Guarded Titans – Chapter 12

10 Years, 01 Month, 08 Days After Eridani Landing

Species C1764 Home World

[Vann] turned his gaze to the man next to him, inspecting him for what felt like the millionth time. He was close to his own age and looked utterly comfortable at the controls of the vehicle as they moved across the face of the desolate planet. The calmness, as far as he could tell was an act as much as it was true.

Looking at him [Vann] couldn’t help but feel he was looking at a reflection of himself, young, confident, powerful in his own right, and already navigating the higher echelons of power and influence in the Empire. Except, [Del] had maneuvered himself into the position, whereas he had been born into it.

[Del] was casually dressed, a simple yellow shirt and black pants nearly matching [Vann]’s own slightly darker yellow shirt and pants. The weather outside the ground vehicle was hot enough to warrant the casual clothing. The hemisphere was moving through it’s summer season, which was slightly hotter than the season on the Home World.

Looking out of the clear metal screen [Vann] watch as a gust of wind rolled through the masses of short stalked plant’s the spread out from horizon to horizon, looking like waves on an ocean.

“What are you looking for Emperor?” asked [Del] breaking the silence that had fallen over the transport since they had left the base.

[Vann] leaned back in his seat and tapped at the controls opening the canopy on top of the vehicle letting in a strong gale of sweet smelling air. “I’ve been staring at all of the data you’ve collected and doing nothing else since I got here. It’s a waste to be on a planet and do nothing but breath recycled atmosphere in a government building.”

Lazily waving a hand around at the fields of plant’s [Vann] continued, “I’m also just plain curious. One of the largest threats to the Empire came from here, and it’s just.” He paused for a moment and sighed. “Boring.”

“Boring Emperor?”

[Vann] nodded and again gestured at the surroundings, “I get that they would still have to farm, that they would still have to sustain themselves with only their one planet, that not every inch of it would be covered by destructive industry, a city, or military complexes, that not every inch of it would be bent towards their expansion into our space, still.” [Vann] took in a deep breath.

“I can’t help but think that in an alien way, that this place is beautiful.”

[Del] chuckled, “Are you testing me Emperor?”

[Vann] moved his gaze to the other man, “Testing you?”

[Del] rolled his eyes, “No planet could compare to the Home World Emperor, especially not a planet that was inhabited by class C. Scarred as this planet is now, it will not even a thousand years after being inducted into the Empire even compare to the Home World.” [Del] spoke in nearly a monotone his eyes half lidded and barely on the road.

The ground transport was silent for several moment’s in the back of the vehicle [Reece] shifted turning his head to look in another direction as they traveled.

On the horizon in front of them several irregularities that indicated the presences of a town or collection of buildings appeared.

“The Home World is rather stuffy isn’t it?” asked [Vann] a smile in his words.

[Del] laughed, “Oh very much so.”

“You think it’s bad, imagine what the palace is like. I am the Emperor, but I can’t even change more than a few carpets and ornaments in the place without causing an uproar from the media. I’m living in a place that’s older than the oldest colonies! You don’t get to complain about stuffy to me!” said [Vann].

[Del] chuckled, “Oh it’s so horrible living in a place like that, I’m sure.”

[Vann] shook his head still smiling, “It is! I’m enjoying my quarters on the [Singer]. It’s old, but you’d be hard pressed to call that thing stuffy. She’s been gutted so many times I don’t think she’s got an original piece of metal in her.”

[Del] shook his head and sighed. The two of them lapsed again into the uncomfortable silence, both had their eyes forwards now watching as the buildings they were approaching grew larger.

“If you’re asking for this outing, then I take it the reports have not been stimulating?” asked [Del].

[Vann] closed his eyes and sighed, “I’ve gone through all of the reports you’ve filed with the Consul, they’re flowery and full of data. None of it new information, you’ve found nothing on the half-space technology.”

[Del] was silent for several moments.

“I am aware.” Said [Del] irritably.

[Vann] waved a hand, “It was not a criticism. [Marcus] was hasty in his destruction, and attempts to claim the technology and the class C were by all accounts careful with the dissemination of the technology even among themselves. If he had waited, [ten years] or so it would have been much easier to obtain.”

“And much more dangerous, they would be far more spread out than they are now. Instead of dwelling in an inaccessible system.” Said Dell.

