Her Imperious Condescension gazed down at the blue planet below her. She sighed with happiness as she regarded its lovely, pearly glow, and leaned in toward the high-definition viewport holoscreen that was hovering in front of her over the ship's dashboard.
"Lovely," she grinned, magenta lips parting to reveal cold, white rows of serrated fangs, "Absolutely lovely."
She leaned back into the bright red Captain's chair and continued to survey the sphere of blue in front of her. It was species like these that made her laugh until she wanted to cry. Imagine! Her ship's delicate sensors had not picked up signs of primitive life, as they usually did, but actual frequencies and patterns that were being broadcasted from the surface of the planet. It was as though the morons that populated this pretty little water-blanketed rock were desperately rocketing messages into space, in the hopes that a predatory species would come find them. "Here! Please! Come here! Come eat us! Over here!" The Condese, of course, was perfectly happy to oblige.
Of course, she wasn't an idiot. One did not simply stride onto a foreign planet, plant a flag, and have a picnic slaughter party. That could very well be suicide. The native inhabitants could have extremely deadly defense mechanisms and psychic abilities, and besides, those patterns being broadcasted could not only be a sign of advanced technology, but confidence that they could take on whatever an alien species decided to throw their way. There could be all manner diseases and parasites on the surface of that planet deadly to trolls. Or the inhabitants could be utterly worthless and weak and not suited to being slaves of trollkind. Of course, if that were the case, she would just have them all killed and let a new colony of her race settle down, provided there weren't too many natural dangers of high magnitude.
But the point was, invasion was a delicate and many-tiered process.
This planet had already passed Examination A: It wasn't a piece of ugly shit. In fact, it was a very beautiful piece of shit, and the Condesce was already quite enamored with its wispy, jewel-like atmosphere.
This was why it was important to have a good Helmsman. So she could go planet-shopping to her hearts content before calling in her military to do all the dirty work. Ah, life is sweet.
But first things obviously came first: Check what you can from space.
The Imperious Battleship of Her Imperious Condescension was hovering a mere light-sweep away from the planet. It was actually quite possible that the species on the planet had picked her up; she was not emitting light, but with the right equipment she was at an easily observable distance. Of course, that meant she was also in an easily attackable distance, but in the rare event that any artillery or blasts came their way, the Condesce's crew was in high alert to whip their ship out of the way and into a much safer distance range. Such was the risk of being the first to the scene. However, no attacks came, and she did not expect any to. Perhaps they were not so smart after all. That was fine.
The Condesce leaned forward again and gently, almost lovingly started manipulating the control panel, her slender fingers flashing across the slimy computer coating like a professional musician, tiny sparks of energy lighting up the dashboard wherever she touched it.
-E: RUN-TECHNOLOGY-LIFE-SCAN: PLANET-)34R+H(-SURFACE
- scan complete: no physical sign of technology life on surface: alert: millions of unnatural pattern sources
The Condesce frowned. That was worrying. It was clear that if they were capable of broadcasting masses of patterns and messages into the wide empty around them, they had some form of technology. What they had must be completely different from all the bio-based computer systems that she'd thus far had experiences with. She tried again, typing in a new set of instructions. Such a lovely planet would not slip so easily from between her claws.
-E: RUN-TECHNOLOGY-LIFE-SCAN: PLANET-)34R+H(-SURROUNDING-SPHERE-LEVEL: ONE-HUNDRETH-LIGHT-SWEEP
- scan complete: no physical sign of technology life on atmosphere levels up to one hundreth of a light-sweep distance: alert: millions of unnatural pattern sources
She frowned more deeply, lips turning down heavily at the corners and teeth flashing in the darkness of the ship's hold. It seemed this would require some more specific instructions. Hm... She tapped her chin thoughtfully for a moment, and a grin flashed back across her face as she leaned back over the slime. This one command would most likely take the computer a while.
-E: RUN-SCAN: PLANET-)34R+H(: NON-NATURAL-FORMATIONS: PLANET-SURFACE & SURROUNDING-SPHERE-LEVEL: ONE-HUNDRETH-LIGHT-SWEEP
The Condesce leaned slowly back in her chair again, fingers drumming impatiently against the edge of the dashboard as she awaited the results.
