This world was cold. Not as cold as the icy void of space, but this cold offered special suffering. Winds could blow the heat out of the most well insulted travelers; that was if blizzards or native predators didn't do the job first.
It was mid day during the summer equinox on Planet ST4K-8b when the traveller came trudging down the old trapper's trail. What the traveler wanted was a matter of mystery, but what they were chasing the vast beam of light shooting up to the heavens; the Transport Beam to Space Station Winterfell-1.
The traveller looked through snow goggles and marveled at the Space Station blinking like a star on a bright day.
Some would question why he would do something like this...traveling across this frozen wasteland. Some would find it mad.
But in truth, it was all for practice. Need to get stronger in such a harsh universe, full of the worse kinds of aliens...aliens that made the wildlife on this planet look cuddly by comparison...and the creatures of this planet could rip apart an entire platoon of soldiers in a matter of moments.
There were a lot of threats here on this rock. Savage monsters of all types; naturally evolved and designed leftovers from bio-wars that just never died. There were people here too. Spice prospectors who combed the glacial valleys for the fabled blue space, the so-called Raven spice.
Following the spice prospectors there were various bandits and mercenaries looking to take a share of the most precious form of spice; the one that made interstellar travel possible.
The traveler felt up the fine laser pistols at their belt and the assortment of knives. Bandits and brigands weren't always well armed, but they'd had some luck.
And sometime the bandits and pirates were species that didn't need weapons to kill you. He remembered a story about a reckless platoon who came across a group of unarmed Skakdi bandits and engaged them, thinking it would be easily victory.
The Skakdi won.
But no time to dwell on such horrific memories. Time to report to Lord Stark.
The traveler's boots struck self-heating roadway. They were already in the small town that served as a service hub for the station in the sky. A man took down the polar goggles and lifted up the heated balaclava on his face.
Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn took a sip from a self-heating whiskey flask on his belt, his one less than lethal weapon for his travels. Reuben winced at the bad liquor and savored the burn. The former lawman turned and eyed the huge, frozen knight standing vigil over the small town. Polar Knight paid no attention to Rooster; he knew better than to keep Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark Waiting.
The two Stark men, while not actually family members themselves, were nevertheless loyal soilders for Ned and the rest of the group. Rooster sighed as he made his way to the main teleporter.
The bald man watched Rooster and his companion. Somewhat insanely, he'd chosen not to wear any kind of head covering in this frigid weather. He looked more like a mid level stock trader compared to the towering man in power armor.
Gregor Clegane loomed over booth Rooster and his companion. Rooster knew him well and had fought the Mountain that Rides many times. What he didn't know was the bald man with a bar code on the back of his head. "It's alright boys," he took another pull of Whiskey, "We're here. We'll take you to Lord Stark."
Gregor said nothing as usual, simply nodded. Rooster, of course, remained on guard. Gregor was known for being psychotically violent, and would kill without any sort of warning.
Rooster reached a console and began typing some buttons...and all were developed in light, and then beamed right upward towards the stars.
The three arrived in a large, white room, one of Winterfell's VIP teleportation rooms. Every man was now dressed for a warm, temperate climate. Rooster welcomed his familiar Western Duster while Polar Knight remained much the same.
The bald man adjusted his red tie, "I look forward to Lord Stark's assessment. There's been unusual activity around the Grox Border and the merchant class whom King K. Rool depends on is getting nervous."
Rooster grimaced. King K. Rool, a Kremling and the leader of the whole galaxy. To public, he appeared as a hopeless oaf...and yet, some spoke of what happens when no one of the other house was looking.
But there was no time to ruminate over that: A door slid open, and in came two people. Eddard 'Ned' Stark himself, looking tall and grim, yet honorable as usual. With him was his wife, Catelyn Stark, a woman that possessed a strong spirit.
The first thing Ned noticed was when the bald man glared, Gregor bowed. The bald man himself bowed shortly afterwards. But he was under no illusion what kind of man it would take to get a psychopath like Clegane to bow.
"Welcome to Winterfell, Agent 47," Ned said with arms crossed, now acknowledging the bow. "What brings the King's chief killer to my home?"
"Grox business." Was the curt reply.
Ned sighed, knowing that this was bad new. Grox were a race of cybernetic life forms who had weak physical abilities, but keen intelligence and xenophobic hatred for anyone not them.
"What about them?" Ned asked.
"Well, they seem to be get a little edgy at times, and this the main merchant vessels to nervous to do their jobs properly." 47 went on.
"We understand the Grox political structure is undergoing a unification," said Lady Catelyn. "That their fleet and ground armies are remarming and reorganizing."
"The intelligence was correct about you," was Agent 47's even reply.
"And our vassals, House Lee are front row to a potential Grox invasion, followed shortly by Winterfell itself." the Lady finished.
"Would you believe, my lady, that Winterfell might not be the first target of the Grox?" enquired the Hitman.
Catelyn raised an eyebrow. "Whatever do you mean by that?"
47 sat back in his chair. "We are not quite sure, but we believe they are actually mobilizing for defense, not assault." He grimaced. "Likely another hostile race is coming."
"Have there been any mysterious disappearances among asteroid miners?" the Hitman asked, evading the question further. "Surely you had spies at the spice refinery over Tattoine?"
"I thought the King's official stance was that the refinery disaster was an unfortunate accident?" Ned Inquired, unwilling to let his guard down around the King's personal killer.
"Expensive, but the King did manage to recoup his losses." Agent 47 explained, "However it was a controlled self destruct that destroyed the refinery, and a Xenomorph infestation that threatened to spill through the refinery's teleport system."
"Meaning what, exactly?" Rooster interjected as he pulled out a fresh rolled cigar from his jacket. "Since you seem to know so much about it??"
Ned did not silence his man, as Rooster had served both him and his father faithfully for years.
Agent 47 didn't seem to mind Rooster's directness either and repaid it in turn. "As of now there is a Tyranid splinter fleet rampaging through the Magellan cluster's at the edge of the galaxy; it ultimate destination either Grox Space or Stark space."
Polar Knight grunted, the stoic being alarmed by the news.
Ned felt himself tense. Tyranids were among the most dangerous aliens out there. Some would actually compare them more to a virus than anything else. Invading, absorbing everything, and moving on to the next world. They could be beaten back...but it seemed it would be an eternal threat.
