The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 2

Date Point: 15y 10m 1d AV
Wi Kao commune memorial, Planet Gao

Xiù Chang

“So, uh…is there anything special we gotta know?”

“I’ve had enough of ceremony,” Xiù said, fidgeting with her fingernails for the twentieth time.

She was procrastinating, and she knew it. She didn’t want to get out of the car at all. She didn’t want to see… The Commune of Females in Wi Kao had been her home. Ayma had lived here. Had… had died, here. She didn’t want to see what had become of it, not at all.

That wouldn’t stop her, of course. She’d get out and see it if it killed her. But she was allowed to prepare.

…As if she hadn’t been doing exactly that all morning.

Julian and Al had a magical ability to read her feelings, sometimes. Allison took her hand, tidied some stray hair behind her ear and gave her a kiss before snuggling up to her. Julian pulled them both into a comfortably tight hug and nuzzled on the top of their heads. Xiù shut her eyes and even found a kind of smile from somewhere. This would have been endlessly harder without them.

Somehow, they sensed when she was ready, too. Al reached over and opened the door, and stepped out first, taking Xiù’s hand as she did so. She stretched in the cool air with a bit of a sigh that became a groan as her spine made a satisfying crunch noise. “Fuuuck… that was a long drive.”

Xiù nodded. Wi Kao was one of “The Five,” the cities that Daar had spared an RFG bombardment and reclaimed the hard way. An ocean of Gaoian blood, biodrone and free Clanless alike had flowed through the streets below them all too recently.

And the first drops had been spilled up here, on the commune hill. Ayma’s.

With an effort of will, Xiù finally turned to look at the Commune itself.

Some kind of a miracle had mostly spared the large wooden doors with their silver inlays. They bore a few scars, but they were still in one piece, and still upright in their stone block archway even though most of the rest of the walls around them had fallen. That archway, the doors, and as much of the wall as had remained intact were still exactly where they had always been, but the rubble had been cleared away.

Beyond them was what had been the grand concourse, and the sight of it made Xiù’s heart ache more than seeing the doors had. It was…

There were still flowers. Water still trickled down the channels in the beautiful natural stone flooring. Delightful little drones still skittered and swooped among the trellises and hanging baskets, tending to it all with chirruping mechanical noises that could almost pass for birdsong.

The fountains were still there, the benches were still intact. If the whole edifice hadn’t been open to the sky rather than cosy under an arching roof, it would have been like nothing had changed.

Were they pretending nothing had ever happened? Or were they honoring what had been? Xiù couldn’t tell, but she stopped dead in her tracks upon entering the space and… sighed. Whimpered, maybe. It was a sad, childish little sound like a little girl who’d just been told to put her dolls away and get ready for dinner.

“…God. Is this what it looked like?” Allison asked. Her question was quiet, but it burst Xiù’s bubble enough to make her nod sadly.

“…Yes,” she said. “This is exactly like it was…”

“It’s beautiful.”

And that was just it: It was. It was still beautiful despite everything, and Xiù didn’t know if she could handle that. She could have handled a memorial wall, or a monument, a plaque or a fountain. Something abstract. Something that… replaced the Commune.

The reality that the Commune memorial was the Commune, the building itself, kept as it had been lived in… that was simultaneously harder to deal with, and easier to embrace. It wasn’t a clean break at all, but that was because there was still something of what the place had been. It wasn’t forgotten.

…And that was the point of a memorial, after all: To remember. To keep the past, not to pave it over with a platitude.

There was a memorial wall, though. It was a horseshoe-shaped thing a little more than six feet tall, with names engraved on its inner surface in finger-high characters, starting at about knee level.

Julian put his hand on her back as he stood next to her, and she leaned into him while she read.

“..What does it say at the top?” he asked after a second.

“There are two inscriptions. I can’t read the second, I think it’s ancient script.”

“Kinda like the Gao’s version of Latin?”

“Yeah, but just for the Females. The one I can read though… I think it’s a line from a poem.” She read it in Gaori. “Life, once begun, must end; but it will never again not have been.”

“…That sounds beautiful in Gaori,” Allison decided after a second. Julian nodded in silent agreement.

“Yeah, it doesn’t translate well. It just doesn’t sound…”



“…Sometimes, I almost manage to forget that the Gao are aliens,” Xiù mused softly. “Sometimes, though, you can see what’s going on in their heads is a lot different to what goes on in ours.”

Julian shook his head gently. “Well…if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we’re a lot more alike than not. I don’t know if alien is really the right word, anymore.”

“Yeah.” Allison nodded. “Hunters are aliens. Igraens are aliens. Corti are definitely alien…maybe except for Nofl. But the Gao? The Ten’Gewek?”

