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 carried them off to a starboard docking ports for some quiet while he put together models. The main docking arms were as wide as a planetary highway and seemed almost as long; Virtrew liked to find a seat somewhere in the middle and draw.

He’d been putting the finishing touches on a rough two-dimensional representation of a new docking array, one inspired by the curling ferns he’d seen in the station’s growing arboretum. The design was quite attractive, in his admittedly-biased opinion, but was also very functional, and he looked forward to giving it to the station commander to present to the central administration. He’d been finding new ideas in all kinds of strange places recently… as if he was looking at alien construction with new eyes and seeing the merits in all of them.

Then he felt it: a deep dread. He looked up and saw the Hunter pack ship diving at the docking array, visible through the transparent crystal sheets that made up the tops of the docking arms – Virtrew’s own design.

He leapt to his feet, tablet forgotten, as the Hunter ship impacted. Its sharp nose smashed through the side of the docking arm a third of the way further down from where Virtrew stood; the shock rippled up the structure of the station, knocking him from his feet, and he felt the entire structure shudder as the station’s safeties used kinetic thrusters to try to counter the impact.

Far down the arm, he could see the Hunter ship’s nose stabbing into the station. He could see the nose drop open like a bird’s beak; he could see the first of the dreaded creatures invading the station.

Virtrew did the sensible thing and ran in the opposite direction.

“Lev! Let me in! Lev! Of all the inbred… filthy… sucking… -” Keegi pounded on the dome while trying to find a profanity that properly encompassed the situation.

He’d nearly been knocked away into space when the Hunter ship impacted the starboard main docking arm, but fortunately he’d brought his thruster pack and was able to push himself back. Then he’d carefully thrust down towards the bottom of the dome, near the station proper, and found one of the airlocks located along the edge.

The problem was the lock had to be operated from the inside, and Keegi couldn’t contact Lev nor any of his assistants. The Hunters were broadcasting a jamming signal, and Keegi couldn’t reach a hardline. The station was huge and barely populated… he couldn’t just thrust to one of the other ports and hope someone was on the other side. The only place he knew someone was present was the dome, which is why he was pressed against the crystal sheeting like a hylp fly, begging for someone to notice him.

Preferably someone who didn’t plan to eat him!

He pounded on the crystal dome once again, unsure whether his meagre thumps could even be heard inside. By the stars, Lev!

-I’m coming!-

Keegi poked at his wrist-comp, wondering if the jamming had ceased for a brief moment. It was forgotten a moment later as the huge Guvnuragnaguvendrugun burst out of the bushes, galloping to the airlock. Keegi saw the holographic interface burst into being under Lev’s hand and scrambled over to the external door that opened moments later. He stomped and spit impatiently, willing the airlock cycle to move faster, but the machinery wouldn’t be hurried – which Keegi thought was entirely ungrateful, considering he was one of the beings who helped install it!

Finally, the airlock was pressurized and the inner door swung inward. Keegi was already bolting in, paws grasping at his helmet release.

“Keegi… Hunters!” Lev’s voice shook, and his flanks were the colour of terror.

The Gaoian’s helmet popped off, and he flexed his muzzle, making his ears pop. “I know! I know. Just… give me a moment.”

“What should we do? What can we do?!”

Keegi looked out beyond the dome, at the menacing ship embedded in the distant docking arm. “I… don’t know!”

Locayl were not meant for running.

The docking arm was a long, wide, and very open thoroughfare. Virtrew’s stumpy legs drove him along with all the speed his panic could muster, but the Hunters had seen him almost immediately and were pursuing even faster than he could run.

There were terminals dotting the length of the arm, and Virtrew would pause and quickly activate the kinetic fields that separated each section. But the fields were meant to stop escaping atmosphere in the event of a breach, not pulse fire, and the time spent erecting the fields was time not spent running. If anything the Hunters seemed amused at his desperate antics… it took them mere moments to weaken the fields enough to allow solid objects through, and then they were on his heels again.

Virtrew marveled at his own mind. Terror infused every fiber of his being, and yet his perceptions seemed sharpened to a razor edge. He felt hyper-aware, like colours had gained extra meaning, like he could hear the buzz of the kinetic fields and the whisper of the air circulators, as if he could feel the plating beneath his feet flex from the mass of evil that was hanging off the station’s arm. His thoughts had never been so clear or so fast.

