This Science Fiction short story is a lead-up to the book titled, Onyalum Wars. The book is part of the Science Fiction Onyalum Series written by NB VanYoos.
Ilthot watched the last of the blood drain from the wounds of his victim. His actions had yielded little to no information on the Freedom Fighters mounting resistance to the occupation of their world. Ilthot led that occupational force and held little tolerance for resistance. If nothing else, the torture session had satisfied his blood thirst.
Ilthot was an Onyalum currently possessing the leader of an occupational force of the Trilliu. The leader’s name was General Akkurgat, and he had died in a battle he led on a distant world now occupied by the Acriend. That had been a devastating loss, but a gain for Ilthot. The Trilliu Creator, Confale, had blessed the takeover, but demanded great things from the Onyalum. The god had few kind words for Onyalum, but to date, Ilthot had not disappointed.
Although he hated the insectoid Trilliu, their hierarchical society provided a perfect vantage from which to fight in the Onyalum Wars. His word was absolute within their ranks, so only he could be blamed when things went wrong. He made sure they never went wrong.
He peered past the bloody body to another one hanging unconscious by its ankles. If Ilthot didn’t torture him, he would be processed as food, same as all the prisoners captured during a conflict. Ilthot cringed as he thought about their processing methods. Even he found it disgusting and was repelled whenever he ate the results, a necessary evil to keep his body alive.
The Trilliu were masters of the chemical and biological processes, injecting their victims with a toxic substance that turned the skin into a flexible bag for the liquefaction of internal organs, muscles, and bone. The resultant sludge was fermented into an edible food source for their flourishing hive. Killing your enemy was one thing, but eating them was another, and even a vicious Onyalum like Ilthot found it primitive.
Below the massive city-hive, herds of intelligent species were raised for one purpose: food. They were simply cattle to feed the ever growing and expanding forces of the Trilliu, so holding the upper hand in the galactic war against the Acriend. This world, called Grindeer by the resident population, was another conquest designed to provide resources for the army of Trilliu. Although he controlled the occupational forces on the planet, he was building a mobile battlegroup capable of long range attacks against key Acriend assets. It was his desire to succeed the current regional commander, extending his reach to even more of the Trilliu.
He looked down at his six-legged body and flexed his upper limbs, feeling the power beneath the hardened exterior. He hated their forms but loved the strength it possessed. Against all but the Acriend, no species was adept at fighting the Trilliu. The soldiers were nearly invulnerable, even surviving nuclear attacks. With their vast knowledge of chemical and biological systems, they were nearly unstoppable.
He picked up the remnants of his interrogation and shredded it like paper, the feel of the strength an intoxicating drug he could not give up. He was an Alpha Male, and a typical hive only possessed several hundred. They alone were the progenitors of the species, breeding with females to populate the rest of the community. They controlled the breeding to the point of industrialization, using special chemicals to induce only those types needed by the hive. Ilthot had mandated an increase in the production of soldiers.
Although he missed the intimate connections of love making, his desire for power and destruction overcame that limitation in the Trilliu. He even stopped going to the nurseries, disgusted by the blind, larval females whose only purpose was to reproduce. It was too cold and efficient for Ilthot’s liking. He preferred the warmer, softer species where intimacy was often attained with females. Still, it was hard to resist the power. He wanted to win the conflict, partaking in the ultimate prize with the winning Creator.
A worker mistakenly walked into the room, attempting to clean up the mess Ilthot had created. He watched the diminutive creature as it went about its limited life within the hive. Ilthot despised its presence in his divine sanctum of torture. With two quick steps, he was upon the squat worker, pulling its limbs off like a tree. The creature shrieked in an irritating, grinding voice until Ilthot silenced it by removing the head. He threw the parts to the floor in a heap and turned to the scientist monitoring the proceedings from inside a glass booth. He threw a bloody limb at the window, smearing blood down its length. The scientist jumped back in terror.
“How many times have I told you never to interrupt me until I am done?” Ilthot screamed.
“I am sorry, General, he was new and did not know better.”
The scientist’s voice grated on Ilthot’s ears. He would never get used to the metallic sound of these creature’s. “Next time, I will take my anger out on you.”
“Yes, General, I understand.” The scientist said with little remorse. “Are you finished yet?”
“No, now leave me alone.” Ilthot said threateningly.
The scientist types were necessary to maintain their technological dominance, but they were always a threat to the hierarchical structure of the hive. They demanded more freedom and latitude, conspiring to replace the Alpha Males with themselves as breeders. It was possible for them to breed, but it was strongly forbidden, a fact they obviously resented.
Ilthot had wisely reduced the population of his scientists and demanded more and more from them. This kept them busy and unable to plot against their leaders. Occasionally shredding one of them in front of the others was a good lesson to ensure they all towed the line. Perhaps the one in the booth was ready to be an example for the rest.