“…I spent two years pretending to be Gao.” Xiù was still reading the wall, looking for a specific name. “There’s some things… some ways that…”

She gave up. “…I love them very much,” she said at last. “They never deserved this. Especially not here.”

“I’d hate to meet the people who did deserve it,” Allison said.

Julian kept silent; he had of course fought with the Hierarchy directly. Allison didn’t notice but she didn’t mean any harm either. The three had long learned each other’s interpersonal foibles, and a certain incautious bluntness was Al’s signature, sometimes… Though after a second, she glanced at Julian then took his hand. Incautious, but not oblivious.

Xiù finally found Ayma’s name. It was on the top row of the third column, placed there by the weird vagaries of the Gaori equivalent of alphabetical order, and the way their script handled vowel sounds. She stared at it for a few seconds, then…

…then a few seconds longer. And a few seconds more, until the shapes completely lost their meaning and she was just staring at abstract lines and angles in a wall.

It was Julian who broke her reverie by gently wrapping his arm around her waist and hugging her from behind. He didn’t say anything, just lent her his strength and warmth for a moment, just enough for her to center herself.

“…We should get going,” he said.

“Not yet. I’d like to look around some more,” Xiù decided.

Allison looked around. “Okay. where should we start?”

“There’s a courtyard where I used to do my Gung Fu every day. It’s where I first taught Myun… this way.”

The tour didn’t take long. So much of the Commune had been flattened that it was legitimately miraculous the grand concourse had survived. Her courtyard hadn’t—there was just a patch of neglected gravel there now, robbed of the sweeping steps and the tiered balconies that had enclosed it. The old walls were still present as marks and outlines on the ground, but when Xiù looked around she saw nothing but open sky and rolling hills, rather than the snug enclosure that had once felt so cozy.

The kitchens, the room where she’d first got drunk on Talamay, the dormitory she’d slept in… all gone. It made her appreciate how much went missing when the people left a place. This wasn’t her commune any longer, it was… it was the past.

And the thing about the past was that she always had to let go of it, in the end.

“…Okay. Let’s… I’m hungry. Are you guys hungry?”

“Starved,” Allison said. “Think we can find anything good?”

Xiù smiled and thought of their security retinue, hand-picked by Myun and currently waiting by the car. She could always trust Gaoians to sniff out good food, she’d found. “I think so. Shall we?”

Al took her hand as they left. “Are you okay?” she asked.

Xiù smiled at her, then leaned into her for a brief walking cuddle.

“…I am now,” she said.

Date Point: 15y 10m 1d AV
HMS Violent, Rvzrk System, Domain Space

Captain Anthony “Abbott” Costello

“Well, shit. That changes things.”

The HEAT had studied the huge Hunter variant they’d fought on the Ring of course, and it made for pretty grim research. Even a GR-1d on max power firing their special depleted uranium-core rounds would have a hard time getting through the armor around the egg which they guessed housed the Hunter’s few remaining vital organs, and the shields were multiple-redundant, well hardened against sustained rapid-fire. There weren’t a lot of weaknesses on that frame, and it was fast too. As Moho had demonstrated, the only reliable way of killing one required getting a clean target lock with a javelin, which was much easier said than done.

As for the little ones, though…

“Scout variant, maybe. Or an infiltrator.” Firth mused.

“Could be the Hunter version of our Whitecrests,” Costello agreed.

“And Hunters have much better cloaking technology than we do,” Genshi added.


“Those big ones meanwhile appear to be an upgrade over the one we faced on the Ring,” Thurrsto added. He was aboard HMS Myrmidon, watching the flow of intelligence in the FIC. The system was so efficient, and the men and women operating it were so exceptional at what they did, that an increasingly thorough analysis of the foe’s estimated capabilities was arriving in front of Costello almost in real-time.

Genshi duck-nodded solemnly. He was all suited up, while most of the Lads were in their midsuits with just the Beefs left to go; their suits were so heavy that they needed to help their techs lift its components if they didn’t have the lifting cranes. Now that Caledonia was back in service, they’d hopefully have those for the next op, but here aboard Violent they just had to make do.

“So…” ‘Horse commented while lifting his midsuit’s shirt overhead. “What’s the plan, cap? I kinda doubt we’ll have convenient trains to tip over or whatever this time.”

“We go loaded for bear,” Costello decided. “Javelins, explosives, everything we have that could stop a tank.”

Adam looked at Firth, Burgess, and Butler, and the four Beefs exchanged weary sighs. “Yessir,” said Firth. “Imma load up for bear too. That’s gonna mean I ain’t gonna be as quick as I’d like…but we need the ammo. An’ I also think it’ll mean our extraction mission’s gonna be measured in minutes, or it’s likely gonna fail.”

