The Anonassi are not stupid. They realise they are beginning to lose in the Third Era, and they begin to deploy new weapons to the battlefield. These take two major forms, each as horrific as the other.
Of course, being the Anonassi, these won’t be mechanical weapons…
A cold grey sky swept overhead, tinged in part with fingers of blue streaks, lighting that danced through static laden heavens. The Lost Land was exceptionally violent today as a trio of Chosen swept through the ruin of a previous civilisation before they passed close to a turn in what might have once been some form of thoroughfare. There were signs of conflict all across this region, and they weren’t the good signs either. They were indicators that whatever battles the tribes had fought here had not gone their way.
“The trail leads off this way, Albina.” Doctor Aesha Chike looked around nervously and shook her head. “I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re being watched.”
“I get it all the time.” A tall woman with a straight back walked next to a skull, a skull that had been picked clean to the bone. On her right shoulder she bore the double-headed eagle insignia of the Rostov clan. “Usually I’m right.”
“If Albina’s hairs on the back of her neck start to stand on end, best start worrying.” Vladim Rostov grinned from ear to ear. “Albina Rostova has a legendary neck for trouble.”
“Bah.” Albina ignored her brother’s comments and bent down, her gloved hand closed around the skull and she lifted it. “Polished almost to the very bone itself.” She passed it over to the doctor.
Aesha Chike shuddered as she gingerly took it. “What am I supposed to do with this, I mean I can tell you that the victim was male and that he’s obviously dead.”
“You don’t say?” Vladim walked over to another corpse, the same was true of this body. “What could have done this, I mean there’s not a scrap of flesh on this skeleton at all.”
“I don’t know brother,” Albina rubbed the back of her neck and sighed. “But we best be on our guard. I don’t want to find out the hard way.”
“You and me both dear sister.”
Aesha Chike poked into the skull with her finger and shook it, there was a sound, it was like a tiny buzzing and before she knew it she felt an intense pain in her right hand. When she withdrew her finger there was nothing left of the flesh there, not even a single drop of blood stained the wound. She let out an ear-piercing scream which caused the Rostov’s to whirl around in her direction.
“Aesha?!” Vladim shouted. “What’s wrong?”
She shook her hand violently and a few tiny dark bee-like shadows flew from it, they buzzed angrily and surged forward again as the woman tried to swat them away. They were like shadows that ate the flesh and matter of others, they consumed parts of the doctor before the Rostov’s horrified eyes. They went for soft extremities first, buzzing almost happily and then began to devour the rest as the doctor screamed and wailed on the ground.
Albina and Vladim stood transfixed by this horror show, this sudden terrifying assault on their companion and when they finally regained their senses they heard the buzzing increase in volume and tempo. Upon the edge of the clearing there rose a dark cloud, lit with tiny glowing eyes. A cloud that surged forth with sudden ferocity and speed that it looked like a black bird had taken flight and now swooped on death’s wings toward them.
“Run!” Albina snapped to her head around and looked for a way out. “There!”
Vladim didn’t take a second order to get moving, he sprinted away from the dark cloud and together with his sister they bolted for an area off to one side where there was once a settlement. As they ran they felt their hearts pound in their chests, their blood rush to their ears and their lungs pump to near bursting. It was a flight that had played out across the Lost Land in numerous places and locations recently as the Anonassi had unleashed their newest weapon in the war against the Chosen.
Swarms, tiny bee-like shadows that were more akin to piranha than the pollinating variety. These swarms could devour everything, flesh, bone, other matter in a manner of minutes once they descended. They didn’t get tired, they didn’t give up and the only way to stop them was to blow the bastards into oblivion. Of course, you had to stop running to do that and that’s when they swarmed you — a few seconds later — you were gone.
Albina and Vladim had seen first hand what a few of these little monsters could do, and now they ran for their lives. Albina didn’t look back and she heard her brother running behind her, his feet clattering on the stone, his heavy breathing came more and more ragged as they pushed themselves to the limit. Then she heard the buzzing grow louder and louder.
“Come on, we’re almost there. We can make it to the portal.”
Vladim didn’t answer, and she could no longer hear the sound of his hammering feet on the ground behind her. She heard another sound as a dark shadow swarmed around the corner and met her head on. By the time the swarm were finished, which was in seconds, her skeleton toppled out of the cloud and landed in a tangle of bone upon the floor brought forward by the momentum she had when she was devoured. Its grisly work done, the swarm moved on and left the two Chosen’s bodies to lie under the ashen sky.