl should have known that nothing as important as a life would ever be given without expecting some kind of repayment.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 11th, 2009

Private Sergio crouched amongst a pile of boulders, watching the enemy army through his nightvision binoculars. He had been in watch for over an hour now and was becoming increasingly concerned with what he saw.

 

After most of his squad had been wiped out in the main offensive he had been assigned to watch the part of the enemy army that had stayed at the battlefield. For most of the last week the skeletal creatures had been gathering up both the corpses of their own dead and Sergio's former allies, carrying them to a large field some distance away and placing them into one of a number of fluid-filled pits that broke them down into sludge. Although he had seen some of the pits disgorge fully formed skeletal soldiers he was more concerned about the larger pits that seemed to be the destination of the majority of the bodies.

 

To his disgust Sergio had also learned that the more intelligent creatures, the ones a soldier he had known had nicknamed 'shifters' because of their apparent ability to change their shape, had other uses for his fallen comrades. The men and women who had survived but been captured were sent off in long lines, heading back to wherever it was these creatures came from. He had also seen these shapeshifting creatures feasting on the remains of his friends and colleagues. The first time he had seen the grisly sight he had nearly shot the creature dead, only his explicit orders not to engage stayed his hand. Now he had nearly gotten used to it, though his stomach still churned a little at the sight. He hated these monsters more with each passing day.

 

After ensuring that there were no creatures around Sergio lowered his binoculars and carefully took out his handheld radio. He turned the device on and gave his report as quietly as possible, not wanting some hidden monstrosity to overhear.

 

He told his commander the main things that he had learned: that the shifters were the brains of the army, controlling the strange humanoid soldiers and massive beasts that comprised the majority of their forces; the way the shifters also all seemed to be unique, with many of them possessed strange powers or natural abilities like nothing he had ever seen before; and how the shifters seemed to be able to heal their troops and grow, for lack of a better term, new ones with very little need for external supply lines, making them much harder to predict thier movements. As he finished explaining what their enemies were doing with the corpses of their personnel he saw a faint glow slowly making its way towards him.

 

He placed the radio down, though he did not turn it off, and studied the glow as it approached. Before long he could make out that it was a shifter with glowing pods on its arms and larger ones on its back. It approached to no more than a few hundred feet of Sergio and stopped, casting its head about as if trying to catch a scent.

 

The nervous private gently picked up the radio to turn it off, though his finger slipped and hit the trigger to activate sending mode. Instantly the creature's head swung around, as if hearing the radio's signal, and the pods on its arms pulsed.

 

Sergio dropped the radio as it hissed and sparks erupted from it, grabbing his rifle and leaping to his feet. As he took aim at the creature, which raised its arm to point at him, he noticed an overpowering reek of ozone.

 

Sergio never heard the crack of thunder, only felt the bolt of lightning the shot down from the sky and poured through his body. He felt it only for a split second and then felt nothing more, becoming one more corpse to be added to the genesis pits.

 

...

 

"Professor have you made any progress with that body we recovered yet?" Asked general Alberto as he stepped into the medical tent, one end of which had been set aside for professor Mateo. The general didn't need to remind Mateo that not only could any information be valuable to the war effort, but many soldiers died in order to allow him to escape when their previous location had been overrun.

 

"I think I have general," replied the professor excitedly, "this body is simply remarkable! This creature is like nothing else I've ever seen, a true masterpiece. It seems like every part of it has been designed, consciously and intelligently designed you understand, in order to fight us." He pointed to an armour plate that had been removed from the creature's chest when it was cut open. "You see this? Sandwiched between two laters of hide is a spong-like material that stops a bullet better than kevlar, and yet is naturally a part of this creature. It's incredible."

 

The general did not look pleased at this announcement. "I hate to say it but I don't share your enthusiasm. How could this happen is what I want to know."

 

"Well that is the most amazing thing of all!" Exclaimed Mateo. "You see this limb here?" He pointed to the creature's left arm, which appearead to be merely a mass of tissue. The section of hide cut away revealed inside were a set of hollow tubes and bladders, though all appeared to be only partially formed.

 

"It looks like some kind of birth defect to me," remarked Alberto. "Why do you think it's so important?"

 

The professor grinned and pointed to the mass of tissue. "I have studied this section of the creature extensively and I have come to the amazing conclusion that this entire limb is filled with cells much like human stem cells. It seems these creatures are actually able to despecialize their cells, and then respecialize them into cells of a different kind! They can reshape their bodies at a cellular level!"