Costello nodded solemnly. He knew. All that extra weight was going to limit their mobility, which was never ideal, but he’d much rather go big when the enemy went big than try to pull a David-versus-Goliath.

“Right. Titan, you load up too. Starfall, I know you’re basically a Beef these days, but I need at least one of my two giant Aggressors kept as mobile as possible, so you are to load up as lightly as you can get away with.”

“Yessir.” Blaczynski indicated his weapons, which were assembled and ready on his equipment table. “Heavy anti-materiel load-out it is, then. Just me and my hundred-eighty pound best bud…”

Costello rolled his eyes and gave him a friendly smirk. “I’m sure you can handle it, big guy.”

Blaczynski looked down at his custom-made GR-4b and grinned. Originally intended as a very high-power crew-served weapon, a few months ago Blac had realized that with his prodigious near-Beef strength and the compactness made possible by a modern gauss rifle’s power electronics, there was no reason that Black Ogre couldn’t build something better suited to the HEAT’s current abilities. Too bad they didn’t have examples made for the Beefs yet…

Oh well. One fought with the tools they had.

“That’s weapons and loadout, then.” Firth hefted his own midsuit’s shirt overhead and gave a significant look to the armorer techs, who immediately scrambled off to fetch things. “What about manpower? There’s only, uh, like really one other man we might bring on, but…”

Firth had a point. Daar would be awfully useful on the mission, especially considering just how far he and Arés had managed to take his training. It was a shame he was too important to risk.

“As helpful as he would be, and as much as he personally would want to, we cannot risk the Great Father on this mission. He’s already made that decision, our command agrees, I think it’s the right one, and in any case I would not…burden him with the agony of deciding it again.”

Firth nodded agreeably. “Yessir. What about some’a ‘dem First Fang ‘Backs?”

“…First Fang are good, but they’re not yet fully trained for hostile exo-atmospheric insertion. They’re too lightly armored for this scenario, and they lack the necessary countermeasures. Besides, their mission immediately follows ours. No, we’re not re-calibrating.”

“Guess we’re goin’ big game hunting, then.” Firth seemed to relish the idea.

Genshi’s eyes seemed to light up, too. “Sounds like we’ll have challenging quarry.”

“Fuckin’ right. Let’s stack ‘em like cordwood.”

Costello nodded to himself, satisfied that whatever was coming, the HEAT were ready to meet it.

Now all they were waiting on was Regaari.

Date Point: 15y 10m 1d AV
High Mountain Fortress, the Northern Plains, Gao

Daar, Great Father of the Gao

He knew how Powell had felt that day, now.

Back at the height of the war for Gao, Daar had held Powell back in reserve for strategic reasons. Being the good officer he was, Powell had taken the decision with dignity and a straight spine, but now Daar had done the same to himself and he found that it…hurt.

Men he commanded and was responsible for were going to go out there and die for him. And he could be there, if he so decided. He could help! He could…


Daar shook his pelt out and cleared his head. He wasn’t a disposable grunt, no matter how much he hated the idea. He was the Great Father. He couldn’t commit himself to the battlefield except at uttermost need. He knew that… but it still hurt.

Still, he needed to be honest about things, too. Those mission updates were alarming, and Daar had the dubious distinction of being a uniquely capable asset. There was nobody else who sat in the same place on the tactical pyramid as he did, and this was a mission perilously close to needing an all-hands evolution.

So, he alternated between bouts of relatively light exercise and restlessly checking in at the command center, just in case he was needed. Hopefully keeping busy would stop him harassing his battle managers into uselessness.

Stoneback’s Grandfather, Garl, understood him at least. The huge old white-back was there in his role as Chief of Staff of the Grand Army, overseeing operations ahead of the invasion with the seasoned eye of decades, and he easily identified that the worst disruption in the room was the Great Father. So after Daar’s third or fourth intrusion he excused himself from the floor to address the problem.

“‘Yer gonna be useless to everyone at this pace, My Father.”

Daar ceased his pacing, sniffed at the older male, then sighed and tried for the thousandth time to relax. “…Y’ain’t wrong.”

“‘Course I’m not! A ‘Back don’t get as old and horrible as me by bein’ stupid!”

Daar chittered despite himself. Garl was a treasure, and it would be a genuine loss to gaoiankind when the ancient bastard finally croaked.

For now, his eyesight was still perfect though. Not a lot of Gao could boast making it to such an age and still being just as sharp-eyed as they had been in their youth.


He paused and faced the Grandfather. “Garl, I gotta ask you somethin’. I’ve been meanin’ to ask it ‘fer years.”

“Yeah. I’m your sire.” The gnarled old ‘Back didn’t hesitate.

“…Balls, I didn’t even ask the question! How did you—”

“You always sniff the air right before you ask anyone anything serious, My Father. It’s a pretty obvious tell. ‘Sides, I think you’ve known since you were fifteen anyway. The nose don’t lie.”

