The Shell Incident Military Conflict in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

The Shell Incident

The Shell Incident was an unusual small-scale battle in which a group of adventurers headed by Dr. Calvin Slaus-Braun was waylaid in the Distal Tesseract by what initially appeard to be auto-armored foresters from the Petalcap Vale Customs Authority.

The Conflict


In the mid-Audun of 9989, Dr. Slaus-Braun and a few of his old friends from the Burning Hearts Social Club decided to spend some vacation time visiting the Auburn Aerotechnical research skystation in the Caudal D/Distal B Iinflection layer. The group's subsequent journey to the Distal B surface was an afterthought, a result of one of Dr. Slaus-Braun's guests' proclivity for nature photography coupled with recent sightings of unusual glowing patches on the terrain below.   While the group was chartering a private airship for the excursion, the branch of the Petalcap Vale Customs Authority aboard the research station warned the party that there were sightings of Distal polyp clumps in the area, and that PVCA agents - while in the area - could not ensure the group's safety in the event of an encounter with the local wildlife. To this end, the PVCA officials recommended a mercenary escort accompany the group down. Because Dr. Slaus-Braun is considered a VIP in the Voxelian corporate world, he was able comission two bodyguards from the Hive City Royals to provide security.


Around 0700 hours on Audun 19, Dr. Slaus-Braun and his party made landfall on Distal B1. While the airship's pilot proved reticent to join the party's quest to find the perfect photograph of Distal wildlife, the navigator and his assigned NavGuard were game. The morning and afternoon of Audun 19 proved uneventful, as the group was large enough - and the altitude of the chosen landing site high enough - that few local predators dared approach. Geared up for the terrain as they were, the Burning Hearts Social Club members enjoyed their day sightseeing.   Around 1500 hours, a group of PVCA forestry officers in auto-armor-armor made landfall in the valley below. These officers were performing search opeations to recover a lost experimental package left by a previous research expedition; there were concerns that this package may have been contaminated with invasive fungal spores from the adjacent territory of Petalcap Vale.


Distal B is cool, dark, and vibrant with the unusual bioluminescent lifeforms of the Distal Tesseract. While beautiful, visitors generally do not enter the area without dust masks, sturdy hiking gear, and some form of weaponry, as the local ecosystem - based on amino acids of the opposite chirality to those found in most humanoids - is still not entirely understood. The closest terrestrial analogue to the environment of Distal B is a cool deciduous forest with tundra in the higher altitudes. On the evening of Audun 19, 9989, a light snow was falling around where Dr. Slaus-Braun's party and the PVCA forestry officers were loitering.

The Engagement

At around 2330, Dr. Slaus-Braun's party were packing their gear back into the private airship after a long night of photographing the phosphorescent lichens and fungi growing in the vicinity. The group was almost ready to leave when a group of three unknown individuals in battered forestry auto-armor approached from a copse to the south. Reporting a feeling of unease, the navigator approached the unknown individuals and tried to wave them down. At this moment, the individuals, who had never identified themselves, bull-rushed the navigator, quicly trampling him to death before his NavGuard compatriot could react. Dr. Slaus-Braun, his bodyguards, and the NavGuard opened fired with the weapons they had at hand, but nothing seemed to slow the advance of the oncoming group.   Hearing the gunfire, the nearby PVCA officers rushed to the scene. Seeing the battered suits of auto-armor and recognizing them as belonging to another group of PVCA officers who had been in the field longer than they had, the officers prepared to intervene on behalf of their comrades. At this point, however, the officers saw the trampled body of the navigator and the odd tactics employed by the auto-armored individuals and opted to hold their fire, recognizing that something was terribly amiss. They sent a radio transmission to the airship pilot to tell the party to stand down or, barring that, to take off to prevent any escapes while the PVCA moved in - the party would have to explain themselves in custody.   In the ensuing scuffle between the party and the unknown individuals, the scientist guest (not the photographer) in the doctor's party was also crushed by one of the assailants. The unidentified indivuals moved and fought with an odd, uncoordinated manner, as though they weren't in full control of their limbs. It wasn't until one of the Royals bodyguards switched from his "Smokestack" Automatic Scattergun to his auto-armor-scale machete and hacked off one of the assailants' arms that the cause of this behavior was made clear.   The assailants were not people. Instead, hacking off the limb revealed that the pilots had been completely subsumed by Distal Polyp Parasitosis, and the Distal polyps were 'rushing' the party because this is how clumps of the small parasites hunt fresh carrion. In his memoirs, Dr. Slaus-Braun remarks with horror that, "by the Gods, the detatched limbs kept coming at us as quickly as we could hew them away!"   Witnessing this, the PVCA officers rushed in to help the beleagured party by burning away the parasites with sweeps from their flame throwers and felling axes while calling the airship back down. Eventually, the party was able to make it back into the airship while the PVCA officers covered them, setting course back to the research station. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, the PVCA officers repelled the attaackers and retreated to their command post in the valley to recover.


Dr. Slaus-Braun's crew and their chartered airship underwent extensive quarantine and decontamination measures upon their return to the skystation to ensure that no Distal polyps had hitched a ride to the station on their clothing or equipment. The Navigator's Guild imposed a stiff fine on Dr. Slaus-Braun for his inability to protect their navigator, which he readily paid with an additional voluntary stipend for the navigator's widow.


The ability of Distal polyps to partially 'puppet' their prey was well-known as of the year 9989, but in no case before or since had such a behavior been witnessed in victims killed by parasitosis while operating auto-armor. The event became known as the Shell Incident because subsequent reports implied that the polyps were using the auto-armor "like a hermit crab might use the shell of a long-deceased cephalopod."
Conflict Type
Battlefield Type
Start Date
Audun 18, 9989
Ending Date
Audun 19, 9989




1 guest, 1 navigator
Many Distal polyps


Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


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