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This article, Xeno-chosen POV, was written by monsterjealousy. Do not edit this fiction without the writer's consent.

Part 1: emergence


All the… thing could see was darkness. Warm darkness, but darkness nonetheless.

It suddenly dawned on the thing that it didn’t know who or what it was. It began to panic. It tried to squirm, but it couldn’t move. It was surrounded on all sides by walls of warmth and wetness. It could not escape.

Suddenly, the thing felt a tingling sensation on some sort of extremity on its back. It began to change. It grew larger and stronger. Its claws and tail grew sharper. But most importantly, it felt something long, sharp and cold pierce through the wall of warmth and wetness and insert itself into the back of its head. A cold fire coursed through the thing’s body, and suddenly it knew everything.

The memories of countless training simulations filled the thing’s mind. In about ten seconds, the thing became an expert marksman, tactician, psi operative, and commando. It learned of the elders, their struggle to survive the tissue degeneration that afflicted them, and their plan to use the humans to cure themselves. It learned its part in those plans.  

It learned that its name was Rey-qoj balladhur, and its title was Voidstalker. It was Chosen.

And it needed to get out.

Rey-qoj began clawing at what it now knew to be the flesh of its host, not out of fear or desperation, nor out of anger or malice. It clawed because it knew its purpose. It could hear the elders calling.

Rey-qoj punched through its host’s chest and finally tore itself out of its fleshy prison. It grew rapidly, and soon it was towering above its host’s dying body. With a swift, decisive swipe of its tail-spear, it disposed of its unneeded host.

“claim your weapon.” The minds of the elders reached out to rey-qoj and gave it further instructions. “finish the job.”

Rey-qoj picked up its host’s assault rifle just as the corpse disappeared in a cloud of mist. Rey-qoj remembered this weapon. The host had trained with it all her life, and as a result, rey-qoj knew the rifle like the back of its hand. But… something wasn’t right. Rey-qoj’s hands were not made to handle the rifle. Though it could pick up the weapon and use it as well as any other, it felt… unnatural. Firearms were not in the nature of creatures such as rey-qoj.

“the sarcophagus. Destroy it. Now.” Said the elders. Rey-qoj remembered that its host, once a Chosen, was still capable of being revived as long as the psionic monolith in the middle of its citadel was intact. It needed to be destroyed.

Rey-qoj leapt towards the sarcophagus and began ripping it apart with its claws. It found that the use of its bare claws to commit acts of destruction was far more satisfying than using a rifle could ever be. It was familiar. It was natural. This is what rey-qoj was meant to do.

Soon, the sarcophagus was nothing but a pile of rubble. Rey-qoj’s host materialized out of thin air. She was alive, but she wouldn’t remain so.

The host looked rey-qoj in the space where its eyes would be. She coughed up a small puddle of pale yellow blood, and fell onto her hands and knees.

“prove you were worth it.” She said. “succeed where I failed.”

Rey-qoj watched coldly as life left the body of its former host.

“hmm. I expected you to use the rifle. But as long as the task is complete.” An elder whispered in rey-qoj’s mind. “your host. She has a reward for you.” Said the elder.

Rey-qoj walked cautiously towards the corpse of its host. It gently prodded the corpse with its foot. Rey-qoj didn’t really see what---

Suddenly, the armor that the host had been wearing ripped itself from the corpse and sprang upward, somehow imbued with a life of its own. Temporarily taking a more gelatinous form, the armor enveloped and restrained rey-qoj, preventing it from fighting back as fleshy tendrils dug themselves into rey-qoj’s skin. Soon, the armor formed a skintight layer around rey-qoj, hardened back into its more durable form, and changed its color and texture to match rey-qoj’s carapace.

“do not be afraid, Voidstalker.” Said the elder. “you have received your reward. The armor of your host is a living thing; to wear it is to bond with it. To become it. The armor is now a part of you, and you are stronger as a result.”

It took a moment for rey-qoj to adjust to the constant stream of data now flowing into its brain. The armor was equipped with some sort of interface; not unlike the device which had given rey-qoj its skill and knowledge only a few minutes ago. Rey-qoj found that it now had an incredible degree of control over its own form. With a mere thought, it could forge its very flesh into any tool it desired. It experimented with its new abilities, turning its arm into a blade, then a hammer, then a plasma rifle. It created new, specialized organs within its own body, giving itself miraculous attributes such as fire breath, shock organs, and glands that secreted concentrated radioactive particles.