But before he could ruminant further, Anivia, the cyrophoenix, came flying in. "My Lord and Lady," she began. "Windrunner is approaching our station."
"Give the Lady Windrunner landing permission," Catelyn commanded the frost elemental. "See to it that the lady is given hospitality before anything else."
"The Lady is one of our staunchest bannermen," Ned supplied as Agent 47 glared. "If as you say there is a Tyranid Splinter fleet threatening the galaxy, she and her man Duke Nukem fought nearly for thirty years against the beasts."
"As you distinguished yourself in the destruction of Hive Fleet Gorgon," 47 casually supplied.
Ned simply nodded, to humble to boast. He then let his thoughts drift to Slyvanas. A undead elf, Slyvanas was a extremely powerful leader and warrior, and most of the worlds under her command were Death Worlds, to breed the finest of the undead to help counter threats the galaxy as a whole.
She was also rather blunt and cold at times, but that was just her. One could ignore it in favor of her incredible skills, especially in marksmanship.
"Lady Windrunner did most of the ground work," Ned explained humbly. "In a fight with Tyranids, her special forces from half a dozen Death Worlds can be trusted to take a Hive Tyrant or Norn Queen."
"But your standing armies have the numbers, the equipment and the discipline to be the bulwark upon which the swarm is held," said 47. "The size of your army has more than doubled since the time of your father Rickon. To say nothing of the sway the Starks have in Segmentum Aurora."
"I love a good bug hunt," Rooster crowed with bravado, trying to get under the bald man's skin.
47 just ignored him. It would soon be time to discuss important matters about the future of the Empire.
He did allow himself to think a bit, though, while they waited. Death Worlds...K. Rool owned quite a few himself, his favorite being Planet 4546B, an oceanic world with only a few scatted islands as true land. It was a beautiful world...and very deadly, used to train troops in aquatic situation. High General Pridak often oversaw the training himself, and he was a harsh being, with only the toughest serving under him.
But soon, he had to stop thinking too much, as Windrunner soon arrived.
The Death Worlds were what they had in common. Before she was undead, Sylvannas hailed from the deadly jungles of Quel’Thalas. Duke Nukem was now the Knight administrator of the radioactive Death World New Vegas. 47 himself was raised on half a dozen death worlds from Catachan to Char. He was more comfortable in a setting where everyone wanted to kill him.
"Winter has come, and so has this bad boy!" crowed a boorish, muscular man.
"It is good to see you again, Eddard," said Sylvanas, ignoring her loud servant. "It gladdens my heart to see you and Catelyn once more."
Catelyn nodded alongside Ned, never quite sure if Windrunner was being sincere or simply facetious as times. But now was not the moment to think about that. It was time to chat.
As they all sat down together, Sylvanas spoke up. "I have heard of the encroaching threats myself. Currently I am looking into the Death World Ark for potential recruits to combat anything that gets in our way."
Ark...a varied world full of dangerous prehistoric based creatures. Perfect training grounds.
Ned nodded. "Hopefully it will be enough."
"And I do believe that Ark produces warriors with technological prowess as well as raw ferocity," added 47.
Slyvanas nodded as hot cider and wine was brought out by servants. She abstained, her servant Duke showed no such thing. "Yes, people who go into Ark are given a specimen implant. Those who truly thrive are those who can craft, tame beasts, research technology and work in teams to defeat native monsters and other teams."
"To beat the Tyranids, you need to be smart and fearless," Ned supplied. "You can't match their mindlessness or numbers; so men have to try other methods."
Slyvanas nodded. "Indeed, though I have heard rumors the Tyranids are not quite as mindless as they seem. Rumors is that...something guides them. Something intangible that connects them all..."
A moment of silence passed from this uncomfortable idea...before 47 spoke up. "While on the subject of hostile aliens, have any of you also had trouble with the Yautja on your Death Worlds?"
Ned glowered at the mention of that species, Catelyn held his hand and caressed the cross shaped scar on his hand. "The cursed beasts infest anywhere with conflict and heat. They've even established a small Colony on Arrakis, one of our major spice producers."
"Kindly enough they don't attack the spice miners," Sylvannas purred, "They just attack military instillations and hostile tribes. They seek the strongest prey and most dangerous monsters. I've been trying to broker a truce with them and establish a formalized system of combat and warfare in places like Ark and New Vegas."
"And how has that been going?" Catelyn asked.
"Quite slowly, but we're making progress." Windrunner admitted. "Better than we did with those Salmonids."
Duke scoffed at the mention of the toxic beasts. While not THE most dangerous alien species, they were still a high-level threat, with their aggressive behavior and toxicity...and tendency to swarm.
"Give the word and I'll make barbecue out of those Salmonid bastards," Duke ground out, remembering what they'd done to his hair.
Sylvanas chuckled, "That's what I love about you Duke, your total honesty and killing intent."
"While King K. Rool has utter faith in your ground armies, he is most concerned with the Stark Space Navy," 47 interrupted. "From what I see, the Death worlds give you the strongest special forces in the galaxy, but how will you fare in ship to ship combat with Tyranid Bio-ships or Yatuja reaver ships?"
Ned was silent for a moment. He had a point there. Those ships were extremely deadly to fight, not helped by the fact the Tyranid ships were actually modified Tyranids themselves.
He had to think on this one for a moment. Perhaps it was time to look more into spaceship-based combat, to take the enemy head on before they landed and put others at risk.
"The Starks have a substantial fleet," Ned supplied to the King's main assassin. "Most of the fleet protects the merchant navy that keeps flow of trade goods and spice running to the core worlds."
"A number of mercenary outfits and paramilitary corporations have been nationalized or had their controlling stakes bought by House Stark," Catelyn interjected. "We have some of the finest fighter pilots in the galaxy pledging themselves to our banners.
"Good, good." 47 nodded, pleased. "Now there is something else I wish to discuss: Rumors sightings of the renegade scientist Rick Sanchez."
Windrunner scoffed. "Rick. You speak of the fool who aided in the creation of the 'Space Station Silicon Valley'?"
47 nodded grimly, still knowing said station was still active...and populated by dangerous and intelligent robotic animals.
"Sure, I know Rick," scoffed Duke as he chomped on a cigar. "He's anywhere right now where you can find liquor and bikini babes. I hear Hyrule, the Mushroom Kingdom and Illium are full of babes this time of year."