Unfortunately his body couldn’t keep up, and his turbocharged brain only meant that he felt the pain all the more exquisitely as a pulse blast caught him in the leg, reducing the bone just below his right knee into fragments and crushing the flesh around it. Virtrew cried out in agony as the limb collapsed underneath him, sending him crashing to the deck and tumbling.

For a moment there was nothing but the pain, as another part of his mind noted that he was on the ground, helpless, and waited for the next blast to finish him off. The finishing shot didn’t come, and he managed to labour up onto his arms, peeking over his shoulder. Three Hunters were approaching, slowly, savouring the moment.

Three was too many. One was too many! And now he couldn’t run. There was nothing he could do. He could only wait and hope they’d kill him quickly, before they began to eat him-

-No, fight!-

Fire ignited in his belly. Pain turned to anger; not at the fact that they were going to kill him, but that they thought they could do it so easily! Like he was nothing, an annoyance, a toy! And then they were going to invade the station and do it to the others. They were going to kill the crew, his crew!

No. They would not!

He managed to start crawling, dragging himself forward with his four arms and one good leg. His shattered leg was forgotten… if he’d had a fusion sword he’d have struck it off himself, discarding the useless weight. It bounced behind him as he crawled, bent at a horrid and unnatural angle, and surely the Hunters thought it was hilarious. Fine, let them be distracted!

He made his agonizing way to the next terminal, the UI springing into being at his touch. A quick few presses and the last kinetic field between himself and the Hunters clicked into being. The Hunters immediately began pounding it with pulse blasts in a leisurely manner – it was merely the last desperate act of doomed prey.

But Virtrew wasn’t finished with the terminal. He went deeper into the menus, pulling up administrative interfaces he’d never seen before but still navigated with ease. He sought the management of the gravity in the section… he wasn’t a technician but he shunted power regardless. A warning came up, and he overrode it with a code he wasn’t supposed to know. He didn’t question where the knowledge came from, merely satisfied with knowing that he wasn’t helpless.

There was a buzzing sound behind him as an object – perhaps several objects – pushed their way through the kinetic field. A burst of kinetic energy caught him in the back, in his upper shoulder, and he was smashed against the wall and terminal. He tumbled to the ground again, crying out in anguish. Again he found his anger, and with his good pair of arms struggled upward, turning around to flop against the wall in a sitting position, the terminal within reach.

He saw one of the Hunters advancing – apparently just one of the horrid six-legged predators had been granted the right to finish him. He glared at the creature as it advanced… it was cautious, confused at his lack of fear. It was too bad Hunters rarely bothered to speak to their prey, as he would have told it he’d run out of fear moments before. It wasn’t useful, so he’d thrown it away.

Now there was only anticipation, eagerness. It seemed he owed his mater an apology – he had come to space to cause destruction. But he could make it Artful.

“Going to eat me, eh?” Virtrew spat at the hideous face of the Hunter. The creature hissed, not even bothering to aim its guns, instead flexing its claws in grim promise. A peaceful lassitude had come over him, and though his leg and shoulder were agonizing, the pain just didn’t matter. Instead he felt intense satisfaction. “I hope you like your meat cold.” With the last of his strength he slapped a palm on the nearby control pad.

The lights went black, and the entire station heaved.

In the distant medbay, the lone human made a noise of sorrow.

“Virtrew rerouted all the power flowing into that arm of the station into the gravity plates of the corridor, overloading them. They put out ten thousand times their maximum rated output before they burned out. The entire arm was snapped off by the stresses, cutting off the Hunter ship and giving us a reprieve. It was really quite an inspired action,” Cavvi said, and Trrkitzzkt hid his astonishment at hearing actual admiration and pride in the Corti’s voice.

“Virtrew was an architect, not a technician,” Trrkitzzkt pointed out. “I’m surprised he knew how.”

“Obviously he had hidden talents,” Cavvi replied.


Keegi and Levaraggan were in shock.

They had watched as the starboard docking arm had seemed to implode, an entire corridor section collapsing flat before detonating into a burst of shattered metal and crystal shards. Two thirds of the arm snapped off completely, drifting away and carrying the Hunter ship with it.

