There are many aliens who threaten the fringes of human space, and many who live within the confines of humanity’s vast, disunited empire. But no alien empire, even the totalitarian Imperial Council, deserves the title of alien more than the Xank Empire of the Outer Reach.
The Golden Age of Human Exploration, post-recovery, was ended in the 34th century when forays past the Extos Strip were met with swathes of disappearing ships, ghost colonies and, when survivors did find their way back to civilisation – untold horrors.
Originally, the humans on the frontier had no name for the Xank. They were identified as separate, hostile alien races too far away from the Trooper Order for the authorities on Mars to care. But as more and more fledgling colonies and space stations went dark, even the bloated and apathetic Troopers began to take notice.
On the world of Devus Nest, a detachment of Trooper infantry with the 1051st Frontier Expeditionary Group encountered the first indication that the Xank were something greater than a few isolated xeno barbarians.
An entire city, reportedly to have contained a million people, had been slaughtered. Every human, man, woman and child, had been placed in the centre of the city in a pile that led up into the sky. And at the peek of this mountain of corpses was a message, in the form of a corpse twisted into an automaton by grotesque alien technology.
The corpse, speaking through revived vocal cords and with a brain transplant that kept him functioning like a zombie, told the Troopers this:
“We are the Xank. We are endless. We are the lords of this dominion. This example was a mercy. Be gone or face the true nightmare.”
Humans now had a name for their foe. Xank. An ancient word from a long extinct race.
Unlike the Black Fleet of the squogg, the Imperial Council, or the pegg pirates, humanity knew very little about the Xank. Only that they had laid claim to the Outer Reaches beyond the Extos Strip, and jealously guarded it.
The 1051st, after seeing the massacre at Devus Nest, wanted to commit a full fleet and multiple armies to combatting the Xank, but without any knowledge of the extent of the Xank, the High Command held back.
That is, until the Xank began their attacks on the Extos Strip. This is the first time that humans saw the Xank and were able to engage long enough to truly start to understand their terrifying enemy.
The Xank, humanity soon realised, was a multi-species empire ruled by a racial hierarchy. Different species of aliens specialised into different roles in Xank society, ruled over by the mysterious Immortals.
The two primary species to serve in the Xank Empire fell into a body affectionately and officially called the Body Budget. A strata expected to live and die for the Xank on the battlefield or in the factories.
Zangorians make up the bulk of the Body Budget. An avian species of flightless predatory birds that walk on their hind legs. Zangorians, while capable of piloting ships and using advanced weaponry, have exhibited a bestial preference for close combat, charging gunlines with no care for their own safety. While zangorians are mainly cannon fodder for the Xank, however, many have risen up the ranks of the empire – with the War Lector himself being a zangorian.
Glerans are an insectoid race of hardy ant-men, controlled by central hive minds that seem to have an alliance with the Xank leadership. That, or they themselves are enslaved. While zangorians can rise up the ranks of the Xank, glerans are perpetual slaves. Pure cannon fodder and labourers.
Other species also serve the Xank in other capacities. The krugar serve in the Word Lectorate, human slaves are rumoured to man some Xank planets, and various other races serve the enigmatic empire.
And above all of them are the Immortals. A borderline extinct race of armoured figures, bearing vast warpmantic abilities. Not much is known about this powerful humanoid race – other than their presence on a battlefield is a signal to flee for even the most battle-hardened Trooper veteran.
The Xank are a totalitarian empire ruled over by an Immortal called the Avenger. The Avenger is the absolute ruler of the empire. Under him are specialised bodies called Lectorates, ruled by Lectors. The Lectorates are as follows:
- Peace Lectorate: The logistics body of the empire. Maintains the production on all the Xank worlds, ensuring that new soldiers enter the Body Budget and that said Body Budget is fed and armed.
- Shadow Lectorate: A mysterious lectorate dedicated to scouting, espionage, assassination and subterfuge.
- War Lectorate: Contains all the armies of the Xank, dedicated to implementing the wishes of the Avenger on the field of battle.
- Word Lectorate: The newest lectorate, dedicated to research, archiving, data gathering, and the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of the Xank.
Lectorates, despite their unity under the Avenger, vie for political influence and resources. This isn’t helped by the fact that not all lectors are Immortals. In an effort to gain the loyalty of some of the races underneath the Xank’s heel, lectors of different races have been absorbed into the Xank government.
A Xank invasion mainly consists of a mass infantry invasion by zangorian and gleran forces. These troops are typically armed with plasma and pulse blasters, with photon spears and energy blades for close combat. These forces are deployed on mass to overwhelm the enemy, guarded by energy shield generators, and backed up by battle-walkers and plasma mortars.
While this outdated strategy of mass infantry charges and horde tactics may have proven outdated for humans, the addition of energy generators, the almost unbreakable morale of the glerans and zangorians, and the presence of xeno-tech that baffles human commanders has ensured its relevance in the battles between the free races and the Xank.
The Xank have proven an enigmatic and brutal foe for the Trooper Order and the forces of the free races. With vast hordes at their disposal, they could easily destroy the vulnerable frontier colonies of humanity. But so far, their efforts have been focused on the Extos Strip. Trooper generals and strategists have been baffled by the alien’s insistence on only attacking these select star systems.
Fortunately, this odd strategy and focus, while confusing, has allowed humanity to maintain a strong bulwark against the Xank invaders. But as the Xank converge on Zona Nox, will humanity’s resolve be enough to resist the terror of the Xank?
Find out if humanity can stand against the terror of the Xank with Fall of Zona Nox, available June 7th on Amazon.