Nyx fired off another shot from her rifle and the Prod nearly 800 meters down the street jerked and ducked into an ally. She frowned and sharpened her gaze on the point where the purple mass had disappeared, looking for the telltale red fragments on the pavement.

“More of ’em?” asked Iyo, he was whispering but his deep voice easily carried through the dead air of the dark warehouse.

Nyx grunted in affirmation, her eyes still locked on the corner watching for the telltale purple. “Don’t know if I got the core.” She saw movement on another corner 600 meters away and tensed to reposition herself. Three simultaneous cracks echoed through the night as the other snipers fired.

Nyx growled under her breath and moved her finger away from the trigger, her eyes moving back to the corner she had been looking at.


She winced, “Yes sir?” she asked knowing what he was going to say already.

Dan let out a staged sigh, “You need to rest, you’re at Human standard reaction time. At this point Iyo would be a better sniper.”

Nyx closed her eyes and rolled off her stomach and sat up, the trimmed feathers on her arms and laying atop her head puffing up slightly in irritation. The cyborg behind her raised his eyebrows, stepping forwards he offered his hand.

Feeling the ache in her hyper reactive muscles Nyx grimaced and took the offered mechanical hand. Dan quickly pulled her up to her feet and Nyx let out a low whimper. The small feathers covering her appendages which had been puffed in anger a moment before fell flat in pain.

Iyo, who’s head was just visible between the bars that ringed the walkway of the second-floor perimeter walkway of the warehouse grimaced in sympathy. The man raised one hand up and over the bars and dropped a standard type one ration pack in front of her.

Noticing the gnawing hunger of her hyper-metabolism she grabbed the pack and tore it open. Taking a quick chunk out of the compressed protein and fighting the aches in her muscles Nyx shakily stepped forwards and leaned up against the rail.

Most of the civilians were trying to sleep, but the cold concrete of the warehouse wasn’t the most luxurious accommodations. The few civilians with type two mods like Iyo were being used as pillows by groups of fussing children who had figured out that the fur they had was comfortable to sleep on even if it was covered by clothing.

Groups of type one’s were huddled up with one another, feathers pointing up in odd directions as they unconsciously reverted to nesting behaviors. The Cyborgs who had visible mods were leaning up against shelves or the thicker brick walls at the back of the warehouse. Their autonomic systems regulated enough that they didn’t need the few blankets that were available, nor to lay down and to sleep.

Nyx took another bite from her ration, “Anything new?” she asked directing her question to Dan.

Her Cyborg commander sighed, “I’m still trying to sort through the data. They’re not jamming signals, but it’s still a mess in the network. Too much data.”

“In both Civvy and Military?” asked Iyo. The man had his Visual Comm unit out and he was frowning at the comparatively small device, which in Nyx’s hands would have been an oversized tablet.

He had a video of a Prod ship landing in New York’s Central Park taken from one of the taller buildings looking down on the ancient strip of green up on the display. Trees were being crushed and people were running in every direction as the alien ship began to disgorge blobs of Prod onto the ground.

Within seconds of their warp window closing impacts from low powered kinetic strikes were visible on the top of the alien vessel. The massive thing appeared unaffected, the holes in it’s hull healing between every hit.

“Have the Warp direct fields come back online?” asked Nyx. She shoved the rest of the ration into her mouth and grimaced as she chewed.

Dan pulled a water bottle from his harness and offered it, Nyx nodded and quickly washed the rest of her ration down.

“They never went down, they figured out a work-around. Every iota of computational power that the cyborgs can muster is being thrown at creating a field value that works. We’re a few hours away from a viable candidate, but it’s not going to be a keyed field. We’ll be disabling our own warp capability.”

“Better that then let them get more reinforcements onto Earth.”

Dan nodded, “That’s the consensus among the cyborgs, and command agrees. Every warp generator on Mars, Io, Europa, and the Cylinder Ring is at max capacity sending in reinforcements before the window closes.”

“But they must remain vigilant for attacks as well, the Prod are still isolated to Earth, right?” asked Iyo.

“So far.” Growled Dan.

Two of the snipers stationed at windows further down the warehouse fired, Nyx heard the distinctive roar of a type two and a quick burst of heavy weapons fire as one of Iyo’s men attacked something that had gotten too close.

Nyx tensed, and turned to go back to her sniper nest.

Dan grabbed her shoulder, “Rest. We’re going to be here a while. The others can handle it.”

“Sir I can,”

“Iyo, make sure she gets sleep.” Ordered Dan as he turned to start walking along the perimeter catwalk again.

The large man bowed his head, “Yes sir.” Reaching up over the railing Iyo grabbed the back of Nyx’s vest and lifted the hallow boned type one into the air.

Nyx let out a muffled squawk of protest, both men ignored her. Iyo lowered her to the concrete floor and set her on her feet.

Spinning in place Nyx slammed her fist into the man’s side, barely reaching his waist.

Iyo let out a deep chuckle, “Ow.”

Nyx huffed and shaking the pain from her hand to flipped him off, Iyo ignored the gesture pushed her forwards away from the outer perimeter. “Rest. I’m not keen to take up sniping.”

