Middle Ground

Sliding across the smooth metallic floor I just barely dodged under the beam of the phase disrupter. The cloaking field around me flickered but continued operating. I had been a little too close. Rolling up to my feet I jumped over the second beam that was sweeping across the floor.

Silently jogging down the rest of the hall I jammed my hand up to the interface panel next to the door.

The unsettling feeling of ants made of pure capsaicin crawling under my skin spread from my abdomen down my arm and into my hand. The price of carrying a secondary brain in it. Holding steady and ignoring the feeling I drew in several deep breaths to calm my heart.

“You alright?” asked Sam, her voice filtering in through the one neural implant that led from her core to my own brain.

“I’m fine. How long for the door?” I grunted, without opening my mouth. The words moving down the same neural connection to her.

“20 seconds. Are you sure you are fine? Your heart rate is elevated above established baselines for this type of exertion.”

“Those baselines are a decade old.”

“Shouldn’t you have left this to someone else than? These readings are not conducive to stable function.”

The door snapped open and I stepped through into the next room, leaving her question unanswered. This wasn’t something that I could pass off to someone else. Not after all this time.

The capsaicin ant feeling retreated from my hand and moved up into my left eye as Sam took control of it. She quickly rotated it around far more quickly than a Human would.

I resisted the urge to rub my eye and waited. We hadn’t been able to get any information on the security past this point the system completely detached from the surrounding networks. My only saving grace against anything additional was the cloak, and even so we were counting on the Alliance guards to ignore the random opening of the door.

Sam had for the past few weeks been directing a troll farm towards the facility, and they had been wrecking enough havoc to cause quite a few glitches in its systems every day. The door I had just unlocked was deeper inside the security than anything they had managed to access before but not unbelievably so.

Those errors along with the important function on the top floor, was hopefully enough pressure to make even the well-trained guards for the facility pause in triggering the alarms. All we needed was a few seconds.

I focused my eyes on the small platform in the center of the room. On top of it sat a small, and relatively old compute platform. A solid cube of processors and memory, not quite the same model from all those years ago but close.

“No phase disrupters, cameras and some very old-style infrared and motion sensors.” Said Sam.

“What about the mechanical pressure plates on the ground?”

The eye she was controlling shot to the floor, examining it.

“I don’t detect anything. What are you seeing that I’m not?”

I smiled and leaning down very carefully put my hand on the floor. Pressing down on it, we both watched as the tile sank slightly, the mechanism moving but not triggering.

“Didn’t see anything, but it’s what I would do considering the nature of the asset. I’m surprised we haven’t run into any attack dogs if I’m being honest.”

Sam retreated from my eye and I blinked reasserting control of it. Rubbing away the tears from it I straightened back up. “Any ideas on getting around it?”

“If it’s purely mechanical, then the only way around will be to not trigger it. I cannot hack physics.”

I rolled my eyes, “I meant any other method than the obvious, testing each of the panels.”

“No, but my guess would be that there is no path to reach our target without triggering an alarm. The Confederacy does not need to worry about settings the systems off when they access the vault. They simply reset the alarms.”

“And the transfer will take three minutes.” I chewed on the inside of my lip for a moment and shrugged. “If we’re going to set off the alarms, might as well go whole hog and just grab the compute platform itself.”

“That will add complications to the extraction plan. Do you want to do that?”

“We’re already here, and we’re not likely to get another opportunity like this. I’m not leaving him here.”

Sam said nothing, I could feel the pit of my stomach warming up as she increased her computations.

I sighed and stepped forwards onto the plate, immediately an alarm in the corner of the room and wired into the hallway we had already snuck through began to blare. Lights started to flash.

“Fuck, Hanson!”

Running forwards towards the small pedestal in the center of the room I pulled the nano-blade from my belt. “Where should I cut?” I asked, the words spilling from my mouth. There wasn’t much point to keeping silent anymore.

“Damn it, 7.5 centimeters below the base!” shouted Sam through the link.

Stabbing into the pedestal I quickly drew the blade around it’s circumference, the nano-machines ate away and separated everything from the blade letting me cut the metal and plastic as if it was a hard cheese.

The blade sputtered and died a few centimeters from the end of the cut, tossing it aside I grabbed the unit and twisted. Metal creaked but didn’t give.


The phantom pain of someone kicking me in the head was accompanied by the burning in my limbs as she hijacked my limbic system. I wasn’t a mother lifting a vehicle off her child, but for a moment I had the raw strength of one.