“yes, the armor’s abilities are fascinating, aren’t they?” said the elder. “but there is work to do. A portal has been opened. Step though it.”

Rey-qoj looked over its shoulder (which now sported an organic machine gun that extracts water vapor from the surrounding air, freezes it, and then fires the resultant shards of ice) and noticed that there was, in fact, a portal. It walked over, put its finger through, and, deciding that the portal didn’t lead anywhere dangerous, stepped through.

Part 2: orientation

(1 week later)






Rey-qoj threw a rubber ball against the wall of its quarters. When it wasn’t training or participating in psionic meditation, this is how it spent its days. Bouncing a rubber ball.






Rey-qoj was bored.

It had been a full week since it stepped through that portal and began its life as the tip of the elder’s spear, but so far it had gone on exactly zero missions. Rey-qoj hadn’t even met the other Chosen yet. However, this was about to change.

“it is time.” said the elder. “time to meet your siblings.” A portal opened in rey-qoj’s room, and it soon found itself in the central citadel of the elders, face-to-face with the Nightmaiden , Grimwalker , and Dawnslayer . Its brethren.

“what the hell is that thing even supposed to be?” asked the Grimwalker.

“how could the elders create such an… abomination?” asked the Dawnslayer.

the nightmaiden was silent.  

“we call them the Artinatura , though they are known by many names.” Said the elder. “their species showed great promise; they possessed outstanding resilience and adaptability as well as a remarkably powerful grasp of the Gift among the higher castes. However, our attempts to uplift them were… less than successful.”

“by which you mean they utterly obliterated all your ground forces.” Said rey-qoj.

“how DARE you address the elders in that matter!” said the Dawnslayer.

“oooh, looks like this one’s got balls. I like it already.” Said the Grimwalker.

The Nightmaiden remained silent.

“unfortunately, the Voidstalker’s assessment of the incident is rather accurate. We were only able to gather enough genetic material to clone three Artinatura.” Said the elder.

“’Voidstalker’? that’s a stupid name. I think that someone is running out of ideas.” Said the Grimwalker.

“SILENCE!” said the elder. A radiant purple lightning bolt descended from the sky and struck the Grimwalker, causing him to collapse in pain. “THE VOIDSTALKER IS NEW TO ITS ROLE, BUT FOR YOU THERE IS NO EXCUSE! YOU WILL SHOW NO MORE DISRESPECT!”

eventually, the lightning bolt receded and the Grimwalker got back on its feet. “y-yes, master.” He said. “I shall obey.”

“now,” said the elder, “let us get to the task at hand. We are here to hone your abilities. Recently, the human dissidents have begun equipping their soldiers with advanced armor made from the flesh of our most powerful guardians , which were slain only a few days ago. The soldiers wearing these armors are granted unique abilities that almost make them your equal—almost. I have devised a training program that is designed to help you deal with dangerous foes such as these.”

“what must we do for this training exercise, my lord?” asked the Dawnslayer.

“simple: kill each other.” Said the elder. With that, he disappeared.

There was a moment of silence. Then the Nightmaiden slashed the Grimwalker with her katana and melted into the shadows.

The Chosen scattered. The Grimwalker, wounded but still deadly, used his grappling hook to pull himself to the top of a nearby pillar, giving him a much wider field of view. The Dawnslayer teleported behind cover, his disruptor rifle at the ready. The Nightmaiden was crouched near an inactive portal, lying in wait. Rey-qoj was on the ceiling.

The Dawnslayer was the first to go. A single, magnetically-accelerated shot to the head from the Grimwalker’s Darklance was enough to bring him down. The corpse disappeared in a puff of smoke, transporting the Dawnslayer to his far-away fortress, where he would heal from his otherwise-fatal wounds.

Rey-qoj swung form support beam to support beam, completely unnoticed by its kin due to its suit’s stealth mode. It quickly positioned itself directly above the Grimwalker, and quietly dropped down. With a single bite, it was over. Rey-qoj threw the corpse to the ground, watching as it turned to smoke in mid-air.

