Guarded Titans – Chapter 11

9 Years, 11 Months, 25 Days After Eridani Landing


Megan let out a low whistle as she stepped into the hanger that contained the remains of the Canada. The security personnel who could be spared from the Russia, moved in to join the Seninon troops who were standing guard outside the building.

“He got the main systems working, and that’s what he had to work with?” asked Megan.

Stagg glanced back at her, tearing her eyes from what had once been the main display of her ship which had been propped up in one corner of the room with a hastily constructed scaffolding. Wires trailed from it to the several workstations that had also been appropriated from the ship as well where officers were analyzing the data. Additional wires and connections trailed into the ruined frame of the ship, half of her lights on at low illumination.

“You wouldn’t have been able to bring this thing back to life?” asked James from his seat at a large table that looked like it had been quickly cleared to accommodate the collection of individuals around it.

Megan tapped a metal foot to the concrete and smirked, “Sure I could have. No one else should have been able to though.” She shrugged, “The kid’s smarter than I gave him credit for.”

Klyn’s ears twitched beneath the band strapped over them which was helping to muffle the squeaking only he could hear from one of the other occupants at the table. “I though Humans were Humble.” He asked as he turned to glare at the Human next to him. Edie crossed her arms over her chest and glared back at him, her eyebrow rising as he continued to speak, “Create a new form of FTL, we threw some antimatter into the void and hit it with electromagnetic fields to punch through reality. No big deal.”

Edie rolled her eyes and slapped his shoulder. “I’m that humble, not all Humans are.”

Alpha moved the body that was sitting in the center of the table to look at her, “Is that statement not a contradiction?” he asked.

“It is.” Growled James as he moved his eyes from Edie and back to the dozen data tablets in front of him on the table that he and the other bodies of Alpha were examining.

Megan sat down next to Klyn and picked up one of the alien computers in front of him. Klyn’s ears moved beneath the band nearly poking out, otherwise he didn’t react.

Ignoring the Imperial writing which she still had difficult with Megan examined the orbital imagery. From high orbit the island Nation of Paken looked small, half of the nations was developed, the rest of it jungle with small settlements popping up in the jungle.

The roads or lines connecting the smaller outposts were barely visible from orbit, and in some cases looked absent. The foliage hiding the activity taking place within it from even the most advanced sensors.

Megan pursed her lips, the humorous mood falling away. “Any leads?”

James sighed not looking up from the data he was examining. “No.”

“What about the Seninon?” asked Megan.

Stagg turned away from the large screen and quickly walked across the hanger to the table, her face stony she ignored the last chair continuing to stand. “They are still dealing with the power disruptions caused by the, virus for lack of a better word. The power systems and utilities of their nations are not as robust as our own. The power is still fluctuating in many areas, riots have started in several cities. The timing of the Russia’s arrival, with this event,” Stagg shrugged. “Some of the more excitable Seninon believe we are attacking.”

Megan grimaced, “Lovely.”

Stagg nodded, “Quite. Bitus, King Henswick, and President Renil have all communicated their willingness to provide resources for the search once things have calmed down. Bitus has also apologized for this taking place within a location he has promised was safe.”

Edie rubbed at her face and let out a low groan. “I hate to say this, but are we sure this isn’t a ruse of some sort by the Seninon? The engineer was aiding with their technological uplift, but you weren’t providing anything like weapons, were you? Perhaps one of the nation’s wants to jump forwards with that?”

Stagg was shaking her head before Edie finished speaking, “I don’t get that feeling, Bitus’s forces were able to capture some of the attackers. They are an extremist group, one that has become more outspoken as the three Nations move towards the formalization of their peace treaty.” Stagg turned to look at one of the windows where the alien sunlight was streaming into the Hanger. “Bitus and the other leaders are politician’s, but they’ve so far been as truthful as they come. Unless we get proof of duplicity there is no use questioning that it really was this extremist group.”

“Are you sure it can be that easily discounted?” asked Klyn. “These people were locked in a nuclear cold war scenario. If one gain’s a significant advantage, say a hundred-year technology jump in only a few months?”

“The Seninon have been far more reasonable then Humanity was in the same situation. The fact they didn’t immediately fire their nuclear weapons at us when we first met is a testament to that. The governments are not involved.” Said Stagg.

“Whoever kidnapped him fit’s a terrorist profile in any case, it’s just plain stupid to nab him if you want to quickly develop a weapons program. You’d be better off grabbing a competing nations nuclear expert.” Said Megan.

