CHRONICALS OF THE BLACK GUARD By Adrian Nunenkamp PROLOGUE

It is a known fact. In space, no one can hear you explode. This is
both a bane, and a blessing… depending on which side of the gun you
are on.

“Damage report!” The strident tones of the human commander of the
Alliance ship Rhyzan’s Fury rang across the smoking bridge. Sweat
trickled down his forehead, and into his eyes, eyes that already stung
from more than mere sweat.

“Hull compromised on decks four through twenty, fusion reactor has
lost all power, we’re on emergency power now.” The answering voice
came from one of the Captain’s crewmembers, a non-human whose name he
barely remembered, Ensign Vitun.

“Weapon status?”

“Offline, as are defences and engines. We’re a resting waterfowl,
sir.” Turning to face him, he saw the black and white fur of the
Ensign’s face matted with her own blood. Once again, the stab of
guilt, reminding him that he had failed in his command.

“The phrase is ‘sitting duck’, Ensign. I do, however, understand
what you mean.”

A dull thud, followed by a clanging sound rang throughout the hull of
the Fury. Vitun’s eyes widened in panic as the captain fumbled for his
gun. “S… sir?”

With a gaze that belied his own terror, he tried to force the Ensign
to calmness. “Vitun, we need to fight them. You don’t want to know
what they do if we don’t.” The young Ensign merely nodded, her
remaining ear folding down against her head. Together they stood,
facing the sole door to the bridge, weapons pulled and trained on the
door, ready to fire.

From the damaged internal communication system, they could hear the
screams of pain, of terror, of death as their fellow crewmembers fought
for their lives, and lost.

Without warning, the centre of the door turned a deep cherry red, and
then blew open, knocking both officers to the ground. Stepping through
the remains of the door was the worst fear of any Alliance officer.
Two figures in jet black armour, and one in gold.

The Captain was first to recover, rolling to the side and raising his
weapon in a last, defiant act. The whine of an electromagnetic
accelerator pierced the air, and the captain’s torso vanished in a red
mist, some of which settled on Vitun.

Slowly, the figure in gold armour stepped over and took the gun from
her nerveless fingers, her terror locking her in a way she had never
experienced before.

The head on the gold figure turned slightly, as if regarding her.
“You… will make a fine pet, and an even better meal when I tire of
you. Stand, I wish to see you better.” When she didn’t respond, a
fierce snarl emanated from the figure before her even as a strong hand
grasped the back of her neck tightly and forced her to a standing
position.

“You *will* do as I say, or you will die as I eat you alive here and
now!” Turning to the black armoured figures, the gold one issued what
Vitun could only assume were commands in its own language. Thee black
ones came forward, and grasped her arms, both holding her up and
keeping her from escaping.

As she stood there, the gold figure removed his helmet, leaving her
to faint in terror at the leonine visage. The last thing she heard was
his deep chuckle, containing something in it that made her wish this
were only a dream….