Apex: Part 3
It had been several months since the Thallatite conquest of Equine Solaris, in that time Apex. The hybrid ruler of the insectoid race, had been consolidating his power. Turning the planets in the system into massive breeding grounds for his Thallatite warriors. To prepare for the war with the Human Colonies in greater force. Every few weeks a small fleet of Colonial ships arrived in the system to investigate the system. Every time this happened the ships were taken over by the Thallatites, and sent the ships crews out of the system in makeshift bioships. “My Lord Apex, the Queens on Tisilius are growing impatient, High Queen Hiijnag especially is growing anxious at our lack of activity.” Said Selen, Apex’s second in command. “So the Queens have figured out how to use computers, luckily for them we now have a large enough fleet that we can basically move through the sectors frontier worlds without consequence. Selen, get as many of our warriors onto the ships as you can, we make for the world of Sahara Omega.” Avery said. “Sahara Omega? The planet is a desert wasteland, only the Ulaagrag have ever been foolish enough to maintain a permanent presence on that world.” Selene said.
“True, but you see, I have recently learned that there is a species on that world with… unique traits that would be useful to our cause.” Avery said as he and Selen got on a shuttle towards the Invictus. “I do not understand Apex.” Selen said. “You will soon enough, set course for Sahara Omega. Be ready for hostile actions, if the Ulagraag attack us in force I only want them driven off if possible, only attack if they attack first. Am I understood?” Avery said as the arrived on the captured Colonial flagship. “Of course my lord, setting course to Sahara Omega, Quantum Tunnel forming.”
Several hours later the Invictus arrived in orbit of the harsh desert world of Sahara Omega. The barren world was inhospitable to all non-native life, though this did not stop the Ulaagrag from using the planet as a place to perform there rites of passage for their youth. Avery’s shuttle landed on the sandy world, with Selen and a handful of warrior Thallatite’s. “You know, I honestly thought that this place would be hotter. But so far it doesn’t look too bad.” Avery said, the area they were in was unusually calm, no band of Ulaagrag warriors on the hunt, no infant Titan Crabs scuttling about the wastes, not even the legendary Centimane Worms could be felt, rumbling beneath the sands.
“Something is wrong Lord Apex; we could have just walked right in the middle of an ambush.” Selene said worriedly, several seconds passed, nothing happened. “Well, either your just being paranoid, or the natives are really, really not active right now. Warriors, fan out and establish a perimeter, I want a base of operations set up on… that plateau over there. I have a feeling that we may be here for a while, and I want a supply line from our ships in orbit.” Avery ordered. “Would it not be wiser to be in orbit? Let our warriors simply look for whatever it is you want on this world?”
“I prefer the hands on approach Selen. Besides, I want to know if the rumors about the worms are true.” Avery said. “I don’t understand, what rumors? What could we possibly need from the Centimane Worms?” Selen asked. “Simply put, I find one, and I’ll explain when I’m done with it.” Apex said cryptically. Several hours later a base had been set up on a nearby plateau, with commandeered Normandy Shuttles transporting troops and supplies down to the surface from orbit. “Sire, all the forces you requested are now planet side. Including the Jottunflys as you requested, but I still must ask you my lord, to what end are we doing all of this?” Selen asked, Apex didn’t answer, instead he instructed the Thallatite Warriors to mount the Jottunflys. “Warriors! We’re going worm hunting!” Said Apex as the Jottunflys took flight, several hours passed as the swarms of Jottunflys looked around for a Centimane Worm, no luck.
“My Lord, we are growing hungry and tired, can we not stop and rest somewhere?” Asked a Warrior. “Very well then, I’m getting kind of hungry myself anyway.” Avery said, they landed amidst a wandering Troop of infant Titan Crabs. “You know, it’s really lucky that Titan Crabs are lousy parents, or we’d be in real trouble!” Avery said as he and the Warriors proceeded to slaughter the alien crabs for food. “You know, in retrospect I should have packed a lunch.” Avery said as the other Warriors delved into the crab meat. “Why my lord?” Asked a Warrior, his mouth half full of crab meat. “It’s because we’re in the middle of the desert… and there’s a good chance we’re probably sitting on an adult Titan Crab, or a Worm could ambush us out of nowhere. Therefore not necessitating us having to stop in the middle of the desert to eat, and risk being attacked by the local fauna, or even Ulaagrag warriors.” Avery said nonchalantly, the Warriors stopped eating and picked up the dead crabs, and placed them on the Jottunflys. “We must hurry my lord, lest we be ambushed as you said!” Said one of the Warriors. “Oh come on, it’s a possibility but it isn’t guaranteed that we’ll be ambushed.” Said Avery, then right on cue the sound of guns cocking could be heard.
