One of our agents has found this secret Galactic Federation report about The Invisible Band! It makes disturbing reading. Could it be true? The Invisible Band! is reputed to be a cell of a terrorist organisation known as The Interplanetary Liberation Front who are wanted on outstanding warrants issued by the Galactic Federation for: 1] Fomenting a revolution overthrowing the slaver oligarchy of Sontaria IX. 2] Assassinating Harrumptyl the Munificent. 3] Supplying arms to the anti-corporatist resistance in the Plenethyl system. 4] Breaking the siege of Marth'Ex'Nahl. 5] Undermining the Pact of Cherestor as brokered by the Galactic Federation Plenary LIIX. 6] Multiple counts of Space Piracy. 7] Multiple counts of theft of Galactic Federation property. 8] Impersonating Galactic Federation officials including, but not limited to, Diplomats, Bureaucrats, Military Liaisons, Informants and general staff. 9] Aiding and abetting the breakup of the Oolampti Conglomerate. As of our most recent informants' reports, The Invisible Band! consists of: Alazarin Mobius, a winged reptilian who is the last surviving member of the ill-fated Shallen expedition to the then primitive arboreal planet, Hyperion VII, whose body was recovered from a broken stasis chamber which was discovered by a farm-worker native who goes by the name... Wootjan-Oo, a member of the sentient avian species of Hyperion VII whose civilisation had arisen during the millennia while Alazarin was in stasis. WallaSan Grommet, from PandaRed. Her cute looks are thoroughly deceptive. A known thief and fraudster with seductive tendencies. If seen, approach with extreme caution and notify the authorities immediately. Alien Sun, an escaped convict from the slave camps on Tharg-El. A hypnont by nature, Alien was able to escape by using its hypnotic powers and, by using a crude time machine made from scraps and tools stolen from the slave camps, was able to travel back in time to its' trial, pose as its' lawyer and successfully sentence the prosecution and jury to death. Although a genderless clone, Alien has a feminine appearance. When last seen they were travelling in mechanoid replacement bodies. It is presumed that they transferred their minds into the mechanoid bodies and have hidden their real organic bodies for safekeeping and to evade organic profiling by Galactic Federation police. Wootjan-Oo: So there I was rummaging around in the woods along the back acre of the Porlakh fields looking for Juzmyk roots to sell to Blaenerian off-worlders in the local market. They can't get enough of the stuff although I can't see why. All it does is stain my beak purple and turn to sticky mush in my gizzard. But it's easy money. Anyway, I'd gathered up enough for one day and was about to head back to the village when I fell down a sinkhole. You have to remember it's sinkhole country around my village. Why only a few years ago a whopper opened up in the market square over in Turel D'Yan. Took over fifty souls and none of them were ever seen again. I was terrified that I might break my armwings on the way down. Now we may not be able to fly like the lesser birds but we've inherited their hollow bones so I did my best to bunch up close as I crashed and tumbled my way past the hanging vines, roots and loose soil that lined the sinkhole. Fortunately I made a soft landing when I eventually hit the bottom. This particular sinkhole wasn't too deep so there was enough light filtering down so that I could just about see my surroundings in the dim gloom. As I looked around to try to find a way to climb out I could see that this was no ordinary sinkhole. Underneath the tangled roots and thick layers of soil and grime I was able to make out what looked like metal walls and machinery. A bit like what you'd see in an off-worlder's ship except that it was ancient, broken and covered in dirt. It must have been there a very long time as stalagmites and stalactites had grown inside it. At the time all I could think about was getting out of that sinkhole so I used a few loose pieces of metal I found as spikes to climb out with. The next day I returned after tending the Porlakh fields. Only this time I came prepared. I brought some rope, a torch, a knife, a blanket in case I had to stay overnight and an opticorder as well as some food and water packed in a satchel. It was so heavy that it crushed my back feathers but I didn't mind as my curiosity was getting the better of me. What I found when I climbed back down resembled the interior of a derelict spaceship. But how had it ended up underground? The most surprising part was that, in spite of its condition, parts of it still appeared to be working. I have to admit I was scared. Scared that someone or something would jump out of the gloom and attack me and maybe even kill me. But the only living creatures I saw were nocturnal Gliss-Voles who scurried away wherever I went. I took pictures with my opticorder and left markers as I went deeper in so that I wouldn't get lost. Eventually I found this chamber that seemed to stretch on forever. It was lined with broken and shattered transparent canisters holding the remains of some off-worlders that I'd never seen before. Most of them were just decaying skeletons but a few were mummified. They all looked as if they'd died in their sleep. I spotted a distant glow of light and followed it to an intact canister. The off-worlder inside appeared to be alive but in some sort of deep sleep as it didn't respond to my presence. Over the next month I'd go back there exploring this strange underground ruin. All that time the strange off-worlder slept in its canister. Then one day when I went back the canister was open and the off-worlder nowhere to be seen. At this point I didn't know what to expect. I thought the off-worlder would jump out from a dark corner and attack me but eventually I found it lying on the floor behind the encrusted remains of a bank of controls running down the middle of the chamber. We looked at each