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The wind rustled through the branches of the pine tree as boots crunched through fresh snow. A fox darted across the path, it’s winter coat allowing it to quickly blend back in to the landscape. The sound of the boots continued inexorably. The person was clutching a torch, the only source of heat in the desolate landscape. The roar of a bear caused the man to stop suddenly, a bearded face looking around to consider the snowy plains. Satisfied that the beast was not close by, the man continued to walk. He had a large rifle slung over his shoulder, a more than capable defence. There was a definite purpose in the way this man walked, he seemed to know exactly where where he was going. He came over the rise in the mountain, and before him lay an amazing site. Beneath a layer of snow fall, an ancient city spanned before him. The mans eyes lit up. He had found what he was looking for.

The steel capped boots clicked on the flagstones of the city’s streets. The man put out his torch. There were torches lit along the wall. Something unnatural kept them burning. There was something or someone at work here. He swung his rifle off his back, his finger hovering over the trigger. There was an eerie feeling surrounding this place, something very tangible and yet difficult to pinpoint. He most certainly wanted to be prepared for whatever lay before him. The mans eyes narrowed as he reached a large town square. The place was well lit yet felt as dangerous as a dark, dank cavern. The lack of inhabitants worried him. He wondered what had driven them away from their homes. There wasn’t any sign of an attack, no real damage. The only thing truly out of place was a horrible sense of danger, that something was waiting to go wrong, that simply exuded from every crack, every opening. He heard something move behind him, barely making a noise. He whipped around, but it was already too late. It was upon him.

A gun shot was followed by a scream that rang out across the white tundra, followed by an ear piercing, inhuman shriek. None heard it however. There were no other humans for a long, long way. His screams of pain were abruptly cut off. The wind rustled through the branches of the trees.

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The Fallen

Metal creaked as the once proud tower fell crashing to the ground. It was the last symbol of freedom, the last bastion of hope that the people of Kazaldor had. The usually fertile fields lay barren, trodden into oblivion by the iron shod boots of the soldiers who had almost continuously marched towards the capital. They had left a trail of destruction behind them, farmers and livestock alike laying dead next to the pastures. It was a horrific sight, yet paled in comparison to the scenes that could be found at the capital Cylon. Fires still raged amongst the buildings, corrupt soldiers ran amok amongst the streets, doing as they pleased. It seemed that the invaders cared littlefor taking over but seemed to relish in the unfettered violence. Few dared to stand in their way, running from the sound of their now feared boots. With the tower of Cylon in ruins, very few believed that Kazaldor could ever be restored to its former glory. James Reilly however, was one of those men.

Reilly lifted the cold drink to his lips, relishing the taste. His dusty throat was refreshed, and already he could feel his aching limbs returning to their former selves. However, his relief was mingled with sadness. He sat alone in the pub, a weary and worried barman his only companion. This used to be the centre of Cylon, the hub of the town. Never would one find this place close to empty before the invasion, yet now Reilly truly wondered if there were enough people left within the city walls to fill the room. He pulled a couple of coins from his pockets, nodded at the barkeep, and made his way into the streets that few bar him were willing to travel at night

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Hycane Invaded

Lightning flashed over James Reilly’s head as he harvested this seasons grain in his specialised Harvest-‘bot. Finding it odd that a storm had set in so quickly, Reilly only set his shoulders grimly; he knew he would be losing some of his valuable harvest today. A former engineer with the Hycane Defense Force, Reilly controlled his Harvest-‘bot like it was nothing more than an extension of his own body. Sharp blades scythed through grain cleanly, other extensions packing the grain into bales. His thoughts wondered home, where he knew his family would be preparing for dinner now, their existence dependent on him working in these fields. His thoughts of what awaited him at home were interrupted as a fiery, rock-like object crashed to the earth in front of him, scattering dirt and debris everywhere.

