Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crashdown on the Third Planet

Thirdplanet was always tricky to maneuver when in atmo, even long before the dirt-apes had developed their own flying machines (instead of borrowing ours all the time). Pockets of electromagnetism would surge and swell without warning, every so often the planet's poles would reverse, making landing maps obsolete, navigation leylines were disrupted by cities, just all kinds of headaches.

But the trip to Thirdplanet was worth the risk. It was rich in minerals, especially gold and required a sliver of a fraction of the effort to harvest there than on other moons and planets in the system. Some think there's adventure to be had as well, just in the sheer unpredictable nature of the planet's dirt-apes, that's what a base sentient species does for the neighborhood. Besides, many galactic visitors simply think the dirt-apes are quaint. Now unlike the Greys, the Greens would never abduct dirt-apes. They may use some of the larger fauna for target practice from time to time, but abduct them? Bah! What are they, savages?

This last visit was even more unusual than most, and even more unpredictable. Upon approach to the blue planet, usually shrouded with white clouds, the Flight Technician observed crimson clouds intermixing with the white, certainly a new development. They were thin and dark, moving in streaks more like veins than clouds. The artificial field of satellites surrounding the planet was conspicuously absent as well, which is too bad because the Greens always enjoyed plinking at them with their anti-matter cannons on the flight in.

The clouds clung like a misty dense vapor to the manifolds of the saucer upon entry. Sensors went offline and navigation was spotty at best. Electrical current danced upon the interior surfaces of the ship. This saucer was going down, and going down hard. Harvest Troops dashed for the impact webbing, pushing, shoving, and tripping over one another. Tallest of the First Stripe checked on the psi-containers to ensure they were locked down, their own occupants safely tucked in, before he calmly walked to the center of the ship and climbed into the webbing himself. The Flight Technician left the comm-chair late, too much time was spent trying to (unsuccessfully) coax the haywire AI into a self-landing. He only made it halfway to the webbing before the saucer made first contact with the surface.

The tall trees clipped it first, thick spears of wooden splinters tore long gashes into the underbelly of the craft. As the saucer descended through the thick woods it continued to mangle both itself and the natural surroundings alike. An outcropping of rock sent the disc spinning on its axis, sending it skipping across a medium-sized lake. The saucer buried itself halfway into the mud and dirt on the far edge of the lake's shore. Several long minutes passed as the forest calmed itself down from the cacophony of the interstellar intrusion. A long trail of leveled trees led to the lake, but otherwise the forest seemed to return to its former state of peacefulness.

The top hatch released its pressurized sealed with a loud, sharp hiss, sending nearby birds flying into the air. The circular lid unscrewed quickly as two small robotic arms extended from a top panel of the craft, clamped onto the hatch itself and pulled it out of the way into a recess on the top of the ship. A dozen bolts of red energy fired out of the open hatch, seemingly all at once, and all in their own direction as well. The forest's silence was once again agitated.

The top of a green head slowly rose above the rim of the open hatch. Once the large, black eyes met the ship's edge it paused and though the eyes were without irises or pupils, you could tell they were warily scanning the surrounding.

"Umm, yeah, that sucked. Seriously." Tallest of the First Stripe muttered more to himself than to his crew as he climbed back into the ship.

"That's the least of it chief, here, look for yourself." Second Team Leader stepped over the crumpled body of the Flight Technician and handed his multi-box to the captain. A conduit cable had been hastily rigged up to the multi-box from an open dash panel in order to boost its signal. The SCT went on once the captain had it in his hands, looking at it intently, "There's something going on, I think it's the precursor of an extinction-level event. Comm-networks are down, dirt-ape military is in panic, I think they've even used some localized nuclear devices in some of their larger cites." He reached over to the captain and put the upside down multi-box up the right way and continued, "With the ship AI down, I'm having a hard time translating one word that keeps coming up as well, I have no idea what it means, but I get the hunch it's the cause of all of this."

This gave the Tallest pause, he quit (ineffectually) fiddling with the controls on the multi-box, and tried his hardest to look concerned, or serious, or in command, or some kind of trait he had been reading about in his "How to Lead and Inspire Your Troops" self-help book. "What is this word Second Team Leader?" he asked, always referring to his troops by their full titles, hoping one of them would return the favor one day. So far, they hadn't. The STL looked up from his "Guide to Dirt-ape Linguistics and Translation" manual, a look of puzzlement on his incredibly expressive face.

"Zombies, your tallest, the word is zombies."

So I finally painted up a unit of the excellent Greys offered over at Zombiesmith literally a year after purchasing them! When I saw these little guys on their website I bought them instantly, not knowing what I would do with them, just knowing I had to have them. I picked up the Grey Assault! package, which isn't bad for twenty bucks, and then these guys languished for a year, until now.

You've already seen one of these aliens, painted as a true Grey, but for the rest of the guys, I went in a completely different direction and chose green. I kept the bases more or less the same since the alien purple gravel received many positive comments. After photographing the batch here I realized they needed something a little extra, the Dull Cote left them, well, matte. It did its job, but I went back in with a semi-gloss and brushed it on their eyes and skin. I think they look good here as is, but the semi-gloss has got them looking even better.

Tallest of the First Stripe and Second Team Leader

Maybe you're just browsing for pics, but if you caught any of the fiction up above all I can say is that these little guys inspired me to write some serious fluff. Mind you, I don't fancy myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but the very nature of writing batreps, posts, fluff, and the like from time to time on here does mean I get to stretch my legs a bit when I do get the itch, thanks for indulging me!

Psionic Turmoil Squad 71-B (the ones in the containers)

Harvest Aeronautical Troops armed with Hypervelocity rifles

I went with light-hearted tones and am gearing these guys up for a possible appearance in Fear and Faith, Genesha Games' "more than just zombies" horror skirmish game. I thought they would make for an interesting diversion if nothing else. They would equally be at home in 5150, AE Bounty, of wherever else aliens run around going 'pew pew' with blasters. Whatever the case may be, they were a blast to paint up, and surprisingly, just as much fun to write about too. Enjoy!


  1. So awesome. I read every word of the background story on the edge of my seat!

  2. The story was great! The models are very cool and tap into an interesting theme so the inspiration is understandable. The painting is just right and I love the colours on the bases.

  3. I love the kitchy but earnest look of these guys, and your story was fabulous!

  4. Nice story! These guys are so much smarter than grays. "Never abduct" "Instead of borrowing ours all the time" and my favorite "Guide to Dirt Ape Linguistics and Translation" Great paint job too! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Ak ak ak AK AK aK!
    +++++Incoming Translation+++++
    Nicely done, especially on the bases.
    Brave choice on green, but I think it works out

  6. Sheesh, thanks for all the comments guys. Really, to a man, thanks.

    Just an aside, *this* is why I don't visit forums anymore, I can confabulate with my fellow gamers right here in my own backyard!

    Lots of positive comments on the fluff, it was fun to write. This may mean I'll have to subject you to more if the mood strikes me!

    There's a link up there for the Grey I painted up, which is about where I went here. Donogh's right, it could've ended up ugly. I used three green recipe (snot, scorpion, goblin) followed up by a Thraka Green wash and subsequent brush of semi-gloss.

    It won't be the last you've seen of the Tallest and his valiant crew...

  7. Enjoyable and brilliant fluff! The writing is good, and I like the concept. Zombies vs. Aliens! Get busy writing part two.

  8. Loved the piece Mik. Great stuff. Tallest of the First Stripe is awesome... can't wait to read more about the crew and the Intergalactic competition between the Greys and the Greens.

    and the minis look great too.