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 teeth, his tongue had briefly stuck to the ice it found there.

He’d realized what he was doing was stupid pretty much immediately. He’d barely made it to the treeline before his resolve faltered. He should have gone back, turned himself in, given up on freedom. At least he’d be alive.

But every time the shadow of that thought flicked its tail below the surface, it made him feel sick and disgusted with himself. He wasn’t some dog! He wasn’t gonna spend the rest of his life in a cage, too weak to get out.

He’d escape, or he’d die. Both were better than the cage.

And now he didn’t feel cold anymore. He felt warm. Hot, even. He wasn’t sweating, but suddenly it was almost like being back in Kingston, scratching odd jobs out here and there. Like the time he’d spent working in his uncle Dejuan’s garage, fixing the cars of richer men. That had been a sweltering hell: the door was always open, and Dejuan was too poor for air conditioning. There’d been a dusty old ceiling fan, spinning too slowly to do anything, and a battered desk fan from like the 1950s or something that needed a stick wedged under it in the right spot or it shorted out.

Dejuan had been a lion. Never a man to raise his voice, or get angry. Polite, quiet… the kind of person Zane usually hated. He acted like one of the sheep. But when wolves came to his door looking for Zane’s help with something, he’d shown his real fire then. He’d chased them out, and to Zane’s surprise they’d never come back.

He was one of the few people Zane genuinely respected… and missed.

But how could a freezing forest in an Alaskan winter blizzard be as hot as his workshop? It didn’t make sense. Zane wanted to strip off his shirt, to get some relief from the stifling sensation of heat. But some part of his brain knew that was a bad idea.

Just keep going. Push on, no matter what. Get as far away from the fence and the guards and the dogs as possible.

Suddenly, the ground wasn’t there in front of him anymore. He put his foot down and fell, tumbled painfully… landed on what felt like ice under a deep blanket of snow. A stream. Completely frozen right down to its bed, probably. With a groan, he picked himself up and clambered up the far bank. That wasn’t easy: it was steep, almost vertical, and several feet of snow had settled at the top. He collapsed on his belly when he reached the top.

So… tired…

He gasped, and pushed himself up. Stumbled forward maybe a dozen paces. Fell again. Stood and stumbled forward, fell again. And again. He couldn’t feel his fingers, or his feet. He couldn’t feel anything. Couldn’t see anything. He bounced off a tree and after that he couldn’t get up at all. His arms and legs just refused to work.

That… that was okay…

He’d just… he’d just rest a bit. Recover his strength.

…move on when…

…when he woke up…

Date Point: 16y1w AV
Cabal unlogged communications session, dataspace

++Asymptote++: I don’t understand. Why not simply talk to them, first?

++Cynosure++: Without leverage? And without tipping my hand?

++Asymptote++: Why not talk to us?

++Cynosure++: Because I wasn’t sure it would work and I wanted you to remain focused on your own projects.

++Asymptote++: And what if we’re not even sure that it was a good idea?

++Metastasis++: In your own words, the Humans seem to be the only extant deathworld species we can reasonably have a conversation with. The Gao are too vengeful, and the Ten’Gewek are too primitive.

++Asymptote++: At the very least, the possibility of explaining the dangers of replicator technology should have been explored. From everything you’ve previously said, the Humans would have listened.

++Metastasis++: Provoke them too much, however…

++Cynosure++: That… thing, the dataphage. It has a self-replicating hardware body now. Thanks to them and their research.

++Metastasis++: <Alarm> That does change things.

++Asymptote++: Then it’s too late, surely?

++Cynosure++: Maybe. And if it is… well, I won’t let the galaxy burn without visiting some justice on its destroyers. But if we are very, very lucky then we still have time to act.

++Asymptote++: Humans are entrenched on multiple worlds now, and our biodrone infiltration is effectively zero. Even containing and limiting them is going to be an almost insurmountable problem.

++Cynosure++: Not zero. We have one viable drone on Earth.

++Metastasis++: Since when?

++Cynosure++: It escaped confinement and is currently… dormant.

++Metastasis++: Dormant?

++Cynosure++: Its implant last reported ambient temperatures of approximately 200 absolute degrees.

++Asymptote++: …That’s not dormant. It froze to death.

++Cynosure++: This particular drone is exceptional.