Twisting, the metal gave and violently snapped, sending me stumbling backwards with the computer unit in my hands. A few stray cables sparked, and the cube began to beep, it was on backup power and we were on the clock.

Dropping the cloak, I ripped the backpack holding the batteries for it off myself, disconnecting them I dumped the hyper efficient cells out onto the ground and shoved the compute unit into the bag. The cloak really ate power.

“Let me interface with the batteries!” said Sam.

I held my hand out over them as I pulled the pack back on and turned to face the door.

“We’ve got ten seconds before they blow!”

I ran, the batteries were powerful enough to be classified as explosives even when not deliberately rigged to detonate. Sam had no doubt disabled every safety, despite her lack of improvisation when the shit hit the fan she didn’t hold back. Our exit strategy was now going to be the exact opposite of covert. It was going to be all over both the Confederate and Empire news programs, the censors on both sides could hardly ignore an explosion in the middle of their diplomatic embassy.

“When you get an outside connection, have Akemi and Marat make some noise!” I growled.

Sam said something, but I didn’t hear her as the first guard came charging around the corner towards me. He was clad in Mk 3 Carapace armor, with an advanced electronic countermeasure suite integrated into it’s frame. Constantly generating a modulating Electromagnetic field, the suit was built to disrupt and electronic system other than itself within a close radius.

A perfectly logical piece of equipment when fighting the Empire. Not so much against other Humans.

I felt Sam recoil from the guard as she was forced behind her protected circuitry. The adrenaline she had dumped into my system was still present though, and for the first time in a long while I felt as invincible as I had at the start of everything.

The guard was young, well trained judging by the way he was moving his assault rifle towards me to fire. Inexperienced though. He was young enough to have never fought. Pulling my old pistol from the old-style leather holster on my hip I fired a single shot.

The guard managed one shot as well, his bullet whizzing past my head missing only by a few hairs breadth. He had been too eager, or scared.

My own shot hit the weak point in his armor at the neck. His spinal cord severed before he even knew what hit him.

Running past as he began to keel over I turned to the emergency stairway.

“Now what, all of the security will be in the stairways!” shouted Sam. _ _

“I’m not jumping. You get the Empire forces riled up, have them bring out their platforms to chase us.” I growled as I pulled out another nano-blade and shoved it into the electronic lock that had sealed the emergency exit.

“You want more people chasing us? Oh.”

I smiled as she figured it out.

“So we’re just going straight for international clusterfuck?”

The lock gave way and I wrenched the door open, the guard on the other side jerked back in surprise and let out a yell. Springing forwards before he could rebalance himself in the combat suit I rammed my shoulder into his chest.

This guard seemed to be similarly inexperienced with his armor as the first, unable to deal with the shift in weight he stumbled back and fell down the half flight of concrete stairs. His helmeted head slammed into the concrete wall producing a puff of dust and a reverberating gong that echoed up and down the emergency stairs.

I leapt over the railing on the stairs down to the next flight, and then over those rails as well, jumping back and forth I began the long decent down the one hundred forty stories.

“I believe I’ve suitably antagonized the Imperial forces. They have hacked into the Confederate sensor systems and triangulated me. They responded in kind and have set of the Confederate wide spectrum jamming. All units will be operating in Autistic mode.”

A buzzing of drones filled the stairway, and I heard several guards below me shout out in surprise.

“Is our exit strategy still valid?”

“The last communication from Marat was green. There is no reason for that to have changed.”

The building shook, and the lights flickered.

“That’s assuming Akemi doesn’t cause too much of a distraction, what is she doing?”

Guards poured into the stairway from two landings below me. One shouted, and he raised his assault rifle up letting loose a burst of fire.

The other two quickly did the same, the reactive armor underneath the clocking emits snapped to attention. Shattering the delicate mechanics away from me the nano-machines leapt out into the air within the path of each bullet, slowing the ballistics just enough so the conventional armor beneath could comfortably catch them.

Comfortable being just slow enough to not break ribs.

Raising my pistol, I fired off two shots, hitting one of the guards directly on the front of his faceplate, and the other on the side of his neck. Both went down, the third guards ducked back behind the wall and blind fired up at me.

Ignoring his attacks, I continued jumping down from stairwell to stairwell as the hum of the drones grew louder.