"We don't keep contact with Rick Sanchez," Ned said firmly, "The man is treacherous and unpredictable." Perhaps, but he had shown the Starks how to cultivate spice in the wild without damaging future stockpiles. More dangerously, he'd shown Ned the true origins of the spice; some critical information that could not fall into the King's hands.
He was a highly intelligent man, but also selfish, jerkish, and drunk for the most part. The only one he seemed to trust was his grandson, Morty. Rumor had it Morty was with Rick now as well.
"The King hopes that you will assist him in taking in this wanted criminal to justice," 47 coolly admitted. "His achilles heel is his grandson, Rick. I hope to meet them soon enough."
"House Stark always stands loyally with the crown," Catelyn "Where King K. Rool leads, Houst Stark follows and so do the Houses of the Northern Segmentum."
“Good to know.” 47 nodded as Gregor still remained silent. “Thankfully, not all news is bad for today. The Dreemurr’s are still greatly in the aid in the spread of food, thanks to their control over the Death World ‘Gourmet World’.”
Ned and Catelyn nodded with smiled. The Dreemur’s were good people, always are sure everyone was fed...and it was much appreciated as well, considering the huge risk one took when going to the Gourmet World. It was full of dangerous animals, with many growing to impossible sizes, and the environment itself was varied and deadly.
Catelyn's tone became less guarded and friendlier. "The Dreemurr have been critical in the development of agriculture across the segmentum. They've shown us how to grow food on worlds we didn't think we could, and shown asteroid and comet miners how to build proper hydroponic farms."
"The Dreemurr are almost family to us at this point," Ned explained, "their leader Asgore is a personal friend and shield brother to me." The Lord of Winterfell eyed the bald assassin, "Though I'm sure you're worried about the production of Red Spice on the death world Fenris."
This did cause a reaction from Gregor, a subtle shift in the giant man's posture. Quietly, he punched a button on his power armor, feeling an injection of red spice directly into his veins. His eyes temporarily glowed red before returning to their normal steel blue. Red spice helped. It gave him focus, made him strong; it took away the chronic pain and more. It was what the King's Space Marines needed to elevate them above even the best-disciplined humans.
And those marines were NOT to be causally messed with, hand picked from the toughest of individuals, trained on the most hellish of Death Worlds, and genetically and physically altered by Relius Clover, the leading scientist under K. Rool.
The Space Marines were the Crown's true trump card over the other noble houses. Immensely expensive to train and maintain, King K. Rool had turned many heads when he began to streamline the command structure and trim the General ranks of the Space Marines.
The first Space marines were formed thousands of years ago during the event known as the Long Night, a winter that lasted a generation and of which only a few written records survived. Warriors were given radical gene therapy and organ transplants to make them gods of war; and red spice was what allowed the warriors to survive their transformation and live for decades, or sometimes centuries.
Space Marines would be critical against Tyranids, and equally critical against the Noble Houses if King K. Rool so decided.
As for what came in the Long Night...few were fully certain, but the term ‘Others’ came up often.
But for now, it was known the Marines were successful in ensuring victory in those years, and now were used to maintain order.
Still, some people were a bit nervous about the Royal Court, as many of people serving K. Rool were said to be...dangerous.
Relius himself, for example, was a genius, with extensive knowledge of both magic and science. However, this was paired with a severe lack of empathy.
The Society of the far future was feudal in nature. The King called on his lords, his lords called on their bannermen, and the bannermen called upon peasant armies and mercenaries to make up the numbers. It wasn't just like whistling for a dog to come.
And for all his public image as a buffoon, K. Rool was a power hungry man. He was a man interested in the galaxy pre-Long night, before the "Others" had decimated nearly 90 percent of the galaxy's population before being driven into the darkness of space. What he wanted was a return to a state run army, a galaxy with one leader, one party and no feudal houses to divide loyalties.
With psychopaths and assassins serving him, not to mention the dreaded Space Marines, K. Rool had the resources to bring back the days of a powerful, centralized Nation State.
The Starks were the other, relying on public good will, honor and martial valour; they were the only other power in the galaxy with the resources to build a more decentralized, more just nation state, as were others, like House Dreemur and Nui.
But now was not the time to ruminate on how the system worked: Right now they had focus on he immediate threats.
Ned looked back up. “We shall do whatever we can to combat the threats.” He assured.
47 cocked his head, like a vampire who needed to be invited into a home. "And that was what we needed to hear, Lord Stark. the Imperial house is facing troubling internal strife on top of alien threats; King K. Rool personally needs your help and extends to your the position of Hand of the King."
"What?" Catelyn demanded.
"What!" said Rooster with even less tact. "Join that fucking nest of vipers?"
Ned blinked, ignoring the outburst. “That...I...I am not worthy.”
47 waved his hands. “Eh, he thinks you are. Besides, you can use this to help the people of the various world, make them feel more secure with a Stark in charge.”
Sylvanas leaned in, smilling but emitting no warmth. "That is a great honour, however I question the Wisdom of one of the galaxy's most capable military leaders moving away from the front lines at a time of potential war."
"And a bigger percentage of the overall spice market," 47 added. "Your House would profit greatly. All you would have to do is say yes and greenlight the construction of shipyards in the Hoth System and the Ark world. It would kill many birds with one stone."
Ned was silent for a long time. True, this would greatly benefit his family and people...but it would also mean LEAVING his family, which would be distressing. Plus this was his home...
"Allow me time to think on this great honour," said Ned to the King's main hitman. "this is a great deal to take in and I must confer with my advisors." It wasn't a coincidence that this golden opportunity came out of the mouth of one of the galaxy's deadliest assassins.
47 nodded, "Take a month, if you prefer. I have much business in the sector and that should give you enough time to make preparations."
It was then that the red warning lights and klaxxons started going off in the Station's corridors.
"UNKNOWN LIFEFORM IN LOADING BAY 13-B!" blared the mechanical computer voice.
All were alert in an instant, concern and/or anger on their faces. Something was in the station, and could be a huge threat if left unchecked.
The Lord of Winterfell stood up in his chair, turning to his men. "Reuben, take Polar Knight and Gelu to the loading bay. Whatever it is, keep it contained there."
Ned grabbed the power sword at his belt, "Get the station sensors back on line," he ordered to Anivia, the frost elemental.
