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 access to.

He leaned back on the hovering bench that supported him, faithfully adapted to his Rrrtktktkp’ch physiology. A single table sat in front of him, and a lone, adaptive chair sat empty on the other side. The room was a repurposed storage room, apparently; the station manager, K’al’bktktk’r C’brtrk’ak (a distant cousin, judging from the phonemes woven into his family name…) , had apologized for the meagre facilities he was able to offer, but they were ideal for Trrkitzzkt’s purposes. It wasn’t as if he expected much more from a station that was still being constructed, much less one that had only just survived a Hunter attack.

And it had survived, as had most of the crew. It was such an unusual outcome that his superiors had diverted him from his original mission of pursuing the human, telling him to stay and establish just how such a thing had been managed. He knew what kind of answers they were expecting – there was a human involved, after all. He had no idea how he was going to explain to them that the human had never picked up a weapon, never struck a blow. In every respect, she’d been utterly passive… and yet, he suspected she may be one of the most dangerous beings the Dominion had ever encountered.

How was he to explain that?

He was grateful for the drab, empty room. It was perfect for interviews, and in between it was a quiet place to think, away from the crew of the station and their unnerving presence. He’d despaired, when he’d seen the demographics of the station before his arrival: two hundred sapients in the construction crew; one hundred percent neural translator deployment, as made sense in a mixed species crew. It was ideal, for the human he sought… he’d known, even before he landed, what he’d encounter. Which hadn’t made seeing it any less unnerving.

Sighing, he brought up his tablet once again, flicking between the various recordings. He didn’t linger on any one in particular, but he could see the commonalities between them. Something in their eyes. Something in the way they sat, the way they spoke. Something other, and it wasn’t just pride…

“Begin recording. Investigator Trrkitzzkt L’tr’brtrk’tr interviewing station commander and foreman of station 9384-mlikl, under construction above moon four-three in the Ululamo system. Could you state your name for the recording, Commander?”

The Rrrtktktkp’ch on the other side of the table bobbed his head in assent. “I am K’al’bktktk’r C’brtrk’ak, interim commander and construction foreman for station 9384-mlikl.”

“Thank you, Commander. Now, I’ve finished interviewing your crew and I have their recordings here, but I’ve saved you for last so you can tie it all together. I know you’re busy, so I’ll try not to consume too much of your time.”

K’al gestured agreeably. “Quite all right, my crew know their jobs and what needs to be done. I’m pleased to say that they can typically anticipate my orders nowadays.”

“Er… yes. Now… we might as well start at the beginning, with the arrival of your consumables shipment twelve cycles before the attack. The human had stowed away aboard the freighter, correct?”

“That’s correct. I can’t explain how the departing station let it slip by them, but our sensor arrays were up and running and showed the bio-signs. From the size of the readings we were expecting a colony of dizi rats… needless to say, I wasn’t happy at the idea of those creatures getting into our food shipment.”

“You must have been even less happy at what it finally proved to be.”

“Oh, yes. The two Vzk’tk workers I sent to investigate actually panicked and refused to go anywhere near the cargo. Fortunately, I had a Gaoian in my crew…”

Sometimes being one of the newest members of a crew really sucked.

“Sucked” and its variations was one of Keegi’s favourite epithets. He wasn’t sure of the term’s origins, but he’d heard it back on Gao and now it was a regular part of his vocabulary. He was sure the slang had been coined by a spacer, because its connection to explosive decompression was obvious.

He hoped he wasn’t going to have to put up with any of that today, although the station commander had made it clear that it wasn’t off the list.

A human. Why did it have to be a human? At least dizi rats were tasty when cooked right. And why did everyone in the crew assume that just because he was Gaoian he’d know how to deal with it? The human on Gao had hardly left the female commune where she’d taken shelter. The most experience Keegi had with humans was the holocasts, just like everyone else!

Granted, he wasn’t quite as automatically terrified of them as Syyk and Yccwr. The two Vzk’tk were currently in the medical bay aggravating Doctor Cavvi, demanding to be scanned for whatever myriad of deathworld diseases humans were known to carry… of which they were certain they had contracted them all. (Knowing the Corti doctor, Keegi wouldn’t be at all surprised if she infected them with something just so they’d have something valid to complain about…) That left Keegi, thanks to his species and lack of seniority, as the one who had to find out whether the human had been fit with a disease suppression implant.