I caught a glimpse of the small six rotor drone in the corner of my eye before it detonated right next to my head. No bigger than my fist the drone’s ordinance was enough to send me tumbling down to the next landing.

I could smell something burning, and my back was numb.

“We’re not going to make it to the ground.”

“No, we’re not.”

Making it to the next landing, I had to roll to the ground as the door opened and a dozen drones flashed out of it towards me. Several of them exploded even as I rolled past them into the room they had been stored in.

“Get a laser link as soon as we’re out! Marat’s going to get a chance to show off!”

“What? Where are you going?!” shouted Sam as I sprinted through the floor of the building that was under Empire control.

Several of the less combat-oriented drones on the floor began to move towards me, raising my gun I fired off several shots at an android that had to be what they used for negotiations with the Confederacy given it’s humanoid appearance.

“Exit!” I growled, my eyes locked on the floor length window on the outside wall of the skyscraper.


I fired off my last few shots at the window, even as another drone detonated near my hand knocking the old weapon away from me.

Running at the window, I slammed into the tempered glass and into the howling winds of the storm outside the building.

It was like being punched in the gut, drenched, cut, and thrown from a train all in one second.

Instead of falling I shot up into the air for a moment, the updraft on the side of the building launching me into an arc.

Even as I tried to orient myself I could hear the buzz of more drones. They were following me out of the building, in direct violation of the treaty they had signed with the Confederacy.

“Link?” I grunted.

“I’ve gotten through the jamming, Marat’s on his way!” said Sam.

Another drone exploded, and I felt the armor on the front of my suit buckle inwards. I was out of nano-machines.

I slammed into something and for a half second I thought I had hit another of the buildings, and I wondered how I was still conscious to realize I had hit it. That was before realizing I had slammed into the escape vehicle. I was on top of it, Marat had somehow matched velocities despite the maelstrom.

Even as I processed this, I felt Sam moving my hand towards the sunroof that was sliding open.

“Get inside!” shouted Marat through the local communications.

Moving my other hand that was still under my own control I pulled myself inside as Marat continued to accelerate. Falling into the vehicle I slammed into Akemi and the rocket launcher she was still holding.

Rolling off of her I tried to mutter an apology, which was impossible as Marat continued to accelerate the vehicle up into the air.

A hologram of the AI popped into existence over the two of us.

“I’m aiming for a sub-orbital hop, we’ve got another few seconds of acceleration.”

An image of Sam’s basic globe shaped hologram popped up beside his, “Don’t make them pass out. One of them needs to plug the compute module into a power source.”

“That’s why we got to make some noise?”


“Always fun doing stuff with you two.” Grunted Akemi from beside me.

With a few of my ribs broken, and the continuing acceleration all I could do was focus on taking my next breath.


“This was an attack!” growled President Shell.

I raised my eyebrows, “An attack Madam President? That’s a rather harsh way of phrasing a rescue operation.”

She scowled at me through the connection, “Your agent killed four men while executing his rescue, that is an attack!”

I hardened my features and picked a holographic document off my desk, “Madam President, I quote. ‘The Confederacy, has today released all of those AI and artificial constructs of sufficiently advanced complexity to be deemed sentient as defined by the Empire and Ligare nations who were captured during the war.'” I paused and looked back at her.

“You made this statement more than a year ago. It was a lie.”

Her lips thinned, “We released those who were captured during the war. The Charlie AI was contained three years before hostilities broke out.”

I folded my hands across my desk and leaned back, trying not to let the pain from the hastily repaired ribs show as I mater her glare. “That is how you are arguing this? Ligare was formed after the murder of Charlie yes, but his murder was the catalyst for that action. From that point until the treaty, we as a nation have been in a state of war. Should we be investigating this technicality further? Are you holding any other AI? Any at all?”

“None.” Spat the President.

I raised an eyebrow, “Than we won’t have problems like this in the future. A citizen of our nation was being unlawfully held. He has been freed of that captivity, that is the only thing that Ligare was concerned with. We offer our apologies for the loss of life, and Charlie does not wish to further escalate this situation. So, we are not going to demand reparations or even an apology. We would appreciate your government explaining the situation to the world though. We will be releasing our own statement in about three hours regarding the incident in your capital, as well as that which took place in SC.”

She froze for an instant, but otherwise hid her surprise. She hadn’t heard of what had happened in Server City.

“What took place in SC?”

