The Xelken decoy vanguard served a similar function to ablative armor against Commager's fireteams, allowing the meat of Kahd'Xel's forces to penetrate into Aspyn's interior. Marcos updated his file on Xelken tactics and left the maneuvering to Xelken chit-chatting in their weird bug lingo and stinky evil pheromones. They flew between buildings with all the grace and quietude of wild turkeys. He was in the middle of a tangent about the lack of progressive thought in Imperial military doctrine over the last 30 years when they bumped into a brewery. Just as he was about to critique their flying, an irate patriot and proud mother of twelve rescue cats took a potshot out her window at them with her solar gun.
Marcos could hear her gloating. "Did you see that, ma? I got one!" "You sure did, pumpkin." "I told you it was a good buy!" "It sure was, pumpkin. Did you feed the kitties already?"
They listed to the side from being surprise lasered and sloppily turned the corner right into sustained firepower from the HGA. Similar developments happened to each platoon. The Xelken were handily grounded, their wings peppered with holes and limbs coated in freezing agents, and others were popped like pustules. They reorganized into tank-and-spank formations centered around the bulky ultra hawks. These ginormous bugs stomped forward with the other Xelken trailing behind. The Xelken with ranged weapons sneak-and-peeked like dirty corner campers and took potshots from behind relative safety. Combined with wards from the brain druids, the formation proved exceedingly resilient.
Marcos stayed behind with the Wizard. He pointed at the grueling advance. About three-quarters to the HGA, the ultrahawk on his side had nearly been delimbed and filleted.
"This isn't so bad," he whispered. There was a pause while he glanced around for cat ladies in the fog. "But I have an idea to get us in tippity-top shape. Have you ever heard of Zengi?" Necromancy was to Terrenus like the blanket magic trick is to dogs. The Wizard reached behind its back and pulled a gnarled mushroom from its back. Bits of exoskeleton, skin, and slime peeled away with it. The Wizard underhand tossed it into the air and smashed it between its hands, all the while muttering in guttural protolanguage. Pus gushed from its between its thin fingers. Marcos ducked behind the boat, because soon after the whole neighborhood was sprayed in ropes of yellowish-green mucus and the stench of offal.
The same revolting fluid poured from the dead Xelken—the holes in their wings, their missing limbs, their orifices. They made the final push to close into melee with the HGA machines with the unliving vigor of a cable TV network that only airs reruns, leaving behind ghoulish snail trails and new job opportunities for street cleaners. On the other hand, the mephits were largely independent of the attrition advance. They acted either as harassers or replaceable sacrifices, opportunistically striking at any HGA forces that were focus firing Xelken.
"Monitor Xelken unlife signs." Marcos updated the drone's tasklist. "Package data under project heading: hive zombification. Here, let me borrow some of that." He pinched leftover crushed mushroom from the Wizard's hands and took a whiff. "Serviceable. Upload pheromone markers and show me location data." Marcos pointed in the general direction of an ultra hawk with his filthy finger, and made a crushing motion with his fist to extend and twin the sorcery. Two ultra hawks spasmed while charging into the firebase, bulged in random places, and suddenly expanded to twice their size and eight times their weight. Essentially, two undead insectoid dire elephants were running amok. Despite the relative success in saving an ill-fated invasion from total failure, Marcos couldn't quite shake the feeling something (or someone) was missing.
Meanwhile, on Commager Road, Li'El and an entourage of Gaian clerics worked diligently to clear the most topical street in all of Biazo. The staccato of HGA gunfire echoed down the streets, adding the general background clamor generated by the wall and pockets of Apsyn militia members, but the closest noises were a series of eight missiles, the laughter of gremlins, the sound of buzz saws, a crash like someone dropped an elephant from an airplane, and then. . . footsteps? Sure, there were a lot of footsteps. Plenty of the bugs had feet, but these? These were some big feet. Then they stopped.
A shadow appeared in the fog. Aforementioned elephant—a Xelken called an ultra hawk that might have resembled a beetle had it not been partially exploded—hurtled through the air like a boulder launched by trebuchet. The aim wasn't great, but that's a lot of bug to have coming at you! Another shadow, but this time it was a vehicle, some kind of metallic spheroid hitched to a wagon by magicked cables, a futuristic U-haul filled with grandpa's antique furniture that spilled out midair. The last shadow was a section of concrete pipe that was meant to be laid somewhere in the HGA occupied district, now an abandoned project. This one was thrown part of the way, bounced, and rolled down the street towards them. Xelken that wandered into the street to help during this time were splattered by friendly fire.
Then there was nothing except some frantic footsteps again. The Palyopama couldn't find anymore objects to throw in the fog. They could hear the ensuing tantrum. "Dumb fog! Need more rocks!"
Edit: As HGA retreats and has drama with Aspyn, Marcos designates the situation as not salvageable. He instructs The Wizard to use Disintegrate on him and the medical drone. The rest of the Xelken are predictably routed. All that's left is a conspicuous, ruined vehicle stranded in the middle of the road covered in Xelken guts and riddled with bullet holes.