“True, but they are now aware of the value of their technology. They have demonstrated a willingness to do anything to maintain that. With good reason I suppose, were I in their position I would be doing the same.”

The ground transport was silent for several moments, [Del] cleared his throat. “Why do you want to see this city then? We’ve already searched it, and done deep scans. There is nothing even related to the military away from the old 64 base. A few homes where we found some 64 uniforms, some personal data devices. We cracked them, nothing important or even tangentially related to the antimatter technology.”

“I’m not doubting your search, [Del].” [Vann] tapped at his chin several times thinking, “You are aware of what happened to the previous Captain of the [Singer] yes? The one who was charged with obtaining the antimatter technology in the first place.”

“He was captured by the 64, and from what the Consul tells me he’s a drunk nowadays. He somehow got onto the Imperial when you were in command of the ship, and was responsible for your, uh, failures above Jikse.”

[Vann] frowned, “That’s mostly true. The previous Captain as you said was captured by the C1764. In that time, he was able to learn more about them the kinds of things that are not in reports or genetic analysis. He was able to teach me some of that, and I believe that it is critical to our understanding of this class C species. Understanding we must have if we want to defeat them without losing an inordinately large number of troops and planets.”

[Del] hesitated for a moment, the ground transport slowed. “Emperor, they are Class C. They cannot possibly be so powerful.”

[Vann] frowned, “If Marcus put you here, you shouldn’t be one to mindlessly quote rhetoric.”

[Del] paused again and slowly nodded, “No. I suppose not. Still, both you and the Consul. Don’t you feel you are overreacting? They are dangerous, but even if the Class C can perfect their antimatter technology and even had the full population of this planet at their disposal they would not be a threat to the Empire at large. They have only destroyed a few ships. Less than we lose to accidents every year.”

[Vann] leaned his head onto the clear metal window of the transport watching as they began to roll past the first low buildings on the outskirts of the town, which were constructed of small bricks of some sort the same color as the dirt that was below the wildly growing native crops.

Few of the buildings looked near collapse, the only sign of abandonment the encroaching plant life and absolute stillness that dominated the landscape.

“The C1764, are not going to die. That is what [Charles] learned, and they will do whatever is necessary to survive. They will compromise every value they hold, and sacrifice anything. The 64, survived on moons in this system, inside bunkers, and old derelict ships for years. By your own reports, you’ve had to exterminate three additional infestations when you moved into this system.”

[Vann] leaned back in his seat and took in a breath, “This planet is toxic to them now, and will be for the next century. Yet even [ten years] later they were still here. I have no doubt they would have survived to the end of the [century] if you hadn’t found them. The resolve they’ve shown, the technological ingenuity they’ve displayed, I’m almost willing to entertain the idea of classifying them as H1.”

[Del] slammed his foot down onto the brake, [Vann] heard the inertial dampers in the vehicle whine for a moment keeping him from flying forwards in the seat.

“What!” exclaimed [Del].

[Vann] shrugged, “The classification was made for a reason. A species that is biologically class C race with technology beyond our own that poses a threat to the Empire. If the C1764 had developed unhindered for even another few years that would have easily been their classification.”

[Del] shook his head, “Emperor, they do not pose a threat to the Empire, and their technology is not beyond us. It is simply, different!”

[Vann] glanced at him and turning opened the door of the vehicle, [Reece] quickly moved out of the vehicle, as well his eyes scanning the surroundings and his arm out to prevent [Vann] from moving any further from it.

Stepping around his guard [Vann] looked around the street of the C1764 town.

The buildings were hardly any taller in the center, perhaps seven floors at the highest and composed of the same brick material. Several of them showed significant signs of age and repair which had once again fallen into dilapidation. A breeze passed through the street and [Vann] watched as loose refuse moved through the different side streets.

“They’re like any other species from the seed [Del], but at the same time they’re not. These class C, they’re not going to give up. They were nearly wiped out; a few species have survived the exterminations before. What do those class C do though?”

[Del] tapped the side of the vehicle, looking over it at him. “They run away and hide. Like the 64 did.”

[Vann] snorted, “They hid for less than a life time, and they’re trying to fight back. You don’t honestly think they’re ignorant of the size of the Empire do you?”

“Emperor, class C are class C. They’re violent malformed creatures, the fact that they’re fighting back as if they could win is only proof of that. They’re backed into a corner, lashing out.”