Avery looked behind him, and saw a small band of Ulaagrag youths, armed with spears and relatively primitive semi-automatic weapons. “Were you hunting these crabs?” Avery said awkwardly to the Ulaagrag. “What are Thallatite’s doing on this world?” Asked one of the adolescent Ulaagrag. “Will you leave us be if we just tell you?” Avery asked. “No, in fact I’d imagine the Marshel of this world would be interested as to why Thallatite’s are so far away from colonized human worlds. I’d say he’d give us a good recommendation to our Clan Chieftain, get us off this blasted sand ball, if we brought you bugs to the planets provisional capital.” Said the Ulaagrag teenager ambitiously. “Dahuuk, you know what the Marshel said; we aren’t leaving this world unless we can bring in a Centimane Worm. He was really specific about that. Thanks in no small part to that stunt you pulled-”
“How many times do I have to apologize for that? How was I supposed to know that crate was full of Penguins? We spent weeks skinning Iraga roots with our claws, besides Z’tua we’ve been hunting for worms for over two years now, and we still haven’t gotten one.” Dahuuk complained, of course in the midst of them arguing. They didn’t notice that Avery and the Thallatite Warriors were trying to warn them that the ground was shaking.
“Hey! Drakes! There’s a ground quake!” Avery shouted, drawing the attention of the Ulagraag adolescents. The ground shook under their feet, the sand shook off revealing the top of the shell of an adult Titan Crab. “Drat, I was hoping that was a worm, at the least it could have been-” Then Avery was cut off as a hug Centimane Worm grabbed the Titan Crab in its mouth. “Warriors! Get on your flies; you kids just get out of here! I’m going to ride this Worm!” Avery said as he dived down off of the giant shrieking crab, and grabbed onto the chitin of the worm. “Yeehaa! I’m getting this worm home!” Avery cried as something weird happened. The worm somehow opened a Quantum Tunnel.
“Oh this is going to get weird!” Avery said as he the worm delved into the Tunnel, Avery climbed up the worms side as the worm delved into the rip of the space-time continuum. When the worm entered the rip it created, Avery could see the entirety of time and space. Undaunted by the frightening images before him, he continued to climb up the worm, eventually reaching the creatures neck. “Worm! I command that you return to my base!” Avery said in a commanding tone. The worm opened a Tunnel right above the Thallatite base, surprising Selen. “Selen! Get this thing ready to be transported off world! We’re going to need a massive cocoon to get this thing to Tisilius for study and dissection.” Avery said as the worm continued to writhe about, thrashing against the sand.
Several days passed as the Thallatite’s made a giant cocoon in order to get the great worm off of the planet. “Sire, the worm is ready for transport. We are readying to get the beast onto the Invictus. My Lord, what happened when you found the worm? How did it appear from a rip in the sky as it did?” Selen asked, understandably confused by this turn of events. “Well you see, there was a theory among the Xenobiologists of the Vaalation Protectorate that the Centimane Worm could create Quantum Tunnels to move about vast distances. Sort of an explanation as to how they manage to appear and disappear at random on this planet.” Avery explained. “What was it like? To ride on such a creature through the expanse of time.” Selen asked with awe.
“Well I was focused on getting the worm; it was largely terrifying to me. Felt like I needed a nap before I even got out of the tunnel.” Avery said. “And just like that the magic is ruined. Anyway my Lord, we’ll be ready to leave for the homeworld within the day.” Said Selen, saying the first sentence under her breath.
Eventually Avery and his entourage returned to Tisilius with the Centimane Worm in tow. “So you went hunting on Sahara Omega, and brought back a giant worm. Why did you do this Lord Apex?” Asked High Queen Hiijnag. “It’s really simple really, you remember those Voidiathans you told me about?” Avery asked. “Our failed experiment to create a beast that can navigate vast distances in space, yes of course I remember.” Hiijnag said. “Well with this worm, you can continue your experiments anew, and what’s more. We won’t have to commandeer Colonial warships in order to expand our fleet.” Avery explained. “As you wish my Lord, we will begin experimentation on the great worm, and we shall see if your word rings true on this matter.” Hiijnag said skeptically.
Over the next few months the High Queen worked feverishly to unlock the secrets on the Centimane Worm. In time they did unlock the great beast’s secrets, and incorporated their ability to open Q-Tunnels into the Voidiathans.
But that is a story for another time.