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Chapter One

The Camineet residential area is taken by most to be the capital of Palma. It is the largest city, houses the most residents, and connects to the only remaining spaceport on the planet. It, the spaceport, and its sister city, Parolit, form a trifecta structure that is itself surrounded by a giant protective security wall. No monsters can reach the twin cites, though that speaks nothing of the monsters already inside. Being the prize of Palman society and culture, Camineet is also the most heavily patrolled by the Robotcops and Elite Guard.

In a warehouse on the outskirts of the city (the decline in manufacturing has long since shut it down) a small group of men and women plot to liberate their world.

"I tell you we can't continue like this. Just yesterday we lost contact with the Scion group. And our transmitter went down today. It's that damn interference signal that the 'cops are broadcasting. It's fried all the circuits. We believe the same thing happened in Scion. They're still operating, but we can't very well do much if we can't communicate with the rest of the movement." Speaking was an aged man who looked incapable of forming the anger he displayed. He stood among six others who were seated upon crates that littered the floor.

Another man rose. Although young, it was obvious from his appearance that he commanded great respect from those around him. "That's not the only thing. I've seen 'cops hanging around Petro's old tool shop. I fear they may suspect he is involved with the resistance. They're keeping watch over him."

"Which means we can't rely on him for supplies anymore, it's too dangerous for him..." a woman added, the despair in her voice quite apparent.

"Yes, Adrina," the young man said, "that leaves us with only one source of equipment and items. And even those are salvaged from old wrecks. Half the time they don't even work."

After a long silence, amidst the dank and stagnant air, a new voice rose, "We have to get a messenger to Eppi, tell them we need their help."

The old man who had been the first to speak stood again. "That's damn near suicide. Who could get through that forest with those beasts and devils running around? We don't even have a full set of armor between us! How do we even know that we still have sympathizers in Eppi? There's been no word from them since the Royal Guard restricted travel through the Wall to essential personnel only. For all we know, those monsters could have overridden the town. Nero, we can't..."

"No one is asking you to, Gregor," the young man, apparently the leader, interrupted, "I'll go. I've still got enough fight in me to handle some rogue animals. Our people in Scion told us that Odin set off to the cave south of here recently. Surely he stopped in Eppi first. He's always had friends there. I'll go to Eppi, and hopefully locate him. Together, we can travel back to Scion, and better coordinate our efforts between the three towns. It's our only option."

The silence of the group bespoke their agreement. As Nero left them, they traded looks of fear and dread. Not one of them believed he would succeed.

Nero reached the exit of the warehouse. The enormity of the task before him filled his mind, to the absence of all else. Oblivious to his surroundings, he did not hear the sound ring out, that of a plasma-blaster discharge. It was seconds later before he began to feel it, a searing, biting pain in his stomach. As he looked down, and knew the truth, his senses began to dim. Thoughts of the movement, his sister, and his world flooded in as he collapsed.

The six men and women inside the warehouse were no more fortunate.

Robotcops stormed in, blasters scorching everyone in the room. In a moment it was over. The lead 'cop spoke.

"Insects. They're better off dead. If Lassic himself had chosen to deal with them, they'd still be screaming. Leave their corpses here to rot. Better to serve a lesson to any other resistors that their road leads only to death." Satisfied with their performance, relishing the power they wielded, the Robotcops left the bodies, still glowing with the lethal energy.

As they returned to the outside, the commander noticed that Nero still moved, though he was obviously dying.

"Look at this, look at this! The worm still fights! I guess they make some insects tougher than others, eh?" The killers laughed at their commander's dark humor. "Scum! Do not sniff around in Lassic's affairs! Learn this lesson well!" The order was punctuated with a kick of the commander's boot to Nero's bloodied stomach. "You will be our messenger in death! Use your final breaths to tell your people that Lassic destroys all who oppose him! Tell them that no one can resist his power!"

- - - - - - - - - -

The home of Nero Landale and his sister Alis stood not a hundred yards down the lane. Hearing the dead clang of Robotcops walking by the house, Alis waited for them to pass, then rushed outside. Patrolling Robotcops were always a sign of trouble, and she knew that her brother had been at another secret meeting of the resistance. But she was not prepared for the sight that greeted her...

"Nero!" she cried, as she raced to her fallen sibling. "Nero! What happened?!? Don't die!" Tears began to form in her eyes. "Don't leave me! Please!"

"Alis," Nero whispered, barely able to gather his breath, "listen!. Lassic is leading our world to destruction. I tried to discover his plans, but I could not do much by myself. I have heard of a man with great strength named "Odin". Maybe the two of you can stop Lassic." Nero coughed, spitting out the blood in his mouth. "Alis, it's too late for me. Be strong!" His hand closed tightly around hers, a final, weak embrace. Moments later Alis felt his grip release, his eyes closed.

Through sobs, Alis said quietly, "I will make sure that my brother died not in vain! Watch over and protect me, Nero!" She cradled her brother in her arms, in silent prayer.

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