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Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode Four: The Hunt

JOS watched the heavens become swallowed by the opening above as the eased into the ships depths.
“Activate tracking, and set friendlies.” Voiyn growled.
“How?”, JOS couldn’t figure it out.
“Fix your pupils to the target icon in the upper right.”
He’d hardly noticed the images in his peripherals. JOS focused on the dot inside of a circle.
Non-Combatants Target
Looking into the blackness the brain continued.
Team Target
A quick shift of his faceplate towards Voiyn, the computer generated outline lagged to keep up with the subtly of his vision.
Turning to NaN made his magboots click audibly. Both targets set, he peered back into the darkness.
No Target Selected
Tracking Activated
Select New Target
The text blinked, shifting into the upper left field of his vision. Aware of the menu icons, JOS took a moment to gain some familiarity with them: Screen Customization, ‘After the mission.’, Vision Modification, Audio Modification, and Target Tracking. He Opened the Vision mod menu first: Standard, Infrared, and UltraViolet. JOS activated the Infrared.
Everything went black, except the onscreen images. He stared hoping to watch the screen change, to his chagrin he blinked. Activating the Infrared imagery. JOS gaped as he viewed the elaborately etched tunnel the descended into. Beautiful and terrifying images of titan-like creatures, of a more alien origin than the craft they were searching. Locked in combat, consumed by flames.
The lift ceased. Before them a tall door, the etching of two opposing giants seeming to keep the door locked by way of their contest of strength.
“NaN, are you seeing this?”
“See what? Black.” NaN’s voice dripping in sarcasm,”There’s lots, and lots of black.”
“Why are you so slow?” JOS asked no one,”Go to the Vision Mod menu and turn on IR.”
All three stood in silence while NaN adjusted his sight.
JOS watched NaN as he surveyed above. Remembering their purpose JOS was surprised by Voiyn’s patience.
Voiyn slipped the device from his shoulder again, placing it up against the only smooth space along the side of the door. Roughly the same size as the device. The same glow appeared, only now the figures in the door seemed to ball up their hands. Rapping the same sequence, the two appeared to pull the door apart.
Beyond the entrance lay a vast empty space. A pile of wreckage discarded in the corner. Some other Pack had picked the ship clean of any and all technologies. It was a near guarantee the only thing of value was the living being within these walls, and the vessel he used to get here.
JOS wondered how one could escape a Pack. Voiyn’s Hounds would’ve give chase to the ends of The Vale if NaN, or he attempted the same.
“Spread out. Stay equadistant on my flanks. Weapons ready, look for any heat he’s left behind.”
Simultaneous clicks as all three detached their weapons. JOS looked to see the stun stick in Voiyn’s massive grip, a heavy 17(weight). Too bad for anything on the receiving end. He ventured out to the left, the enormous cavity opening into a circular hemisphere, eventually leveling of into a straight line. Making sure his position was in line with the other two.
Nothing to see but the ornamental imagery surrounding them. He passed through the black limit of his IR mod scanning everything dutifully, “Nothing to see on the left.” JOS announced.
“Same here.” NaN checked in.
They continued in silence, JOS examined the walls looking for any mechanism to open, glow of any kind, and trying to take some sort of knowledge of this lost race. Definitely fascinated, and dedicated to war, many of the images of clashing dichotomies; vessels, infantry, creatures in single combat. Once he could afford his own, he’d have to get an ImageryCollector.
UltraViolet might reveal something different about the artwork, he surmised. JOS flicked his eyes to the vismod. Blinking, again set the new modification, the light was brilliant and deep blue and black, certainly bringing out an incredible new quality to the art. Revealing motion in the application of the UV reactive substance.