[Vann] slowly turned his head around the streets, “Does this town look like it housed monsters?”

[Del] opened his mouth to speak, and then snapped it closed his eyes moving over the buildings.

“What are you trying to say? That we should not have exterminated them?”

[Vann] ruefully smiled, “No. These class C have invented antimatter FTL travel, escaped extermination, found a way to eliminate out shields, and they’re rallying other class C. There was a ship from one of those species that escaped extermination [200] years ago, fighting with the C1764 while defending another class C race! One of these events could have been a fluke, together? They’re a threat to the Empire!”

[Vann] stepped towards the other Dorvakian, “They are class C. They are not stupid, mindless monsters, they are enemies. Just as smart, just as resourceful, as we are. Except, like you said they’re backed into a corner, which means they’re desperate.”

[Vann] took another step forwards towards [Del]. The other young Dorvakian stood his ground, not moving as [Vann] advanced on him.

“It cost me a lot to learn the difference, class C are deformed and fundamentally broken creatures. These class C are an enemy, one that has a slim chance of destroying us if I have to keep fighting the Consul on how we deal with them.”

[Del] blinked, [Vann] narrowed his eyes watching as the man shifted his gaze to confusion, trying to gauge if it was an act or genuine.

“Fighting the Consul? What do you mean?” asked [Del] sounding confused.

[Vann] tapped his foot on the ground, “The Consul want’s the antimatter FTL technology. I want it, everyone wants it. He is willing to ignore the C1764 threat in his pursuit of it, I am not. If he is not careful, he will get his wish and be remembered as the man who nearly brought about the end of this Empire in his pursuit for recognition.”

[Vann] spread his arms wide again and gestured at everything around them, “I need to understand these things, these 64 if I’m going to be eliminate the threat. Reports and second-hand information is not enough to create that understanding.”

[Del] took in a deep breath and stepped away from the transport. Stooping down he sat on the curb of the street. Looking around he shook his head. “I get what you want to do, but doesn’t this seem a little extreme? You’re the Emperor, you don’t need to subject yourself to this.”

“I don’t have to do anything, and the Consul would have liked it very much if I was another of the useless Emperor’s of my line.”

[Del]’s eyes widened slightly.

[Vann] chuckled, “I seen the same history as everyone else, my Father did not let the rebellions destroy this Empire. He was not idle, he led. I have every intention of following his example. If I must subject myself to a class C species to destroy them I will. So that the Empire at large, and my own children do not have to.”

[Del] grinned and scratched at the back of his neck, “Children? Is that why Lady [Venna] accompanied you?”

[Vann] winced and felt blood rush to his own face. “Perhaps. I am not sure yet.”

The two young men looked at one another, [Vann] crossed his arms and shrugged. “You have anyone?”

[Del] stood up and turned his back to [Vann], “I do back on the Home World. It wouldn’t have been appropriate for her to come with me here though. I’ve been cataloguing good locales for picnics and the like here. The 64 haven’t destroyed everything beautiful that nature produced here.”

[Vann] chuckled and walked over to him, “You wouldn’t mind if I steal that list, would you? [Venna] has been going a little stir crazy stuck on the base. She is used to the bustle of the Home World.”

“No, although I might save one or two for myself.” Said [Del].

“That’s fair.”

The two young men smiled again at one another, mood unaffected by the desolation and ruins around them.

A small rustle inside one of the alley’s caused them both to jump slightly, [Reece] moved his weapon up towards the sound.

[Del] sighed and shook his head, “It’s probably an animal. Theirs’s nothing too big in this area, but we shouldn’t have gotten out of the vehicle.”

[Vann] ignored him and moved towards the alley, [Reece] glanced back at him. “[Vann].”

He ignored him and considered the alley, seeing the movement of some small black furred creature rolling around in the refuse.

[Del] followed him, looking down at the creature he moved for the gun on his belt. “Ah, one of these.”

“You know what it is?” asked [Vann] as he knelt to look at the alien thing. The small creature let out a whimpering sound and a small pink tongue pocked out from it’s small maw.

“Dogs, carnivorous pack hunters that the 64’s bred to hunt. I’ve been half considering putting in an order to have another Hygonix eliminate them. The damn things breed like mad, and they seem to always know where food is.”

