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 an alarm would wake them. He held the ladies steady and wormed his way out of the pile gently as could be, then picked them both up like they were the most precious cargo in the world. In a way they were; Firth loved the fairer sex more than anything besides maybe his bros on the team. And both the ladies were asleep: perfect, content, and innocent.

Sleep was beautiful and Firth weren’t gonna take that away from nobody. So with the smoothest motion he could muster, he stood up and padded over to the guest bedroom on bent legs and giant feet placed with infinite care exactly like he were stalking a deer back home in Kentucky. He was quieter than a field mouse and the ladies didn’t stir at all. Murray would’ve been proud! It was the little things that made Firth happy, and doting on people who deserved it was one of his quiet little joys and he indulged every chance he got. He glowed inside, happy as a fat puppy, then set them down on the bed and turned on the room’s biofilter isolation just to be sure. With Gaoians it was prob’ly overkill but one couldn’t be too careful; ain’t nobody wanted a sick, miserable cub.

Mastering a trick was another of his pleasures. He’d lately been practicing his quiet movement with Highland and picked up some nifty little techniques. Firth weren’t a perfect natural like Murray; the big Scot just did it automatically, everywhere, always, and without any effort, while Firth hadta concentrate all careful-like. And being way more than triple Highland’s weight didn’t help none, really. But when Firth really tried he was pretty much perfectly quiet. And really, who wanted a walking disaster like Firth sneaking up on ‘em? The tactical possibilities…he shook his head and returned to happier thoughts.

With equal care and concern he stalked out of the room without so much as wobbling the floor; at his steel-bending mass, that was an impressive feat. He closed the door with the quietest click and flowed over to the fridge for a late night snack, then returned to the couch where Regaari was wide awake.

“Thank you.” He duck-nodded in consideration. “I was dreading the return trip.”

Firth nodded and shared his snackage. Kale chips weren’t something Firth ever thought he’d like, but hey! Crunchy and salty was always good.

“No prob, bro. I can sleep anywhere.” He grumbled it as quietly as he could even though the guest bedroom was soundproofed. Not that it mattered. Firth had a voice that carried whether he wanted it to or not.

Regaari munched a few chips thoughtfully. “You know, I couldn’t hear you move at all and I didn’t feel you untangle yourself from the couch.” He gestured at his oversized friends. “The only thing that alerted me was your billowing smell.”

Firth tilted his head curiously and looked Regaari dead in the eyes. “Wait, really? Even with your ears? Just my scent?”

Regaari squirmed a bit when Firth made eye contact. He’d always had that effect on everyone except Adam, the Major, and ‘pa. It took him years to really understand why; he was big and scary but he made a point to make direct eye contact with everyone, and hell, having a set of piercing grey eyes didn’t help neither. It weren’t like he could turn those off. But he was raised to deal with everyone face-to-face and he weren’t about to change now. It was about respect, and Firth was a man who needed to respect the people he loved.

Firth loved Regaari. It was love well earned, too. Regaari understood the meaning and met Firth’s gaze as a brother should.

“Yes. I never thought I would see someone so large and dangerous move so undetectably.” He chittered bitterly, “But you’re human so of course you can.”

Hmm. Firth didn’t like that. Maybe a bit of humor? That was always his go-to. “Well, I’m still stinky as shit, bro. Ain’t anything gonna ever change that.”

“Maybe shower more?” A smile, but it was…weak.

Well, shit. It seemed it was time for Papa Firth to hold a counseling session.

He eased himself onto the floor and sat Indian style. Firth figgered out when he was just a boy—he was stupid big and strong even then—that he scared people less when he was cross-legged on the floor. How that changed things he didn’t know but he weren’t one to question the little magics of life. Scared people don’t talk. They defend themselves in all sorts of little ways so now and then it was best to be as un-scary as a man could. He grabbed a pillow and placed it on the floor next to him and gestured at it with his oversized mitt.

“Bro, something eatin’ at ‘ya?”

Regaari hesitated, than sat down next to Firth. The big man sighed happily.

“The usual. It’s just…” He gathered for a moment, “Look at us. Look at everything we’ve accomplished as Clan SOR. Impressive, isn’t it?”

“Best partnership in our history, I reckon. Best alliance in the galaxy.”