- scan complete: map highlighted: unnatural formations: second map highlighted: unnatural satellites
"Y-ES, there we go," she murmured, as firey red pinpoints and outlines stood out on the close-up map of the planet in front of her. She set the holographic sphere into motion with a flick of her wrist and watched it turn slowly on its axis. She observed the patterns of interwoven, unnatural constructs on the surface of the planet. It looked relatively well-populated, and with city constructs almost reminiscent of her own home planet. The image of the planet continued to turn, bringing into full view a dark, unlit ocean. At this, her grin widened to sharklike proportions. There were nothing but a few minuscule points of unnatural constructions on the sea floors. No sign at all of particularly intelligent aquatic life. This was going to be another cakewalk victory, provided that the conditions on the surface were capable of supporting her troops.
After running and examining the results of an automatic list of scans for air pressure, atmosphere content, and temperature, the Condesce was all but gloating from the taste of imminent victory. After some standard procedure, this lovely little pearl would be hers. But there was one more thing to do before she sent down her troops.
Order up a team of disposable agents.
The deployment of Disposagents was a very important step in the invasion of a planet, and neglecting such protocol could have disastrous effects. The Condesce reminisced for a moment about one of her earlier crusades, when she'd sent down a full legion troops right after taking computer scans of the planet. All of her soldiers died within weeks from the native sentient microbes that were the inhabitants. She bared her teeth at the memory. Those sneaky little bastards. She blew up their planet with the might of her entire psionics team, of course, but losing any kind of battle was not something the Condesce did.
The function of this initial touch-down team of Disposagents was to send down a small but diverse group of trolls and see if they died within a sweep or two of landing. Hence the root word "disposable." Besides, a team of Disposagents were less expensive to deploy than fancy remote-operated computer probes. However, as long as they managed to survive, they would gather and send in useful information about the native flora, fauna, their weaknesses, and anything else of note. Hence the root word "agents." Besides, her armies were already in the process of conquering and inhabiting several new planets at the moment, and it was unwise to stretch her agents out too thin. You always needed soldiers at the ready for any rebellion or other silly little emergencies that may occur. Her Imperious Condescension preferred to have the upper hand, in all situations. Thus, giving the Disposagents an extended mission and allowing them to conduct a thorough investigation would be perfectly reasonable if the party survived. If not, well, the planet would be Red-Listed for supporting life, but it could still be tracked and exploited for raw materials whenever the need presented itself.
But anyway, back to those disposable spies. They were generally composed of newbies, about a sweep of their way into the Alternian military. The team must also be composed of a standard hemospectrum set (to make sure different blood types would not be affected badly by surface exposure), and preferably knew each other well enough to know whether or not they got along. The last one didn't matter so much, but it was nice to let them die alongside their friends, if nothing else.
Leaning forward again with a relaxed smile, the Condesce placed her hands on the dash.
-E: SHOW-LISTS: VIABLE-GROUPINGS-FOR-INVASION-STEP-ONE
- list shown: entry level 1 soldiers: hemospectrum sets: map: proximity to planet 34R+H shown
Lists popped up on a largely zoomed-out space map, centered around the planet 34R+H, currently hidden from view within the speck of its galaxy. The Condesce raised her eyebrows in disbelief when she noticed that one of the nearby sets of potential Disposagents was highlighted with a large, rotating magenta symbol.
She grinned. Perfect.
The Condesce clicked on the set bearing her own symbol, and examined one of her heirs, only a eight of a sweep off the Academy press and currently "Serving in battle" beside the rest of her set of peers on a planet in a backwater galaxy. Laughable, really; if she really were situated on the planet, she was most likely under heavy guard, nowhere near the main battlefronts. The set of close trolls that were marked below her could even be trusted childhood comrades, ordered to take care of the potential Empress. Just because serving time in the military was mandatory didn't mean that there were special hemocaste cases of loafing involved - upperbloods always got off easier the first time in the Fleet, and blood of such a royal hue was certain to get special treatment. Nobody would want to anger a woman who mightsomeday rise to the top in a quick, bloody ascent.