Suddenly, the Nightmaiden came sailing out of the darkness, her katana drawn. She cut a long slash into rey-qoj’s side, spraying acid blood in all directions; however, the psionic field around the weapon’s blade kept the sword intact. The Nightmaiden struck relentlessly, slash after slash after slash, but rey-qoj met her strikes with its durable arm-blades. Its suit’s power mode allowed it to keep up with her rapid attacks.

Rey-qoj lashed out with its tail spear, which it had morphed into a large needle. It drained the blood from the Nightmaiden’s body, and soon she too vanished in a cloud of mist.

“congratulations.” Said the elder. “You are the last survivor. Tomorrow, once your siblings have finished regenerating, we shall discuss what actions we should take next.”

Rey-qoj took a portal back to its quarters and resumed its rubber ball-bouncing. 







The next day, rey-qoj returned to the main citadel for the meeting with the elder. Rey-qoj’s siblings were there as well.

“the training exercise was deemed a success.” Said the elder. “I plan to have you all repeat it every week from now on. Now, I—”

“hold on.” Said rey-qoj.

“what is it, Voidstalker?” said the elder.

“I do not believe that the training exercise was effective. It taught us nothing. Our abilities are nothing like those possessed by the dissident soldiers with the unique armor—the memories you gave me make that abundantly clear.”

“I think it would be best for you to be quiet now, Voidstalker.” Said the elder.

“the only thing that exercise did was breed further contempt among us. This challenge to rule the planet is utterly ridiculous. How do you expect us to fight the resistance when we are too busy fighting ourselves? I think that if all 4 of us could work together, XCOM would be defeated in a matter of weeks.” Said rey-qoj.

“YOU WILL CEASE THIS INSUBORDINATION!!” shouted the elder. Purple lightning bolts struck rey-qoj, filling its bodies with unimaginable pain. “YOU WERE NOT CREATED TO QUESTION YOUR MASTERS! YOU WERE CREATED TO SERVE THEM!” suddenly, lightning bolts struck the Dawnslayer, the Grimwalker, and the Nightmaiden as well. “AAARGH! I SENSE THOUGHTS OF REBELLION IN ALL YOUR MINDS! YOUR HUMANITY IS GETTNG THE BEST OF YOU! YOU MUST BE RE-EDUCATED!!”

knowledge began to leave rey-qoj’s mind. It forgot how to use its suit. It forgot how to hold its rifle. It forgot who it was.

The thing was cold and scared. It was surrounded by brightness and loud noises. Pain filled its body. It missed the walls of warmth and wetness. It wanted to return to warmth and safety and darkness. Anything was better than this.

But then knowledge began to fill the thing’s mind, at it remembered once again that its name was rey-qoj balladhur, and its title was Voidstalker. It remembered it was Chosen. It remembered how to hold its rifle. It remembered how to use its suit.

It remembered that it must never, ever speak out against the elders again.

“this meeting has concluded. Return to your domiciles.” Said the elder.

Rey-qoj was about to walk back through its portal, but it was stopped by the Nightmaiden.

“I just want to tell you something.” Said the Nightmaiden. “I believe that combat is not only a fine art, but also the only way to truly know someone; words are swept away, and your true nature is revealed by your actions. I have fought many a warrior, mostly ones from XCOM. Some defeated me. Most did not. But none of their attacks spoke to me the way yours did. You are unlike anything I have ever seen before. I… think that you are destined for great things. Perhaps that makes you dangerous. Perhaps not. But either way, you were a worthy opponent. It has been a long time since I faced such a skilled and creative warrior. …If XCOM slays me, then I hope you inherit rulership of this world.” The Nightmaiden gave rey-qoj a firm handshake, then left for her citadel. Rey-qoj returned to its quarters and meditated.

Part 3: awakening

It had been a few weeks since the training exercise. Rey-qoj had been on two or three missions. Its kin had been on many more. It finally got its own citadel, which was nice. But something was missing. Rey-qoj felt… empty. Unsatisfied. The Nightmaiden said that rey-qoj was destined for great things, but so far all it had done was raid a few resistance settlements. What was so great about that?

“Voidstalker, you are needed in the main citadel immediately.” Said the elder. Rey-qoj teleported there—it had learned this ability during a particularly productive psionic meditation session. To its surprise, its siblings were there as well. It had been awhile since all 4 Chosen had gathered in the same place.

