So long had he travelled. So many great adventures, with hardly any time to write them all down. So many wonderful new Norns -- both those he'd made himself, and those he had discovered. Too many stories to record. Too many fantastic experiences now only kept alive and vivid as memories in the mind of our dearest friend, the enigmatic Lone Shee. Slowly, without him noticing it, time has ticked on steadfast. The preparations must now take place for his docking station's fated final act.
In his private laboratory deep under the surface of Albia, the Lone Shee had spent ages tinkering with technology both wonderful and weird. The other Shee had thought him a bit strange, and they'd regarded his gadget obsession with more than just a tad of suspicion. But he was certainly no threat, and they meant him no harm, so they left him to his own devices -- to the point where they'd forgotten to tell him before they left Albia for the round world of Sphericus! But once he realised they had gone, he mixed some of their own technology with his, added an ounce of genetic magic and created the fantastical docking station vessel, which he'd named Capillata. This same vessel now surrounded and protected him and his pet Norns from the frozen, empty void of space as they journeyed in chase of the Shee Ark and it's occupants.
Once he'd left Albia, he spent ages refining his devices and gadgets until he had fully harnessed their potential in the form of a Warp Portal -- a device that allowed him to travel through space and time via an odd realm of swirling blue energy. His journeying through the Warp had kept him so very busy throughout his voyage to Sphericus. But now at long last, he was closer than ever to arriving. Sphericus was only days away, and soon his long adventure would come to a close -- he would be reunited with the other Shee once more. He wondered what Sphericus would be like. And would he still be needing the Warp once he was there? Of course! He'd have to show all his old friends what he'd discovered! They may be a bit uncomfortable with it at first, but he was sure that they would soon see the advantage of such technology -- and finally he would be exonerated from all his years of anti-social experimenting deep underground in a laboratory, back on their home planet of Albia.
The Lone Shee sighed, and took another bite out of his freshly baked lemon cookie. He'd got a bit of a cold, and he knew that lemons contained helpful chemicals that would make him feel better. And then he heard it. It seemed so far away, and yet he knew the Capillata was rather small. It was such an unmistakable sound, and it sent shivers up his spine. It seemed that things were not at all right, and now he thought of it -- no wonder he had a cold! He'd been so sure to clean out all the bacteria from the Docking Station ages ago. Colds, bacteria, unmistakable noises -- there was a Grendel on board, and the Lone Shee was frozen at the thought of it.
The internal sensors of the docking station informed him that there was not one, but two Grendels in his Workshop area. Both were youths -- one male, and one female. Luckily the doors through to the Hub were locked so that Grendels could not enter. But still he was left to wonder what exactly Grendels were doing in the Capillata? And what kind of Grendels were they? He hoped they weren't the same nasty breed he had recently encountered in the Warp -- the ones that had hunted Fallow Norns, and kept the Siamese Norns in cages. This new breed of Grendel appeared to be more brutal than normal. They displayed some rather anti-social behaviour too -- very unusual indeed! But what was most sinister about them, was that they seemed to work with a purpose. Whether it was their own, or that of someone or something else -- he did not know. But thinking about it always made his neck fur stand on end, without fail.
He quickly snapped himself out of his reverie, and began thinking of what to do. He had to get them off the ship, but it wasn't in his nature to be aggressive. And anyhow, the very thought of physical contact with any kind of Grendel repulsed him completely -- even if it was in self defence! But perhaps there was another way to cleanse the vessel of these uninvited guests, without having to actually meet them face to face.
After much thought, the Lone Shee recalled the strange creature from which Capillata had been made -- a jellyfish-like animal which used a black ink-like spray to defend itself, and ward off those that disturbed it. It didn't take long for him to confirm that Capillata did indeed have a monstrous equivalent of this defensive ink, and with only a little effort he convinced her to spray it all around the Workshop area. But it seemed that although it obviously was causing the Grendels problems, the spray was not particularly effective in any way. Much to his annoyance, the two Grendels persisted -- no doubt madder than before, and covered from head to toe in sticky black ink!