 

"So you're saying that you've discovered how these creatures are able to shapeshift?"

 

"I would say so," crowed the professor as he stood admiring the body in front of him. "It's simply incredible, there's no other way to describe it."

 

"But I can't allow you to tell anyone," he heard general Alberto say from behind him, seconds before he felt sharp blades pierce his back. A strong hand cupped over his mouth, cutting off his screams as the professor's killer twisted the blades and pushed them deeper.

 

After a moments struggle the general lowered Mateo's body slowly to the ground. Alberto stood up again and retracted the two foot long blades back into his forearm, leaving them completely undetectable once again. He turned with a smile, no human defenses could stop him, Malnikor, one of the Faceless King's top warriors, from achieving his mission. Murdering Mateo while he was in his tent had been easy and now with the human's head scientist gone there was little to do but make ready for the carnage to follow.

 

From all around him the disguised shapeshifter heard alarms being called out as his army began to approach the humans from all sides. He would not fail like that fool Nadrenia had, even if it meant he had to slaughter every single one of these humans himself. He paused for a moment to regain his composure and then dashed for the command tent, ready to play the part of the determined general once more.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 13, 2009

Zetherian stood on a balcony overlooking the courtyard where his armies where assembling. His ship had landed little more than a week ago and already he had claimed the territory sorrounding his growing city. Zetherian was a shifter who prided himself on efficiency, and so he had already decided on his expansion plan, now it was merely a matter of time until they came to fruition.

 

He reflected on the lands he now found himself invading. Africa had always been known as a rich biosphere, and now all that biomass that the humans foolishly saw as only so many pretty plants and animals would serve as fuel for the Faceless Empire's invasion. He smiled to himself and raised his hand out towards his armies, spreading his fingers wide.

 

Below where he stood the waiting shifters grinned as well while they gave orders to their soulless soldiers. The armies began to disperse, moving quickly out from the city and towards their targets, each shifter desiring to earn their share of the plunder as quickly as possible.

 

Zetherian turned and strode into his private chambers, stopping in front of a large flat membrane against one wall. He touched the quivering material and ripples spread across it as an image slowly came into view.

 

"I await your report with interest Zetherian," said the Faceless King through the telepool. The Faceless Queen reclined on her usual place on the arm of the throne, watching Zetherian with mild interest.

 

"Of course my lord," replied the other shifter with great reverence, bowing and going down to one knee before rising again. "I have completed securing the nearby area and I am now commencing expansion."

 

"Good, I see you are adhering to your schedule perfectly, do you anticipate any trouble from the humans?" The question was asked with slight contempt, no shifter worthy of commanding an army would ever have difficulty with humans.

 

"Of course not my lord, they are only humans after all," replied Zetherian, earning a predatory smile from his lord. "And though that would be enough on its own there are other factors that will contribute to my success. The humans of this continent have become weak and disorganized through constant infighting. The militaries of these lands are also far weaker and less equipped than those of other nations, and the entire continent is being ravaged by disease. However perhaps its most promising aspect is that many areas of this land are ruled by warlords or self-proclaimed tyrants. It will be easy and natural for the humans to accept us as leaders once the warlord's forces are crushed."

 

"Excellent news, it seems my faith in choosing you for this assignment was not ill-placed Zetherian. I know you wanted to be given this placement and I have provided it to you, now do not fail me."

 

"I will not my lord, I swear it," replied the subordinate shifter with a bow.

 

"See that you do not," answered the Emperor. The telepool then began to ripple and the image of the throne room faded from view, leaving Zetherian staring at his own reflection. He turned and stepped out onto the balcony again, looking out at the forests sorrounding him. He was thrilled that he had been given this task, as he was certainly not the only shifter who had made their desire for the position known. As he stared out he thought how strange it was that even with the lack of many familiar species and the infestation of humans it still reminded him of home. He smiled to himself, after all, those were problems that would be fixed with time...

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 19, 2009

"WHAT?!" The Faceless King's roar resounded throughout the entire fortress. He stood, massive and terrible in his rage, with the messenger who had brought this unwanted news standing before him. "You say Vathakar has escaped? The pathetic worm! How did this happen?" He demanded of the shifter that stood in front of him.

 

"We are currently investigating that my lord, though the ones responsible for his direct care have already been taken for questioning." Although the figure stood no more than ten feet in front of the emperor the telepathic voice seemed to have no source. Like all members of the Emperonakt, the imperial secret police, this messenger was invisible. "Although his goals are unclear it seems that the traitor has arrived on this world and fled from our detection."