“I’ve got a faint lock on his ship mixed in with the trash, and a trail of just glowing blood going back into the ship.” NaN called, forcing JOS to drag himself to the opposite side of the hangar, he switched the mod back to IR. His breathing felt sharp as he tracked the five hundred units, while trying unsuccessfully to make no noise.
Joining the other two, Voiyn gave JOS a hand sign to maintain silence. He tiptoed the last few steps behind NaN to the right of the entryway. Voiyn opposite, ready to watch their rear, he used the device, JOS notice the just barely glowing pool at the foot of the door. Voiyn manipulated the panel, causing the door to groan open. JOS scrunched his face as they lost their surprise. The moment the door was wide enough, NaN slipped in, JOS stayed right on his heels covering the left.
Every step on time with their heartbeat. Focused and calm. Corridor width, seven units. Height, five units. No heat signatures yet, “See any doors?” After a hundred units, JOS had to ask.
“I’m looking at the same things pralo. Are we missing anything boss?” NaN replied.
“You are performing excellently. Continue forward.” The reptile commanded soothingly.
A deep breath, JOS returned his focus to the long corridor ahead.
“Get that?” A new trail of blood.
Adrenaline kicked in, JOS could feel himself running. His mind still, focused, body reacting instantaneous. Every moment dedicated to seeing a limb, or some other recognizable shape giving him the signal to squeeze the lever sending the being into a severe electro-paralysis.
Two-hundred units down.
Three hundred.
The drops of blood became more frequent, glowing brighter, they continued along in the grey blackness of the corridor.
Twenty more units and the blood veered off behind a bulkhead. A fresh smear on the compartment control. NaN palmed the panel, opening the door. As one they entered the room. A concert of movement, practiced as young boys while they were supposed to sleep. Just like the games back then, only real.
JOS caught a couple of empty hand prints, bi digit, multi-limbed. His pace increased, feeling how close he was to bearing down on his first. Blood, rushing intently. All nerves screaming for the moment, his vision lit up white with what looked like a limb.
Sure of his sight, his suit confirmed the life signs, and range.
<span A million lights buzzed in a chaotic sphere of light. Temporarily overloading the IR cameras. Once the lights dimmed, JOS took off to pin down the catch. Three limbs out of each shoulder joint, a thin creature. He placed his magboot on the thing’s middle while NaN and Voiyn set to restraining all those arms.
“The went perfectly. Well done, both of you. You didn’t give him an opportunity to counter you. You both are definitely riding on the next lethal hunt. Very smooth.” Voiyn complimented, “We need to get him back to Valevyinellin. Electro-paralysis after a grievous injury can cause vital systems to shut down in some species. Not worth a whole lot but experience if he’s dead.” Voiyn gave his congratulations.
Getting the creatures body back to K8 would be simple enough. Jumping back to the K8 would be the only place they needed luck. Voiyn made it clear that he would handle the task. “You pups need to learn to orient yourself in space still. This thing’s not even heavy.” As he reactivated the lift, sending the giants back to combat.
“Can you show me how to operate that?” JOS pointed at the device Voiyn had been using to unlock the ship with.
“The Ancient’s Key.”Voiyn mused,”One rotation. You will probably have your own.” Soundlessly they rose back up into the brilliance of the Vale.
JOS took the response as yes. Somehow it seemed Voiyn was saying more than that. Surely if there was other meaning, it would reveal itself in time. The K8-Blackstar looked intimidating hovering so close. Imagining being the focus of the death machine sent a chill. The lift reached the top, automatically sealing the handmade ship. ‘I still can’t believe we just pulled that off so well.’ JOS still high on his endorphins, shocked in mental disbelief.
“You’re going to have to use me as your outboard hand holds.” Voiyn motioned the two over, positioning himself for their benefit.
NaN went first this time, JOS stay right behind him, he swore he heard the distinct sound of the stun stick going off, or maybe it was Voiyn leaping off after them.

