Chapter III: The First Wave

            aun Deuil Sjir’phal Aellus-terus pulled on his pale armor made of treated boueli skin and bones.  The armor was light, flexible and strong.  The material could only be pierced by the sharpest of objects.  He picked up his helmet molded from lisket bones and topped with a lisket feather that changed colors depending on how the light hit it.  The feather rose high into the air and fell down to his lower back.  Like others of his gender, Sjir’phal topped eight feet in height.  He stood at attention before the reflective wall of the cabin he shared with the other three commanders of this ship.  As his eyes ran over his form, he felt a deep, unshakable disgust and abhorrence.  He was a scientist first and foremost, even if he was one of the strongest of his gender.  The idea of depleting another world, of causing the mass extinction of another race of intelligent beings filled him with rancor towards the oun Shi’ehli.  His very armor was an attestation to the depravity of his race.

            The door of the cabin slid open and the other cabin inhabitants entered.  aun Deuil P’ata’lyh Aellus-terus and aun Deuil Pasia’h Ya’ih-terus shuffled in, allowing the door to close behind them.  They were in full armor already.

            aun P’ata’lyh opened his mouth to speak and aun Sjir’phal shook his head, striding to the console near the door and activating the privacy shield.

            “We must be careful,” he told his colleagues.

            aun P’ata’lyh bowed.  “Pardon my indiscretion, aun Sjir’phal.”

            “It is no matter,” Aun Sjir’phal assured his friend.  His tail slashed behind him, giving away his disconcertion and agitated state.  “Are the others ready?”

            “Ye,” aun Pasia’h replied.  “We number two hundred and seven.”

            aun P’ata’lyh hissed.  “So few?”

            aun Sjir’phal shifted. “It will have to be enough.  Once the majority of the army heads down into the planet, we will make our move.”

            “How many of the aun Deuili are headed down?” aun Pasia’h asked.

            aun P’ata’lyh calculated in his head.  “Just over 150.”

            aun Sjir’phal wrapped his tail tightly around his left thigh.  “That leaves two hundred Deuili we will have to dispatch within all the arks.”

            aun P’ata’lyh took a step forward.  “And the Shi’ehli?”            

            aun Pasia’h huffed, showing his humor. “We will flood the ships with the pheromones and the drugs we’ve prepared.  They will be helpless.”

            “But the Ya’ihone and Aellus will be on the world, directing the war,” aun Sjir’phal reminded them.

            “They number five,” aun Pasia’h replied.  “Once they step inside the ships once more, they will be overcome as well.”

            aun Sjir’phal shifted.  “Perhaps they will be captured or outright killed by the inhabitants of the world.”

            The other two inclined their heads.

            aun Sjir’phal sighed.  “We can’t rely on the inhabitants, though.  We must prepare for the worst.  The Ya’ihone and Aellus are the strongest of the Shi’ehli.  We will have to kill them outright.  I do not believe they will be easily overcome by the pheromones and drugs.”

            The other two looked at one another and their tails slashed the empty air, giving away their surprise and disconcertion.

            “Do not fret,” aun Sjir’phal told them. “We will kill them.”

            The other two bowed.

            aun Sjir’phal squared his shoulders.  “The age of the Shi’ehli is nigh at an end.  The Age of the Deuili approaches.”

            They lifted their fists to the air then turned as one towards the door.

***

            oun Shi’ehl D’jir Ya’ihone-Aellus gazed at the line of soldiers in their flesh and bone armor.  He felt his sexes stir at the prowess amassed before him.  As he walked before the line of Deuili and examined their posture and readiness, he felt himself go into the beginnings of estrum.  He paused, frowning with consternation.  Once he went into heat, he would be useless.  He wrapped his tail tightly around his thigh to keep from giving away his dismay.  

            It must be the excitement of battle, he assured himself as he signalled the troops to begin their descent into the planet.

            The troops turned as one and headed towards the shuttles. Once in the shuttles, they would strap themselves into their personal transports, which would allow them to fly easily in the planet’s heavy gravity.  There were only 102 Deuili on each ark.  oun D’jir’s ark would contribute 52 soldiers to the battle, leaving 50 behind to guard over the boueli and the machinery.  oun Shi’ehl D’jir Ya’ihone-Aellus himself would lead the charge, although he was not to fight himself, being a ruler and breeder.  He was too precious to lose in battle.

            He followed the last of the troops onto the shuttle and went to his personal transport to buckle himself in.  The transport almost looked like an egg with a rounded plastic window through which pilot could see in all directions, including up.  As a race, they might not readily tolerate the atmosphere of the world.  Their ships had artificial gravity, but it was not as strong as that of a world.  The only downside of the personal transports was that the breathable air would last for a limited amount of time, perhaps 90 minutes.  They would have to be victorious within that limited amount of time.  oun Shi’ehl D’jir Ya’ihone-Aellus had his doubts, since the inhabitants numbered in the millions. But he had no doubts as to the Sha’jeen’s superiority.  They would outright kill as many as they were able to then the others would fall upon their knees and worship them.  It always happened in that way.  The Sha’jeen would tout themselves as benevolent rulers until their hold on the populace was complete.  Then their true nature would be revealed.  

            oun Shi’ehl D’jir frowned.  Their people would have to conduct experiments in secret.  They needed to find out why the Shi’ehli were not going into estrus as frequently as they once had and why coupling was not producing as many kits as it once had.  If the race of aliens on the planet numbered in the millions, then they were successful breeders.  The Sha’jeen would have to dissect the bodies of the aliens to find out why they were so successful as breeders.