What to do! He had no idea. Already his pet Norns had started to gather around him. They were hugging each other, and they seemed just as frightened as he was! All of them but his pet Hardman Norns who were strutting around -- they seemed even angrier than usual now they could smell the earthy stench of Grendel. With a sudden flash of inspiration, the Lone Shee knew exactly what to do. It wasn't ideal. It wasn't really his style. But it was a critical time for his long journey, and so he was under duress. He began giving his Hardman Norns important instructions.
The readout on the sensors showed that both Grendels had now aged to adulthood. The thought of two fully grown Grendels in the Workshop made the Lone Shee wince, but he hurried to finish his preparations. Soon enough, two of his toughest Hardman Norns were ready for their mission. He accompanied them through to the Hub, and right up to the door through to the Workshop. After that, it was up to them. "Push door!" he commanded, and with a proud and determined look on their faces, his two heroic Hardman Norns passed through to the impending conflict on the other side.
Unable to resist watching their progress, he went through to the Comms Room and viewed the skirmish via the camera system. It didn't take long to realise that these were indeed the same nasty Grendels that he'd encountered recently -- but these two were much bigger and nastier than those he had seen before! Perhaps this was his first meeting with the adults of this new and vicious Grendel breed. Whatever they were, they were definitely excellent fighters -- and were proving more than a match for his valiant Hardman defence force!
And then he saw it -- both Grendels were equipped with tiny pyramid-shaped devices -- random teleporters exactly like the ones the Treehugger Norns had used. Perhaps this was where the Treehuggers had got them from in the first place -- maybe they had survived a similar invasion from these new Grendels? Unlike their Fallow and Siamese brethren, unfortunately. It all started to make sense -- these new Grendels were an invasion force of some kind. They weren't just subversive, lawless brigands -- they seemed to be much more organised than that!
The battle continued to rage -- two were down already, one Grendel and one of his Hardman Norn pets. But the remaining two kept fighting, urged onwards by strong genetic survival instincts. He cringed in empathy as the Grendel smacked the Norn squarely in the chin, but the Hardman had been prepared -- she deftly undercut the Grendel with a whopping great thwack in the gut! The Grendel groaned in pain, and then he slumped to the floor to join the other two fighters in unconsciousness. The Lone Shee was so pleased that he clapped spontaneously, even though he knew nobody could hear him! He rushed through to the Workshop, and deftly tended the wounds of his two battle-worn champion Norns. He knew teaching them as children with the Grendel training dummy hadn't been in vain -- it had saved their lives!
After great effort, he and a team of pet Norns moved the unconscious, ink-covered intruders to the containment chamber. He warped them both off to the coordinates of the world of shadows where he had found the Siamese Norns on -- but not before he took some genetic samples from them both. And what an interesting surprise their genome had proved to be. It was very much like the Hardman Norns themselves, but it was peppered with distinctly Grendel genes too!
He managed to confirm his suspicions -- these brutes grew up through their life stages as relatively harmless creatures, but as soon as they became adults they started hating Norns, and they developed instincts to teleport all around the place and cause havoc. This didn't seem like a naturally occurring genome at all. It was definitely created artificially, but not by someone as experienced with genetics as he was. And the intention of this Grendel genome was pretty clear -- someone had created them to enact dark purpose. Someone who like him, had knowledge of the Warp and creation of devices. Someone that seemed to want to enact a brutal offensive on all things Norn. If it was a Shee, it was some kind of anti-Shee. And aside from childhood fairy tales, he had never ever heard of anything quite like that.
He carefully examined the Workshop, to make sure that all was now safe. He didn't know exactly how the Grendels had got on board, but he was determined to do whatever was necessary to stop them from invading again. Everything seemed as it should be, but then he noticed a new fixture in the upper level of the Workshop. It was a small and relatively innocuous stone. Like so many other parts of the Capillata, this stone was shiny to the eye, and smooth to the touch. But it had a strangely familiar mark on it -- a stylised symbol that was roughly the shape of the letter B. He knew he had seen this symbol before, a very long time ago in his childhood on Albia. But what was it doing here?
