The air was cold and crisp as we stepped out of the ship. Under foot, the ground crunched and crackled as our shoes broke the frozen snow covering the landing area. Like the garden retreat we had recently left, there was a sense of decay and abandonment about this place, with weeds and shrubs taking root in the cracks and corners of the building walls.

Our Lazloi guides hurried us out with an air of anxiety and puzzlement on their faces, and even the impassive faces of the simulacra held an expression of concern as they escorted us out on to the empty and strangely quiet dock. For a while, we could only hear the sound of our footfall and laboured breathing while we streamed towards the smaller buildings.

The silence however was soon shattered by tears and wailing from the head of our group. Several young Lazloi were crouched down in front of us, while others ran shrieking along the line to the older Lazloi who were just leaving the ship. As we caught up with the group, we could see great pools of blood spattered on the snow, already growing dark and metallic. Bodies and parts of bodies that had once been Lazloi were scattered across the ground, some with weapons by their sides, but many others obviously unarmed and in family groups huddled behind makeshift cover.

Two Lazloi fainted clean away while we looked aghast at the grisly scene, and even the senior Lazloi who joined the commotion were visibly shocked. All around us, there were the sounds of fear and hysteria. The strange musical sound of their voices became raucous and dissonant, as they cried and comforted each other; it was as though we did not exist.

A loud scream wrenched our attention back to the present. A young Lazloi knelt over the bodies of two males, whose old and broken bodies looked small and childlike amongst the Lazloi who had evidently been trying to protect them. The group stumbled forward and knelt around the bodies, touching them gently in reverence. That was when we saw the first glimmer of anger. Some of the younger Lazloi began shouting at the older ones, who reacted with astonishment at their sheer effrontery.

As emotions shifted from grief to fury, the green simulacra became locked in confusion. Some stood motionless and looking for guidance, while others started to gather the bodies of the dead into neat lines. Without orders, they could only serve their mistresses by instinct.

It was madness.

A bolt of energy slammed into one of the simulacra, sending the organic material of its head across the snow. Incredibly, the body remained upright, with only a faint tremor in the right hand to indicate its death. A moment later, there was a sonic crack as a shimmering globe of force surrounded the ship. Flashes of light and angry harmonics sprang to life, as figures emerged from the nearby buildings firing their weapons at us. They were Lazloi, but there was a murderous intent in their eyes.

Under the cover of the ship's force field, we ran back to the airlock, grabbing as many of the stunned simulacra as we could. Even as the massive bulk of the Lumina door had slammed closed, the ship leapt into the air and pointed its red adorned nose at the sky. Despite the influence of its inertial compensators, we could feel the massive surge of acceleration as the ship hurled itself away from the Lazloi homeworld and towards the stars.

Looking down at the planet, we could see the signs of conflict everywhere.

-- Tara Alessia, aboard the Lazloi courier ship, "Aradhnwen's Grace"


V4 figure in SD4 figure and Mariella Hair, both with customised textures. Ship is an original model created in Cinema 4D.

Scene assembly and final rendering in Cinema 4D R14 Visualise. Post processed in Photoshop CS2

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Updated: 08 December 2012

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