They were also in shock because they knew – knew – that Virtrew had died in the implosion. They weren’t sure how… the arm had been too far away, and they were at the wrong angle to see inside. But they were sure that the Locayl was gone, having sacrificed himself to buy them time.

Just time. Because while perhaps a Hunter or two had been killed in the implosion, the amputated section must have had enough emergency power left to sustain emergency kinetic fields and hold the atmosphere in long enough for the Hunters to make it back to their ship. As the pair watched, the insect-like ship withdrew from the severed arm, then dove downward, past the arboretum. Anger could be seen in the way the ship flew; the Hunters did not like being outsmarted by prey.

Moments later the station had shaken again – the Hunters piercing the installation from a different, more secure spot. But the shaking had not been sharp… the station shook and shook, like simply piercing the hull hadn’t been enough. The Hunter ship must have been continuing to thrust, burrowing ever deeper, like a parasite into flesh. There was a brief pause, like an indrawn breath, and then the shaking resumed, harder and briefer, then ended.

The attackers emerged again from behind the curve of the station’s hull, and the pair could see wreckage hanging from the reinforced front of the vessel, like scraps of flesh hanging from a predator’s teeth. The ship turned and dove again, to the bottom of the station, near the reactors and utility areas. There was another sharp jolt, then nothing.

Levaraggan stared. “What… what are they doing?”

The answer was given a moment later as a spray drifted into view from the second impact site – a torrent of frozen atmosphere.

“Move! Move!” K’al roared as the crew was caught in a sudden windstorm.

They’d all felt the ship pierce the hull again, but apparently piercing hadn’t been sufficient for the Hunters’ needs. The enemy ship had pierced and then dug, thrusting hard, pushing itself in through the bulkheads, through compartment after compartment, until the needle-like nose of the ship breached the inner shaft itself. The Hunter ship must have been almost entirely buried in the outer hull to extend so far.

The Hunters didn’t invade. If they had, K’al had nearly twenty pulse pistols and five pulse rifles waiting for them. A pitifully small force, and the entirety of the limited stock of the armory provided to a station still in construction, but more then enough to handle the Hunters had they been kind enough to breach in ones and twos like they’d be forced to do through the small breaching tube of their ship. Nearly fifty of K’al’s crew were mustered together in the central shaft, while the remainder were making their way upward, towards the command areas, with orders to lock the doors behind them and signal that the station was in distress. The Hunters had pushed in several decks below and on the opposite side of the shaft, giving them a perfect elevated position to rain fire down upon them.

The Hunters were neither so kind, nor so foolish. Almost the moment the armored proboscis on the front of the ship had come into view, the ship had reverse, pulling out along the same path it’d come in. A squeal of air turned into a roar, as the entire atmosphere of the inner shaft vented out through the giant hole left behind. A few emergency kinetic fields made a futile effort to hold back the mass of air, but the volume was simply too much – the notion of the inner shaft being breached short of the total loss of the station had never been considered. If anything, their sudden failure only made the decompression even more explosive.

Two crew were blown over the railing that surrounded the shaft, torn away by the torrent of air. If there was a mercy it was that they’d certainly be dead or unconscious by the time they reached vacuum. A Corti engineer next to K’al was lifted into the air, but with reflexes he didn’t even know he had the commander managed to snag the unfortunate being and reel him back in.

The group rushed for the nearest doors out of the shaft, their commander on their heels. There were too many of them to push through a single door, so they split radially into five groups, each heading to the nearest escape. K’al had a moment of pride as they moved with precision, the Vzk’tk and Rrrtktktkp’ch of the crew helping pull along the smaller, lighter Corti and Molmir, the heavy, blockish Unnoi trailing behind to snatch any being who got lifted off their feet.

It was a fight to get through the door… the inner compartments were venting into the shaft, through the door, and K’al’s larger size gave the air more surface area to push against. A Vzk’tk, Jjpbb, leaned out to snag the hand of Aprir, the Corti K’al was pulling along, leaving the commander’s hands free to grab the edges of the door and pull himself in.

“Commander!” someone shouted in front of him, pointing.