“Burgeoning alliance, but still. I won’t deny that. We’ve both benefitted immensely from this exchange. This joint mission unit will be perfect for what we know is coming, and yet…”

He’s dancing. “Just say it bro, I won’t judge. You already know what I am.” Regaari was the only Gaoian that Firth had ever really opened up to and by that point there weren’t many secrets between the two. Regaari knew about as much as Arés and Blaczynski did about Firth’s heart, both good and bad.

That seemed to sober the little warrior up. “Right. What are we to you?”

Firth tilted his head again and blinked. “Well, you’re one of my best friends and a battle brother I trust with my life, and you’ve already saved it multiple times.”

“No, not me. Us. My Brothers, my people. Where are we to you?”

Firth was genuinely non-plussed. “…Isn’t that obvious?”

“No, it really isn’t. What do you get from us? I mean, sure,” Regaari gestured wildly, “There’s this knowledge exchange. I see that, very useful. But now JETS is finally spinning up and you’ve no shortage of humans to fill the roles. What does my kind actually offer you? Long term, I mean.”

Firth frowned a bit. “Well, Daar’s a good example, actually. He’s bar none the strongest guy on the one JETS team we have. Hell, these days he makes Walsh look like a little girl and the big bastard can carry so much stuff, and he don’t need much more food to do it, neither. For those bros, carrying capacity is really goddamn important. Each resupply mission is a chance at detection, yeah? Daar’s strength gives them another two weeks before they gotta risk it. That matters a lot, man. Only Daar can give them that.”

Regaari nodded but countered. “This is true, but fourpaw movement has lots of disadvantages. He relies on the team more because their hands are usually free. Then there’s the robustness problem; being primary quadrupeds makes us more gracile. You know this, it’s been a major theme in our discussions. Even for someone like Daar it matters. I mean, he’s tough by any reasonable standard—even your own—but he’s no Deathworlder. Rebar could break him. You could dismember Daar as casually as a hunter would eat a Dizi rat.”

Firth nodded. “So? That’s my job. Killing is the thing I’m best at. There ain’t nobody I can’t tear apart in a heartbeat, everyone on the team included. And you’re overplaying the downsides as usual. I mean, sure, Daar’s ribcage is vulnerable, yeah? We found that out when I broke him a while back with a wild backhand. But that also makes him faster than a fuckin’ deer, dude.”

Regaari raised an eyebrow so Firth elaborated. “No, really! Didn’t he tell you this story? When I took him hunting in Kentucky, on break from his engineering courses? I offered and he tagged along and damn he’s good. Me? I hadta use tools and ambush. Not Daar, he didn’t need none o’ that. He just chased the damn thing and bit its throat! No muss, no fuss, hell, hardly any mess! All he did was crush its trachea and wait for its brain to starve. He gave it a respectful, quick and prol’ly mostly painless death. No slow bleed-out agony like an arrow or rifle shot can cause. And it was clean, no blood to lure scavengers…it was a beautiful kill. It’s hard to hunt and not cause at least a little suffering but Daar managed that just on instinct and natural ability. I respect the fuck outta that. No human can do that without gettin’ real clever, bro. And that ain’t all he’s got going, he’s got lotsa things we don’t, like a decent nose, claws, teeth—”

“All things you have,” snapped Regaari, “Or can replace with other tools and do so with superior alternatives. A knife is better than any claw. They’re tougher, sharper, and can be thrown. Teeth are a very dangerous weapon to wield because you must close very intimately with your enemy. A nose can be replaced with snoopers and a decent hyper-spectral camera. And to be bluntly honest? I’ve seen you and Sikes hunting out in the local scrub. I don’t think your nose is nearly as bad as you seem to think it is. Then there’s your color vision, your magical sense of touch, your endurance, your climate tolerance…”

Regaari trailed off and Firth grumbled in annoyance. This again.

“Nah bro, that ain’t the same as having natural tools and you know it. All that other crap is just more stuff you gotta carry. But swiveling ears and a nose? Those’re the most useful goddamn things ever. We’re pretty sure JETS won’t work as good without ‘em, man. It’s part o’ why we’re spendin’ so much money on lightweight gear ‘cuz there just ain’t enough bigass Stonebacks t’spare. Some of ‘em are really fuckin’ impressive too, even if they ain’t nearly as good as Daar. Lessen the load, lighten the gear…and we still gain a lot of the advantages a guy like Daar brings. Do you honestly think we’re so dumb we’d waste this much time and money on something that weren’t worth it?”