++Metastasis++: Temperatures on Earth actually get that low?

++Cynosure++: Quite routinely, in some places.

++Metastasis++: <vague awe> Right. Deathworld.

++Asymptote++: I don’t care how “exceptional” your drone is. It’s a block of ice now, and that means it’s dead. Organic cells and ice crystals do not mix.

++Cynosure++: If it doesn’t survive then that will complicate matters, it’s true. But I think it will probably surprise you.

++Asymptote++: I am beginning to not like your surprises.

++Cynosure++: Noted. But are you with me?

++Asymptote++: <reluctant> …Provisionally. Subject to my consistent future inclusion in your decision-making process.

++Metastasis++: <agreement>

++Cynosure++: You are right. Forgive me.

++Metastasis++: So what happens now?

++Cynosure++: Now, we wait. Sol is locked down to a genuinely impressive degree. We wait for that to die down. Then we wait longer. Then we wait even longer still, and let this incident fade into memory.

++Asymptote++: I thought we had the urgent matter of a dataphage with a replicator body to worry about?

++Cynosure++: As you said: it may already be too late. This infiltration will be challenging, difficult and has a low probability of success. Thus, our only option is to be slow and careful.

++Metastasis++: And after the infiltration succeeds?

++Cynosure++: Too many variables, not enough information. We’ll formulate a concrete plan once we know enough.

++Metastasis++: Reasonable. Very well. But let’s start on rebuilding our trust that we are included in the decisions, shall we? What exactly is it that makes this biodrone of yours special to the point it can possibly survive freezing to death?

++Cynosure++: <File attachment>

++Asymptote++: …Oh.

++Metastasis++: I see!

++Cynosure++: Sadly it wasn’t quite as effective as I’d hoped. Human biology is already impressive and there’s little that technology can do to improve on it. But in this one small area, it made a difference. I hope.

++Asymptote++: <Pleased> Yes. I can see how it would.

++Metastasis++: Why, though? What do you gain from a single biodrone? Why not just bomb the planet to ashes?

++Cynosure++: This has to work. It has to be certain to work. The Humans are entrenched in off-world colonies and those require infiltration as well. If I just strike at Earth then Cimbrean and the others will lock down completely and we will not get another opportunity. We need to scout, and plan, and determine what exactly is the best course of action… and if nothing else, biodrones keep our options open in the face of unexpected developments. It may be that I won’t need them, but if I do need biodrones then I would rather have biodrones.

++Asymptote++: Reasonable. Very well. Shall I oversee the infiltration of Cimbrean?

++Cynosure++: <Gratitude> I was hoping you would volunteer. Be warned: you will not have direct control over your infiltrator as you would over a conventional biodrone. They are more… free-willed.

++Asymptote++: <Alarmed> Only to an illusory degree, I hope?

++Cynosure++: The Human brain is very sensitive to the correct stimuli. You can reliably influence their behaviour along the correct lines. It is like persuading an extremely impressionable agent.

++Metastasis++: <dry sarcasm> What could possibly go wrong?

++Cynosure++: <humorless; unamused> A lot. If we don’t win here…

++Metastasis++: Understood. I will talk to the right people.

++Asymptote++: As for me… I have a biodrone to acquire.

++Cynosure++: Thank you both. And… good luck.


Date Point: 16y1w1d AV
The White House, Washington DC, USA, Earth

President Arthur Sartori

So much for taking a vacation.

AEC had developed an extraplanetary version of the defense Readiness Condition system to handle space-based military threats to the USA in particular and by extension the Earth as a whole. The SOLCON levels ran from the minimum alert status of SOLCON 6, in which the Sol system was believed to be completely secure and peaceful, up to SOLCON 1 – hostile presence in near-Earth orbits.

Now, Sartori was facing the difficult decision of whether to step down from SOLCON 2. And he was reluctant to do so.

Level 2 suspended all non-military jump traffic from, to, and across Earth, and raised the dozen or so inner-system defense shields that partitioned the solar system into a series of increasingly tight concentric zones around Earth.

The innermost of those shields was intended to protect the GPS satellites, and orbited only a few hundred kilometers above them. There were hundreds of satellites on highly elliptical orbits that were in danger of smashing into that shield once raised, and each one represented millions of dollars, never mind the disruption their loss would cause. Communications, weather monitoring, surveillance… Each one was valuable. Each one’s loss would do long-term damage.