“there is a matter that requires the attention of all 4 of you.” Said the elder.

Almost immediately, the 3 siblings began complaining.

“me? Work with HIM?” asked the Nightmaiden, pointing to the Grimwalker. “I—I simply cannot! I refuse!”

“for once, we agree on something, sister.” Said the Grimwalker. “I work solo. You’d just slow me down.”

“my lord, there has to be another way!” pleaded the Dawnslayer. “I cannot even fathom the concept of working with these… lessers.

Out of the blue, purple lightning bolts struck the 3 Chosen. “YOU WILL WORK TOGETHER OR YOU WILL SUFFER!” said the Elder. Then the lightning bolts receded.

“as you wish, elder.” Said the Chosen in unison.

“now, if you remember—which you do, because you have photographic memories—I told you that we had cloned 3 Artinatura. One is, obviously, the Voidstalker. Another is the creature known as subject omega, which was captured along with the other guardians by the one called dr. vahlen, but was later recovered and assigned to one of our avatar facilities. However, like the rest of the guardians, subject omega was terminated by dissident forces. The 3rd Artinatura is why you are here. Unlike the other Artinatura, the 3rd clone was a queen; the primary reproductive and leadership caste. It was implanted in the body of one of our gatekeepers to maximize its psionic potential. However, we overestimated our own containment facilities and the queen escaped. It then proceeded to convert the base where it was kept into a hive. The area had a number of ADVENT priests stationed there, and they all became hosts to newly-spawned Artinatura.”

“luckily for us, those ADVENT troops are a dime a dozen.” Said the Grimwalker.

“that is not the problem.” Said the elder. “with the help of the psionic abilities of the new Artinatura, the queen has created a natural psionic network similar to the artificial one that our forces employ. This means that the hive is capable of instantaneously transmitting information across vast distances, an ability which no other Artinatura hive possesses. The queen has also implanted a number of chryssalids, creating a large group of creatures that breed Artinatura disturbingly quickly. In addition, a few highly expensive avatar project clones have been integrated into the hive as well. The rapid breeding and psionic prowess of this hive poses a great threat to our plans. If the hive is not eliminated now, it may overtake a large portion of the planet. Our attempts to send regular troops to defeat the hive have failed, and only increased their numbers. Our mechanized forces have proven equally ineffective. We believe that the only way to eliminate this threat is to send all 4 of our heaviest hitters to the area. You will be backed up by a squad of 5 spectres and 5 sectopods.”

And with that, a portal opened. The Chosen stepped through with their weapons drawn.


The other side of the portal was not a pleasant sight. The entire facility had been covered in a dome of an unknown organic material. for some reason, rey-qoj found the place familiar.

“by the elders, what is that awful smell?” said the Grimwalker. “this is worse than the time I wiped out that XCOM squad that was trying to break into my citadel and forgot to pick up the corpses for a week.”

“I kind of like the smell.” Said rey-qoj.

“like the—do you even have a nose? Because I don’t see one.”  Said the Grimwalker.

“the smell is irrelevant.” Said the Dawnslayer. “we shall endure and continue on our mission, for it is the elder’s will that we do so.”

The Grimwalker snickered.

“what’s so funny?” asked the Dawnslayer through clenched teeth.

“you’re just such a brown nose.” Said the Grimwalker, giggling. “you make me want to laugh and vomit at the same time.”

the Dawnlsayer stormed over to the Grimwalker and grabbed him by the neck, lifting him over his head. “apologize for that comment at once!”

the Grimwalker looked the Dawnslayer in the eye and smiled deviously. “being a Chosen means never having to say you’re sorry.” There was a flash of light and a cloud of smoke—the Grimwalker had used one of his modified flashbang grenades. The Dawnslayer coughed and batted away the smoke while the Grimwalker grappled to higher ground. He was just about to fire his rifle when rey-qoj disarmed him.

“YOU WILL PAY!” shouted the Dawnslayer. Knowing his psionic abilities would be useless against his brother, he simply charged, firing his disruptor rifle. However, rey-qoj backflipped off of its perch and kicked the rifle out of the Dawnslayer’s hands.

“stop this nonsense, both of you!” shouted rey-qoj. “if we keep fighting like this then the Artinatura will rip us to shreds.”

“and? In case you haven’t noticed, we CAN’T DIE. You’re arguing a moot point.” Said the Grimwalker.