Regaari said nothing.

Firth sighed, “What’s really botherin’ you? We’ve gone round and round on this whole ‘complimentar y team’ thing Stainless drones on about. I think he’s right. We all do. If we didn’t value you, you wouldn’t even be here!”

Regaari growled and countered. “As what? There isn’t a Gaoian alive who isn’t outclassed by you or the rest. The gap is so wide we won’t ever match you.” His voice grew louder. “And it’s not just physical, either. On this team you have men who are maybe more intelligent than any Gaoian alive. Baseball is so Father-damned smart he might be better than any Gaoian who has ever lived. I’ve seen the tests, don’t try and bullshit me. And what’s worse, he’s handily outclassed by members of your species! Kovač for example!”

Firth listened, silently. Regaari built a head of steam and plowed on.

“And that’s not all! Take you for example. How do I compare? You’re friendlier, more accepting, more creative, smarter, faster, bigger, stronger, tougher, more enduring, more dexterous, more adaptable…and now you have stealth ninja abilities too! All you had to do was practice a little bit and now I’d be hard-pressed to notice a literal car’s worth of muscle and death sneaking up on me!”

Firth wanted to contest most of those points pretty bad—smarter? *Bullshit!*—but life had long taught him the power of just listening. So he did, still silent.

But Regaari was pretty much done anyway. He slumped, suddenly drained. “What’s the point? We’re ‘second fiddle’ as you’d say. Just one of the many colorful analogies we’ve adopted because yours are so much better than ours. Do you know how radically Gaoian speech has shifted?”

Firth didn’t have anything to say, so he just grabbed at his feet and leaned forward, still listening keenly. Sometimes that was the best thing to do.

“Yeah.” Regaari looked down at the floor. “We were the best in the galaxy. We’d always been the best, right from the beginning of our known history. When we finally hit the galactic scene it was just more confirmation of the obvious. It all lay before us, waiting to be taken, ready for our stewardship.”

“And then we showed up.” Now things were gettin’ clear.

Regaari duck-nodded furiously. “Do you know what that’s like? To be the best there was, the top of the pile? Then to be soundly humiliated by an infant race who is better than your own in every single conceivable way besides maybe gathered wisdom? And who had the gall to be confused by it all, as if they had always known the bottom tier of existence? Do you know what your arrival has done to us? Can you understand?”

Time to stop this. Firth looked him dead in the eye. “Yup. Every bit of it.”


“I mean it. ‘Cuz that right there? I’m livin’ it right now.” He gestured to Warhorse. “Wanna hear a story?”

Regaari crossed his arms and looked over at Warhorse who was fast asleep on the couch. His tattoo was animating across his bunched-up chest, fuzzily visible under the short, heavy black hair which covered it. The tattoo could sense the big man’s orientation and draw appropriate scenes: at that moment, a tribute to the team. Along the natural “bottom” of his pecs was a brick wall and little cartoon characters of each team member were climbing it, something Sikes had personally illustrated and animated.

The team got together to do the display as a birthday present to Arés, and he was so happy with it he bear-hugged everyone in twos and threes with enough force to kill a normal man. Each character moved with an exaggerated and organic style that was instantly identifiable and all the characters had pre-programmed comical interactions with each other.

Regaari’s icon had the easiest time climbing the wall. It would playfully swipe at a few icons that periodically floated by on wings which were there at Adam’s insistence. Firth gave full credit to Regaari; he hadn’t known the men for more than a few hours but he could instantly tell which icon was which.

Which made the whole mess just so much worse. Regaari was much better than he seemed capable of understanding and it made Firth’s heart ache to see his friend wallow in self-doubt. Well, that and the winged icons. Those bummed Firth out, too. Such a simple piece of art, and really expressive. It was a masterpiece in its own way.

No matter. Regaari looked back at Firth, made eye contact with his frighteningly intense grey eyes, and Challenged.

“Tell me your story.”