Likewise, millions of dollars in suspended commerce between cities on Earth, not to mention contact with the Cimbrean colonies, were mounting up every hour and Sartori was burning through his limited supply of political goodwill with the Chinese and Russians fast over the lost contact with their colonies on Lucent.

In the twenty-four hours since they’d first gone on high alert, those costs had piled up considerably. Now it was time to decide whether it was worth incurring further costs.

The US Navy, the Royal Navy, the 96th, US Space Force and NASA were all thoroughly scouring the system looking for anything out of place, but as the director of NASA had reminded him: ‘finding anything in space that doesn’t want to be found is orders of magnitude more impossible than looking for a needle in a haystack.’

A Weaver carrying astronauts and specialists from Scotch Creek had inspected the Sol Containment Field emitter and found it undamaged and still operating as intended, at least so far as they could tell. Local spacetime distortions in and around Sol had spiked enormously at the moment the laser struck the field, but after that…

Nothing. Just background noise. All was quiet.

Sartori didn’t like it one bit. Nor did Kolbeinn, nor did the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of defense, nor the Prime Ministers of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Folctha.

“I hate to break out the cliché, but it’s too quiet,” Kolbeinn observed. They were poring over the latest return from a Firebird squadron that had slow-dragged themselves all the way around the Earth/Mars orbital gap, pinging their warp drives like a kind of future-tech sonar. Such a sweep would have illuminated absolutely everything that was generating a spacetime distortion… and it had found nothing.

“We’re about to make the same mistake the Domain did,” Sartori agreed, shaking his head. He kept staring at the report as though it might suddenly change and reveal the evidence he needed to stay locked down.

“We have… ten minutes until we owe China another comsat, Mister President.”

“…Anything from Scotch Creek?”

Kolbeinn shook his head. “Brigadier-General Bartlett says they’ll need weeks of supercomputer time to properly simulate the attack, and even then he’s not convinced their model of how system shields work is accurate.”

“And even if it is, it might show that the attack failed and that all this was a waste of time and resources,” Margaret White added. “If it does… China and Russia won’t be happy.”

“With all due respect, Ms. White, I could give a damn what China and Russia think,” Kolbeinn said.

“Unfortunately, the rest of us have to.”

Sartori groaned and ran both hands backwards over his scalp.

“…Right. Drop the shields. Keep us at high readiness, and… Chris, we need to go over our doomsday plans. I do not like this. We have Hierarchy in system again, you know it, I know it…”

Margaret nodded glumly. “But unless we can prove it…”

Sartori sighed and sat up straighter as a few of the slightly less senior officers in the room set to carrying out his orders. “…What matters is keeping the peace, and that depends on trade,” he said. “Hungry and desperate people are how the worst wars start.”

Kolbeinn made a ‘hmm’ noise and turned away to make a phone call. There was coffee available in the corner of the room, set there by an aide who absolutely deserved high recognition if only Sartori knew who they were, and he stood up to grab a cup.

It helped. It gave him a moment to stop focusing on the futile facts in front of him and instead turn his attention to what could be done.

Doomsday scenarios. Sartori was just old enough that ‘doomsday’ had once meant the Soviets finally losing it and launching their ICBMs. The legacy of that standoff was still with them: even after several space battles and despite Sartori’s status as easily the most prolific launcher of wartime nukes ever, the USA’s reserve of nuclear weapons was still deep enough to hit every major city on the planet a few dozen times over. Still enough to reduce Humanity from substantially more than eight billion souls, to barely eight million, if not less.

The full extent of the Hierarchy’s resources was unquestionably enough to make that arsenal look like the fireworks display at a high school ball game. But at least he could plan for it.

Start with what he knew. The Gaoians had gigaton-scale weapons, and considering how deeply infiltrated they had been prior to the war on Gao it was a certainty that the Hierarchy had that technology as well.

Even one of those was a catastrophe on a global scale. He’d asked for an estimate on what such a bomb would do if it went off in, say, Washington and been told flatly that they didn’t really know, beyond that most of the people who lived between the Atlantic coast and the Rockies would be killed.

That obviously hadn’t happened. Which meant that the Hierarchy either didn’t intend to do it, or hadn’t yet had the chance.

