The Apocalypse Squad and the Saoshyant of Koresel: An Olduvai Story

The fusion glow of the solar white star that burned in the sky above Koresel was positioned in the unblemished sky just right to allow its light to spill into the cave. A tall shrouded figure rushing into the entrance found where the faint light and the absolute darkness bordered on the cold rocky ground. Its long wire frame now obscured by shadow it shed its long flowing garb
It used its fingertips to prod its colorless waxy flesh. The soft skin yielded like ripening fruit then tore open. It held out its hand up. The light gleamed in the viscous dark purple fluid dripping from its finger.
It rotated its jaw and heard something rattled inside its mouth. A tooth fell from between its lips and shattered on the floor. Blood seeped from the corners of its mouth, and it spat out a long stream of red and black liquid
Its wings sprang open into their full six-foot expanse. Withered and discolored the few remaining feathers fell from the leathery flesh and slowly drifted away.
The lissome form stepped out of the sheltering darkness. The light pierced its emaciated frame and projected the shadow of its bones against the wall. The gaping fissures in its body seemed to be opening ever wider, and its receding flesh revealed decaying organs wrapped in a metallic skeleton.
The winged humanoid couldn't see the dark, angular man who appeared to be standing in front of him, examining the state of decomposition.
“Shit.” Muttered Ottunno.
The cave became transparent revealing a dark empty room. The scene became static as it if had been crudely superimposed over reality and it slowly dimmed until it vanished.
Ottunno pulled the wires connected to his temples. He looked around the empty chamber and sighed.
“Central.” He called.
“Yes, commander Ottunno.” The invisible AI interface answered.
“Tell the bioengineering unit the background radiation on Koresel is much stronger than we thought.” Ottunno ordered.
“Yes, Commander.” Central replied obediently.
At first glance, Koresel seems too hostile an environment for all but the simplest forms of life. The planet is crisscrossed by ranges of jagged peaks and barren plateaus that wall in dusty land corridors and grow over bottomless chasms made by the impact of meteors from when the planet was still in its infancy
The enormous white star that filled Koresel’s sky was enough to catalyze the chemical reactions that precede life and the waterways that cut through the mountains was adequate to allow it to flourish.
Koresel was a lost outpost far beyond the frontiers of Singularity’s space empire. It was founded at a time when humanity was in a new era of interstellar expansion, but as the human presence among the stars receded colonist found themselves forsaken by their masters on Olduvai. The black expanse of space between the two was constantly expanding pulling them further and further out reach into eternity.
Just like their ancestors who one day found themselves under the blue sky of Earth the inhabitants of Koresel only retained a murky account of how they had come to be on Koresel. The celestial bodies in the alien solar system moved at a rhythm as mechanical as a clock’s rotation were spun by a flow of time that moved quite differently than anything experienced by Homo sapiens. Koresel fostered an evolution in successive generations and over time the primate evolutionary tree grew yet another branch.
The physical remains of the original colonists had long collapsed and were slowly disintegrating into the planet’s dust. Rusted metal fragments dug up in the ground served only as a vague reminder of a shared point of origin incomprehensible to most and ultimately of little consequence in the context of day to day survival.
The winged man decomposing in the cave was a biomechanical shell called an Erebus, operated by Grigori Ottunno, who orbited Koresel in his observation vessel floating on the edge of space watching like an ambivalent god. To the people on the surface of Koresel his ship was just another star in the sky, but electronic sensors deployed all over the planet made Ottunno an omnipotent presence. Just like the divine creators of the myth he used his power to influence life in a world oblivious to his presence.
This power was not absolute. He could set events into motion, he could anticipate what would usually follow with a great degree of certainty, but no matter how much information he gathered about Koresel there were always unexpected variables.
Even planetary overlords were subject to the whims and machinations of fate. Ottunno had learned long ago that human will means nothing to the universe, and that the prevailing chaos always punished hubris with destruction.  It was a lesson he never forgot.
Ottunno had spent the last four years on The Kerillian Circle. A jagged land formation that spiked out of the ocean formed by the melding of lava and water. This "sanctuary" was about 671 thousand miles from Olduvai.
It was chosen as the intake site for the interplanetary refugees that poured in from every corner of Singularities domain. Most of them were the survivors of their planet’s own Armageddon.