Major Powell’s home, HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean
Late evening

Major Owen (Stainless) Powell

Like most of his men, Powell had signed a full commitment to SOR and taken advantage of the Homesteading money provided by their home governments. His body and mind were altered forever and his youth was slowly returning to him, so why not? He loved the Lads absolutely and the work was, in no uncertain terms, vital to the future of the human race. Very few were so blessed with purpose and means; it was a mission he’d never walk away from.

And so he’d Homesteaded and built for himself a nice, sprawling, single-story rambler, complete with a well-stocked library and conveniently located close to base. His home was on Persephone Lane, in his opinion one of the most desirable plots in Folctha. It was located well across a wide field from the Lad’s apartments which were built on the loud, busy and increasingly young-man oriented Demeter Way. It was no coincidence he had built close to the Lads, but not too close; they shared ownership and stewardship of the huge green-space behind their properties by a corporate agreement, and there was some small upkeep required, but other than that he had avoided any deep legal entanglement. Let the Lads live their own lives, he’d said to himself.

Which was not necessarily an easy decision; the Lads had built themselves a remarkably lucrative collection of properties with their homesteading money and were only just moving in permanently. They’d all agreed the barracks would be used for the on-call teams and the Cherries as they wound their way through training, and so they all lived near each other in well-appointed apartments, with Arés their “chief slumlord.” He was of course anything but and very much wanted to share the wealth with Powell—a point on which the Lads all heartily agreed—but he (with a small twinge of regret, perhaps) had declined. It wouldn’t do to entangle himself with his men’s private affairs. Legal or not, something about the idea seemed…improper. He needed some affectionate-yet-aloof distance if he was to command such epic heroes of humanity.

But there was no stopping their intrinsic Americanness, no matter how charming or annoying it may be. They threw a housewarming party, found any excuse they could to show up with charcoal and meat for his fire pit and visited occasionally to socialize in ways Powell could not easily refuse. The Lads had also taken to construction as a form of light training (and as a cost-saving measure) and Powell’s house was no exception. The well-appointed private gym on which Arés insisted—and for which Powell was grateful—was a collective gift, making it difficult to decline. It was both compact and astoundingly functional. A good job they’d not built a cellar; there was so much weight piled up in the little gym, Powell would have been endlessly worried about the subfloor.

All of these things floated through his mind as hazy, not-thought musings while he repeatedly pressed the weight on the bar. It was his tenth high-rep set at well over a quarter ton of plates and spring steel, a weight which in most super-heavyweight bench press competitions would be a winning lift. It wasn’t record-shattering by any means; for beings like Walsh or Daar, it was definitely on the “light” side and both could press considerably more. But Powell wasn’t training his maximum lift. After all, he wasn’t as strong or massive as those two and was unlikely to ever match them.

But he didn’t mind. He had far more endurance. Walsh would struggle to complete even one circuit in Powell’s workout before his muscles screamed in agony and Daar would have it even worse. But to Powell, the weight made for pleasantly strenuous volume work and served to stretch his muscles, warm his body, and help his mind blank in something akin to meditation. The Beef Trio had turned him onto the idea; there was definitely something to it. Focused and repetitive activity could clear away the day like little else.

Of course to Firth or Burgess, Powell’s pitiful little weight barely qualified as a first-lift warmup. The weights those two could move were mind-boggling. Arés? He didn’t bother with such a puny mass in any lift, even bicep curls. What he could do was…best not said in unprepared company.

Powell was about to move onto another lift, warmed up, pumped up, and feeling pleasantly energetic, when the videophone rang with its extra-special angry tone, the one reserved for high-priority calls. He racked the barbell, thumped over in his state of undress and answered the phone, unable to conceal his annoyance at having his groove interrupted.


One of the base long-range communications operators was on the other end. She seemed distracted for a moment but recovered quickly. “Oh! Uh, priority call from Admiral Knight, sir.”

Damn. “Arright, put him through.”

“Yes sir.” She lingered for slightly longer than warranted, then disconnected. Powell managed not to notice.

The screen blinked. As ever, Admiral Knight looked alert, bright-eyed and impeccably groomed with a cup of Earl Grey in hand. Did the man ever let himself go? Or sleep? Powell wiped the copious sweat from his face and nodded in salute. “Sir. What can I do for you?”

“Oh…apologies major, but this cannot wait. General Tremblay’s men have received tipoff that there’s a maintenance window opening in the Hierarchy’s systems. We have a very narrow window of opportunity. If we move quickly we can make contact before there’s any possibility the Hierarchy would notice.”