“Don’t you need to sleep?” snapped Nyx.

“Dan and I have already had four hours of rest. So, has every other type one. You’re being as stubborn.”

Nyx rolled her eyes, “fine.”

Turning away from him she sighed and nodded once. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Rubbing at her eyes again Nyx walked in among the shelves the warehouse, weaving around the packages, and people who were spread out haphazardly throughout.

A man sitting leaned up against one of the shelves shifted around in his spot, Nyx glanced at him and noticed an extremely dirty type one sleeping up against him, nestled in between the crook of them both were two small children one type zero and a type one.

The children were just as filthy as the woman. The man looked like he had originally been wearing an expensive suit, but it was covered in ash and filth Nyx belatedly noted that his outer jacket was draped over the type one woman who was leaned against him silently snoring.

“I’ve got a spare blanket,” he gestured his head at a rumbled package on the floor beside him opposite the woman.

Nyx opened her mouth to argue, then sighed. Adjusting her harness and straightening out the feathers on her head she leaned up against the same shelf the man was against and slid down to sit on the cold floor.

Nyx closed her eyes and took in another breath. Ignoring the packaged blanket, she jumped as another round of shots echoed through the warehouse.

Shaking her head and forcing the yawn down Nyx reached into the front of her vest and extracted her Comm. Flicking the device on she looked at her lack of messages and turned to the cybernetic filtered feeds.

She couldn’t understand all the quickly flowing data, but it gave the general outline of what was happening. The invasion had slowed almost every other form of communication and organization, only the cyborgs able to multi-task well enough to keep information systems running while running for cover.

North America, Europe, Japan, and Antarctica had been all hit in the first wave of Warp ins. There were isolated reports of Warp signatures within Central Asia but nothing large yet.

“Don’t you need to get some sleep?” asked the man beside her.

Nyx glanced at him, “I will.”

“You’ve been up there shooting for as longer than I’ve been awake.”

Nyx snorted and felt her feathers go up, “Just because I’m type one doesn’t mean I’m going to collapse on a dime.”

The man raised the one hand that wasn’t pinned by the woman in surrender, “No, you’ve just got a metabolism hyperactive enough that it’s calmed by caffeine.”

Nyx ignored him and continued paging through her Comm looking for news. The first reinforcements from Mars had Warped into New York an hour ago.

Pittsburgh was nowhere on the list of cities that would be receiving the extra help fending off the invaders though. The brutal mathematics of war were already playing into every decision the cyborgs made, and the old city had little strategic value.

The man reached down and tore open the packet containing the blanket. Ripping it out he unfolded the thin cloth and tossed it over Nyx’s hands covering her Comm.

Nyx blinked and slowly turned her feathers puffing up in anger.

“Sleep.” Growled the man.

“I am a soldier,”

“Who isn’t a cyborg, or base human, you need sleep.” Said the man cutting her off.

Nyx threw the blanket off, irrationally angry. Uncoordinated and sleep deprived she only saw the lump of cloth’s trajectory an instant before it hit the two children on the other side of the man.

The cloth landed on the head of the type one.

The child which had been sleeping peacefully, her head up against the man’s leg jerked up and let out an indignant squawk. Her immature downy feathers puffed up and her eyes darted around in every direction looking for the threat.

“Go back to sleep, you’re alright.” Said the man. Reaching out to the child he slowly petted the top of her head trying to calm her. The child blearily blinked up at him, “Momma? Did you find Momma?”

“I’m still looking for her, I told you that. I need you to get some more rest though while I do that, OK?” The man’s voice was too nice and tinged with an undertone of sadness.

Nyx glanced at him and the man very minutely nodded in affirmation.

“OK.” whispered the girl. She yawned again and put her head back down on his leg.

The man continued to pet her head, further calming her.

Nyx leaned closer to the man and reaching down towards the child, shooed his hand away. He moved it and Nyx carefully began to pull at one feather before moving onto the next. The girl let out a pleased purring and almost seemed to melt.

Nyx continued silently for several minutes until she was sure the girl was asleep.

“You’re not her Father then?”

The man shook his head, “No. All I’ve gotten out of her is her name, Sara.”

He gestured at the other two sleeping against him, “Pulled all three of them out of what I think was supermarket down on Commerce and Euclid. Little thing’s got a set of lungs.” He hesitated, “Her Mother protected her from the worst of the building collapsing. She was deeper in than the other two, found Sara in her arms.”

Nyx glanced at the man’s hands, noting for the first time that they were covered in small cuts and grime.

Reaching into her vest she pulled out her medical kit, “What’s your name?”

“Kevin, Kevin Harrison.”

“Sargant Nyx.”

Kevin nodded, “Nice to put a name to the face.”

Nyx raised her eyebrows.

“Captain Dan’s been yelling out all the sniper’s names when things get exciting.”


Nyx rubbed at her eyes and leaned back against the shelf. She could feel the pounding headache that came from having been awake for too long combined with stimulants settling in. She was wired, but tired at the same time.