Assume the latter first. What could they do to make sure the chance never arose? Well, step one was to ensure they never got to Earth itself, so naturally that meant the Luna shield had to stay up indefinitely. But assume it was too late. What else could be done?

Sartori sagged and wished briefly for something a lot stronger than coffee. The truthful answer to that question was… nothing. Sure, there were wormhole suppressors, but Human technology couldn’t even begin to match the Gaoians there. The very best they had could cover a few hundred miles, maybe, and they drank power like a large town. If the Hierarchy was on Earth, they’d have no trouble at all finding a gap in the suppressor coverage and summoning whatever weapons or materiel they desired… There was nothing more to be done today.

So. May as well deal with the backlog of nonsense that had accumulated over the last twenty-four hours.

He turned around and returned to the Resolute desk, where he sat down and rubbed his forehead for a second. He was going to pay for all the hours of stress and work with a badly disrupted sleep schedule and plenty of fatigue in the near future. Better work while he still could.

“Alright,” he said. “Let’s get back to business as usual.”

…Whatever that meant now.

Date Point: 16y1w2d AV
Multi-Faith Center, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Rachel “Ray” Wheeler

Ray had never been particularly religious. She still wasn’t, she supposed, though seeing how Holly Chase’s faith had got her through their shared experience on Hell had maybe softened her views a little. She’d stopped seeing faith as a crutch, and started seeing a font of strength at least.

When they’d first got back, Holly had spoken of taking vows and becoming a nun. That had been more than six months ago, and so far she hadn’t committed to taking vows or however it worked. Instead she’d become one of the Multi-Faith Center’s more dedicated volunteers. She didn’t have any formal responsibilities as far as Ray could tell, she just… kept the place clean and tidy, made hot drinks, kept up a steady supply of baked goods…

And listened to people.

It was a very healing kind of listening, too. Ray struggled to keep her cool when people tried to get her tangled in their personal problems. After all, what the hell was a bad day at work next to a decade in Hell? The temptation was always there to snap, to let them know how good they had it, to inform them that they hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of just how evil life could get.

If Holly ever felt that temptation, she never acted on it. She just listened, and didn’t judge, and people walked away feeling better.

Ray had to admit: she seemed to have her life kinda-sorta figured out and on track now.

Ray had stayed on with MBG, on a zero-hour consultancy contract. Moses Byron had paid the whole crew compensation, negotiated out-of-court. Legally, MBG accepted no blame for what had happened to BGEV-03 Dauntless and her crew.

Privately… The unspoken motto among the architects of MBG’s spaceship program, not least of whom was Moses Byron himself, seemed to be “Do Better.”

She’d taken the compensation money, invested most of it, and bought a house in Folctha south of the river in the Delaney Row district on a cul-de-sac with the charming name of Apple Grove. It was a good start at putting her life back together, at least. Her own house, which she kept scrupulously neat. A job, sporadic and tentative though it was. After six months of rehabilitation under the attention of MBG’s fitness instructor Dane Brown, she was actually in great shape. Better shape even than when she’d left Earth, thanks to an alien surgeon who’d gone above and beyond when putting her back together.

She was doing better than most of her crew, anyway.

Cook was still in an institution, medicated and not allowed access to sharp objects or anything that could be turned into a rope. Jamie had sent a brief message at Christmas to wish her a merry one but was otherwise not in contact, and the last she’d heard of Spears had been a teary-eyed drunken video message recorded at the wrong end of the clock. He’d looked wild-haired and unshaven, with what might have been vomit on his shirt.

He was back on Earth, and hopefully not on a one-way slide into alcoholism and an early grave but… it was hard to tell. And Ray wasn’t sure she could face him, either.

But Holly? Holly seemed to have devoted herself wholly and completely, if a little desperately, to Doing Good. And she was making it work. She shared inspiring stories and vegetarian recipes on social media like she might drown if she didn’t, but other than that… she seemed to be mostly keeping her head above water.

And she was about the only person on the planet that Ray felt really able to relate to.

She’d met the crew of Misfit. Nice kids. Kinda terrifying, but nice. Allison in particular was a pineapple: covered in spikes, but sweet as anything on the inside. Xiù was almost the opposite of that: outwardly cute and friendly, but Ray could see cold sharp steel lurking in there, exposed by the scars.