Generally speaking, major Powell was not a fan of late-night decision-making, especially when it was a long weekend and things had finally calmed down enough to permit some badly-needed unit R&R.

But this was fookin’ Important.

He raised his eyebrow and checked his light green field notebook off-screen. “Aye, we can move quickly, sir. How much time do we ‘ave?”

“This weekend, certainly, but please make sure everyone remains available. That Daar fellow, too. Some of the equipment will be heavy.”

Powell sighed with mirthless humor. “It always is, Sir. Us lowly grunts are used to it. And anyway I’ve asked Daar to stick around just in case. He agreed.”

Knight smiled graciously, as always. “Good man, major. I worried about asking, well, a prince of the Gao to be on our teams but you’ve managed it beautifully.”

“Chalk it up to Champion Daar, Sir. He don’t stand on pretense.”

“Quite. Let your men have their weekend, but spread the word. We need to get to business first thing Monday and we have no room for delays. The next maintenance cycle won’t open for another month.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Carry on.”

The call ended. Powell sighed again, looked at his gym, pondered for a moment, then sent out a text message to his staff to run the recall roster for pre-deployment. And make sure they enjoy their weekend, he noted.

That done, he re-gathered himself and continued his workout.

Christian (Righteous) Firth

“Lemme tell you a story about a boy named Christian and what happened when he met a man named Adam.”

Warhorse grunted over on the couch and stretched, then groggily opened his eyes and looked about. Firth noticed. He had seen Warhorse sleep right through a loud action movie and wake up only when his name was called, and that seemed to be what happened right then.

He stood up to tend to ‘Horse. “Bro, you want some somethin’ to drink?”

“Nnn…I’ll get it.” ‘Horse yawned and detangled himself without any of the care Firth had shown. Baseball stirred, gathered his wits, and followed Warhorse.

“Guess the whole party’s up. Oh well. Anyway, story. It starts when I was really young, right? I guess I was what you might call a prodigy. Puberty slammed me over the head when I was ten and by the time I was thirteen I was the biggest and strongest dude I’d ever met outside my family. I played all the sports I could. I was the fuckin’ best and I was so good at wrasslin’ and football I hadta quit. The first ‘cuz I got way too big and couldn’t make weight, and the second ‘cuz they was afraid I’d kill someone without meanin’ to.”

“I believe it,” said Baseball as he returned with a glass of warm milk. “I remember when you showed us pictures and stuff. Scary, man.”

“Heh. So the thing about puberty with us humans? That’s kinda when we really start thinking and noticing stuff. Was for me, anyway, and that’s when I really figgered out I was top dog. ‘Pa was bigger and meaner but he loved me and I loved him, and I knew I’d beat him too, one day. Jus’ the natural order of it.

“Anyhoo, I had so much natural strength and energy it musta driven everyone crazy! I’d do farm work in the morning, run five miles to school and take as much gym and sports as I possibly could, do martial arts classes in town, run five miles back, do more chores, then lift, punch and kick the bag until it was dark. I did that every day except Sunday since I was twelve.”

“Every single day?” Baseball chugged his milk in one big gulp, then settled back on the couch with ‘Horse.

“Yup. Only way to work my aggression out during the week. Later on I’d start dating girls…and maybe gettin’ into too many fights…but nothing big.” He gestured at his face, “I was a lot more handsomer when I was young, heh. But so many guys’ve beat my mug in over the years it’s all lumpen now.”

“Why were they fighting you?” Regaari curled up on the cushion and stretched out, paying rapt attention.

“Y’know, I kinda think it’s the same reason Daar gets into so many. Male jealousy. I mean, I almost never started any fights—sensei woulda beat m’skull in then ‘pa woulda straight murdered me—but I dunno. Guys with somethin’ to prove? But that’s pretty much my point. I was absolutely cock of the walk since before I was a teenager and I’ve always known girls were the best thing ever. That sorta showed, I guess, made me a target. Anyway the boys may’ve been a lot older than me but they didn’t care. They beat me ugly but I broke their bodies and the girls just kept coming. Oh, and here’s the important part: when I was thirteen I already knew that what I wanted ‘ta be I was the meanest sumbitch there was, so I fixated on CCT or something ‘badass’ really early on.”