Sylvanas looked to her grinning champion, Duke, "Duke, be a lamb and assist Lord Stark in killing anything that needs to be killed."
“Looks like to kick ass and chew bubblegum...and I’m all outta bubblegum!” Duke grinned.
“Whatever.” Came the dry reply.
Catelyn herself mad her way to the personal quarters, always ready to make sure her children were safe from harm. Truly a mother to be admired.
Soon, all were rushing to their duties.
Ned turned to 47, “Please stay safe. My people will handle this.” He turned and left before the assassin could get another word in.
As the Lord of Winterfell stormed towards his private command center, he tapped into a private communicator. “Rick, I need to know exactly what’s been happening.”
The drunken reply came over the encrypted line “uh Ned, it’s kinda, it’s kinda fucked, Ned.” Rick Sanchez belched over the line
As it so turned out, the Starks have actually been giving shelter to Rick and Morty. True, the two remained neutral, but were happy for the help...even if Rick didn’t show it.
Morty’s panicked voice could be heard next. “Oh, jeez! Kill it! KILL IT KILL IT!!!”
Ned signed, “Rick, at some point I’m going to lose my patience and my mind.”
“Ned, urp, it isn’t my fault!” Rick protested, “one minute I was fixing the toilet in Robs room when my teleporter goes off and there’s a predalien in the room!”
“A predalien?” Ned ground his teeth. A hybrid of Yatuja and Xenomorph. Very tough. With some specimens surviving falls from orbit or diving in Lava
“Look, uh, it hasn’t killed anyone yet. We are holding it off.” Rick explained. “J-Just make sure your guys get down here and help us out.”
“RRRRIIIICCKKK!!!” Morty’s scream echoed into the communicator.
“Talk to you later, bastard’s trying to maul him.” Rick explained causally before hanging up.
Ned could only sigh.
Rick hung up on his liege lord in order to throw an exploding barrel at the Predalien. The explosion was more flash than thunder, but it had the effect of knocking Morty out of the beasts claws.
Thing about Xenomorphs, their genetic code was very dense. It meant that even the Tyranids couldn’t assimilate their silicone DNA. It meant even a lowly drone could only be brought down by an armour piercing bullet to the head. And it meant this Predalien could take missiles to the face and ask for seconds.
Rick cried out in shock as the burning, acid bleeding thing started to run at him as he was reloading his rocket launcher
The acid blood was no weak agent, no sir. It was highly corrosive, able to eat though flesh and even steel in a matter of moments. Clearly nothing that anyone would wish to make contact with.
Rick gritted his teeth." C-Come on, fucknuts! Show me what you got!" He aimed once more.
The majority of Xenomorph blood was made of a compound called fluoro-antimonic acid. One of its properties other than dissolving just about everything was that it exploded in contact with water.
Rick lunged out of the way as the bleeding Predalien slammed into a tank of purified water. The explosion rattled Ricks teeth but he couldn’t help but laugh.
He ran to get Morty and leave this fucker to Lord Starks men.
"Morty, Morty! Are you alriiightt?" he belched out to his grandson.
"O-Oh, Rick! I-I think I'm scarred for life." Morty whined, prone on the ground.
"Don't be r-ridiculous, Morty!" Rick replied. "This sort of crap happens to you all the time! It's just part of the adventures! Danger and death everywhere! And whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger! And this didn't kill ya, so you're stronger now! That means we can deal with even more crazy stuff and go on more adventures, Morty!"
"Rick, I honestly just wanted to hang with the Starks because Ned promised me a free college education and--oh shit, Arya!" Morty cried out, as Lord Stark's waifish daughter fell out of overturned container, covered in flour.
Arya coughed, "Hey, Morty, Rick," she coughed once more. "How are you?"
"The fuck are-urp-you doing here!" Rick demanded, "If you dad knows you're in danger, he'll cut my liquor allowance in half!"
"That's not my problem." The Stark girl responded. "Maybe you need to look into more odd jobs to make that money."
"Ah, come on! This is annoying enough as it is, hiding from most of the other houses who want to kill me!" Rick complained. "So what if those robotic animals proved homicidal. At least I deactivated the Shrink Ray that was on the Station. It was supposed to be a great zoo, Arya, a greeaaat Zoo! But noooooooo! They did not let me test in time! Not my fault, theirs!"
Rick continued his tirade as the Predalien began to pick itself up. "And the Predators love my zoo of deadly cyber animals; but they do they pay me money for it? No! They just give me raw beef as thanks, like I'm a fucking-urp-dog or something!"
Rick was cut off as gunfire struck the Predalien in the knees. Rooster drank rick's last beer and flipped open his revolver. Standing shoulder to shoulder with him was Duke Nukem and Polar Knight. "You are the dumbest genius I've ever met," said Rooster as the Predalien roared.
"Yeah, well, I least I got a brain." Rick countered as he pulled out laser from his coat. "Though it's been no help with most of my life." The Predalien roared again...and Rick fired the laser into the mouth, the beam going in and through the back of the beast’s head.
The Predalien twitched on the ground, excess nervous energy coming from its spine and ganglion. Morty watched mortified as the thing bled on the ground, burning holes in the space station hull.
Rick scoffed as he drew out a whiskey flask, "It's dead, Morty. It's brains are ashes. Just another dead critter."
As though to prove him wrong, the Predalien threw a large bag of flour at Rick, the scientist flying backwards and slamming into Rooster.
Duke looked down at Arya as the monstrosity stumbled to its feed; the loss of half its brain crippling it but not killing it. "You're a snot nosed kid with no combat experience," and he immediately handed her a gold plated handgun. "Take a minute to get familiar with that and follow my lead, short stuff."
Arya watched impressed as Rooster took careful aim with his gun. Despite her status as a 'lady', she herself was determined to be a great fighter one day, like Rooster.
For now, she simply watched...and learned.
Rooster went for the Monsters rapidly regenerating knees, hobbling it further. It swayed like a tree in the breeze but didn’t fall.
Duke power slid under the Predalien, firing a salvo of diamond tipped explosive bullets into its back; distracting the beast.
Bringing up the rear, Polar Knight raised his enchanted Valyrian steel axe. The Predalien sensed him somehow, flinging its long tail at the polar knight.
