Twenty years before Jacob Lyre arrives in the universe...
When the humans came to visit your only real option was to run and to hide.
Their kind was one of the true boogiemen of the galaxy. A race that had less control over manna than they did technology, but levered that weakness into the design of some of the most fearsome technologically advanced weapons the systems protected by the Guard had ever seen.
In some ways, the human race was scarier than the Null Space Invaders that threatened the very existence of the galaxy itself.
You knew what an invader wanted. You could get inside its head. See its single-minded determination to consume as much manna as it could to bring the energy back to its queen.
A human? All you'd get from a human's eyes is cold, clinical indifference as its plasma burners rose to a high pitched whine before scorching you off the face of the planet permanently.
The Eldrani homeworld had been under attack from the human race for what felt like centuries, but in actual fact had only been a few months.
Their assault had started with the targetted annihilation of the Guard spaceports that littered the Eldrani star system.
The assault began with waves of human warbirds, sleek fighter ships that were equipped with plasma cannons that could shred a manna shield to bits in seconds with concentrated fire.
Following the warbirds were huge destroyer ships, modelled after the air carriers that they had supposedly used on Earth in order to allow their fighters to return back to their docking bays more efficiently. The destroyers used tungsten rods accelerated to 99% the speed of light. They shredded the Guard outposts as if they weren't even there.
Finally, the capital ship of the human attack fleet arrived. They called it Everest, based on their homeworld's tallest mountain. The entire ship was a bristling weapon, dark and moody and built for destruction. It was essentially a giant flying railgun. There were two spokes on either side, connected from the back with a central hub.
At the centre of those two spokes was the core of Sol.
The humans had ripped the beating manna heart straight out of their star system's star and had housed it in their ship as a giant power cell. They had destroyed their own star system and left it for dead, all in the pursuit of conquest and war.
When the humans brought the Everest into a system they didn't use it at first. It was a last ditch attempt weapon, only for use when the species that they were attacking wouldn't give up. If they couldn't have the resources of a world, then no one could. Instead its docking bays would open to release hordes upon hordes of skirmishers.
Skirmishers were unpiloted drones that were around the same size as an average human. They could fly at incredibly fast speeds, both within and exterior to an atmosphere, and usually, their overwhelming numbers and weaponry systems would be more than enough to subdue a resisting enemy.
The Eldrani were not that kind of opponent.
As the skirmishers began their bombardment of the surface, launching plasma bombs to burn great swathes of Eldrani forest, the planet itself seemed to respond. Great protective plants grew up in seconds, their vast leaves blocking the ground below from the onslaught of plasma fire.
Eventually, those plants would be eaten through, but below their protection, the Eldrani weren't just waiting for the skirmishers to come and get them. They were preparing more destructive defensive measures.
The strongest of the Eldrani had transformed into their second forms, big hulking mechs made from plant material that were equipped with even more offensive capabilities than the human's assault forces. Giant vines whipped out from below the treeline and raked themselves across the sky. Spines launched from their shoulders lanced through the air and impaled skirmisher after skirmisher.
But the human forces had something that the Eldrani could never hope to combat. The sheer power of numbers.
The humans had wiped out the Guard outposts in the system, and had likely intercepted any outgoing communications. Even if they hadn't it would take days for reinforcements to arrive at the Eldrani system's star, and by then it would be far too late for any kind of backup to make a difference.
The human race had been trawling the galaxy for centuries, and with each conquest they made they would harvest more metals and exotic materials to construct more and more of their skirmishers. More and more of their Warbirds. More and more of their destroyers. The human race was a plague, forever growing outward and crushing more species beneath their boot heel.
None of that meant that the Eldrani were going to give up. If anything, it made the tree-like aliens fight on even harder.
A last-ditch plan was conccocted. Something so insane that it had the potential to put a stop to the Everest and its merciless galactic genocide forever.
A group of thousands of Eldrani had come together under the shelter of the most protective giant leaves and were working their bodies together. Eldrani biology was forever adaptable, able to meld and transform any organic plant matter. That included the bodies of other Eldrani.
In some ways it was grotesque while in other ways it was pure genius. The strongest of the species had begun to weave into one another, creating a giant spear crafted out of the hardy bodies of the Eldrani themselves.
The remainder of the species, sheltered below their final bastion, propped the spear-ship up. Some sacrificed themselves immediately. They ignited the manna that animated their bodies and let themselves be burned up to propel the thing straight through the protective leaves and up into outer space.
The spear ship flew and the Eldrani back on their homeworld prayed. The science was sound. The heading was correct. The Eldrani were flying themselves straight into the core of Everest, intent on wiping it from the face of the galaxy forever.
It was a plan borne of desperation, and while if the ship had been allowed to collide with the star core at the Everests heart it would have worked, the humans were never going to allow a plan like that to come to fruition.
The roiling plasma of the star flickered and spasmed as the Everest poured more and more of its mighty power reserves into it. The core blazed and jets of plasma arced out between the two spokes of the spaceship, before being belched out into space. A weaponized coronal mass ejection.
The plasma streamed across space and devoured the spear-ship that the Eldrani had constructed, reducing it to atoms in a matter of moments. The plasma carried on, weakened, but strong enough to do the job it had been designed for.
The atmosphere of the planet crackled under the load, the magnetised poles unable to redistribute this much stellar material at once.
The plasma bombarded the world.
Plants were scorched into nothing. Animals were melted down before they knew what was happening to them. The Eldrani race was made extinct within moments.
After the human race had caused their great destruction, they got to work immediately.
The skirmishers were recalled to their bays on the Everest, only to be replaced by worker drones designed to melt down the blackened slag the planet below had become into molten rock and metal where it would be later purified and used to make more ships.
If they had managed to take the world without resorting to their biggest weapon, these worker drones would have also gathered important resources such as water and any other life forms that may have survived. Either to be used as slaves or food. That wouldn't be an option with the now-extinct Eldrani.
They started on the closest side of the planet to them and began to work their way through the globe, and they wouldnt stop until it was all gone.
The Eldrani, however, were not as extinct as the humans believed.
On the far side of the planet, deep underground, one Eldrani child slept within a pod.
The Eldrani did not leave their homeworld often. Being separated from the world that gave them life caused the species a great deal of physical and emotional pain. But to keep the legacy of their race going they would send one child out into the cosmos to link up with the guard. On his ship would be a repository of all Eldrani knowledge, and a detail account of what had happened on their world.
The ship's stealth drives launched the child into the inky black of space with barely a whisper, where it passed completely unnoticed by the roving death patrols of the Human race.
The child in the pod was named Akash.
He would grow up under the purview of the Guard, in pain every moment he was away from his homeworld and the final resting place of his species.
As he grew there was one thing that Akash knew. One thing that kept him going every single day.
One day. Sometime in the future. The humans would pay for what they did to his people.
He would destroy them all.
We took a break from the main action today for a side story, telling the tale of how the Eldrani homeworld was obliterated and why Akash was the only survivor. This should lend some context as to why he hates the human race so much.
This chapter was written as a celebration for Spaceships And Magic, What Could Possibly Go Wrong finally getting officially contracted by Webnovel!
I wont be locking any chapters in the near future, though, so please enjoy the story for free and add it to your collections if you enjoy!