The desert wind blustered, the raging sandstorm tore what should have been a peaceful valley apart. The whipping sand covered their tracks well and was easily manipulated. The trees bowed and trembled under the riot, with the green copper building foundations began to resemble sandpiles. The bodies and remnants began to bury. The storm was wholly artificial. He made sure of it.
His power thrummed through the valley, empowering his followers, injuring anyone who was not of him. Anyone who was not Scarabaeidae perished. This was a purging raid. Praetarca stood as the eye of the storm, impassively, unbothered and untouched by the bladed sand. The human trembled before him, his mind slowly breaking down under the pressure of the psychokinesis.
“Please, we’re not a threat!” The man begged. Blood flowed freely from his exposed skin as the sand buffeting him like bullet glass. His robes whipped around him.
“Where are the others?” Praetarca grumbled back, projecting his voice to the man’s ears easily, ignoring the wind. His voice was deep and revving as if there was no pause in between each syllable.
“What others? You destroyed everything! There was no point to this cruelty!” The man shouted back.
“But there was a purpose. Vengeance. Hivecleaning. Vermin removal. Pleasure,” Praetarca stated before raising a hand.
The man was lifted up on invisible strings.
“Hive? How? The Scarabaeidae are extinct-” The man murmured in shock.
“I would worry about yourself…” Praetarca commented.
The man let out a single stifled shriek as he was suddenly compressed into a single inch bloody cube. Praetarca drew it near himself, peering at it with his six apathetic eyes. His flat featureless face was almost human-like, contempt evident to any who saw. He guided it to the several hundred other floating bloody cubes. The golden soul mote floated serenely, something Praetarca could do little to manipulate. The cloud of bloody cubes floated around him. Other humans that had been eliminated.
He spared no one. This was a complete purge of the planet.
“We’re moving on. Check the ruins. Skirmisher modus,” He ordered.
He stood on two multi-jointed legs, thick with chitinous muscle. He was robed in black, azure, and saffron trim. Three of his four hands were clasped, with the fourth raised, keeping everything spinning aloft. The other Scarabaeidae kept in a close escort, armored head to toe, holding strange energy weapons. No two looked alike. Some crawled on almost a dozen limbs, others walked on only two. Several resembled massive insectile automata; power armor. They had easily crushed the outer city, and they were moving in to root out survivors. Even if a single person was let go, it would spell doom for their colony. The last colony. What had once been trillions had now become millions. For Praetarca, it was simply turnabout. Humanity had done it first, so it followed reason to return it.
The other Scarabaeidae obeyed without hesitation or self-preservation. Their war modus had been activated, stasising all empathy, emotion, and regret. This made them horrific killing weapons. They moved in, seeing the entrance to the underways. The green copper bricks and architecture made it clear there was an underground structure, possibly rooted throughout the city.
The first Scarabaeidae skittered to the stairs, turning it’s red monocular helm back to Praetarca. The segmented plating clicked as it flexed and prepared for entry. Ambushes were possible. While they were fearless, they still had a caution for easy bait. One of Praetarca’s limbs raised, blurring the Scarabaeidae and shielding it with a psychokinetic barrier. Praetarca would do everything to protect what hives were left. Every Scarabaeidae life counted.
It charged down the stairs with others in tow. Praetarca serenely made his way down the stairs, the several hundred one inch bloody cubes that used to be human were stacked neatly on one another, forming a massive bloody cube just outside. The whipped up winds and the sandstorm would last for a little while longer.
One of the lead soldiers made a clicking noise, communicating with the others.
“Very good, keep forward,” Praetarca replied.
The hallway was cramped, causing them to line up in pairs. Some stuck to the ceiling, their energy weapons scanning the green copper hallways. Blue sickly light flickered from ornate LEDs. The poor lighting was of little hindrance, as most had suit assisted vision. The group made their way deeper into the twisted maze of green copper brick halls, they all scanned cubbies and shadowed side paths for ambushes. The pathway opened up, with flowing water splitting the widened hall in two. The Scarabaeidae quickly scuttled outward like an insectile hoard, spreading out. Many traveled along the walls and ceilings, skittering forward with intense purpose. The farther they traveled, the more the rooms opened up.
“Such a massive underway…” Praetarca mused. He’d have uses for a place such as this.
So far it was vacant of life, the only sound was the calmly flowing water. There they stopped and surveyed at a large room, the lights splaying across the walls as they shimmered off the pooled water. The large room appeared to be a main channel for the waterways, with different alleys and halls dotting the walls. The room was furnished with wooden crates, shelves, cabinets and more, all exquisitely crafted. They appeared to have been untouched for some time, their sheen and pristine condition exemplified with time. For the uninitiated, what should have been a dust-covered room was instead clean. Ectropy tended to do that.
“What are you doing?” A being asked, with a child-like mischief. Its voice was odd as if it stressed words incorrectly.
The horde of Scarabaeidae turned, seeing a towering ten foot being in their midst. How it suddenly came amongst them without notice was shocking to them all. All weapons were pointed at it.
The being had a strange head, shaped like an aged and pitted cueball. It sported a wicked smile and flat teeth, and no other facial features. It’s body and limbs were too long, stretched out of proportion. It wore an emerald victorian suit, with flowing coattails. It was well fashioned and tailored. It’s hand’s were steepled, appearing nonplussed with intruders.
The Scarabaeidae all glanced to their leader expectantly, awaiting orders on the strange enemy. Praetarca stared at the being, his eyes widened at the horrifying visage. It wasn’t just because a ten foot being suddenly stood amongst them. It was because he felt no presence. His heightened sense felt no heartbeat, blood flow, neurons, heat, smell, power, ESP, instinct, demonic aura, angelic aura, spiritual aura, fae magic, or any other type of sensory. It was a dead spot in front of him.