Kevin settled the blanket across her legs.

Nyx sighed, “You can’t save everyone.”

“I’m going to try.”

“Then you’re going to die.”

Kevin was silent for a few minutes. “I’d rather try and die, than not.”

Nyx pulled the blanket up further and mulled over his words. Slowly her thoughts trailed off and her head lulled to the side falling against Kevin’s shoulder. One smaller rythmatic snore joined the others in the warehouse.

Kevin pushed the blanket into place, careful not to jostle the people sleeping up against him.

The small girl pretending to sleep carefully swallowed and forced her eyes to stay closed, keeping the tears from spilling out onto the cold concrete.



Nyx woke with a start as the entire building shook, the dull roar of an explosion echoing through it.

Jumping to her feet Nyx sent Kevin and the three other’s who had been sleeping beside him flying, Sara the lightest flew up into the air. Waking, assaulted by the loud noise of the explosion and suddenly upside-down Sara let out what would have at any other time been an ear-piercing shriek, but was compared to the roaring outside barely audible.

Catching the girl in midair Nyx tossed her back at Kevin’s chest as he and the other’s around him struggled to wake.

Nyx curled her legs and displaying the near super-natural speed that her hollow bones and hyper active metabolism granted effortlessly leapt up into the air, returning to the catwalk she had been perched on only hours ago.

Collapsing down beside her rifle she set her eye against the scope. Easily spotting the purple mass of a Prod in the morning light she fired at it’s red core. The thing exploded covering the dozen other Prod in with its ichor and red shards.

“Sitrep!” growled Nyx as she chambered the high velocity rifle and lined up her next shot.

“Contact west. We’re going to be overrun. Down to handguns and snipers.” Said Dan through Nyx’s implant. He could handle speaking to every person in the warehouse at once, giving them the information, they specifically needed at any time.

Nyx paused cursing under her breath. Two large masses of Prod that had to be vehicles were slowly moving down the destroyed road leading to the warehouse. Debris and the bodies of Human’s and Prod barely slowing its movement.

Nyx fired, and growled in frustration at her weapons ineffectiveness against it. She had hit the thing dead center, but the heavy round had only created a small divot in the purple-red exterior.

“Standard ineffective vehicle. Heavy.” Spat Nyx.

“Heavy ineffective. Delay, aerial evac inbound from the east watch fire. Craft is civilian antique.”

Nyx paused for a moment stunned. The fact that Dan was attempting to evacuate the warehouse with civilian assets, and in something old enough to be an antique. The situation was beyond dire.

Iyo’s voice crackled over her implant as Nyx took her next shot, aiming for a Prod who had been lumbering along beside the massive vehicle. There was no evidence that the things had a command structure, but he looked important.

“I’m going to see if I can expose a weak spot for you, don’t miss!” growled the type two.

Nyx ground her teeth, “Iyo, even your handguns aren’t going to slow them down!”

“I’m out of ammo. Going to try something else.”

His words were accompanied by the sound of structural metal sheering somewhere in the warehouse’s wall. A loud bellow from what had to be a half dozen type two echoed along with it.

“Dan!” shouted Nyx.

“I cannot hold them back, and we have nothing left but pistol ammunition.” Said the Captain, his voice mechanically calm.

“God damn it!”

Iyo charged out of the warehouse, along with the rest of the type two who had been a part of the original sortie. Clad in complete body armor the massive Human’s charged out into the road, improvised weapons and pistols in hand.

Iyo was wielding what looked like the central frame of a personal vehicle, the woman beside him had a piece of structural rebar clutched in each hand pieces of concrete still attached to them.

Nyx turned her rifle, tracking in front of the line of type two. Spotting a larger Prod, she fired through the creature’s core barely spotting it inside of the mass of tentacles. It slumped, and Iyo slammed his shoulder into it, the rest simply crushing it into the dust as they ran.

The charging group plowed through each Prod in their way eviscerating each with brutal uncomplicated strength. They barely slowed as all the Prod in the area converged on them, on a mission to reach the tank they were easily going to make it. What happened when they did Nyx didn’t know.

The front of the Prod tank opened, a short barrel as wide as the ancient oil drum extending out. A violent electrical crack reverberated through the air from it just as Nyx fired into the aperture. The street exploded, and Nyx winced closing her eyes from the dust that had been thrown up.

Blinking Nyx grimaced. A third of the class two who had charged were gone. Every other now painted a bright violent red with small bits of flesh and gore stuck in the thick hair that covered their frames.

The woman holding the rebar roared and with all the massive strength of her genetic linage could muster she hurled the small bar as if it were a javelin. The bar embedded itself in the armor of the Prod tank with a solid clang an instant before she slammed her bulk into it. Hurling himself into it along with her Iyo and the woman braced.

Nyx saw their muscles ripple and with the speed of falling tree the two tipped the tank over.

On the edge which had once been nearest to the ground and protected by the most armor Nyx saw a small bulbous protrusion. Iyo spotted it as well and was diving away from the vehicle before Nyx even shouted her warming,

“Down!” screamed Nyx through the Comm.