Feferi Peixes. The Condesce would give her something real to wrangle with. This dangerous mission would be a wonderful way to dispose of her, requiring little effort and even less paperwork. (Not that therewas any paperwork to begin with.) She scrolled over the rest of the candidates, examining their photographs, blood colors, qualifications, and random handicaps. She was impressed to see that this particular list was a near-complete set, all with at least average performance in their training, with only one extra maroon blood, and with only a limeblood missing... Hold on. The Condesce scrolled down to the Jadeblood. Unbelievable. She shared a sign with one of them. The ancient entourage of the Signless himself. What the hell, send her in. If she didn't die, then goodie for her, but the Condesce was certainly not going to go out of her way to give the woman a fair chance at life. Just because she was a rare jadeblood did not mean that the Condesce would cut her any slack.
She then proceeded to systematically go through each troll, transferring them onto a team list for the life-threatening mission after giving them due seconds of thought.
~Title: The Lifebite
~Blood Status: Tyrianblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Lifespan-shortening/lengthening Powers
~Weapon: 2x3 Culling Trident, Supreme-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely will be removed from mainstream Military by end of mandatory sweep of front-line service: -Empress blood status
The Condesce snorted as she read the "Station," category. She would change that personally. The Military mostly ran under long-established protocols, but of course, Her Imperious Condescension could do whatever she pleased, and no one would argue for fear of immediate culling. If the Condesce wanted to put her heir on a 50/50 toss suicide mission, then that is what she would do.
~Title: The Hopeslay
~Blood Status: Violetblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: None
~Weapon: Ahab's Crosshairs, Supreme-Issue Military Set
~Station: Possible career in Commandoppressor
The jagged purple symbol embroidered on his lapel seemed disturbingly familiar. She frowned at the symbol for a while, trying to place it. Then suddenly, she remembered, and laughed out loud. The press had made a great joke out of Dualscar in his time, for dying by the hands of Subjugglators in his attempt to get closer to the Condesce's red quadrant. She cheerily checked him off. No progeny of his was worth twopence, purpleblood or no.
~Title: The Paintear
~Blood Status: Indigoblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Subjugglator Rage
~Weapon: Zillyhoo, Special-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career as Laughassassin or Subjugglator
~Title: The Pa%droid
~Blood Status: Blueblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: STRONG, mechanical skills
~Weapon: STRONGbow, STRONG-Issue Military Set
~Other: Likely career as Archeradicator or Mechanobliterator
~Title: The Silvers8
~Blood Status: Ceruleanblood
~Handicaps: Left arm amputated at shoulder, replaced with prosthetics.
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Vision Eightfold, Mind Control
~Weapon: Fluorite Octet, Special-Issue Military Set
~Other: Possible career in [CENSORED]
[CENSORED] Probably meant the highly selective and deadly Undercover Ninjairates. They were run by a group pompous fools and with mysterious, uppity secrecy regimes. Anyway, the Condesce was doing a favor to this Serket character by assigning her as a Disposagents for planet 34R+H; with a missing arm like that, the Ninjairates would probably give her ridiculously dangerous missions in the hopes of weeding her out, assuming they even accepted her. They were notoriously harsh on amputees, no matter how early they were slated for the top-secret squad. Miss Serket would probably feel extremely unlucky and discouraged by all the terrible missions. That is, if she survived past half a sweep among their forces.
~Title: The Mindsear
~Blood Status: Tealblood
~Handicaps: Blind, both eyes
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Fully developed scent/taste to color Synesthesia: compensates for vision
~Weapon: Flametorch Caneblade, Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career in Legislaceration
~Title: The Mediator
~Blood Status: Jadeblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Fully immune to the effects of sunlight
~Weapon: Plasma Chainsaw, Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely will be returned to Alternia for care of Mother Grubs
~Title: The Huntress
~Blood Status: Greenblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: None
~Weapon: Laser Claws, Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career in Catastrophe Corps.