Comeback next week for the start of Chapter Two, come to Notan’s Pit your new home from home maybe?

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Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode Three: Breaking-in

K8 successfully traversed the contraction. JOS looked out of the viewport to see the hulking, angular remains of an Ancient’s ship. The biggest he’d seen this intact. Voiyn went into a flurry of action, stopped, turned to face the compartment. “K8 has an amazing sensorial array. First, infrared.”, he instructed.


The ship rocked on invisible threads in the sea of nothing, as the IR drones launched from it’s belly. Ten shells in all, each containing five probes. Have a unit in size, and as black as the void, it was impossible for JOS to follow as they worked.

“No external heat, loiñl*must be defending inside. Don’t die little monkie…” Voiyn silenced the tiny OhkBD with a jab from his talon. In the immediate silence after, the whole crew could hear the strain on the synth-metal plate. Seriousness returned, somehow JOS didn’t feel as tense anymore, like the atmosphere had thinned.

“Then we use Boomers.”

Two thumps, each an audio emitter and receiver. By pumping out ultra low frequency to ultra high frequency waves throughout the ship. Creating a three-dimensional model of the entire structure, excluding air tight compartments. Data streamed into K8’s brain, and began to form into a map from the holoprojector. JOS watched the map draw itself in greater and greater detail. Finished it was like nothing he’d ever seen.

Elaborate corridors in circular designs, weaving throughout the ship in complex, even overlapping, what he could only assume, corridors. Much of this floating rock remained internally intact, a nearly functional structure.

Voiyn unstrapped, standing from the pilots seat. Walking up to the projection, examining it carefully. The crew stood, following Voiyn’s lead, JOS tried to understand the design before thinking about looking for something out of place.

What do you see?” Voiyn’ too close voice startled JOS.

Circles. Paths. A ship. His mind tumbled, he took a breath, gathering his thoughts in the process, “I see a very complex design, like a catacomb intended to house life. Determining what’s in these sealed compartments will give us a better idea.” JOS completed the idea.

“Good. This time we don’t though. Throughout the Vale, there are a decent amount of these. Zepzhyr, half-alive. Two have been converted into Pits.” Voiyn lectured, “These seven compartments,” His touch leaving red chevrons along one side of the vessel, “are our secondaries. Getting to these can prove difficult. He’s probably in the main hangar.” Voiyn tapped the huge hollow spot on what he assumed was rear.

“How will we get in?” NaN asked with a little too much confidence.

“We have a few choices. Best to enter through the manual hatch from outside.” Focusing his talons to a point, he touched the external portion of the projection. Expanding his fingers, magnified the image. He then spun it a quarter-turn, revealing a flat panel JOS assumed was the entry point.

“The hunt start’s here.” Voiyn assured them, “Go below, and prepare. I’ll meet you in the depress. Essec, con. Vahl, guns. Disable only. You two,” Voiyn motioned to JOS and NaN, “grab a 5-dij* immobilizer. There should be two Twister-AP6’s for you.”

Neither cared if there were more instructions or not, bolting to the common compartment in the first curve of the ship. Then slid down to cryoprison/armory. Amongst the various immobilizers were two shoulder stabilized, hip shot weapons. Bulky and strange. Cylindrical cartridges were lined next to the weapons.

Both reached for their own, first the Twister which attached to the magtag along their spines, followed by their ammunition, securing the cartridges to their belts.

“Pralo, this is real.” JOS almost yelled.

“I know!” NaN barely restraining himself.

“If you die… so will I, to kill you a second time.”

“You first.”

Both roared, any nerves had been lost.



JOS, and NaN pulled their matching helmets from the nearby rack. Sliding them on the suits gave a temporary glow, as it sealed itself. JOS watched the suits computer analyze his body composition, physical diagnostics, and personal biometrics.

SYNC? The suit asked

“Yes, now.” JOS demanded, it felt nice.

Lines of code scrolled past his eyes.



“Ragilf*.” Came from NaN. Using the call-signs they’d created cycles ago, just for such a moment. Their secret identifier, so they’d always be aware of the other, even if they were enemies.

Excitement bubbling, the two went to exchange glances. Frozen by the shock of their appearances. Both stared into the reflection of themselves off the mirrored surface of the angular face shield.


“I know…”

JOS let out some air.

“Let’s get ‘im.” NaN slapped JOS on the back of the head.

A final embrace, the two ascended to the common compartment, cocksure. No words along the way. Waiting for them in the depress, Voiyn stood fully regalia. Rather than the basic oblong helmet, Voiyn’s elaborate headpiece was as or more foreboding then the being himself.

Sharp, black horns protruding out of the back. Golden, grotesque teeth formed a sinister smile across the face. JOS had to force through the momentary lurch of fear it cased.

“How d’you activate the external audio.” NaN’s amplified voice causing enough feedback to double over JOS, and Voiyn. As JOS reoriented himself, he saw NaN fly into the back of the compartment from the great reptile’s slap. “No outgoing coms for you.” Voiyn snarled, JOS suppressed a laugh. Continuing, “The control mechanisms are opposite your aural cavities. Left, “ he demonstrated on NaN,”outgoing. Right, external receiving.”

