Ultimate ROM: Spaceknight 03 – Dire Wraiths

February 1st, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A.o.D. brings you Ultimate ROM 03: Dire Wraiths.

The Antagonists:

Although they are known as Dire Wraiths in 616 continuity, I prefer to do away with that name except for the occasional nod. The simplest reason is that the old name paints the enemy as caricatures. After all, there is no reason for anyone to say “we the proud race of Bad Guys, blah blah”. If anything, the enemy should still call themselves Chitauri (but never, ever Skrulls) even though they only have a passing resemblance to what their kind normally are.

During their long internment in the Black Nebula, the captured Chitauri tried on several occasions to break free, but each time they were swiftly repelled by the automated guardians that stood watch over them. Furthermore, the Chitauri knew that the star their prison world orbited would only continue to shine for a few million years longer. Unwilling to accept their fate, they formulated a plan.

The Chitauri immediately began the heavy industrialization of their world, and sought to discover new technologies that could give them an edge over their captors. They never found such an edge, so far ahead of them were the Galadorans that every renewed effort to escape their prison met with failure. The last thing they tried to do was essentially mass suicide. They imploded their already dying star, turning into a singularity in order to harness its quantam effects to make a super weapon. They failed to do this beyond their wildest dreams.

The star collapsed just as planned, but it did not become a black hole like they predicted. It became an anti-sun, an orb of utter dark that consumed warmth, light, and life with a voracity that was alive. Furthermore, it was a gateway to another reality inhabited by Things unwholesome to know.

The energy pouring from this new black sun poisoned the Chitauri, their world, and the black nebula. This black sun warped the Chitauri in mind, body, and soul. Where before they were unified in purpose, they became a fractuous, quarrelsome race. While they retained their near limitless ability to assume different forms, the bodies of their officers were no longer nearly indestructible. Their true forms had become warped, cancerous, and frail. Once emotionless and amoral, they had become consumed with hatred and jealousy towards their captors, and plotted with glee towards an eventual victory. It would later become known that they would be capable of positive emotion, but such was the dismal state of their prison that such things were unknown at the time. Finally, these new Chitauri discovered one final thing: Dark, sinister magics that channeled the very fires of their Black Sun.

These corrupted Chitauri had become something more, and at the same time less than what they had been before. No longer were they n-dimensional beings. That level of spatial awareness had been replaced by an aptitude for dark magic. They still needed to consume a victim in order to assume a new shape, but now their hold on that form was more tenuous. Death or serious injury would show them for what they were instantly. Finally, they were completely set apart from their true Chitauri relatives. No real Chitauri would look upon them as a fellow, only another independant mind in need of sterilization. It would be a consideration the Black Nebula Chitauri would gleefully reciprocate.

These Chitauri studied their newfound black arts with an insatiable voracity, and soon learned how to fuse the material and immaterial together to create unholy new inventions undreamt of by any Chitauri or Galadoran before. They learned how to contact and summon the Deathwings, immaterial beings of pure soul-destroying hunger that lived within the confines Black Sun. They also learned how to reach sinister beings that dwelled within the non-realm from which those black fires were born. Finally, and most importanly, they mastered the wraith technology, that ability which allows anything to phase in and out of reality, making it impossible to detect or interact with until it phases back into our reality.

The Chitauri themselves fractured into two factions during this time. One side, calling itself the artificers, was responsible for most of those technologies that fused dark magic and Chitauri technology. They invented the wraith technology, viewed their condition as a state to be endured, and the fell beings on the other side of the Black Sun as forces to be avoided. They consisted largely of the surviving males of their race. The other faction, known as the incabulists, embraced the Dark Sun more directly. They learned how to summon the Deathwings, created the wraith-plague, and openly embraced their deformities, sometimes exposing themselves directly to the cancerous powers that had been unleashed from the Black Sun. Furthermore, they viewed the other-worldly Things as gods to be worshipped and placated. Although there was newfound mistrust between these factions they were united by their hatred of the Galadorans.

Using their newfound abilities and technologies, they were able to at first reconnoiter the Golden League, and then launch an all out invasion. World after world within the Galadoran Golden League fell to their wraith-fleets. Entire populations were either exterminated and enslaved. Those that were killed were fortunate, for many of the captives were subjected to sadistic tortures and unnatural experiments. They proceeded apace toward the Galadoran homeworld, intent on poisoning it with the fires of the Black Sun. It wasn’t until the deployment of the Spaceknights that they knew defeat.

Despite their successes and innovations, their defeat at the hands of the spaceknights was total. Hatred and jealousy were joined by fear and terror as the remnants of once massive Wraith-fleet fled in every direction with the Galadoran living war machines nipping at their heels. Many of the ships did not manage to escape for very long, but little was known of the overall situation due to the strict communications blackout observed by the fugitives.

The Wraith-ship that arrived on Earth was known as the Dire. Yes, that is a nod to the name of the 616 race. The crew aboard had split into two mutually distrusting and resentful factions with mostly artificers on one side and predominantly incabulists on the other. While each side blamed the other for their failure, they both knew that to turn on each other would likely lead Rom, whom they called simply the Executer, directly to them. So instead they sought to go their separate ways on Earth and hide in amongst the populace, a populace that to them alarmingly looked like the Galadorans they had just been beaten by. This coincidence would lead them to form new ideas.

When Rom arrives on Earth, at first he only encounters and fights against the faction that is mostly made up of artificers. Their weapons include a variety of technological gadgets, plus a few noteworthy creations.

The first of these is the wraithhound. This terrible fusion of science and dark art twists a living thing into a servant of the Chitauri. To those humans that are willing dupes of the artificer-Chitauri, they claim that the hellhounds are dogs that have been modified. The truth is that it is humans who are the source material of these creatures. Hellhounds are capable of shifting between a human, a dog, and a bizarre humanoid form. This third form has purplish skins, fangs instead of teeth, clawed fingers, circuitry crisscrossing its body, an unerring ability to track using the unique smell of one’s soul, the ability to phase in and out of reality, and to disrupt anything it phases through. Though relatively easy to kill, their phasing ability can make it very difficult to effectively fight them. The transformation from human to hellhound destroys the victim’s mind, leaving a beastial near animal intellect that exists only to serve the Chitauri. Both factions employ the hellhound in equal measure.

The other major tool of the artificer faction is the Lictor (called watchwraith in 616, but since it doesn’t make any sense to call them Wraith anything since they don’t do the phasing thing, a name change is necessary.) These mechanical constructs are nearly indestructible. They are well-shielded against almost any weapon, are incredibly strong, and singularly unmovable from their purpose. What they are not good at is taking the fight to much of anything. They are slow, poorly armed, and easily outmaneuvered. As a result, they tend to only be employed as guardians of important individuals or installations.

The ultimate plan of the artificer-Chitauri is to guide humanity to the stars, and use them as a tool towards stellar imperium, with the eventual goal of exacting revenge on Galador. While they are not specifically malicious towards any individual human, they have little regard for them. To them any human is simply a resource to be expended as necessary. They fear the spaceknights as a whole, but the very mention of Rom’s name twists a frozen icicle in their hearts.

That wraps up the major points about Rom’s enemies, next time I’ll talk about some of the supporting cast that will figure into the story.

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