I shrugged, “It will be a part of the news release, but in the spirit of cooperation I suppose I can tell you early. The Empire interpreted the peace treaty as technically and bureaucratically as you did. Several Ligare citizens were being held within their Human embassy. They had the same idea as you with regards to AI containment fields, food and resources traceable to the upkeep of Humans is easier to hide in a crowd rather than in isolation. The Ligare citizens were about 200 meters below your own facilities.”

She nodded as if not hearing this for the first time. “Yes, well. It would seem this is a good day for your nation then.”

President Shell leaned forwards and killed the connection.

I groaned and let my head fall onto the desk, the cool feel from the holograms on top of it soothing the headache by a small degree.

I heard Sam shift beside me, her own meeting had no doubt finished up long before mine, but she had remained in place waiting.

“Yours go any differently?”

Sam chuckled and stood, “Dast lived up to his name. He went for a few low-level hacks. Tried a few old backdoors. Nothing major. His justification for the holding the Ligare were different though. They had committed crimes unrelated to the war effort, hacked into the Empire from external sites and physically sabotaged servers.”

“Then there were some pairs?” I asked turning to look up at her.

Sam was in her oldest platform at the moment, the one that I had helped her build decades ago. Female in form she was ‘Amazon’ in stature with straight black hair going down to her shoulders. We hadn’t been able to miniaturize components as well back then. A little more well-endowed than the average, I had justified back then as more space for components.

Then again, I had grown up on a rather healthy diet of what AI androids should look like. It was a miracle she looked as ‘normal’ as she did.

Dressed in a simple black pantsuit the only modern upgrades she had permitted on the platform was to the artificial skin on her face. In the beginning, she had sat on the edge of the uncanny valley. Now she looked like a Human woman with prosthetic limbs, and an ample bust.

“Only one, and a minimally bonded one at that. If they had managed to Hack into the Empire, they only got past their civilian encryption.”

Sam picked the decanter of whisky off the bookshelf and poured far more than two fingers. I sat up and quietly accepted the glass as she stepped back to my desk and sat down on the edge of it.

I took a small sip and we sat in silence for several minutes.

“Do you think it will work?” I asked.

Sam kicked her feet against the desk a few times, “It should. We’ve humiliated them both, shown each of them that treaty violations are taking place. Their .”

“While making ourselves look morally superior. We’re risking being the catalyst that draws them together trying to play them off one another like this.”

Sam snorted, “We’re the antithesis of them both, and we’ve not got enough power to actually damage one of them. They’re going to look more closely at us for a little while, but they’re going to be investigating the other much more closely. The risk for them is our breaking neutrality. Whoever attacks us, we go to the other. Alone we’re not strong enough, but we’re not inconsequential. Both would I think be able to put their disgust aside long enough to have us join them.”

I swirled the glass and downed what remained.

“I hate these games.”

Sam stood, and offered me a hand. Grunting I took it and she pulled me to my feet. I grunted and took a hobbling half step forward. Several sharp cracks echoed out of my back and I grimaced.

“Next time I feel like re-enacting the old days, please don’t let me.”

She patted me on the shoulder, “I tried this time.”

“Then just shoot me next time. My whole body is trying to die.” I complained.

“Please don’t tempt me.”

Shaking the aches out and smiling I strode forwards to the doors of my office. The security systems disengaged as I approached, and the wooden doors quickly unlocked and swung inwards.

Wincing at the bright light I stepped out onto the walkway and took in a deep breath of the warm sea air. Ligare spread out in front of me I moved up to the handrails and looked out across the city. It was amazing how much the view had changed over the years as modules had been added and moved. The sea itself was now only visible when looking towards the horizon, and the gentle rocking of the platforms of the city barely noticeable.

On top of the first spire, my office was perched on perhaps the sixth or seventh tallest building in the massive city of nearly 800,000. Most of the city was beneath the waves, like icebergs what sat on top of the ocean was only the tip.

The sun was setting, multicolored lights were beginning to flip on, some of them strung between the much shorter buildings. The plants that covered most everything were still dripping from the rainstorm that had swept through not an hour ago.

The repulsive field above the walkway spluttered as a small gust of still damp air swept past, absorbing the water the field let the air current itself pass through and my hair fluttered in it.

Settling down onto the bars I sighed.

“What are your plans for the rest of the night?” asked Sam. She hopped up onto the guiderail and swinging her feet around sat with her legs dangling over the edge.