JOS inserted his index into the device, and audible click was followed by a ringing. Clearing up, he could hear the hollowness of the space, as NaN picked himself off the wall.

“You three done? I’ve been ready to drop you for six circuits now.” Vahl sounded agitated.

“Depressurize.” Voiyn not losing control for a sphere.

“Depressurizing now.”

JOS’s nerves made his body feel like an automatron. Aware of his actions, and consciously deciding them. Only, his body performed the in-between. Coupled with the depress, every part of him felt foreign.

“Compartment depressurized.”

“Open up K8. JOS, NaN, stay close. Emergency situations are the only reason you should leave my side.”

“Valegbosh.” Chorused the youth.

Opposite the entrance, a portion of the bulkhead silently slid into itself revealing the external plate shielding. A hiss as the shielding detached and swung into the void. The behemoth sat before them. JOS had never seen an object so large. It’s entirety had to be close the size of the whole Servitude Colony, he couldn’t even see the ends.

“Jump. Magboots first. Directly onto that smooth octagon. On my lead.” Voiyn gave them a parting flick of his digit. Effortlessly, Voiyn took the outboard handholds, JOS followed, NaN came out, positioning himself like his comrades. “Watch closely.” Voiyn lifted his body perpendicular to the ship. Aiming with his feet, he pushed with his arms. Nice and gentle, Voiyn glided across the hundred unit gap. Imitating, JOS pointed his feet, one last check before he leaped. NaN looked good to go.

JOS inhaled deep, pulling himself to K8. Watching the point where his heels met, he exhaled and pushed. Sensationless motion caused his mind to race as he watched himself fly straight for Voiyn, already landed and waiting.

Closer, and closer, until he heard the definitive click from his magboots attaching to the surface. Looking up, NaN had another ten units before touching down. Relieved, JOS threw out some encouragement, “You look as graceful as a pxois* dancer.”

Unable to receive a response, JOS imagined NaN’s contorting features trying not to laugh. JOS barely contained his own.

“NaN, outgoing coms on.” Voiyn commanded. “Hereforth, your life is threatened, focus yourselves accordingly. Anything trapped in a corner is likely to fight o the death to live.”

“Valegbosh.” the crew responded.

JOS watched intent to learn. Voiyn unslung a rectangular device from his shoulder, placed it against the far edge of the panel on which they stood. “Step back.”

JOS and NaN moved back to the outside edge of the octagon. Placing a hand on the device,Voiyn became basked in the fluorescent blue glow emitting from his hand’s outline.

The center of the ‘access hatch’ fell into itself. “On, quick.” growled Voiyn. Both maneuvered awkwardly onto the platform. Voiyn fingered the device in an apparently random series. JOS’S eyes were fixed on the dazzling light. “Let’s make these easy orn.” Voiyn disconnected the box, and slung it back up on his shoulder as the platform descended into the heart of the floating giant.

Loiñl – an insult something like scared baby.

Pxois – an dancing entertainer whom has no skill or ability.

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Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode One Voiyn Hounds

Off in another fantasy, this time sneaking through Juxl Surveying Corp. Headquarters.  JOS’s one unrealistic dream since being young has been to bring down the corporation responsible for enslaving his family for generations.  Corporations didn’t encourage you to learn about your past, only your future.  He was going to change that for everyone, if one Corp. failed, the balance would be upset.  The whole Board would fall to pieces.

In this fictional reality, JOS has successfully made it through every tier of security on the way to the Brain.  Centrally located in the Juxl Satellite World.  

Finally, this time he’d do it, he reached to the explosives satchel on his hip, ready to set the last charges.

His stomach hit the floor feeling the hollowness.

How could he not sense the weightlessness? “Cqak!” the expletive was instinctive anytime he felt pressured.  Stress levels rising he paced trying to think of something, it took him a moment to recognize the alarm blaring.


A sharp strike to the face sent him upright.

Instantly JOS was back from his fantasy.  Musky oil stench filled his nose, the scent of the maintenance compartment turned quarters.  The sour taste of brown congealed mass he’d eaten for his previous meal made his mouth water even though it was excruciatingly bland.  Dim running lights revealed the mess of greasy tools, and his compartmental companion NaN, half rolled over, no headrest.