After an exhaustive search through his library of collective Shee knowledge, he finally found something that turned his stomach inside out. "Legend of the Banshee" was a scary story for children -- but it was regarded by modern Shee as purely a work of fiction. As a child he had shivered with fear while his mother had read the legend to him. He shivered now just at the thought of it.
The scrolls he read seemed to confirm most of what he remembered of the legend from his childhood. Apparently, thousands of years earlier a small group of Shee had separated themselves from the rest of Albian society. They turned their backs on genetics and Norns, and spent their time researching strange devices and contraptions -- and the other Shee had not been impressed. Unlike the Lone Shee, whose isolation hadn't really changed his opinion of his people, the Banshee -- as they called themselves -- grew to dislike and resent the other Shee. As a sign of their defiance, they chose Grendels as pets, rather than the cute and cuddly Norns. They even added Grendel genes to their own genomes, forever distinguishing themselves genetically from the other Shee. And at the height of their gadgetry prowess, these malcontent Banshee technologists discovered an ability to travel through time and space. The legend ended with them leaving Albia forever through a strange, swirly blue gate. It would appear that like the Lone Shee, the Banshee had discovered the Warp.
The legend had seemed so amazingly unbelievable as a child. But now it appeared that after all this time, the strange and scary story had accurately recorded an actual historic event -- the Banshee were not just fictitious baddies in a fairy tale to frighten young Shee! Though they were no longer on Albia, they definitely were still around. Perhaps they were living somewhere in the Warp, or maybe on that eerie world of shadows. Perhaps they were also the ones who made the hall he'd found the Fallow Norn trophies in? Did they know he was out here? Or was he just unfortunate to be invaded by their Grendels, as the Siamese and Fallow Norns had been? Whatever the case was, he needed to try and put it out of his mind -- his journey was nearing an end and it was finally time to prepare the Capillata to dock with the Shee Ark.
For days now the world of Sphericus had been in the centre of his view screen, growing steadily larger and clearer. But now it was looming so close, he could even see the Shee Ark high in geostationary orbit. He'd soon discovered that the strange Banshee stone in the Workshop was actually some kind of device for making Grendel eggs. It was regularly creating eggs, always one male and one female -- and if it hadn't been for the beady eye of a pet Bondi Norn he may not have realised this until it was too late. He made sure to collect them all before they hatched, and he sent them one by one through the Warp to the world of shadows.
Finally the Capillata drew up close to the Shee Ark -- the Lone Shee made sure to park it in a similar orbit. Then he moved on to prepare the vessel for docking -- a rather violent maneuver which involved shoving the spike at the top of Capillata up into the main section of the Shee-crafted starship. It wasn't very elegant, but sometimes a little brute force is the ideal solution.
It occurred to him that he really should probably try and make contact with the Shee Ark, before performing the docking station's final act -- if not only to be thorough! So he rushed through to the Comms room and attempted to establish a communication channel with the other vessel. He strongly suspected the Ark would now be empty -- the Shee hadn't come all this way, only to sit in orbit of Sphericus! But he thought it may seem rude if he didn't at least try and invite any residents to share in tea with cookies and biscuits. So when someone on board the Ark actually did accept his Comms signal, he was very surprised indeed.
But not half as surprised as he was when her image came through on the screen! At first she seemed somehow ugly, and yet somehow deeply beautiful. Her face was so much like a Shee, yet it seemed she had features that were very much that of a Grendel. He had seen faces like this only once before. Faces that as a child had haunted him in his nightmares. This was the face of a kind of someone he had thought to be nothing more than the purest fiction. The face of a Banshee was staring right at him. Her ruby-red Grendelish eyes burned deep into him, and she spoke with a voice quite unlike anything he had ever heard before. "Welcome to Sphericus -- I've been expecting you..."