 
An object quite unlike anything he had ever seen before lay before Reilly. Suddenly, it cracked violently, cracks spreading across its surface. An insectoid like creature clambered out, clicking and growling as it did so. Almost instinctively, Reilly quickly swung his harvest blades, the sharpened edge decapitating the creature with one fell stroke. He looked up to see similar fiery orbs descending from the heavens, seemingly from nowhere. Then the darkened clouds parted, revealing the horrifying, instantly recognisable silhouette invasion craft of the Rak, specially designed for this very situation. Reilly felt his stomach drop, his heart quickly picking up speed. He turned his bot and hit an blistering sprint towards his home; towards his family.

 
As he ran, Reilly found the ground pockmarked with similar asteroid like objects, cracked open and embedded in the ground. Reilly reached his home and roared. His home was ablaze. He heard a noise and saw a hovering prison craft in the distance. Presumably his wife and son would be on there, on their way to the Rak’s horrific labour camps. Reilly set his jaw, determined to do all he could to save his family. None had ever escaped the infamous camps. Until now.
Reilly piloted his ‘bot towards his towards the barn, oddly untouched by the invaders. He opened the large steel doors, revealing a seemingly endless array weapons, bombs and other device. After a highly successful decade in the Defense Force, Reilly was hailed as a genius, able to things with materials that few others could. However, Reilly quickly became disillusioned with the idea that his creations were taking lives on a daily basis. Unable to live with this reality, Reilly resigned, many of his phenomenal inventions mysteriously disappearing with him.

 
A calm, collected man, Reilly knew he would be unable to break into the nigh impenetrable fortress-camp with his simple Harvest-‘boot. Equipped with his marvelous weaponry though, might tell a different tale of wrath and revenge.

 
Lily Reilly sat terrified in a chair so cold it almost began to hurt. But she kept a straight face, not wanting to show either pain or fear to this psychotic maniac, known as Ra. She knew he would garner pleasure, fulfillment from her fear, and this only hardened her resolve. All who had proceeded her had left Ra’s grasp different people, broken by the master of mental torture. Lily was determined for this not to be the case.

 
Ra prowled around this young woman, predatory instincts barely suppressed. He, deep down, wanted blood to spill more then anything, to hear the screams as he tore the person apart with his claws. But he knew that would bring nowhere near the satisfaction, the pleasure, which he would otherwise gain from breaking this woman’s mind and soul. So he controlled himself, pushing the desire to kill deep down inside him.

 

The metal doors of the barn hit the ground with a loud clang. Much larger robot then what had entered stepped out, every inch of it bristling with weaponry and reinforced armour plates, able to deflect everything from Rak claws to bullets and smaller caliber shells. The reborn Harvester broke into a sprint towards the camp.
Reilly reached the walls of the camp, with no effort to conceal his arrival. A missile flew from his shoulder, embedding itself in the gate. Reilly silently counted down in his head. Three. Two. One. The embedded detonated, with a tremendous boom, shrapnel flying in all directions. Reilly couldn’t help but grin. Now the Rak would the feel full wrath of James Reilly.

 

Lily screamed in terror as she felt the alien’s mind brush up against her own. There was something inexplicably horrifying about it, feeling another’s mind touching your own, knowing that all they wish to do is cause pain and suffering. Usually ones own sacred sanctuary; Lily steeled herself, preparing to defend her memories, her mind, and her life. She thought of her family, knowing that James would be on his way, knowing that nothing would be able to stand in his way. Hope filled her heart. She would fend off this alien.

 

Ra struggled to comprehend the situation. Every time he charged forwards to break into this seemingly frail and weak human’s mind, he was turned back harshly and painfully. There was seemingly no way penetrate these foreboding defences, no cracks or blemishes which he could exploit and worm his way in to. Whatever this person was thinking, whatever was keeping him out, was possibly stronger then his greatest weapon: fear. Yet Ra was the best. He would not give up.