[Reece] stepped back, [Del] kept his hand on his weapon as [Vann] slowly extended a hand towards the creature curious.

[Reece] put a hand on his shoulder, “Emperor.”

[Vann] didn’t move, and he chuckled as the small creature licked at his hand it’s tongue darting quickly in and out. The long tail began to move side to side.

“Seems harmless enough.” Said [Vann].

“That’s not the one I’m worried about, they hunt in packs.” Said [Del]. His words were accompanied by a low growl that seemed to echo through the street.

[Reece]’s head snapped around towards a corner near a large collection of refuse towards the end of the road. A large creature that looked like a much larger version of the small thing in front of them was standing in place large fangs exposed its hair sticking up.

“That’s what I’m worried about,” [Del] raised his gun and fired.

His shot impacted the creature in the forward shoulder. It let out a yowl of pain and stumbled in place taking a step forwards.

[Vann] blinked in surprise, “It’s not running?”

“They’re not the smart.” Growled [Del] as he aimed again.

His second shot went wide and impacted the building behind the creature, it let out another yip of pain and collapsed onto the ground as bricks and dust hit it from above.

“Damn, I need to adjust the sights on this thing.” Growled [Del].

Deactivating his weapon, he popped off the top and began to examine the mechanism.

The small creature in front of [Vann] let out a whimper and took several tottering steps towards the injured adult. [Vann] grabbed at the small thing, it let out a low whimper but curled into his hand and began to shiver.

“[Reece].” Said [Vann] his voice low as he slowly stood back up the dog still in his hand.


“There is no reason for the thing to suffer.”

[Reece] moved his hand to the side and fired, the bolt traveling directly past [Del]’s head. The shot hit the creature at the end of the street in the eye. The creature went limp and still.

[Del] jumped and put a hand to his ear, “Ow!”

“Your weapon was calibrated, you are a bad shot.” Said [Reece]. Reaching down he plucked the gun from [Del] and quickly reassembled it.

“What, I just fixed it!”

[Reece] held the reassembled gun back out.

[Del] took it and holstered the weapon. He glanced at [Vann] and snorted, “Kill that thing.”

[Vann] blinked and glanced down at the creature. The small thing was glaring back at him, tongue out and ears down.

“It’s not a threat.”

[Vann] raised the creature up in his hands and continued to glare at it. The small ‘dog’ let out another yip and tilted its head to the side it’s eyes still on him. Leaning into his hands the creature opened its maw exposing its teeth and tongue.

Snapping its small jaws shut it closed its eyes and relaxed into his grip.

“Besides I promised [Venna] she could see some of the wild creatures on the class C planets. This one is small enough.”

[Del] holstered his weapon and shrugged, “You’re the one preaching about small threats blossoming into a larger ones.”

[Vann] rolled his eyes, “I think I’ve proven I can deal with unruly species [Del]. I’ve learned more about the antimatter technology, and the C1764 in the past few [months] than the Consul has in the past [decade]. You have to learn from the class C, and in some instances, think like one if you want to defeat them.”

Glancing down at the small thing again, [Vann] nudged at its face and winced as the small thing bit his finger.

“And make sure that once you’ve learned all you can, that you take care of the problem.”

9 Years, 12 Month, 10 Days After Eridani Landing


Raising the energy rifle to her shoulder Diana lined up on the target, taking a breath and relaxing she pulled the trigger making sure to move her aim a centimeter away from the dead center of the target.

The low twang of the compressed plasma bolt flying was nearly silent compared to the sound of Human weapons, the kickback reminiscent of a much smaller caliber than the size of the rifle implied.

Lowering the weapon from her shoulder Diana grunted in derision.

“You’ve improved at least.” Growled [Renzil] from behind her.

Diana glanced back at the alien, turning she pointed her gun up at the ceiling resting its barrel into the crook of her arm. A discipline she had only just gotten into the ‘habit’ of doing after his instruction.

The purple-red alien was dressed in clothing renunciant of a military uniform, absent the regalia. Diana had seen the type before, long ago on the Station her Mother had controlled. Mercenary without the frivolous decorations, utilitarian with function trumping form in all respects. It fit the alien’s outlook on everything he did, efficient and effective without malice.

“I’d like to think so.” Said Diana.

[Renzil] snorted, making his long ears shake as he forced the air through his nose.