Arya didn’t think, she just fired the gun in her hand
Tough as the beast was, it was not immortal and even it could only take so much abuse and damage. Snarling in rage to the very last, the Predalien finally collapsed onto the floor, dead and decaying.
Rooster spat. "And that is how it's done there."
Polar Knight simply nodded as he looked down at the hideous corpse.
Arya shuddered as she held the smoking gun in her hand. She’d tagged along for shooting leasing with Robb and Jon, but this was her first target that could fight back.
“Don’t thank me for softening it up for you!” Came Rick’s sarcastic voice as he gave Morty first aid.
It was then that Ned Stark stormed into the loading bay, sword drawn and eyes dark.
He took in the scene, from a stunned Morty with a deadpan Rick injecting him with advanced medicine, the dead Preadalian on the floor...and Arya, gun in hand.
Before he did anything he’d regret, Ned took a long, deep breath, sighed, and sheathed his sword. "Is everyone at least all right?" He asked.
"Yeah, we managed to off it before it killed anyone." Rick replied simply. "No harm done in the long run."
Ned turned to Arya , “Go to your mother.” He spoke to Rick, “unless you want to start paying for your own liquor I need access to the teleport logs over the last 24 hours.”
Arya attempted to return the gun to Duke, who refused it. “Keep it, kid. I got a whole drawer at home of those.”
Arya nodded, leaving the room to return to the personal quarters of the Stark family. Ned watched her go with a grim expression, nevertheless happy she was still alive after that messy incident.
Rooster began the process of getting the flour off his clothes as Rick began locating the teleport logs.
“Hey alright,” He crowed drunkenly, “we got a low bandwidth piggyback signal from a contact on the outer edge of this solar system.”
"Oh, jeez. I didn't even think those things were smart enough to use teleporters." Morty said.
"Well, the universe is full of surprises, Morty...and they all wanna kill ya!"
“An individual Xenomorph isn’t smart,” Ned spoke from dark experience. “As a hive they can perform complex puzzle solving and long term strategy.”
Polar Knight spoke for the first time, “On an airless moon around Death World Lustria, they took out our oxygen supply and suffocated half the troops on the campaign.”
Ned nodded, remembering that incident, and on some survivors had to travel to Lustria itself to get away from the beasts. It was...not pleasant experience for them.
“I remember Lustria,” said Morty, “Lord Mazdamundi was really nice. He stopped Kroq-gar from tearing my head off.”
“Tech! Can’t stand those fat fucking toad men,” Rick belched, “they think just because they’re the most powerful psychics in the galaxy that they’re better than me!”
"Nevertheless, they are among the finest soldiers in the galaxy, and we need their alleignece." Ned replied. "Now, I want you all to clean up and get things ready. I sense dark times are ahead."
Agent 47 watched Lord Stark and his men on a cheap disposable tablet. He shut off the tablet and removed the memory chip, throwing away the device into a garbage chute.
Rick Sanchez was a master at countering spies and hacking, but his arrogance led him to forget about more amateur attempts at hacking. 47 had all he needed by hacking the video terminal of a junior programmer with a weak work password.
He knew the Stark’s would prioritize Xenomorph extermination, and seek to unify the Death worlds. For now he would watch closely as they tried to clear out the derelict ship in the comet cloud
Now was not the time...if he did it now...everything would fall apart. First they all had to pull the strings to make the situation prime.
“It’ll have to happen all at once, not just the Stark’s but the Dreemur and anyone who can threaten the primacy of the crown.” He uttered in a soft voice.
He looked up as he saw Gregor stalking towards him. 47 stared directly at Gregor without fear or hesitation. “As a show of good faith, you can help purge The Xenomorphs. By my estimates it’s been nearly 7 hours since you killed something “
Gregor simply nodded. "It will be done."
47 nodded back, wondering still how he should approach the subject with K. Rool. He smirked slightly. He had to hand it to the Kremling, he could have skill when he used it. Already the Great Houses Zeal and Koopa had become close associates of his.
Zeal and Koopa stood to gain much from the planned fascist state of the future, being granted heavy weapons manufacturing rights and favored positions among long range spice hauling.
Recruitment of the currently wild Salmonids was proving difficult but progressing. With the promise of new breeding grounds and their intelligent members being addicted to spice, they could provide reliable, cheap cannon fodder for the crown
Zeal's house had extreme mastery over the art of magic, with countless spells in their possession. In addition they owned a good number of Death Worlds themselves, chiefly the multi-biomed Mira and Wyveria, both full of dangerous megafauna, meant to train hunters and to live off the beasts that dwelled there.
House Koopa was a military powerhouse, with mining from Zebes and Pandora, two very deadly Death Worlds, adding to their armaments.
House Windrunner commanded a vast army of undead who could fight in outer space , in high radiation environments and places too hazardous for ordinary beings.
Remove Sylvanas and her lapdog Nukem, and Facilier and LeChuck would both be happy to bend the knee.
Easier said than done though. Sylvanas was no fool. Not just a cable fighter, but highly intelligent and crafty herself, knowing all too well how the system worked...and willing to do anything keep herself from being plundered.
She’d be difficult to kill but not impossible. People thought Handsome Jack was untouchable before 47 added something to his evening martini, made his face turn purple as he choked to death.
The key to everything lay in making the great houses focus on external threats. Make them spend blood and treasure fighting the Tyranids, the Orks and the Grox.
Orks...now there was race they just confused the heck out of everyone. They were fighters to the core, and reproduced via spores, but those were not the most troubling things.
The most troubling thing was their technology... which, by all laws and appearances, should never work at all...but they did, but only in Ork hands. Relius theorized that the Orks had some sort of subconscious psychic power that made things work if they believed it so.
The way Relius has described it was magic, if magic were very, very stupid.
Orks loved to fight, they were drawn to it like sharks to blood. They were the only species who celebrated when Yatjua hunting parties or Tyranid invasions came into the neighborhood.
Getting the Orks to pick a fight with the kings enemies would be like taking candy from a baby.
Not that he would ever actually TAKE candy from a baby. He had some standards.
Ah, but what what he doing thinking about this now? For now, he should go about and look into the spice production on several of the colonies.
47 shook his head and adjusted his tie. He was getting too ambitious in his advancing years. Thinking like a revolutionary and not a killer.
