It is hard to believe that I was here just ten short years ago.

The guiding minds had barely established themselves when we came here on our fateful mission. Their lair filled the artificial lagoons around the humans' spaceport, a seething and boiling mass of water and organic material working furiously to synthesise the creatures that would change this world.

Luck had been on our side; with the alien invaders concentrated in one area and preoccupied with their mission, our disintegrator blasts rained down in an almost continuous fusillade of fire. Weapon after weapon overheated and had to be swapped out for cooling as we held station over that spot, firing again and again till nothing moved.

Damaged by human craft earlier, we continued our hunt for a short time until we made our fateful jump to Candor. It was there that we witnessed the recording of the violation and murder of my sister Klynaeptra, a taunt by the Enemy that led me to commit our final weapon in one desperate gamble. That act has bought the Lazloi a short breathing space in which to regroup, but at considerable cost to the humans. Now it seems that even that cost was in vain, for not only is the star gate on Hycaron II open again, there may still be higher intelligences at work on Illaria after all.

The enemy was vulnerable before, whereas now he watches us from the safety of concealment in a world that has been home for years. Now we must face him on his terms on a battlefield of his choosing. If I were him, I would simply wait and bide my time. There is no profit in attempting to engage an enemy who has superior firepower and controls the skies, when your reinforcements might emerge from the star gate in a matter of weeks. I however cannot tolerate such an enemy to remain here, holding in its mind the experience of ten years in this space. Not only do they know our weapons and tactics, they are familiar with the native life forms and how they might be subverted. While others may well exist on Candor and Illaria, only these minds have enjoyed almost complete and unfettered activity in which to perfect their methods and technologies.

With no obvious choices before me, I have returned to the lagoons around the starport in the hope that a trail might lead me elsewhere. The air of decay is strong here, with the rotting hulks of abandoned ships and workshops slowly succumbing to the onslaught of the weather and plant colonisation. I am forced to ask why the Enemy planned its invasion here. Was it just a matter of circumstance or do they have a preference for dark and still waters?

If that is so, then our ship is aptly named, for the Spirit of the Deep River guards the divide between the land of the living and that of the dead. Before this month has gone, I feel certain that we will cross that line; I can only hope that we will also return.

-- Alisandra hept Zilaerion aboard the armed yacht, "Spirit of the Deep River".


Original spacecraft model created in Cinema 4D R12, with buildings by Stonemason.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R12. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

Return to the 2010 gallery

Updated: 03 December 2010

© Mark Hirst, 2000 - 2018