The type two dove away as the front of the fat barrel turned towards them.

Nyx fired.

Her shot hit the bulbous protrusion. As advanced as the Prod were their biological technology was still based on the same physics of the universe that Humanity had to obey. Higgs inversion fields needed to be slowly reversed powered down otherwise when gravity snapped back to equilibrium the results were, explosive.

The tank exploded outwards and then twisted in on itself as gravity within its frame went through a hundred naturally impossible states. The fields stabilized, and a gravitational wave rippled outwards throwing shrapnel down the street.

The Type two jumped back up to their feet, Nyx turned her gun down the road again and swore. Another of the tanks was only thirty yards down the road from Iyo.

The protective shell that covered its barrel was already moved aside, the fat barrel out and pointing at the remaining Humans on the brick street. It fired and Iyo, along with every other class two disappeared in a flash of light.

“Damn it. All forces! Delaying action!” shouted Dan through the Comm.

Grimacing and keeping herself from analyzing the red-black smears on the ground where Iyo had been Nyx lined up her next shot on the Prod streaming alongside the new tank.

She started firing picking off any Prod who’s core she could spot.

It took another three precise shots before Nyx heard the transport, glanced up at the sound it was making and cursed again under her breath at the shape and sound it was making. It was something associated with museums and documentaries, not live combat.

“A Lighter?” spat Nyx.

Dan didn’t say anything over the communication channel’s as the iconic vehicle of WWIII moved into the airspace directly over the Warehouse. As wide as a modern shuttle, and twice as long the odd profile of swept wings and elctro-jet turbines placed it squarely in the odd place in history it occupied.

A place in history after the invention of compact cold fusion, and before anti-gravity technology. The aircraft could hover at any speed near indefinitely before spinning the engines that held it aloft and accelerating up into the atmosphere breaching the sound barrier within seconds.

The crafts were even able to make sub-orbital hops of significant height, going up nearly 300 kilometers ballistically.

The only flaw in the craft, which had given them their iconic nicknames were their tendency to explode when the electrical capacitors that buffered the energy from the fusion core were hit with weapons fire. The sounds of the crafts exploding were the backdrop of every movie about the era.

“You’re going to need to give me somewhere to land this thing!” shouted a voice, presumably the pilots in Nyx’s ear. Dan was feeding his Com into the rest of the network.

“The roof is your only option, we can’t clear the streets.” Said Dan.

Nyx grimaced but didn’t offer a contradiction to his analysis. She had fired off another three rounds at the approaching Prod, ignoring the slow-moving tanks in favor of taking out the largest masses she could see. The Tank now unhindered was lining up on the building, it’s main gun pointed towards the front wall.

“Roof ain’t going to hold this thing up, I’ll have to lock in a hover and you’re going to need to get people up!” The pilot paused for a moment and Nyx saw the vessel twitch in the air as it began to glide towards the building, no longer angling down towards the ground. “I can get within two meters, but you’re going to have to keep people clear of the jets!”

“We can do that.” Reaffirmed Dan over the channel.

The Lighter was now almost directly above the Warehouse, and the Prod were still ignoring it.

“Down to my last shot.” Said Nyx.

“Understood, I and the other cyborgs are moving the civilians up to the roof. Hold until we’ve gotten them all evacuated then follow.” Ordered Dan.

Nyx lined up her last shot with the sniper rifle and fired. She allowed a twisted grin to creep onto her features as she watched another mass of the creatures exploded.

“Understood.” She said.

Standing Nyx grabbed the still hot barrel of weapon and lifting the heavy thing in her hand spun it around once, handguns were doing little to affect the things. A solid hit from something blunt might do something.

Glancing down at the main floor of the warehouse Nyx saw that most of the civilians were already gone, what was left of them clustered at the foot of the ladder that led up to the roof. A rope lowered down through the opening was looped underneath the arms of an elderly woman, and she was being quickly pulled up towards the opening in the roof.

Dan and the rest of the military cyborgs were standing unnaturally still at the perimeter of the group, slowly moving closer in as it thinned in size. They were all holding handguns up with perfect form, eyes forward watching what was right in front of them and what little of the world they could still see from the digital feeds.

Nyx leapt up over the railing and onto the top level of the shelves that were interposed throughout the floor. Jumping from one to the next she saw several other type one snipers doing the same, all of them converging on the ladder and Civilians.

Windows on the outside wall broke, Nyx threw herself down off the last shelf. Flipping through the air, feeling it through what few feathers weren’t covered with clothing Nyx landed in front of the cyborgs. The rest of the type one’s did the same. A few were holding their rifles like she was, two had old composite knifes in hand, another had a piece of long pipe that looked like it had been pried off the side of the building.

Nyx heard the cyborgs readjust their positions moving so they still had clear lines of fire.

The cyborgs did not typically fight in anything but the data streams, when using actual weapons though they never hit friendlies.

Several of the shelves at the front of the warehouse collapsed.

A Prod popped out from between two shelving units, one of the cyborg’s twitched and fired hitting its core.

The creature collapsed, and another four crawled on top of it.

