The Khaara are Here

Shifter6Shifter6 Join Date: 2017-01-11 Member: 226556Members Posts: 40 Fully active user
edited March 2017 in Fan-Fiction Forum
Below is the (hopefully) first part of something much larger, but life makes it hard to dedicate myself to writing so I cannot guarantee significant additions any time soon. That being said, I do edit and reread my writing fairly often, and would be happy to address any feedback you may have. As always, constructive feedback with rationale, along with any thoughts about the story, is strongly preferred but of course any other comments are welcome.
Without further ado, this is my attempt at compiling natural selection 2 information and experience, along with my knowledge of biology and science fiction, into a story about the war man has waged with the Khaara:

The Khaara are Here Draft 5 The city loomed in the distance, its shield bubble glinting in the evening sun’s rays. Its tall, slick structures casted a steely glow into the forest. Within the rapidly darkening foliage, a pair of orange eyes burned softly. Scythed feet pricked the earth beneath them, a pair of powerful feral jaws slowly moving as the creature looked on in silence. “Soon”, the hive whispered. The skulk turned around and sprinted into the underbrush, jumping off trees, leaving gashes in the trunks.
The creature quickly reached a clearing, one covered in a pulsing green coat of living tissue. Not a single animal per say, but a colony of microorganisms that crash landed on a meteorite a week ago. A large, eye like body hung suspended from the canopy. It moved as though it was breathing, and swayed softly in the evening breeze. Around it were other skulks, some sleeping, some eating mangled animal corpses, and some on watch. The scout skulk returned silently. There was no need for communication on this infested land, as the microbes touching the skulk’s feet instantly carried thoughts to the hive. “We strike tomorrow night” it said, not with speech, but with an inaudible thought that moved instantly into the minds of each individual alien creature. “We must prepare ourselves”. The feasting skulks dropped their meals and began to move close to the hive, leaving only bones to the slow consumption of the infestation. The skulks sank into the microbial mat and in their place grey eggs appeared. Rapid evolution. Not new to the Khaara.
The scout skulk climbed a nearby infested tree and relaxed into an upper branch. Tonight’s work was done. As long as no humans reported their presence, the Khaara could prepare without disturbance. The scout skulk watched with vague interest as the hive sent out orders to other organic bodies under its control. Most Khaara lifeforms obeyed without question. And off infestation, the stupid creatures slowly died. The skulk was glad it did not suffer the same fate as the crag, a coral like body that served only to provide additional Khaara cells to the wounded. These crags had no thoughts, no intelligence. Only obedience. Skulks however, and other animal like creatures, could function with no difficulty off infested land, and had the ability to think on their own. This freedom allowed the alien creature to fall asleep to the slow sounds of the hive’s work.
The next morning, loud sounds accompanied the early sunlight, promptly waking the slumbering skulk. His eyes darted down to the shaking eggs on the forest floor. Holes began to appear in their shells, green tinted appendages emerging. The evolution was complete. The creatures that hatched looked somewhat like their two foot tall skulk cousins, but lacked scythed feet, had dull teeth, and were much wider in size. These new alien lifeforms shook off their embryotic fluid and slowly looked around. One of them burped and released a thick, green, Khaara laced mucus. It blinked and proceeded to make a grunting sound. “These are gorges my children. Their mucus restores lost cells in Khaara lifeforms, from crags to skulks. Their utility is nothing short of exceptional.” The hive proudly proclaimed. The gorge that burped was rather stunned by its evolution, so it took some time to create and destroy balls of green tissue, or clogs, in front of itself and jump around on its stubby legs.
The remaining eggs however, continued to sit around the hive as the rest of the gorges plodded away from their hatching grounds. Many of the skulks climbed down from the trees around the gorges to examine the new lifeforms. But the scout skulk was instructed to leave, and continue stalking the human nest. He ran out into the forest, leaving more gashes in the trees he jumped from. Again he took up his usual post atop the rise, watching the city from across the valley, its shield continuing to create a soft blue light. The skulk silently crept into the chasm separating the forest from the city, scythed feet easily granting the creature footing as he descended. He bound swiftly through the sparse valley vegetation, pausing only when he heard footsteps. Suddenly, a mechanic clank echoed throughout the canyon. The skulk stopped dead in his tracks, then slunk into a nearby alcove about fifteen feet up the chasm’s walls. Then he waited. Soon, tall bipedal humans tromped beneath the alcove and began discussion in loud voices.