other for a few minutes, too surprised to say anything. It reminded me of the mythical dragon people who, according to legend, had once lived on our world. But that was only an old folk tale that no-one really believed. It tried to flap its wings but was too weak. All it could manage was a feeble hiss so I offered it my food and water and wrapped my blanket around it. Neither of us had a translator. Hah! No-one in my village had a translator. We never needed them as off-worlders hardly ever came to our little village. We couldn't understand a word we said to each other so I built a fire to keep us warm and left in the morning. Over the next few weeks I'd return daily with food for the solitary off-worlder. During that time I built a percussion set out of pieces of the spaceship in my attempts to communicate with it and, when it wasn't showing me around attempting to explain the alien technology we were looking at, we would bash around and play on it. To my surprise the off-worlder not only had a sense of rhythm but seemed to enjoy making our weird clangorous noise. One day, it met me at the bottom of the sinkhole as I was climbing down and pointed up. It wanted to go outside. We climbed up and made our way down the slope through the woods to the Porlakh fields. That was when it jumped up and flew a short distance. I guessed it was still pretty weak as it didn't fly very far before it came back to me. It must have seen our village because when it landed it pointed towards it. So I walked back to my nest and it followed me walking and flying part of the way. That's how I met Alazarin and how we started up our crazy little band. Alazarin Mobius: I have to admit it came as a bit of a shock when I was revived. We'd been on a surveying mission to find an uninhabited planet for our people to settle on and the entire crew was in stasis when we travelled between planets we surveyed. So when I was revived I expected to find the ship bright and shiny, bustling with activity as we prepared to survey yet another planet. What, I found instead was decay and ruin. I was the only survivor of a crew of just over a thousand and the ship, or what was left of it, was effectively dead, It was only later that I learned that our ship was buried underground and that I had been in stasis for nearly four and a half thousand cycles. No doubt I would have died in my stasis tube if Wootjan-Oo hadn't found me. When I finally managed to contact my worldship, I got the bad news: my expedition had been given up as lost long ago. Not only had the Cervetica Accord with the Nglubi had been signed and sealed thousands of cycles ago while I was in stasis but my clan, Clan Jandakwe, had settled on that planet rendering the entire mission redundant. The entire crew save myself had died in vain. So there I was on Hyperion VII in the remains of my ship with Wootjan-Oo for occasional company. My clan elders declared me 'a hero' more to ease their consciences I suppose. It didn't change my circumstances one bit. Now that they had access to the Nglubi gateways, they'd send someone out to collect me and promised to send me some money to live on in the meanwhile. The money arrived shortly after I settled into an empty nest in Wootjan-Oo's village but no-one from my clan ever turned up. So I bided my time in Wootjan-Oo's village, Zrchypnyk. Some days I'd work in the fields with Wootjan-Oo and the other villagers. Other days I'd fly around and explore the outlying hills and countryside around their village or else delve back down into the remains of my old ship in an attempt to work out just what had happened all those cycles ago. Wootjan-Oo asked me to join the village orchestra which practices most evenings in the village forum. It was a rough and ready affair playing folk songs and improvisations which were easy to pick up and join in with. We'd go out to neighbouring villages and play there from time to time. It was fun and an easy life. More to the point, it was my life. Everyone I'd ever known back home and their descendants had long since lived their lives and died of old age. What did I have to go back to? I'd be hopelessly out of place. Wootjan-Oo seemed a good sort, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him and the villagers seemed an easy-going uncomplicated lot, so I decided to make a life for myself amongst them and see where it took me. I managed to build a collection of electronic instruments from parts I salvaged from my old ship to augment the sound of the village orchestra. Wootjan-Oo helped the villagers overcome their initial resistance and it paid off handsomely. Our expanded sonic palette proved to be quite popular and led to us being in demand further afield. Alien Sun: Oh yeah, Xenopologist. Well I did study Xenopology at the Epsilon Eridani Institute but what can you do with that degree after you graduate? Not much. In my case I had a string of dead-end sales and marketing jobs. Somehow they get this idea that just because you learned how to study and analyse alien cultures that you'll automatically know how to sell their crummy products and widgets on planets where there is no realistic demand. Which was how I ended up on Hyperion VII employed in a pointless exercise to sell programmable nutrient processors to the Twillityn. Pointless because the Twillityn liked their food fresh and eschewed anything processed. But my employers, Plasmatron Industries, were locked in an endless race with their competitors and it was my job to find some way to convince the Twillityn that not only did they like processed food but that they really, really needed our processing units. I mean they were good. Load up their tanks with proteins, fats and amino acid goop and they could turn it into just about anything you could imagine. I should know, I grew up on the stuff. But after two orbits on Hyperion VII I knew it was a lost cause. They just weren't interested. Not even for their spaceships or off-world sites. On top of that I was losing the taste