This story is about a Salsene adamantine mining expedition on Abeir-Toril. Unfortunately for the Salsenes, this deposit is in Thay, and that nation's ruler, Szass Tam, does not take kindly to plundering of Thay's resources.
Chapter 1: Everybody Hates the UndeadEdit
Larol watched dispassionately as the mining robots excavated the adamantine ore and placed it on the processing line. After his successful battle against the Kerarans, he'd been sent here, to supervise the extremely important adamantine operation. On this high, barren plateau, there wasn't likely to be any opposition on the surface. This fact annoyed the Yautja mercenaries, whose only kills had been the neogi slaving party and their umber hulk thralls that had ambushed the expedition in the mine. "If we don't have anything to fight, why are we here?" growled one. "You did," Larol answered. "Those neogi and their minions are precisely the reason you're here." The mercenary laughed. "What, we're here to protect you from little spider-eels? Those brown bug things were a good fight, though." "Little spider eels who can do mind control, Yulgo," Larol reminded him. Yulgo was about to respond when an alarm went off. "Perimeter breach?" gasped Larol. "But the scanners - they aren't detecting any vital signs! All armed personnel, to the breach, now!"
At the breach, they found about a hundred grey-skinned, corpse-like humanoids carrying primitive metal weapons and shields. At their head was a man who looked just like his troops, but was taller and wore a red cape. "I am Commander Darok of the Thayan army. Like my troops, I have been reanimated so that I may serve my master Szass Tam even in death." he said. "Leave Thay now or die." Larol laughed. "I've heard of you guys. You're dread guards. And are you actually saying this godforsaken waste of land is a country?" Darok hissed at him. "You have had your chance, salamander. You have insulted the honor of Thay, and for that you shall die!" In response, Larol fired his rifle straight into Darok's heart, leaving a hand-sized hole. The dread guard staggered back from the impact, obviously damaged. Then he stood back up and grinned. "Well, look at that. You actually hurt me, and I can tell you that thing could kill me again. But just so you know, I didn't feel a thing. I never do." Larol cursed under his breath. "I hate the undead SO much," he muttered as the dread guards charged.
Chapter 2: Undead that Spawn are Even WorseEdit
Szass Tam watched the battle intently from his scrying chamber in the Citadel, his skeletal fingers waving over the projected image. He normally couldn't be bothered with such things, but the local tharchion had informed him of its importance and had been ordered to dispatch a squadron of dread guards to take care of it. Now, the lich wanted to see how this went. The creatures fighting his minions had technology, yes, but no magic. Without healing spells, they would have to shoot the dread guards down. Still, he didn't expect Darok to win. These salamander beings were at least two thousand years ahead of them. Suddenly, an idea hit the old lich. "Drayn!" he yelled. A wraith phased through the floor and did an approximation of a bow. "Yes, almighty one?" it hissed. "You see those creatures?" Szass Tam asked. "Their base is located on Thay's far east. I want you to go there and stow away on their ship. They have no defenses against insubstansial beings. Once they leave the planet...you know what to do." "Yes, my lord," Drayn whispered as he flew off.
Yulgo ripped into the dread guard next to him with incredible ferocity. The two halves of it fell to the ground and lost their animating force. He laughed. They weren't Xenomorphs, but their resilience made the fighting fun. Now he knew why he took this job - to defend the Salsenes, preferably by killing their attackers. Maybe I should bring a trophy back, he thought. His kin back home might not think a dread guard as dangerous as a Xenomorph, but they could take a beating. Suddenly he felt...something pass through him, and as he fell to the ground, he saw a black, hooded thing hovering above him, laughing.
Drayn stared down at the alien creature he had just killed, feeling the bullets pass ineffectually through his insubstantial form. As he watched the corpse, a black cloud rose from it, forming into a wraith identical to himself. Oh yes, this would be fun. He and his spawn would stow away on the ship, and when it landed, they would slay and transform every one of the creatures. Then, Szass Tam would use the planet as a staging ground for the ritual he had so nearly completed all those years ago - except there would be no meddlesome traitors to stop his ascension.
As he fired at the strange, ghostly thing, Larol watched it and the monster that used to be Yulgo vanish into the ground. Were they some kind of wildlife? No, the shadow that had killed Yulgo had laughed. It was obviously sapient, likely a servant of this so-called Szass Tam. "Commander Larol!" shouted a soldier. "The dread guards have fallen! But Darok said something about how the master was almost here before I killed him." Suddenly, a blast of purple energy hit him, and his corpse desiccated and crumbled to dust. "Darok was right," hissed a raspy voice. "I'm here, in the flesh. Or bone." Larol turned around, and gasped in horror.
Chapter 3: Szass TamEdit
The thing floating in the air was a human skeleton, somehow still mobile despite its loss of muscle tissue. It was clothed in the ragged and worn remnants of a magnificent red robe, and its eyes glowed with the same purple energy that had utterly destroyed the soldier. "Well," said the creature, "I suppose introductions are in order. I am Szass Tam, Regent of Thay. And you are?" "I am Commander Larol of the Salsene Empire," Larol said, just managing to retain his confidence. "And I will make you pay for what you've done to my men." "Oh, how sweet," Szass Tam hissed in mock sympathy. "You defeated my minions; now let's se how you do against me!"
Szass Tam flew toward the Salsenes, laughing as he blasted them with necrotic energy. Their weapons occasionally landed a hit, breaking several bones, but the lich didn't care: he could take far more than any living human could. A rocket launcher fired at him and hit, destroying his legs completely. A few more hits from those, and Szass Tam would be destroyed. He screamed in rage and landed in the Salsenes' midst, blasting away until he reached Larol.
Larol leveled his rifle at Szass Tam, desperately trying to keep his aim straight in spite of his terror and rage. The lich laughed as he picked up a Salsene in each hand and disintegrated them. "Well, Commander Larol," he laughed, "any last words?" Larol smirked. "Yeah. Bang." He fired, completely shattering Szass Tam's skull. The confused and insensate lich floated blindly about as the Salsenes blasted him to bits.
After they finished celebrating, the Salsenes returned to their ship with the adamantine they'd came for. Meanwhile, Drayn and his spawn sat waiting in the perfect hiding place: the large cylinders at the back of the ship. Drayn cackled in anticipation as he heard the hum of the engines activating - and screamed as the searing flames of the engine disintegrated him.
A few days later, Szass Tam reformed in a dark chamber of the Citadel. Ah, the perks of lichdom, he thought. You can't die if your phylactery isn't destroyed. He floated over to a pod lying at the far end of the chamber, and activated its viewscreen. A draconic face with completely red eyes appeared. "I trust you have encountered these Salsene creatures before?" the lich asked. "Why, yes," the draconic being said. "They are some of my people's most annoying enemies, after they allied with that fuzzy rat Dolen and his people. The Salsenes come from another universe, called Emenata. You inhabit the Byaha universe. The aid of the being you call Bane might be required, especially that of his servant Tiamat. Her dragons will be useful in invading their world, Ishtar. I understand that you cannot access the Crossverse, but your gate magic should do the trick. If not, I will provide you with rift technology." "I understand," said Szass Tam. "Thank you for your assistance...Lord Ravana."