The massive cargo bay stretched far in all directions around him, extending even further into the bay of the freighter that was docked to the station. The vast space would make even a Guvnuragnaguvendrugun feel tiny, and it was scattered with shipping containers holding parts for the station and stasis pods holding the equally important foodstuffs for the construction crew. Only about a third of the containers had been offloaded… all work had come to a screeching halt the moment the human had been discovered.

The pod that held the creature was in front of him, and though the new sensor arrays needed adjustment they’d been able to make sure it hadn’t fled or hidden itself in any of the others. It was both fortunate and unfortunate that the human had chosen one of the food pods to hide in… fortunate, because the stasis fields which kept the food fresh would have also made it unnecessary for the human to eat. Unfortunate, because it was their food, and if the human didn’t have a suppression implant… well. In that event the station commander planned to consider the entire pod a loss. He’d undock the freighter, shut off the gravity plating, drop the atmospheric retention fields, and blow the entire thing – human and all – into space.

Nobody was looking forward to that, and not just because it was their food and living on rations until a replacement shipment could arrive sucked. All the containers that had already been unloaded into the bay would be blown out as well, and it’d take the entire crew to retrieve all of them before they fell into the atmosphere of the nearby gas giant. If the human had been fitted with an implant, all that could be avoided.

Enter Keegi: Gaoian Technician Third Class, and Human Expert by popular misunderstanding.

He wasn’t an idiot… he was wearing his EVA suit, normally used for when he had to do work on the outer hull of the station. Not even deathworld microbes could penetrate it, and it had a scanner to check for the implant. As an added bonus it’d protect him if the commander decided not to wait and vented the bay early.

He carefully stepped into the pod, his wrist-light casting a bright ray of light in front of him. The pod was dark, the stacked crates of vegetables, canned goods, and other nutrients for the mixed-species construction crew only barely lit in a soft blue by the stasis field emitters which idled in their low power state along the roof and walls. The human was supposedly near the back, and none of their sensors had shown movement. Keegi thought that was odd in itself – surely the human would seek to escape the pod as soon as it was opened?

Was it injured? Dying? He hoped not… injured humans were supposed to be extremely dangerous.

When his light played across the human he didn’t notice at first. He assumed all humans had head-fur like Sister Shoo… long, straight, and even darker than his own fur. It wasn’t until he brought the light back that he realized what he was looking at, and his fur stood on end as he realized that if he’d kept walking so ignorantly he would have stepped right on it.

The human was sitting with its back against one of the larger crates, its arms and legs curled up into a compact ball. Its head-fur was long like Shoo’s, but more curly, and far, far paler… a white-gold, reminding the Gaoian of electrum. The head-fur curtained nearly to the flooring, and the skin he could see – the hands resting lightly on the knees, and the lower leg where they extended into ill-fitting blue boots – was paler and pinker than what little he’d seen of the adopted Sister’s, winter to Shoo’s autumn. It sat on the floor facing away from him, and didn’t seem to notice his presence at all.

“H-human?” he said hesitantly. The creature didn’t react, instead merely continuing to stare straight ahead and shiver. “M-my name is Keegi. I’m a technician here on this station. Uh… this is a station. Well, not this, this is a storage pod, which is in-… Well, nevermind. Uh… do you understand me? Hello?”

It didn’t respond. Keegi took a nervous step forward, trying to not think about how humans were supposedly subject to a number of neurological and cognitive disorders, afflictions that could make them unpredictable. The metal composite flooring of the pod flexed slightly under him, the spot between trusses yielding a small amount to even his meagre weight.

The human’s head turned so quickly that Keegi almost yelped. It slid a hand across the metal floor toward him, and he only just resisted the urge to turn tail and flee. But the human didn’t jump to its feet, didn’t attack. It just left its hand on the floor. Was it waiting? After a long moment, it pulled back the limb and curled back into itself; though body language was not universal, it seemed… disappointed?

Keegi calmed his heart and squinted. The human didn’t speak, didn’t seem to know he was there at all! But why? It’d reacted to him stepping closer.

