New Xenarth (Iota Crucis IV), 2372
Chaos reigned in the central command room.
A massive shockwave had hit New Xenarth just minutes earlier and it had brought with it significant structural damage as well as seismic instability all along the planet’s northern hemisphere.
Two workers and three warriors had been crushed and had died instantly when chunks of debris had reigned down from above.
The wraparound windows were smashed in many places and the sight of the city in which the tower stood was not encouraging. At least one dome had noticeably cracked under the pressure of the shockwave and hundreds of Xenarth inside were scrambling back and forth, desperately trying to evacuate before the transparent partition which protected them from the hostile atmosphere of Iota Crucis IV collapsed entirely.
Warrior Queen Samma was less preoccupied with the damage on the planet as her gaze was fixed upwards, looking through the cracked skylight and towards what had once been one of New Xenarth’s moons but was now nothing more than a broken up shadow of its former self.
“What happened?” she asked as she kept those dark eyes on the destroyed satellite.
Queen Liphra was busy trying to dig out some of her fellow worker from underneath debris, using all four of her hands to try and get to those unlucky enough to have been crushed under the weight.
Samma’s feelers twitched with impatience as she turned her glance to Liphra. “They are dead,” she said sharply. “We can tend to them later. I need to know what has happened.”
The Worker Queen stopped her efforts and appeared to consider the futility of her efforts for a moment before she moved on to one of the few still functioning monitors. “Apogee is destroyed. Completely destroyed,” she said after a moment. “The facility is gone.”
“I can see that,” Samma shot back. “But why?”
“I … I cannot say,” she said as she tried to make sense of the readings. Then she looked around the room to find somebody else still alive who could assist with the task of interpreting the data. “We need scholars. Where are all the scholars?”
“Most of them left with Klestra,” said Samma and looked back towards what remained of the moon.
Liphra followed her glance. “All-Mother no,” she said when she understood. “They’re all gone. The Supreme … is dead.”
Those who remained in the control center fell silent as they considered the implications of their leader having been killed in whatever disaster had befallen the planetoid above.
“What do we do now?” asked the Worker Queen.
“The Artisan Queen is next in the line of succession in the Aggregate,” said Nadelphi who had survived the damage with noticeable bruising. “So says the God-Queen.”
Samma turned angrily on the Cleric Queen. She had secretly hoped that she had been killed or at least incapacitated following the destruction wrought onto New Xenarth and now found to her disappointment that she had been spared. “There is no Artisan Queen. Ket has been stripped of her title and declared a traitor to the Aggregate and the Colony. Appointing a new Artisan Queen has not been a priority.”
“Then one must be found,” she insisted. “It is the way of the All-Mother. An Artisan Queen must be the new Supreme.”
Samma uttered a sharp and annoyed whistle.
“Look,” said Liphra urgently and advised one of her surviving workers to enhance an image on the monitor and to send it to the other still functioning displays. “The weapon, it was successful.”
The Warrior Queen stepped closed to the displays to see for herself. Indeed one of the vessels which had entered their system without permission had apparently been ripped in half and now seemed entirely useless as it drifted in space. The sight immediately filled her with renewed hope and determination.
“The others still remain?” she asked.
It took the Worker Queen a moment to have their sensors recalibrated before she looked back at Samma and nodded.
“Then our work is not complete. I want all the foreign vessels destroyed. They have only seen a small taste of our true power. Soon they will all tremble at our might.”
“But the facility,” Liphra protested. “It was obliterated after the weapon was used. We need a Scholar Queen to determine exactly what happened and how to avoid another accident.”
The Warrior Queen didn’t appear interested. “We have the second facility on Zenith. As to what happened, isn’t it obvious? They made a mistake. One that shall not be repeated. I shall send my best garrison to Zenith to ensure the scholars and workers there are properly motivated,” she said and pointed at the image of the destroyed vessel. “The weapon works. It is time that the Xenarth Colony reclaims its former glory as the greatest power among the stars.”