Gaoians generally considered things like that private. Which was weird, really, at least from a Human perspective. Exactly why he felt compelled to ask just then…whatever. Human weirdness rubbing off on him, probably.

“Suspected, yeah. Pretty much knew when you and Myun didn’t happen, talk about bad luck… So, I guess that means I’m gonna live to a horrible, terrible old age, then.”

Garl scratched his flank, then tore a knot out of his own fur with a claw. “Not if you get ‘yerself kilt ‘cuz you wanna be a big damn Keeda of a hero,” he said.

“…Can’t argue with that, either.”

“My Father…Daar. If there’s anything I can offer from personal experience, it’s that ‘yer the kind of ‘Back that gets overwhelmed by his own experience of everything. You have the most biggest feelings, the bestest senses, ‘yer fast and strong like basically nobody else…and I don’t know if ‘Backs like us are rightly equipped to deal with that. I think, sometimes, it keeps you from seein’ things clear, y’know?”

Daar sighed and shook out his pelt again, and decided to prowl back to his gym. Garl followed along comfortably aside. “I don’t think I’ve ever bested ‘yer wisdom, Garl.”

“I’m eighty-eight years old, My Father. At that age, I’d better know a thing or two, right? And now you’re plottin’ to go work ‘yer frustrations away. I get it, but I wouldn’t if I were you. We need you ready. And we need you to stop worrying as much as you can. If anyone can pull off a mission like this, My Father, it’s Regaari. I ain’t ever known a Whitecrest quite like him. Now, as ‘fer you, you have ‘ta march with the Grand Army soon, so please: go dote on Naydra, an’ get some rest.”

The old force of nature was right, of course, and Daar knew it. Still….

“Much easier said than done,” he pointed out.

“Since when did spendin’ time with a Female become a hardship ‘fer you?!” Garl asked.

Daar chittered ruefully, but his worry wasn’t easily assuaged. “You know what I mean, Garl.”

“Aye. And you know what I mean. Go. ‘Yer given a blessing no other male has ‘cuz you’re bearin’ a weight none o’ us could ever hope ta’ manage. Don’t load on any more.”

Daar duck-nodded, exchanged Brotherly paws to the shoulder with the Grandfather, and forced himself to leave the room.

He paused to send Naydra a quick message on his communicator, then prowled towards his private apartments. It was a long trek across the fortress, and Daar couldn’t help but take a little diversion to roll in the snow before it started melting next month. Some of the youngest cub-initiates of High Mountain took the opportunity to pounce, he gave chase…

It helped. Silly distractions reminded him how to be himself in moments like these. When he finally arrived at his apartments several minutes late, he was definitely feeling a little better.

Especially when Naydra met him at the door with a tray of snacks. Just a small one, but she’d got the balance right between giving him a treat and not upsetting his diet; definitely important before sealing oneself up in a Suit. And they were exactly what he needed.

“How’d you know to make these?” he asked as he plucked one up with a claw and ate it.

“I knew you’d be haunting the command center and fretting over things you can’t control,” she said fondly. “And I also happen to know the limits of Garl’s patience.”

“You two are inna conspiracy, I bet!”

She flicked an ear and swept away into the apartments with a deliberately enigmatic expression. “I couldn’t possibly comment.”

“You can’t fool my nose.”

“Oh, I know. I’m counting on it.”

She poured herself onto the couch and brandished a grooming brush at him. “But first…”

Daar had a love-hate relationship with his fur. When it was short it was almost maintenance free, but he found himself often too cold in the winter, his skin would feel dry, and he’d lose some of his natural armor against small cuts and thorns. Long fur, on the other hand, felt much more comfortable but it needed constant grooming. Normally he’d considered that a waste of time, and time had always been the most valuable resource he had.

But then again, he hadn’t always had Naydi to brush him, either. And she could do things with a brush that’d have him purring and falling asleep.

Now there was a happy thought. He cuddled up to her on the couch, effectively trapping her on it but she didn’t mind one bit. Instead, she focused on getting him as well-brushed and presentable as she could, and Daar suddenly remembered just how tired he was all the time now…

He let his stress go for the moment, relaxed into a peaceful interlude, and was very soon asleep.

Date Point: 15y 10m 1d AV
Planet Rvzrk, Domain Space


Slow, shallow breathing. Stay. Still.

The suit’s active camo made Regaari effectively invisible if he remained perfectly motionless, and on minimum framerate it could last for hours… If he remained still enough.

The scale had been deceptive before, when he scouted these smaller, lighter Hunters. They were only small and light relative to the literal walking tanks they’d accompanied. In absolute terms though, each one was built to the same kind of scale as a HEAT aggressor and had a body made of what was clearly some kind of high-end synthetic muscle. They had that same unconscious strength behind their movements.

