|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
The ‘Roc, The Myth, The Legend
The Sharpest Blade This Side Of Fuego
Moments after Chuck lights the blunt precariously pinched between Fleurna’s soft, smiling lips, as per his new tradition after embarking on an hours-long tremendously sensual sexcapade with a confirmed voluptuous purple Psychedelic-drug-doing alien, a large mass enters Earth’s atmosphere in total silence. At first, to the nobody that notices it, the mass appears to be a chunk of a planet that was ripped from the rest of its original planet, the top vaguely shaped like an ice cream cone after the toddler holding it licked his delicious dessert to an almost, but not quite, flat surface.
The roof of the object, or ceiling, depending on whether or not you’re inside the craft, follows the curvature of a celestial body that’s approximately one ten-thousandth the size of the dissipated patch of space dust once known as the Onyx Moon, which for you humeys was almost as small as Earth’s moon, albeit significantly less artificial. It’s rough, dusty, and littered with craters, although the craters aren’t nearly as big or worn out as old woman Luna’s.
The underbelly of the craft is a jagged collection of stalactites, growing in size from the outer rim to the center, the central spike of course housing the massive anti-gravitational engine that keeps the craft from impaling whatever planet its pilots are instructed to hover over before the impending invasion can begin.
If, that is, the
Zeroc Council of Life, one of the three Zerocian High Councils that remotely govern the important facets of life on their homeworld of Fuego, has ordered a planet to be invaded. This is not always the case; ChairElder Ealdra, the elder of the Council of Life and the one who gets the final final say in most, if not all matters which are brought to the attention of the Council, will often first send out a small expeditionary team to do some exploration and reconnaissance work. These teams are almost never officially under an oath of loyalty to the Council of Life, and even more often the team is not a team of Zerocians at all, but Zeroc-piloted BioBots disguised as a different species of sentient lifeform altogether.
As for which species the Psychedelically advanced
Zerocian BioBot technology mimics, well, the Zeroc have many go-tos, favorites chosen based on how good of a fight they put up when their planets were reclaimed by the Zerocian empire: the Diba, which look like the more insect version of a cross between a dragonfly and a wyvern; the Hibi’Ra’X’Ckx, a large plant-based race that look like ten-foot tall flowers until all their pedals open up to reveal rows upon rows upon rows of razor-sharp, constantly regenerating and rotating teeth; the Kayemells (pronounced camels), beings which are identical to Earth walruses in body, mind, and soul, except for the fact that they possess complex telepathic and telekinetic abilities and, of course; the Boolevarians, a race of elephant-headed bipedal primates who stand a colossal three foot nothin’ that, for some indiscernible reason, are just terrible at picking up on cyclical patterns, especially when it comes to the fluctuation of temperature on their home planet Tlactrol.
That’s right, the Boolevarians still inhabit their homeworld, as do all the extraterrestrials that have been visited by the
Zeroc. As the current holder of the title Master Race of the Universe, the Zeroc are the champions of a certain expected level of respect that should be held between lifeforms of a certain level of consciousness – the only planets that get reclaimed are satellite planets, because stealing a race’s homeworld would be, just, so impolite. The Zeroc would hate to lose their Fuego to the hands of a lesser race, so why would they take away some other lifeform’s Fuego?
Consciousness, like autism, sexuality, and colors, operates on a spectrum here in Universe W-2020. Unlike that of autism, sexuality, and colors, the consciousness spectrum is vertical, the higher beings leading a much more aware and intelligent existence than the beings farting around on the lower levels. How it exactly works is a tad bit confusing; aside from the fact that one’s current consciousness level has to do with the vibrational frequency of one’s spiritual energy, which fluctuates on a moment to moment basis similarly to the value of interplanetary cryptocurrency, I don’t understand it all that well. I’m just scrivening whatever the mysterious source that’s beaming all of this into my brain is beaming into my brain when I slip into that lovely flow state that some humans claim miraculously heals them of life-threatening ailments. Anyway, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, let’s close the door and flip the deadbolt.
Ah, that’s right; so, the Council of Life will often send a crew of temp workers to scout out whatever planet they’re trying to invade, but Earth is no average planet. It’s the most average planet, and a planet this meticulously mediocre deserves a special team to ensure that everything doesn’t go as wrong as it possibly could. And who, of all the thousands of active Generals, Admirals, and Captains of the various arbitrary branches of the various arbitrary martial bodies under the command of the Council of Life, was chosen to lead the reconnaissance team?
The ‘Roc, the Myth, the Legend, of course.
The one and only.
Admiral Derrick Bolt.
Among the first appointed Admirals of his martial body, Bolt has served the
Zeroc Council of Life for longer than he’s capable of remembering. After achieving the status of Captain in the blink of an eye of only ten short decades in the ranks, Bolt swiftly made headlines with his sharpened wit, able body, and proclivity towards assembling the greatest teams in Zerocian thistory.
Not his-story, this-story.
“Greatness does not appear out of thin air,” he once said in a speech that he dicted upon his first graduating class. “No, it is forged in the thickest smog bubbling from the hottest fires captured from the brightest star and pressure-cooked in the collision point of two rogue planets. Yes, my recruits, you may only be Grunts today, but you are some of the most talented, and more importantly, the most skilled Grunts I have ever had the pleasure of training.
“Let’s talk about that, those two symbols I mentioned, talent and skill. Talent, well that comes naturally; it’s like wanting to smith and being born with dulled nerves, incapable of feeling heat and pain. Skill though, skill comes from eon after eon spent beating on your craft, taking that hot steel out of the forge and hammering it until you get the sharpest blade this side of Fuego. Then, you take that blade and pierce the guts of anybody that told you that you wouldn’t, and if they said you couldn’t? Well… I’d like to think I taught you better than to associate yourself with low-frequency energy like that.”