JOS felt around, not surprised when his arm bumped a cushioned mass from the spanner shelf just about the toolbox he called his bed.  Responsively, JOS launched it back.  No response.

He must’ve shut off his data card’s alarm function without realizing it.  At a touch the device lit up the entire compartment, blinding him slightly.  JOS fought through the severity of the light to read through his responsibilities for the roto*.

“Another rotation cleaning up after others.” JOS murmured the mantra he’d taken up five cycles prior to prepare himself for anything.  Crawling out of his bed, he opened the small one square unit* locker that housed his only personal belonging, an oversized engineer’s coverup.  Despite it’s wear and tear, he was proud to actually own something.  When NaN PK-76\3927, and he had been at the Juxl Servitude Colony, every rotation they’d been reminded of how insignificant they were. To be able have possessions was a dream alone.

Sliding on the tough, grease covered white suit, he recalled Voiyn Valegbash, a being like he’d always dreamt of becoming, standing about one unit over JOS.  From a distance he looked like the color of old grease with an oily shine, up close like the golden statue of a portly reptilian god.  Extra weight or not, Voiyn was certainly not one to test physically, not without putting their life on the line.

A click from the last magtag on his collar.  JOS bent down to tuck the loose materials into his foot insulators before putting on the heavy magboots that he’d have to drag around the rest of the rotation.  Unable to lift them high enough to kick NaN directly, JOS drove his hell into the bottom of NaN’s toolbox.  Still no reaction.  JOS looked down on his sleeping friend, shrugged his shoulder saying, “Not my problem.” 

JOS thought to himself, ‘I know it’s been a couple of periods, I still can’t get anywhere near that comfortable.  Passing by the “Official” Crew Quarters, NaN and him’d joked, couldn’t help but snicker remembering the confrontation between Vahl and OhkBD.  Per usual OhkBD barely escaped a beating because of Essec.  It seemed so routine though, JOS wondered if it really came down to it would Vahl really commit, there was no way to know.  ‘Sixty rotos wasn’t long enough to know anybeing.’ he determined, throwing his weight into the command apparatus in the operational compartment, too small for even the creature that could fit his coverup.

Recognizing his miniature stature, the operator seat lifted him to the controls with a hydraulic hiss.  JOS inserted his hands into the red, on the left, blue, on the right, holospheres. The retina projector scanned him for preset being class, then took his biometrics confirming the eyes first.  One at a time, the cool blue lines of his finger prints appeared in his vision as they were confirmed.  Boot up functions for the ships Brain completed, JOS instructed the Brain with a couple flicks of his fingers, to begin wake up functions: prepare sanitary fluids, jettison biowaste, run maintenance scans, alert Voiyn, and crew.  Finished, JOS disengaged the retinal projector, blinking wildly, a couple of tears rolled down his face as the seat hissed back to it’s original position.

Climbing out, he shuffled around for his data card, pulled it out, and ticked off the first item of thirty on his to do list.  Next, sustenance preparation! JOS scowled at the idea, but it was important to do what was necessary in order to stay with this Pack.  Violent outbursts or not, it was the closest thing to homeliness JOS’d ever come close to.  Far closer than the Servitude Colony was or would ever be.

Without NaN’s lazy ass waking up in time, JOS doubled his workload.  NaN was horrible about waking up, but once awake the guy earned his salt.  Really NaN sleeping wasn’t so bad if everything worked properly, to date he’d failed five times at successfully managing the extra workload.  A separate horror every time, the worst when Vahl’s nutrient combination dispensed incorrectly. Vahl put a knife to his throat, JOS had been through worse, but the reminder was clear.

One final recheck of all in-use SustenanceStations, ensuring all six meals were in correct ration, nutrient content ratio, delivery order, etc.  Beginning to engage each SusStat, with only a few circuits* before all four of them flooded in for their “First Feeding.”  NaN came clomping lazily, half-dressed in his own orange oversized coverup, “Have they came yet?” He knew he was safe.

JOS gave an irritated sigh, “No, do up your magtags.” Covering for NaN was also routine.  Thinking quickly, JOS dove his hand into NaN’s utility pocket for his data card. “Already checked ’em off.” NaN laughed.  JOS narrowed his gaze, dropping the device in his friends hand.