Nyx tightened her grip on her rifle turned club. A Prod lunged at her, Nyx swung with the full weight of the rifle and her muscles. She hit the thing directly on what looked like it’s head, and the Prod stumbled back a step. Growling deep and menacing the creature’s claws shot out towards her.

Nyx let go of the heavy weapon, reaching down with practiced ease she drew the small handgun from its holsters and jumping backwards fired twice into the creature’s shoulder. The thing’s arm went limp and it let out a roar.

The type one’s on both side of her weren’t as lucky. Nyx only saw it in her periphery as she leapt backwards toward the cyborgs and civilians. The Human on her right had been beheaded with one set of claws, the one to her left bisected at the waist. He was still screaming in pain as a Prod slammed a foot down on his head.

“Nyx, retreat!” spat Dan.

Nyx glanced at her commander and jumping up, landed behind him. The Cyborgs were the only one’s left now at the bottom of the ladder. Firing of perfect shot after perfect shot they were holding, but more Prod were streaming into the building. Larger, tougher versions of the creatures.

No matter how accurate the cyborgs were, the small caliber weapons wouldn’t be effective much longer.

“Get them out of here!” shouted Dan even as he smoothly dropped another three Prod with mechanical precision.

“Sir.” Said Nyx.

She turned and spotting the last Human on the ladder leapt up onto the rungs directly below him.

The last mand on the ladder was Kevin, the two children and woman he had been with nowhere to be seen.

“Move!” shouted Nyx, her words directed towards the top of the ladder.

The gunshots below were picking up in speed. The Cyborgs could cut out all sensory input, endure pain that would send any other Human into shock. They would continue to fight until their unique combinations of mechanical and biological systems failed on a physical level. They would not pass out, go into shock, or feint. They would not stop until they died.

Three fourths up the ladder the gunshot’s stopped. There were no screams, no sounds except the tearing of flesh and wire.

“Fuck.” Muttered Kevin from above her.

“Don’t look!” growled Nyx.

The Prod below started to howl, the sound a mix between a cat’s yowl and analog static.

Kevin pulled himself up onto the roof, Nyx pushed herself up past him leaping into the air again. She glanced down while above the ladder and grimaced. The smaller Prod were already halfway up the ladder.

Spinning around as she landed Nyx saw the Lighter, it was hovering only a few inches off the roof it’s cargo ramp down. All the Civilians were on it, save for the old woman who had been hauled up onto roof and a small girl who had collapsed a few meters from the ramp clutching at a bleeding leg. She was crying out in pain and dragging herself towards it.

“Damn it!” Kevin ran towards the child, Nyx glanced at them both and then at the ramp. The old woman was lost, she couldn’t carry her and defend the rest of them.

Prod clambered up onto the roof, Nyx fired off two shots at the largest creature. It collapsed on top of the ladder and was quickly pushed aside by its comrades.

“Fuck!” shouted Kevin, Nyx turned to see him sprawled out on the roof. Sara had tumbled from his arms and was still crying.

Nyx emptied her handgun and closed her eyes cursing.

Spinning around, ignoring the creatures she loped towards the ramp.


The Humans in the transport all quickly repeated her message. The Lighter, deft in the air began to pull away from the roof.

Sara let out a scream and lunged for the ramp, only managing to make it an extra meter forwards before she collapsed.

Nyx shook her head and three other sets of eyes turned to meet her own. The old woman’s tired, Kevin’s resigned, and Sara’s. Nyx closed her eyes cutting off the child’s gaze.


Nyx felt a claw stab into her back she gasped, and blood fell from her lips. Turning her eyes down she looked at the massive black talon protruding from her chest.

A loud boom echoed through the air, unmistakably the sound of a weapon but not one Nyx had ever heard. In front of her the Lighter listed to the side, the jets holding it in the air spluttered, going dark.

The airship exploded, Nyx, the Prod, and every other creature on top of the warehouse went flying as the structure and the rest of those on the old street were blasted apart.

Sara let out a pained yell as she once again tumbled through the air, the pain in her leg forgotten as she slammed into the hard brick of a road. Rolling down it as the explosion echoed in her ears and the feathers on her body burned away from the heat, the girl too stunned to even react impacted a pile of debris that had once been a Prod tank.

Sara slid down to the ground stunned.

She swallowed and took in a breath.

Pain lanced through her small form, wincing she turned her eyes down.

Blinking again she stared at the piece of metal embedded in her leg, the burned clothes and feathers. Something in her chest was broken. Going into shock Sara whimpered in pain. Closing her eyes and taking in another shuddering breath Sara felt more pain, and something shifting beside her.

Opening one eye the small Human looked down.

A purplish mass was slowly collecting beside her, coalescing into a small puddle of gelatinous Prod mass.

Anger flared, numbing the pain.

Growling she stabbed a hand at it, grabbing it she pulled it up off the bricks. The Prod mass squirmed and shifted in front of her, the small core at the center of the thing glaring back at her even as more of the mass streamed out of the ground towards it.