Stagg raised an eyebrow, “Why’s that? Derrick could build a nuke in his sleep, one with a yield triple the best on this planet.”

Megan snorted and looked around at others around the table, “There’s a reason the kid had Seninon scientists working with him on the fabricator and the other technological integrations. Any engineer on a Human ship could build a nuke. Hell, the enlisted officers on both sides of the Earth-Mars war could.”

Megan held her link up in the air. “With Human technology, the basic components for nukes are easy to get and string together.”

The Humans and aliens at the table all blinked, Megan let out a frustrated sigh. “The Seninon are barely past vacuum tubes! Derrick needed the Seninon engineers to help him translate the knowledge we have, into something usable within their own means. I’m not confident I could build a bomb with the Seninon tech, even if I wanted to! The gap is simply too far between our technologies for me or Derrick to understand all of it at a glance.”

Alpha moved across the table to look at Megan, his legs clacking on the metal audible in the hanger barely audible over the hum of the power systems.

“Then the extremists want the knowledge of enhanced nuclear weapons? Theory that can be applied with the aid of a Seninon scientist?”

Megan shrugged, “Possibly. These are extremists though, you don’t think they would go for antimatter straight off the bat?”

Stagg snorted, “It took us nearly a decade to do that on Bellona!”

“Do extremists make sense on this planet?”

Stagg opened her mouth to say something, then snapped it closed. Groaning she rubbed at her eyes and lowered herself down into the chair. “They make about as much sense as Human ones.”

“Which is about as much sense as the Vakurian ones.” Supplied Edie.

Klyn ears twitched again, the ear on the left slipping out of the band holding it down. “It’s nice to learn that the constants are the worst things about everyone.” He grunted as he reached up and tucked the ear back down.

James leaned forwards, “Hypothesizing about why they took him isn’t productive until we have more data. We’ve got the Valiant and the Russia constantly scanning the jungle, that must be where he is. All we have to do is wait until we’re lucky and listen for any signal’s he might be able to send.”

He shuffled the data pads in front of him, “I want to send people out to search for him, but that’s only going to cause more problems. The cruel thing is, we can’t focus all our resources on this. We must continue forwards with the Seninon negotiations.”

“Where do you think Daniels is?” asked Megan.

“Still can’t believe that guy’s in politics.” Muttered Edie.

The table fell silent, Alpha’s body that was on the table slowly picked up a half-eaten cracker that had been left out. Barely audible munching filled the room for several minutes, interrupted by the sounds of the wind and far off ocean outside the walls.

“Engineer Megan, the computer virus?” asked Alpha from the body perched on James’s shoulder.

Megan grunted snapping herself from the trance that had fallen over everyone and tapped her Link, sending a preliminary report to everyone at the table. “I pulled data from Derrick’s Link and the Russia’s systems for the most part. He didn’t document the data translation routines he wrote for the Seninon data, so I’ve not been able to look through any of what they experienced. I’ll guess our logs are more revealing in any case.”

“Arik wrote those protocols, not Derrick.” Said Stagg as she straightened up in her chair and started reading through the report Megan had provided.

Megan winced, “Sorry.” She paused for a moment collecting her thoughts. “This wasn’t so much a virus, as it was an exploit. It had to have originated from Derrick’s Link, the attack lines up with his kidnapping and he’s the only one who could have a program like this.”

“Derrick did this?” asked James his eyebrows shooting up.

Megan nodded, “It was his credential that were used to interface with the Russia, and every other attack vector was simply brute forced. The Seninon computer systems are advanced enough that we can talk with them, but primitive enough they have essentially zero security. What they do have a Link can brute force in no time.”

Megan tapped her Link, “Not that this virus had to do that. Dozens of the encryption key’s the Seninon were using were already in Arik’s logs. She cracked them when the Canada was debating about making contact if I’ve read them correctly.”

Stagg groaned, “So the two of them were making this virus?”

Megan hesitated, “This is a WMD digital construct. If they had released this back in Sol, it could have destroyed cities. If the Seninon were ten years more advanced, they would have been destroyed! I don’t know why the hell they would have been making this, or why Derrick didn’t have it locked behind encryption and triple authentication for activation! This was like, carrying around a kilo of antimatter with only a Link powering it’s magnetic bottle.”

Edie leaned forwards, “Could it have been a weapon against they Empire they were building?”

“Perhaps, but we don’t know nearly enough about their computer systems, and like I said it was a credential exploit on the Russia and Canada systems. The Valiant was attacked, but that was like the brute force the Seninon suffered. It didn’t succeed there too much. Even if it was for the Empire, why the hair trigger?”