“That ferrous vein has earned us more money then we’ll ever spend!”
“You can say that again Frank, and with no Khaara in sight we can keep on mining!”
“Yeah, since depletion isn’t happening any time soon, and with the new mining facilities going up this year, our production rate is going to be higher than ever!” the man “Frank” said.
The scout skulk waited patiently for the hive’s response. He knew the hive could hear the two humans beneath him. His instructions were simple. Track. The order made the scouting skulk ready a small case in his mouth. He then shot the case with incredible precision into the leather jacket of one of the two men. Thinking a runaway pebble had hit him, “Frank” looked irate for a second, brushed his jacket, and continued walking with his coworker. This gave the ruptured case plenty of time to hatch small parasites that latched on to the man’s clothing and moved throughout it. Their intentions were to mindlessly inform every nearby Khaara of their location. Perfect for gathering intelligence. The scout skulk, no longer needed to keep tabs on the two men, heard the sound of footsteps fading, then continued up the canyon walls.
After steadily climbing up the rock and stiff plants that lined the deep canyon, the skulk snuck up to a large gate. He carefully maneuvered under a passing cargo transport and waited to enter the city. The grey transport truck moved slowly through the crowded streets, never able to surpass a crawl, and was constantly starting and stopping. The sounds of numerous human voices made the skulk’s hackles raise instinctively and a low growl escape him. None of the chaos of voices was intelligible, to the hive’s irritation. Soon enough the truck neared the skulk’s destination. Unfortunately, the skulk didn’t have too much time, as his stop was very close to a security checkpoint cordoning off the outer and inner limits of the city. If he was discovered, death was inevitable, both for him, and for the hive. He felt the truck start again towards the gate, noted that it was almost brushing against an alleyway, and jumped off the transport. The alley was straddled by two large skyscrapers, the skulk climbing delicately up the metallic walls with ease and peering into the superstructures. He then crept into an air duct and silently passed into the building’s interior. He systematically left parasites on one human per room as he continued along the ventilation structure. When he finally emerged from the building, dusk was setting in. The skulk patiently waited until the coast was clear, then ducked into a sewage grate and descended into the public sewage system. He crawled across the ceilings of the mazelike passage ways, following the flowing water. When the skulk reached the exit, he joined the water in its escape into the valley. The darkening trees swallowed up the creature, and there was no way of knowing anything was amiss.
The hive had been busy, the skulk noted upon his return. Defense had been increased thanks to the new gorges, as clog walls had been set up around the main perimeter, the tops of them bristling with red spined structures, hydras he was told, that twisted and writhed in the night breeze. The hunt had been successful as well, with almost a dozen skulks eating fresh corpses of hapless forest creatures. The infestation was also hungry, as bones were visibly being consumed by the slow digestion of the formless mass of Khaara cells.

“You have done well 2” the hive cooed in the skulk’s mind
“The city is not well defended” 2 responded
“It is not, but the TSF will come almost instantly should we attack a place that is so valuable” the hive responded “No, tonight we will take different humans’ blood”
“The western settlement?” 2 asked
“Yes. With our new life forms, we shall remove all of our threats to the west and have full control of the forest” the hive almost chuckled
“And how will the TSF not be notified?” 2 sneered
“Because of the gorges my child” the hive stated
2 nodded, yet an irate gleam persisted in his orange eyes. He looked onto the eggs that remained in the clearing. The hive spoke again.
“Soon the winged lerks will hatch, and they will aide us in this fight. They offer utility, even in small numbers, that skulks and even gorges cannot.”
2 snorted, slowly pacing off to his sleeping tree. He knew he was invaluable to the hive. He knew the hive would have died without him. Higher lifeforms be damned 2 thought. The hive didn’t respond. Must have been too busy with invasion preparations. The skulk settled down for a quick nap before the raid.