He turned, seeing that his group had lost someone, a Vzk’tk named Thyrk who had been knocked to the ground. Thyrk was clutching at the deck, unable to do more than lift his head lest the outrush of air push him even further away.

K’al dropped to the deck, hooking two of his legs around the door and gripping as best as he could with the two arms on that side. He actually let himself slide back out into the shaft, reaching for the fallen crew member. He strained, reaching as far as he could, while Thyrk struggled as well. The other teams had made it through their doors, sealing them behind them – unfortunately, that meant the door K’al clutched was the only outlet for the pressure. Their hands twisted just barely out of each other’s reach.

-I can’t make it!-

K’al didn’t care how he was able to hear him over the rushing air. “Yes, you can! Reach!”

Thyrk pushed forward, crawling forward by microns. Their fingertips almost touched. Then a gust caught the Vzk’tk and shoved him back.

-I can’t!-

“You can!”

After that last burst the pressure began to ease. Unfortunately that meant that the atmosphere left inside the hull was beginning to run out. Soon there wouldn’t be anything left to breathe, even if they shut down sections of the station and reallocated the atmosphere. But K’al wasn’t going to leave his crew behind!

-Leave me, close it!-

“No! Come on!”

He refused to give up, although his vision was starting to get spotty. Even then he could still see the moment when Thyrk made the decision. He could see the welder steel himself. Vzk’tk tended to be somewhat subservient, desperate for the approval of their Rrrtktktkp’ch cousins, well aware that the other species was far more clever. But in that moment Thyrk did the math, and knew his commander was wrong. So he did what was needed. He shoved downward, lifting himself off the deck. The torrent of air caught him, tossing him away.

No!” K’al stared at where Thyrk had been a split-second before. There was nothing that he could do. He felt the other crew seize his feet and legs, hauling their commander back inside. The door slid shut, the escaping atmosphere reducing to an ear-piercing shriek… then silence.

He crawled forward on his four knees, leaning against the sealed door. He was certain he felt it, although it had to be his imagination: he felt the moment Thyrk lost consciousness. Felt the moment the lowly welder died. K’al felt like he’d lost a portion of himself… like he hadn’t entirely escaped the shaft. For a moment he could do nothing but lean against the door and shiver.

-We need you-

K’al glanced up. Dozens of eyes were watching him, the same distress echoed in all of them. He wasn’t sure who had spoken… it could have been any of them.

There was no time for mourning. His crew needed him. He stood up and looked them over… if any thought less of him for his moment of weakness, there was no evidence of it.

“Let’s go. They’re not done, and neither are we.”

Keegi and Lev had watched the burst of frozen atmosphere expand away from the station. Their eyes weren’t sharp enough to spot the pale dots against the blackness of space, the dots that had once been living beings, but they knew they were there. Inside, their crewmates were dying… they could feel it.

“What do we do?” Lev asked softly. Keegi had no answer. His claws were pricking his paws, and he was certain he’d never felt so angry in his life. But his claws were nothing compared to a Hunter’s, and they had no weapons.

What could they do?

Cavvi was frightened but not surprised when the diagram of the station had suddenly turned a vast swath of orange, indicating pressure loss.

Breaching the inner shaft was merely a means to an end – it impeded the defenders, yes, but it wasn’t enough on its own. The station was too large, the Hunters too few… it would be impossible to prevent the defenders from going to ground – unless the Hunters left no ground to go to. That was why she wasn’t surprised to see a breach warning on the lower utility decks… and the alerts that popped up on her screen a short while afterward, indicating that the tertiary atmospheric reprocessor had been destroyed, followed shortly thereafter by the secondary.

The Hunters were going to choke the crew into submission.

First, punch a hole straight through the heart of the station so that the main shaft was exposed to space. Then penetrate the lower decks and claim the machinery that kept the air that remained breathable. From there they could simply continue punching holes in the hull, venting compartments and corralling the defenders into smaller and smaller sections until they were concentrated together… ripe for the harvest. Or they could simply wait, and let the crew come to them in a desperate bid to restart the last reprocessor.

Cavvi’s scientific mind analyzed the situation with calm interest. Meanwhile her more practical side gibbered with panic. What were they going to do? What was she going to do!?