 

"I think his goals are very clear," hissed the emperor, "he wishes to succeed where before he failed." The Faceless King's faceplate writhed with the rage that flowed through him. "When I first forged this empire through bloody conquest there were some shifters who were too stupid or weak to realize our true place in the universe. Those fools, led by Vathakar, fought against me to protect the humans." His claws curled into fists, the metal of his talons creaking with the force of his grip. "Despite his stupidity he is charismatic and will no doubt attempt to start a new army to protect this world."

 

"What are my orders my lord?" Asked the other shifter, loyalty and service to the Faceless King literally bred into him.

 

"Find him, find Vathakar and bring him to me," the emperor snarled.

 

"And do you wish for him to be taken alive?" Asked his servant.

 

"It does not matter, as long as his head is intact." A feral grin split the emperors faceplate. "I will ready a resurrection pod. It seems that imprisonment was too good for him, but I will enjoy killing him over and over again before I let him have the peace of death."

 

"As you wish my lord, it will be done." The messenger bowed and then dashed out of the throne room, leaving the emperor to stand, fuming alone.

 

...

 

James Sastin staggered through the jungle, dragging the pack he had managed to salvage from the planewreck through the mud behind him. He had been travelling for more than a week now, sore, hungry, and terrified of the strange things he had seen. He knew that he would run out of food soon, and that thought did not comfort him as he trudged through the jungle with no idea of where he was going.

 

When James' father, Matthew Sastin, had heard about what was happening in South America he had sent his son in his company's private jet to rescue the young man's mother and sister from an exclusive spa they had been attending in Peru. The flight had gone fine until James had reached the wall of clouds that seemed to sorround the nations that were in trouble. Although he was not exactly an experienced pilot, luck or skill had been on his side and had allowed him to avoid the crimson lightning and the terrible winds that ripped through the clouds without warning.

 

Once he managed to escape the clouds and reach the sunshine James had thought he was safe, but the illusion didn't last long. Rapidly growing on the horizon, he saw the shape of what he at first took to be an aircraft. As if drew closer however he saw that it was a massive living creature, like some kind of strange dragon but with no head, only a massive staring eye. The creature's tail had raised over its body and there had been a bright flash, immediately followed by a massive lurch as one of the jet's engines exploded.

 

After that James had managed to survive the crash landing and had staggered out, hoping to find help somewhere nearby. After eight days of wandering with not a single human being in sight his strength, as well as his hope, were almost gone. With each day he had awoken to find the jungle thicker and more menacing than before, as if everything around him was changing to make his survival more difficult.

 

The undergrowth was so thick that James didn't see that the forest ended on the edge of a valley before he was right on top of it. He was blinded by sunlight and the world began to spin as he fell and rolled roughly down the slope, dropping his bag and colliding with several clusters of rocks that sprouted from the grass on his way down. All of this was too much to handle after his ordeal and be blacked out.

 

The young American awoke to something warm and wet stroking his face. His eyes flew open only to see a shaggy-haired cow standing over where he lay and licking him. He staggered to his feet and rubbed his eyes, not sure what to make of the strange sight he saw.

 

The valley extended far off to the left and right, where it angled up in a gentle slope to join with the jungle that ringed it on all sides. The floor of the valley was a patchwork of ripe fields of grain, large gardens, and pens where livestock grazed contentedly. In the center of all this stood what looked like a medieval village, a patch of small stone buildings hidden in the middle of this impassable wilderness.

 

James was desperate for food and shelter and didn't take time to think about the odds of him stumbling across this tiny bastion of civilization, instead heading for it as quickly as his tired legs could carry him. He moved through fields of corn, barley, and several small herds of cows and sheep. The sun was just starting to set when he reached the outskirts of town.

 

As he reached the last wooden fence that seperated him from the town James stopped, sensing that something was wrong. He saw a few people heading for their homes and all were dressed like medieval peasants, european peasants at that. As if this wasn't strange enough there were no signs of technology more sophisticated than the one lone windmill that stood sentry over the town. James could only assume he had stumbled across a group of people who were trying to live a simple life, like some of the hippies he had heard about.

 

As he walked into the town proper the few people who were outside noticed him and rushed towards him, eyes full of curiousity. They clambered around him in a rough circle, looking at his clothes like they were from another world. They spoke to each other in hushed voices, but James couldn't tell what they were saying.

