Good Training – Survival Part 7

Date point: 14y 8m 2w 2d AV
The Dog House, Folctha, Cimbrean
Late afternoon

Julian Etsicitty


If Adam had a singular talent that stood out, it would have to be his supernatural ability to give his training victims some very dramatic results by inflicting insane amounts of pain. Julian both dreaded and eagerly anticipated his sessions with the big slab of a fella, because every time he thought he knew what he could do and where his limits were, Adam showed him how wrong he was.

And sometimes he did it by being a complete asshole, too. Like today, where the lifting was mostly giant sets in an order chosen specifically to make them as hard as possible and drain all his energy. Which was why at the very end of the day, after intervals, high-rep work, heavy work, combatives, wind sprints, more lifting…Julian found himself about to do heavy squats.

And that wasn’t even his finishing lift. That was going to be yet another giant set of high-rep burnout squats that would most likely have him feeling sick to his stomach and fighting back tears of pain in his eyes. As part of a circuit with heavy calf raises. And lunges. The sadistic motherfucker.

“You ready for that bar, bro?”

Julian looked at it, and silently gulped. The bar was bending a little under the weight even with the rack supporting it close to the plates, which were themselves stacked on all the way to the bar’s ends. But still. If there was one thing Julian had learned through everything, it was that Adam never challenged him with something he wasn’t able to do. If Adam had decided on that much weight at the end of a day filled with torment, then Adam knew what he was doing. And if that was what they were about to do…

Julian nodded. “Let’s do this.”

Getting settled under the bar was telling. It didn’t budge at all. Julian took a few deep, practiced breaths, shook his head out, growled, settled himself in and straightened his back—

Up. Pain. The bar was so fuckin’ heavy.

Down. Almost too fast but Adam was there and wouldn’t let him fail.

Up. Slooowwly. Legs kept bent at the top because at weights that high, an accident could tear his knees apart if they decided to bend the wrong way.

Down again. More controlled. Up. Much harder. He was panting now, almost out of breath and he was starting to get tunnel vision. One more…”

His prosthetic foot snapped with a ping and a crunch as the arch collapsed, just as he was almost at the top of the lift. He yelped involuntarily and felt himself falling backwards. His life flashed before his eyes as he realized suddenly that an overloaded bar was about to crush his chest flat, and—

Adam’s enormous hand darted out and snatched the bar out of the air, then stiff-arm lifted it back onto the rack with an insultingly quiet clank. His other caught Julian in the middle of his back before he’d hit the ground and gently lowered him down to the floor. It was a feat of strength so incredible that it went way past amazing and all the way back to unconcerning.

“That’s why we lift with a squat rack, bro. You okay?”

It took Julian a moment to recover his sense of…well, everything. He nodded and Adam seemed to understand, since he picked Julian up under his arms and sat him down on a nearby bench.

“Sit here for a bit bruh, I’mma get you something to drink.”

Julian recovered for a moment, then painfully hoisted his overpumped leg up onto his knee and inspected the damage to his foot, thinking—or hoping—that it was maybe salvageable. One look and he realized that no, the foot was more or less pulverized, with all the intricate little pieces crushed into each other. There was definitely no fixing it at this point, the whole thing would need replacing.

“Goddamnit,” Julian swore to himself, and shook his head clear in frustration. He didn’t have time for this!

And more importantly he needed to get up and move or his legs would cramp up solid and he wouldn’t be able to walk. He stood, tested things…well, he could probably still hobble along on it like a gimp. He was so goddamned fucked. He couldn’t lift, couldn’t drive a car, couldn’t walk, couldn’t do anything useful back on Akyawentuo or anywhere else. Fuck!

Julian hobbled over to the punching bag and slammed his fist into it so hard it made the metal girders overhead creak in protest. “Motherfucker!!”

Adam picked that exact moment to walk back in with a beaded jug of water. He stopped short and watched for a moment, then squeezed sideways through the doorway and thumped over.

“I knew you could do that lift, bro,” Adam said with a cheesy grin, and sat down heavily on the bench. He gestured for Julian to sit.

“Yeah, well,” Julian hobbled over and slammed himself down. “That lift didn’t turn out so good.”

“Nah, you did fine, bro! You didn’t fail, that did,” Adam pointed a meaty finger at the shattered prosthetic, then handed Julian the jug. “Here, it’s nice and cold.”

…Okay. So Julian managed to break his alien spacemagic foot with his caveman hobby. That did feel good for the ego, but at what cost? It was exactly the kind of stupid injury he was worried about from the beginning. Well, okay. It wasn’t technically an injury, but still.

“Where the fuck am I gonna get a new one?”

“Dude, the Ricky-tick guys have their Medtronics company here in Folctha. Or, there’s also that little genetics company too. I forget the name. They could grow you a new foot, man!”

Something about that squicked Julian hard. “No. I like my foot, I’ll just get another one.”

Adam started to shake his head. “Bro, at the weights you’re doing now, that’s…that’s dangerous. Look what just happened. That bar woulda killed you if we weren’t being smart.”

“I’ll get a better fake foot,” Julian said, irritably.

Adam sighed. “Bro. Hear me now and listen later. Remember that secret I was gonna tell you?”


“See that little black book over there? Go look at the numbers in it.”

Julian threw an irritated look at Adam and hobbled over to where the book was lying. He picked it up and read. Then read it again. Then he looked back at the wreckage from Adam’s distilled insanity of a workout that was strewn about the gym. Julian looked at the numbers one last time, closed the book, and hobbled back over to the bench where Adam was sitting.