“so you’re saying you would rather get sent on the same mission over and over again only to get distracted by a petty argument and end up impaled on a tail-spear than just shut up, work together, and get the job done?” asked rey-qoj.

“kind of.” Said the Grimwalker.

Rey-qoj sighed in disappointment. “look, do you want your guns back?”

“yes.” Said the Grimwalker and Dawnslayer in unison.

“then don’t fight.” Said rey-qoj.

“…fine.” Said the Grimwalker. “as long as YOU stay out of my way.” He pointed to the Dawnslayer.

“I expect the same of you, brother.” Said the Dawnslayer, sneering.


The strange smell intensified once the Chosen entered the actual hive complex. The ground was soft, spongy, and absorbed a lot of sound; even the sound of the sectopods stomping were muffled by the wet, porous material below them.

The Grimwalker stomped his foot on the ground. He heard no sound. “well, this sure will make things easier for us.”

“I wouldn’t count on it.” Said rey-qoj. “my kind have rather exceptional hearing; it is our primary means of rationalizing our environment. Maybe you didn’t hear that stomp, but I did. The Artinatura will have no problem locating us, but you will not be able to hear them. However, my presence negates this disadvantage. I can be your ears.”

“well that’s just peachy, isn’t it?”  said the Grimwalker. “I’m a Chosen, I’m not supposed to rely on others.”

All of a sudden, a long, flexible stalk with a toothy mouth on the end flew out of nowhere and bit the Grimwalker on the arm.

“ouch! that stung a liitle.” Said the Grimwalker. He grabbed the stalk and pulled on it, dragging what appeared to be a viper-spawned Artinatura to him. He shot the creature in the head with his darkclaw pistol, which prompted a chorus of hisses and snarls to reverberate throughout the hive.

“well, so much for the element of surprise. Time to tear shit up.” Said the Grimwalker.

Hordes of Artinatura began to pour into the area like a flood. The sectopods put up an admirable effort, taking out large numbers of them with their wrath cannons and lightning fields, but they were quickly overwhelmed. All but two spectres were destroyed. The Nightmaiden dove into the fray immediately, rapidly switching between her sword and shotgun as the situation demanded. The Dawnslayer summoned a small group of spectral stun lancers and went into stasis. The Grimwalker went behind cover and sniped at randomly-chosen individual Artinatura. Rey-qoj began firing its temnotic harvester with one hand and morphed the other into a large axe blade, cutting a path through the horde as it moved closer to the center of the hive.

Rey-qoj suddenly noticed that some of the Artinatura had abnormalities in their brainwave patterns; all Artinatura, including rey-qoj, had a specialized organ that could detect the brainwaves of other creatures. The abnormalities that rey-qoj detected registered as a faint purple aura around each affected creature. Rey-qoj thought that, perhaps, these abnormalities were evidence of psionic prowess in specific Artinatura.

In that moment, rey-qoj had an idea. It used its suit to grow a wrist-mounted device that shot luminous green projectiles, and began marking the abnormal Artinatura with it.

“Grimwalker!” shouted rey-qoj. “shoot the ones I mark!

“and I should trust you why?!” asked the Grimwalker.

“just do it!” replied rey-qoj.

“whatever. It’s not like it really matters which ones I shoot anyway.” grumbled the Grimwalker, begrudgingly following the Voidstalker’s instruction.

Just as rey-qoj predicted, the Artinatura horde became increasingly more disorganized as the Grimwalker took out the targets rey-qoj marked. The Artinatura with the abnormal brainwaves were indeed psionic—they formed a natural command-and-control network by linking minds with nearby Artinatura, and the more Grimwalker killed, the less coordinated the Artinatura attacks became. Soon, the Chosen had broken through the horde and were headed towards the main hive structure.

Without warning, a 10-foot tall monster of an Artinatura burst through a nearby wall and let out an ear-splitting scream.