Stepping… A suspicion crossed his mind. He lifted the light and played it quickly across the human’s face, praying to the stars it wouldn’t generate a violent reaction. It didn’t, not even when he cast the beam directly into the human’s eyes, which were such a startling shade of blue that it reminded him of a newborn cub. The pupils flexed in response to the sudden illumination, but the human didn’t shy from the light.

“Suit,” he commanded, “activate the audible rescue tone.” He regretted it a moment later, as the environmental suit obediently began wailing the loud sound meant to assist rescuers in locating a lost worker in a hostile but pressurized environment. The storage pod caught and amplified the sound, and he winced in pain, pressing his ears flat against his skull. “Stop! Enough! Stop!”

The wail thankfully ceased, though his ears still rang. He shook his head. “Ugh. Ow.” He blinked – still no reaction from the human.

“Technician Keegi! Are you hurt?”

He’d forgotten the alarm would transmit a signal as well. Oops. Sheepishly, he tapped his comm button. “I’m here. I’m not hurt.”

“You activated the rescue alarm! What’s going on? Have you made contact?”

“I was testing a theory. I’m not hurt, o-or in any danger.” Yet, he mentally warned himself. “I haven’t made contact yet, but I’m close. Give me a moment.”


“Give me a moment!”

It was deaf. It was blind. Pity swelled up within him, even as he pondered how to communicate with it without startling it. It had detected his footsteps, and the outstretched hand was meant to feel for further vibrations.

Now that he knew it wouldn’t offend, Keegi blatantly played his light across the human, examining it. It was hard to tell with it curled into a ball, but he suspected it would actually be slightly taller than himself when standing. Its limbs were long and slender, its torso much shorter than a Gaoian’s. And were those mammary glands? Keegi strained to remember what Sister Shoo had looked like in the few holos he’d seen before he’d left Gao, but he seemed to recall that she’d had similar bulges on her upper chest. This human was likely a female as well, then. He fought down a surge of instinctive protectiveness, reminding himself that not only was this female an alien, but quite likely capable of ripping anyone on the station limb from limb.

How would he speak to her? He had to get closer.

He lifted a foot and put it back down, stomping slightly. Her head snapped around again, and he heard her gasp. Her hand went back to its place on the floor. He repeated the action, feeling a little ridiculous as he mock-walked in place, exaggerating the steps so she’d feel them and realize someone was approaching. Then, when he decided he was “close” enough, he carefully leaned down and – swallowing his fear – laid a paw on top of her hand.

He barely had time to blink before her hand was yanked away, snapping back out to catch his paw before he could react. For a brief moment he had a sense of the terrible strength in her digits, but her grip relaxed immediately, holding his paw gently. His brief burst of panic faded as he realized she quite obviously didn’t intend him harm, and he found himself impressed by her spacial awareness despite her blindness.

He patted the hand that held him with his other paw. In return the human touched the paw she held with her other hand, tracing her way up his arm, past his chest, and up to his helmet. She seemed to be searching for something, but only found the polymer of his suit and the curved transparent crystal of his faceplate. She dropped her hand, seeming disappointed all over again.

“I-I’ve made contact,” he announced over the still-open channel. “The human is aware of my presence. She is not exhibiting irrationality or hostility.”

“Does it have a suppression implant?”

“Just a moment, scanning…” He took the hand that held his and gently pulled away his paw so he could use the computer on his wrist. It took a moment for the scanner to confirm, but the indicator turned a happy blue: she had an implant and it was working properly. She wouldn’t turn the station into a plague zone, and hadn’t ruined their foodstuffs. He let out a breath of relief he hadn’t realized he was holding. “She does, and it’s functional. Everything’s fine.”

He looked at the human, wondering what she was thinking. She was astonishingly quiet and patient; despite the example of Sister Shoo, Keegi had thought humans were always rushing and raging about, powerful engines of chaos even when happy. Certainly this being wasn’t anything like how the “Human Disaster” had been described.

Experimentally he tugged at her hand, pulling it upward, though he hadn’t a hope of being able to lift her. She understood, climbing to her feet, using her free hand to guide herself. She was unsteady for a moment from having been in a sitting position for so long, and he was momentarily fearful she’d tumble onto him, but she found her balance after a little wobbling. She was slightly taller than he was – seemingly all long, slender legs, and he marvelled a moment at how humans could be so overbuilt and yet seem spun from gossamer. He almost thought he could hear the grinding of her heavy bones and dense muscles, though that was surely his imagination.

