Adagio 19 – The Last War Before Now
If you actually read that last Canto instead of skipping it to get to the good parts, especially the naked-girl parts of which I am not promising you any, like most readers do, you may have noticed that both Tron Blastarr and Arkin Cloudstalker were veterans of a war that happened in the Imperium’s Pan Galactican Rim, Space Cowboy country. The Imperium had for two hundred and thirty-six years been expanding unimpeded and colonizing empty system after empty system. The problem, of course, is that the systems weren’t exactly empty. They had merely been cleansed of sentient and intelligent life by an unknown alien presence that came to be known as the Faceless Horde.
Battles took place, and planets would become empty of intelligent creatures like dolphins, whales, apes, Earthers, Nebulons, Galtorrians, Fusions, and other aliens capable of speech, culture, and organized militaries.
And the strangest thing was, the planets were simply empty after the battle. No bodies of defenders. No evidence of attackers. Rumors began that the enemy ate the dead from both sides. Of course, this was not based on the remains of cannibal cook-outs. While there were a few of those sites with long-dead skulls and fire-pits for making barbequed people, they were all created by the usual Galtorrian and Dion cannibal cults that had been eating their own as well as other sentients since the Imperium was formed.
But then, finally, captured study specimens, mostly Earther-humans were released by the Horde to return and tell us what they knew. The Scondians were literally faceless. They were a race of black, eyeless, faceless creatures that lived entirely on soaked-up starlight, or more groundedly, sunlight.
I got a lot of first-hand information about them because one of Ged Aero’s most prized Psion Teenage Mutant Space Ninjas, Billy Iowa, was one of those captive study specimens returned to the Imperium.
It was discovered that the Horde War was mostly a matter of misunderstanding. The creatures did not need to eat because they were made mostly of coherent light energy. Their bodies were primarily containment constructs to carry beings made mostly of low-temperature thermo-nuclear plasma. Once killed, they simply dissolved into the air. The Imperial forces had slaughtered billions, but didn’t know it because the bodies were gone by the time living observers were there to see them. And Imperials didn’t find any Humanoid or allied alien bodies because the Scondian Faceless Horde were fascinated by them, needing to study them to discover why they didn’t dissolve when deceased.
Billy told me that he was only able to communicate with them when a Scondian who went by the name Rahotep invented a translation device that turned their clicks and popping sounds into Galactic English. Nothing in Scondian society actually had a name. “Scondian” and “Rahotep” were simply randomly chosen designations from the computer’s Galanglic database.
So, once the two very different kinds of intelligence could communicate, the misunderstanding of what the two sides each were, and what their goals were, the war ended in a flash. The differences were great enough that no one actually was interfering with anyone else’s way of life. Co-existence became easy.
Not so easy came the acceptance of the peace by those like Tron Blastarr, The Degenerate, Arkin Cloudstalker, Razor Conn, and Fez Amin. They had experienced a myriad of impossible battles against the Scondian Scorpion ships, and came to deeply despise an enemy that had inflicted so much damage and pain with no apparent pay-back.
That’s when the veterans of the Horde War began moving to the border with unknown space to lick their wounds, build new fleets, and turn the act of privateering into complete and illegal piracy.
Many scientists, myself included, felt that the peace settled upon at the end of the Horde War was a mistake. The Scondian Horde did not offer any cultural exchange or opportunity to cooperate in shared space. They simply returned the Pan Galactican planets and properties and outstations they had cleansed of people and forbade further colonization in their portion of the Orion Spur. That was bound to cause trouble sooner or later. I mean, how can a greedy, acquisitive race of sentient beings like the Earthers, or the lizard-like Galtorrians, or the Human/Galtorr Fusions ever be satisfied that sentient beings with planets and a culture of their own not only forbid profiting from trade and commerce with them, basically in order to take advantage of them, or, even more galling, deny them planets, stars, and property to steal from its rightful owners? They can’t be satisfied. Piracy, after all, is what moves history forward. But then came the massive influx of Nebulons in their Space Whale Cruisers, moving into Imperial range for no apparent reason. By the billions, the little blue Space Smurfs were invading with a culture no more easily understandable than that of the Scondian Horde. A new enemy to go to war with and exploit in any way possible made the Imperial navy and Admiral Tang forget all about the Faceless Scondian Horde.