He paused and reached for the water that ‘Horse had set on the table. “Thanks bro! Anyway, by the end of middle school I sorta dedicated my life to being the biggest, baddest bastard ever. Like I said I couldn’t play group sports and I was at that point so heavy I couldn’t even wrassle varsity for the high school. So I did my own thing. Hunted in the woods, dated all the girls, learned to fight, life was a fuckin’ blast. I did pretty good in school, too, but that was mostly so I’d finish up before I was seventeen so I could get the fuck on with it, right?

“Fast forward a bunch. At seventeen I was so fuckin’ diesel they had to waiver me for height and weight to even enlist, waiver me again for CCT, and they put me through so many fuckin’ tests I swear they musta cloned me in a lab or somethin’ stupid. I even hadta sign an affidavit swearing I weren’t taking any steroids or nothin’! Know what that does to an ego? Felt fuckin’ awesome man! I was such a fuckin’ specimen the doctors didn’t believe their own tests!”

‘Horse and ‘Base chuckled and rolled their eyes. Whatever. Firth loved spinnin’ yarns, especially when he could brag and teach. That bit came next.

“And things just got better at basic, too. When I got there I was the biggest hoss they’d ever had by a longshot and I smashed every single training record they had. Did it easy, too. The TIs flat couldn’t smoke me with PT and man, did they ever try. I graduated with honors, totally fuckin’ hyped on myself. Who wouldn’t be? I was the best at literally everything I’d ever tried. Well, at least anything I cared about. That came back to haunt me, too. We’ll get to that.

“So I graduate, see ‘ma and ‘pa and my brothers in the stands all fuckin’ proud of me hulkin’ outta my uniform. They hadta order my uniforms ahead of time ‘cuz I was bigger than even the special sizes and they still fucked it up! But I didn’t mind. I was the baddest motherfucker on the field and everyone knew it. Then I got to CCT indoc and won it all again. The classwork was really hard but I’m pretty fuckin’ smart so I kicked ass there, too. I made it through without any washbacks, got out into the teams, did my thing, made a name for myself…life was fuckin’ good and I could claim to be the best of the fuckin’ best.”

He chuckled and shook his head. “And then I met these two motherfuckers.” He gestured at ‘Base and ‘Horse. ‘Base grinned big and cheesy while ‘Horse smiled with an embarrassed pride. “And ‘Horse, in particular. And for the first time in my entire life, outside of church and God?”

He looked at ‘Horse, who squirmed a bit in embarrassment. “I was humbled.”

Staff Sergeant Timothy (Tiny) Walsh

“Should we let Daar and Hoeff do this?”

“Oh, lay offa him, Walsh. Daar’s a big boy and can fuck up on his own. ‘Sides, you can’t tell me you don’t wanna see those two clown it up!”

“Heh, yeah, you’re right.” Walsh grinned ruefully, “I really am overprotective of him, aren’t I?”

“Mhmm. I get it, though. He’s hard not to like. And as the guy ostensibly in charge of this little team,” he gave a dark little chuckle, “I gotta say I’m sorta the same way with y’all. Too bad y’don’t wag your tails when you’re happy.”


The two attended to their costumes in silence while Daar and Hoeff prepared. It would be a lot of work. Daar pranced about his daily life resplendent in his full pelt, long and tangled and glorious, which he had grown out to guard against the cold wetness of Messier. And being easily the “most biggest thing” on the team…it was a lot of fur on a whole lot of Gaoian to sort out. Meanwhile, Hoeff was a hairy little blond Texan of germanic descent. Shaving down for the sake of a costume was gonna take work, even with Daar’s help.

Coombe’s comment had prompted some introspection on Walsh’s part as the clever team leader’s words so often did. He shucked off his street clothes and paused before the mirror, observing himself and thinking.

Suddenly: “Why am I so protective of him?”

“Well, I mean, that’s kinda obvious ain’t it?”


“You’re each other’s pets, man. You were since you two first met in that field exercise. Remember when you scratched the mud out of his fur? And then later he massaged out that kink in your shoulder?”

“…y’know, now that you mention it, it’s weird how that didn’t seem weird.”

“Well, no shit!” Coombes chuckled, “You two are like litter-mates, man.”

“I’m not sure I like that phrasing,” said Walsh warily.