The idea that life can go on after the Apocalypse was something the earthbound ancestors of the planetary colonists could never have understood, but the inhabitants of Kerillian’s refugee compounds were the proof.
Everyone living on the Kerillian circle was escaping one form of apocalypse or another. Their respective civilizations met their end in a variety of ways. Sometimes the catastrophes were man made, and could only be seen as the consequences of suicidal arrogance. There were catastrophic shifts in the climate brought on by heavy industrial activity, resource depletion that precipitated wars that consumed the entire planet. Other times the planet itself destroyed the human presence on its surface through time tested methods of eradication such as seismic activity and plague.
Those who escaped and then managed to survive their perilous exodus through the deep black of space were processed at Kerillian. The facility was built so Olduvai could preserve its best and brightest no matter what disaster may befall them, however, as the network of space colonies grew so too did the number of refugees.
The forlorn engineers, administrators, and industrial designers housed inside Kerillian lived with the hope Olduvai would find need for them elsewhere but this was often not the case. The facility burst at the seams with people who had become superfluous.
Ottunno found himself exiled to Kerillian when an experimental nuclear reactor on his home world melted down, and the radioactive contents spilled into the interconnected waterways that cut across the planet’s surface transforming the life supporting essence into poison.
The disgraced chief engineer was in charge of the project that ended in Armageddon. It earned him the nickname “the omega” among his fellow exiles.
Kerillian became a warehouse for people like Ottunno. Forsaken Technocrats. The facility was a decaying titanium dungeon. The neglected structures fell into disrepair while the physical forces of the planet's surface ate away at the alloy skeletons of the sprawling compound. The life support systems had never been upgraded; the failing systems were only periodically repaired, sometimes only narrowly averting disaster.
Ottunno and his family had lived the sheltered lives as a kind of new technocratic nobility, but on Kerillian, they were relegated to the status of refugees. The bare essentials were tightly rationed and delivered unreliable hunger, and pestilence stalked the inhabitants claiming victims with impunity. Children were the most vulnerable to these specters.
Ottunno was one of the fortunate few to escape. He was offered the chance to lead a team to re-engineer Koresel. Officially they were called a geoengineering unit, but their more popular monocle was the apocalypse squad.  It was the first mission of its kind. Ottunno and his team was charged with assessing the planetary damage and to begin repairing the damaged ecosystem accordingly. This included eradication of the people on Koresel.
Ottunno did not have an army to work with, and weapons of mass destruction ran the risk of destroying the planet’s untapped valuable resources, Ottunno’s genocide had to be creative and cost efficient.
Like the lost gods of primitive man Ottunno had his own creatures he engineered to be his messengers as well as agents of destruction. One such being they christened Seraph. Seraph was based on the conceptual designs done by renowned anthropologist Vedic. It was a semi mechanical organism, at least, one tribe on Koresel was fooled into thinking was divinity.
Seraph or Ottunno depending on how one looks at it was busy applying a quickly mixed chemical compound that could act as a sort of plaster to cover up the growing fissures in its flesh. The makeshift mold was roughly the same shade of color as its skin and blended in well enough.
It was only a temporary fix, though. Seraph could hear footsteps approaching the cave. He smoothed over his plastered on flesh, folded in his haggard wings, and covered it all with his long shroud.
“Erebus it’s Tuisar Erde.”
“Enter.” replied Seraph with cold detachment.
Erde and his son Himmel made up the patriarch that commanded the Toskas. Erde’s father Tuisar was the first to bind the loose collective of clans living in the Toska basin into a tribal nation. Now Erde had his own test of leadership to face. Finding the Toska a new home.
Erebus walked through the dusty encampment alongside Erde with Himmel following behind.
The tribesmen busy uprooting the camp stopped what they were doing to bow to their heads to Erde and Erebus.
“Destroy our enemies Erebus!” They shouted with crazed blood lust. Erebus raised his hand in acknowledgment.
“Today is the day of my people today is the day of the Toska!” Erebus proclaimed.
“We’ve prepared a ceremony before the battle today. An offering to you Erebus.” explained Erde.
“Yes,” interjected Himmel. “We are grateful you are leading us away from the encroaching darkness, but we want you to know the Toska will one day return to its home on Koresel.”
“It lightens my heart to know the Toska love the home I created for them so much.” Said Erebus.
“Maybe more than a God can ever know.” Erde said with a smile.