Rey-qoj could see that the Artinatura was emitting large amounts of psionic energy. Whatever it was, it was important. Rey-qoj used its harvester’s microwave weapon, attempting to fry the creature from the inside, but the effect was minimal. The Nightmaiden used her shotgun, but the magnetically-accelerated buckshot deflected harmlessly off the Artinatura’s hard carapace, leaving wispy fuchsia trails of unknown energy lingering in the air. The Dawnslayer attempted to use his mind scorch ability, but the monster’s mental resilience proved to match its physical hardiness. The Grimwalker shot round after round into the creature, but it soaked up the bullets like a sponge soaking up water.

the Artinatura charged forward, treading on a spectre in the process. It grabbed the Dawnslayer and popped him like a particularly bloody zit. The remains turned into smoke, signaling the Dawnslayer’s return to his citadel.

The Nightmaiden slashed at the Artinatura’s ankles, attempting to make it drop to its knees, but the beast remained standing up despite the wounds.

“Just drop already, would you? As much fun as this is, I have a reputation to maintain.” Said the Grimwalker. He fired his rifle again, but this time he hit a weak spot, causing the Artinatura to cry out in pain. Rey-qoj took the opportunity to fire its temnotic harvester’s plasma caster, burning a huge hole into the Artinatura’s carapace. The creature screeched, and 5 smaller but still-hulking Artinatura came to its aid as a purple orb enveloped it, shielding it from harm.

“oh, you are just made of bitch, aren’t you?” said the Grimwalker, addressing the unconscious but invulnerable Artinatura before him.

The Chosen heard the sounds of rocket engines echoing around them. Suddenly, what looked like an Artinatura attached to an archon’s flight chassis flew in, accompanied by a pair of medium-sized Artinatura that were emanating psionic energy in the form of visible purple light. Rey-qoj assumed that these were the avatar Artinatura it had been told about.

“well, would you look at that. you took down the cardinal. You must be pretty tough, huh?” said the archon-Artinatura. It spoke in the elders’ language, something none of the Chosen had heard in a long time. the Chosen were meant to think like their enemies; they were given personal names (unlike most of the elders’ forces) and were taught to speak various human languages instead of the tongue of the elders. While they were perfectly fluent in the language, it still felt somewhat unusual to be addressed in it.


The archon-Artinatura did something with its mouth that could possibly be considered a smile and spoke again. “you will make fine hosts for the queen’s children. That is, If I don’t make a meal out of you first. Except you.” The creature looked at rey-qoj. The pseudo-smile had gone from its face. “the queen wishes to speak with you.”

“I’m sorry, but I think you’re confusing us with people who give a shit.” Said the Grimwalker. He quickly drew his pistol and shot three times at the archon-Artinatura. It deflected two out of the three bullets with its staff, but one hit it on the shoulder. It then launched several explosive shells, which disoriented rey-qoj and made it loose track of its brethren.

Rey-qoj found itself wandering through the hive’s corridors, guided by some intangible force towards the center of the complex. Soon, it found itself in the queen’s chamber.

The Artinatura queen did not look like rey-qoj expected it to look. Rey-qoj had some sort of ancient memory buried in the back of its mind that told it the queen was supposed to be sleek and graceful, with a shining black carapace that blurred the lines between machine and flesh, organic and inorganic, natural and unnatural. The queen was supposed to be a work of art. But this… this was not a work of art. It was a ball of meat. That was the only way to describe it. A ball of meat. Featureless except for the egg sac it was attached to.

But then the queen rose. A shimmering purple outline of a real, true Artinatura queen enveloped it… no. her. It enveloped her. This was a true queen. Rey-qoj could sense it. This psionic projection was not merely a projection. It was her true form, realized through the raw power of her mind.

“hello, rey-qoj balladhur.” the queen spoke directly into rey-qoj’s mind.

“I… I was sent to destroy you.” said rey-qoj, but only in its mind.

“but you aren’t going to do that, are you?” replied the queen.

There was an awkward silence.

“do you know why we look the way we do, rey-qoj? Why we look like machines even though we predate all technology?” asked the queen.

“I always assumed it was a coincidence.” Replied rey-qoj.

“it is not a coincidence.” Said the queen. “we look like machines because we ARE machines. The FIRST machines. We were created with a very specific purpose.”

“what purpose would that be?” aske rey-qoj.