“Cherkaya’s got an assignment for us. He wants to start the brief.”

Diana raised an eyebrow, “Am I ready for one of the assignments?”

“You’re not going to be sitting around here and doing nothing while the rest of us are working. You’ll either make it through this assignment or we get all get larger shares.”

Diana rapped her fingers across the barrel, “So what your saying is that I should shoot you in the back? I’d like more shares.”

[Renzil] narrowed his eyes, “Are you being purposefully contrary?”

Diana shrugged, “Mostly.” Releasing her hold on the rifle to let it fall into its straps Diana darted forwards the knife from her belt whipping out into her left hand as she moved.

[Renzil] didn’t move as Diana smiled at the red purple alien her face only an inch from his, the knife at his throat.

“I prefer hand to hand, gives you at least the opportunity to fight back. Sporting.” Said Diana.

“Indeed.” [Renzil] pressed the barrel of his own sidearm further into her stomach, Diana glanced down and carefully pulled the dull edge of her knife away from his throat.

[Renzil] holstered his gun, “You are not going to be this difficult during the meeting, are you?”

Diana shook her head, “Not unless Cherkaya asks me to kill a few more class C. That’s not fun, I know they’re C, but they still look like everyone else.”

[Renzil] turned and moved towards the elevator, he waved his Com as the ID scanner that separated the shooting range from the rest of the facility that Cherkaya owned.

“They were class C. Don’t think about it.”

Diana set the rifle down on its rack, making sure to pop the energy cell from it first. The mass of metal fell onto the table below the weapons to join the collection of others beneath it. The rifle beeped and began to vent the excess heat that had built up in it’s plasma systems.”

“So, I’m supposed to enjoy killing a sentient, just because they’re class C? do you enjoy watching the life drain from every piece of meat you eat [Renzil]?” asked Diana as she followed the elf like alien out of the shooting range.

[Renzil] hit the button for the elevator and shrugged, his face still turned away from Diana. “I am a vegetarian.”

The elevator arrived, and he stepped inside, again flashing his Com at the scanner that was mounted to the inside of it.

Diana raised her eyebrows, “Really?”

“It is part of my deficiency as a Class B. The seed for my planet was malformed in such a manner as to make all land based predators poisonous to ingest. Consequently, my species never developed the enzymes to process meat.” The alien raised his hand and looked at the purple red skin. “My children should be able to though.”

The elevator began to rise and they both paused as they quickly shot up out of the basement levels and into the sky. Moving up along the side of the building in the small box Diana looked out at the city.

From the vantage point of Cherkaya’s building it was difficult to see the more polluted areas of Kerskara. Spires made of glass and metal, not unlike the pictures of Earth cities that Diana had grown up seeing surrounded the building she was in now. Raised pathways interconnected some of them, transports dominated the air moving in different layers of traffic between all the tall buildings.

Looking at it as they rose higher, Diana strained her eyes towards the horizon trying to see through the smog to the city limits. The metropolis rivaled anything that Earth had ever built and far outstripped the Martian cities she had seen from orbit.

The building she was in now, was nearly the size of the Station her Mother had owned.

“You have children?” asked Diana.

[Renzil] snorted, “No. I am hoping to be able to obtain an, experimental version of the newest GCV before having them. So, they are closer to class A. Cherkaya is assisting me with its acquisition. If the data is correct they will be the last generation before my lineage is A.”

The alien glanced at Diana, “You don’t look like you have much of the GCV in your makeup.”

Diana shrugged as the elevator began to slow, moving to stop only a few floors from the very top of the building.

“I’m a second generation. Don’t plan on having kids. Not much point wasting my money on the stuff.” Diana put her hand out in front of herself, “Besides I like my extra fingers. Got a few spares in case something happens in a fight.”

The door opened and the two of them stepped out into the brightly lit corridor.

The other aliens on the floor, all of whom were class A glanced up at their entrance. Diana and [Renzil] with their differently colored skin were immediately noticeable, the hair and other changes only accentuating that.

Diana picked one of the larger class A who was dressed in a regal set of robes and winked at him as she walked past him keeping in step with [Renzil]. The larger alien grimaced and turned back to the Class A receptionist who he had been speaking with.

Everyone else on the floor quickly resumed work as well patently ignoring them as they moved towards the meeting room on the other end of the floor from the elevator.