They stopped just outside the camp. The darkness encroaching across what was now the far side of the planet was cut by a very clear border only miles away a dividing line between the light of day and the cold shroud of a night that was going to last for generations.
It was that long night that forced the Toska to transform themselves into nomads. It was what they believed Erebus had come to save them from.
Erebus equipped them with weapons that seemed like magic to the primitive people on Koresel. Hand held weapons capable of unparalleled destruction. The Toska used these instruments of death to great effect. They left the surface of Koresel littered with the tattered remains of lead punctured bodies. Their enemies had nothing comparable. Even amid the piling bodies the Toska refused to see they were agents of their own extermination.
There was a line of prisoners waiting on their knees in front of a long trench hastily dug into the dirt. Some were whimpering while they clenched each other others were silent.
“We no longer have need for these prisoners, so we are giving them to the soil.” Explained Erde.
The prisoners were being circled by men with guns, guns that were gifts brought by Erebus from Ottunno’s ship.
“Begin the ceremony.” Erde said to Himmel
“Yes father.” Himmel replied eagerly.
Himmel marched over to the cowering prisoners, and the warriors turned executioners gathered around him.
“Brothers today begins our final trial. Once we win the day a new chapter in the history of the Toska. The stars have proclaimed us the favored people of Koresel, and they have intervened to assure that we will not be swallowed by the darkness. But we know our creators have long watched over us. My grandfather the first Tuisar was chosen by Erebus and the god’s of Koresel to make sure the Toska came together under the right leaders to survive the turbulent changes our world is going through. Erebus brought us these divine weapons because the creators have ordained the Tuisar of the Toska to be the master not just of the Zamma basin but of all the world. Not us but our children will one day return to this side of the planet, and it will be where they raise their children. We will leave them fertile ground with which to sew new life.” Declared Himmel.
Ottunno was watching the spectacle through seraphs eyes with what as first clinical detachment. He had no ordered this blood sacrifice. The tribal leaders had taken it upon themselves to conduct this ceremony.
Ottunno flinched, but fortunately Erebus did not when they opened fire. The rounds exploded through the bodies of the prisoners and their shredded remains fell into the trench. The ones that were still alive writhed like worms in the blood soaked dirt.
A warrior brandishing a flame weapon stepped forward the fire burning on the trip of his barrel. He pulled the trigger, and the weapon spat its terrible fire
Ottunno body jolted like he just woke from a nightmare. He was back in the barren chamber, wired to the neural control system.
“Commander Ottunno your presence is requested in the bioengineering facility.” Central said seemingly indifferent to Ottunno’s terrified state.
“Got it central.” he replied in a shaken voice.
The Erebus was a carefully crafted biological construct designed mostly for manual labor on planets inhospitable to humans. Under the right conditions, they were self-replicating machines. It was something almost human, but not completely. The model Ottunno was using as his puppet to interact with Koresel was not all too different from more basic models besides the addition of wings and neural interfacing.
The androgynous being had human flesh, it had crystal blue eyes, it walked upright supported by a row of vertebrate, but its smooth face lacked any distinctions etched by age or experience. Seraph had never lived because it had never been born. It was simply built. The Erebus only possessed a rudimentary almost reptilian brain stem.
It gazed out from behind its glass encasement with sightless eyes. It had no consciousness because it hadn't yet been given any senses.
Doctor Negev was the chief biological engineer aboard the ship. He was tasked with tailoring the Seraph units for use on Koresel.
“We’ve been working on making the units more resistant to the radioactivity on the planet’s surface, and we think we found the solution.” explained Negrev.
“What have you got?” Asked Ottunno.
“We changed the cellular alloy that goes into assembling the skeletal structure. It’s just as flexible but many times more durable. Also, we accelerated the division of certain cells so skin its skin will grow and shed quicker. Negrev explained.
“Nice work when can they be deployed?” Ottunno asked.
“As soon as the neural processors are merged with the central nervous system.” Answered Negev
“Good, good” Ottunno nodded.
Negev was silent for a moment. “Are you ok sir?” he asked.
“I’m fine Negev,” Ottunno said dismissively, wiping away the cold sweat from his brow.
“How are things going on your end?” Negev asked.
“Everything’s running smoothly with the Toskas they should be attacking the basin within a few hours.” Ottunno informed him.
“Ah good. I wonder what that other tribe ended up doing with the Seraph that landed on their territory.”
