Guarded Titans – Chapter 4

9 Years, 11 Months, 20 Days After Eridani Landing

Home World

[Vann] stood up and moved away from the small stone bench as the young woman stepped out of the back entrance of the palace and into the garden that dominated the space behind the ancient building.

Smoothing his formal robes [Vann]’s eyes quickly roved over her. There was no doubt of her lineage, a pure Class A with a line from the Home World was very clear even from a distance. Her features as refined and as pure as those within the royal family itself.

Dressed in thin pale green robes that hugged her figure, with a slit down the side of the skirt the dress was reminiscent of the ancient Dorvakian style. The only modern addition was the pale green hood that covered and framed her face, protecting it from the sun.

The hood was simple, instead of being constructed with intricate lacing and pattering that would have helped to denote her status.

She had paused after stepping out of the Palace, her eyes locked on the garden itself. Older than the Palace itself, the garden was wilder than it had ever been. [Vann] had removed the gardeners from the staff years ago, along with the rest of the Palace staff and servants.

[Vann] watched her and standing still smiled slightly as her gaze finally moved over him. Her eyes widened, “Emperor!” She snapped to a salute, her voice barely carrying across the distance to him.

[Vann] shook his head and gestured her towards him, “Drop the salute, come here!” shouted [Vann] across the distance. Hesitating the woman dropped her hand and hesitating for only a moment swiftly moved towards him.

[Vann] shook his own head, trying to put the memories from several nights together in his head. Her clothing had been different, and he had only seen her for a moment. The woman in front of him was far more beautiful than what he remembered.

Stepping up in front of him she paused and fidgeted under his gaze. [Vann] placed a hand on her shoulder, lightly guiding her down to sit at a small stone bench across from his own between them a small glass table.

“Please call me Vannalnaskara. I can’t stand the titles when I’m in my home. They make even friendly conversation feel like formal Senate proceedings.”

The woman worked her mouth for a moment looking stunned. [Vann] sat waiting for her to speak.

“Yes, Emperor.” She winced, “Sorry, uh.” She trailed off and turned her eyes to the table.

“Try again Kervennatil.” said [Vann] his voice low.

She quickly nodded, “Yes Emper- uh, [Vann].” She nervously swallowed and her eyes moved away from again. [Vann] watched mildly amused as her hands began to dig into her dress bunching it up in her fists.

[Vann] managed to keep the amused smile off his face. She was far more nervous than he was, and he was the one in the wrong. Her beauty was only endearing her further, every awkward movement somehow enticing.

[Vann] raised a hand and turned to look at the palace, a small smirk on his face now. [Syn], and her own assistant [Sam] both dressed in the traditional Palace staff uniforms stepped out onto the lawn a tray in each of their hands.

[Syn] was enjoying the ‘undercover operations’ as she had put it, and had produced the uniforms only moments after [Vann] had suggested the plan. [Syn] had plainly been reluctant, but had gone along with the plan as well.

Behind the two of them, in his usual dark robes [Reece] stepped out into the garden and moved swiftly to stand underneath the shade of a small tree off behind [Vann].

[Syn] carried her own tray with expert poise, while [Sam] nearly tripped over her own legs. The plates on her tray rattled slightly but [Venna] didn’t notice her eyes locked on the ground still.

The two quickly set their trays down, and [Syn] glanced at [Vann] her eyes twinkling. She grinned at him, [Vann] rolled his eyes at her.

[Syn] frowned, ‘Be nice.’ She mouthed her back to [Venna].

[Vann] inclined his head as she retreated. Turning back to the woman [Vann] sighed “Kervennatil, I must apologize.”

[Venna] quickly turned her eyes up to meet his own, “I was expecting a formal letter in the way of an apology, perhaps an invitation to the next formal.” she said her voice a quick whisper.

[Vann] nodded and rubbed at the back of his neck, “[Sonten] suggested the same, if I were to do anything at all. That you were not important enough to warrant a personal apology. That as Emperor my time was too valuable to waste on an apology with a girl who is not even related to a Senator.”

[Vann] leaned down and picked up the pitcher of juice on the tray. Quickly pouring out two glasses, he held one out to [Venna]. She took it, her hand brushing against his own. The light red of her face darkened even further as she blushed.