Admiral Bolt trained the finest legions the Council of Life had ever ordered, and amazingly enough, he accomplished everything in his life without the use of the Moksha Medicine – he’s one of the only surviving
Zerocians still living life in the ways of the old age of the species, before the power of harnessing the Z,Z-Dif Zoral Tryptamine crystals in their brain was realized. It was actually one of his own teams that brought the breakthrough to the race, the first team he ever put together – maybe that’s why he never dabbled in the mystic side of life.
“The new age is for the young, I’m of a different time. When you’ve been doing things one way for so long, you tend to perfect that way of doing things. Why fix what’s not broken when you can help others heal their wounds with what you have?”
Truly a great being, Bolt’s legacy will forever be an inspiration and role model to an innumerable number of Grunts, Captains, Admirals, Generals, and Chairseats alike with his recklessly clean record, save for that one, tiny, Onyx-black blip, the very blip that sent him spiraling downwards in a clockwise direction directly into the dark, frothy liquid bubbling inside of a darker brown bottle that he couldn’t breach the surface of even if he wanted to.
You see, no wall is truly impregnable, no strength is without weakness; even the mightiest shield can be rendered useless with enough blows from a quad-barreled shotgun loaded with dragon’s breath shells. Everyone has a breaking point, and for Bolt, that point broke along with his heart when he blew that moon to smithereens. It was the only call he could have made, and despite the various other options, it was the right call to make; he was sincerely acting in the best interest of his entire species, nay, of the entire Universe, but none of that mattered. All he can remember from that day is the frightened look on that little girl’s face when he tucked her into bed moments before he pressed the button and watched from the safety of Fuego as her whole world went up in flames.
‘All because I pressed that button…’
“Admiral Bolt, sir. We need you to press the button.”
Of course that was many, many decades ago and Bolt is far past his prime these days. He’s only called on for very specific types of missions, missions of a very specific gravity. Like, for example, the mission to set up a small base of operations in the forests of a certain settlement on Earth where an anomalous signal was picked up, the likes of which hasn’t been detected since before Bolt was even born.
This Earthly morning, just like that fateful day in space, Bolt is stared down by a choice he must make that will doubtlessly impact the lives of all involved, albeit in a significantly less mortal way. Below him are two bodies of water, one shaped like a horseshoe and one that is much, much larger, the larger being closer in proximity to the anomalous signal he and his crew were sent to investigate. Two reservoirs, two squads of highly trained extraction teams, one call: who goes where.
“All right slacks, listen up. Beta team, you will report with your Captain, Merciless Rex, to the lower lake. He will submerge your submersible and travel…” as he follows the imaginary line running through the almost river-shaped lower lake to the far end where it literally becomes a river, “…here, to the feeder point. That patch of forest, isolated from the potentially hostile population, is where we will set up basecamp. I will take Alpha squad,” as he smacks the projection, leaving another scuff on the wall of the terrestrial invasion craft, “to the upper reservoir, here, and do a quick sweep, reporting back to Rex if we come across anything that calls for reinforcements. When all is scanned and accounted for, I’ll jettison over the falls and link back up with you at camp. Soooouuuuunnnd acceptable?”
Zeroc draped in their form-fitting, light-bending and projectile-stopping martial armor click their heels and salute their superior. Moments later, after Bolt’s superior gives him the okay, the ships are launched, Rex’s dunking into the waters of the Wanapo Reservoir on the lower side of the Skunksville dam, and Bolt’s plummeting into Skunksville herself.
The water is murkier than Bolt’s perception was for the entire century after he destroyed the Onyx Moon. A plume of debris spouts up from the bottom and shrouds Bolt’s craft in lake muck before he can even look out the observation glass. He activates a proximity scan – no signs of life. That’s a good start. Cranking up the power, two portholes open beneath the observation glass and release slow-moving torpedo-like projectiles, armed not with a payload but with sensors; they travel to the other end of the lake and back in seconds, reporting a total lack of any and all life in the entire lake. The ground sweep reveals the ruined remains of a long-dead civilization and entire battalions of weapons that seem to be designed for fish to use.
A cold bead of sweat trickles down the side of Admiral Bolt’s head. “Computer, analyze the composition of all the debris in the water.”
The computer does just that, and the results send Bolt spiraling into an episode of brain fog-laced PTSD that his crew is not ready to witness.
“No wonder there are no fish in this lake… they’re all dead!”
Suddenly, after he’s tossed a Grunt clear across the floor to be caught by the unsuspecting bodies of two other Grunts, Bolt’s in the driver’s seat. He spins the craft and jets off towards the dam between the two lakes, leaving the torpedoes behind to be found in just a few moments by a very confused fisherman and his constantly stoned daughter.
Captain Rex, halfway to his destination on the far side of the Wanapo, gets very different results from his scan. Plenty of fish, an abandoned subterranean bunker-style structure that’s been devoid of inhabitants for at least five years now, a few house-like structures, and an ancient mass grave or two; nothing too out of the ordinary… that is, until a large blip approaches his submarine from the rear at speeds that shouldn’t be possible coming from a native population of such primitivity. He tells his warriors to man the guns, which they do, but no shots are fired; none except for the lasers coming out of Rex’s eyes when he sees Admiral Bolt flying past him, obviously in an attempt to beat him to the rendezvous point so he can brag about it later. ‘Asshole.’ Whatever – let the old dog have his day, it’s not like he’ll be learning new tricks anytime soon.