Ottunno shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out. I’ll be glad when this is all over Negev. There are some aspects of genocide I just can’t help but get a little shaken up by.”
“I see. Did something happen in the encampment?” Asked Negev.
“They tested the flame throwers we sent them.” Ottunno replied.
“Oh” Negev mumbled
“Yeah,” Ottunno nodded.
The two specialist stood silently for a moment.
“Well I better get back to it.” declared Ottunno.
“Yes of course.” Negev agreed.
Ottunno started for the door.
“Oh, also no tongue formed.” Negev blurted out “but don’t worry a voice modulation system will be ready.”
Zamma was a fertile river basin, a lush green oasis hidden away in the rocky badlands of Koresel. The Toskas had never known about it before Seraph promised the recently exiled people fate had ordained it to be their new home.
What their heavenly protector hadn’t told them was another visitor from the stars had armed them with powerful weapons as well. The unsuspecting Toskas charged headlong into the churning maw, and the basin became fire scorched blood-soaked killing fields.
Erde and Himmel both wounded were stumbling along one side of the corpse-choked river trying to escape the slaughter. Fields of crops burning at their backs sent up plumes of gray and black smoke that covered the sky.  The crackling of the fires, the sporadic gunfire, and screams of the wounded all melded into a horrific ambiance.
They looked for cover amid the tall grass and trees. No one seemed to be pursuing them for the time. Both sides were shattered in the fight and chaos enveloped the battlefield. Erde’s leg had taken a hit. The blood was draining from the wound too quickly to save him. Before long the warm blood running down his leg began to run cold, and he knew his time was almost up.
“Himmel,” he groaned. “Himmel let me rest here.”
“We have to keep moving.” Insisted Himmel.
“It’s over Himmel. Just set me down.”
Himmel saw a clearing among the trees just a few yards away. He carried his ailing father to the tallest tree and set him down beneath it before falling beside him.
Seraph was nowhere to be found, and the rest of the tribe was either dead or had fled the battlefield. Everything was gone. There was nothing left for father and son to do but find what comfort they could in accepting the end together.
Only right before death does the human mind lose its ability to escape into the future. The past and present are all that’s left to contemplate. Often thought takes on a new clarity and finally, the continuum of moments that lead a life to conclude where it does starts to make sense.
“What do you think Erebus really was.” asked Erde in a weak voice.
Himmel shook his head. “I don’t know,” he mumbled.
“I’m sorry for all this.” Said Erde.
“It wasn’t your fault.” Himmel tried to assure him. ‘Seraph brought the weapons to Koresel. He led us to Zamma.”
“It was up to us the whole time whether or not to follow.” said Erde.
Himmel didn’t answer.
A wind flowing over the basin rattled the trees. There was the sound of something of something rattling in the branches above them.
They looked up and saw the bleached white bones of a winged skeleton hanging above them.
With the battle at the Zamma basin, Ottunno had finally shattered the last remaining bonds of civilized life on Koresel. The once great tribes were now scattered fragments that would either kill each other or be destroyed by the elements. Ottunno had won Koresel for Singularity.
 The crew celebrated their successfully orchestrated genocide with champagne. They speculated about the promotions and accolades they would receive. They looked down on their prize, floating silently in the eternal sea. Besides in the official reports Ottunno never mentioned the massacres he witnessed while piloting their false prophet.
After Ottunno landed on Koresel humanity had become and endangered species on the planet. Sightings of the feral, starving animals were rare. The only thing left to do was to assess how much of the mining infrastructure constructed by the colonist was still intact.
They sent their humanoid serifs. Creations to map the mines and salvage scrap from abandoned machinery while their human masters waited for reinforcements to arrive from Olduvai. It all seemed routine, but the mysterious Koresel still had a few surprises left.
A cyclone engulfed half the planet. The thick clouds swallowed the sky. The whirling winds filled the air with rocks and dust reducing visibility to zero. Lightning bolts miles long illuminated the maelstrom with their burning white light. It was a storm in scope and ferocity no one in the crew had been prepared for. The atmospheric interference made the already difficult task of communicating with Olduvai virtually impossible.
In a last ditch effort, Ottunno sent out an Erebus to erect a communications beacon on the highest summit possible. As he watched the creature disappear into the thickening dust fearing weather the storm or the radiation. It was then clear to Ottunno who the new masters of Koresel were going to be.

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