 

Finally one man, a portly fellow with a thick black beard, addressed him. "Where are you from boy?" He asked, "and what happened to you?"

 

James didn't feel like telling his whole story, and so simply said "I came through the woods and thought I could get some help."

 

At that the people began muttering again, sounding louder and more nervous than before. "You came from beyond the woods?" Asked the man, "are you from another village nearby?"

 

Jams was quickly becoming frustrated with this. "No I didn't come from a village!" He yelled, "I came from a city! A city with cars and skyscrapers and electricity! Now are you going to help me or not?"

 

"We will give you every ounce of hospitality we can," said the man, "but first I must know, are you not afraid of the demons?"

 

"What? Of course not! What kind of stupid question is that?" James was nearly livid. "There's no such thing as demons, everybody knows that!"

 

"I see," said the man with a nod. Suddenly a heavy blow landed on the back of James' head, sending him back into unconsciousness.

 

The mayor of the town looked down at the strange boy he had just been speaking to. "Tie him up," he ordered. "I will go and light the signal fire." He turned and began to make his way to the single tower that stood near the edge of the valley. He knew that as soon as he lit the green flame atop it the demons would come and take the boy. They all knew it, but there was no other way. More terrifying than handing the boy over was the thought of disobeying them and not turning the stranger in. They had been told to give any strangers who came out of the woods to the demons, and he knew that if his people were to survive they had no choice but to obey. The boy had to be given, if he was not the demons would not just take a few slaves next time they visited, but all the able-bodied, slaying the rest and leaving the bodies to rot.

 

The mayor climbed the ladder to the tower and lit the pile of treated wood that sat atop it, the green flames summoning the demons out of the shadows beyond the woods...

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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July 21st, 2009

Zethria smiled as she surveyed the wreckage before her, where a massive chitinous spire erupted from a crater in the ground, rubble and the shells of destroyed buildings lying all around its base. There was nothing left of what had been the city of Uberlandia besides broken structures and shattered lives.

 

The plan had worked perfectly and she could barely hold her excitement. She had ordered a small cavern excavated under the heart of the city and then had planted a cityseed within it, expanding the passages and adding growth chambers and gestation pods until the area was honeycombed with tunnels and rooms cut out of the rock.

 

After weeks of work she had given the signal and the growing central spire was allowed to pierce the earth above it, creating a sinkhole that encompassed almost all of Uberlandia. Without hesitation her army swarmed out of the hole and quickly captured or dispatched the few stunned survivors.

 

Now as she stood on the balcony of her spire she was thrilled, her plan had worked perfectly and hopefully she would be rewarded. Although the emperor had plans for this world she was sure that not all of the plunder had yet been assigned, there must be some that would be given to her after this triumph.

 

She turned and walked to her telepool, resting her hand against it and expressing her desire to speak to the emperor. After only a moment his image came into clear focus in the membrane. "I have taken the city of Uberlandia with no casualties my lord, and now I await your instructions."

 

"Very good, I am impressed with your skills." Hearing him speaking to her with such compliments made the female shifter's heart skip a beat, but she did her best to remain calm. "Since you have proven yourself in this I give you control of the eastern portion of the South American invasion. You will report to Malnikor and oversee the move westward to link with my initial conquests. We will catch the humans in a pincer and crush them utterly."

 

Zethria dropped to one knee, bowing as deeply as she could. Despite her attempts at composure she could not stop her tail from lashing in excitement. "Thank you for this honour lord, I cannot express my gratitude enough."

 

"If you wish to show your gratitude then do not fail me," replied the Faceless King simply. "Now I have other matters to attend to, as do you." Without further notice the telepool faded to a blank white membrane again.

 

"I won't fail you, I swear it," whispered Zethria to the empty room. She knew that no matter what she did there was no way she could ever steal the emperor's attentions away from the empress, but at least he had noticed her and now had congratulated her on her work. Not only that, but she had been chosen to lead an entire sector of the invasion! Although the woman knew the truth as she walked to her command room to begin ordering her troops she allowed herself to daydream, imagining what it would be like to sit at her lord's side as he brought entire worlds to heel. She sighed and smiled at the thought.

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August 1st, 2009

"All around me you can see the devastation caused by these inhuman invaders," said the reporter Sarah Manien to her cameraman, gesturing at the smouldering rubble that had once been the Brazilian city of Campo Grande. "The few people who survived and were not taken away by the authors of this destruction are left to pick through the wreckage and try to survive without any aid, as the government is occupied attempting to fight against the invaders."