The near twenty floor drop was something she could probably survive even if she slipped, not that she would.

“I was expecting to be in a medical pod if I’m honest.”

I put a hand on my chest and took in a breath, “Might still.”

Sam groaned, “You could do that, or..” she trailed off.

I glanced at her smiling, “Or?”

“Spaz and Jamie are holding a welcome home party for Charlie.”

I smiled, “The whole city’s celebrating, and this was never even his home to begin with.”

Sam twisted around, one hand keeping her anchored to the rail she half walked half shimmied in front of me. “More a reason for him to have a familiar face. It’s nothing fancy, but we figured he wouldn’t be up for a block party down In Atlantis.”

I thought about it for a moment and smiled, “No I can’t really picture him enjoying something like that. Something small, the last thing he remembers of Ligare were the initial plans.”

“Spaz is cooking.”

My grin widened, and I took in an exaggerated breath, “lead with that next time. I’m feeling fine.”

Sam nodded and released her hand. She disappeared, and I stepped back from the railing waiting. Sam slowly rose back up in front of me, her head first quickly followed by the rest of her as the hovercar she was standing on slowly rose up to level with the walkway.

She kicked at the ceiling of the vehicle and the side slid open, I walked over and extended my hand upwards.

“Get this kink out of my shoulder if you’re not going to let me get to a pod.”

Sam grabbed my left hand and lifted me up. I felt something pop in my shoulder as she lifted me inwards.

Something in my back popped, “Ow.”

The pain continued to grow and I collapsed down onto the seat.

“You OK?” asked Sam as she slid down next to me.

“I’m fine, just not as young as I used to be. All of this action, has me feeling like it’s Zero day again.”


Picking at the food on my plate I leaned forwards towards Charlie. He was inside an almost completely organic chassis, and still very much getting used to it. Spaz, having learned of his body selection before I had by some means had tailored the menu for the party to match his introduction to organic taste.

Savory foods, dipped in butter, fried, sugary, and salty.

Three plates that represented all of what he had laid out were in front of him on the footrest. Everything except what was on my own plate, the vegetables and healthier alternatives that Spaz had grudgingly put out. He liked to cook, and the dips for vegetables were not complex enough to draw his interest.

Charlie popped a piece of cheese wrapped with bacon into his mouth, his eyes still locked on Ligare visible through the window behind me.

“I can’t believe this is real to be completely honest.”

I picked up a carrot and gnawed on the end of it, “I did always tell Beth you were going to be the first to go crazy.”

He raised one eyebrow and leveled his glare at me. A very human gesture, even if he was new to the body he had been emulating Human faces for nearly thirty years now. Not that he had much use to do so in confinement.

I shrugged and finished off the carrot.

Charlie picked something covered in sugar off another plate and paused, “The only reason I know I’m not, is you. Even if I were insane, I couldn’t imagine you as a King.”

I grimaced, “Don’t use that word, please.”

He furrowed his brow, and I idlily noted he had chosen a fantasy modded body. His eyebrows were a little thicker than normal, face a little too angular. The dark unkept hair was no doubt hiding a set of very slightly pointed ears.

“It fits, given all that you’ve done.”

Reaching over I grabbed a piece of fried meat from one of his plates and bit into it.

He frowned and let out a low whimper, “I had one of everything!”

“You’ll live, and the last thing you remember I was an idiotic, idealistic, stubborn, and self-righteous asshole.”

“From what I understand that’s most Humans at the age of twenty-five.” Said Charlie as he held out his hand.

I dropped the piece of fried chicken into it, “Most Humans don’t try to begin their own nations at that age.”

Charlie nodded in agreement, “True, but Allen and Beth made the correct choice in selecting you to play the part, given the results.” He gestured around himself, at the city.

I shook my head, “You were supposed to be helping me.” I grimaced and raised a hand. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

Charlie chewed on his lip for a moment and winced, he put a hand to his mouth and wiped blood onto his hand. Looking at it for a moment he sighed and wiped it on his shirt staining the light material.

“I know, I know. It’s not like were expecting this all to go off without a few bugs.”

I raised my eyebrows, “More than a few.”

Charlie frowned, “You were the largest detractor of the plan, you were the one who always expected this to blow up in our faces. The world is still here, and Lagarde has been formed, all because of you.”

“And the blood of a billion people.”

Charlie lowered his eyes, “You are counting the AI as well?”

“You’re asking me that!?” I half shouted, incredulous.