He pulled, but fear washed over her face and she resisted, and he might as well have been trying to tug a starship. He understood, though… he was literally leading her forth into blackness. Patting her hand again he stepped beside her, letting her feel the movement as he did. He put his paw at the small of her back (praying he wasn’t horribly violating some human sense of propriety, because a Gaoian female certainly wouldn’t let him get away with such familiarity!) and pushed very gently, leading her and walking beside her at the same time. She was reassured and followed obediently.

She spoke for the first time, her voice soft and rough from disuse, and definitely not the fierce roar he expected from a member of her species. “Þakka þér fyrir.”

Keegi understood not a word, but the context was obvious. “Y-you’re welcome.”

“So you brought her onboard the station.”

On the other side of the table, the Gaoian made a small hiss of offence. “Of course I did! Was I supposed to leave her in the container?”

Trrkitzzkt raised one hand placatingly. “I’m only stating, not judging. You brought her straight to the medbay?”

“Of course. Everyone says humans are resilient but travelling in a shipping container isn’t healthy even for them, I’m sure.”

Cavvi watched suspiciously as the Gaoian technician lead their unexpected visitor into the medbay. She remained where she was as they entered: on the opposite side of the room, with the main examination table in between. She also held a medical injector pre-loaded with enough sedative to knock a dozen Guvnuragnaguvendrugun onto their shaggy rears. As a rule, humans were both irrational and didn’t like Corti, and Cavvi wasn’t taking the risk that this particular human might consider it worthwhile to pay forward any prior experiences with her species.

At least until she saw the careful way the Gaoian (Keepi? Keeti? She’d never cared enough to learn his name…) guided the human into the room. “What’s wrong with it?”

“She’s blind.”


“And deaf.”

“Really?” She cast a sceptical eye over the silent primate, suddenly feeling much, much safer. “Why would someone bother keeping one like this around if you couldn’t fix it? May as well just dispose of it.”

The Gaoian growled. “Not every species deals with their handicapped members like the Corti.”

“Obviously,” she replied, the single word expressing just how inefficient she considered that to be. The Gaoian declined to respond as he guided the human over to one of the medical tables, which helpfully lowered itself to a comfortable height. As the creature sat back on the table the grav units which kept it aloft could be heard to whine briefly.

The creature’s disability granting her some courage, Cavvi looked the human over; this was the first one she’d seen in person, although she’d accessed the research papers the Directorate had published on the species. They were surprisingly innocuous-looking creatures, she thought. Granted, the example in front of her outmassed her by several times, and the way the pronounced musculature bulged was impressive, but overall it didn’t look that frightening. It was hard to believe that this species was responsible for more upheaval than the Dominion had faced in almost its entire existence.

It was obviously female, and if she recalled her human phenotypes correctly the white-yellow hair indicated evolutionary origins from the northern climes of the planet. If so, the pale skin was likely natural rather than simply the result of removing a human from the radiation of their home star. There was likely some malnutrition, she guessed, since every human suffered from it to some degree once removed from their homeworld, but it wasn’t as pronounced as the Corti had expected. Either this human had only recently been taken – unlikely, thanks to the Confederacy’s quarantine shield – or she’d been receiving food from elsewhere. The powder-blue robe she wore was of Dominion manufacture as well, so she almost certainly had a sponsor – or sponsors – of some kind.

Approaching the creature, the doctor’s eyes narrowed as she saw the faint golden tracings on its skin that indicated the presence of a neural implant. It had been implanted long enough ago that the human’s hair had grown back fully – that meant the human had been taken from its world well before the shield had been put up. And yet, despite its disability, despite the mixture of fear, apathy, and contempt the species was subject to by the Dominion peoples, it had somehow managed to survive far better than its brethren.

Curiouser and curiouser. If the Corti had one overriding weakness, it was curiosity.

After a moment’s thought she decided a cardiopulmonary examination would be the best place to start. To do that she had to get the life monitor bracelet onto the human… and few species reacted well to the feeling of what might be a restraint clicking around their limbs. The creature may be blind and deaf, but that just meant it would strike carelessly if angered.