 

The black-haired woman turns and walks towards a man who is sitting on a pile of debris, staring out over the ruined city. "Sir, were you here during the attack?" She asks quietly.

 

The man merely nods in response.

 

"And what can you tell us about these mysterious assailants?" She probes, ignoring the man's vacant expression.

 

"They are far more powerful than anything on Earth," says the man, suddenly animated as he turns to the camera. "There is no way for human armies to defeat them. If the human race wants to survive, well, giving up is the only real option I think. Every time one of their soldiers dies they just melt him down and create a new one, there's no way to stop them." He speaks with no anger or bitterness as he describes the creatures that destroyed his home.

 

"And what do you think they want?" Asks Sarah, obviously pleased to find him so talkative.

 

"I know what they want," he answers bluntly. "They want slaves and resources. They move in and destroy all resistance, then take everything they can and move on to assault the next area. They won't stop until the whole world is under their control, and if they can't dominate it they'll destroy it. This isn't the first world they've invaded by far." He stares off again over the ruins.

 

"And how do you know so much about them?" Sarah asks with growing suprise. "Did you overhear them speaking?"

 

"Well," says the man, his voice suddenly cool and dangerous, "you could say I have an inside source." Suddenly his skin explodes to reveal a massively built creature with a hard carapace and three fingered pincers on each hand.

 

The cameraman screams but Sarah doesn't notice until it is too late, turning around just as the pincer closes around her abdomen. She is held fast, though she struggles, as another pincer lashes towards the cameraman. Blood sprays over the lens and it collapses to the floor as sarah continues to scream.

 

"Gentlemen this tape was intercepted yesterday morning from one of our few remaining agents in Brazil," said General Matheson as the image froze and the sound stopped. "We have supressed the tape and prevented it from being aired, but the material it shows is deeply troubling. What do you gentlemen think?" He asked the collected military officers seated at the table before him, top officials who had been brought from their native countries to the US for this meeting.

 

"Why not show the people the true nature of the threat?" Asked General Gustav of Russia, "how can our citizens defend themselves from this threat if they do not understand it?"

 

"Don't you understand?" Replied China's representative, Major Yil, "to do so would only inspire more witch hunts. People would suspect everyone of being one of these creatures in disguise, it would cause far more harm than good."

 

"Many of us have more pressing matters to concern ourselves with," replied General Williams from England. "What about this threat makes it so much more pressing than those facing Europe?" He waved a hand towards the globe, which showed almost the entirety of the continent covered in storms or enemy territory. "In fact, our intelligence from Peru tells us that our technology works fine even within their areas of control. If we can fight them on our terms what makes them so dangerous?"

 

"I don't think you understand the nature of this threat," Matheson said firmly. "Although we can use our technology against them they can also operate perfectly on our side of the storm barriers. The recent invasion of Australia, an area well away from any of their forces, proves this. As it stands they control more than a quarter of Australia, Africa, and South America. If we do not address this danger immediately it will be too late to save any of the equatorial nations, and I doubt they will stop there."

 

"So what do we do?" Asked Major Yil, "where do we think their agents may be?"

 

"As far as we can tell," sighed Matheson as he shook his head, "they could be anyone. None of our tests seem able to detect them until they reveal themselves. As far as we know, there could be one of the creatures in this room with us right now." He allowed the others to think on the terror that possibility presented before turning to the single man who had not spoken throughout the entire meeting. He had asked no questions about any of the strange invaders, even the strange dinosaur-like creatures that seemed poised to push into Mexico, nonetheless the shapeshifters that were rampaging further south. "Well General Alberto," he asked, "you have the most experience facing these creatures. What would you recommend."

 

"I am sorry," replied the exhausted looking man, "but there is very little I can tell you that has not already been said. It is also a diccifult time for me, as I have lost my country and all of my men. I was lucky to escape with my life, and so had no time for objective observations."

 

"I understand that, and we are all glad that you managed to survive the Nazca massacre," replied the American general. "You have already provided us with useful information and if you have anything else of use please do not hesitate to share it."

 

The last Peruvian general nodded stiffly and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes most of the way. From beneath his nearly closed lids he followed the conversation with interest, mentally preparing his report as he feigned fatigue. He had to supress a smile as he thought about the look on the faces of these generals when they realized all the information they had been given was completely and disastrously wrong.

Edited by Slayer Dragonwing

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