MTs - Chapter Four (PG)

The gendrone was not expecting this. Perhaps I have underestimated him. Troopers had already searched the subterranean base and surrounding network of caves and tunnels, but discovered no trace. MT-01 ordered them to check the surface of the porous moon that served as their headquarters, as well as the lifeless world it once orbited. He knew they would find nothing. There must have been an escape pod hidden somewhere within the labyrinth. The Glyos system is vast...he could be anywhere by now. Where would he begin to look? More importantly, who was he looking for? No trooper, including MT-01, had seen their former commander in his true form.

The new leader of the MTs needed to focus on his chief objective. He would select six troopers and create two reconnaissance teams to gather intelligence about their maker. MT-01 did not wish to risk exposure on densely inhabited planets so he would alter their exteriors. We can uninstall the integrated phase arms and change their color back to brown and tan. They will behave like typical Buildman gendrones and raise no suspicions...

He thought hard about who he would select. MT-01 wanted the scouts to be highly proficient, yet hesitated to send his best troopers as he required their skill for the mission. The Build Recon units may be in the field for an extended period. He could not afford to wait for their return before launching the offensive.

"The following M.A.I.M. Troopers will report to the Assembly Floor immediately," MT-01 said into the central communications module. "MT-17...MT-36...MT-42...MT-61...MT-89...MT-96. That is all."

Monsterforge Magic!

The incredibly talented Charles Marsh of Monsterforge Studios has bestowed upon me the custom of my dreams (or should I say my nightmares)...Kranion! He is an amazing artist, sculptor, creator of custom figures, and friend. Thank you so much, buddy!

Govurom - Chapter Two (PG)

The Dimension Jumper lay veiled behind its cloaking pane. Govurom followed the gendrone fighters with his eyes as they passed. Who are they? He waited for some time before he dropped cover and moved on. When Govurom first learned that two small ships were coming he considered challenging them. He was glad that he chose to hide instead, even though he desired the life energy of the pilots. The styling of the spacecraft and their rigid flight formation said they were military. Govurom was already on the Lost Sincroid Army's most wanted list and did not need a second armed force gunning for him.

He promised himself he would resume his quest once he was at full force. If I can locate the datadisc, I should finally be able to separate myself from this Pheyden who steals so much of my power! Legend told that the relic held the secret to dividing two entities who occupied a single body. Govurom had scoured many of the archaic remains of civilizations spread across Glyos without luck. His constant yearning for life energy had taken priority as of late, but he knew he had to keep looking or eventually waste away. I will find it!

Govurom leaned forward to disengage the navigation system. He decided to change his destination and guide the ship manually. The Metran government had an observatory on remote Seleneai where scientists typically conducted space research. Their planetary maps might help him identify new places to search, and absorbing organic beings always gave Govurom a healthy boost. He nimbly steered through a field of floating space debris as he imagined holding the datadisc in his hands.

Seleneai soon came into view. To avoid detection, Govurom went to the side of the planet opposite the Metrans. He then flew just above to the surface until he was within walking distance of their facility and landed the Jumper between two bluffs. Concealing it with vegetation, Govurom left and made for the observatory. As he drew closer he spied two solo ships out front. Perfect...

He was planning to override the access panel but found the hatch ajar. Something is wrong. He slipped through the opening and down the long corridor towards a well lit area. Govurom pressed against the wall and carefully peered into the room. A pair of bodies clad in white lab coats lay on the floor. He saw the gaping holes from where he stood and knew they were dead. Anger from losing his repast gave way to speculation.

The scientists were shot with serious weapons. Why? Perhaps whoever did this feared being seen though their powerful lenses? Govurom wondered what type of covert operations could be taking place in the Glyos system to warrant these murders. No time to make sense of this now. I must go! He gathered the charts he needed and dashed out of the building.

Kranion - Chapter Two (PG)

Artwork by Charles Marsh Monsterforge Studios

The Parabatis cut through space in pursuit of Govurom. He grew stronger for a time but he's fading rapidly. He will need to absorb again soon... Kranion felt a shift and knew Govurom was on the move. The Dimension Jumper's unusual shape made it difficult to identify and track with conventional equipment. Kranion would have to rely on his heightened awareness. Finding Govurom was always challenging; collecting and containing his venomous power had proven close to impossible.

A warning light flashed brightly in the cockpit as information scrolled across the display. Two fighter class spacecraft were approaching rapidly! Kranion recognized the life energy that was bearing down on him. The Buildman gendrones must have detected my presence on Alcray! There was not enough time to escape using the hyperspace drive and he couldn't chance a skirmish with a force of their size. His only option was to try visual transportation.