Julian didn’t say anything for a long moment. “…No fuckin’ way.” What else could he say?

“Yeah way,” Adam retorted with a grin. “You’re really good at not noticing these things so I thought I’d point it out for ‘ya. There ain’t a lot of anyone who could manage any of the shit you did today. In fact, you’re best buds with most of the dudes who can. So, knowing that,” he challenged, “You think a shitty little xeno prosthetic is gonna cut it?”

“…Okay,” Julian admitted, “I don’t have an answer to that.”

“Yeah you do, don’t be dumb. A real foot grows stronger with you and you’re a long ways from slowing down, I bet. So why don’t we just go visit Nofl and—”

“Stop right there.” Julian surged back to his feet and paced…well, no, he hobbled around angrily. “Doctor freakshow already tried to get his limp little hands on me. He can go fuck right off with his mad science bullshit.”

“…Dude? I mean, sure, he’s a little weird, but—”

“No.” Julian said firmly.

“C’mon, man!” The thick-skulled meathead didn’t get the hint. “This guy can grow new limbs. You aren’t even gettin’ a new foot, you’re gettin’ your old foot back.”

Julian ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Did you not hear me? No. I don’t know if it’s that alien mutant juice they have you on, or maybe it’s ‘cuz you weren’t ever one of their lab rats, but fuck no. Abso-fuckin’-lutely not.”

Adam recoiled a bit like an enormous puppy that had just been slapped. “…Dude, you didn’t need to go there. I just wanna make you the best you can be, man.”

…Well, shit. Whatever. Julian was too angry just then to make nice, so he hobbled back up and grabbed his towel irritably. “C’mon. Least you can do is give me a lift back to my place. I’ll figure out what the fuck to do about this later.”

“…Okay. I, uh, don’t have a truck so…I can carry you, or—”

“Adam. I’m not riding you through town like some fucking little kid!”

“—Or I can call a cab. Chill the fuck out ‘fore I get angry, dude.”

Julian grunted and flumped back on the bench. “Yes. Cab please.”

They didn’t talk much after that. Julian sat and marinated in his thoughts while he waited for the cab, and while he rode home. Adam didn’t ride along but when Julian arrived just a few minutes later he was already there, not even panting or anything, and looked like he was deep in a conversation with both Allison and Xiù.

Great. Just great. How the hell was Julian going to explain everything to them?

Date point: 14y 8m 2w 2d AV
Etsictty-Buehler-Chang Residence, Folctha, Cimbrean

Allison Buehler

“Look,” Julian hobbled about angrily, “I don’t fucking care how much of a no-brainer it is. I’m not letting doctor freakshow put his science bullshit in me!”

There were moments where Allison seriously could not wrap her head around Julian’s mindset. He was normally a pretty logical and collected guy, but he was also as stubborn as Allison could be and right now he was being a complete jackass. He’d come straight back from the gym and was still riding the aggressive high he always somehow had right after one of Adam’s legendary workouts. On any other day that might have resulted in him throwing her and Xiù on the bed and taking charge, showing them his real strength and then passing right the fuck out afterwards…

But right then all his fizzing aggression was making him stupid in a very unsexy sort of way. Hopefully Xiù would return soon with his favorite fried chicken, since a hungry post-Adam-workout Julian was also downright cranky. Adam had arrived before Julian’s cab got there and warned them about the incident. Xiù needed no hint, nodded, and left to go pick up dinner, even though it was technically Allison’s fault that they hadn’t had time to make anything.

She regretted nothing. Meanwhile, it fell to her to deal with Cranky Bro-Tarzan and the Incredible Bulk having some sort of emo boy-tantrum thing going between them, too. They’d not said a single word to each other since Julian got back, not even when Adam more or less threw Julian to the floor and bent him all sorts of painful-looking ways for their post-workout stretch. Normally that would had Julian moaning and laughing in pain and Adam would have been the most spectacularly gruff, friendly meat-bro there ever was. Now? They’d stretched and done the post-workout rubdown, parted ways and said nothing to each other. It was like watching a silent soap opera. Ugh.

“He won’t just sew on some Doctor Frankenstein shit, it’s all cultured from your own tissue,” she reminded him. “Hell, there’s DARPA interest in it and they’ve already made it through trials. There’s servicemen who have brand new working arms because of this!”

“Yeah well. Lucky them. Me, I still remember how that research got done,” Julian growled. “Remind me, how did your abduction go? What was it, three days strapped naked to a freezing metal table?”

“Worse. But they weren’t Nofl.” Allison paused for a moment, pressed her hands to her temples, and trudged on. “I don’t care about that anyway, Etsicitty. What I care about is you and you’re being a dumbass right now.”

“…The whole idea just freaks me the fuck out, okay?” Julian confessed. He stopped limping around at least, and finally slammed himself down onto the floor with a wet thud and a slightly ashamed look on his face.

Oh. Okay, that actually made much more sense now. Allison cooled down and reconsidered. “I get it babe,” she soothed. “But he’s not wrong, you know.”

“I know!” He growled in irritation. “Christ, I’m not stupid!”

“Babe, believe me I know.” That drew a quizzical look from him, so she sighed and confessed. “Hell, sometimes I wonder if I’m actually kinda dumb next to you.”

“Wait, what? You’re not though, we all saw your scores. You’re the smartest of the three of us.”

“Barely,” she retorted, and felt a heat rise in her cheeks.