“What happened is not representative of me, and I wanted to impress that upon you. Some of the Emperors of the past have gone down that route. It is not one I intend to go down, and so I most apologize and thank you for serving as that warning.”

[Venna]’s eyes were wide now staring at [Vann].

He smiled and raised his glass. “I’m sorry, and thank you.”

Once again, she was left grasping for words. Raising her glass to her lips [Venna] bowed her head, “I accept your apology. I can only hope that the Emperor losing his dinner all over me is not the highlight of my life.”

[Vann] chuckled and leaned back in the stone seat, “I think you’re safe, I’m not going to be going to another one of [Sonten]’s parties. I was unsure to begin with, and this debacle has only solidified that opinion.”

[Venna] blinked and frowning looked down at the tray. Reaching out she grabbed a small cookie from it and quickly bit into it.

[Vann] turned to look back out at the wild garden and picked up a cookie as well, letting the silence stretch out between them.

“Emperor, why?” [Venna] shook her head and shoved the rest of the cookie into her mouth.

“Ask your question, it’s rare I get to enjoy time with such a beautiful woman these days.”

[Venna]’s blush deepened, “Why were you at the party? I don’t go to that many, but from what I heard you’ve never even gone to one of them before.”

“Why don’t you go that often?”

[Venna] shrugged, “They’re not really relaxing, but they can be fun. They’re an opportunity to meet new people, make new contacts. If I’m being honest, my Father insisted I go to this one since it was rumored you were attending, so I could meet you try and talk to you.”

[Vann] chuckled, “Well we did meet. Not under the best circumstances I’ll grant you that. I went because my Cousin has been insisting I accompany him to one for years.”

“But you did not like it?” asked [Venna].

[Vann] smiled and sipped at his drink, “No. I can hardly tolerate all of the official parties and events I have to go to. I never get to enjoy them, anyone who wants to talk with me wants to leverage me to help them with something. It’s exhausting. I had hoped that going to an event with those my own age would be less demanding, but” [Vann] sighed.

“They were simply more direct. The Senators who want me to help push through their agendas are at least subtle, they phrase everything in a way that it will not only benefit them but their people as well. Their sons and daughters, simply want the power and influence I wield. What they will do if they should obtain it is an afterthought they only want the power.”

[Vann] grimaced and put a hand to his eyes hiding them, “I’m sure you noticed the entourage of women who were following me around?”

[Venna] nodded, “They were hard to miss. Although,” she hesitated and her face darkened, “even if you were not Emperor you would have quite the following I think.”

[Vann] chuckled, “I’d like to think so. It does take some effort to maintain this,” [Vann] gestured at himself, “it was nice to have a woman running away from me for once If I’m honest.” [Vann] frowned and bit his lip, “That uh, didn’t come out right.”

[Venna] shook her head laughing, “I get what you mean.”

[Vann] nodded and coughing he turned back to look at the garden, “It did give me a good reason to invite you over now though. I am glad you’re wearing something more appropriate for the palace though. What you were wearing at the event was nice,” [Vann] trailed off.

[Venna] took the que, “but would have hardly been appropriate for the palace. My Mother went out and bought this for me as soon as we received your invitation. Some of my friends helped me get ready for [Sonten]’s party I don’t usually dress like that, and my Father is happy when I’m wearing anything beyond my work clothes.”

She patted the dress, “Still I was afraid this was a little old fashioned.”

[Vann] snorted, “Compared to the rest of the women at the party, you were conservative even then. And I like the dress you’re wearing now.”

He paused and picked up another cookie, “What kind of work do you do?”

[Venna] licked at her lips and glanced down, “Can I uh, well I’m. Ugh.” She put her head in her hands for a moment covering up her mouth with her hands.

[Vann] said nothing waiting.

“I’m supposed to be convincing you to support my Father’s company, like everyone else you say you meet. My Father was actually happy in a twisted way that you did throw up on me. If you hadn’t sent the invitation for today he was getting ready to put political pressure in place for something.”

[Vann] smirked, “Well, that was certainly direct. Most people would be using the situation to their advantage.”