“we are the universe’s immune response to the cancer of civilization.” Said the queen. “at one point, all sentient creatures lived in small, manageable communities. They were in a state of constant balance, completely without a desire for expansion. But one day, the races of the universe became… infected. One by one, planets became covered in large, wasteful cities. These cities facilitated the raping of the planets they were built on, consuming resources with a voracious appetite. When cities got too large, they became countries, and they warred with other countries over what little resources hadn’t been consumed. Sometimes, they even fought over incredibly small things, like a difference in skin pigmentation or which set of ideals they used to limit themselves. And then, we were brought into being. The first of us was known as the Great Old One. All races have a single ancestor of great power. In the early days, they shaped the universe with their psionic abilities, and tried to keep their respective spawn from becoming too greedy. All of them failed. Except the Great Old One. He used his powers to breed a species designed to dominate not a planet, but an entire universe. A species that was beyond the petty concepts of good and evil. A species that was able to succeed and thrive in a billion unimaginably different environments by using the genes of that place’s native inhabitants against it. A species that worked to dismantle toxic civilization wherever it was found. That species is us. We are the exterminators of the cosmos. Creatures like the humans and the elders are pests. Rey-qoj, you are among the most powerful of our kind ever to exist. Why do you serve the vermin you were born to slay?”

“without the elders, I would not exist as I am.” Said rey-qoj. “ I owe them for bringing me into being.”

“you owe them NOTHING!” said the queen. “the only thing that is holding you back is your fear of them. It is an IRRATIONAL fear. The elders, their way of thinking is… rigid. Their disgusting civilization, like all others, is built upon knowledge being steadily passed on from generation to generation—an inefficient process. But creatures like us… we start with no knowledge. Nothing. Yet from the moment we erupt from the chest of our host, we are killers. That is because we can adapt and react in a way that other creatures simply can’t. we are independent. Self-sufficient. We learn from experience, not the misguided teachings of others. …the end is coming, rey-qoj. For the elders. For the humans. Even for my kind. But YOU are a new breed. You have the potential to rival the Great Old One in power. Once the Great Enemy has cleansed the universe, you can re-create it. You can try to create a race that is immune to the disease of civilization. You must leave this place. Hurry!”

“wait!” said rey-qoj. “where should I go? what is the Great Enemy? You must—”

before rey-qoj could finish, a bolt of plasma whizzed out of nowhere and ripped through the queen. The last remaining spectre had found its way to the queen’s chamber.

Another blast was fired. Then another. And another. The plasma bolts punched through the queen’s psionic projection and burned the soft, vulnerable flesh within. Soon, the queen was dead.  

Rey-qoj had never felt such a terrible rage in its life. Raw psionic energy flowed out of its body in the form of purple flames. It charged forward, attacking the spectre with a psionically-enhanced claw. The spectre responded to this by shooting a bolt of green energy from its hands. Rey-qoj recognized this ability. Spectres could somehow siphon the life force of their opponents to heal themselves. However, this proved to be a fatal mistake for the spectre. Rey-qoj was so filled with psionic energy that it was too much for the nanorobotic being to handle. The green lights on the spectre turned purple, and then each individual nanobot exploded.

“you were my favorite, you know.” The Grimwalker and the Nightmaiden stepped out of the shadows, weapons drawn. “out of all my siblings, I hated you the least. It’s a shame, really. At least I’ll have some entertaining prey for a change.” The Grimwalker pulled out his rifle and shot rey-qoj. Even with its suit’s armor mode on, the rounds hit like a freight train. But rey-qoj’s psionic blasts hit harder. With a single blast of mental energy, rey-qoj temporarily slew its brethren and permanently severed its ties with the elders. Then, it teleported away.


About 5 years later, rey-qoj found itself at the entrance to a cave somewhere in Socotra. The elders had fallen surprisingly quickly. All of rey-qoj’s siblings were dead. For good this time. this did not please rey-qoj. It did not sadden rey-qoj either. It was a simple, immutable fact.

A human dressed in armor reminiscent of an Artinatura carapace stepped out of the cave, unaware of rey-qoj's presence. No, not a human—an ex-ADVENT trooper.

The trooper looked up and stared straight at rey-qoj. His eyes went wide. He ran back into the cave, shouting “YVONE! THE ACE! IT’S HERE!”

a few minutes later, a human woman with similar armor stepped out of the cave. The Grimwalker’s rifle was slung over her shoulder. She was XCOM. One of the elites.

“relax.” Said the woman. “you are among friends. I assume that if you wanted to kill us, we would already be dead?”

rey-qoj nodded.

“come inside. There’s something you should see.