Shan’s landing was less than textbook, his fighter bouncing twice on its landing skids before skidding to a halt inside the hanger deck. His anger did not help. Everything appeared to have changed with the intervention of the dwarf in the game. Pieces played and deployed should not have had the ability to effect the various zones in the manner they had done so.
His robes tangled in his feet, almost causing him to fall face down onto the metal floor. Curses were not enough and he stalked through the ship, looking for someone to kill. It could only be an Ori, as his men were already dead. Reanimated and diseased corpses gave little in the way of satisfactory enjoyment.
Arriving on the bridge his anger increased; only one of the Ori remained, shivering in fear and hunched over the table. Well, he would have to do…
“Lord!” cried the Ori in relief.
It was this happy circumstance which stayed Shan’s hand. There should have been cowering terror, not eagerness.
“What?” snapped Shan, back-handing one of his own men just to release a little pressure.
“Others have entered the game:”
“Others? More?” asked Shan, his anger warring with his disbelief.
“Yes, Lord,” replied the Ori, now shrinking in dutiful fear, “unknown soldiers in powered armour, and someone with a portal key…”
“A portal key?” asked Shan, “How could anyone have a portal key?”
“I do not know, Lord,” said the Ori, “but there were two unscheduled activations.”
“Which Zone?” growled Shan, hoping against hope that he would not hear the words he was dreading, yet somehow knowing it would be so.
“Zone One,” said the Ori and Shan began to relax, “and Zone Three…”
Now Shan’s anger was replaced by fear. The dwarf and his beast were there, if they managed to find the right combination then they could be here at any time.
“Guards,” roared Shan, “prepare to move out.”
His men shuffled forward, confused by his command.
“You!” he said pointing at the Ori, “Collapse all of the portals now except this one, and strengthen our shields. I want no-one getting here by mistake.”
“There is nothing to worry about, my Lord,” began the Ori, shutting his mouth as a flailing fist grazed the top of his head.
“Do it!” roared Shan and the Ori rushed to the command console, shutting down the zonal barriers as quickly as he could. They would lose all of their stock, but survival was worth it.
“Thank you,” said Shan, “but I should have done this earlier.”
He nodded at the nearest of his men who grabbed the Ori, tilting his head backwards. Yellowed teeth snapped at pale flesh and Shan turned away. Mindless automatons were better than fools. He would just have to make do.