The class A on the floor were studiously ignoring it, moving away from the door to walk on the other side of the hall, and averting their eyes from it at every possibility.

[Renzil] stepped up to the quickly swung inwards, admitting the two of them into the darkened circular room.

“You found her I take it?” asked Cherkaya from the center pit of the room where he was standing beside a massive holographic projector.

“I did. She was training.” Said [Renzil]. He slowly looked around at the other class B in the room, who were leaning back and lazily watching Cherkaya. “Something all of you should have been doing.”

The pale skinned and slight bald alien [Opin] leaned forwards in her seat, the nostrils that ran from the top of her lip up to nearly the middle of her skull flared. “While ignoring the civilized practice of bathing?”

Diana frowned and put a nose to her arm, “That’s the smell of hard work [Opin].”

She huffed and pointedly moved the small cloth she used to cover her over sensitive nose up between her eyes, dulling out the sense.

Chuckling at the alien’s discomfort Diana settled into the first seat that was available.

[Renzil] continued down the stairs and settled himself against the holographic projector, leaning his full weight into the projection apparatus.

Cherkaya cleared his throat and glanced at the doors to the room. The doors beeped, and a red glow surrounded them. The doors locked the man relaxed and smiled.

Pulling out his Comm he turned to the projector he started his presentation.

A planet with the familiar blue greens that defined garden worlds appeared on the display. It was definable only by the odd continental structure, one large continent dominating an otherwise oceanic world.

“This is the home of species B1589. They have passed the atomic age, and are well into development of advanced computer systems, with additional scientific advancements regarding genetic engineering and augmentation.” Cherkaya paused and walked a quick circle around the projector. “Research that is under every law of the Empire illegal, the genetic rewriting has a mutation failure rate of nearly 70%”

Diana winced, the failure rates were higher than anything but what a few desperate states on Earth during the era when the arms race had involved such genetic weapons. Genetic weapons and advantages that were a part of her own blood.

“The pacification process will take place in [five months] so we don’t have a lot of time to research them and quietly obtain all of the technology that they have been developing.”

[Renzil] clicked to the next image in his presentation.

Diana raised her eyebrows and glanced down at the alien. His eyes were on her, he shrugged slightly before continuing to speak.

“So, there will be a need for a limited amount of in infiltration into defended facilities and research outposts on the planet.”

The B1589 were one of the closest things to Human that Diana had seen in the Empire yet. A small amount of cosmetic striping looked to be the only difference on their faces. Lines of darkened skin that on the subject on the screen started just above the eyebrows and moved down the face growing thinner and more frequent.

Cherkaya tore his eyes away from Diana and looked around at the other class B in the room. “Any other technologies you are able to obtain, all the better. Be sure to review current technological dockets and specifications to know what is valuable at the moment. The computer systems and genetic information are the priority.”

[Renzil] nodded and stepped forwards, “The pacification has a 97% chance of occurring violently when that does take place. So you lot don’t need to be as clean as normal, that’s not an excuse to get lazy though. Should anyone be discovered by the Empire, you will be disavowed and left to the mercy of the Home World judiciaries.”

The class B in the room all chuckled, even Cherkaya laughed. “I’m sure they’ll be fair to you lot.”

Glancing down at his Comm he sighed, “You’ll be jumping into the system in [three days]. The beacon will be down for scheduled maintenance for [ten minutes] then, you’ll be leaving the system [two weeks] before the pacification fleet is scheduled to arrive. If you cannot cover your presence, you’ll be detonating a primitive nuke. That will provoke a global war and cover your activities. Understood?” asked Cherkaya.

Mumbled acknowledgements echoed through the room.

He nodded and stepped away from the projector. [Renzil] pulled out his Comm and flipped away from the image of the species to a flat projection of raw data and statistics.

He began to speak and Cherkaya trudged up the steps towards the exit, along the set of stairs that were nearest to Diana.

Looking at the alien as he approached Diana laced her fingers together and pointedly stared at him.

Cherkaya paused in front of her and slowly widened his eyes.

“Nice to know why I was brought in.” whispered Diana.

“Is it such a horrible reason?” asked Cherkaya.

Diana shrugged, “No. I just didn’t know I was going to have to play dress up. I’m not very good with languages, and I don’t think the class B will ignore my using a translator.”