“You do know you’re trespass-” The being began. It got out no other word as Praetarca struck without mercy. All four arms pointed to the being and he attacked with every ounce of fiber he had. The being made a noise of disappointment as it was crushed into an emerald cube. The cube hovered within inches of Praetarca’s face. It dangled quietly with not a single micron of movement. He scoffed in satisfaction over the easy kill.
“Demonic influence. Leave nothing unturned. Destroy every living thing, no matter how innocuous,” Praetarca ordered.
Things suddenly became more complicated.
The complexity multiplied further as the emerald cube spoke.
“Hey! You’re a very rude gentleman- gentlebug? Whatever, you’re rude.” it said.
A lone eye opened, peering at Praetarca from the cube. He focused in on it, crushing it with everything, almost the full force of the weight of a half moon. He blinked, breathing heavily at the strain. He felt it.
The being pushed back.
The cube expanded against his will, forming into a nondescript silhouette of emerald slime. It eventually regained it’s previous form, adjusting its collar and frock with a cracked smile. The being treated it like a game.
The Scarabaeidae failed to hesitate, opening fire into the being. The energy tore through it, shredding the clothes and flesh. Praetarca’s eyes widened further upon seeing the damage heal instantly. Even down to the thread trim of the emerald victorian jacket.
“Please. Do not interrupt when the adults are discussing!” The creature reprimanded.
The smile widened further, it’s large flat teeth glistening in the lighting. It flexed its fingers, which had half a dozen more joints than they should have. It pointed to the closest Scarabaeidae, a wide beam of emerald pale roared out, the insectoid shrieked as its atoms were reduced to instant ash. It twisted it’s arms around, spraying the area with a din roar of emerald pale. The Scarabaeidae in the area vanished to shrieking ash.
“Fall back,” Praetarca ordered. Whatever this was, it was not only a demon but strong was too small a qualifier.
It was godlike.
Praetarca turned, finding he was alone. Nothing remained but the ash of his soldiers. Green motes of light started to arise from the remains, signifying complete depletion.
“Now, as I asked before,” The demon began as it grasped Praetarca from behind. He snapped his eyes to the taller being, fear beginning to show.
“What are you doing here?” The creature’s voice dropped it’s pretense, no longer masking malevolent intent.
Praetarca was silent, unwilling to share any details. He began to focus his power. He felt no signs of life up above. He was all that remained. He found purpose in the power he called. There would be no survivors, no one to traceback any route to the hive colony. He would not return beneath.
“I gave you no permission to leave,” The being commanded. It placed the tip of its many jointed index finger against Praetarca’s skull.
Praetarca felt the emerald needle punch through his skull and into his precious brain. It was as if someone had suddenly cut off a limb. He felt the excruciating pain as his mind went silent. His telekinetic and psychokinetic abilities were just lobotomized. He tried to will himself to heal, but could not feel it. The being smiled, undeterred by the stubborn silence.
“You are Scarabaeidae, yes?” The being began. The emerald needled retracted back into his index finger.
“Of course you are,” It answered for him. Purple blood flowed from Praetarca’s wound.
“But we all know Scarabaeidae are extinct. The poor little bugs were squashed by humanity.”
He whipped his hand in front of Praetarca, gesturing him to wait.
“Or so it would seem. Except, you’re all here! Well- were? Past tense- Sorry about the others, they were boring.”
“That would mean, there are more of you.”
“Which either means you have a vessel in orbit- No,” the being cut itself off, raising a long finger.
“No, no, no! A church satellite still has air superiority!”
“Which is why you attempted to destroy yourself just now. You were protecting the hive- There are other hives, plural. This is terrific!”
Praetarca shook his head at that, he felt slow and dumb, the emerald needled had done its damage.
“My conclusion is…”
“You’ve been here all along.”
Praetarca twitched upon the voice change.
“Do you know how happy this makes me?”
“Don’t bother telling me where you hide, it’s more entertaining to find it myself. And subvert it. Also, do you know what that means?”
“Surviving Scarabaeidae specimens! I mean, it’s not like I need any more. Your Ancath have proven enough. But still!”
“You!” Praetarca spat at the creature befouling his leaders.
“And there’s the trigger!”
“Do you want to know how many Ancath I dissected?” The being moved in close as it taunted.
“Impossible, not-” Praetarca began, the being interrupted by bowing down, face to face with him. His sickening smile cracked wider.
“Oh ho! But it is. You should know better. As you know, they all perished and such. I couldn’t just let them go to waste; that’d be a galactic crime to let the pinnacle of Scarabaeidae DNA rot,“ The being explained with a shrug.
“Who are you?” Praetarca asked, trying to gather any intel he could.
“I can’t have you ruining everything, so I’ll have to stop you. Hm…” The being said as it murmured; pondering.
“I don’t remember Scarabaeidae having such powers,” The being said as it railroaded the question.
“Did you really try to fill their place?” It bust out laughing.
It was the sound of a shrieking goat.
“Genetic modifications? Adorable. I could use you too. Don’t worry, you’ll be forever immortalized in my gallery.”
“I’ll put it under…” The being began, as it thought.
“Failed genetic modifications,” The creature’s voice dropped again.
It closed it’s mouth and re-smiled, the flat teeth becoming pointed shark teeth. It grasped Praetarca’s skull in both hands, cupping it like a small fruit. It gripped him like an iron vice and twisted.
Praetarca let out a stifled squeal as his spine snapped free and everything went black.