For now he could count on the Stark’s to liberate the stockpile of spice on board the derelict ship. There were some corporate executives fixing the price of green and yellow spice who needed to talk to his favorite strangulation wire. A talk with that object usually help to straighten things out considerably.
He looked out the nearby window, taking in the multitude of stars. A dangerous galaxy they lived in.
Meanwhile, on the surface of the planet, two young men were fighting a gigantic armored bear.
Volibear roared and swiped his paws at Robb Stark and Jon Snow. “You Cubs has better give me a real fight!” He snarled
Both young men were armed with iron bars, ready to practice their skill against the might Stark warrior.
Robb and Jon were both sons of Ned, though only Robb was a trueborn. Jon Snow, as he was called, was a bastard child of an unknown mother.
As a bastard Jon could never inherit any of Ned Stark’s holdings or titles. Yet despite this, Ned saw what the boy was capable of and gave him the same education and opportunity as his trueborn son.
For his part, Volibear was a brutal but fair teacher. In this galaxy the sons of Ned would have to be ready to fight tired and out of ammo against stronger, better motivated and better equipped foes. It was him who’d even swayed Catelyn to give Arya firearms training
Reluctant at first, yes, but Cat knew it would likely be for the best, so Arya was happy for the bear.
As for Jon, he saw himself of proving himself in the future. It would just take time.
Jon swung the iron bar in his hands, trying to hit a gap in the armoured bears metal plates. Volibear parried with a giant paw, but left himself open to a swing from Robb.
The bear shifted, knocking Jon over and pivoting to deal with Robb. Robb’s iron bar glanced off the metal plate and threw off sparks
It was intense, but had to be. Many things in the various Death Worlds would be trying to kill them for real. Heck, even the Civilized Worlds could be dangerous.
So this training was all needed.
Volibear slammed his paw into Robb’s chest and buckled his practice armor. The bear suddenly spun around as Jon Snow thrust the tip of his iron bar into the back of the bears knee.
In response the ursine warrior stepped on Jon, cutting off his breathing.
Then the great bear stepped back. “You have injured my knee and I’ve taken both your lives. Let your bruises be a reminder of this lesson.”
Both men coughed. Catching their breath
“And remember,” Volibear went on. “Lord Stark made have spoken of honor in all things, but out there, you will encounter both enemies who spit on honor, and those who have no concept of it.”
"Worse yet," Volibear cautioned, "You'll meet those who wear the mantle of honor with none of the substance.
"But at least with Xenomorphs, you'll always know what to expect." said the voice of Ned Stark and his entourage. "And on the topic of the creatures, I have a volunteer job for you boys, if you're up to it."
Both young men turned to see their father.
"Always happy to help." Robb replied with a nod.
"Same here." Jon nodded as well. "What is there to do?"
Ned gave the boys a hard look, “I’m giving you lads your first real job. Not just fighting bandits or chasing pirates in a star fighter. We’re going on a bug hunt, Xenomorphs.”
Jon’s jaw dropped while Robb grinned with excitement. “Here? On the planet?” Jon asked
"Apparently so." Ned confirmed. "I believe someone is weaponizing them here somewhere on this planet, and you need to track them down and shut down whatever operation is going on."
Jon took a moment to look out in the vast expanse, no doubt littered with countless dangers.
"Overwhelming, I know." Ned seemed to read his mind. "But I would not be giving you this task if I did not have absolute faith in your both."
“Leave your pride behind for this, Master Robb,” Volibear scowled. “With the Xenomorph, expect only the unexpected.”
Ned did not contradict his ursine servant. “A Predalien teleported onto Winterfell this morning. It came from a teleport signal from a derelict ship hauling spice, which was then bounced from a transmitter on the planet”
"So this transmitter could be a key to finding who was behind this?" Jon asked.
"Exactly." Ned confirmed.
"Leave it to us, father." Robb stated. "We'll get to the bottom of this matter."
“You leave within the hour,” Ned instructed. “I need to personally oversee the sterilization of the derelict and retrieval of any cargo, but you’ll get pick of men and weapons.”
“Will we be bringing atomics, father?” Jon found himself asking.
Ned nodded, “We can’t risk an outbreak. The signal emerged near a village called Barrow. Neighboring hunting and prospecting communities are being evacuated. If the hive is too deeply entrenched, wipe it out.”
Ned’s dark tone dampened even Robb’s adventurous spirit. “Wipe out?”
Ned glared, “With extreme prejudice. We have an entire world to protect.”
"It's harsh, yes, but sometimes you need to be in these times." The Stark tracker, Gelu, came striding up. The Glatarion was somewhat cold and aloof individual, but very loyal to the Stark family, and was good at what he did.
"Gelu..." Jon began.
"I'll be one of your men." Gelu confirmed.
Robb stood in awe of the old guerilla warrior, veteran of nearly a dozen wars. "We're honored, Gelu.
The Glatorian Hero nodded, "I'm not trying to honor you, I'm trying to keep you both alive. Not to mention that if someone is weaponizing the Xenomorphs, trying to bend them to his or her will, you'll need all the help you can get."
Blunt as always, but that was a welcome trait at times, especially on worlds like this.
Made the two wonder for a a moment if Sansa actually set foor upon the planet at all.
"I have about a dozen men I trust," Gelu elaborated. "Mercenaries, former war heroes with a lack of diplomacy, I think you'll like them, Jon Snow."
"Take this," said Ned, passing the passive sword at his side to Robb's hands. "Valyrian void weapons cauterize wounds; stops the creatures from bleeding acid on you."
Robb was at a loss for words
Jon smiled. "You should accept it, Robb."
Robb regained himself and nodded. "I shall use this weapon with the worth it was bestowed upon me." He said.
"Keep your men's lives in mind," Ned cautioned, "Regard them as your own beloved sons and they will follow you into the jaws of hell."
Gelu bowed to Ned, "My men are ready when your sons are ready. If need be we can pick up additional help on outposts along the way."
All seemed to be ready, and the two sons listened deeply to their father. He was noble man, despite the occasional chill he presented...but that was just the leader doing the needed talk. Deep down was a loving family man and someone of great honor.
Ned embraced both of his sons, "I'll be transporting up to the station to deal with the derelict. An atmospheric craft will take you both as far as The Wall, after that you'll have to make your way to barrow on foot to avoid the electromagnetic storms."
