The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m AV
Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches


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 the ceiling as though it was the most transcendentally fascinating thing in existence.

Seeing as there was nobody around to play up for, Nofl didn’t bother with the usual clucking ‘dear, oh dear,’ he’d have usually produced. He settled instead for something a good deal more robust.

“…Well, fuck.”

He’d been afraid of this. The droud function was, in his view, perhaps the most horrifying aspect of Arutech and it had rendered the OmoAru themselves all but extinct. Only a hardy handful of particularly resilient souls remained on their homeworld, and even they spent more time smiling at clouds than actually looking after themselves.

Even if stripping the tech out of their cells was a possibility—and despite his musings to Arés and Powell about a complete cellular rebuild, Nofl suspected that was basically just a fantasy—the OmoAru were dead. Even if they could somehow be cured, they were all so hopelessly addicted to the droud now that freeing them would involve plunging them into the worst, deepest and blackest depression a sapient mind could experience.

In Leemu’s case, it took interrogation off the table. There was no point in trying to bore, cajole or manipulate information out of somebody who could be endlessly entertained by watching dry paint.

It also took away much hope for any possible recovery, which left Nofl with one choice. He pressed a button, and stasis-bubbled the quarantine room.

His other patients weren’t doing so well either, but for entirely different reasons. For example, Bozo was becoming manically hyperactive as he searched to do something other than run around in circles, which was driving Narl into an exhausted fugue.

Preed was sitting despondently on his bed and staring at his feet. There’d been an awkward conversation with staff from the Thai consulate, who’d eventually left with a grim promise about their citizen’s rights and the Folctha government’s responsibilities… it certainly hadn’t done Preed’s mood any good. Nofl hadn’t been able to extract so much as a word from him since, and although he suspected that Preed’s arm must be throbbing and sore from fighting off the Arutech infection, the glass of water and the painkillers he’d left the old man sat neglected where Nofl had left them.

Gorku, at least, was asleep. He’d found Nofl’s gauntlet of tests, questions and scans thoroughly draining, and had ultimately insisted on being allowed to rest. Nofl was pretty sure he might have a solution to the big Gaoian’s linguistic troubles before long, but he had to admit: in this instance, cybernetics were the sensible solution.

And therein lay something to truly hate the Hierarchy for. A whole field of medicine was now tainted, permanently. Cybernetics had promised not only to repair and enhance the abilities of organic life forms, but indeed to expand what a living being could do! The possibilities had been theoretically endless!

As much as there was no sense in crying over spilled milk, Nofl did feel a touch of something like mourning for the field of neurocybernetic implantation. It was, if nothing else, a depressing waste of potential.

His sullen funk was interrupted by his phone. It was a human model that he’d programmed some very personal apps for, and he’d rigged up a small drone to relay calls through it. The drone kit was actually a brightly colored children’s toy, which Nofl approved of on several levels. Naturally, he’d extensively expanded the technology and programming for an adult Corti’s needs, but it really was rather delightful to think that there were human younglings running around building drones out of little plastic bricks.

He turned to face it as it swooped toward him, chirping merrily. “Yes?”

“Nofl, this is Third Director Tran aboard the Empirical Razor. We just entered Cimbrean orbit.”

Oh. Well. Apparently Nofl’s word counted for a lot with the Directorate, then. And thank goodness for well-integrated planetary communications with universal telecommunications gateways, where a Third Director could simply arrive in orbit and phone Nofl’s office as though it were a trivial matter of routine rather than a miracle of standardization.

“Ah, welcome Director. Thank you for such a swift response.”

“Your message specifically mentioned Arutech in a non-OmoAru subject. The First Director was gravely concerned.”

“Rightly so!” Nofl agreed. “Should I prepare to transfer my patients up to you, or will you come to me?”

“We will come to you first,” Tran declared. “I am sure the Human governments will prefer it that way.”

“Oh good. That gives me time to clean up the dirty laundry.”

Nofl never tired of irking his so-called betters, but Tran was becoming unfortunately well-adapted to his proclivities. His reply to the joke was level-headed: he ignored it. “Please do. I will see you shortly.”

Nofl sighed at the beep as the call ended and looked around. At least they were taking this seriously. Maybe there was hope for Leemu yet.

That thought made him chuckle. Realistically it was a stupid and irrational hope. But somehow he couldn’t let go of it.

“…Ever the optimist, Nofl…” he muttered to himself, and fetched his gravity harness.

There was a tacit assumption among Humankind that the Corti were cowardly and unadventurous. That was, perhaps, a bit unfair. The cowardly bit was dead on, of course. But science was nothing but an adventure! How could exploring the very mechanisms of infinity be unadventurous? Ridiculous. No other species had probed the unknown so relentlessly.

Relentlessly, but not recklessly. Hence Nofl’s personal gravity harness.