She glanced over at the human, who was sitting cross-legged on the medical bed that had become “hers”, staring at nothing as she usually did. Her expression was strangely intent, though there was no way to know what she was thinking. Cavvi was faintly envious – oh, to be human! To be spared the burdens of awareness, responsibility, or intellect!

The human’s face twisted with displeasure. Perhaps she had gas? Cavvi edged away.

Alas, a prodigious mind was a Corti’s blessing and curse. She had to figure out some way of putting it to use.

Were the Hunters advancing or waiting? Was there any way to determine where they were? A fully functional station would of course have presence monitors in every section, but 9384-mlikl was still being built, and Hunters were difficult to separate from machinery in the first place. What alternatives were there? What sensors would still have power? She resisted an urge to stomp her foot.

Gravity. The gravity plating still functioned, and the network was tied into the hardlines, separate from communications. Every plate had an integrated sensor so it could monitor its own output and any interfering gravity fields. All mass generated gravitons – even a heavy, cybernetically-enhanced carnivorous space monster.

Cavvi dashed over to her workstation. She had a moment to be thankful that the safeguards had yet to be installed during construction as she answered a password request with an empty line. A moment’s navigation brought her to the gravity network.

She had specialized in biology, not technology, but navigating the parameters of the gravity plating came to her easily, almost instinctively. Soon she was receiving telemetry from every gravity plate on the station, numbers that danced with every flex of the structure, with the movement of the nearby moon, with the storms of the gas giant. But would the movement of bodies on board stand out? She overlaid a delta map on top of the display of the station – a model that had yet to be updated with the grim fate of the starboard arm.

The map displayed a solid layer of noise. Cavvi adjusted the parameters, eliminating variations that affected too large an area at once, or were too slow to be artificial, and other signals that couldn’t possibly be caused by a living being. The yellow faded, becoming sharper, until small dots hovered over the parts of the station that were still livable.

A large mass was near the top of the shaft: the crew. As she watched a large portion split off, making its way to the very top of the station and the command areas. A smaller mass stayed behind. She knew the larger mass were those crew members who didn’t have weapons, who were being sent away to where they would be safe. The smaller group was the armed group. K’al’bktktk’r was with them.

Cavvi paused. How did she know this? It was a reasonable guess, of course, but she felt certain, as sure as if K’al had sent her a message himself.

She dismissed the question as unimportant as the lower sections of the station resolved. There was a large blotch at the outer hull – the Hunter ship, moving slightly in the puncture wound it had inflicted upon the station. Two decks above the ship and in the middle of the station there was another mass, which would split into smaller dots and then re-merge. The Hunters, apparently opting to wait for the station crew to come to them.

Or perhaps not? As she watched, a small dot separated from the larger, moving into the corridors. The dot began to move upward, through the emergency stairwells, drifting outwards to the outer hull. Cavvi puzzled… where were they going?

After a moment their track revealed itself: the Hunters were moving in a direct route toward the lifts to the station arboretum. The gravimetric map was fuzzier in that area due to the presence of the trees, but she was sure the large dot near the bottom side of the dome represented at least one crew member. Her strange omniscence made itself known again in the form of certainty that the dot was actually two crew: Keegi and Levaraggan.

How could she warn them? The comms were dead, thanks to the relentless electronic noise being broadcast by the Hunter pack ship. Could she hope that they might have the same inspiration she had?

Once she would have considered the idea ridiculous, but over the last handful of diurnals she had been slowly coming to the realization that perhaps this crew wasn’t composed of the normal collection of brainless dolts. They’d been anticipating her needs more often, respecting her desire for silence, and yet when they spoke sometimes they said things that made them sound almost Corti-like. At the same time she’d felt more satisfaction in assisting them, and their presence wasn’t nearly as irritating as once it had been.

Was it connected to this strange knowing? Were they, too, experiencing odd insights?

Perhaps it was time to trust in them. She made a copy of her gravimetric analyzer, and left it right inside the gravity plate systems where anyone could find it. Then she glared at the small, unmoving blob of yellow light inside the graphical image of the dome. Not far away, another blob was closing in.

“Come on, you stupid furball,” Cavvi hissed. “It’s obvious!”