Jon nodded, "We'll make you proud, father."
Robb nodded likewise, "We'll return victorious, father."
Nothing more was needed to be said after, as all began to prepare for their dangerous missions.
Even for a noble, life could be harsh in this galaxy.
In this harsh world, Arya watched her brothers leave to fight while she was stuck aboard a space station. She looked at the view screen with longing eyes and cradled the gun Duke Nukem gave her. "I should be there, fighting with them." she said to her sister, Sansa.
Sansa looked up briefly from her knitting, shaking her head at her sister's adventure lust. "Arya, Robb and Jon are going to kill monsters that reproduce entirely through rape. This is one fight you should sit out."
"Do those things actually RAPE people, or it is just metaphorical?" Arya asked with a frown.
"Doesn't matter, those things are highly dangerous. Read all about them." Sansa gestured to tablet that contained a wide variety of files regarding Houses, aliens, wildlife, and planets.
Arya looked at the information on Xenomorphs, and wished she hadn’t. “Sansa” she asked, “why do I want to feel it again? The danger and andrenaline?”
Sansha shrugged, “probably because you’re weird.”
That didn’t help
"Thank you very much." Was the heavily sarcastic reply.
The two sisters were...not very close, due to heavily conflicting personalities. Sansa was the 'traditional lady' type of girl, while Arya had a tomboy steak to her.
“I could join a mercenary outfit,” Arya said more to herself than anyone else. “I could start out with Duke Nukem on Death World New Vegas.”
Sansa didn’t look up from her book. “While I’m sure he’s irresponsible enough to let you, Sylvanas would send you right back here and mother would lock you in a tower.”
"You really think they would do that?" Arya asked as Nymeria, her direwolf, came up to her, allowing herself to be petted.
"Well, maybe the lockup is out, but you'd be pushing it." Sansa replied.
“You’re smart,” Sansa said, “you don’t have to lead a life of gowns, makeup and costume balls. You could be a planetary governor or a minister and father would support you.”
Arya shook her head, “That’s almost as bad. Wearing a suit and wearing a dress would be just as bad.”
Sansa sighed, “If you want to be a great warrior you’re going to have to do more than shoot, you’re going to really have to broaden your skill set.”
As Lady, another direwolf, came to Sansa, Arya stared at her sister. "Meaning?"
"You need to use a wide variety of weapons, as well as increase your sense and make sure your body can quickly adapt to any environment." Sansa went on. She put down her book, “look at Robb. He learned how to use every weapon and pilot every vehicle on ground and in space, and that was just the start. He knows how to lead men, how to spot an ambush and retreat when the odds are against him.”
Arya was surprised, “How do you know so much about this?”
Sansa gave a sardonic smile, “Well I’m more than just a pretty face”
Arya just glared at that, before turning back out into the abyss. It was so...inviting. It sounded quite thrilling to travel the many worlds, seeing exotic life and realms.
She could run off to New Vegas, she’d get her wish on that world full of mutants, radioactive zombies and deadly ork like super mutants. But if she could work directly under Sylvanas...
Sylvanas was someone who’d fought in every environment, against every enemy and with every weapon. Arya’s heart raced as she thought of becoming a galaxy famous battle queen.
Oh, that would win her some well-deserved respect all right. Maybe even the King himself would be impressed with her! That would so awesome!
But for now, she was stuck here on this giant space station, like many others would be.
In Winterfell’s military open dock, Morty was being left behind. “I can help, Rick!”
Rick brushed off his grandson, “Morty, I need you to make sure the janitor doesn’t pilfer my moonshine still. Lord Stark needs me to run scans on the derelict in real-time. Enjoy the rest.”
Rooster Cogburn clapped Morty on the back, “Son, you don’t want to be stuck in a bug hunt. And you don’t want a man like Clegane watching your back.”
Gregor scowled from across the small loading bay, calibrating his giant vibro Sword
Morty paled, having heard PLENTY of stories about the atrocities committed by the Mountain. None were pleasant.
Oh well. Maybe it was a good time to rest after being nearly killed...again. That was just Morty's luck. He lost count on all the ways he brushed by death.
Guilt still ate at Morty. He really liked Lord Ned. He was kind of like that cool neighbor who gave out full sized candy at Halloween and gave candy to adult trick or treaters.
He’d hate to think of something happening to Ned on the derelict. He’d also hate to think about something happening to Jon and Robb in the surface
Oh, why did the Galaxy demand so much from people? What is a comic joke? Or just what it was for no reason? That could be scary.
He looked out into the stars as well. The Great Houses owned many of the planets out there...and the Guild was a connector.
The galaxy was vast and full of riches as it was full of terrors. There were too many shipping companies to name, but the Guild occupied a special place. They didn't pay their captains, they just gave them a ship and a niche. This let them avoid regulation like the other shipping companies without being labeled true smugglers.
Morty dreamed of one day being a Guild captain. He was being trained in star navigation under Lord Stark's tutors. On a guild ship there would be lots of risks. But even a junior-junior navigator could earn twenty year's worth of a regular merchant sailor's wages if they were hauling an expensive cargo.
Rumors swirled around of the Guild hauling stolen spice, though nobody had been able to prove it. On a spice haul, the percentage paid even to a ship's dishwasher could set up a man for five lifetimes.
Morty felt lost in the future. He didn't want to live in his grandfather's shadow forever.
All so overwhelming...Rick was a super scientist, seemingly able to do anything. A lot to move out of. It would take miracle to do something like that, and make his own name among the records.
One thing at a time, though. For now...he had to keep on surviving.
Morty knew there was nothing he could do on a Xenomorph hunt. You only wanted elite soldiers to fight those creatures, especially if there was a Predalien or other exotic variants involved.
If he hit it big on a spice haul with the guild he could be rich enough to buy his own planet. He could have enough money to buy titles and claim a noble woman for marriage. A woman like Sansa Stark maybe.
...Fat chance of THAT. He was getting way too caught up in the moment. He was too dorky for someone like her.
Morty bumped into someone. Looking down, he saw Sansa's tomboy sister, Arya. "Uh-uh, Lady Arya, I'm-uh, really sorry!"
Arya shrugged at the dorky boy, "It's okay, Morty. Are you staying behind?"
Morty sighed, "Yeah, Rick wants me to guard his moonshine."
Course he does." Arya muttered.