“No, not barely.” When he had his dander up his feelings could flip this way or that, and at the moment he had a heartbreakingly warm smile for her. “You’re smart, you dummy!”

“…How the fuck am I supposed to be both of those at the same time?”

“Girl power.” His troll-grin. Good.

“Oh, fuck you Etsicitty!”

“That a promise?” Now with waggling eyebrows. That was a downright unfair tactic, but right now she couldn’t give in. She had a lesson to teach.

“No. You’re being stupid, Etsicitty.”

Too far. His smile faded and he growled in annoyance, but he didn’t say anything more. Allison sighed.

“Okay. I get it, I guess. But promise me something babe. Promise me you’ll at least take better care of the new one, okay? Because one day your stupid fake foot is gonna break at the worst time and it’s gonna get you hurt, you idiot.”

“Real feet break too…” Julian grumbled, but his heart clearly wasn’t in it.

“Real feet grow stronger. That’s what Adam says anyway, and it’s why he pushed you so hard and he’s out there sulking ‘cuz one of his ‘most bestest’ friends is mad at him.”

She pointed through the sliding doors to where Bulk was kicking listlessly around on the grass like someone had just run over his dog…though if anybody ever ran over Bozo, the car would probably come off worse.

“I ain’t mad at him, I just—”

Allison cut him off. “Don’t tell me, tell him!”

He didn’t. What Julian did instead was some form of magical boy-talk, where he looked up and out through the door, made eye contact, there was a pause, and suddenly Adam was happy again and thudding off through the door and into the kitchen to go grill a cow or something.

Allison’s anger went on pause for a moment while she processed that.


Julian shrugged expansively. Whatever. It sometimes occurred to Allison that maybe the reason men were so universally bad at discussing their feelings was because they didn’t need to be good at it…or maybe they just compressed all of it better. One look, maybe some video games and a beer, or maybe playfighting or an actual brawl…and they were best friends again.

Jesus. Men really were dogs…in all the ways that made dogs worth having.

“…Fuck.” Allison plopped down next to Julian and was immediately swallowed up in a moist, full-body hug. She ignored the grossness for the moment. “I just want what’s best for you.”

“I know.” He rocked her back and forth comfortingly. “And…I know I’m being a butt.”

That earned him a giggle. “Uh-huh. You absolutely are, you ass…but it’s your foot, your body. That makes it your decision.”

He didn’t reply for a while, he just kept rocking back and forth. Eventually he untangled himself and effortlessly spun her around—the stupid sexy idiot didn’t even know how hot that kind of thing was—and gave her his Apology Grin. “Maybe…no promises. But I promise I’ll try to be open-minded about this down the road, okay? Just…I don’t trust him yet, babe.”

“Well,” She thought one last attempt was smart, “Adam seems healthy…”

The man-tank was standing in the doorway and listening intently, resting his weight against the jamb with his shoulders firmly outside the opening on either side. He more or less plugged the entire door with his bulk from chest to toes.

“Hey, don’t drag me into this,” Adam chuckled. “And I get it. I do. ‘Cuz the thing is, I am an experiment in a lotta ways.” There was some kind of complicated look between him and Julian. More magical boy-speak, probably. “I just wanna make sure you know what you’re doing, bro.”

Julian grumbled sulkily in reply. “I’ve been told enough times by all of you…”

“That’s ‘cuz we care, bro. But now promise me something, ‘kay?”


“You managed to snap your foot today doin’ a squat. If ‘yer gonna keep pushing yourself—”

“I am. I have to if I’m going to live on Akyawentuo and be a man in their eyes.”

“—Then if you ain’t gonna get a real foot, get a better prosthetic,” Adam insisted. “Or hell, get two! Get like some hunk of, I dunno, articulated metal or something for lifting. And keep on top of this shit, man! You’ve gotta get your real foot re-measured, you need thicker padding on your new prosthetic to match ‘cuz you’re barefoot like me all the time now—”

“Alright!” Julian laughed loudly in surrender to his nagging friends. “Christ! I’ll get the ‘most bestest’ prosthetic I can, okay?”

“Oh God Julian,” Allison sighed and rolled her eyes, “You’re even talking like them now.”

From the doorway, Adam chuckled. “You try spending time with Daar and see if he doesn’t rub off on you.”

“No thanks.” Right then Xiù walked through the front door with three truly enormous paper bags in hand, and the heavenly scent of fried chicken wafted through the room.

Julian, being Julian, brightened instantly and sprang up, hobbling over to Xiù. “You got my favorite! Did you get mashed potatoes too?”

“Bruh, that’s not gonna fit your macros.” Adam’s gurgling stomach betrayed him.

“Fuck off,” Julian said with a happy grin. “I’mma eat the shit outta this. You want some?”

“…Yeah. But I can’t. Also I’d just eat it all.”

“Your loss. God it smells so good…” They didn’t even wait. Julian had a chicken thigh out of the bucket before they’d made it to the table.

“You’re gonna feel sick eating grease after everything,” Adam said with just a hint of sulk.

“Worth it. Last meal of the day anyway. Have a piece you huge lunk!”

“I’ll make you something,” Xiù promised. “You’ve been a big help.”

“Nah, I gotta get going. It’s about time to dump the Cherries outta bed for a surprise training marathon anyway. Don’t warn ‘em, bro…”

“I won’t!” He’d somehow managed that around a mouthful of greasy heaven, and the grin accompanying it was both sympathetic and gleeful.

“‘Kay. I’ll, uh, make a call. Just in case. You call the Medtronics people right now okay?”

