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Short Stories

Background lore pieces published on the website as event kick-offs.  

Maffoid Backstory: The Rise of Warchief Kazrak

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Warchief Morgool Kazrak stood at the edge of the cliff and watched the preparations of his young warriors. How they smote their chests and danced round the little piles of human skulls. They were preparing for Kalashah, a coming-of-age battle in remembrance of the Great Betrayal. The Great Betrayal had been repeatedly slashed into their collective memory for decades. Since the early days of the Maffoid it had been enshrined and preserved in countless rituals. Hate was the very cornerstone of their faith. They hated the colonists, yet the true cause of their hate had been long forgotten. They only knew they had been terribly wronged. They had forgotten that once they had been human. Many years before when the robot attacks began they had been caught outside the protective walls. They fled back to the city but the gates were closed to them: they had been exposed to radiation and those inside feared them. They were Untouchables. Unclean. They wailed and beseeched the occupants, begging for mercy. They beat their fists bloody against the barriers; imploring their brothers, sisters, mothers to let them in. But instead they shut them out. Left them behind. Left them to die while they boarded the Exodus and flew to safety. They had forgotten what happened afterwards. How they had been racked with pain, screaming and stumbling through the wastelands like rabid dogs. How many had perished. How a few had lived only to see milky cataracts cover their once clear eyes and their skin slowly toughen and crack like dried leather. Their minds grew gnarled and twisted like ancient oaks. They soon forgot who they were. What they were. Or what they once were: they became less human by the day. Still, they had enough human in them to hate. Enough to hate both the colonists and each other. And Morgool Kazrak carried more hatred than any of them. He had good cause. His father Landok had been undisputed warchief for twelve years. Yet one day he’d been challenged by a mere pup. The pup somehow defeated him. The pup won the chiefdom. Then he inflicted the ultimate act of cruelty: he let Landok live. Shamed and despised for his weakness, Landok was broken. He lived in a daze of misery and disbelief. More importantly all the Kazraks were now considered pathetic and contemptible. They were beaten and spat on. Food was stolen from them. Their very presence was an insult. But it only served to make Morgool stronger. His blind anger carried him through. Some would have broken under the strain, but Morgool seemed born to fight. He quickly fought his way to the top of the pecking order and killed anyone who stood in his way. One of the first to die was his own father. To purge the blight on the Kazrak name. Eventually he obliterated all his enemies. The Kazrak runt born of a weakling became the all powerful Warchief Morgool Kazrak. Morgool shook with rage at these memories. Damn his father. Damn anyone who stood in his way. No regrets. No self-pity, that was for weaklings. Only forward. Only through. He turned to gaze at the warriors at his disposal. His loyal followers. But they were only loyal because he was strongest. They would kill him the moment he gave them half a chance. And there were some that were inching closer to challenging him. He was getting older now. Not as quick and strong as he used to be. Any serious challenge was a long way off. But still. A fight was always unpredictable... Perhaps it was time to be cunning? Why not distract them? Let them vent their anger and frustration on The Betrayers! Away from home. Away from local politics. Away from him. Morgool marvelled at his own ingenuity. Little did he know he was employing a strategy that had been used by governments and tyrants since ancient times. He gathered himself. Stepped up to the edge of the cliff. His podium. Show time. “Maffoids, your attention! Ask yourselves ‘what is the meaning of Kalashah?’. It is so our young ones prove themselves by tasting the blood of The Betrayer! But this year, I order that we ALL take part in Kalashah! For the lands that have been taken from us. For our glory. For our revenge. For THE GREAT BETRAYAL!” The roar from the crowd shook the earth.

Hunter Becomes The Hunted

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We have received a report from a brave Calypsian concerning the recent incursions. ========= "I’m a hunter. I spend a lot of time alone. Out there in the fields and marshes. It’s home. I used to sneer at the ‘city types’. Traders and auctioneers. Those who need four walls and a warm bed at night. Weak, I used to call them. Soft. But now it’s different. Now I’ve seen things. Things that make me think twice about venturing out alone. Let me explain. I was out stalking a Berycled east of Atlas Haven. I followed her all morning till she finally stopped to feed in a mountain valley. Settled myself behind a rock and took aim. There she was. I finally had her in my sights! I started to squeeze the trigger. And then I heard it. That insectile sound. Then a rumbling like thunder. I’d never heard it before, but I knew the rumours. I knew what it was. I dropped the rifle and started running towards my Valkyrie - it was only 100 metres away! I thought I would make it. But at that moment it rounded the base of the mountain. As a young lad I was excellent at biology, and at that horrifying moment my mind (for some inexplicable reason) could not help but examine this monster in biological terms. It hissed and bobbed its long, segmented neck like a leach searching for blood. But unlike a leech, it wasn’t blind. It could see me, I could tell. It’s largest eye held me in its gaze, pulsing with rotten yellow light. Surrounding this central eye were four smaller ‘eyes’, each probing the air independently on stalks. Altogether the head resembled a scolex: the head of a tapeworm surrounded by suckers and teeth to hook onto the host’s intestine. And then I thought: ‘this thing is going to eat my guts’. It came closer. It was barely 10 metres away from me now. It had no expression, but from its stance I could tell it enjoyed my fear. It was toying with me. Then there was a deep booming sound that came from somewhere behind the mountain. It stopped suddenly. It angled its head to one side, as if it was puzzled. And then I understood. It was giving me up. With one last glare it turned around and stomped back behind the mountain. And then I saw something I will never forget. There were suddenly swarms of them. Trooping past me barely 50 metres away. They didn’t seem to care about my presence. They seemed intent on marching. All towards the East. I will be in either Atlas Haven, Fort Troy or Camp Echidna this weekend to keep watch. Any other hunter who thinks as I do should do the same. For the sake of all Calypsians."

A Bug's Eye View

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Keep Digging! Dig dig dig! Nothing here. Nothing! Rock too hard. Can’t break rock no can’t too hard can’t do it can’t she’ll be angry! Too late Queen sees weakness. Get low. Lower show submission eat dirt. Yach yuck tastes bad. Show submission. Fine now. Passed on. Hate her. HATE her! Wish she was dead! No don’t think it! Just hive brain hive brain hive brain. Hive brain is safe. Hive brain is best. Bend to hive brain. Break to hive brain. Submit, get low. I am nothing. NOTHING. Only scrap slithering wormish. Just nothing only hive. Empty Be Empty. Calm calm be calm... I serve only serve and obey. It is passed. Passed! Yes! I am happy. Happy now! Wonderful! Dig! Yes dig is good! Keep Digging. SO happy now! Dig to serve. Dig be happy. Dig! [...] Battle? What Battle? Why battle not dig? Dig is good, yes? Battle is risk. Is light is pain is Soft-Shells is blind is...NO NO NO PLEASE! WILL DO IT I BEND I BREAK I SERVE NO QUESTIONS! I SERVE PLEASE NO MORE! My Queen I beg you. My shell broken, bloodied by your Holy Bite please I am nothing. Shattered claw crushed in Sweet Affliction please I am nothing. Graced by your touch. My Queen please no more please PLEASE I do anything! I die? Yes, oh yes! Die for Queen! For Queen. Was weak. PATHETIC weak weak weak! But I will prove. PROVE! Will fight. Will rip them tear them hate them HATE them! But not alone. Never alone. All is Hive. Hive is roaring. Hive is thrashing Hive is swarming biting gnawing gnashing Hive is crawling up! To Soft-Shells! To battle! We are HIVE! And Hive will FEED!

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