"Yeah, he does like his drinks." Morty confirmed. "Seem to keep him going in this vast galaxy..."
"Well my father payed for his last two liver transplants," Arya put her hands in her belt.
Awkward silence fell between the two seens.
Morty scratched the back of his head, "So, uh, can I do anything for you?"
"Well, I was hoping you could, Morty,"
"Eh?" Morty looked up to see a dark smile across her face...one that spoke of no good.
Arya grinned and handed a note, sealed to Morty. "I was hoping you'd get this to Sylvanas Windrunner. She's still on the station and I trusted you to get this to her."
Morty just stammered, "Uh-uh, I-ah, oh sure!"
Sylvanas Windrunner, right. The hot undead lady that Morty had fantasized about for a while. Just go right up and talk to her
And hopefully not completely blow it, like a big dumb idiot. Great, no pressure.
Still...it was worth a shot. And he hated to turn down a friend
Morty nearly pissed himself and dropped the letter when Volibear stomped near him. "Careful, boy," said the bear in his most gentle voice. Which could still terrify hardened killers.
Volibear hauled a giant flame thrower in his paws; so big it normally was mounted on tanks and aircraft. Fire was good for cleaning out Xenomorph nests, a hot enough fire could crack their exoskeletons and prevent them from climbing on their melted hive walls.
Fire had its uses, especially in this icy wasteland of a world.
"Um, a-anything I c-can help you with?" Morty stammered, sweating quite large amount.
"Where are you taking that letter?" the ursine deadpanned.
"N-nn-nowhere," Morty stammered before the bear's icy gaze.
Volibear regarded the boy with alien emotions, inhuman aloofness; but no malice.
"...I see..." was all that was said. "I trust you, Morty. But don't be pushing it."
"Yes, sir." Morty sighed, relieved it did not explode into something nasty.
The bear snorted, "Sylvanas is by the armoury, restocking. If you need to talk to her, do it now." He stormed off, leaving Morty to breath a sigh of relief.
Volibear did trust Rick and Morty...that did not mean he LIKED them, finding them a little...problematic to say the least.
Nevertheless, Morty did as he was told and made his way to where Windrunner was.
Morty stood before her, she made his heart race even faster than Volibear had, but for different reasons.
Secretly he always had a thing for elves, his first fictional crush was for that lady from Lord of the Rings, which Rick mercilessly taunted him about and led to a nasty adventure in Naggarond; the Dark Elf homeland.
Sylvanas however regarded Morty with no malice, "Your mouth is wide open," she quipped.
Morty gulped as Windrunner gave an odd smirk, always enjoying messing with people, to test them out...how they thought in the terms of the galaxy and so on.
"Um, A-Arya w-wanted me to g-give you this!" Morty forced out, holding out the letter.
The undead elf smiled, "Yes, I was expecting something like this sooner or later, ever since Arya chose the knight doll over the princess doll when she was younger."
Morty continued to stammer, "Y-y-your wel-welcome!" Talk about a woman even more insanely unattainable than Sansa Stark.
She smiled at him, "Go get yourself a drink, Morty. And try to keep the station safe in case the worst should happen."
Morty found himself saluting stupidly, before scurrying off, leaving Windrunner alone in her thoughts.
She scanned over the note quickly. This would be a formidable task. She knew that Ned wanted Arya trained in self defense. He'd sooner have Rickon and Jon go to train with her as an apprentice than Arya. Arya was Ned's baby, and good luck getting through to a protective parent.
She frowned as she selected a high powered compound bow with explosive and fire and freezing arrows. Perhaps she could talk Ned into letting Arya learn politics on her world, then maybe give her the training the girl so desired.
Arya had potential, Sylvanas knew that. She just needed to be trained properly. It would be lethal to just waltz right into a death world.
For example, Sylvanas recalled a time she was given permission by the Dreemurrs to travel to the Gourmet World for supplies. Extremely tough as she was, it was still a harrowing experience: A planet with the circumference of 220,000 kilometers, with varied weather, biomes, and gravity, and populated with powerful animals, some as big as islands...and some even bigger.
Dreemur would be a good place to train her. They were allies of Ned, and more than that the many monsters on the surface were tough but fair. Getting killed was usually due to personal mistake, since so many of them favored personal duels.
Ark world might be good when she got older, but she didn't think Ned and Catelyn would be comfortable having their little girl tame dinosaurs or get an implant.
And getting her trained on New Vegas with Duke Nukem was out of the question.
Asgore and Toriel were good and reasonable people, if a bit too kind for their own good. Of course, even they would have to test Arya before the girl could THINK of setting foot on a Death World
There was also the case of Frisk, Toriel's adopted daughter of sorts. She might be a good female companion for Arya, lord knows she'd survived for years on her own in a monster infested mountain so she'd be a good squad mate if nothing else.
Arya had a certain personality type. She'd be wasted in some administrative post or as a pretty thing at a ballroom
Yes...this all required some thought. And she had time to do it, assuming no hostiles came en masse all of the sudden.
She now found herself wondering...what insidious plans was the King up to?
K. Rool was easy to understand. He desired unlimited power, more than what the brute force of his space marines could grant him. They were too few in number to be an effective police force. They could oust outside invaders, but they could never be an occupying army with their limited numbers.
Even if he took down House Stark and Dreemur, he was looking at two possible alien invasions from Tyranid and Grox sources. To say nothing of a potential ork invasion that could be triggered.
And there was also House Nui. Armed with advanced technology resources of their own, they were a formidable force. But they were good people, ready for justice.
They were mostly politically neutral, but their desire for peace, order and good government meant that they would naturally avoid any course that triggered a civil war or weakened the empire to outside threats.
Unity would be the saving grace of the galaxy, unity and brotherhood between the houses. It would be preferable to top down tyranny by shows of force.
The only way that K. Rool could make his hostile takeover work would be if he could monopolize the spice trade.
And that would be quite difficult, considering how shrewd the business could be a times, everyone wanting their own portion of spice.
Spice trade was handled by over a hundred shipping, refining and processing companies. Even taking control of the guild would have little effect, since they had so little centralized control over individual captains.
He'd need something, some way to nationalize the major shipping companies and also neutralize the most affluent guild captains
Windrunner paused. He would find a way. Somehow...it actually unnerved her to think about...
She gathered her supplies and headed out.