“As I said, resources.” The alien said. He could speak perfect English, although it sounded… off. Weird. Different. Just not entirely.. right. But perfectly understandable.
“You came here, waged war on us, destroyed us, for resources?” The representative of the USA asked in a huff.
“Yes, do you not do the same, American? don’t all of your kind do the same? We just did it to your whole planet.” It curled its mouth in what people now knew was a smile. It still looked odd, with its slimy skin. Like a morbidly obese person smiling in between puffed cheeks while profusely sweating.
“Yes, we understand. But, why did you leave without any then? You did not take any with you, correct?” The alien looked at the man speaking. Tom Haskell, the man appointed to sit in the same room as the alien and not, like all the others, behind several safety measures like bulletproof glass.
“No, we did not. We were still in the process of eradicating you when we had to leave.”
“And why did you have to leave?”
“Because of the Illiad.”
“Ah yes, wait, I think you call them… pyramids? Or some such. You have quite some structures similar to it on your world.”
“Yes, we know,” Tom said as he looked at the alien. It brought memories to mind of Jabba the Hut. When it did not reply, Tom pressed on. “So, why did these make your people leave?”
“We know about them, they are bad news. So we leave.”
“You did not.”
“No, as you know, Tom, my people left me behind because I spared some of you.” The alien sounded offensive now, the first bit of emotion that it had put into its speech.
“And we thank you for that,” Tom lied. The alien had not really saved any humans as much as was hoarding them for private use. Apparently children were seen as a delicacy for some of his kind. “But could you tell us a bit more about the pyramids. Why do they scare your kind.”
“Oh the pyramids don’t scare us silly thing. It is what they mean that scares us.”
“What do they mean?”
“You have lived on this planet for thousands of yours, and you don’t remember? Haven’t even rediscovered it? You truly are worthy of being eradicated human.” The alien said annoyed. Then made a noise that Tom assumed was a sigh and continued. “The Illiad are a sort of mark. A warning sign. Most of the civilisations in the Galaxy know them, or find out their meaning eventually.”
“A warning? For what? By who?”
“By the Vastri, and before you ask, they are an ancient species. They have roamed the galaxy, all of it. You can find their remnants in the furthest corners. But they no longer remain. Why none know. and of their remains, the Illiad is the most renown. For their practical use as a warning device.”
“So, they warn us. But for what?”
“Not you, us, others. They warn us to not come near this planet. To not settle on it. To not deal or trade with it. For it is tainted and cursed. For it holds one of the Avrath Kall.”
“And what are those?” Tom asked as he looked at the messages on his tablet. Most of them pushing him to keep asking, some of them theorizing this is all some fine alien bullshit.
“The Avrath Kall are ancient, just as the Vastri. Perhaps even more ancient, some of our brightest star minds have theories about how some of the Avrath Kall were considered Ancient even in the time of the Ancients. But we know the Vastri fought them, for ages, and in the end managed to overcome most of them. The Vastri did not believe in eradication like we do though and so they contained all of them onto planets. Some say the Vastri were not even capable of defeating them fully and therefore settled for locking them in. Some others say that the locking in was only a temporary measure, and that is why the Vastri eventually left us.”
“Wait so, these Avrath Kall, what are they exactly?”
“Silly human, they are species. Like yours, or mine. Ancient though, and things made in curse and doom. The Vastri considered them dangerous. To understand what this means, you need to understand the immense power of the Vastri. They could wield the power of entire suns, create or destroy planets in their superstructures. Their grasp of the Venessence was enormous. Nothing we can think up now would be even able to dent them. So when they fear something so much that they lock it away on planets, you leave it alone.”
“Venessence? The magical mist you talked about before?”
“Not magic mist, human, it is the realm you can access with a greater mind. You do not seem to understand your predicament.”
“You live on a cursed world. Branded a prison by the most sublime and strong beings that ever existed, to hold the most wretched. You live, in essence, on a ticking bomb. Whatever the Vastri put away here, it is still here, I am certain. And it will wake, they always do. We have seen other planets like yours, and there too we saw life. But on each one, eventually, the Avrath Kall wake, and consume, and then go to sleep again. As the Illiad forces them too, whenever they try to leave or become too strong.”
“So you have seen some of the Varath Kall then? Awake?”
“What did they look like?”
“Human, your question is senseless. The Avrath Kall are many species. One can look like you, the other like me. There is not one, there is many.”
“But the ones you saw, describe them?”
“I did not see them as this was before my time, but I have read descriptions. They have been described as tall, three humans in height, two in with. Skin a deep red, the colour of your blood or my eyes. Talons of silver, the metal not the colour. Long tails with bones of tungsten embedded in them, seemingly designed to murder and kill. We had set up a rudimentary trading deal with the life on the planet, they proved to be incredibly delicious and were willing to give up every child in two of every generation to us. But the Avrath Kall killed them all in a single cycle of its satellite. We lost some of our own in the rampage. We tried to fight them, but it was senseless, so we left the planet. Not soon after we saw the Illiad activating. A glorious sight.”
“You fought them?”