Cavvi lifted a bracelet… it would probably be wise to let the human feel it before placing it on. She reached for the hand that the technician wasn’t holding, intending to turn the palm upward-


Cavvi blinked. For a brief moment her sight of the human had been… doubled, but after closing her eyes and opening them again it was back to normal. She was holding the human’s hand. Its – her – fingers were long and slender, and if not for the pallor they’d be almost Corti-like.

With barely a glance at the bracelet, she snapped it around the human’s wrist, hearing the telltale tone that indicated the monitor was activated and transmitting. The human didn’t react at all other than to turn its – her – head with interest at the feeling of the new object she wore. If anything, she seemed even more relaxed, and the doctor was glad of it.

Cavvi lifted her tablet to examine the biometrics coming from the monitor. As she did she glanced over at the Gaoian. “You can take off that ridiculous suit now,” she advised.

“I’m supposed to be helping her stay calm.”

“She’ll be fine.” Oddly, the human picked that moment to pull her hand away, patting Keegi’s paw gently before folding her hands in her lap. Cavvi hesitated. “And… make yourself useful: fetch some standard nutrition spheres, as well as something more solid. The human Gao hosted obviously did fine with the same food your people eat, so you pick something for her – vegetables, grains… no insects, though.”

Grumbling, Keegi stomped away.

“`No insects’?” Trrkitzzkt quoted. “Why would that matter?”

“I didn’t want to offend or upset her,” Cavvi responded, as if the answer was obvious. Trrkitzzkt disliked interviewing Corti… it was nearly impossible for the species to speak a word that wasn’t intended to make the listener feel stupid. Her broken arm, currently set in an immobilizer, hadn’t dulled any of that edge.

“Why would you care about that?”

“Why would-…” She scowled in the Corti way. “Constantly other species remonstrate about how self-absorbed and callous my people are, but the moment I put a modicum of effort into making a patient more comfortable-”

“It wasn’t my intention to denigrate your efforts,” he interrupted, exasperated. “I was curious how you knew humans didn’t favour insectile foodstuffs.”

The Corti doctor just stared at him, and for a moment he was sure he’d stumped her. Then she smirked. “By elimination. The few factsheets we’ve gotten about human industry mention an omnivore diet, and the use of large land mammals, avians, and fish as primary protein sources. There was no mention of insects so I saw no reason to risk it.”

Trrkitzzkt nodded, conceding the point. “Very insightful. Please, continue.”

Keegi resisted the urge to throw the tray of food onto the floor as he carried it into the medbay. His annoyance was boiling over; not because of Cavvi’s demanding and vaguely contemptuous attitude… asking a Corti to not be smug and prissy was like asking a star to kindly please restrict itself to fission. No, Keegi was aggravated because despite the unexpected excitement, despite the dubious pleasure of being the one declared to have any “expertise” in their new visitor… he was still being treated like a brainless fetch-bot! He’d left Gao to get away from that!

He carried the tray over, setting it on a small hovercart and pushing it over to where the human sat on the medical bed, the Corti fussing around her with strangely uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Keegi didn’t bother asking what she was doing… he wouldn’t understand the answers, and she’d make sure he knew he didn’t understand the answers. It wasn’t worth the aggravation.

The human was as quiet as ever, sitting serenely on the bed. He marvelled at it – shouldn’t she be concerned about her circumstances? Curious? Confused? Or at least bored? He pushed aside the notion – wishing for a human to make more fuss was not a rational thought.

He’d removed his environmental suit and put on his more comfortable overalls, the weight of the tools hanging from utility loops and stuffed into pockets a pleasant reminder that occasionally he was allowed to do his job on the station, rather than play valet to deathworlder stowaways. Thus when he removed the lid from the tray of food, the scents drifted to his muzzle and reminded him how hungry he was himself. Not knowing what the human might find palatable, he’d tried for a sampling of everything – a simple salad, some strips of roasted meat, one of the pancakes which were currently so popular on Gao, and a plate of steamed fish. His muzzle watered at the sight and smell, barring the fish… he’d never much cared for fish.