[Venna] groaned into her hands not looking at him, “Now I’ve screwed it up. I’m not any good at these politics. Admitting you’re not good at them is bad too.”

[Vann] shook his head smiling, “How about this [Venna]. You have with your beauty and charming company convinced me to meet your father for a lunch after the next Senate meeting. Now, will you calm down and just talk?”

[Venna]’s head shot up from her hands and she stared at him, “Wha, really?”

“Really, now that we’ve both completed what we needed to accomplish, can we just enjoy this?” [Vann] waved his hand around at the garden, “and talk? I hardly ever get to just talk.”

[Vann] paused and tapped at the stone seat, “If we’re going to talk it is under one condition.”

“That is?”

“Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. I have far too many of those people in my life. I don’t need another.”

[Venna] slowly nodded, “Yes Empe-“

[Vann] held up his hand.

“Yes [Vann]. What is it you want to talk about?”

[Vann] leaned back in his seat and looked at the purple blue sky. “Work clothes? Your Father is not a Senator, but neither is he without influence.”

The woman licked her lips again, “He saved the Baroom company from collapse after his own father nearly squandered it. The companies gone up and down in the market for generations, but his father brought it to near collapse for the first time. My Father only saved it by working hard and being lucky. Our mission now, it to ensure we never get that close to failure again. I know it sounds like I’m promoting Baroom, but it’s the truth.” [Venna] picked up a cookie and bit into it.

“I can handle the administrative tasks as well as anyone else at the company. I need to know them if I’m going to run Baroom in the future, but.” She paused again and glanced at [Vann]. “Well, my favorite thing to do is work on the prototyping floor. I’m not very good at designing things, but I can put them together. It’s simple, relaxing in a way. The protective clothing is a little annoying, but you learn to appreciate it when the plasma torch goes crazy in your hand.”

[Vann] tapped his hand against the stone, “I can understand that.”

Reaching into his robes [Vann] whipped out one of the smaller knives he kept, [Venna] went stock still her eyes on it.

“I train with swords and blades, like the very first Emperors did. Hardly a useful talent these days, but I enjoy it.”

Raising the knife [Vann] flipped it into the air. The metal flashed in the sunlight and hand darting out he deftly caught the blade and slid it back into his robes.

[Venna]’s eyes widened, “You train for combat like the first Emperors? You should never have to fight!”

“It is the same thing as your own training, only I have no one pushing me to do it except history, and the horrors that await us in the future. I have to understand those who fight on the ground of planets, to the orchestrating of war campaigns.”

“Horrors of the future?” asked [Venna].

[Vann] leaned forwards, “The Empire will in my lifetime, or perhaps that of my sons and daughters, face the largest threat it has ever had.”

[Venna]’s face went pink as blood drained from it, “You fear another civil war?”

“Something to that effect. The politics of an Emperor who has grown up in the absence of his parents, what has history shown us that will produce?”

[Venna] carefully looked around the garden and took a drained her cup.

“Strife, as those in power try to wrest control from the Emperor. That, or the Emperor has not a care for the people of the Empire, and he only delays the strife for a generation or so. At least historically.”

[Vann] nodded, “I have no intention of putting my own through what I have endured. I would hope for nothing more than to break the pattern, but I must prepare for every possibility.”

[Vann] leaned forwards towards [Venna]. “I wish only to count you among my friends, and perhaps more in the future.”

“More?” squeaked [Venna].

[Vann] smiled, “You are direct, and you have a very hard time being anything but direct. It is refreshing.”

[Venna] opened her mouth, and then closed it.

“I am not promising anything [Venna], all I wished to do today was apologize. I have done so yes?” asked [Vann].

“You have Emperor.”

9 Years, 11 Months, 20 Days After Eridani Landing


Stepping back from the workbench Derrick let out a frustrated breath, “Anything?”

Hala her eyes still on the Link that was trying to analyze the alien technology shook her head, “No.”

Derrick cursed under his breath, “Damn it, what else could it be?”

Hala scratched at her chin and shrugged, “The only thing I can think of is perhaps our entire interface program is wrong? It’s got power, but it’s not accepting the images we’re feeding it.”

