The Ravager, a powerful alien species of DNA-absorbing mutants, is attacking the civilized universe through the many gates of the Labyrinth, the web of wormholes that connects the universe together. The Corvo and the Iz’kal, former rivals, have formed a Coalition with the Human and the Raag to fight this neverending menace — and you are a key part of it. Your mission: bring the war to the Ravager, pursuing one of their Queens to extract vital intelligence from her brain to tip the scales of war in favor of civilization. Will you be up to the task?
~ Ravager Prologue by Jon Egia ~
Koitz, Queen Nor’s prime Alterant, was supervising his workers from above, tens of meters off the ground. From his vantage point, he could see the entire greenlit pavilion full of minions laboriously mending a myriad of biotic cocoons, designed to bring new Ravager spawns into this world. The latest batch was the product of fresh DNA collected from some Iz’kal monitoring station, and for the very first time he intended to create several infiltrators from this species. However, he would have to consult Tzix first, something he was not looking forward to doing. Why should he have to answer to anybody?
Deep within he knew he was superior to both Tzix and Nor. The former was little more than a glorified errand girl; while the latter, nothing more than a monstrous, decaying beast; a has-been long past her shelf life; one humongous foot already in the grave. Oh, how he abhorred Queen Nor. But he had to tread carefully and keep such thoughts to himself. No matter how many layers of encryption one used, there was always the danger of a braindata incursion.
If only his body were on par with his mind, things would be very different. Tzix was slyly thunderous; brutally powerful yet gracile. Nor was humongous, little short of a living planet, hosting dozens of anti-air missiles on her hull, millions of spawns within it. But Koitz was just a floating lump of flesh, modeled after some ridiculous aquatic octopod from a remote Corvo colony. He blamed his creators for this sham, whoever they had been.
The Alterant was feeling uneasy, and an urge he had been withholding was slowly starting to take root. He knew that the right product at the right dosage could pacify his brain, and knew how to obtain it.
Moving with bulking inelegance, he approached a biotank. With a minuscule brain impulse he dismissed the workers and stood alone before a quadruped animal within the tank, floating in amniotic liquid. “Codename: Roothound; origin: Sullivar”. He sent LinkWave orders to the organic machine, and the Roothound started to shrink, slowly, until nothing but the carcass of the animal was left. He gave a worker the exact instructions to prepare a concoction from the animal’s inner parts. When it was ready, he injected it in one of his tentacles and withdrew to his chambers.
He was waiting for the drug to kick in when a sudden, pulsing tremor invaded his mind. It was an urgent message from the advanced scouts, sent for Nor’s, Tzix’s, and his minds only. It informed them about an odd behavioral pattern in the Coalition Armada. They had started withdrawing their fleets from the battlelines towards the inner sections of their strongholds, leaving the Ravager a window of opportunity to strike hard. “Odd indeed”, he thought as the drug started showing its effects. He felt mildly euphoric and let out a soft, strange chuckle.
He tried to stay focused on the message, but got lost within himself, marveling at the unlikely existence of his being. How unlikely was it to be born an Alterant? One in a googolplex, maybe? How odd was it being, among all the sentient creatures in the universe, at the very top of the evolutionary pyramid? Which of the scam-Gods should he thank? The unlikeliness of his existence was only matched by the broad spectrum of its possibilities. There was no need to feel sorrow nor pity. He wasn't just an Alterant; he was the Alterant.
Then he heard a vaporous movement. It was Tzix, her menacing, six-limbed figure still and majestic. A true marvel of evolution.
“The message”, said the Herald.
“A trap”, responded Koitz with a sly smile, unable to control his facial muscles.
“Of course it is”, she confirmed. He could feel her condescending eyes piercing through his mind.
“Does Nor know?” Koitz couldn’t believe he managed to utter those words. He felt as wayward as a roothound cub.
Tzix scrutinized the Alterant’s thoughts and movements and pondered her answer. “Unsure. Rage blinds her.”
“How should we proceed?” He opened an empathetic line with Tzix. They were on the same page now.
“Wait and see”, she said, cold as a razor blade, before leaving swiftly.
“Wait and see”, he repeated to himself, alone again in his chamber.
Looking into the formidable void within, he vowed never to do drugs again. It caused him to make dangerous choices.
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