“Tried to, but lost. Our weapons were effective enough, but they did not fear death. Their physique was superior too, they could take many wounds and keep fighting. They could endure heavy pain and still keep fighting. It was truly only luck that saved us, as it was only a month before our tests would start with the Illiad.”
“Yes, as you know, we look for resources. Valuable resources. The Illiad can be considered the most valuable. Collectors would pay fortunes the size of empires for it. The problem is that they are impenetrable. You can not pick loose a single rock of them. As long as they are active. Impossible to reach the Venessence as well. Their divine cloak covers the planet.”
“And so you tried to turn it off,” Tom said with big eyes as he made the realization. Quickly sending a text to make sure none of the others would reveal it yet. “endanger yourself, perhaps the whole galaxy. For a profit?”
“Of course, that is what we are as a people. But even for us, that was too much risk. No matter the possible profit.”
“So, in theory, how would you deactivate the Illiad?” The alien laugh long and hard after Tom had asked his question.
“Human, do you think me a fool? Do you think I did not see your eyes light up when I told you about how you can destroy the Illiad once deactivated, how you could reach the Venessence? I shall not reveal these secrets to you. Low filth like you are unworthy of touching or even wielding the Venessence. And after my great people put aside the profits for selling an Illiad, why would I allow an inferior race endanger the galaxy? I will not.”
“Are you certain?” Tom asked, with a sly grin.
“Yes…” The alien said and for the first time in all of their talks, Tom finally saw a hint of uncertainty.
“That is too bad, you have been quite helpful so far. If you had disclosed this, I could have saved you, perhaps.”
“Save me? Human, you are inferior, you can not hope to touch me.” The alien said, but Tom knew it did not believe its own words.
“My fists perhaps not, but my tools will. Tell me something else, alien. These Avrath Kall you fought, how did you fight them? Like you fought us?”
“No, we did not possess the means we possess now. Laying waste to a planet with such intense orbital bombardment and disintegration was not in our armament back then. We fought them on the ground, as soldiers. “
“Yes, although more advanced than anything you have. Even back then.”
“Yes, and so would you agree that what makes the Avrath Kall so dangerous is their superior physique and ability to survive trauma and, I assume once they have access to it, their superior control of the Venessence. Perhaps on par even with the ancient Vastri?”
“Yes human, this is all common knowledge for my people. We researched and translated. The Vastri fought and knocked down every single Avrath Kall for they possessed the same abilities as themselves, and where the only try competition.”
“Then answer me this, alien,” Tom said finally. “How do you know us Humans are not the Avrath Kall of this planet.” The alien laughed again.
“Human, you are puny.”
“How do you know, you only defeated us with weapons that obliterated everything, weapons that if you had used them in the past, would have been perhaps just as effective.”
“Your bodies are weak, Human.”
“Yet we have a rich history of warfare, brutal, gruesome warfare, and humans surviving it. Surviving excessive trauma, losing limbs, organs.”
The alien paled now. “Human, you are not trying to tell me that your weak kind can survive those things. You are beneath us.”
“Commander Miller can you stand up and show your right arm to our guest please?” Tom said.
behind the window above a well-decorated soldier stood up and showed his right arm, or rather, the stump of it. The alien paled more.
“Wha-what? That is… impossible.”
“Oh no, we have quite some among us who miss limbs. Due to combat or accidents or conditions. Even the weakest among us have a decent chance of surviving such a thing.”
“So this is why you wanted me to speak about deactivating them! You curse! You wish to leave your prison. But you won’t, I will never reveal anything to you!”
Tom laughed again. “Here,” He said, sliding some pictures towards the alien.
“What are these?”
“Close up pictures of our ‘Illiad’, I assume your kind did not take a very good look at them.”
“Why? What do you mean you demon…” The alien said and suddenly stopped, making their version of a gasp as he saw them. “Impossible!”
“Not quite, they have been like that for quite a while now.”
“They are broken! They no longer work?”
“Well,’ Tom said as he grinned. “we were not really sure. But since our previous chats we have been looking into this Venessence you have talked about, and well.” Tom stopped talking and held up his hand, palm upwards. In a sudden moment, a silvery flame lighted up inside of it. Bright, soaring and roaring.
The alien gasped and shrieked, ducking back, held only in place by the chains. “Demon! Impossible! It has only been forty cycles of your moon! How can you control this much power!”
“Much? I don’t think this is much, I have only unlocked it three days ago, sorry, three moon cycles. There are others among us who have been going at it for two weeks already. You should see what they can do.”
“No… that can not be, only the strongest of our Venessenci can bring forth this much power in the simple spark you hold.” The aliens many eyes went wide, teary. “This… this is the power the Vastri feared. This is power that rivals their own. You… you really are Avrath Kall.”
“It seems so,” Tom said with a grin. “And I thank you fo your knowledge, sadly, it was lacking.” And with a wave Tom said the alien alight, with the strange silver fire that came from a distant realm. Everybody watched until the alien stopped screeching and was turned into a strange, purple ash.
“Good work Tom, we know for sure now.” A voice said over the intercom. “It is time we Humans took up our place in this galaxy.”