Baring her teeth Sara ignored the tendrils the creature was reaching towards her throat and put it between her hands and squeezed.


32 Years Later


Sara raised her mechanical fist.

Her weapons officer and communications officers seamlessly reacted to the silent order.

“All vessel’s cease fire.” Said her the Com’s officer, issuing the order to the rest of the ragtag fleet in high orbit of Titan.

The mass of Prod in orbit, hovering just above the wormhole’s entrance didn’t react for several seconds. Slowly, injured and unsure of what had caused the reprieve the mass slowly began to reform itself.

“Give me a broadcast in the clear.” Growled Sara.

Her Communications officer, a cyborg raised an eyebrow but complied.

“Channel open.”

Sara stepped forwards on her bridge. The ship was a mismatched conglomerate of repairs and retrofits, the panels that made up the floor on the bridge scavenged from more than a dozen vessels. Her ship was like every other in the Human fleet, it’s only virtue an intangible luck that seemed to persist through every fight.

The Endurance had been hit with three direct nuclear blasts, seven Prod infection attacks, six long range kinetic strikes, three complete computer failures, and one encounter with an experimental Prod weapon that had sheared the ship cleanly in two from bow to stern.

Through all of that she lived up to her namesake, adapting and surviving.

The crew was no less raged, every Human on the ship, Baseline, type one, type two, and cyborg had suffered injury and bore scars of the long fight.

Sara had lost her right arm; her feathers had been burned down to the roots on most of her body. What grew back were sickly twisted half formed things.

Her Communications officer was a cyborg whose entire lower body was fused to the workstation he sat at, wires and electronics snaking out from him into the computers around him. It had been the only way to give him enough computer power to fend off the Prod’s latest computer virus.

Her weapons officer a baseline Human had lost his voice, and most of his lungs to a chemical attack. A machine hooked into his chest was breathing for him. The rattling of the device was audible over the patched together mechanics of the ship even at the best of times.

That wasn’t counting the numerous small scars, burns, and half healed wounds that covered nearly every inch of their skin. A life of war and pain was carved into every single Human in orbit of Titan.

Sara drew in a breath and looked at the small mass of Prod drifting in space.

“Running won’t end this, we’re going to destroy you.” Said Sara, her voice level and serene. “You started this war, and it doesn’t matter if it takes a million years, a billion, or until the end of time. We’re going to destroy you.”

The mass of Prod floating in front of the wormhole paused. The mass stopped healing itself, leaving small holes and burns in it’s form from the kinetic and plasma strikes.

“We will cleanse you from the stars.” Hissed a voice in stilted Standard over the communication line.

Sara shivered and felt her feathers goosebump. No one had ever heard the Prod speak.

Sara raised her eyes and stared at the mass, imagining it could see her. She smiled and let out one dark chuckle.

“And we’ll do the same. All Vessels, open fire!”


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CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 Of Race 3 Year 4958 Divsion 3 Police Station, New Baltimore “What?” The officer frowned and pushed the circular data tablet across the table to me. On it was an image of the woman I had met at the bar last night. She had green skin, of a shade that

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Shades of White and Orange

Sneaking forwards Kalif slowly tilted his ears to either side and waited in the darkness. Not sensing anything he slowly crept forwards towards the statue, and the artifacts in its base. Slithering as silently as possible Kalif focused his eyes on the objects, as if afraid they might disappear at any time. Reaching the statue

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Mother Earth

Mother Earth. She’s a bitch. A hard ass bitch who tortured every form of life that she brought forth onto her surface. Every life form on her surface had to fight, feed and fuck. After that she didn’t care about what happened, only that they had improved on themselves perhaps a little bit. Life on

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

The data streams slammed into me. With practiced ease, I pushed them aside and forced myself to view the data from afar. To not see it as billions of lines of code, but rather as the small white room that any other human would see. Floating in the center of that white room was Artemis,

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

0 days Adam “You’re insane.” “Your point is what?” She rolled her eyes and tightened the straps holding me to the chair. “The point is that someone who can’t move shouldn’t really be this snippy.” She gestured at the plethora of medical equipment around us. “I’m sure I can do some interesting things with all

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Painful Mercy

We had begun with the standard shock and awe tactics, bombarding their population centers from orbit with kinetic weapon strikes. One moment a city was standing, and the next it was ash through the power of pure physics. No radiation to clean up and minimal collateral damage to the atmosphere. It was standard procedure, one

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The mess hall on the station was a cavernous space on one of the mid-decks in the core, overlooking the long central shaft. It was a temporary arrangement… once the station was near-complete, a merchant or restaurateur would be enticed into setting up a proper dining area, whereupon the space would be converted in whatever

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Date Point: 16y3m5d AV Planet Rauwryhr, The Rauwryhr Republic, Perseus Arm Ambassador Sir Patrick Knight Rauwran Great Trees were… They were quite a thing to behold. Each one was as thick around at the base as a cricket ground, and soared up and up and up until their canopy was an invisible dark haze high

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ESNN Magazine article: “Prisons In Their Head- an interview at Camp Tebbutt” Author and photographer: Ava Magdalena Ríos [Cover image: two men seated on a bench in front of a chain-link fence, with a stunning Alaskan vista behind them. On the left is a scruffy bearded white man with shaggy salt-and-pepper hair, and next to

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+15 Minutes The Canada “Can this thing fly?” Shouted Pankin as a rattling howl began to echo through the ship, the crew members on what was now the ceiling tightening their straps as objects that had been floating began to rattle on the floor as the ship dove deeper into the atmosphere of the planet.