He walked over to the prisoner and eyed it critically. This male had been captured during a raid on one of the underground facilities used by the freedom fighters. Although he could not extract useful information from his friend, perhaps this one would be more cooperative when he saw the remnants on the floor. Death could be a great motivator, even for would-be martyrs. Many fooled themselves into thinking cooperation was a means to learn more about the Trilliu, exploiting that relationship for their own means. Ilthot loved to use them in that manner. It rarely backfired.
“Wake him up!” He demanded from the scientist in the booth.
A small device descended from the ceiling and injected the young man. Within seconds the body twitched as the chemical woke him from his induced coma. Ilthot smiled inwardly as he thought about cheating the scientist of his food. This one would not be processed regardless of whether he provided information.
The eyes blinked wildly as the man took in his surroundings. He nearly retched as he spotted the body parts strewn across the floor in a pool of blood. He looked into the grotesque mask of Ilthot and screamed. Ilthot waited until the man thoroughly drained the last of his energy reserves in a futile attempt to escape his bonds.
He eyed the scientist. “Turn on the translator.”
He turned back to his victim and spoke. “You can see I do not mess around when I interrogate terrorists.” The translator turned his metallic clicks into words the man could understand. The sound was very mechanical, but it conveyed what he’d said accurately. The man searched the room desperately, still plotting an escape. They never learn, Ilthot reflected. “You cannot escape. Your friend thought the same as you, and look what became of him. Do you wish the same fate?”
The man’s eyes locked with Ilthot’s, and the Onyalum saw a deep hatred peering back. Good, it was this hatred he could use to manipulate the prisoner. “You see, you view us as an enemy, but I assure you we are your friends. We will protect you from the ravages of the Acriend. They are a most horrible race bent on sadistic rituals with any species they dominate. Bloody orgies with your females are but one thing you can expect from them.” Ilthot would try sugar with this one. The threat of a violent death was already implied by the remains of his friend. “Is that what you want for your females? You can protect them. In fact, you can even protect them from my scientist friend behind the glass. He wants to experiment with your kind, but I have held him off, so far.”
The young man turned away, a look of disgust replacing the hatred.
“Now, now, imagine you are the one that saves the females we have in captivity. I would imagine they would be genuinely indebted to you. In fact, they would view you as a hero, providing you with favors only women can provide. Surely, you would prefer that to death?” The sex card was also a great motivator.
The young man turned back defiant. “How many of our women do you have?”
Ilthot smiled inwardly. “Several hundred, I believe. But if that is not enough, we have other females who would love to mount you for nothing more than fun. We have many species that love to conjugate, regardless of whom they do it with. You could live like a king with a thousand concubines under our care.”
The young man looked dubious, but interest sparkled in his eyes. “What would you have me do in return for this royal lifestyle?”
Ilthot had him now. “I only want your help in pacifying your world, turning them to our side so we can accomplish our goal of vanquishing the enemy. Trust me when I say they are your enemy, too.”
The young man looked indecisive, but nodded. “I’ll do it.”
This looked promising, Ilthot thought calmly, now for the final test of loyalty. He turned to the scientist and made sure the weapon was still in place. The large blade sat quietly against the wall. “Please release our friend here so we can take care of his needs.”
The chains securing him to the ceiling loosened as his body was lowered to the floor. The large clasps around his ankles opened, freeing him from his bonds. Ilthot offered a limb to help him from the floor, but the young man refused the assistance.
Interesting, he thought.
The young man stood, his body barely half the height of Ilthot. “I need food, clothing, and maybe one of those females you mentioned.” He said it defiantly, obviously thinking he had the upper hand.
Ilthot laughed inwardly. They always believe they have the upper hand.
He turned his back to the prisoner, looking through the glass of the scientist’s booth. “Did you hear our friend? Let’s get moving and make him as comfortable as possible. A Welm female ought to serve him fine.”
The scientist nodded as Ilthot detected the oncoming movement from behind. With rapid reflexes far faster than that of the young man, he crouched nearly flat to the ground as he shot his rear leg directly into the young man’s mid-section. The sound as the blade hit the floor was quickly followed by the solid thump of the young man’s body. He was nearly dead from the blow.
Ilthot stood up, looking down at the young man struggling to breath as internal bleeding filled his inner cavity. “It is a pity you could not work with us—but others will.”
He bent down and picked up the body carefully. Grabbing both shoulders, he pulled as hard as he could, ripping the man in half. He discarded the pieces before walking to the shower. In some ways, he was happy the young man had not cooperated.
He stepped into the shower before turning to the scientist. “I am finally finished.” He turned on the caustic soup of chemicals to sanitize his exterior shell. Ironically, cleanliness was important to the Trilliu.