~Title: The Biispark
~Blood Status: Yellowblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Strong Psionic Abilities
~Weapon: Psionics, Sub-Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career as Helmsman or Demoliminator
~Title: The Sentinel
~Blood Status: Brownblood
~Handicaps: Left leg amputated below the knee, replaced with prosthetic
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Communication with animals, animal mind control
~Weapon: Drill Lance, Sub-Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career as Front-Line Cavalreaper or Beastroyer
~Title: The Gravetap
~Blood Status: Maroonblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Telekinesis, Communication with the dead
~Weapon: Razor Whip, Sub-Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career as Front-Line Mindesecrator
~Title: The Scathing
~Blood Status: Maroonblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: None
~Weapon: Laser Sickles, Sub-Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Likely career as Front-Line Threshecutioner or Canon Fodder
The Condesce always found it highly amusing how much hemocism there was. It was unfair that higher bloods were automatically given better weapons packages upon entry to the military, unfair that lower bloods were automatically slated for undesirable stations in the front lines, and unfair that rustbloods weren't even dignified with their own symbols on their uniforms (the rationale was that they were going to die soon anyway, why bother personalizing things?). The Condesce found it immeasurably hilarious. However, all blood colors were required to serve a minimum amount of time in the Military Academy and on a current Battleplanet. It was a tiny victory for equality among an overwhelming tide of hemocism. Of course, Military training was also used to weed out any embarrassingly pathetic royalbloods. Nobody needed any of that in the gene slurry.
The hemocaste system was wonderful for keeping her vast empire in line. The higher up you were, the more fortunate you would feel about your station in life, and the less likely you would desire revolution. Dumping the prejudice and negativity on the very basest of castes made it much simpler to keep control. Their lifespans were comparatively short to begin with, and the fact that they were often sent to the front lines of the most dangerous battles ensured that none of them would live long enough to rise very high through the ranks or assemble enough followers to even think of starting a revolution against her rule. It was a beautiful system, and it all bowed down to the Condescension, positioned at the very pinnacle of the bigotry hierarchy.
However, such a caste system did cause some challenges in choosing someone to lead this particular mission. Usually, the reins were quite simply handed over to a purpleblooded royal, but in this case the seadweller had another above him, a potential Empress with magenta flowing through her veins. However, giving her that kind of power over such a crucial mission and risking that she get any sort of experience in manipulating a team of underlings would be a bad idea. The purpleblood himself would be a complete romantic idiot, if his ancestor was anything to go off of, so he was out. She slowly read through the extended files of each troll. The indigoblood apparently was kept sopor-sedated most of the time, on account of an incident that occurred the first week he entered academy. The Condesce grinned knowingly. Subjuggulator Rage made for an excellent soldier, but not a leader. The blueblood had certain... issues with leadership, but the ceruleanblood seemed promising. Mind control would be an excellent asset for a leader. With self-satisfied nod, the Condesce assigned Serket as the leader in the mission. Definitely a finer fate than some ridiculously self-important [CENSORED] Nijairates group.
Now, there was only one more thing to wrap up before sending off the Mission Command to the list. Her Imperious Condescension was always precice when it came to the two important requirements of the chosen group Disposagents: that they were not made up of complete idiots, and that they represented a full hemospectrum set to test diverse exposure to the conditions down on the planet. She would have to find a limeblood.
-E: SHOW-INDIVIDUAL: VIABLE-LIMEBLOOD-FOR-INVASION-STEP-ONE
- list shown: entry level 1 soldiers: limeblood individuals: map: proximity to planet 34R+H shown
She clicked on a highlighted spacestation that was conveniently on the way between the first twelve and planet 34R+H, and then picked the first limeblood on the list. She opened its file. On the troll's uniform, a symbol glowed lime-green in the shape of a double X.
~Title: The Unsinger
~Blood Status: Limeblood
~Psychic/Special Abilities: Strong Sonic Abilities
~Weapon: Laser Axe, Standard-Issue Military Set
~Station: Possible caretaker on Planet 0F-5CR34M5
Deaf, with a special ability pertaining to sound? The Condesce raised one dark eyebrow skeptically. Well, she had seen stranger things that that. This one would do. All that needed to be done was to click a button and uproot this troll from her comfortable circle of acquaintances and ship her over to a group of complete strangers, to carry out a high-stakes, potentially deadly mission. There wasn't much of a problem with that.
And with that, a Squad of thirteen Disposagents were assembled, ready to become either the exulted harbingers of another planet's doom, or just another pile of fresh corpses. Only luck would tell which way their mission would turn.
Her Imperious Condescension gazed down again at the lovely blue planet, and sighed with contentedness.