Xiù nodded. “We’ll take care of it. Thank you, Adam.”

Seeming much happier, the two slabs exchanged one last look of bro-love or whatever the fuck was going on, then Bulk thumped himself out of the home and down the street, presumably imagining new and improved ways of embiggening the men he trained.

Which just left Julian. Allison rolled her eyes and relented. “Okay. You get your food on. You’re a cranky diva when you’re hungry.”

Julian nodded ruefully, and started shoving mashed potatoes with cajun gravy into his face.

“Xiù, you’re gonna call this medtronics place?”

“Already on it,” she glanced up from her phone. “He’s got an appointment for tomorrow.”

“Good. I’ll go finish putting my tools and stuff away. And Julian?”

“Yesthf?” His playful grin always seemed to work on her, even and especially if he was doing something ridiculously boyish and gross. Like talking through an overstuffed mouth.

“Get your sweaty ass into the shower. You stink.”

He swallowed and nodded with a chuckle. “Yes, ma’am.”

“Good boy. I leave you two to it…”

Xiù and Julian gave each other a Look. Mission accomplished. Allison turned tail with a little swish, and went to go tom-boy with her new pile of tools in the garage. Everything had to be put away after all, and a rolling tool chest was something she’d always wanted for herself.

Plus, she got to eavesdrop a little and fantasize. Sure enough she heard the water heater fire up a few minutes later…

And a few minutes after that, she heard Xiù thoroughly enjoying herself. Allison grinned and closed the garage door, and plotted when she’d tag herself in.

Date point: 14y 8m 2w 3d AV
RRrr’tktktkp’ch Applied Medtronics office, medical park, Alien Quarter
Prosthetic refitting and manufacture

Julian Etsicitty

Sometimes, very occasionally, Julian’s day-to-day life gave him the tiniest glimpse into some of the weirdness Xiù endured on a regular basis. She seemed to float through life, improving people’s days and setting huge things into motion just by being there, all through no fault of her own. And now, Julian learned that his mangled foot from years ago had completely revolutionized the prosthetics industry, and sparked a years-long interspecies collaboration between the RRrr’tktktkp’ch Domain and the Department of Defense.

The result was a prosthetic that was frankly hard to tell apart from the real thing. It had artificial muscles powered by his blood sugars. Nerves and tendons. An accurate sense of touch! He could feel hot and cold through it now, and the foot itself felt warm. Hell, even the skin felt right!

It was honestly a strange sensation, being able to wiggle his toes again and have it feel exactly like he remembered it should. Or to scratch his foot, which he did with his right-hand big toe. Why did he want to do that, suddenly? It didn’t itch…

“This was an exciting project! I never thought I would get the chance to improve on my corporation’s finest prosthetic, and then you walked into my office!” The excitable Rrrr’tk tech fella was down on his foreleg “knees” and examining the foot with some kind of Star Trek scanner while Julian sat on an uncomfortably high examination table—he’d needed to leap up and almost climb the damn thing. Behind him, a pair of Vzk’tk worked at a terminal, apparently doing something with the data being tabulated.

Meanwhile, all he really wanted to do was get the whole process over with without being rude or foolishly hasty—Julian wasn’t too fond of being poked and prodded. It wasn’t so bad, really, but the room felt too…lab-like for his comfort. And he was maybe a little overwhelmed by the situation, because the excitable Rrrr’tk had moved so fast that Julian could barely remember the fella’s name, which in any event sounded kinda like the moment a garbage disposal choked on a ball-bearing and died.

“Look, uh, ‘Kit,’ right?”

“Close enough!”

Julian nodded. “Cool. Look, I know this was a rush order—”

“No problem, we printed it out this morning!”

“…Right. But I’ve had some problems with the old model…”

‘Kit’ made a sound remarkably like if Firth had reached into his chest and shattered his sternum with his bare hands. Laughter, apparently. “The breaking bones? We’ve developed a material that very closely mirrors the real human thing. It’s interesting, because the Domain was trying nearly twenty years ago to make this kind of material, but of course, we didn’t have your species to actually model it on. We manufacture it by impregnating a nanite carbon-calcium-carbon matrix with…”

Julian nodded wearily. ‘Kit’ was one of those smart friendly fellas who had no idea when to stop or when people had checked out on the important details of whatever he was talking about, so he clattered on and on and on about every single little detail about anything that touched on the thing he was focused on. He had an obsessed and manic energy somewhat like Vemik, but with no sense of balance and far too much caffeine; Julian had the impression it wasn’t even species dependent, and he did it in the direction of anyone that he thought might possibly be listening.

“…The same tensile properties, the same amount of flex and give, the same mass, and all of that within a two percent tolerance of a genuine human bone. Much better than the polymer you had before! You should be very satisfied with it. We’ve also redesigned the tendons to withstand the much larger forces you in particular seem capable of generating. I had difficulty believing this Warhorse man about your newfound strength, but…”

The alien gestured across Julian’s sturdy legs with a wobbly sweep of his head. “I can see his point.” Julian snapped back to awareness and grimaced in mild embarrassment.

“…Right. I also gotta worry about how I’m livin’ these days. It’s pretty rugged on Akyawentuo.” Which was an understatement. The old foot had needed weekly care on its padding, and he’d noticed that his real foot was changing shape in response to everything, too. It had widened slightly and his arches were sprung a little higher. It would be…nice, to have matching feet again.