And the same mass. The rooftop groaned under their combined weight as the three spread out in a search pattern. He couldn’t see them, but he could hear them by the tapping of their slender claws on the aluminium roofing, and by the way it creaked and buckled wherever they trod.

Regaari wanted to shrink down, make himself even smaller. But even that movement might have created a visible seam in the air at the edges of his suit before the camo caught up. The only thing to do was to listen, keep his claws ready to kill, and to stay absolutely, perfectly, stone-still.

Two of the Hunters circled clockwise and behind him. The third was patrolling counter-clockwise around the roof, visible only by the dents and scars it left in the metal. They’d definitely caught a glimpse of him, he knew it. There was no other reason for them to be up here, no other explanation.

So, this was going to end one of two ways: Either they decided the rooftop was clear and their quarry had eluded them, or they caught him. In which case…

He’d gone toe-to-toe with Hunters before. He’d learned a lot since then. He was stronger and better-equipped than those previous occasions. But that didn’t stop the seam where his flesh ended and his cybernetic paw began from itching at the memory of having half his arm bitten off. That didn’t stop him from…doubting.

He didn’t doubt his own ability—he was among the very best and he knew it—but he had definite doubts over whether even that would be enough.

The hunters orbited the roof several times. Regaari made sure to record everything with his suit’s sensors, so SOR and Whitecrest analysis cells could glean as much information as possible from the opportunity…

A leg stomped down inches from his face, close enough that he could finally see the subtle imperfection in the cloak as a shimmering heat-haze in the air, like a shape made out of mirages. The sheer weight of it punched a small hole in the metal, which creaked and strained as the Hunter turned, surveying everything around it. The foot moved unconsciously, stepped so closed to Regaari’s nose that he could have tickled it with his whiskers.

Time stood just as still as him. His chest ached with the effort of not breathing as the Hunter half-turned, again…

…And moved on.

Regaari almost fatally gasped his relief. Instead, he held it together, let it out slowly, slowly. He was still light-headed from holding his breath but he forced himself to breathe at a glacial pace that wouldn’t mar his active camo.

That had been far too close.

The Hunters seemed to arrive at a decision. As one, they decloaked and reconvened at the roof access door, where the apparent lead stood in the middle while the others retreated down the staircase. The steps groaned under their weight as they did so; at a rough guess, Regaari figured they each massed somewhere between Highland and Snapfire in their full armor.

So, three ninja Aggressor-type Hunters, each about twice his mass, and he’d be a fool to assume they weren’t Aggressor-like in performance, too. Those weren’t good odds, but at least they were retreating. The leader stood for a long while, clearly unhappy about having lost its quarry, and eventually retreated down the stairwell with an almost sullen turn on its spindly legs.

Regaari waited for a long, long time. Slowly, ever so slowly, he allowed himself a bit of movement to recompose himself. He shifted his weight and tried to let the first prickling pins and needles in his arm fade.

The shoddy roofing behind him creaked.

The decision to move as opposed to freeze saved Regaari’s live. A sharp-tipped leg speared down and would have pinned him to the roof if he’d tried to stay still. As it was, the Hunter drove its leg down into the metal so hard that it got stuck, and Regaari had a second or so to regain his feet.

Long, quadruple fusion blades shot out of the Hunter’s forearms, and it brandished them at him in a clear challenge.

Regaari wasn’t so vain or stupid. He simply rolled his high-powered carbine off his back, tumbled over, and shot the nutless fucker right between the eyes.

High-powered frangible rounds were grotesquely satisfying. The Hunter’s head didn’t so much break as burst all over everything, Regaari included. It was very much dead, but now Regaari was very, very much made by the enemy.

Only one thing to do: Run.

Run, and activate the beacon. Taking down those shields wasn’t an option now. He’d just have to trust that the ships could overwhelm them.

He sprinted for the building’s edge and flung himself off just as the roof access door burst open. Wild shots whip-cracked past him as he flung out his suit’s fields just enough to let him land without breaking every bone he had. It was still a hard landing, and it taxed every ounce of his HEAT-built strength, but he rolled through it and opened up into a furious four-pawed sprint.

Absolutely nothing that walked was faster than a well-trained Gaoian at a dead run like this, he’d learned. That lesson had been driven home in the hardest way, when his unconscious stupidity in running two-pawed had cost Triymin her life. Whether it was a Hierarchy-prompted social affectation or their species’ own home-grown stupidity didn’t matter. Never again.

The first barrage from the navy landed with deafening, bone-shaking force somewhere overhead as it hit the shields. The flashes as those shields dispersed the energy were like a dozen lightning strikes in a second, strobing the whole city. The second barrage was only a second behind the first, and the third was only a second behind that. It became a steady hammering, punctuating his pursuit.