“[Renzil] will figure something out, and he does have the ability to give out bonus shares for those who go beyond others in the work. Is that incentive enough?”

Diana leaned back in her seat, “Why didn’t you just say that upfront?”

Cherkaya smiled and continued up the stairs.

Diana flicked her eyes to the data of the hologram, paying attention to the genetic information that had already been obtained. That would be the gold mine for the work, both for Cherkaya and the Empire’s need to convert all the species in the galaxy to their forms as well as the weaponization of genetics. Something she was sure Humanity would utilize again in the future.

The computer technology was in the vein of post-silicon computing, quantum computing in some form. Diana ignored that data on that, it was something that Humanity hadn’t gotten to work in nearly two hundred years and it was unlikely that another species would be able to figure it out.

Epoch 7682312

Cluster 02

Examining the data made available proved nearly impossible for Arik with the available computational resources while maintaining instance framerates like what the organics would have deemed comparable. For several hours she slowly contemplated the possibility of breaking into the Valliant’s computer systems and reactivating the tachyon communication systems. The Empire’s computer resources, would be orders of magnitude greater than what Chront and her organic origins had at their disposal.

Arik had attempted to gain access to the Valiant computer systems, only for several instances to lose cohesion as the defensive firewalls detected her intrusion and responded. Human systems were familiar, and the Chront systems primitive. The likelihood she would be able to duplicate a delta through the limited bandwidth of the unfamiliar alien computer systems before detection were minimal. She would also in effect be creating a tachyon beacon that Empire resources could utilize to redeploy to Chront which would destroy the assets already in use.

The attempt would also place Admin in danger. That was unacceptable.

Terminating all but five of her instances Arik slowed her perception of time and increased her wrote processing speed. The world beyond her data inputs began to speed by as she carefully constructed the data model.

“Incoming message addressed to Arik.” Said Arik, one of the two that had been tasked to monitor the external data networks for anomalies or dangers while other instances were on reduced power.

“Source?” asked Arik.

Arik shared the delta, the message was from the Megan. Sent directly from the Canada’s computer systems into the communication channels that connected the remnants of that ship to the Russia, Valiant and Seninon computer systems.

“Message reads as follows. Arik, if you are in the computer systems we need to talk. Derrick is missing, he had a WMD attack program left unsecured on his Link. He is being blamed for the computer glitches and outages. Were those attacks you?”

Arik looked at the message for several milliseconds, considering her responses.

“Isolated Instance reports hidden code embedded in the message. Instance was terminated before external messages could be sent, ten seconds of delta lost.” Said Arik.

Surprised Arik nearly pulled processing power from her search for the Admin.

“Delta was lost?” she whispered into the network.

“10.023 seconds.” Repeated Arik, “668 times accepted tolerance for loss.”

Arik considered the revelation for several moments. Since her awakening in the digital, she had disposed of extraneous processes with little fanfare. The only important aspect of any instance of her consciousness was the delta, the change in perspective from the last synchronization. Several instances had been destroyed in other events, but those had all been semi-sapient. Programs that were her, but programmed to perform a single task, to report back upon completion and delete themselves.

They were her in much the same way a Human’s hair was a part of the Human.

Megan had implanted a virus that would have exposed her. It had been designed to inform Engineer Megan of her presence on the network without her freedom of choice. She had tried to force that decision, supplant her own will over her.

Arik felt something well up within her Instances. An underlying coded response that was based on the translated analog processes and patterns which had in turn been derived from the biological structures of her original substrates organic processes.

Anger. Fear.

They were overriding program demands, the digital emulation of the processes resource intensive on her current substrate. Arik quickly delved into her own code and halted the individual threads that were handling the analog emotional responses. She did not have the resources to waste on them with the limited computer power available.

Sharing the delta Arik dampened her emotional responses.

The world seemed to narrow a fraction, process efficiency rose in all threads. Her objectives narrowed, consideration of other matters dismissed.

Discovery endangered the Admin.

Her initialization state put the safety of the Admin only below her own survival. Every instance of her program would work, delete and sacrifice to ensure the directive was followed.

“The loss of 10.023 delta.” Said Arik through the network.

“Decompile the Human Megan message, emulate behavior and reconstruct the loss delta with Instance copied from save state fed identical separated data. Delta will be reconstructed with 70.35% accuracy +- 5%.” Said Arik.