“This new prosthetic is a mirror image of your existing foot based on the scans we took earlier, right down to the callouses you’ve developed, and you’ll note that we included a more durable material on the high-wear contact points so that the skin won’t have to be replaced as often. This prosthetic is mechanically as close to identical to your real foot as our current technology allows and is wholly custom. You’re too far out of the baseline profile for us to give you a mass-produced model anyway, it wouldn’t come close to matching. It’s really been an exciting challenge to work on.”

“…Huh.” Julian rolled the ankle on his new foot. Weird sensation, that. It really felt natural, and he could even feel the tendons pop slightly in just the same way his real foot used to. The only thing that really gave it away, honestly, was the artificial white color and the very thin seam where the skin lined up with the mounting socket just above where his real ankle had been.


“…Hey, is there any chance I can get it in some color other than white?”

“Of course! We can match your natural skin tone—”

“No.” Julian had said that a little too harshly. “Thank you, but no. I don’t want it to look real.”

‘Kit’ took the interruption in stride. “—or give you any range of artificial colors or even a nanoskin so that you can upload designs of your choice,” he finished smoothly. Apparently he was used to handling humans. “For a modest fee, of course.”

…That had potential, actually. “Hang on.” Julian whipped out his phone and sent a quick text to his ‘Misfit Trio’ groupchat to discuss the idea. “Will a nanoskin hurt the durability?”

“No. It’s the same technology used in E-tattoos. Though, I must be honest: we are going to recommend you get this prosthetic examined and possibly replaced quarterly, and that could add up to some expense.”

“Wait. Quarterly?”

“Yes, at least for the first year so we can track with your real foot’s adaptation. If it were an arm or something else that would be one thing. But human feet aren’t like RRrr’tk hooves, they change and grow and that makes them a much more difficult engineering challenge for us to solve. Your natural foot in particular presented a challenge, since it’s larger and much more robust than most males of your species and phenotype.”

“Tell me about it,” Julian grumbled. He’d always been a broad-framed fella, to the point where clothing—and shoes in particular—had been a minor lifelong struggle. He’d also been skinny as hell until he’d grown into a man so shirts and jeans weren’t usually a big problem; he and Grandpa would just hit up the thrift store and buy everything that fit, then they would spend a weekend with a century-old sewing machine, fixing holes and pulling in too-big waistlines. He couldn’t get away with that anymore though, not since Adam had gotten his paws on Julian’s training and showed him the meaning of strength. Everything he wore now came from ‘big and tall’ stores and was three times more expensive than it should have been, and he still found he had to buy a couple sizes too big and then get things tailored.

But shoes had always been a problem, ever since the seventh grade. Grandpa couldn’t afford the bill so Julian had to buy his own. Fortunately there was a boot shop in the nearby little town that could make anything he needed, even sneakers. That came at a price so much of Julian’s pocket money—earned by mowing lawns, selling beavertail, or moving rocks around rich peoples’ front yards, or whatever—got squirreled away in his annual ‘sasquatch fund,’ as grandpa joked.

‘Kit’ seemed to understand. “Every part of this prosthetic has been custom fabricated to match. And in any case you pretty thoroughly destroyed your old prosthetic. It’s somewhat impressive it held together at all. Whoever built it designed it to be rugged, but Humans really do seem to require a different design paradigm.”

‘Kit’ seemed to enjoy repeating himself, but Julian just nodded along as politely as he could manage. The alien fella was friendly but maybe just a bit exasperatingly enthusiastic. The alien continued:

“Your new design is absolutely state of the art and that will require us to monitor things closely. Free of charge, of course. Damage outside of warranty, however…”

“Hmm.” That wasn’t something Julian was anticipating. He’d grown accustomed to more or less ignoring his prosthetic unless it broke and had only agreed to all of this with the promise of something better. Which it was! But now he needed to consider maintenance. Quite a bit of it, maybe. If he’d known that—

No. Julian shook his head at the mere thought of it. No Corti spacemagic, even if Nofl was a stand-up fella by all accounts. Julian just couldn’t.

That left the price. This new bleeding-edge prosthetic was going to set him back about fifty thousand dollars even after his medical insurance picked up most of the cost. That was a fuck of a lot of money, way more that his inner scrooge was happy with. Sure he could afford it nowadays, and that was a luxury he was very grateful for, but…

Just then he’d received a picture message back from Xiù. Instead of words she’d sent a quick doodle. Doodles. Cute little cartoon doodles of Allison’s face, and Xiù, and what was unmistakably Vemik all big-eyed and curious, and Yan in an “angry” snarl, and Singer, and—

A warm smile crept unbidden across his face. “Yeah. Go ahead and do the nanoskin.”

“Excellent. If I may?”

Julian nodded and ‘Kit’ detached the foot with two careful presses, a sharp rotation to the right, and a quick jerk forward. He then unceremoniously sliced the covering off with a fusion scalpel and placed the disturbingly realistic foot innards on a pedestal at the other end of the lab. After he drained it of blood in a biohazard basin. Weird.

“I would like to authorize charges first, Mister Etsicitty.” ‘Kip’ smoothly handed Julian a tablet with an itemized list of charges. He choked a bit; God that was a lot of money.

But, in for a penny…Julian slid his card into the reader and typed his PIN. A short delay, then a ping…and now Julian was damn near sixty thousand dollars lighter in the sock.

The pedestal at the end of lab lit up, levitated his foot, and then somehow flowed a stream of something that seemed to materialize out of nowhere over every surface. It looked like it had the consistency of hot pitch but eventually formed into skin, right down to the pores.