It was a good thing she was so captivating, to be honest. Their partner Julian was…distracting. And friendly! And oblivious. But mostly distracting. Those three understood true hardship, but they hadn’t been to Hell. Nightmare, maybe, but not Hell. They were healed. They had each other.

She got on well with Dane, but that was a purely professional relationship founded on him doing his best to rebuild her neglected and malnourished body. He certainly couldn’t relate to what she’d been through.

The only people who could were… well, the only one available was Holly. So, Ray made a point of visiting her often.

She’d even tried meditating a few times. Apparently the Gaoian in the black robes who showed up at the Faith Center sometimes was some kind of bigwig, and Holly had talked her into taking one of his meditation classes. It had helped, but he’d done much more good for her with a mug of ovaltine and a joke.

But she’d come to like the Faith Center. It was peaceful, and she had a friend there.

A friend who always smiled to see her, and dropped whatever she’d been doing to trot over and give her a hug.


Ray smiled and reminded herself that she could actually hug properly now. Holly’s own nutrition and exercise program had repaired a lot of the fragility that their exile had inflicted on her. Of the whole crew, she’d been most averse to the Hot—for which Ray didn’t blame her for a second—and had suffered the most from malnutrition as a result.

But she wasn’t made of porcelain any longer. Hell, her hug was firm enough to knock the wind out of the unprepared.

Ray returned it, and kissed her friend’s cheek. “You know, that hug never gets old.”

“Yeah-huh! You brought cookies, I see?”

Ray brandished the bag self-consciously. She’d taken up various creative hobbies as a kind of therapy, with baking coming in slightly behind oil painting and woodworking. She gave all her creations away as gifts, and the nice thing about baking was that she could make little gifts regularly, whereas the woodwork and paintings had to be saved for special occasions.

“White chocolate and raspberry,” she said.

Holly beamed and took the bag. Most of the cookies would wind up with the coffee and other hot drinks, over by the beanbags, armchairs and couches that were the Faith Center’s nexus. But she took one for herself and Ray congratulated herself on her expression when she took a bite.

“Mmm… How’s Thor?”

Ray had also adopted a kitten, a gorgeous fluffy Maine Coon who turned every stereotype about the aloof, disinterested cat upside-down and loved nothing more than to curl up and purr on her lap.

“He’s good. Settling in just fine. You were right about the cardboard box, though. Saved me a lot of money.”

“I told you!” Holly giggled, and guided Ray over toward the couches and bookshelves. She paused to wave at somebody who’d just come out of the Christian prayer room. “Hi Ava!”

Ray recognized the young woman immediately. It was hard not to, Ava Ríos was a prominent face on the news, being ESNN’s alien affairs correspondent. Everything to do with anyone non-human, be they Gaoians, the local ET residents in the Alien Quarter, or the far-flung politics of the Dominion, was inevitably reported by her.

She was taller in real life than on TV, and though her resting expression had been a little troubled she absolutely lit up and gave Holly a hug. “Holly! Sorry, I was miles away…”

“It’s alright. Are you okay?”

Ava sighed. “Just… I had a bad night last night. It’s okay.”

“Do you need to talk about it?”

Ava shook her head. “No, no…. We got a bunch of footage from Rvzrk yesterday. It kinda reminded me of…” She cleared her throat and then smiled apologetically at Ray. “You’ve got your friend here anyway.”

In addition to meat, Holly also eschewed swear words nowadays. That hadn’t stopped her from coming up with some remarkably virulent ways to use otherwise perfectly benign language when she was feeling annoyed with herself, however.

“Oh… puppies. Ava, this is Ray Wheeler. Ray, Ava Ríos.”

“Oh, wow!” Ava straightened up. “Uh… it’s nice to meet you. Holly’s told me a lot about you.”

“I bet,” Ray smiled, and they shook hands. “It’s nice to meet you too, I’m enjoying ‘Laid Bare.’ Especially Miss Patel’s.”

“Thank you!” Ava smiled, and allowed Holly to fuss her and Ray both over in the direction of drinks. She absently accepted one of Ray’s cookies as Holly bustled into action, and settled in on a couch. “At this rate it’s gonna become a regular feature of the magazine. I’ve got no shortage of models…”

“They’re good. I don’t think I’d want to model for one myself, but… reading them has helped me with what happened to us,” Ray gestured to Holly and herself.