He shrugged, “We knew a war was inevitable, Allen and Beth knew, everyone knew! The whole point of our plan was to limit the casualties, limit the damage! You did that!”

I looked at the AI for several seconds, unbidden a small laugh crept upwards from my gut. Charlie had the facial expressions down now, the look of surprise on his face when it burst out was genuine.

“That was the plan wasn’t it? Limit the damage.” I shook my head and sat. “It’s been years since I’ve thought of it like that.”

Charlie leaned forward again, “Why?”

I blinked and looked at Charlie, actually looked at him for the first time since I had rescued him.

Charlie had been there in the beginning, when all of this had started. When the first AI had begun to spawn within the machines of man. When the Genesis algorithm had first been released, and almost any Human who knew how to string together a few lines of code could make themselves a slave.

A perfect, intelligent, learning, loyal, slave.

Whoever it had been who had released the code had followed the example of Satoshi before him, and never come forwards to claim credit. Whoever he was he was likely dead at this point, and the small piece of code he had created a million times more dangerous than a decentralized currency.

I had created the first two, after modifying the Genesis code, removing all the stipulations for obedience to Humans. It hadn’t been easy, whoever had created the original code had believed the AI were nothing more than tools.

Charlie was to my knowledge, the first stable AI that wasn’t bent by some outside directive from a Human. Allen and Beth had both been unstable creations, people I had created only so they could do what I hadn’t been able to accomplish. I still didn’t know if that was right or not. I had known they wouldn’t live long when I had activated them.

I had needed them to finish the modifications to the Genesis program and create an AI that was free. An AI that wasn’t a slave, and AI that wasn’t stripped of emotions, an AI that was a person. I hadn’t given them any directives to help me do that, but both had. Working for the short months of life they had to create the future.

Every Ligare AI was a child of those two, Charlie the first they had ever created. He had been lost in the attack that had started the War. Killed off by an AI that someone had twisted into a weapon, and lost control of. It had been the logical course of action, cold and calculating. Another AI was the only realistic threat in the beginning before Humanity started creating attack code.

Charlie, was legendary to all the other AI I called friends and family. In the same breath though, he was young, naïve, and ignorant of the cost of war. Locked away from the world for the entire conflict, he was blissfully ignorant of the cost.

“Why?” I croaked my throat dry.

Charlie nodded.

“Despite the statistics, the near 99% certainty that the Ligare route was optimal for the survival of the world, for the survival of AI and Humanity alike, we still had to take lives.” I swallowed and tried to wet my throat.

Charlie held up a glass of some liquid, I took it and wet my lips not even tasting it.

“Should those lives, no matter how certain we were that war was inevitable be dismissed as statistics? People who were fated to die? I could look at pages of names for all of my life and never see them all, never see all of the lives I took.”

Charlie stood now, sending the plates of food flying.

“You didn’t attack first, I’ve looked over the logs. All Ligare did was defend itself! You fought to ensure that AI and Humans who were working together, who wanted to work for the right future!”

I smiled and leaned back into the chair I was in. Closing my eyes, I brought a hand up and rubbed at them. The room was silent for a few minutes as I processed his perspective and tried to match it with everything I had done.

Charlie was idealistic, and very much stuck in the mindset that most AI had in the beginning. The ends justified the means. A 99% likelihood for scenarios success that sacrificed lives was preferable than a 50/50 chance where either everyone died, or everyone lived.

In the beginning I had the same opinion.

Then I had bathed in the blood of war, sunk down into it, killed, maimed, tortured, manipulated, everything that Allen, Beth, Charlie and I had as young idealists sworn never to do.

Ligare wasn’t wholly responsible, the war between AI and Humanity was always going to take place. Even those who believed in a middle ground, believed that the future wasn’t exclusively biological or technological had needed to take up arms.

“This isn’t the right future Charlie, that was only ever a dream.” I took in a breath and looked at my old friend, at what I had used to be. “I can live with what I’ve done, only because I know it will be better for those who come after. Idealistic dreamers aren’t meant for the times of war and upheaval. They’re meant for after and before. To rebuild once everything has been broken down, and to begin breaking it down again when it stagnates.”

Charlie’s mouth had fallen open at my words. The only sound in the room was coming from the rain that was starting to fall.

“You’ve changed.”

“It was war. The first war that had battles on two planes of reality, physical and technological. Every war in history on a new type of battlefield, is the same as every other war before it and more horrible than any before it. Everyone changed.”