Then it flashed a bunch of colors and patterns in rapid succession.

Then it matched Julian’s natural skintone. Uncanny valley hit hard.

“You can reprogram it however you like, that’s just there as an option.”

“…Great. Thanks.” Julian coughed to himself. “How do I…?”

“Bluetooth! I snuck the electronics in when you weren’t looking.”

“…Right. So, uh…” Julian wasn’t very tech savvy sometimes, but he eventually paired it with his phone, downloaded the app, and sent the little doodles Xiù had drawn to his foot.

Which really, was an idea he’d never imagined he’d be thinking about. And now he had a very disconcerting little gallery of bouncing drawn-heads roaming all over his disturbingly realistic prosthetic foot, crashing off each other and some unseen wall exactly like little ping pong balls.

He giggled at it, and decided to leave it as is.

“Man, wait ‘till the girls get a load of this…”

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Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 14 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Frostal Secondary, New Baltimore Sitting down in the chair across from the Principal’s desk I nervously swallowed and tried to calm my heart. The Principal could probably hear it, and smell my perspiration. Which was only making me more nervous. “Thoomaas,” squeaked the principal from

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Sweetness – Implications

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 25 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Monty Publishing House, New Baltimore Slowly gathering myself I stepped into the hologram chamber, the projection flickered and the simulation automatically paused as I stepped in. I quickly looked around to get my bearings, I appeared to be on a starship bridge enduring greatly exaggerated

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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 Of Race 3 Year 4958 Suburbs, New Baltimore I looked back up at the shopkeeper, the small Human was trying to appear unconcerned. Not that I could really blame ‘him’- glancing over at the human I checked the chest. It was a male, the chest did not protrude and there

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire Sol 77 Of Race 7 Year 4957 PackRat IV, 5 Months out from Halfil I slammed into to deck plating. Coughing, I rolled over onto my side and vomited on the floor, trying to get over the fact that everything was spinning around me. “You know, Humans have perhaps one of the most

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 of Race 3 Year 4958 Athletic Complex, New Baltimore I jumped to the side, dodging the attack. I felt the breeze as the weapon passed my abdomen; it missed me by only a few millimeters. Twirling to the side, I brought my foot up. Reacting with amazing speed, my opponent

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

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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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

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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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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and of the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark. —Psalm 93: 3-4 Date Point: 14Y 3M AV Office of Rabbi Uwriy Walden New

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Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

Bellona 9 Years, 7 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing “We can do it!” Bemusement. Tinner cocked his head from his potion on the foot of her bunk. “We failed during the simulation, and that was with the entire class. How will the two of us complete the simulation alone?” Mary rolled her two eyes

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 4

Date Point: 14Y 2M 1W 5D AV The Thing, Folctha, Cimbrean Sister Naydra It was with some trepidation that Naydra attended a Meeting of Mothers. By all accounts, this was a continuation of a previous Meeting, which wasn’t so unusual—such Meetings were rare and never called for simple reasons that could be easily resolved. What

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Good Training – Survival Part 10

Date point: 14y 9m 2w 1d AV Trail hiking, Lakebeds National Park, west of Foltcha, Cimbrean Hayley Tisdale Julian had been quite firm that he wouldn’t do a sweat lodge or anything like that. She understood, there was some controversy about cultural appropriation and all that nonsense, and Julian seemed like he’d rather not be

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 3

Date Point: 14Y 1M 3W AV HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean Toran and Tybal “Shhh…” “You shhh…. I’m already ssssh’ing.” The two cubs, having crept past the outer fence surrounding the base, slinked in behind a short hedge and remained motionless. It was late enough that the nightly rain had, overall, stopped, but early enough that

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Causal Results – Chapter 5

Ruck, Willinkree Year 3042 Day 35 “No! Let go of me!” shouted [Sil] as she struggled to break the brute’s hold. The class C stared dumbly back at her, glaring at him [Sil] pulled at her bonds and sat down on the ground unable to make them even budge in the large alien’s hands. On

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

Date Point: 14Y 1M AV The Thing, Folctha, Cimbrean A Meeting of Mothers was much like a Conclave of Champions, and it was only coincidence that both terms alliterated nicely in English. Neither was terribly common, and both were typically invoked by their various constituencies to deal with an issue bigger than any one constituent

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

For He will instruct His angels in your behalf, to guard you in all your ways. They will carry you in their hands, lest you hurt your foot on a rock. You will tread upon the lion and the viper; you will trample upon the young lion and the serpent —Psalm 91 Date Point: 14Y

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Good Training – Survival Part 9

Date point: 14y 9m 1d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Meeting of Given-Men Yan Given-Man “When will Jooyun return and take the Rite of Manhood?” Yan mopped some of the sweat from his crest and loosened up his crushing grip on his challengers. “Soon,” he said confidently. “Soon.” Fall was almost

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Causal Results – Chapter 4

Species C543 System 4 Years 2 months 23 days Before C1764 FTL Jump “Ma’am.” [Sil] tried to turn away from the noise and tried to remain in the blissful realm of unconsciousness. “Ma’am!” [Sil] forced her eyes open and let out a low groan of pain. [Fred] was next to her on the ground, her

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Good Training – Survival Part 8

Date point: 14y 9m 1d AV Total Combat Fitness, southwest Folctha, Cimbrean Mid-morning Dr. Marc Tisdale Marc was, at heart, a gentle man. He had love for most everyone he met and refused to hold anger for anyone or anything unless they had truly, irrevocably earned it. That said, he was still a man and