Ava nodded solemnly. “She told me all about it.”

“Really?” Ray was genuinely surprised. “She’s… I didn’t know she’d spoken about it with anyone. I thought she was mostly trying to leave it in the past.”

With a light tilt of her head and looking away, Ava managed to convey something that wasn’t quite so crass as a shrug but carried pretty much the same sentiment: Whatever Holly’s reasons had been for opening up to her were Holly’s, not hers to comment on.

“I don’t want to drag it up if it makes you uncomfortable,” she said.

Ray shrugged. “I’m still here,” she said. “You’re more… discreet than I’d expected a journalist to be.”

Ava smiled, though Ray could see immediately she’d managed to be a little hurtful. “I’m not a journalist right now.”

“Oh. Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I get that a lot. I don’t know who started the meme of the headline-hungry journalist who never takes off the press badge, but I’d like to give them some strong words sometime.”

“It’s just a job, huh?”

“Yeah! I mean, I love my job. But you can’t spend your whole life stuck in one mode, can you?”

Ray nodded. That made a lot of sense.

Ava smiled, however, as Holly returned with the drinks. “Don’t get me wrong… Ava the journalist would absolutely love to interview you. When she’s on the job.”

“Hmm… thanks Holly.” Ray accepted a coffee, then nodded at Ava. “…I might go for it, so long as I get to keep my clothes on.”

“Sure. But I like to leave my work at the door when I’m here…” Ava finally sampled her cookie and then promptly took a second, much larger sample. Ray grinned as she watched her demolish it, pleased with her own handiwork. It was truly nice to see something she’d made be enjoyed with such undisguised pleasure.

“Like it?”

“Mm!” Ava swallowed. “You made them?” When Ray nodded that she had, she grinned. “Can I have another?”

Another was duly produced, and savored with a little more patience than the first.

“So is today a day off work, or…?” Ray asked.

Ava shook her head. “Oh, no. I work afternoons and evenings, and it’s a big one this evening. We’ve still got more fallout from Rvzrk to cover.” She pronounced the alien word fluently, if not accurately. “Some Members of the Thing are arguing that we’re not doing enough to send humanitarian aid. I’ve got an interview with some New Whig backbenchers this afternoon.”

“Sounds like… fun…?” Ray suggested. Holly giggled into her drink. Ava shrugged, finished hers and set it down.

“Not really, but, well, a job’s a job. It was lovely to meet you…” She dug in her purse and handed Ray a business card. “Just in case you were serious about that interview.”

Ray nodded, and watched her go, then turned back to Holly, who was giving her a curious look.


“Nothing,” Holly said. “You just surprised me when you said you’re game for an interview.”

“Have you read her articles? I trust her.”


Ray shrugged. “Maybe I surprised myself,” she confessed. She pocketed the business card and sat back to sip her drink. “Anyway… did you talk to that Nofl guy like I suggested?”

“Not yet…” Holly said. She sighed, and opened up into the kind of long-winded fretting that was her way of working through stuff, and Ray smiled as she sat back to listen.

Things were working out pretty good.

Date Point: 16y1w2d AV
High Mountain Fortress, the Northern Plains, Gao

Champion Thurrsto of Whitecrest

“They let us know about it, of course. Very promptly, in fact. The official messages came in on the same synchronization as the unofficial ones.”

The Great Father duck-nodded solemnly. Thurrsto was briefing him in his official office, a relatively humble affair if one ignored the wooden desk which was a collective gift from the leaders of several Human nations, and had come with an enormous matching chair.

To a Gaoian, such a large amount of wood was an enormous display of wealth. Humans didn’t quite have the same relationship with wood, but the craftsmanship still made it a lavish gesture of esteem.

“That’s good. Nice ‘ta be right.”

“My Father?”

“Vindicated, I mean. Some of my Champions fret maybe the Humans ain’t totally open with us,” Daar clarified.

Thurrsto twisted his head back and forth in a gesture that was neither duck-nod nor shrug, but a little of both. “They take the strategic alliance seriously, of that I’m in no doubt. But vindicated or not, the implications for Sol aren’t great. It’s possible that the Hierarchy failed in whatever they were doing, but we’d have to be fools to assume as much.”

“What’s our best guess what they were doin’?”