 

Reilly was met by a contingent of Rak, all ready to fire upon him. Unperturbed, he unsheathed his harvesters, now crackling with lightning like energy. The Rak opened fire upon Reilly, their bullets ricocheting off his newly armoured harvester-‘bot, leaving Reilly unharmed. The Rak screamed as Reilly descended into their midst, dealing death with ruthless efficiency. He was a man possessed by the conflict, changed by it. The calm demeanour was quickly replaced with a brutal berserker. He was fighting for something dear to him, allowing him to fight fiercer, with purpose. His thoughts flitted back to his family as he dispatched of this first contingent ruthlessly and without mercy. A scream rang out across the otherwise dead silent camp. Reilly knew straight away who it was, and with a primal roar, charged towards its source.

 

It was almost too much for Lily to bear. The constant torment was threatening to break through her, up to now, unsullied defences. Every time she thought it was close to finishing, that she was going to be finally left alone, the torment continued as if nothing had occurred, renewed and with a greater sense of purpose. Just as she was about to collapse from exhaustion, unable to fend of the attacks any longer, a loud explosion echoed through out the small room. Finally, the aliens mind lost contact with hers, the first true reprieve. It was bliss; as if a great weight had been lifted of her throat.

 

Ra opened his eyes, his concentration shattered by the explosion. He turned slowly, angered by the unexpected interruption. A whirring noise filled his ears, the sound of machinery at work. Suddenly, the infamous torturer’s head fell to the ground sizzling, energy lancing across its surface. Help had, finally, arrived.
Reilly stepped out of his craft and went to embrace his wife. However, she ran past him and into the room opposite, where his son sat, head in hands, traumatised. Things could never the same; Reilly knew that his family had been forever change by the conflict. He knew that there was still plenty of work to be done to cleanse his home of the filthy Rak. But he couldn’t help but be happy, his family safe, at least for now.

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Part Two

Tael’s legs pumped underneath him as he ran towards his burning home. Two black shapes galloped down the road, traveling at an unearthly speed. By the time Tael reached his home, the two mysterious riders were already out of sight.

Tears began to fill Tael’s eyes. First he didn’t have any idea where his father went, and now his home was gone. Tael looked at the flames in hatred, wishing they were gone. He let the hatred flow through him, every fiber of his body willing those flames away. The sky went dark, rain clouds quickly gathering above the isolated farm. Rain fell, the burning husk of the farm sizzling as the rain fell harder, dousing the flames.

He felt a sudden wave of hopelessness overwhelm him. No home. No father. No family. He decided to go to the nearest town and find out where his father had gone too. Then he would find what or who had destroyed his home. Tael stated walking down the road out of the farm, the same road that the dark riders had gone down, their footprints washed away in the torrential storm, completely unaware of the power that lay within him.

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Part One

Tael looked up in disgust as he saw how much more of the field he would have to harvest before dinner. Muttering under his breath as he walked, Tael called Bela, the family’s draught horse, along and continued working. The peaceful creature lifted his hooves, dragging the heavy cart behind her, Tael throwing the crop on after he cut it down. Locked in on either side by towering mountain ranges, Tael and his father, Torsen, lived on their humble farm, unknowing of much of the world around them. However, this was soon about to change dramatically.

 

Tael opened the door wearily, only to glad to see the glow of the hot fire. He sat down, legs barely holding him up for any longer. Winter was on its way, and they only had a couple more days to collect the crop before it was too late. Torsen walked in, just as weary, and sat down next to Tael. They both ate in silence, completely exhausted from the day of work and quickly went to bed.

 

Light peeped through Tael’s window, revealing a crisp white landscape covered in snow. ‘Thank God we got it all in yesterday’ Tael sluggishly thought to himself. He crawled out of bed and walked into the main room, not a sign of anybody or anything. Slightly disturbed, Tael sat down and ate his breakfast.

 

Tael went about his usual chores, checking on the livestock and feeding them, caught by surprise when he didn’t see his father’s horse in the stable. Tael left the stable scratching his head unsure of where his father’s horse had gone, only to see his home burst into flames.

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