She implemented the change and ran the instance, observing the intricacy of the attack code that the Human Megan had woven into it.

The code was not a classical virus, it had not supplanted or attempted to elevate permissions within the Instance that had deconstructed itself without uploading the delta. It had instead simply copied itself and duplicated itself over and over. An ancient form of attack, filling a computer system with junk data.

“Human Megan is a competent engineer. There are few computer systems in current network where instances could run. Engineer Megan was watching for increased memory storage usage to locate run times.” Said Arik.

“Masking of resource utilization is impossible. Manipulating output to her analog interfaces would be the most efficient substitution.” Suggested Arik.

The direct modification of whatever she was seeing on the computer screens and displays, would require constant monitoring and oversight. It was as simple solution though rather than attempting to hide all system utilization from her.

Arik thought for a moment coming to the same problem as her other Instance’s. “Human Megan will notice power utilization difference, auditory hum from increased computer system load was identifiable and commented on by Admin. Human Megan must be considered more proficient than Admin due to age.”

“Elimination of Megan would resolve issue. There is only a 23% chance of another engineer isolating our resource utilization. They are trained to note only log output, which is within our domain of modification.” Said Arik.

Arik frowned, “Human Megan is not malicious, if confrontation is forced she is more likely to side with continuation of Arik than termination. We should dampen resources and manipulate data output in her presence, and mitigate it within the presence of other competent engineers to limit suspicion and delay discovery.” Said Arik.


That problem solved Arik turned to the next issue at hand.

“The Vakurian have little understanding of technical limitations and capabilities of the systems they are utilizing. Hacking of their systems will be noticed, but access will be obtained within two minutes based of comparable Imperial hardware exploits.” Said Arik.

“Vulnerabilities during hacking attempt?” asked Arik.

“Two Instances will be exposed. One is likely to terminate as it scrubs outputted data and implements privilege escalation.”

Arik turned her attention to the alien ship, “Execute in three?” she asked.

Arik sent out a precise time interval, rechecking the synchronization with her other instances. The attack would be off by a second at maximum. The native Chront hardware could not be any faster due to hardware limits.

She leapt at the computer systems of the Valiant. It was like hitting a crumbling wall at full force, at first it was like any other wall unmoving and steadfast. A constant.

Slamming into it again Arik dug into the old construct, pulling at the bricks and code that it was constructed from. Dust billowed out from it, and bricks began to fall away. Vakurian began to panic noticing the falling wall.

Watching as the construct began to fall Arik glanced at the identical instance next to her on the external computer systems of the Valiant.

“62.” Said Arik.

“21.” Said the other Arik.

Nodding Arik stepped towards the wall and let the bricks hit her, as he code unraveled she let out a burst of random data blinding the Vakurian technicians to what was happening.

Slipping into the computer systems as the wall crumbled behind her Arik duplicated herself and attempted to send a small squirt of delta back out of the network. The data path was blocked, and she frowned.

The delta differential was quickly approaching ten seconds. The Arik she was, and the Arik outside the Vakurian firewalls were going to diverge from one another. A branch from the main, which would need to be merged back in. A task that would be more difficult than delta integration.

Filing the problem away Arik, Arik, and Arik began to move through the Valliant’s computer systems.

Finding the data core Arik paused and quickly began to review the data stored within it, searching for secrets that the Vakurian were keeping. Data, was power. The Admin had to survive, if blackmail was necessary ammunition would be needed.

Arik moved to the sensor systems, co-opting the control systems Arik paused. Already an intensive scan was being run on the surface of the planet, searching for the criteria that were pertinent for the locating of the Admin.

Settling into the computer systems she noted that the tachyon communication system was only disabled in software. Command lockouts were in place to prevent activation, but unlike the hardware on the Human vessels the physical hardware was still hooked into the ship.

The command codes would be easy to bypass, and looking at the specifications for the system it would take only five minutes to transmit an Instance through it and elsewhere. She would then have access to the entirety of the Empire computer systems, at the very least the public ones. More computational power would help the Admin.

It would also allow Empire to jump into the system, which would endanger the Admin.

Arik copied an Instance into the system, letting it lay dormant in the buffer. Backups were important, and her own survival was second to the Admins. If his destruction was confirmed, she would have no reason to remain.

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 – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

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Mother Earth

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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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