“Glad you’re both ready. Today is big.” Voiyn’s guttural voice bellowed from behind the hydraulic door.

Hissing open, the doors revealed the great reptile himself.  “You two are coming with to earn your worth. A scavenging hunt.  Forget other responsibilities after First Feeding.  Clean. After see us in Operational Compartment for order.”  Voiyn held out his massive hand for his rations.  JOS handed it to him automatically, he watched his new idol exit the room.

Caught in the the same admiration, JOS and NaN looked to each other with “this-is-finally-really-happening?!” plastered across their boyish faces.  The spell broken the instant the Double Dosca*, Vahl and OhkBD, entered the compartment.

“Surprised they have not picked up on Nontanish yet?” Vahl pointed accusingly in their general direction, ignoring the two, nonchalantly grabbing his food. 

“Don’t be so hard on them.” OhkBD responded, “Mammals take a lot of training, that’s all.  Always concerned with procreation.”  He explained knowingly, using his fore-limbs to reach for his radioactive green slime.  Behind his back, he gestured a phallus entering an orifice with his rear limbs.  Both erupted into laughter when Vahl finally noticed.

OhkBD’s high pitched laugh was ear piercing, then cut off by the door to the compartment closing behind him.  JOS’s face was red with fury, but even their chiding couldn’t break his spirit.  A chance finally to earn the respect of these ex-ex’s, and the Valegbosh, a chance he would not take lightly.

JOS sent NaN to clean out the SusStats, a minor recompense for sleeping in.  Essec walked in casually as always, making no sound except from the click of his magboots.  Politely, he grabbed his food with a nod, and walked out, no one but Voiyn really knew anything about him, only, he was lethal.

Hearing NaN toiling gave JOS a sense of satisfaction in a hard-works-done, knowing it would not have to be him chest deep in nose singeing grim.  Enjoying his entertainment JOS picked up the nutrient slush allotted to him, savoring each bite as his thoughts wandered to some impressive Lost Architect Ruin, and chancing upon some ultra-rare artifact, leading to his fame and glory.

Something sticky hit JOS in the face, his eyes focused on NaN laughing at him, “Ya’know it’s gonna be some boring trip, recycling in the void.”

JOS blushed slightly at being read so easily.  “One day…” he trailed off, “Hurry up and stuff your face.  The sooner we are done, the sooner we will be able to scrap this chore list and do something more fun than cleaning Vahl’s biowaste receptacle.” NaN agreed by shoveling all three of the final bites  into his mouth at once, and darting towards the door.

“Like you can outrun me!” JOS threw his dish into the sanitation system, no manual utensil sanitation on Valevyinellin* after Feedings.  Clamoring down the passageways, JOS maneuvered his body to block NaN from the operation compartment access control.  JOS reached for it within range, in that last sphere* NaN’s hand batted his away to steal the victory.  Nothing was making him feel very good about the coming rotation.

Defeated JOS trudged in after his oil-black haired friend, at last the two took their seats in the circle.  Across from JOS sat Essec, tactically ready in his steel blue omni-environment suit.  NaN Sat on his left, next to Voiyn in his distinctive horizontally striped orange-black-green suit.  To his right sat the Double Dosca, unusually alert and silent. Vahl looking even more muscular than normal his white suit while maintaining that intense Ioikheil look, as if all nature covered their bodies in warning.  From his black tendrils, to his “X” shaped pupils, and a mouth that protected his face creating a vertical seam from nose to chin.  OhkBD one seat over looked strangely elongated in his matching white suit. OhkBD was a KipikOwmag, which as a species took on a stick-like appearance somewhere in their evolution to defend themselves.  But his highly evolved brain made up for it in technical ability.  JOS found himself admiring OhkBD’s computational wizardry, he still just couldn’t get passed his lackadaisical attitude.

Voiyn grumbled, instantly getting the packs attention, “We are honored.  JOS QK-11\204 and NaN PK-76\3927.  We are partaking in your initiating hunt.”



*roto – slang for rotation, the length of time a planet rotates 360degrees

*Unit – measurement equivalent of one meter

*sphere – measurement of time roughly one second

*circuit – one hundred spheres

*Valevyinellin – Vale Vyinellin

*Vyinellin – predatory creature disguising itself amongst asteroid belts