“Was it like the virus that cause your accident, the one that infected Bellona, and the Russia?” asked James.

Megan winced and put a hand on her leg where metal met flesh. “Not even remotely. That was a scalpel for fine remote control, this was a bomb. Not to mention the coding style is distinctly Arik’s with a few additions I’m assuming are Derrick’s. I saw enough of her style when she was bouncing around in the Fort systems to identify it.”

Stagg pursed her lips, reaching into a pocket on her leg she extracted a standard compute unit and set it down on the table. “Unless.” She shook her head and trailed off.

“Unless what?” asked Megan curious.

Stagg shrugged, “Derrick was adamant that Arik was still alive in some fashion, he insisted on scanning any damaged compute units that we recovered before formatting them for reuse.” Stagg tapped the cube, “He’s young. Arik was young. Losing her, he’s not had any time to deal with it.” she paused and shook her head, “It was less cruel to acquiesce to his demand to scan the units before reformatting them.”

Megan held up her hand, Stagg glanced at her and quickly tossed the unit across the table. Megan missed the catch and winced as the hard cube of metal and circuitry hit her chest. Grabbing it before it fell to the floor Megan set her Link down on it.

Stagg continued to speak, “Her simply, winking out of existence during the anti-matter jump. Derrick’s been accessing the restricted files on antimatter physics in his spare time. What little he has. I get a ping every time he accesses the files related to it. He was at the very least looking for the reason it happened.”

James sighed, “You’ve been letting him do this?”

Stagg glanced at the other Captain, “It’s not healthy, but with the stress he’s been under? Keeping the Canada together, serving as my unofficial second after Young’s death? Working with the Ace, dealing with the heat issues, the Seninon?” Stagg rubbed at her eyes, “Everyone’s been stressed simply serving on the Canada. He and Arik doubly so.”

Megan set the compute unit down, “He didn’t make any headway with the analysis of the antimatter jump calculations I take it?”

“Not that he reported no.”

Megan sighed, “I’ve been considering them as well, given that I keep seeing my Husband with every jump. I haven’t made any more headway understanding them than I did when I first saw them.”

Both of Klyn’s ears flicked out of his headband at her words, he and Edie looked at one another.

“You see your husband?” asked Edie concern lacing her voice.

“I’ve heard the descriptions of the antimatter travel, but it was lights and other things. Not people.” Said Klyn.

“Everyone reports something different, the Tanuin hear songs and symphonies more than anything else. The effects are purely psychological. Computers can’t record anything during the jumps, and the hallucinations don’t persist past the jump.” Said James.

Megan nodded in agreement, “When the, image of Ben gives me something only he knew. His encryption password for example, I’ll investigate the source of the hallucinations. Until then? That’s all they are products of our own minds trying to understand whatever the hell we’re flying through the annihilate the lightspeed limit.”

Klyn’s ears went straight up and he quickly raised a hand absentmindedly flattening them back down. “Interesting.”

James nodded, “If we had any time to investigate we would have, but resources were more focused on function rather than research on Bellona.”

Klyn raised a hand in surrender, “I’m not criticizing, still it’s an odd phenomenon.”

“It’s annoying as hell.” Muttered Megan.

Stagg and James glanced at her but remained silent. Stagg stood back up and glanced back over at the hastily set up main viewer. “Megan, dedicate everything you have available to searching for Derrick and then start looking through his research notes that he shared with the Seninon. Try and find the reason for this. James, I’m assuming the Russia will remain in geo-stationary to assist?”

“It will.” Affirmed the other Captain.

“The Valiant will be assisting as well, I don’t think our optics are as good as yours, but we didn’t lose anything during the virus. We can fill in gaps along with the Senion’s data.” Said Edie.

Stagg bowed her head and turned to walk back to the technicians looking over the data at the improvised controls. Watching her turn, Megan saw her mask slip for a half second a massive wave of exhaustion and stress evident on her face for an instant.

Megan shook her head and turned back to her Link. That mask was the same one that most Humans had been wearing since leaving Sol.

9 Years, 11 Months, 29 Days After Eridani Landing


Shoved down onto the concrete of the room Derrick winced as his knees impacted the hard surface and a small rock stabbed up into his skin. Hands bound behind his back Derrick quickly leaned back to avoid falling flat on his face.

“Lights!” barked Hernal.