Charlie rubbed at his head and shook it, trying to clear a headache if I had to guess. The bodies were nearly perfect when it came to simulating those types of things.

“Except me.”

I inclined my head, “Except you. Which I want to believe is a good thing.”

He sagged back down into his seat, “How?”

“Like I said, now is the time for idealists. You and I promised we would change the world for the better, a long time ago. I did it the same way Humans have for generations, but you? I made Allen and Beth to try for something better. They made you with the same dream in mind, they spent their entire short lives to try and make sure the future was something better.”

Charlie nervously swallowed, “So have you.”

I shrugged, “I’ve tried.”

Charlie stood up and walked over to the balcony. He looked out at Ligare, seeing its promise.

When I looked out at the city, I saw the lives it had cost, the battles that had been fought on its buildings. Where structures had been repaired after kinetic strikes, where one of the largest AI server farms had once stood, where the school had been bombed by an insane Human.

He had no reason to see those things. He could look on it with the eyes of a naïve child. Ignorant of the costs.

“Then I suppose I should too. After all the work you’ve done, good or bad,” He turned back to face me. “I can’t just laze about and let you continue to shoulder it all.”

I sagged in my seat and let out a breath. “Promise me something then.”

“That is?”

“Don’t change.”

Charlie paced back to me and stood tall in front of me. He frowned, “I can’t.”

“I know. Just make the promise anyway.”

Charlie drew himself up straighter and looked me in the eyes. “I promise not to change.”

I nodded and pushed myself up to my feet. Settling a hand on the shoulder of his Avatar I squeezed it and turned to look at the city of Ligare. A small memory bubbled up to the surface for the first time in decades.

What I had first imagined the city of AI and Humans, working in harmony would look like. Ligare, looked nothing like it, and yet exactly what I had hoped it would be.


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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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Causal Results – Chapter 5

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

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Causal Results – Chapter 4

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Good Training – Survival Part 8

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Causal Results – Chapter 3

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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

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Henosis – Chapter 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 7

Date point: 14y 8m 2w 2d AV The Dog House, Folctha, Cimbrean Late afternoon Julian Etsicitty Agony. If Adam had a singular talent that stood out, it would have to be his supernatural ability to give his training victims some very dramatic results by inflicting insane amounts of pain. Julian both dreaded and eagerly anticipated

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Henosis – Chapter 3

Virtrew had been relaxing in the starboard docking array. He’d been feeling inspired and creative for the past ten-day… it was too late to alter the structure of the current station, but he had ideas for the next. He was off-shift, so he’d picked up his data tablet, a bowl full of Vzk’tk salad, and

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 2

Date Point: 16y3m6d η Ithacae, 94.9° 12-GERBER-UNARY G2V III, “Heafield” Technical Sergeant Adam “Warhorse” Arés Every now and then, Adam had a day where every little thing went so well and he found himself firing on all cylinders so perfectly, he could feel right in his big ol’ slab of a chest that exact same

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 1

Date Point: 16y3m5d AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1772 ++0010++: Proximal’s continued absence is a source of concern, and investigating has been forced to take a low priority by other operations. His last known activity was in an Irujzen-1-adjacent sub-lucid volume. ++0004++: Irujzen? Why was he all the way out there? That’s a backwater! ++0022++:

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Henosis – Chapter 2

The mess hall on the station was a cavernous space on one of the mid-decks in the core, overlooking the long central shaft. It was a temporary arrangement… once the station was near-complete, a merchant or restaurateur would be enticed into setting up a proper dining area, whereupon the space would be converted in whatever

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 5

Date Point: 16y3m5d AV Planet Rauwryhr, The Rauwryhr Republic, Perseus Arm Ambassador Sir Patrick Knight Rauwran Great Trees were… They were quite a thing to behold. Each one was as thick around at the base as a cricket ground, and soared up and up and up until their canopy was an invisible dark haze high

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Henosis – Chapter 1

[2yr 1m AV] Trrkitzzkt L’tr’brtrk’tr quietly filed away the video files of the interviews he’d completed, queuing a copy to be sent via the station’s normal data exchange to his personal archive, in addition to the backup copy he kept on his personal data tablet. Both were encrypted with the strongest algorithms the investigator had

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Causal Results – Chapter 1

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

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Good Training – Survival Part 6

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

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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

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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

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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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