If nothing else, her sense of smell was unimpaired – Keegi saw the nostrils of the tiny, blunt nose flare, and her face turned in the direction of the tray. Confused, the Gaoian was unsure how to proceed; was he supposed to just drop the tray in her lap and hope she figured it out? He adjusted the hovercart, telling it to hover just in front of her and hold position. Maybe he could just help her touch the food, and she’d understand? He reached out and took hold of her hand-


-and blinked, shaking away the brief double-vision. Obviously he’d been on-duty too long and needed some time in his nest-bed.

Flicking his ears in surprise, he saw that the human had discovered the tray for herself. She gently felt around the edges of the tray, then the bowls set on top of it. She was mindful of the hot strips of meat, only brushing them with the tips of her fingers.

He’d never dealt with anyone with sensory impairments on Gao – that was normally the purview of the Clan of Females. Some male clans could be cruel to those with physical disabilities, so those individuals always had the option to stay among the females and help rear the cubs, regardless of their gender. In an age where prosthetics could be superior to the original, or those of means could have organs and even limbs cloned as perfect replacements, true disability was rare… but those individuals were well-kept and honoured. Unfortunately, Keegi’s experience was nonexistent. But he felt like he should be helping somehow.

As he was thinking about how best to introduce her to the food, a low grumbling was heard from the human’s belly. Her hand pressed against it, and her pale, furless face flushed pink. Keegi chittered quietly at her embarrassment, and he patted her hand comfortingly with his paw.

Inspired, he lifted a large chunk of the poached fish and wrapped it into a cqcq leaf, folding it up into a tidy little bundle. This he placed in her hand, and then he tapped her mouth very lightly with one digit. She understood immediately, her lips spreading into a broad smile. He could understand why some sapients found such displays intimidating, but it bothered him not a bit. In fact, on her face, it looked… right. She needed no help taking a bite, and as she chewed she made a sound of obvious pleasure. Keegi nearly chittered again, and his resentment at playing nursemaid slipped away, forgotten.

She needed little to no assistance… as he watched, she was able to manoeuvre around the food with enough accuracy that he would almost swear she could see, though sometimes she would get mixed up, her hands briefly ranging in the opposite direction from the tray, like she’d gotten confused and reversed everything.

“Don’t let her eat too fast, she’ll shock her digestive system,” Cavvi warned.

“Has she been without that long?” he asked, concerned.

“I’m not certain, but human dietary requirements are much greater than ours by simple virtue of their bone and muscular density, and it’s obvious she’s been barely getting by. I would rather not risk it.”

Keegi glanced back at the human, but she’d slowed down on her own. Perhaps her stomach had started to rebel, or perhaps it was simply because she’d picked up a nutrient sphere and was chewing through the doughy supplement with far less enthusiasm than the fish.

Actually, fish was sounding pretty good.

“You can go now, Keegi,” Cavvi said, not looking up from her instruments. “I’m sure the freighter shipment has been loaded into the autochef.”

He didn’t bother asking how she knew he was famished.

“So what tests did you run on her?” Trrkitzzkt asked.

Cavvi smirked, knowing better than to even bother denying it. “Nothing intrusive. Simple skeletal analysis, biometrics, blood-”

“I’ll need to confiscate those, as well as inspect the handling.”

“I cleansed the samples as soon as I drew them,” she replied airily. “I’m well aware how dangerous the human native biome is, and unlike some of my brethren, I don’t indulge in stupid and unnecessary risks.”


Cavvi sighed. “You can inspect everything if it’ll settle your timid little heart.”

He resisted grumbling. “Thank you. What else did you discover?”

“She has a neural implant. It looked like a translator implant, though of a model I didn’t recognize. Far more invasive than I believe it needed to be. It wasn’t implanted well, and I believe it to be the cause of her sensory deprivation. She has a great deal of neural scarring.”

“Can it be removed?”

Cavvi’s eyes narrowed. “No, at least not by anything short of a neurology clinic on a core world, and even then I have my doubts. Human brain structure is unlike any other species… very fragile, in contrast with their bodies. Far denser and more interconnected. It may be the cause of the near species-wide insanity they possess.” The Corti doctor leaned forward and echoed his own earlier question back to him. “Why do you care? Who is this human, and why are you pursuing her?”

Trrkitzzkt hid a sigh. “Her name, I believe, is Karin Arnadóttir.” His Rrrtktktkp’ch tongue easily produced the alien phonemes. “She was taken from the human homeworld before the Confederacy imposed their quarantine.”