Waking up to the sound of shrieks, 2 cast wary eyes at the nesting grounds. Gorges lumbered up for a closer look, and the rest of the arboreal skulks watched curiously. The remaining eggs from the night before burst open, revealing strange winged creatures with grotesquely thin bodies and jaws with horns on either side dripping with venom. Suddenly, one of them cawed, and shot spikes into a nearby tree, shattering bark and creating a thin, green mist. The gorges cowered away into the underbrush, and the skulks disappeared into the canopy, their orange eyes the only symbol of their continued presence and curiosity. 2 however looked almost bored, and lazily watched the newborns unsteadily flap their new wings. Then the lerks were airborne. They performed incredible acrobatics, dodging the dense vegetation with ease and jockeying midair, claws tangled in playful fighting. However, they quickly tired and landed in the uppermost tree branches, above where most of the skulks were comfortable sleeping, and rested, exhausted from their first flight.
A small lerk on unsteady wings glided to 2’s branch, clumsily landing beside him in a tangle of claws and wings. 2 looked at it with a smirk and waited. Nobody shared sleeping spots in the Khaara order, and 2 had fought claw to claw with many of the other skulks for this particular tree. The hive rarely intervened in life form disputes, as for the most part nobody was seriously injured and low risk fights were rare for the Khaara. But the hive broke the rules tonight. “This was 15, 2” it said, referring to the small lerk. “She is female, and will eventually take a higher life form name of her own, perhaps of our choosing. You will be her caretaker, and she will shadow you as much as possible.”
“Very well” grumbled 2, as he tried to ignore the new life form sharing his residence. He snapped a bark at another skulk that was jeering at him from a neighboring tree. He couldn’t allow this to make him weak. Ever since he earned the hive’s graces and asserted his dominance as the lead skulk, nobody dared challenge him. 2 was the number one. Nothing else came close. And this little lerk was about to be painfully aware of that. He growled at her and sent her the message to sleep while she could before the fight tonight.

“Awake” the hive commanded
The black trees lit up with thirty pairs of orange eyes. Gorge, skulk, and lerk all descended into the clearing and waited. 2 and 15 however, stayed in the branches.
“Now we must consume and conquer the creatures that have sought to destroy our kind. Now we must remind them of who is the most feared lifeform in the universe. Now we must attack.”
Orange eyes glinted with malice, with instinctual urges to avenge. The leaves rustled and were silent. The clearing was suddenly empty save for the hive, the slowly swaying hydras, and the creaking of the crags. The lone skulk-lerk pair looked up to the hive.
“You two” the hive started “Will be the most important tonight. You must work together to infiltrate the inner communications relay of the encampment. When that is completed, the settlement will fall and the lands to the west are ours.”
2 needed no more information. The hive was already giving him and 15 the locations of the entryways to the com buildings, and the personnel that resided in them. 2 sprang into the underbrush, etching more marks on the already scored tree trunks. His companion was forced to fly at full speed behind, barely able to keep up with the fast paced maneuvering of her mentor. The trees became a black mass of walls and turns as 2 continued to run, leap, jump, run.
15 heard the sounds of the rest of the Khaara off to her right, the undergrowth from the ground and the leaves of the trees rustling their disturbance. She could hear their sounds diminishing as they overtook the rest of the attacking lifeforms, and realized how clumsy they were compared to the almost complete silence of 2’s travel. 15 herself knew she was not very quiet as her wings were beating quickly, and louder than she liked, to keep up the pace.
Suddenly the two Khaara lifeforms broke out of the forest and stopped before a large concrete wall. Above it was a flat-topped roof and a large satellite dish. There was an air duct hatch about five feet up the wall, warm air blowing out in a soft breeze. 2 looked at 15 and settled into a lying down position, waiting. 15 realized he was expecting her to act, to solve this problem on her own. She looked at the grate above her, and flew up to investigate. She perched on a gutter pipe and peered at the grate’s structure, quickly picking out the four screws that held it tight to the shaft’s exit. 15 grinned and shot spikes at the screws, and with a slight metallic pinging sound, the grate was shot off of the duct. 2 silently jumped up to grab the item in his mouth, and he gently set it down. 15 was embarrassed that she didn’t account for the loud clatter that could have ensued and drooped her head slightly in apology. 2 just gave her a slightly amused expression, before he scaled the wall and entered the shaft. 15 had no choice but to follow.