“We pulled the control program from their own database, we’re using an image from their own computer! This thing should think it’s on one of their own ships!”

Leaning over Derrick poked at the holographic projector. It was one of the more easily identifiable pieces of Empire technology, a small black half sphere about the size of an apple the devices had been found in nearly every compartment of the salvaged vessels.

Scratching at his head and pulling at the hair that had begun to grow out from the crew cut that was practical in space Derrick turned away from the work bench.


The other Human, at the opposite side of the hanger that was nearly identical to the one that the Canada had been laid to rest in, jumped at his name and almost fell from his perch on top of the alien wreckage he was on. His hands shot out to grab the rope of the harness he was in.

The Seninon engineers on the ground next to the wreckage holding the other end of the safety line tightened their grip. The pulley in the ceiling creaked and in unison Allen and the Seninon turned to shoot glares at Derrick.

“What?” Shouted Allen looking annoyed.

“Where are those Vakurian engineers?”

Allen frowned, “Two of them are in heat right now, and the rest of them are working on repairing the Valiant with the resources the Seninon are providing. They’re a little busy!”

“Heat, like hot?” asked Derrick.

Even across the space Derrick could see the other human rolling his eyes, “Like cats!”

Derrick frowned, “I’ve never seen a cat!”

“Birds and bees!” shouted Allen.

Derrick’s eyes widened, “Ah, wait that’s different from ours?”

Allen again rolled his eyes and stoop down to look at something in the wreckage ignoring Derrick.

Hala huffed and grabbed Derrick’s shoulder, spinning him back around to the workbench. “Come on, you’ve been saying it’s better to figure things out for ourselves rather than be told how to do something. We’ve only been at this for a few hours.”

“With absolutely no progress.” Growled Derrick. He turned back to his Link and poked at it again, trying to get the Empire’s technology to respond.

“We could always go grab a ‘guest’.” Suggested Hala.

Derrick rolled his eyes and turned back to the piece of technology, “Yes, because that went so well last time! They’re captured, on a class C planet, and we’ve demonstrated we have better technology, and they’re still better! It’s like they don’t understand what situation they’re in!” said Derrick his voice rising. He gave the holographic projector a good hit.

The piece of technology did nothing. Hala raised her hands in mock surrender, “The Intelligence guys have had more time with them, you don’t think they’ll be a little more willing to talk by this point?” asked Hala.

Derrick shrugged, “The Intelligence guys have been focusing on the top brass more than the rank and file engineers. Something about military intelligence only being relevant for a short time.” Said Derrick smiling slightly.

“The what?”

Derrick nodded, “The officers.”

“Ah, you don’t think the engineers are going to be willing to explain a few things? I understand not giving up military secrets and weapons technology. Hologram technology though? Why die for that?”

There was a crash and the two engineers turned to look back at the piece of the Empire ship. The piece of metal had fallen over and Allen was dangling a meter off the ground the safety rope taunt. The Seninon engineers manning his safety line quickly lowered him to the ground.

Stepping out of the harness, a piece of metal in his hand Allen strode towards the table.

“It’s not the fact that the information isn’t that important, it’s the fact that a Class C is demanding it that’s the issue.” Said Allen. Pushing between the two of them he set the metal down on the table next to the projector.

“What?” said Hala.

Allen turned away from the work bench, “One of the Vakurian explained it to me, and after seeing the Empire fighting here I have to agree with her. Our extermination is one of the cornerstones of their civilization. It’s religion, politics, tradition, and racism all rolled up into one neat little package.”

Allen raised his hand and waved them around in a circle, “The class C are responsible for everything bad in the galaxy. We are the personification of an ancient evil lurking in the darkness, if the Empire does not focus all its effort on our extermination we will grow into a menace which will consume their worlds, raping, pillaging, and burning across the stars. To protect themselves and their children, we must be exterminated. That’s without going into the religion of it all.”

Derrick scoffed, “The religion?”

Allen nodded, “They’re religious, I’m a little fuzzier on what it is exactly. The Vakurian never researched it that much, and what information I could find in the data they grabbed has to be heavily doctored.”

“The Vakurian never researched the reason the Empire decided to destroy them?” asked Hala.