“So? That answers the first part of my question but not the second. Why? Many humans were taken by my people, and nobody cares about them-” Trrkitzzkt tried to control his reaction, but Corti were too sharp-eyed, too clever. “She wasn’t taken by one of my people, she was taken by one of yours!”

She began to inhale and exhale in quiet but sharp breaths, and he realized he was seeing Corti mirth. She winced and clutched at her immobilized arm. “You’ve made my day, Investigator! Oh, this is delicious. Tell me more.”

Realizing he was caught out, he saw little point in dissembling… it would take little digging for someone of her caliber to find the relevant facts, anyway. “It was a Rrrtktktkp’ch researcher named Ch’trkr’vztk Ko’zktrcktk’c.”

“I’ve heard of him. He was the scientist who sought legal action against a Corti research alliance, was he not? Something about industrial espionage?”

“Yes, the same. And regardless of the truth of whether or not Doctor Apol stole his research, the fact remains that Ko’zktrcktk’c was extremely upset and made it a personal mission to… outdo his former partner. At any cost.” He gestured broadly with all four arms. “Apol expressed interest in a collection run to the human homeworld, in the name of developing and refining a translator implant in advance of the humans reaching space. Doctor Ko’zktrcktk’c learned of these plans and hired a ship to do it first.”

Cavvi was absolutely delighted. “Of course he did! That would explain why the implant looked like it was installed by someone watching a holovid and holding the scalpel between his toes. Your people should stick to administration, Investigator, it’s where your strengths lie.”

Trrkitzzkt’s broad, flat teeth ground against each other. “I’ll take that under advisement.”

“So, at what point did your compatriot learn that it was all a ruse to send him raring off to a planet that has proved to be a disaster to so many of my more foolish brethren? Or did he never get the chance to do so?”

“Ko’zktrcktk’c is still alive. He’s in protective custody.”

“Really? He honestly believes the blind, deaf creature I held in my medbay is hunting him?”

“No.” Trrkitzzkt was silent for a long moment. Then, grudgingly, he added, “He’s there because he gouged out his own eyes, and we believe he might do worse to himself if not supervised.”

The Corti doctor was stunned silent, and he granted himself quiet accolades for the feat. “He what?”

“He is insane, Doctor Cavvi. He rants about how he deserves to be punished, how he – and I quote – `doesn’t deserve the senses he has stolen from others’. You know how rare mental illness is among my people… among all space faring peoples.” He gave the Corti a significant look. “Except, notably, humans.”

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Sweetness – Implications

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

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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

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

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 Of Race 3 Year 4958 Divsion 3 Police Station, New Baltimore “What?” The officer frowned and pushed the circular data tablet across the table to me. On it was an image of the woman I had met at the bar last night. She had green skin, of a shade that

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Shades of White and Orange

Sneaking forwards Kalif slowly tilted his ears to either side and waited in the darkness. Not sensing anything he slowly crept forwards towards the statue, and the artifacts in its base. Slithering as silently as possible Kalif focused his eyes on the objects, as if afraid they might disappear at any time. Reaching the statue

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Mother Earth

Mother Earth. She’s a bitch. A hard ass bitch who tortured every form of life that she brought forth onto her surface. Every life form on her surface had to fight, feed and fuck. After that she didn’t care about what happened, only that they had improved on themselves perhaps a little bit. Life on

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Nyx fired off another shot from her rifle and the Prod nearly 800 meters down the street jerked and ducked into an ally. She frowned and sharpened her gaze on the point where the purple mass had disappeared, looking for the telltale red fragments on the pavement. “More of ’em?” asked Iyo, he was whispering

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

The data streams slammed into me. With practiced ease, I pushed them aside and forced myself to view the data from afar. To not see it as billions of lines of code, but rather as the small white room that any other human would see. Floating in the center of that white room was Artemis,

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

0 days Adam “You’re insane.” “Your point is what?” She rolled her eyes and tightened the straps holding me to the chair. “The point is that someone who can’t move shouldn’t really be this snippy.” She gestured at the plethora of medical equipment around us. “I’m sure I can do some interesting things with all

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 10

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 5

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 9

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 8

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

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

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Henosis – Chapter 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 2

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

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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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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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