On the far-flung planet of Hayveon Blaze, a plucky army commander, is fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. In a universe where empires span solar systems, a great war has split the galaxy into three. UCEF, the Union of Creature Energy Force, is an alliance of aliens fighting for freedom and justice. But set against the Cosmaratic Empire and the Barrens, an empire with mind-controlled citizens, UCEF must achieve the impossible in order to win peace.
“What?” Blaze exclaimed incredulously.
“I was called Sarah, I used to live near here… in… in a small town on the edge of the forest…” she continued, her posture had slumped and her eyes were distant, gazing into the past. Her air of self-assured confidence had vanished and she sounded more like a timid teenager than an alien queen.
“Then how are you Veel-ra-sah now?” Blaze asked, although, if his theory was right, he had a feeling he already knew the answer.
“I lived a simple life… yes… that’s right, I was a carpenter’s daughter… I helped in his workshop,” she started falteringly as the memories came back to her. “I was also part of the town watch… we guarded against predators and… I was on the walls, on duty when they came… the purebreed. Huge alien creatures… they attacked our town,” here she shivered at the very recollection of that night. “They overran our wall in minutes… I remember firing my black powder gun at point blank range into one… and the creature didn’t even notice. I stood and fought… for all the good it did… then they got me. The… the last thing Sarah remembered was a hideous alien looming above her… claws bared. Then we found the peace of The Family,” she continued her confidence returning with the last line of her speech. Blaze was curious though, nearly twenty years ago when probe ships had arrived and the initial scans had been carried out Hayveon had been devoid of any Human life.
“When did this happen? Our scouts came to Hayveon about two decades ago and found no evidence that the planet was ever inhabited.” There had not even been an abandoned town.
“I… don’t know. I have no idea how many years it’s been. I’ve been down here so long… After they got me… I woke again in the dark of a cave and…” her tone changed once more, “and we were the Queen. The Family needed leaders and they put us in charge. We became Queen of a colony; they obeyed us, the King told us what The Family needed and we led them. The new members of The Family were our workers, our soldiers, our drones. We instructed them to dig and they built us this, our nest,” she explained. Blaze just about followed her narrative, although he did not comprehend the reference to a ‘King’. As far as he understood it, some purebreed of aliens, presumably similar to the huge one he had seen earlier, had attacked an old Human town, possibly hundreds of years ago. The population had somehow become part of ‘The Family’, mutating in the process he guessed. Sarah had turned into a Queen of the new members of The Family and had them dig the tunnel network he now stood in. So somewhere along the line she and the others had gone from being normal people to the creatures he saw before him.
“So… how did you become part of The Family?” Blaze asked, the answer to this question would at last solve the mystery of where they came from.
“The spore,” she replied. “I… don’t remember how I joined, but I’ve seen it happen to others and… I assume the same happened to me,” it seemed the Sarah part of her was talking again.
“Spore?” Blaze queried. In reply she stood up and turned round pulling her ragged uniform up, exposing her back… and what else lay upon it, or perhaps he should say melded with it. A small purple and oval shaped thing sat between her shoulder blades, about half the size of his paw. It lay almost flat with her skin, basically featureless other than the mess of pink tendrils that snaked from underneath it. The tendrils spread as a web of veins across her back, like strands of ivy clinging to her body. It looked like some kind of parasite had attached itself to her, grown onto and into her. Her lower back was equally deformed with two strange cysts, one on either side of her spine, in which Blaze could just about make out more of the ‘spore’ things growing. They were curled up like scared woodlice, their purple shells still soft, but protected by Veel-ra-sah’s body. Unlike the spore, the cysts seemed to be part of her, rather than something that had attached itself… as if she had grown them.
Blaze recoiled in a mixture of disgust and fear, he had guessed the creatures of The Family had once been people, somehow turned to aliens… but he had not expected that. In a word it was repulsive.
“That?!”Blaze exclaimed as soon as he mastered the ability to speak again. He was unable to tear his gaze from the spore grafted to her body, both fascinated and horrified by it. Veel-ra-sah turned back round, her expression almost one of hurt.
“We are the Queen, we grow the spores, to bring more into the loving embrace of The Family, just like they did to us,” she explained. Panic gripped Blaze, pure and genuine panic. He had just led his troops into the lair of a race more hideous than he had ever imagined. He had just consigned his troops to a fate worse than death… becoming one with this alien plague. He hastily sealed his helmet again, the pieces sliding back together, once shut his visor reactivated. He flicked the safety switch off on his energy cannon and reached over his back to grab his sword. Perhaps if he killed the Queen the aliens would lose their leadership and fall into disarray, he doubted it, but at the very least he could stop her from producing more spores.
Veel-ra-sah however simply tilted her head looking quite perplexed at what had Blaze so agitated. Then a smile broke across her face and if ever evil were to be given an expression, it would look exactly like what Blaze could see in front of him.
Look out for Part 30 of Matthew Gill’s story!