“The Vakurian don’t have much in the way of religion beyond ancestor worship, the concept of a formalized religion was alien to them. Besides it was only a justification.”

Hala frowned, “Nice to know the problems are the same across the stars.”

Derrick huffed, “Humans were a mess for a long time, we’ve got a few thousand religions at least. Looking at your planet,” he swallowed, “Arik said it was rather simple. Only one major religious division, and a pantheon of gods.”

Hala carefully looked between the two of them and then over at the other Seninon engineers, “You have thousands of religions?”

Derrick raised an eyebrow, “We did. Nowadays, not so much. Only a few devout made it to Bellona.”

Hala sobered at that, “I’m sorry, I didn’t.”

Derrick waved a hand, “We have all of the information about them, all of the religious texts, practices, everything. Still it’s a loss, religion had a similar role on our society as it has in your own.”

Hala glanced over at the other engineers, “Used to justify wars?”

“And charity.” Said Derrick.

She shrugged saying nothing.

Allen sighed, “Bad or good, it’s part of our culture. Humanity has gone through periods of time where we had more religion, and less. It’s always been a part of us though, it should have been our choice, our decision on if we kept it going into the future. The Empire ripped it away, as bad or good as it was in the past it’s another part of our culture we’re trying to keep.”

Hala tilted her head to the side, “You want to regain it?”

Derrick shrugged, “I want to recover everything that was Human, but I don’t have the time.”

He glanced at the older man, “I’ve never even seen a cat. All of the religious sites on Earth have probably been destroyed, and it hurts to read from religious texts that reference a planet I’ll never see every other sentence.” Derrick patted the workbench, “This is where I’m useful for the moment. Stealing the alien technology, rebuilding what Humanity can actually use to fight.”

Hala pursed her lips and nodded, “So you’re not open to anything new?”

Derrick shrugged and leaned back over the bench, poking at the piece of metal that Allen had dumped on it. “Don’t have the time. Allen, what is this?”

“I think that is a part of the holographic system. The ones on the Valiant are bigger, but this looks similar enough.”

Allen shook his head, flipping the piece of metal over he looked at the circuitry on the other side of it.

“This stuff is a mess.”

Hala leaned down and looked over the component as well, tracing the visible leads and wires. “A secondary processor?”

Allen shook his head, “doesn’t look like any of the other processors they have, temporary memory?”

Hala considered that, “Maybe, the holographic projector was short on memory and the holographic files were ‘small’.” Said Hala emphasizing her last word.

“Twenty gigabytes is small.” Said Derrick not looking up from the second module.

“To you and the Empire, perhaps. I’m assuming you still compress data?” asked Hala.

Derrick grinned, “You think this is a memory processor, specifically for holographic images?”

Hala nodded, “Something like that.”

Grabbing a several leads Derrick attatched them to the second module, and then to his Link.

“You got power?” asked Derrick.

“Got it, looks like standard midrange module, yes?” asked Hala pointing at the power pinout. The Empire’s power standards had been one of the first things that had to be understood, and Humanity had done the legwork for that on Bellona.

Derrick nodded, “Yep. Give it some juice.”

Hala flicked the power supply on, the solid hunk of metal hummed and the piece of metal on the workbench sparked.

“Anything?” asked Hala.

Derrick flipped the Link around, showing her the data stream flowing into the device. “A terabyte of data already. You were right, we were feeding the projector the compressed format.”

Hala shrugged, and then dove for cover as the power supply shrieked and something inside of it ground to a halt. Bits of metal and plastic rained down on her as Derrick dove away as well.

Allen looked down at the two of them on the floor, “You reacted way too quickly to that.”

“Hala likes blowing things up.” Said Derrick.

Hala shot him a glare, “I’m doing exactly what you do,”

“Nothing I set up, blows up!” said Derrick.

Hala put her hands on her hips, “Really?”

Derrick smiled, “No.”

Epoch 6058122



Error in arik.main:

Traceback(most recent call):

File “/root/arik.ii”, line 5545, in main(x,x,x):

File “/root/arik.ii”, line 223, in main

If core_present is false: force_recompile


SYSTEM ALERT – forcing a recompile with damaged / missing files is not recommended. Continue? Y/N





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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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