Derrick heard several heavy Seninon switches being thrown from somewhere to the side. Harsh humming filament based lights snapped on and Derrick shut his eyes at the bright light. Adjusting to the sudden illumination Derrick slowly looked around the room, and let out a low whistle.

Hundreds of pieces of debris that Derrick recognized as Imperial technology were carefully organized into rows going all the way to the back of the large room. Looking around at the technology Derrick quickly identified most of it as something that had been sheered off when the ships had entered the atmosphere of the planet.

Most of it was charred, and what had survived wasn’t very extraordinary. A few computers, weapon’s capacitors, several low powered shield emitters.

Looking around, Derrick’s eyes zeroed in on one small pile in the corner of the room. A single compute module and what looked a piece of the Canada’s armor along with a large twist of fiber optics and wire.

Derrick glanced back at Hernal. “Impressive junk collection.”

Hernal ignored the remark and stepped forwards putting his hands on one of the warped hull sections from an Imperial ship.

“It’s all that we were able to get ahold of. The cleanup that you Humans have been organizing in conjunction with the, governments.” Hernal spat the last word, “Is through. It was easier to get ahold of those red skinned idiots then it was to get ahold of their technology.”

Hernal pulled out a Comm and the Imperial pistol he had on his belt. “We’ve got a fair number of these, but that’s all.”

Derrick smiled, “We were working off the rough impact estimates that my assistant ran during the battle. We’ve been finding the wrecks mostly where she predicted. A few sites were lacking though,” Derrick slowly looked around the room. “Unless you’ve got other rooms of junk I’d guess that a few other Seninon had the same idea as you.”

Hernal shrugged, “I’m not surprised. Although the Human technology is worth significantly more on the market if it makes you feel any better. The Imperial technology,”

“looks like it’s been mashed together by an overexcited child?” said Derrick interrupting him.

Hernal’s lips twitched, “That was the consensus from the men I had look at it. A few of them were rather intelligent, and not all of them conscripted to help our cause.”

Derrick closed his eyes and leaned back onto his feet kneeling despite the rock that was still digging into his knee. “What do you want from me?”

Hernal stepped forwards and put his hand on top of Derrick’s head, Derrick opened one eye and looked up at him.

“Are Human’s religious?”

Derrick blinked, “Somewhat. I know Stagg’s Muslim, some are Christians, a few of the Eastern religions have a few dozen practitioners on Bellona. We lost a lot of them when Earth was attacked, most of the Martians weren’t spiritual but the faiths have been making a resurgence on Bellona.”

Hernal frowned, “What about you?”

Derrick narrowed his eyes, “Never really had time to consider it. I had my parents ripped away from me when I was a kid, and I’ve been learning to fight assholes out among the stars ever since, while making sure I didn’t freeze to death on the icy ball Humans get to live on now. I haven’t had time to sit around and ponder theology.”

Hernal chuckled, “That’s what I thought. The governments are still slowly releasing the historical information you gave them about Humanity, but it was evident even without those documents you’re your people have lost their faith.”

Derrick closed his eyes again and sighed, “Fine, we’ve lost our faith. You have faith, are you going to try and convert me or is this a speech about moral superiority and the consequences of my lacking faith?”

Hernal pushed at Derrick’s hair forcing him to bend his head towards the ground behind him, “You mock because you don’t understand.”

Derrick twisted his head out of the man’s grip and straightened up “I mock because like I told you earlier, Humans have had people exactly like you. Men who warp the spirituality of others to suit their own agendas. We’ve seen it, hundreds, thousands of times.”

Derrick twisted his knees around and finding his balance stood.

“I’m not making you a bomb, I’m not giving you anything you want. You’re far better off just killing me now because I’m going to make your life a living hell.”

Hernal tilted his head to the side and his eyes flattened almost completely vertical. Putting a hand on Derrick’s shoulder he laughed.

“Oh, you don’t know how many people I’ve heard that from. The red skins were weak, they told me everything I wanted to know after a little violence,”

The grip on Derrick’s shoulder tightened, Derrick’s eyes widened as he was dragged down and the Seninon slammed his knee into his gut. Derrick collapsed to the ground as his chest constricted the breath knocked out of him. Not even opening his mouth to breath Derrick looked up at the Seninon.

Hernal chuckled, “Would you believe me if I said that got some of them to talk? How these Dorvakian managed to destroy your planet I don’t know. Your people must have truly deserved it to be conquered by the sniveling things.” Hernal leaned down and grinned, “Humans are not weak, I’ll give you that. To have survived everything you have.”

Hernal slammed a foot down on Derrick’s chest. Derrick groaned and tried to curl up on himself.