“You ain’t gotta, but it’s still true.”

“I…guess? But there’s gotta be a better way to put it,” objected Walsh, “I like the guy an’ I don’t wanna, like, demean him or anything.”

“Dude.” Coombes walked over and put a hand on Walsh’s big shoulder. “DUDE. Daar is the kinda guy who would embarrass himself just because a friend asked nicely. Really,” he chuckled, “I don’t think Tiggs cares much.”

“Well maybe he should! And doesn’t it bother you that he’d agree to almost anything we ask? Like, shouldn’t we be more responsible?”

Coombes’ face hardened a bit. “Daar ain’t a dog, Walsh. He’s his own man.”

“…Fuck.” Walsh rubbed his hand over his face and sighed. “But that’s the thing! He’s bringing out the dog lover in me ‘cuz he is so dog-like! I mean, he makes a lot of the same sounds, has a lot of the same tics, he wags his tail…”

“And got the equivalent of an A in calculus, as I recall. He’s proud of that one.”

“Yeah, well, I got an A+, so…point taken, though.” Walsh shook his head. “Man. Did ‘ya ever think we’d be worrying about how not-dog-like a race of talking dogs is? Except they’re not?”

“Not talking dogs? Or not dog-like?”


“Heh. No, I ’spose I didn’t. Now quit looking at ‘yer pretty self and put your fuckin’ costume on. The night awaits and I’m gonna get krunked!”

Walsh chuckled, flexed and mugged ridiculously for himself in the mirror, and set about donning his costume. A task trickier than one may suspect. Walsh, after all, had once been an accepted candidate for SOR and had only grown since then. He was legitimately huge and had many of the same clothing problems Powell, Murray, or even Sikes had. His sartorial difficulties weren’t nearly as bad though; huge he may have been, but his frame was still that of a massive human unaltered by Crude. Still, very few men could compare.

As a result Walsh was a big enough specimen that he couldn’t find a cassock that fit, nor a priest’s collar that would circle his thick bullneck. He had to improvise with a cheap, black, still-too-tight dress shirt from the newly-opened Walmart, a pair of scissors, and a sewing kit. The result didn’t look perfect but it got the point across. He fiddled incessantly with the plastic collar until at last it settled into place and stayed put.

He turned from the mirror and asked Coombes, “How do I look?”

“Like a priest at the Church of Bro.”

“Haha! Well, I’m not complaining, then!” Insults didn’t work if the target happily agrees and Coombes was right anyway. Combined with a pair of black slacks and black shoes, Walsh looked like a superhero parody of a priest. Awesome!

“What about me?”

“You look exactly like a male blaxploitation version of ‘Cunt Sexula.’ Pro’lly the stupidest and awesomest porn I’ve ever seen on Skinamax!”

Coombes wasn’t entirely pleased with the description. “Gee, thanks…”

“Well, what effect were you going for?”

“No no, exactly that, I guess. Just…man, did ‘ya hafta be so crass?”


Coombes chuckled and shook his head. “Fine, fine. Serves me right for asking someone so young and tasteless.”


“It’s true and you know it. Anyway—”

At that moment Daar stalked in from the bathroom, fur colored a livid green and highlighted exactly like Battlecat. Combined with a bit of a trimming to emphasize his shape and strength…he looked impressive, to say the least.

The same could not quite be said of Hoeff. He did look like He-Man, with his very fit anatomy on glorious display, but…well, Chimp was short.

Walsh could not contain himself. “Oh. My. God! You’re tiny and almost naked and shaved! Hahaha!”

Hoeff’s reaction was to smirk and prance around a bit in his furry underwear.

Daar’s ears flattened backwards. “Hey! He looks exactly like the pictures, sorta. Why wouldn’t the females shower him with attention?”

“Oh God, do I gotta answer that? I mean, first off—“

“Nah, he’ll do fine,” reassured Coombes. “Walsh is just bein’ a horse’s ass.”

Daar processed that for a moment, decided it was okay, duck-nodded and dropped to all fours. “Well? Don’t we got a party to go to?”

Hoeff nodded solemnly. “Yes. Let us slay, Battlecat!” He hopped on Daar’s back and together they loped off with suspiciously well-practiced form.

Coombes and Walsh could only laugh.

Previous Chapter

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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Next Chapter

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)

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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

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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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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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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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