“I have an idea,” Keegi blurted suddenly. He moved back to the terminal next to the airlock. He tapped and dove into menus, accessing portions of the station network he’d never had cause to examine before but nonetheless navigated with familiar ease. “Nearly all the station systems are still in `debug’ mode,” he explained. “That includes the gravity plating. If we can graph the feedback variations on the plates-”

“You can chart the movement of mass, and thus the Hunters,” Lev completed, impressed.

“Yes. I’ll just need to come up with-…” The Gaoian’s voice trailed off.

“What? What is it?”

“There’s already a program to do it here,” Keegi replied, mystified. “It has Doctor Cavvi’s identifier on it. She wrote it. How would she know?”

“You can ask her that later,” Lev replied impatiently. “Use it!”

“Right, right…” He tapped the symbol, and the holo shifted to show a wireframe model of the station. An obsolete model, thanks to the destroyed starboard docking ring.

He had to resist a chitter of delight as the model was suddenly covered in a yellow mass, one that faded and globbed together into several masses of light. Near the top of the station was the largest mass, the gathered crew. In the middle was a smaller group, moving downward, the armed group lead by the station commander. Near the bottom was a yet smaller blob, the Hunters themselves. And on the other side of the station, above the commander’s group, and moving in the opposite direction-

“Oh. Oh, spit.”

“What? Don’t say things like that and not explain!”

Keegi craned his neck upward toward his friend. “A Hunter is coming here.”

“What?” Lev’s flanks had turned such a vivid shade of green they seemed to glow. “What… what are we going to do?”

“We hide! The gardens are dense enough, even you can disappear in the grove-”

“We’re not the targets! These are! They’re coming for the arboretum!” Lev gestured broadly at the surrounding greenery, at the young trees and bushes which had only just found purchase in their artificial environment. “They breached the central shaft, Keegi… the station’s lost a huge amount of breathables, and the reclaimers aren’t running! The last major pressurized space is the dome, and the only oxygen generators still operating are these! If we hide, they’ll breach the dome, or set fire to it. Then you and I will just be the ones to die first. If the Hunters have damaged the reprocessors, then we need these plants!”

Keegi stared at him, his muzzle hanging open. Fear made his fur stand on end. Fear and resignation. “Then… I guess we make a stand.”

He closed his eyes for a moment, gathering his courage, then looked up at his companion. “Please tell me you have a weapon of some sort.” Lev held up a vibro-cutter, meant for trimming plants. Keegi sighed, taking the knife from him. “Well, maybe we can sculpt a menacing topiary.”

He blinked as an idea occurred to him; he looked down at his suit. Then he began to jog, headed in the direction of the lifts into the station. “Come on!”

“We can’t beat Hunters with a knife!”

“We won’t have to. We can even the odds in other ways.”

A single Hunter emerged from the lift, the twin pulse guns embedded in its arms tracking back and forth, corpse-white lips pulled away from its dagger-like teeth.

Normally the two Hunters would advance as a group, but the species was not stupid, and painful lessons at the hands of humans and their allies had taught them caution. The first was a vanguard, a beta who would search for traps and other deviousness. Once whatever stratagems the prey had revealed themselves, or the beta declared the way safe, the others of the group would move up.

It did not seem to be the case in the dome as the Hunter moved forward. It was known that at least two prey were present in the dome – it had been trivial to simply look through the transparent dome as the Swarm-ship had flown in during the attack. The greenery in the dome provided an ideal place to hide, and the Hunter scanned the area carefully.

It didn’t see the prey at first… no, it was scent that caught its attention. The delicious odor of meat and fear. It turned, following the slight draft. There – through some bushes a bipedal shape could be barely seen. The Hunter hissed with delight and loosed a trio of pulse blasts. The raw kinetic energy tore through the bush with ease, smashing into the huddled shape and knocking it away like a toy. The figure was slammed back against a tree behind it, limp and unmoving.

The Hunter stormed forward, eager to confirm the kill and reward itself with a small taste. The figure – one of the prey EVA suits – lay bonelessly at the bottom of the tree. The Hunter advanced slowly, wary of any traps, but the white-clad figure did not move.

It found out why a moment later as it reached down and lifted the suit with a cybernetic limb. Its claws pierced the fabric, hissing filling the silence as the suit deflated. The Hunter snarled, shredding the decoy with fury at the deception.

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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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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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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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