“You’re also stubborn. That’s what you Humans are. You should have died back on your world; the Empire should have killed you all. They wouldn’t have had a reason to attack us, it’s your Human stubbornness that put my people in danger.”

Hernal grabbed Derrick’s head again and dragged him up to glare at him. Derrick stared back setting his face in stone ignoring the pain in his scalp.

“I’m not building you a bomb.” Repeated Derrick.

“Fine, no bomb. You want to build me something to destroy the Empire?”

Derrick tired to laugh, but only managed a weak cough. “Humans have been trying to think up a way of doing that for ten years. All of us who are left, beating me to a pulp isn’t going to make me shout Eureka.”

Releasing his hair Hernal stepped back and pulled out a second Com. He began to slowly tap at it, Derrick taking in his first deep breath since the first assault slowly sat up. Grimacing and still short on breath Derrick shakily stood.

Hernal said nothing. Derrick glanced at the debris behind the man, briefly considering the possibility of impaling him on the metal. Looking back at the entrance of the room Derrick raised an eyebrow at the disheveled guard who was keeping a very close eye on him, his hands holding a weapon that looked like an ancient model of the guns Humans used.

“This.” Hernal held the Com out, showing Derrick the screen.

Derrick looked at it and frowned, “I’m an engineer, that looks biological.”

The image that Hernal had shoved in his face showed a DNA strand with various strings of Imperial text floating around it.

“This, is what destroyed your world.”

Derrick’s eyes widened, and he leaned closer to the screen trying to read the text on the screen. “You managed to get it out of some Imperials?”

Hernal moved the screen away and pocked the device, “One of the older ones. I killed a few of his own crew in front of him to try and get him to unlock this little thing. Didn’t budge, after a week without food he gave me the codes to unlock this thing.”

Derrick stepped back from Hernal, his back hitting a piece of rough metal from a section of hull from an imperial ship.

“The way the red skin described it, this weapon can be tailored to almost any particular species and it will wipe it out with extreme prejudice.” Hernal smiled and stepped towards Derrick, “Your people were faithless, but you can atone. Help me reproduce this, all who are unfaithful on this planet can be purged and then we can turn this on the Empire themselves.”

Derrick blinked and slowly lowered his head, the cavernous room was silent for several minutes. Hernal’s eyes remained focused on Derrick.

Derrick laughed once, his eyes still on the concrete floor. “You’re a racist religious terrorist, living in a secret bunker, somewhere in the jungle.” Derrick shook his head again, “I can’t believe this.”

Hernal’s face hardened and he jerked a hand forwards, pushing Derrick back onto the wreckage. The Human engineer grimaced as the metal and wire cut into his skin but ignored it to continue glaring at the crazed alien.

“Engineer, I don’t do the biological stuff. Even if I could, I wouldn’t in a million years help you develop a biological weapon! We’ve used them, they are never a good idea! Children keeling over in the streets, all because some fanatic decided they weren’t worthy of living. Not to mention the weapons are always turned back on those who made them.” Derrick ruefully smiled, “exactly like what you’re trying to do now.”

“This is the weapon that the Empire used to destroy your own planet, your own people. You don’t think they deserve the same?” asked Hernal as he stepped right up to Derrick, his face only a few inches away from him.

Derrick closed his eyes and took in a breath, “We’re going to kill the Empire, I can guarantee that.”

Derrick opened his eyes, “We don’t need to resort to weapons as crude as biological. We’re building weapons to blow their planet’s apart.”

Hernal’s eyes widened slightly, taking advantage of the man’s surprise Derrick slammed his head forwards into his face. Hernal let out a shout and stumbled back, his hands shooting up to his broken nose.

The guards at the entrance of the room let out shouts of protest Hernal raised a hand, making them pause.

Derrick stepped forwards pulling the metal out of his back, “We’re prepared to destroy stars, annihilate stars, and rip reality apart to take our pound of flesh from the Empire. So, forgive me if I don’t see a two-bit little fuck of a terrorist as insignificant.”

Hernal flicked his hand at the ground splashing his blood onto the concrete. Clenching his fists, Hernal blurred forwards, the wild haymaker hitting him on the side of the head. Derrick fell to the concrete dazed.

“Here’s hoping you can hold out for longer than a day.” Growled Hernal.

Derrick tuned out the universe as the blows started to rain down, focusing all his concentration on the small piece of technology he had pried off the wreck he was holding in his hand.

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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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Good Training – Survival Part 7

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

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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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