The next strike was utterly, absolutely blinding. To everyone else, anyway. At some point the Navy had seeded a comm satellite constellation, and Fleet Operations gave his Suit the warning for incoming radiological hazard. The timing was perfect. A warning pace blinked in his visor, and at the moment the weapon went off, his visor automatically dimmed.

Everyone and everything else in the city was likely blinded by it. Any that were lucky enough to avoid that would have been blinded by the second. And the third. And the fourth. Clearly the navy had up-gunned to nuclear ammo.

The fifth nuclear warhead brought the shields down, and for a bonus caused explosions and other mayhem at the shield generator’s sprawling site.

It was the first strike that actually hit the ground that really sold the navy’s power, though—it made the bedrock heave. Domain buildings, never designed to handle earthquakes or shifting earth, actually cracked and shifted as the shockwave ravaged their foundations. The kilometer-tall skyscrapers in Lavmuy had fared much better—there were advantages to being a Deathworlder after all.

It certainly helped throw off the pursuit. Between being partly blinded and the way half a building fell on and pulped one of their number, the Hunters fell behind…

…Right up until one of the big ones shouldered easily through a wall up ahead. It contemptuously ignored the chunks of hurtling concrete that bounced off its shields and raised a gun-arm in Regaari’s direction.

Regaari broke out one of his trademark gravball moves: he sprung up on a wall, then bounced off it at a right-angle to his original direction of travel. A hail of bullets chewed up the ground where he’d been as he dared to scrabble into and through one of the damaged buildings, praying to Keeda, God, the spirits and whatever anything that might be listening and interested that the bludgeoned architecture wouldn’t give out around him.

Somehow, it didn’t. He dived through what had once been a shop-front window and his paws skidded on broken glass.

There was a mushroom cloud rising over where the wormhole suppressor had been. A small one, but still the unmistakable signature of destruction. Whatever happened next, his mission had been a success.

With the comms sats in orbit, he could talk to the fleet without the reflector now. “SKY THANE, NAUGHTY CUB! Suppressor down! ”

His reply came from the most glorious voice Regaari had ever heard: Powell’s inimitable growl suffused his earplugs. “DEXTER, STAINLESS. Light the path.”

More explosions from elsewhere in the city. Clearly the navy had jumped in to low orbit and were intent on wrecking absolutely everything the Hunters had. Every time a streak of blue fire connected the sky and the ground, it resulted in a new rolling cloud of smoke and a new shockwave. It was… awful. Full of awe.

It certainly awed the Hunters, who stopped their pursuit quite abruptly. They stood confused for a second, then melted back among the buildings. Regaari saw a squadron of dropships take off from a few blocks away, climb and turn, then vanish with a thump and a flash of pure vantablack as they jumped out.

Three more took off to the south. They banked, climbed….

There was a shrieking roar, and a pair of Firebirds tore overhead with a sound like the universe getting really fucking angry. The trio of dropships disintegrated in mid air, sending debris and mangled pieces of Hunter tumbling.

Regaari had his orders. He needed to find a safe spot for the HEAT to land in all this madness. They’d be coming in right now.

He was a few hundred yards from a spot he’d picked out earlier. Open enough to land in, covered enough for a safe landing, central enough to launch the ground invasion from. He sucked down a desperate gulp of his energy mix and hared toward it, acutely aware that just because the Hunters had backed of didn’t mean they weren’t still hunting him. Time was not on his side.

But he was nearly through this.

Date Point: 15y 10m 1d AV
Hunter broodship, Rvzrk System, Domain Space

The Builder Alpha-of-Alphas

Data was flowing in by the gigabyte. Every new explosion, every new weapon… it was all documented. The ground forces were mostly withdrawing in an orderly fashion according to the plan, but of course there were some broods that refused to give up a Hunt once they’d tasted blood. Those were being slaughtered.

That was all part of the plan too. If they could not see the intelligence behind the Alpha-of-Alphas’ leadership, then let their deaths serve as an example to the others of what happened when sensible commands were ignored. The smart Broods would take note.

Still. The Alpha-of-Alphas had to admit to some awe at what the deathworlders were unleashing. They’d lurked patiently, oh-so-patiently, for so very long while they picked their moment. And when it came, they had unleashed devastation in a form so pure and unrefined that it gave the Alpha-of-Alphas the unfamiliar sensation of chills.

Its predecessor had seen fellow predators in the Humans. The Builder Alpha-of-Alphas instead saw engineers who had turned their talents toward perfecting the art of violence. And it intended to learn.