            His attention wandered to the shuttle as it powered up and prepared to leave the ark behind.  The shuttle shook itself, like a great waking beast, and then the sound died down to a steady hum as it warmed up and readied itself for flight.  The journey to the planet would take several hours. During that time, oun Shi’ehl D’jir would confer with his counterparts on the other five shuttles.  He squared his shoulders and shut the personal transport plastic door to give himself some privacy.  Once he felt he was secure, he hailed the other four oun Shi’ehli.

            A few seconds later, oun Rhus’ voice filled oun D’jir’s personal transport.

            “Hail Ya’ih-Ael, the Dual-Faced God!”

            oun D’jir refrained from rolling his eyes.  Stuffy oun Rhus.

            “Hail the Dual-Faced God,” oun D’jir replied and waited for the other three to greet him.

            “oun Lisima here.”

            “oun Mesan accounted for.”

            “oun M’ian also.”

            oun D’jir nodded.  “Greetings.  Is all prepared?”

            “Ye, oun D’jir.  All is prepared,” oun Mesan assured him.

            “You should be cocooned in your cabin, oun Mesan,” oun Lisima piped up.  “You carry younglings in your pouch!”

            oun D’jir frowned.  Was this the case?

            He heard a hiss through the communicator.

            “This is not your concern, oun Lisima,” oun Mesan spat.  “I am early in my breeding.  I can well direct my troops.”

            “I am concerned for your younglings, oun Mesan!” oun Lisima hissed back.  “If you lose the clutch–“

            “Quiet!” oun D’jir roared.  “Say nothing aloud of such magnitude.  The God hears all.”

            Silence filled the intercom.

            After few seconds, oun Lisima piped up.  “Ye, oun D’jir.  You tell the truth.”

            oun D’jir refrained from hissing his impatience.  oun Lisima was not the brightest of their gender.  Once they were on the planet as conquerors, he would dispatch oun Lisima once and for all, as he would dispatch the other High Priests.  He already had a plan in mind.  oun Mesan, once he had his clutch, would be weak for a few hours and prime for murder.  oun D’jir already had operatives in place.  He would steal oun Mesan’s younglings and he would show them off to the Sha’jeen as his own.  The act of showing the clutch to the Sha’jeen would strengthen his position as High Priest.  If the Sha’jeen believed he had bred the younglings, then they would no longer doubt his ability to procreate. It was only matter of time before he conceived his own clutch of younglings.  Once he bred his own clutch, he would kill oun Mesan’s younglings and decimate his genetic pool.

            His descendants would continue to rule; his genetic material would ensure his immortality.  His mind could not conceive of failure, so it did not.  All oun Shi’ehl had this blind spot, not shared by any other gender of the Sha’jeen.  As his mind became subsumed with plans of murdering the other High Priests, the ark doors slid open and the five shuttles carrying their troops dropped into airless space.  The planet loomed large before them, taking up most of the vista.  oun D’jir allowed his eyes to take in the blue and white sphere  before him.  The idea of ruling an entire world filled him with endorphins and soothed as well as aroused him.  He wondered if he had time to find an aun Deuil to mate with.  He hissed with discontent.  The Sha’jeen coupling took at least 10 stellar hours during which oun Shi’ehl and aun Deuil were locked together via their sexes.  It took that long for their genetic material to transfer from one sex to the other, for their sexual cells to travel from one body to the other, for consummation to ensure the maximum number of eggs were impregnated.  oun D’jir’s mind filled with the possibility of conceiving ten younglings.  Such a thing would never happen of course, but he could dream.  Many of the impregnated eggs were reabsorbed by the breeder’s body, depending on the size of the environment the Sha’jeen occupied.  Since the Sha’jeen had lived in a limited environment for centuries, oun Shi’ehli had only been able to conceive five younglings at the most, the rest of the eggs reabsorbed.  But once they lived on a planet, it was conceivable that an oun Shi’ehl could clutch ten younglings.  Such an event had not occurred in nearly two thousand years.  If oun D’jir could accomplish such a task, he would go down in history as a legend.

            He bristled with pride and plans.  His tail puffed up and slashed about in the small space of the personal transporter.  He could smell his arousal, his pheromones flooding the small space and fully triggering his estrus.  He felt his sexes swell and grow slick with lubricant as his body prepared for copulation.  Copulation would be painful, exciting, and deliciously sweet.  He wondered which of the aun Deuili would be to his tastes.  Of course, he would wish to see two aun Deuili fight to the death for him, but that would not be possible until the battle for the planet was won.

            He wrapped his robes more tightly around his body as his temperature dipped.  Most of his blood would pool in his sexual organs now and his thoughts would grow foggy and unpredictable.  He grimaced at the inconvenience of all of this.  Why was God allowing this?  Hadn’t oun D’jir been a faithful priest, killing to provide meat and blood for the God and the people?  Praying for days on end?  Reading the holy tome until he knew it by heart?  How was he able to lead a vanguard into battle if he was in full estrus?

            Gasping for breath as his eggs released, he clutched the handles on each side of the personal transport.  If he didn’t copulate in the next day or so, his eggs would be reabsorbed into his body and God only knew when he would go into heat again.  He released a hiss of breath and bent over as his body was wracked by pain.  He recalled his training and breathed through it.  The arousal was sharp.  He could smell his lubricant as he flooded pheromones into the closed space of the personal transport.

            Soon the pheromones would leak into the shuttle and alert the aun Deuili.

            He cursed and hissed, reaching deep into his genetic memory to find a swift solution to his dilemma.

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