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Date Point: 16y2m2w AV Weaver dropship, Rich Plains contact volume, Kwmbwrw Great Houses TSgt Timothy “Tiny” Walsh All throughout the ordeal of becoming HEAT and finally earning the Mass, the one thing running through Walsh’s head was that one day, he too would serve at their level. Do the mission like none other. Walk through

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Date Point: 16y2m5d AV Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Xiù Chang Yan was having to explain himself. It wasn’t that the men who’d come out to hunt the Brown One were disappointed, exactly. None of them had been looking forward to the battle at all. They all knew the stories of how many

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+ 7 Minutes 38 Seconds The Canada “Captain, your message?” asked Arik as her Avatar superimposed itself over the main monitor. “Surrender now, call off the fighters and we’ll let you live. Then we can begin to negotiate for an end to this pointless violence.” “That’s it?” asked Arik after a moment. “Unless anyone else

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 2

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Rising Titans – Chapter 47

+ 30 Seconds The Canada “The Empire ships are now in range of the ACE field!” reported Arik. Stagg grimaced as the ship shook “Activate,” “New contact!” shouted Arik interrupting. “What?” “IFF is identifying the vessel as the HSB Russia, they just exited a spatial rupture directly between us and the Empire fleet!” “Open communications!”

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Date Point: 16y2m1d AV personal sanctum, Dataspace. Cynosure/Six Data sophonts did not sleep, and thus did not dream. Nevertheless, Cynosure had a recurring nightmare of sorts. When his attention wandered, he found that it almost inevitably alighted on a handful of disturbing subjects. The details varied, as he worried at different aspects of the problems

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 6

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9 Years, 6 Months, 14 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Diana blinked in surprise as the jungle was suddenly lit up by a fantastic reddish glow, glancing behind her towards the city Diana watched as another blast of energy, identical in color to the flash fell from the sky. Unable to see from her vantage

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 5

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 4

Date Point: 16y2m AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1536 ++Asymptote++: I have bad news. It would seem our new drones are detectable. ++0004++: <Dismay> you’re certain? ++Asymptote++: The force I sent to Cimbrean was captured immediately upon arrival. ++0007++: How? ++Asymptote++: Unclear. The Arutech drones don’t report as concisely as conventional biodrones. The connection is…

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 3

Date Point: 16y2m AV The Thinghall, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Gabriel Arés Every civilization needed its icon of executive power. The UK had the black door of Number Ten Downing Street and, somewhere behind it, the Cabinet Room; the USA had the White House, and the Oval Office; Folctha had the Alien Palace. The

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Good Training – Survival Part 1

You may also want to read Pyrophytes in The Deathworlders series. Same story, different angles. Date point: 14y 7d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Professor Daniel Hurt “You want me to read it by next week?” Julian mopped the sweat from his face and bounced loosely in place. “What was it

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-7 Hours CHRONT THE CANADA “More contacts!” said Arik as she flashed every monitor on the bridge a bright red. Stagg glanced up at the monitor, “How many more?” “I’m counting!” “You’re counting!?” A grainy image of the approaching Empire patrol vessel was quickly displayed, a small box around it. Additional boxes quickly filled the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m AV Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Nofl Leemu had become unresponsive. Nofl’s quarantine facility had alerted him after the patient had been anomalously still for twenty minutes, and the reason why became obvious upon a quick inspection of the cell: Leemu was sprawled on his back, staring blissfully up at

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9 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing Deep Space The Russia shuddered again as the engines slowly powered down and the ship slid out of the red blue haze that was the tachyon FTL corridor. James blinked several times trying to clear the haze from his eyes as the regular black background of

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 4

Date Point: 16y1m AV Dataspace adjacent to Mrwrki Station Entity The Entity understood the concept of boredom in an academic, abstract way. It could even vaguely summon up Ava’s memories of being bored. But understanding the idea and actually feeling the emotion were two different things. The closest it could get was the sensation of

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 3

Date Point: 16y2w AV Air Force One, somewhere over Asia, Earth President Arthur Sartori “…You want to give us a Farthrow generator.” Daar’s image was janky and low-resolution thanks to the vagaries of current wormhole comms, but the audio was a lot clearer now. Technology marched onwards. “It’s loaded up on a train and ready

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Good Training – Pecking Order

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Good Training – The Champions – Tidying Up

Messier 24 Mission day: 3 Sergeant Daar (Tigger) The third day was always when things settled into routine. Daar didn’t really know why, ‘cuz that was prol’ly some complicated psychology stuff (maybe he should read up?) but he did know how it worked, practically speaking. Daar always pondered morning thoughts like that when he was