“Highmountain and Longear both think they were striking at the containment field in some way, trying to weaken it. It’s still standing, but they can’t rule out the possibility that it was momentarily disrupted. That opinion is shared by the Human researchers at Scotch Creek.”

Daar grumbled low in his chest and moved a tablet around listlessly with a claw. “…How much damage could a Hierarchy ship do if it got to Earth?”

“The worst case scenario is… apocalyptic. If it’s loaded with jump arrays and the means to make more…”

“It only needs one,” Daar sighed and shook out his thickening pelt. “We made gigaton-class warheads a hunnerd years ago, after all.”

“And the Hierarchy definitely have them,” Thurrsto duck-nodded grimly. Even if, by some miracle, the enemy hadn’t developed such technology for themselves, they’d been so heavily embedded in Gaoian civilization that they’d definitely have copied the plans.

“So I s’pose the only thing that matters is how much time they need.”

“If their objective was to deploy a gigaton weapon on Earth and they managed to reach Earth before the system lockdown, then it would already have detonated.”

“Yeah. That means… balls. Fuckin’ Keeda’s burnt balls. They can’t never drop the inner shields, can they?”

“They already had to drop the innermost ones, otherwise much of their satellite network would have been ruined and several key orbits would be permanently unavailable. The current inner shield now encompasses both Earth and its moon.”

“…Damn. Plenty’a hidin’ spots on a moon that big.” The Great Father seemed frustrated and, as was his way, slunk from behind his desk and padded over to his ‘thinking rock,’ which he kept on a cushion atop a sturdy side table.

“Yes,” Thurrsto agreed.

“…What happens if they deploy a gigaton device on Luna?”

“Earth gets a ring system instead of a moon. I couldn’t comment on what happens on the ground exactly, but it’d be… unpleasant, I imagine.”

Daar picked up the rock and hefted it between his paws, passing it back and forth as he spoke. “No shit. Prol’ly ought’a avoid that.”

“I have a suggestion,” Thurrsto ventured. “It’ll be expensive, but… not as much so as losing Earth.”

The rock twirled high in the air for a second before landing heavily in Daar’s paws. It was an interestingly shaped smooth thing he’d apparently dug up in a field one time, and shot through with quartz veins. Probably some ancient glacier had bowled and rolled it for thousands of miles in the ancient past, before depositing it in the bottom of a valley. Some of the cubs undergoing their first rites had decided to polish the thing to a high gloss as a birthday gift, which apparently involved a teensy bit of petty larceny to steal it away for a week.

He’d probably sniffed them out immediately of course…but said nothing for several days. Mischief was its own reward, sometimes.

“…Let’s hear it,” he said.

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

Read More »
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

Read More »

More by HamboneHFY

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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,

Read More »

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

Read More »

Similar Stories

Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

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

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 4

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 10

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

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 3

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

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 5

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

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

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

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 9

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

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 4

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 8

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

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 3

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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++:

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 1

Dorvakian Home World 4 Years 3 months 8 days Before C1764 FTL Jump Looking across the grounds for several moment’s Silnersalkara tapped the table in front of her. The data controls embedded in the device quickly shut off and the hologram above its surface died. “Kermarcus, I’m aware of the situation. The opposition’s been attempting

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

Date Point: 16y3m AV Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Yan Given-Man “I like these Core-tie.” “You do? Why the change of heart?” When the ‘del-a-gay-shun’ had returned, there was of course much eagerness to learn the news. Yan was very happy to tell everyone they would be getting vack-seens from the Core-tie as

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 6

Date point: 14y 8m AV Residence of the Great Father of the Gao, Folctha, Cimbrean Sister Naydra The months on Cimbrean had been…therapeutic. She found herse lf greatly appreciating the Female presence on the Human’s first colony world, and everything it stood for: stability, acceptance. Survival. The Humans had done so much to support the

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

Date Point: 16y3m AV USS Robert A. Heinlein, Akyawentuo Orbit, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Third Director Tran Some of the other Directors had expressed reservations when Tran had informed them he was taking Nofl along to the meeting with the Ten’Gewek. He’d invested some of their trust and patience by reassuring them that

Read More »

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

Read More »

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.”

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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”

Read More »

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”

Read More »

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

Read More »

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!”

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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…

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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”

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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,

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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

Read More »

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *