City of the Orkogre

I dug up old sketches I drew when I was a teenagers, inspired by various things.  For a time, I was writing a “book” called Galactic Rebellion.  It was overly influenced by Star Wars, but I also drew in other influences as time went on (Flash Gordon, primarily).  I started it when was fairly young and continued onward into my teenage years.  This drawing (that I enhanced with Photoshop) was a set of ruins that some characters found on a desert world, during a time that I decided to redirect the book and introduce new characters.

The book took place in a fictional region of space where humans arrived from “elsewhere” … probably Earth, but that’s long forgotten … and conquered it after a war with the dominant species, the Sarginians.  Since the war, the humans made peace with the Sarginians, as well as other races like Urians.  I never gave the region a name but I imagined it to be a couple of sectors with dozens of planets – some discovered, some undiscovered.  The humans somehow became separated from their core (Earth) and eventually decided to live on their own.  The existence of the Core was long erased from history by authorities simply to stop people from falsely hoping to one day return.  Human schools, libraries, local and system governments all agreed to eliminate any reference to the Core and let people live their own lives here.  Humanity probably claimed a new world as their home-world and that was what was taught for several generations.  Questions of where they came from were answered with myth, legend, and religious references.  

A century or so after the “disconnection”,  an Alliance government was formed to rule over the region.  However, deep seeded hatreds and racial tensions continue to grow within human society as factions with the humans believe they should rule over the region, subjugating the other races.  One particular political leader has risen through the ranks as a leader of the pro-human movement.  His name is Ambassador Sparx.  He planned and executed a military takeover of  the Grand Alliance Council, arrested any pro-alien and alien members, and enforced his will by taking over the newly constructed asteroid base super weapon (yea, my own knock-off of the Death Star).


The Ruins

“Crawler all repaired.  We’re ready to move out, sir.” said the mechanic Fraklin.  The team had been waiting for several hours in the desert heat for their mechanic to finish.  I hate this gods forsaken desert world, thought Morsonor.  He stood from the shade of their vehicle to rally is team of ten New Alliance soldiers – a special operations team in service to the New Alliance of Emperor Sparx.

“Alright, troopers! All aboard and move out!” They all boarded the crawler up the rear ramp in an orderly and disciplined fashion. “The hunt is back on!”  Their mission was only supposed to take five standard days, has now extended into it’s third standard week.  Sand storms, guerrilla attacks from an unknown assailant, and equipment malfunctions have plagued the team since they landed here.  The brass called this world Vapalger II.  They just called it Dustball.  Their target was a team of marauders and more specifically their leader hiding out on this planet.  They were never given a reason other than their grand leader ordered it.

“Heading, sir?”  the driver asked, although he knew the answer.

“Follow the beacon’s coordinates.  That’s all we know at this point.” Morsonor had a bad feeling about this.

The remote drone dropped a hunter-beacon on this world once it detected what was presumed to be the marauders presence on planet.  The hunter-beacon is a walking robotic signal beacon that hones in to a specific target based on parameters entered intoit , and stealthily follows that target until told not to.  Very high-tech hunting pointer dogs.   The grand leader Sparx has allocated considerable resources to hunt these marauders down.  No one knew why.  Thousands of remote drones were sent out into the void from Sparx’s asteroid base orbiting the Central system to find these marauders.

The crawler’s engines grew from a low whine to a high pitched roar, plowing through the red-orange sands of Dustball.  Speeding over dune after dune, across an endless desert for hours, the team cleaned their guns for the thousandth time, getting the sand out of the workings.  The hot red dwarf Core Vapalger began to set as they crested a large dune, beyond which was an ruined city.  Sands blew all around it, obscuring much of it, but many crumbling towers, sand-blasted buildings and crumbling structures could be seen.

In unison, the pilot and the co-pilot both said “Holy shit!”  Moments later, as if in response, the two officers joined them in the cabin.  They remained silent for several more minutes as the crawler came to a stop.  “That looks old.” said second-in-command Corporal Starmor.

“Private Dandor, you still got that signal?”

“Sir. Getting some interference but it appears to be in the direction of that …”  he pointed to the ruins.  “Somewhere in there…”

“Looks like we are headed there.” Morsonor pointed to the series of massive buildings.

In the center of the ruin, dominating this ancient and haunting skyline was a giant egg-shaped structure. The crawler lurched as it crossed over the remains of a defensive wall and entered the city.  Passing the remains of much smaller buildings, sand-covered ruins, and miscellaneous debris, their attention remained transfixed on the egg-shaped building.

“Stay fixed on that signal, private” Morsonor said peering at the passing ruins.

“Trying to see, but getting a lot of interference….”  Dandor worked with his equipment trying to boost the signal.  “It looks like it may be somewhere in that big one.” pointing to the egg-shaped building.

The crawler came to a stop under the shadow of the massive egg-building.  As the rear door opened, the temperature seemed to drop considerably more than they expected to almost bearable.  Starmor grabbed his rifle with under-mounted grenade launcher, along with his pack.  Morsonor grabbed his rifle, grenade belt and pack as well.  Both exited last into the bright sun and dusty winds.  As Morsonor stepped out, he pressed a button just inside the door, putting the crawler in lock-down defensive mode.  The outer-hull shimmered with energy as the defense screens formed one inch off the surface of the armor.

Morsonor threw out several hand signals that translated to Alpha Team, full perimeter survey, report back here.  Five troopers left the group and circled the massive structure, reporting back in every 100 meters over com-links.  They returned to the group thirty minutes later, with a full report on the structure, possible entrances, and any other details strategically important.  “The structure is sound, supported by metal pillars 5 meters thick.  No sign of a ground level entrance though. We may need to do some climbing.  There are structure breaches all over the upper structure, some 20 to 30 meters off the ground.  Can’t say hour stable they are.”

“Copy that.  Let all move out, and be on the look out for a good opening within 50 meters.”  They picked up their gear and prepped their grapplers.  Walking around the building gave them a further view of the city.  The egg-building appeared to be the center of a vast city, most of which had been eroded down to their foundation.  Clustered in the middle were several towering buildings probably constructed of much more durable material.  Like smaller siblings to the egg-building, they hung close to it  forming what they assume was a downtown area.  Pathway for roads were present, if there were roads.  However, they were likely several feet beneath a layer of sand.  The structure were made of some kind of metals, as some were showing wear, erosion and rust.  There were also burn marks as if to indicate battle damage, but there was no telling when those occurred.

Except for the egg-building, all the buildings seem to be on the verge of collapse.  Metal supports jutted out.  Massive gash-like wounds gaped in many of them, showing rusting and collapsing internals.  Remains of shattered windows peered like broken eyes.  All were large scale, dwarfing the ten-trooper team.

They turned along the south side of the building and Morsonor spotted an large door-like opening in one of the massive pillars at the base. “Private!  You said there was no ground level entrance!  What’s that?!”

“Sir, that was not there when we scouted around. You can check the video feed.” she said.  Morsonor would have to go back to the crawler to pull up her helmet-cam footage.  He resigned to believe her.  That did not make him feel better.  Were we expected?  

If it wasn’t strange enough that a door seemed to open for them, as they drew nearer, they realization of just how big the door was drew additional concern.  Morsonor guessed that it was at least 7 meters high., maybe more, and about 3 or more meters wide.  They were only greeted with darkness beyond the threshold.  Along the edges of the doorway were alien runes of some kind, each about the size of a man’s hand.  Sand-blasted and barely visible, they were various strokes and arches of an unknown language.  However, it seemed familiar to Morsonor.  His bad feeling grew stronger as he stared at them.

There was a legend in this region of an ancient lost people known only as the Orkogres.  They were giant warriors, savage and viscous.  Their home-world has been long forgotten but most believe it was conquered by the Sarginian skurge when they first entered this region.  The Sarginians tell very little of their wars before the arrival of humans, but according to legend, the Orkogres were the only challenge the Sargininans faced.  They greatly feared the Orkogres and a massive war for the region waged between them.  This eventually ended with the destruction of the Orkogre home-world (Ork) and the near-extinction of the race.  Some say that a few escaped the destruction, taking refuge in less desirable corners of space, planets that few care to populate.  Only remnants of the Orkogres remained, some with runes that look just like those on the doorway.

“OK, let’s go in.  Visors down, set to NV-10.  Watch each others backs, cover your corners and watch for weak places in the floor.  I don’t want to be fishing anyone out of the basement while we are here.”  Morsonor dropped his visor and peered into the doorway.  Inside the doorway was a spiral stairway down.  They each traversed it slowly as it was made for much large legs.  Once they reached bottom, they each took defensive positions, scanning a wide room full of debris and alien structures.  “Dandor, report!”

“Sir, until now, I could not pick up the beacon.” said Private Torsot, “I lost it as soon as we were under the building.”

“And now you have it?”  Morsonor asking the obvious.

“Sir, yes, sir.  It’s below us!  Seven hundred meters below us.”

700 meters!. “OK, men.  Let’s get on mission.  We have seven hundred meters to traverse.”

***

The electronic eyes of a heavily armored robotic scout watched the heat signatures of 10 human soldiers as they searched around the lower levels of the alien ruins.  One of fifteen placed here, they we monitored their targets awaiting orders from command – turrets carefully training on their targets, deadly blaster plasma ready to spear their targets.

***

Morsonor’s uneasiness had not alleviated even as they entered another massive room.  They felt like mice on the floor.  Mice being watched by ancient ghosts of yore.  Their steps echoed through out the lower levels of the structure, off the alien debris thrown about on every floor.  What they assumed was furniture lay thrown about in piles, internals torn out.  Terminals lay everywhere, power cables strewn out like organic veins and giant terminal screens smashed in.

They walked across a massive metal catwalk, looking down several levels , the steps echoing down into the darkness below.  Their visors only went so far, and beyond was more darkness.  They crossed to another doorway and entered into another room.  The room was heavily damaged, as if some kind of battle took place.  Various conduits, power lines, and cables hung from blasted holes in the wall. Some holes had sand pouring through them.  Along with destroyed debris were also alien armored bodies.  Some where unmistakably Sarginian – tall, gaunt humanoid – while others were giant.  Orkogres!

One large figure remained in a chair behind a large barricade made of furniture and paneling.  He was slumped over a long-dead auto-cannon, covered in sand and dust.  Pushing it back in the chair, Morsonor saw the skull-face of an Orkogre, flesh long decayed.  The skull briefly held it’s pained expression until it finally disintegrated itself inside the armored helmet.

“Last stand?”  Starmor said in the comlink.  Morsonor shrugged, looking at the cannon.  That might fetch a pretty credit.

“Sir, this appears to be the only way down.”  Private Dandor held a hand-light toward a bank of large doors.  Elevators.  Without power, they were facing a climb down the shaft.

“Confirm the signal again, Dandor.”  Morsonor said as four other troopers pulled open the elevator doors.

“Just did sir. It’s down there.  Whatever it found is down there too.”

—-

Climbing down took hours.  Morsonor ordered Torsot and Dandor to set up their only robo-sentry in the battle room, to watch their backs.  If anything comes behind them, they will know it.  Once it was set up, each trooper repelled down the shaft to the level above the bottom of the elevator.  At the bottom was the remains of the elevator and a closed set of doors.  Beyond those doors was unknown.  They had to assume the worst.  They set some breach charges on the doors and retreated back to the level above, bracing for the explosion.

The blast was jarring, echoing through out the building.  Silence followed.  Morsonor sent down two of his troopers as be stood looking over the edge.  He waited until he got the all clear from his scouts and then all dropped to the bottom level.  Before him was a new seen of chaos and death.

Sarginians, humans, Urians, and more laying about freshly dead.  They all stood in a  large underground cavernous room about 300 meters tall, built underneath the ruins as a hidden facility.  Constructed with modern materials and equipment, it looked like a military base or hangar of some kind.  Damage and destroyed small space and aircraft sat along the walls, as if at one time they were ready to launch.  Ground craft and armor vehicles also were hear, also damage and smoldering.  The battle must have happened days ago.  At the far end of the cavernous room was a ramp that probably leader to a hidden door to the surface, where both land craft and aerospace craft could launch out into the open air.

Who are they?  As if to answer his thoughts, once of Morsonor’s scouts rolled a body over.  The insignia was clear.  Rebels!  Emperor Sparx was not universally liked and these dead probably represented a considerable force of rebels allied with the rebel leader Argosonus Flamor.  But who killed them?  Were these the targets they were searching for?

A shot sailed over his head, into one trooper’s chest armor, throwing him back. I have to stop asking these questions. His answer was a barrage of blaster fire from behind a series of crates and equipment.  Figures sudden moved out of the shadows, and fired on them.  Morsonor lost count after 30.  His team fell back in  a defensive position, setting up a collapsible heavy blaster.  His thoughts went to that Orkogre cannon, wish he had that right now.

—-

“CEASE FIRE!” came a booming voice from beyond a damage hover tank. Something about the size of the tank stepped out from behind it.  The rest of the enemy was no where near this guy’s size, but this was was right at home in these ruins.

The smell of sweat and blood filled the air.  Morsonor was wounded in the shoulder and two of his troopers were dead, including Torsot.  The heavy blaster was out of ammo, and he was running low as well.  Fortunately, some of the nearby crates had weapons and ammo they could use.  So their position was holding fairly strong and their enemy had taken a heavy toll.  The robo-sentry had alerted an enemy coming in from the rears, but it had neutralized it.  Fifteen outdated armed robo-scout were not match for their robo-sentry.  Around their position were at least fifty enemy bodies.

The newcomer dropped the remains of the hunter-beacon to the floor.  He used it to form a trap.  I knew it. The beast of a humanoid removed his face-plate visor.  Morsonor stared into the face of a ghost.  It was like the face he looked at in the battle room but with a flesh.  A living Orkogre.

“They call me Rhonin. I welcome you to my home.  I have been in search of this place for many years.  And now I claim it.”  The insignia on his armor became clear.  Pirate Alliance.  The last thing Sparx needed was another front in this battle.  A war with the Pirate Alliance would give Flamor’s Rebels the openings they needed.   Why not propose an alliance? Sparx would never work with the underbelly of the Alliance, no matter how desperate he got.  This job was to take this guy out and his men.  Unfortunately, they knew we were coming.  Was leading Rhonin here part of Sparx plan?  He takes out the Rebels and then we take him out.

You have a choice.  Join me now as new soldiers of the new Orkogre Empire, or die!”

Caught between two burgeoning empires.  Is that worse than a rock and a hard place. Starmor dropped another grenade into his grenade launcher and nodded to Morsonor.

 

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