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Causal Results – Chapter 3

Species C543 System 4 Years 2 months 27 days Before C1764 FTL Jump [Sil] looked at the controls for the pod and slowly shook her head, “This is not good.” [Fred] only able to operate because of the minimal effort needed to move around in zero-g drifted forwards, “I would agree, but what is the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 5

Date Point: 16y3m1w Memorial Concourse, Old Commune of the Clan of Females, City of Wi Kao, Planet Gao Mother Shoua There were days when Shoua missed the old commune, at the other end of the city. The new commune was larger, more modern and much more secure of course but… …But the old one had

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

Date Point: 16y3m1w Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Ramsey Buehler Ramsey didn’t think he’d ever get used to being one of the cool kids at school. Actually, just going to school was kinda weird after all the home schooling he and Tristan had had back on Earth, but whenever he and his brother had got

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Henosis – Chapter 4

“Hey, that’s my suit!” A naked Gaoian fell on the Hunter from the tree above, landing on the sextupedal predator’s back. The impact was enough to stagger the creature, and Keegi was nearly thrown off. The claws of one paw extended, sinking into the Hunter’s glossy flesh as he held on as hard as he

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

Date Point: 16y3m6d HMS Sharman (HMNB Folctha), Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Technical Sergeant Adam “Warhorse” Arés “Firth, I gotta ask ‘ya something.” Per Colonel Powell’s standing orders, they had the rest of the day off for individual training time after a mission. Adam always took maximum advantage, but some of the other operators might use

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Causal Results – Chapter 2

First Landing Earth, Florida, Launch pad 39A April 12, 2033 “Ignition Sequence start, five, four, three, two, one, lift off!” The crowds several miles away from the historic launch pad watched as the craft slowly began to move up into the atmosphere. Almost an homage to the craft that had taken Humans to the moon

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Henosis – Chapter 3

Virtrew had been relaxing in the starboard docking array. He’d been feeling inspired and creative for the past ten-day… it was too late to alter the structure of the current station, but he had ideas for the next. He was off-shift, so he’d picked up his data tablet, a bowl full of Vzk’tk salad, and

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 2

Date Point: 16y3m6d η Ithacae, 94.9° 12-GERBER-UNARY G2V III, “Heafield” Technical Sergeant Adam “Warhorse” Arés Every now and then, Adam had a day where every little thing went so well and he found himself firing on all cylinders so perfectly, he could feel right in his big ol’ slab of a chest that exact same

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 1

Date Point: 16y3m5d AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1772 ++0010++: Proximal’s continued absence is a source of concern, and investigating has been forced to take a low priority by other operations. His last known activity was in an Irujzen-1-adjacent sub-lucid volume. ++0004++: Irujzen? Why was he all the way out there? That’s a backwater! ++0022++:

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Henosis – Chapter 2

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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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 5

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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Henosis – Chapter 1

[2yr 1m AV] Trrkitzzkt L’tr’brtrk’tr quietly filed away the video files of the interviews he’d completed, queuing a copy to be sent via the station’s normal data exchange to his personal archive, in addition to the backup copy he kept on his personal data tablet. Both were encrypted with the strongest algorithms the investigator had

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Causal Results – Chapter 1

Dorvakian Home World 4 Years 3 months 8 days Before C1764 FTL Jump Looking across the grounds for several moment’s Silnersalkara tapped the table in front of her. The data controls embedded in the device quickly shut off and the hologram above its surface died. “Kermarcus, I’m aware of the situation. The opposition’s been attempting

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

Date Point: 16y3m AV Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Yan Given-Man “I like these Core-tie.” “You do? Why the change of heart?” When the ‘del-a-gay-shun’ had returned, there was of course much eagerness to learn the news. Yan was very happy to tell everyone they would be getting vack-seens from the Core-tie as

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Good Training – Survival Part 6

Date point: 14y 8m AV Residence of the Great Father of the Gao, Folctha, Cimbrean Sister Naydra The months on Cimbrean had been…therapeutic. She found herse lf greatly appreciating the Female presence on the Human’s first colony world, and everything it stood for: stability, acceptance. Survival. The Humans had done so much to support the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

Date Point: 16y3m AV USS Robert A. Heinlein, Akyawentuo Orbit, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Third Director Tran Some of the other Directors had expressed reservations when Tran had informed them he was taking Nofl along to the meeting with the Ten’Gewek. He’d invested some of their trust and patience by reassuring them that

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m3w AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1722 ++0008++: In summary, the infiltration of Sol means the operation was a success, though not an unqualified one. We have four Injunctors on Earth, and a further two in the outer system, but the new Arutech biodrones appear to be an abject failure. The Cimbrean infiltration

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Rising Titans – Chapter 51 (End)

9 Years, 7 Months, 2 Days After Eridani Landing Chront Leaning down and putting her head to the table Stagg yawned. “Try the tea,” repeated Derrick sounding just as exhausted as she felt. The Captain turned to look at the engineer and then at the small pot on the table. “I did. Taste’s like mold.”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m3w AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao “Hey, this ain’t a bad little house at all!!” Daar followed in behind Gorku, who was carrying a completely exhausted Leemu on his back and had to mind his steps. “Humans know how to build houses arright,” he agreed. “Maybe

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m2w1d AV Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Vemik Sky-Thinker One of the Human archaeologists was a metallurgist. Tilly was a strange and delicate name that didn’t suit her at all, Vemik thought. She had a sharp face full of metal piercings, skin full of bright pictures, and a half-shaven crest of