Once inside, the two Khaara creatures silently maneuvered to the security room through the vents, passing what seemed like endless numbers of bored, exhausted workers. 15 stopped and looked at the humans beneath her through the slats of the vent. She was curious as to what their position in the human pack order they had. 2 made a low, almost undetectable growl to carry on and quit lollygagging. The lerk put on her best sheepish face and continued her slow, quiet crawl through the vents. When they reached the security room’s vent exit, 2 signaled to wait.
“You have done well my children” the hive whispered “When everything else is in order, you strike”
“Understood” the two replied
The hive then retreated from their consciousness. The two waited in perfect silence, the skulk with hackles raised and teeth bared in silent rage, the lerk poised to snap her wings open and fight with spike and tooth. Then a strange sound startled them out of their mood. A loud, rumbling banging erupted from the vents, making 2 and 15 turn around in shock. A gorge trundled up to them and plopped himself on the vent floor next to them with a clang.
“Damnit 24!” the hive snapped “What are you doing out of position?!”
“Sorry” the gorge replied in a slow, stupid, yet determined voice “But I felt I should be here”
“Now isn’t the time for feeling!” the hive seethed, as the humans below them began to look for the source of the odd sounds. One reached for a phone tied to the computer network.
“Attack now! Before they contact the TSF!” the hive almost shrieked
The vent cover blew off and the skulk, lerk, and gorge leapt from the ceiling. The skulk instantly killed the first startled human he saw by impaling his throat with one of his sickle like claw-feet, and the lerk shot spikes into the security guards flanking them with weak pistols. 2 saw the man with the phone drop the item un-dialed and freeze. “Perfect” the hive cooed “No TSF notification”. 15 flew over 2 and bit a clean hole in the man’s chest, blood spilling onto his security jacket and the body quickly collapsing onto the floor, the almost sweet smell of her venom lingering after his death. The gorge however, ignored the fray, and plodded up to the security network to spit nasty smelling bile onto the computer systems, the sounds of electrical sparks sizzling a noisy accompaniment to the sounds of violence.
The room then fell silent, save for the occasional sparking from the fried electrical systems. The gorge and lerk exchanged happy glances while 2 gave both a scowl.
“Now” the hive ordered
Silence. Silence. The sound of 24 burping. Silence. The sound of 15’s wings softly shifting in discomfort. Silence. Silence. Then a scream. Then another scream. A sudden wail of alarms permanently ended the quiet, the frantic calls of the wounded, dead, and dying men making an awful symphony with the caws and howls of the Khaara lifeforms. Nobody was armed, and nobody was ready. 2, 15, and 24 broke down the security door and looked at the battlefield. Room after room was stained with blood, bodies, and the smell of lerk venom. They reunited with the Khaara force and swept the complex for any other human presence. Satisfied, the alien creatures left the building in a swarm of rage and primal calls, no longer in fear of alerting the TSF. The lerk, skulk, and gorge waited on the com building’s roof and watched the destruction occur below them. 2, a bored look on his face, retreated into the com building, making sure nobody secretly alerted the Khaara’s biggest enemy. 24 turned towards the large satellite dish and covered it in bile, causing a shower of sparks to hit him and 15, who leapt into the air in startled confusion. He chuckled and told her he did 2’s job, but better. “But don’t tell him” he said, quietly turning again towards the sounds of death. There was not much else to say, and the hive’s orders weren’t for them so they tuned it out. They marveled at how easy it was to kill so many people so fast. The hive seemed almost irrationally scared of them, and to an extent, so did 2. Why? The little lerk thought.
It was that thought that plagued her as they reconvened with the attack force, went over casualties, and returned to the hive. She would ask him tomorrow, she thought, as she and 2 settled on the branch to sleep together, the first flecks of red dawn coloring the trees.
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