The prey-world invasion had been an unqualified success. They had stripped the conquered territory of useful parts, breeding stock, technology and materials. They had reminded the herd-species to fear once again, and the Builders had seeded the target city with a sensor grid that was capturing everything.

…Actually, no. Not everything, and the success was not completely unqualified. One single Gaoian had slipped the cordon and been active and undetected inside the occupied zone for an unknown length of time, despite the sensor network. Clearly, there was still much room for advancement.

It drooled at the thought of sinking its teeth into the coming research.

But the real prize was yet to enter the picture. The sensors had acquired detailed scans of the Human trans-atmospheric fighter craft, which were valuable of course. They had even managed to capture blurred snapshots of the incoming munitions, granting insights into how Humans designed their ammunition and ordnance.

But the elite ground warriors were yet to arrive, and those were the true goal. The Alpha-of-Alphas had gone over footage from previous encounters with those creatures, and had realized that many of the individuals that had destroyed the Hive were also those who had intervened in the raid on the Prey-Station, years before.

There were newcomers, and an absence or two—possibly from casualties or possibly from obsolescence—but it seemed that the Humans had only a tiny supply of these elites.

The Alpha-of-Alphas wanted to know everything about them. Their tactics were well-recorded, but equipment and their biology warranted scrutiny. If the Hunters could assimilate some of what made them so exceptional and apply them on a large scale to create their own elites…

Ideally, of course, it would be best to return their corpses for dissection. And sensing that the Gaoian intended to summon them, the Alpha-of-Alphas had pulled back its contingent of elites, promising that their quarry had become bait for an even more succulent prize.

It had worked. The Eaters, it seemed, could learn, and could think with the right guidance.

All that remained now was to see if they could fight.

Date Point: 15y 10m 1d AV
Planet Rvzrk, Domain Space

Captain Anthony “Abbott” Costello

The trick to extremely aggressive EA-HELLNOs was in the field-wing braking. Not all of the operators could hit the ground with the same fierce force, but today that played to their missions.

Righteous and the Protectors hurtled past everyone else, their assault computers deploying their braking fields in the last few seconds, just enough to take some of the re-entry excess off their descent. They slammed into the ground faster than terminal velocity and hit like goddamned meteors, cracking the concrete when they hit. Warhorse landed first among a group of five of the greasy fucks, right on top of a big Red Hunter. He hit with so much force, the impact left a crater in the road and exploded his first victim into a cloud of gorey mist.

‘Horse moved like a flash of lightning and literally tore the rest of the group apart with his bare hands. He did it so quickly, Costello almost couldn’t follow the action; no wonder Righteous stood no chance in hell of winning. Christ he was fast, and in armor that dwarfed Costello, too! Just as ‘Horse was finishing up by palming the last Hunter’s head and exploding it, another Red charged over to attack. He looked up, growled, whipped his rifle up and fired, but instead of destroying his foe, those deadly rounds bounced harmlessly off its shields.

No matter, Arés was easily the fastest human being alive. Undaunted, he blitzed over and in only two strides, built up so much insane speed that the Red couldn’t even react to the incoming impact. ‘Horse could break pallet scales with his sheer weight, so a tackle from him could be pretty much exactly like a car pulping a pedestrian at speed. He hit the Red Hunter with so much force in fact, its shields collapsed instantly. It must have died on impact but ‘Horse didn’t stop moving, in fact he ran right through the tackle like he hadn’t hit anything at all, and rather then bend down and finish the job, he instead stomped a massive foot right through its chest and charged off to find more foes. His move didn’t even look like deliberate, more like…it just happened to be in Warhorse’s way, and he couldn’t be bothered otherwise.

Arés had just effortlessly obliterated a group of Hunters by himself and with his bare hands, and two of them were Reds. He did all of that in just a few seconds and was already engaging more. Jesus.

Baseball hit the ground just after ‘Horse finished his first group, and Righteous slammed into his own group maybe a split second behind and right alongside Irish, whose weapon tore two Hunters clean in two at the same moment Righteous dispatched the remaining three with his fists. Baseball, meanwhile, closed with his objective and in a flash, Dexter was enclosed by a protective wall of man, muscle and murder. ‘Base tackled him to the ground hard enough to kill a normal man and utterly pulp most Gaoians, but Regaari had armor and had spent years building himself into an extremely sturdy specimen by either human or Gaoian reckoning.

Still, that tackle couldn’t have been pleasant. Baseball practically sat on him—they had to assume he’d been compromised until proven otherwise, and that meant a hostile takedown. It was a fine line between rescuing him and capturing him, really.

Primary objective complete, ‘Base chirped the signal to the command net, which caused FIC to transfer talkover to Righteous; the show was his, now. It only took them a few more seconds to secure a suitably large opening for the portals, which in turn cued up Titan, who was loitering above the carnage with his Defenders. They dropped their fields and fell like meteors, landing only marginally more softly than the big guys. Snapfire fired his drones out immediately, while Moho heaved the portable Array off his back and kicked it, hard.