Kranion recalled his encounter with Cosmic Wave and the Gargethion on Botellias. He envisioned the Parabatis surrounded by the plentiful flora of the planet. The sensation of being stretched to the breaking point overwhelmed him. Slumping forward over the controls, Kranion lost consciousness. His vessel became translucent then disappeared altogether. The fighters reached the spot the Parabatis had just occupied and hovered.

"We have lost the ship," MT-68 reported. "Analysis shows no hyperspace trail or cloaking print. Awaiting orders."

"Conduct a final sweep and rendezvous with us prior to our destination," MT-52 replied. "Delete all data pertaining to your activities. Under no circumstances are you to return directly to base."

"Understood. MT-68 out." He relayed the commands to his fellow pilot and they skillfully executed the search flight pattern. Discovering no trace of a craft, the gendrones vacated the area.

On Botellias, the Parabatis lay unevenly on a bed of thick kryno bushes. Kranion's position had not changed. After a few moments he came to. Bolts of pain shot through his head as he struggled to sit upright. Kranion managed to initiate a full systems check while he gathered his thoughts. Evasion agonizing...but...necessary. Was right about transport...too risky.

Fortunately, no damage had been done to the ship. The same could not be said for him. He was completely exhausted and a blackish fluid oozed from the corners of his lifeless eyes. Kranion absently wiped it away with the back of a shaking hand. Once again his attempt to imprison Govurom's life energy had been derailed. He began to wonder if forces greater than those he served were at work in the Glyos system.

Vigilant - Chapter Six (PG)

"Greetings, Jack." Tarthiun's back was to the entranceway. "Please sit down. We have much to talk about. Thank you for escorting our friend, Draephas."

Draephas bowed his head in acknowledgment but remained standing. Jack walked over to something resembling a chair and took a seat. He started to sweat in anticipation of seeing Tarthiun. Don't turn away...focus on his eyes. The Shaman spun around and faced Jack.

You look surprised," Tarthiun said with a warm smile. "You expected me to be a bit more evil?" He was in fact a kind and gentle looking sorcerer.

"Yes...I pictured you very differently," Jack admitted sheepishly

"The creature you saw was Mephran, but somehow you attached my name to him. It is no wonder he made such an impression; he orchestrated your murder and put a terrible curse on your life energy."

Jack was staggered. "My murder? I..."

"Allow me to explain." Tarthiun clasped his hands behind him and began to pace.

"You may be Jack on Earth now, but here on Aeddonea you were the immortal Vigilant for time beyond measure. That is, until Mephran and his henchman, Segriath, conspired against you. Jack, you are the eternal gatekeeper of the sole portal connecting our dimension to yours."

A puzzled look overtook Jack's countenance. "Okay...wait. If I am supposedly this Vigilant, then how was I killed? In my world immortal means you live forever."

"The word is the same here," Tarthiun replied. "Normally, when a living thing dies, its life energy returns to the source, called Origin. There it waits until it is tasked to inhabit a new physical form. I believe you would call that reincarnation."

Jack nodded. "Not everyone buys that theory where I come from. I always did, though"

"Well," Tarthiun continued. "I can assure you it is true. When an everlasting being perishes, its life energy travels to Origin but is instantaneously sent back. This is a completely natural occurrence and you have expired countless times. However, Mephran used an ancient talisman to cast a spell. The hex masked your life energy, making it unrecognizable. Origin then put it in a human newborn. That was you. It almost destroyed Mephran to do this and the amulet shattered in the process, so have no fear of it happening again."

"Why would Mephran go through so much trouble to get rid of me?" Jack asked.

"Because you were the only one who could foil his plan. Aeddonea is dying from abuse and Mephran intends to invade Earth using the portal. He and his army of mutants, the Horde, will make your planet their new home and your kind will suffer horribly. It is written that our world is meant to die. Yours will survive if humans continue their efforts to reverse the damage they have inflicted. A portal was never supposed to exist but somehow it opened on its own. Eons ago, when it was learned that it couldn't be closed, you were made gatekeeper by the higher powers of Xebolis."

Jack took some time to absorb all that he had heard. Finally, he spoke. "So what do we do now, Tarthiun?"

"We recover Vigilant's body and restore you to your rightful role in the universe."

"So...I'm never going back home, am I?" Jack knew the answer.

"We will speak more on the journey," Tarthiun said. "We must leave at once."

MTs - Chapter Three (PG)

He left his quarters in costume and reached the landing pad as the ship arrived. It opened and poured MTs on to the hard surface. Gendrone after gendrone found its spot in formation and stood at attention. The clockwork precision of his warriors gave him great satisfaction. When every trooper was in place, MT-01 hurried over to the Sarvos imposter.

"All present and accounted for," MT-01 stated.

"Very good. Take them to the squad bay for repairs and cleaning," he replied as he studied his subordinate. The featureless battle helmet revealed nothing. "Make sure the M.A.I.M. Troopers are prepped for redeployment. We have work ahead of us."

The gendrone turned about and resumed command of the unit. The beat of their synchronized steps was all consuming as they marched away. When the last row was out of sight he walked up the large transport's ramp and into the cockpit. His hand opened to expose a tiny data card that he quickly inserted in a slot under the controls.

MT-01 watched from afar as his leader rushed out of the ship and towards the main base. He suspects something. Recalibrating his image receptors for standard distance, he joined the troopers in the service area. MT-01 gestured to MT-02, who nodded and repeated the motion to MT-03. In turn, MT-03 passed it along to MT-04. This continued until the last gendrone had received the signal.

Back in his room, he downloaded the information from the data card. On his way out of the spacecraft he noticed that the thrusters on two of the fighters glowed red from use. There was no documentation of their activity in the flight log he copied, however. It has been erased! MT-01 can no longer be trusted... He sprung out of his chair and into action, anxiously gathering the materials he required.

A small band of MTs stole down the hallway and silently approached the sealed hatch with phase arms drawn. The lead gendrone keyed in the code. It slid open and they stormed into the space, weapons blazing. Blast after blast tore into their creator until he was nothing but scrap metal scattered across the floor. The troopers methodically inspected the debris. The Sarvos suit was empty.

Govurom - Chapter One (PG)

The desire was all consuming. Nothing else mattered. It seemed the more he stole, the less he was satisfied. The rush when he fed. The growing pressure as his shriveled head swelled and became whole again. He craved those feelings always. He needed them now. He was slowly atrophying while he waited in ambush.

Govurom watched the pair of sincroids search for him. He had taken one of their ranks the day before and the Lost Sincroid Army was on high alert. These two are nothing to worry about. The isolation and subsequent inbreeding had diluted the younger LSA troops dramatically. First generation sincroids such as Govurom were far superior and each possessed a unique trait. His was the ability to absorb a being's life energy. It had proved to be more of a curse than a gift.

His unending hunger for energy had turned him into a grotesque creature. Long ago, he had foolishly attempted to drain a renegade version of Pheyden. Instead he fused with the powerful space traveler and mutated horribly. Containing two personalities in one physical form took its toll on Govurom. He had all but abandoned his hunt for ancient ruins and the mystical artifacts held within.

"This is Sector Three Patrol," the larger LSA soldier droned into his communication unit. "No sign of enemy activity in our zone."

The soldier had barely broken the connection when Govurom attacked from behind. He clutched their bulbous heads and sunk in his gnarled fingers. Precious life energy flowed through his body as the sincroids withered. He loosened his grasp and they fell to the ground in a heap. Govurom's skull was inflated with power, making him look almost normal.

Artwork by Charles Marsh, Monsterforge Studios

It didn't last. He had walked fifty paces and the deep grooves were already returning to his face. His cadence slowed and his shoulders slumped. Govurom continued on, lost in thought. These watered down life forms are of no help to me. I need something better. Something more...filling. He donned his hood and wrapped the cape around his diminishing form.

He approached his hidden Dimension Jumper cautiously. The camouflage was undisturbed so Govurom exposed the hatch and climbed inside. He initiated the launch sequence and brought the navigation system online. The display requested coordinates. After a pause, he punched in a series of numbers and the spacecraft began its ascent into space.

Govurom's misshapen visage was hideous in the sickly green glow of the control panel. The Jumper cleared the planet's atmosphere and increased speed. The twisted sincroid sank back in his seat and stared at nothing. How much longer can I go on like this? A pained expression appeared on his ruined face. It was quickly replaced with one of determination. As long as I have to... The craft banked sharply as the onboard computer engaged the hyperspace thrusters. The ship flickered momentarily and was gone.

Kranion - Chapter One (PG)

Something is not right. Kranion could feel it countless dimension away. He closed his eyes and reached towards the malevolent pulsing. His thoughts turned black as a retched murkiness engulfed his mind. Kranion knew this toxic life energy well. Govurom! He pulled back into his body and quickly got ready to leave. When they last fought, Kranion visually transported just himself and his collector and was ill prepared. This time he would take his ship, the Parabatis, and special equipment to neutralize Govurom's deadly energy blasts.

Kranion piloted the Parabatis out of its hangar and set a course for the Glyos system. Conventional space travel always frustrated him. Govurom never stayed in one place for very long and Kranion was forever a step behind when tethered to his spacecraft. If he could only convey himself and his gear using his powers! I could, but it may render me weak and vulnerable. I cannot afford another error. If I do not terminate Govurom this time, I may be forced to call upon-

He swiftly dismissed the idea. Kranion worked by himself and preferred the solitude. His role was a somber one and better left to him alone. He is warden of the Containment Zone in the Aidoneus dimension, a timeless cosmic underworld fed by the demise of all sentient beings. When an entity perishes its life energy naturally flows back to Aidoneus and merges with Origin, the central energy source it was created from. If it is contaminated, Kranion will quarantine the life energy to protect the purity of the source. Corrupt life energy can retain a level of consciousness and will sometimes avoid returning to Aidoneus as eternal imprisonment in a holding pod is a terrible fate. When this happens, Kranion must hunt it down and capture it. Govurom is like a virus and he is infecting the life energy of the ever growing number of creatures he absorbs. He has to be stopped before his actions cause a dangerous unbalance within Origin itself.

Artwork by Charles Marsh, Monsterforge Studios

After what felt like eons, Kranion finally entered Glyos. As the Parabatis flew over planet Alcray he picked up life energy from below that was unknown to him. It was far too powerful to be a single being yet it didn't seem to be disjointed like the collective energy of a large group. Kranion knew he had to investigate, even at the risk of losing track of Govurom. He reluctantly slowed and descended upon the sporian planet. The Parabatis touched down at the edge of a bog and Kranion disembarked with collector in hand. He never liked to take the life energy of living things but would in self defense.

A cacophony of explosions and phase arm blasts could be heard as he moved closer to where the foreign energy was radiating from. Kranion quietly scaled a small hill and cautiously peered over the peak. What...? The ground below him was carpeted with dead Crayboth! The ones that were still on their feet were being mercilessly slaughtered by a contingent of flat green Buildman gendrones. Kranion could see that groups of them had somehow connected and reconfigured to form huge battledrones, phase cannons, and combat vehicles. I have never known any life energy to come from a gendrone, never mind a unified force! If left unchecked...

He edged away from the ridge carefully. As soon as he was clear, Kranion made his way to the Parabatis and took off. He tried to make sense of what he had witnessed. Who is responsible? What could possibly be gained by killing Crayboth? He wanted to learn more but finding Govurom was his first priority. This new threat to the Glyos system would have to wait...for now.

Vigilant - Chapter Five (PG)

"We're not taking a spaceship?" Jack's voice was muffled by the respirator he wore. "I come all the way to another dimension, befriend an alien, and have to walk?" He gave a short laugh but it sounded more like choking through the heavy filters.

"I am sorry to disappoint you," Draephas replied. "We have been without fuel for our vehicles for some time. The people of Aeddonea abused and wasted its natural resources. This is why the atmosphere is acrid and the landscape barren." He waved a hand at his desolate surroundings.

"That sounds a lot like what we're doing to my planet. I hope this isn't where Earth is heading," Jack said as he took in the devastation.

The bitter air hung heavy around the pair as they trudged across the infertile soil towards the home of Tarthiun. A few gnarled growths broke the otherwise sterile surface. Jack noticed that nothing moved; there wasn't a creature to be found. A dull light barely lit their way but Jack couldn't find the source of it through the haze.

Draephas slowed as he approached a shallow depression. Halting Jack with his hand, the alien crept cautiously in an irregular zigzag towards the center. Pinpoints of light seemed to dance within the crater. When he reached the middle, he crouched down and brushed off a thick layer of dust to reveal a small control panel. He lifted the cover and pushed a series of buttons. The bits of illumination blinked three times and disappeared. Draephas stood, took a step back, and waited. The ground began to shake as a metallic cylinder rose out of the dirt and rotated open to reveal a small transportation capsule.

"After you, Jack," Draephas said as he gestured toward the hatch.

Jack hesitated. He had spent so much time making Tarthiun evil in his pretend universe that he was actually scared to meet him! Let's go, up. He took a deep breath, walked over to the tube, and entered the pod.

MTs - Chapter Two (PG)

In the privacy of his chamber he shed the stifling disguise. The suit he had crafted by gutting a captured Sarvos unit was oppressive to wear but offered him total concealment and excellent protection. I cannot be careful enough. These are volatile times and I must not take any chances. He sat at the command console and viewed the events of the day as seen and heard through the artificial sensory receptors of MT-01.

What he watched told him his M.A.I.M. troopers had performed flawlessly on Alcray. His countless experiments with the blending of gendrone and sincroid technology had been well worth it. The MTs were a perfect balance and possessed the optimal traits of both beings. Soon he would be able to initiate the first phase of his plan. He was about to terminate the program when something he heard struck him as odd. He listened to it again.

"MT-01, this is MT-52. The CMRI tracked the arrival and departure of a small ship on the planet during our maneuvers. Data on any life forms is inconclusive. Advise."

"Check its signature against the database of known vessels in the Glyos system and dispatch two short range fighters to scan the standard search radius. Report back with any findings."

He played it one more time just to be certain but there was no mistake. MT-01 had received vital information and given orders without consulting him first! He found himself elated, irate, and...terrified. The embedded protocol dictates that he should have automatically contacted me. Instead he handled it himself and never alerted me to this potential dilemma. How can this be? He ran a comprehensive diagnostic analysis of MT-01's central processor. The results showed no malfunctions or modifications of any kind.

This is what I ultimately want, is it not? A synthetic life form with the sentience of a sincroid and the resilience of a gendrone? That may have been true but he had not yet given the trooper the behavior he was demonstrating. MT-01 had somehow developed the ability on his own! After much deliberation he decided that the best course of action was to say nothing and observe his second in charge closely.

Halfway across Glyos, the ship carrying the MTs made its way back to base. MT-01 had joined MT-52 in the cockpit and stared straight ahead into the blackness. An almost invisible cable connected the two gendrones via hidden ports in their upper legs. Data from the patrol he had sent out earlier streamed into him from the pilot. It was foolish of me to speak aloud. Now he will scrutinize me even more. I must be cautious moving forward...

MTs - Chapter One (PG)


"The training exercise is complete", the olive drab Buildman said flatly to no one. "The enemy combatants were not a problem. Our unit sustained no casualties and limited damage. All M.A.I.M. Troopers are fully functional and ready for deployment". The reply came almost immediately from a speaker hidden underneath its helmet.

"As I expected, MT-01. The added shielding prevented the Crayboth from disrupting energy and feeding. You killed them all?" The muffled voice sounded unnatural but not manufactured.


"Leave no trace of your actions and return at once." A short burst of static was followed by silence.

MT-01 strode over to the gendrones and stopped. Identical to him in color but still in their various fighting forms, the MTs patiently awaited orders. He spoke a series of commands and the group broke down and reassembled into individual troopers in platoon formation. They turned to their right as one and dispersed to sweep the battlefield for any evidence. Footprints were erased and fragments of armor removed from the piles of butchered Crayboth. The blast holes from their phase arms could have been made by any number of weapons so they left the carcasses where they lay. Unlike typical gendrones, the troopers moved fluidly as they carried out their duty.

When the task was done, several pairs of MTs began to combine. Dome shaped wheels appeared from within their backpacks as they morphed into vehicles. Troopers lined up single file, deposited the scraps they had collected into the ground transports, and marched in columns to the perimeter of a clearing. The vehicles joined them as a ship seemed to materialize out of thin air above the open area. It hovered close to the surface and extended a long ramp from its hatch. The unit deftly boarded and within minutes the spacecraft was gone.

The pilot engaged the cloaking device and studied the array of instrumentation before him. He docked with the Continuous Monitoring Radar Interface to review what it had recorded during their time on Alcray. There was trouble.

"MT-01, this is MT-52. The CMRI tracked the arrival and departure of a small ship on the planet during our maneuvers", the pilot stated to the empty cockpit. "Data on any life forms is inconclusive. Advise."

"Check its signature against the database of known vessels in the Glyos system and dispatch two short range fighters to scan the standard search radius," MT-01 answered. "Report back with any findings."

He considered the news MT-52 had just given him. I am not going to transmit this information yet. Better to wait and see what the patrol discovers. MT-01 didn't realize that what he was doing was unheard of for a gendrone. Independent thought and decision making was only for sentient beings...wasn't it?