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 2

Date Point: 16y2w AV Weaver dropship, Gaoian space Sergeant Ian “Hillfoot” Wilde “So in all the excitement, we clean forgot about these things. That’s what you’re telling me.” Champion Meereo made a sound that was half a sigh and half a chitter. “…That’s more-or-less exactly right, yes. We had… well, bigger priorities.” Wilde had to

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Rising Titans – Chapter 43

9 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing Bellona “Ready?” asked Alpha from where he sat on top of the Captain’s chair. “I’m good!” said Red from where he sat at the controls for the ship. It hadn’t taken much to convince him to pilot the vessel. James glanced down at his own console

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 1

Date Point: 16y AV Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Zane Reid The cold didn’t hurt anymore. At first, it had been like forcing his way through a wall made of knives that cut through his clothes. Zane’s every breath had blinded him as it billowed and steamed in the air, and when he’d experimentally licked his

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 5

Date Point: 16y AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Hugh Johnson Snow. Of course, snow in January in Alaska was hardly surprising, and this one threatened to be heavy. At first, Hugh had thought it was probably just an seasonable dusting that’d add a couple of inches to the foot or

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I had made my way through the tournament, but most of my matches had been won by the skin of my teeth, and I had only the advantage of being evolved from a pursuit predator to thank for it. Our great endurance had been the one boon that had kept me going, and I was

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 4

Date Point: 15y 10m 1w AV HMS Violent, Rvzrk System, Domain Space The ground battle churned on for days. That was the problem with Hunters. There was no surrender involved, it was a kill-or-be-killed fight where smashing their will to engage in war simply didn’t achieve enough. Any Hunter left alive would just keep murdering

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He awoke to a pleasant smell. “…Eggs?” Hoeff detangled himself from Natalie and the sheets and stumbled towards the kitchen. Daar was busy in front of the comparatively little stove and fridge, humming some terrible Gaoian tune to himself. Seriously, their music was like Chinese opera with extra pain. Some Humans liked it, though…but “atonal”

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Rising Titans – Chapter 42

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Day 1. I’ve made it on board the human trading vessel! They didn’t detect my presence, and I’ve managed to smuggle myself into their engineering bay, and disguised myself within a cluster of cables! My small, serpentine body makes me indistinguishable from a thin, grayish cable, and the Humans won’t notice my existence until it

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 1

Date Point: 15y 10m AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Hugh Johnson Camp Tebbutt wasn’t actually a bad place to live, if you didn’t count the fact that it was essentially a prison for innocent victims. Hugh understood why he was there, and why he couldn’t leave… but after eleven years,

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 3

Firth Regaari chittered, “It is difficult to imagine you ‘humbled,’ Righteous.” “Heh,” Firth chuckled. “You do know most of my attitude is straight fuckin’ bullshit, right? Adam and John know why.” Regaari looked over at John, who shrugged massively. “He’s a scary dude. Being ridiculous kinda takes the edge off, y’know?” Regaari duck-nodded. He was

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Rising Titans – Chapter 41

9 Years, 6 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Moving down the hallway Diana paused at the double doors, carefully she moved forwards into it’s threshold and they slid open. A woman in an orange smock looked up from her Comm for a moment, and then going back to look at it did a

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The Good Samaritan

I felt a white-hot pain in my back as I was stabbed. Once, twice and then three times. I fell to the ground clutching my new openings, and for a moment I couldn’t grasp what had just happened. I had walked through an alley as a shortcut back home, and then suddenly someone had grabbed

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 6

Date Point: 15y9m3w AV Mrwrki Station, Erebor System, Unexplored Space Darcy “Does it seem… different to you lately?” “What?” “The Entity. It’s actin’ different, dude, I swear it is.” Darcy sighed and set aside her work as Lewis sat down. She was sitting drinking a Moroccan Mint tea in the station’s rec lounge, with its

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Rising Titans – Chapter 40

9 Years, 6 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Popping the restraints off of her legs Diana swung herself off of the table, the two class A’s still in their isolation suits were pounding at the door of the room the three of them were in. “It’s out! Open the door!” shouted the man

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 2

Master Sergeant Christian (Righteous) Firth The end of the movie came and the ladies were fast asleep and prolly too tired to head home with any comfort. The other bros were asleep, too, and Firth was tangled up with them pretty good. Oh well, both ‘Base and ‘Horse were heavy-ass sleepers and only danger or

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Hell. It’s a completely Human concept. The concept of a realm of eternal torture, to which you are sent depending on the whims of one deity or another, is something only found in Human fiction. And it’s not an isolated occurrence. Almost every human culture since the dawn of humanity itself has had it in

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 4

Date Point: 15y9m2w AV HMS Sharman (HMNB Folctha), Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Senior Master Sergeant Christian (“Righteous”) Firth “Hey, fuckers! Guess what hit the newsstand today!” Adam looked up from his needlework for a second and raised an eyebrow. “Imma guess Coombes’ centerfold spread with Ava?” Firth deflated, somewhat flummoxed that ‘Horse had stolen his

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