The Storm Crow emerged from jump adjacent to the moon of Hycaron II, as close as its simulacrum dared to calculate. There were occasional messages of welcome from sister ships hidden nearby, but most of our Lazloi brethren greeted us with stony silence.
Fifty years ago, I looked down on this dead world as a young and idealistic initiate. Our mission then was to investigate the humans' interest in the strange structures and artefacts buried below the sand. At the time we did not know what had prompted this interest, and assumed that it was random chance or curiosity. My grandmother the Clan Mother Kyraenia took control of the mission, as she had done before over many centuries of visitations to human space. It was her decision to simply observe and move on, and it was also her decision to go to the human world of Candor.
We arrived on that teeming world to adulation and worship. We healed the sick and helped the helpless, all the while taking samples of human DNA as part of our quest to cure the sickness that afflicts our kind. Kyraenia allowed us unprecedented freedom to move amongst the humans, introducing us to communities never visited before. She invited select individuals to act as ambassadors to us, guides who would help us tour the world in greater detail. It was this scheme that brought Karl Wolmark and I together, then a middle-aged man by the standards of humans. He was an ambitious man working in a large shipping company, and was well versed in the details of the stars around Candor. The power he held gave him a stern demeanour, but this melted away quickly as we toured locations across Candor.
I wonder now if Kyraenia brought us together for a purpose. Did she know that we might fall in love; that I might break one of our greatest taboos, a crime resulting in a human-Lazloi child against all the laws of ancient science? That is in the past. Once Kyraenia learned of my pregnancy, I was returned to our home world without a word of warning to my human lover. When born, the child was taken from me, and Kyraenia sent her back to the humans where I was told she had died. I later learned that she was alive, but my heart had hardened by then and it did not concern me any longer. In the years that followed, Karl Wolmark fell into the darkness and become a tool of the Enemy, enraged by my apparent unfaithfulness.
All this was in the past, but now I feel the hurt and sorrow again. Old memories and regrets fight for my attention but I suppress them with my own sense of anger and betrayal. All that happened was according to a plan and I was just a pawn. Now the helpless initiate rides an engine of war, ready to fight any who would oppose her will.
My dark reverie is interrupted by the urgent words of our sensor team reporting the opening of the gate. Ships loyal to the Gathering of Ravens move swiftly to envelope the swirling light that rises from the world below, while those loyal to the Songbirds warn us away with appeals and activated weapons. As the vortex brightens and changes colour, a war of words is exchanged between ships as they jockey for position, a dance so furious that many do not notice the tiny craft emerging from the depths of another dimension.
The Storm Crow moves swiftly towards it and identifies it as a human vehicle, while the simulacrum reports that we are being hailed by the craft. The face that appears on the main screen draws gasps from all around me, it is that of a Lazloi, but I recognise the taint of Karl Wolmark there too. It is my daughter, Siandyha Rhand.
Incandescent lines of force erupt towards the human craft from ships loyal to the Songbirds, but the Storm Crow places itself in their path and shields the tiny ship. In a moment, ships loyal to the Ravens retaliate in kind, and the Lazloi civil war begins.
-- Alisandra ny Hybritta ny Kyraenia hept Zilaerion
V4 figures in the Xurge Cyber Suit with customised textures. Nabia Hair from Renderosity and Embrace Hair from DAZ3D.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 6 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2