for our own processed food in favour of the Twillityn's cornucopia of fresh food. As a result I had a lot of spare time on my hands. So much time that I could spend months at a time away from my office sightseeing on Hyperion VII and indulging my inner Xenopologist. Anyway, I was travelling around the Utravya region investigating the local legends of the dragon people who had died out millennia ago. There wasn't much to go on, but everywhere I went the stories and folk legends were fairly consistent. If truth be told the descriptions vaguely matched the Shallens but that could have just been a coincidence. As far as I knew there had never been a Shallen expedition to this planet during the time frame of the dragon-folk legends. While still following the dragon-people legend, I passed through a village called Zrchypnyk which seemed much more cultured than the surrounding villages. It had its own orchestra, although to call it an orchestra might be stretching the definition to breaking point. It was more like an outlet for the villagers to play and sing songs they knew. Strangely there were two off-worlders in that orchestra: a Pandarian and a Shallen. I decided to stay in their village for a while and got to talking with Alazarin, the Shallen. She took me out to the remains of her spaceship and it became clear to me this was the genesis of the dragon-people legend. At the same time I got involved with their orchestra. It made a welcome diversion from the pointless drudgery back in my office. I arranged a residency for them at a club in Badyhe-Kraan where I worked during the rainy season. Life in the farming communities came to a standstill during the rainy season so I thought they might appreciate something to do and an extra income until the planting season came around. Most of the time it was Wootjan-Oo, WallaSan, Alazarin and myself playing to a few drunks or crystal-heads but we developed a rapport with our music and for the first time in my life I felt as if I could really let my guard down and let other peoples' thoughts, in the form of music, wash through me without any psychic filtering. And it felt so good! One day an agent turned up while we were entertaining the usual rabble and offered us a job playing on a cruise ship plying the Orion arm. We jumped at the opportunity and the rest, as they say, is history. WallaSan Grommet: Terrorist, my tail! I know what all that was about. I swear that shipping company I worked for, Syldran Spaceways, was in cahoots with the H'Nzha pirates. Too many new contracts like myself and the old paws didn't seem to even care about the shockingly bad condition of our ship. I was an engineer third class aboard the Pandarian freighter, Gurotney Pillak. We had the worst jobs on the ship: scrubbing plasma injectors, climbing in and out of bulkheads repairing broken conduits, getting our fur caked in grease and grime, doing all the dangerous but neccessary EVAs to keep our particle deflector shields operational, patching up leaky power cells, getting our tails frazzled by loose power lines... all the unglamorous, dangerous and essential tasks that keep an old rustbucket spaceworthy long enough for us to get paid. We had to deliver a geostationary space tether assembly from Vostellion Prime to Hyperion VII. It was too large to fit through any of the gateways accessing their world and had to be delivered pre-assembled so we got the delivery job. Anyway, we were on the final approach to Hyperion VII when we were boarded by H'Nzha pirates. Knowing that they'd kill or enslave the crew of our ship, I jumped into an escape pod and bailed out. A week later my pod landed way out in the backwoods of Hyperion VII. Survival wasn't a problem; there was plenty of prey to catch. But the only company I had were the huge bloodsucking ticks that burrowed under my fur. No. Fun. At. All. On top of that they tasted disgusting. Eventually I stumbled across a village where there was an off-worlder. A Shallen, no less. You didn't see many of them in this arm of the galaxy. So the Shallen tells me about it's ship. And would I like to see it? Well, of course I would! That would be my ticket off this backwater of a planet back to my home world. Except the Shallen had forgotten to tell me that her ship was buried 50 Kelyks underground and was more of a mausoleum than a ship. It was never going to go anywhere in its present condition. Still, I wasn't in that great a hurry to get back to Pandaria. The company policy was to resist and fight off any attempted attacks and space piracy even if it was a suicidal lost cause. The moment I set foot on Pandaria I'd be charged with abandoning ship and breach of contract. I didn't have any evidence to prove any collusion between Syldran Spaceways and the H'Nzha pirates so the best I could hope for would be a couple of years in the labour camps on one of our outer planets and then I'd be back on my way. Not excessively harsh but not much to look forward to either. Meanwhile I was out in this tiny little Twillityn village on Hyperion VII with Alazarin, a Shallen suffering from some sort of post-traumatic shock and taking refuge in her fantasies and a local Twillityn, Wootjan-Oo, for company while I cleaned myself up and worked out what I'd do next. As it happened, I ended up joining the village orchestra with Wootjan-Oo, Alazarin and the other villagers. Well they called it an orchestra although it wasn't like any orchestra I'd ever known. The music was fairly crude and simplistic and you'd never know who'd be playing from one day to the next. Some days it felt as if half the village turned out to play while other days it was little more than myself, Wootjan-Oo, Alazarin and a few random stragglers. The best part was that not only were we welcomed wherever we went to perform but we were paid! That solved my immediate survival problems. My life had taken an unexpected turn at Hyperion VII and for the first time in a long time I was really enjoying myself. Things were looking up!