Portable Jump Arrays had come a long way since Capitol Station. The version used there had been more like a collection of tent poles and cables, with a power pack like four car batteries taped together. It had taken minutes to assemble.

This version was a self-deploying pack: drop it, trigger it, get the hell outta the way as it unfolded in a violent series of snapping motions. It could pack up just as fast, too.

Titan was carrying the power pack: Bigger, heavier and more advanced, with enough juice to handle half a dozen jumps before swapping out. He grabbed the cable that Moho threw his way, plugged it in, and that was it: the Array was up and ready before Costello had even landed.

Costello’s own impact was still pretty fucking meteoric, and there were plenty of hostiles left to service. He snapped his rifle up and dropped two, stepping sideways into the relative cover provided by Baseball’s armored bulk. There was a surprise to his immediate left, no time for weapons. He pounced, punched, and yanked its head back so far its neck snapped. It happened so fast, so naturally, and so easily, he couldn’t help but indulge in the rictus grin that spread across his face.

Costello was a proud officer of the HEAT, one worthy to lead the finest team of elite combat armsmen ever assembled. He was the smallest human on the team by a hefty margin—which also made him the smallest on the whole planet at that moment—but that still meant he was a six-foot-two, broad, lean, and teak-hard quarter-ton of sheer Deathworlder prowess, one who could handily outlift any strongman, dance like the finest martial artists, outsprint any Olympian, or outrun any marathoner. He could do all that while festooned in heavy combat gear, layered atop three-hundred-plus pounds of the toughest personal armor ever devised. Against someone like Costello, a mere Hunter was hopelessly, utterly outmatched.

That kind of power was a hell of a thing to possess, and his enemies seemed to know it, too. Best not to get too carried away, though; there was work to do. Besides, these were only ordinary Hunters, not the Super-Hunters Regaari had spotted.

Starfall, Highland and the Whitecrests landed on nearby rooftops, seemingly light as a feather. Starfall in particular absolutely dwarfed Costello by height, mass, and sheer physicality, so how exactly the nearly Beef-sized Aggressor managed to do that was a question for another day. H e had his long-range rifle up in an instant and squeezed off a shot at something Costello couldn’t see: a threat indicator in Costello’s visor lit up, then blinked out to show where his target had been, a few dozen yards away in an adjacent street.

Genshi was last to the ground. No shame there: it was his first drop. Nevertheless he flowed through his landing and was up and dropping Hunters like he’d done it a dozen times before.

The Hunters retreated in disarray, and they were hardly a half a minute into the fight. Once he had the barest safe moment to do so, Burgess tore Regaari’s helmet off to scan his brain.


Regaari nodded and immediately re-seated his helmet. Costello also nodded, relieved. Firth was leading the others to secure their position, even as another orbital strike lanced down a few blocks away with the kind of force he could feel through his boots. “You good, Dexter?”

“About damn time you showed up…” Regaari replied. He’d been fending off the attackers for a few seconds before they arrived, and his suit had quite plainly stopped a bullet. He dusted himself off as Baseball helped him up. “That was almost gentle. You’re getting sloppy.”

Burgess chuckled and levered him toward the Array. “Love you too, bruh.”

“You can make out later,” Costello said. “Get him outta here.”

“Array in twenty seconds,” Moho reported.

“I think the Hunters are retreating,” Regaari reported, putting his helmet back on. “The second the strikes started, they— LOOK OUT!!!”

Costello turned desperately and felt an impact on his head as a fusion claw slashed past an inch from his face. He heard the outersuit helmet sizzle as it was cut through.

Two more Hunters decloaked behind the first one. These ones had long claws, they’d cut even a HEAT operator in half and Costello’s burst of firepower went wild as he felt somebody grab the back of his suit and heave him out of danger—

The Hunters lunged.

“Dexter! No!!”

A Gaoian-shaped blur pounced past Costello’s shoulder with his left paw lit up by fusion claws. He slammed into the lead hunter and eviscerated it.

The other two tore him apart.

Previous Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 14 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Frostal Secondary, New Baltimore Sitting down in the chair across from the Principal’s desk I nervously swallowed and tried to calm my heart. The Principal could probably hear it, and smell my perspiration. Which was only making me more nervous. “Thoomaas,” squeaked the principal from

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Next Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 14 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Frostal Secondary, New Baltimore Sitting down in the chair across from the Principal’s desk I nervously swallowed and tried to calm my heart. The Principal could probably hear it, and smell my perspiration. Which was only making me more nervous. “Thoomaas,” squeaked the principal from

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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

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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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