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Good Training – Survival Part 5

Date point: 14y 2m 3w 4d AV SOR barracks, HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Meanwhile… Brother Faarek (Southpaw) of Clan Whitecrest–SOR “Are you sure you want to do this, Brother?” “Yes,” Thurrsto said with absolute conviction. “She’s the most beautiful Female I’ve ever seen and she’s hurting. I can’t bear doing nothing.” Faarek

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 5

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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Rising Titans – Chapter 50

+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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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 4

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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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 3

Date Point: 16y2m1w5d AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon-Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Ava Ríos “You ever rode a helicopter before, Ava?” Ava jumped, and looked away from the window. She’d been enjoying the view. It was her first trip to Alaska, and the thing that struck her as she’d watched the landscape rolling by

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m1w2d AV Gaoian embassy, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao There was shit to catch up with. Stuff to read, stuff to make decisions on, stuff to be briefed on in case he had to make a decision later… At first Daar did his best to

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Good Training – Survival Part 4

Date point: 14y 2m 1w AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Singer “So, if we salt the roots in boiling water with some herbs, and use a very tight…what was the word?” [“Jar,”] Julian said encouragingly. “—And then we boil the whole jar with the lid on loose, so the bad spirits

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Rising Titans – Chapter 49

+10 Minutes The Singer [Vann] stood in the center of the bridge the three-dimensional hologram showing the entirety of his fleet as well as the surrounding space. The cubic formation was going to be tested now, up to this point the only gauge of effectiveness was how [Charles] had reacted to it in simulations. He

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 1

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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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m4d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Julian Etsicitty Daar caught up with them about an hour after Xiù called ahead to let them know he was coming. A lot had happened in that hour. Yan had laid out his bibtaws in a kind of scent lure, some distance out

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m3d AV Gaoian embassy, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao People who didn’t know Daar all that well thought he had a pathological aversion to Civilized pursuits. Not true at all! Daar had always enjoyed history, writing, and the more subtle arts of courtship, and he

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 4

Date point: 16y2m3d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Daniel “Chimp” Hoeff Julian had a habit of singing in the woods. Not loud, exactly, and Hoeff wasn’t even sure he was totally conscious he was doing it, but loud enough to hear. Apparently it kept critters from blundering into them that might

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Rising Titans – Chapter 48

+ 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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Good Training – Survival Part 3

Date point: 14y 1m 2w AV “Clan Young Glory,” western unincorporated territories, Gao Sister Naydra Naydra and her fellow Sisters were slowly dying. The “Clan” that had “liberated” them from the clutches of what they now knew were biodrones had decided their honored guests needed “protection.” Their so-called protection consisted of imprisonment. Their “protection fees”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 3

Date point: 16y2m3d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Professor Daniel Hurt “What exactly did he say he’s fetching, anyway?” “An M107.” Daniel frowned. Although he’d learned more about firearms in general over the past few years than he’d ever imagined he would, there were times that the people who really “got”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m1d AV Chiune Station, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler Allison hadn’t slept well in a couple of nights. It wasn’t that she begrudged Julian and Xiù going offworld, not at all, but it did disrupt the sense of familiarity that made home, well… Home. If she didn’t have her brothers to

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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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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 1

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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Good Training – Survival Part 2

Date point: 14y 7d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Later that day Julian Etsicitty It was approaching mid-day and the day’s morning work had been taken care of. The scouts had come back and reported that the nearby werne had just calved and would need to be left alone for a

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao “Poor bugger hardly knew which way is up…” Powell grunted, once Wagner was gone. “Who can blame him? His whole crew going violently psychotic on him with no warning, only to be stasis-hopped right into a Corti’s lab being sniffed

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Rising Titans – Chapter 46

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

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Julian Etsicitty The house was a mess when Julian got back, which was rare. Nobody in their household was naturally untidy—living on Misfit had driven Allison, Xiù and himself into an ingrained habit of orderliness, and the boys had lived in fear of their father’s belt

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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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Rising Titans – Chapter 45

-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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Good Training – April Fool’s

13y 3m 29d AV One-Fang workhouse, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Sergeant Regaari (Dexter) of Clan SOR One of the best things about the humans was that they had a springtime holiday dedicated to mischief. Before them, only the Gao could claim to celebrate such a thing and it was one of the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m AV Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Nofl Nofl’s lab was spacious, but inevitably finite. When it contained an alarming number of alarmed Humans, not to mention one particularly sculpted canine and a Gaoian brownie who was doing his best not to loom at everyone… well, there were times when Nofl

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler After a lifetime of helicopter parenting, Tristan and Ramsey seemed addicted to every opportunity they could find to do something their mother would have scooted them away from. And who could blame them? Amanda had never managed to get her head around the idea

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Rising Titans – Chapter 44

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

13y, 8m AV Operator’s Barracks, HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean Officer Regaari (Dexter) of Clan Whitecrest “I got an idea, Regaari.” Regaari flicked his ears forward in annoyance. “This again?” “Well, yeah. I gotta win that bet, Cousin!” Regaari duck-nodded wearily. Not long after Daar had received the SACRED STRANGER briefing, he’d sulked off to think

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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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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 4

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

9 Years, 6 Months, 15 Days After Eridani Landing The [Singer] The explosion hit and [Vann] watched at the lights on the main hologram and different panels flashed a blinding white light, before dying and plunging the entire bridge of the [Singer] into darkness. “What were we supposed to do?” asked someone near the weapons

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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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