He rarely used it nowadays, not even when visiting those parts of the city that were kept at Earth gravity: Stunted and deprived though it was, the Corti body could still gain strength and endurance, at least to the point where spending time in Human gravity environments was tolerable. Not comfortable or easy, but tolerable.

The harness, however, just made things certain. A lot of the gyms in Folctha experimented with supergravity training, but none more so than the Dog House. It was the hardest of the hardcore gyms, and had become a bit of a destination for adventurous, like-minded athletes from Earth (and increasingly, Gao) who wanted to test themselves against the very best to ever live.

On that thought, Nofl satisfied himself that it would be difficult indeed to deride him as “unadventurous” as he rented a car across town to venture into the Dog House’s infamous basement “dungeon.”

He checked his personal gravity harness one last time before braving the stairs. Some of the most terrifyingly strong examples of Deathworlder physiology alive would be busy straining their bodies down there, pushing themselves against limits so far beyond any Corti that it was difficult to imagine.

It certainly sounded liked distilled aggression down there. Loud, incredibly violent music was made barely tolerable by the muffling effect of walls, and charging through what was surely a sonic blitzkrieg came the sound of a man’s voice in full force.

“Fuck yeah!! You’re gonna fuckin’ smash your PR!”

The words were certainly positive. The tone of voice, on the other h and, was an incitement to murder.

Another voice added his own thunderous note to the battle cry. “You got it!”


“You fuckin’ got it!!”

“Fuck yeah!”

“Get under that fuckin’ bar!!”

Nofl reached the bottom of the steps in time to get a good look at the thick steel bar in question. It was loaded with solid metal plates all the way to its edges and was bending alarmingly under the strain. The mass alone was…astounding. He made note of the blue warning light at the threshold and blanched when he saw what the gravity inside the room was set to. The resulting weight under that heavy a force…

Julian was in the process of inserting himself underneath it and taking that incredible weight across his broad, heavy shoulders. Where normally he had an open and friendly face, right then he was wild-eyed and uncaged as though something had just made the mistake of becoming his mortal enemy.

The two vastly larger Deathworlders with him looked even wilder. Clearly, the shouting had been their doing.

What followed was legitimately terrifying. Spurred by yet more roars of encouragement, Julian took the full weight as he lifted the bar off the rack, then bent at the knees and hips while keeping his back straight. The bar went down, his rear came alarmingly close to the floor. He made a guttural, red-faced grunt, and the corded muscles in his thick neck bulged from the immense forces at play. More yelling, a look of agony and then, with a defiant bellow, the bar went back up. Down, up, down again…shaking with tremendous effort, back up for a third time.

Not content with that feat, his companions quickly whipped a plate off each side of the bar and dropped them to the matting with a calamitous thud. The feat was repeated, each time until Julian could lift no more, then another plate was pulled off…and so on. When there were only a few plates left on each side and Julian stalled, Warhorse ambled behind him and provided the barest assisting nudge against the bar, bellowing right next to his ear and “encouraging” him to force out another dozen repetitions. Down to two plates, even more reps, than one plate, the bare bar, and finally just his own bodyweight. By then Julian could hardly move but Adam was merciless, and didn’t let him stop until he could barely rise on his own. It took a shockingly long time to reach that point, and Etsicitty spent it with an expression like he was in profound pain.

Despite the apparently excruciating ordeal, when he finally freed himself of his torment and collapsed onto a nearby bench, gasping for air and wobbling as if he could barely sit upright, he did so with an expression of almost psychedelic delight. Fascinating.

Warhorse was no less pleased.

“Fuck yeah, man!! That’s the best fuckin’ set you’ve ever done!”

Julian’s expression was one of pure savagery, though when he eventually caught his breath his voice was quiet and growly enough that Nofl could hardly hear him. “Fuck yeah. Put it in the book.”

“Dude,” Adam enthused. “There ain’t nobody on Earth that could squat like that! Literally!”

Curiously, Julian laughed at that compliment. “Ha! I hear how you qualified that shit!”

“Well,” Adam grinned sheepishly. “Didn’t wanna embarrass ‘ya too hard, y’know.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Julian grinned and reached down to the floor beside him and mopped the copious moisture off his face with a towel. He also took an enormous swig of water from a bottle as big as Nofl’s torso. “Don’t worry big fella, I know my place.”

“Bah, don’t let ‘em git away with it, Playboy! Ain’t nobody outside o’ HEAT could beat you! Balls, a buncha’ them couldn’t, neither!”

“Well…” Julian grinned again and took another swig of water. “Gotta admit that feels pretty good! Too bad huge muscles don’t make me much good at TIG welding. Al’s been teaching me!”

“Yeah? How ‘ya doin’ at it?”

“Terrible!” Julian laughed, “So far my beads look like crap!”

“Ha! You’ll git good, don’t worry. Just practice! ‘Ya shoulda seen my first beads! Damn near lit myself on fire a buncha times when I was little…”

Despite the friendly banter, all three of them looked as if they’d come through a terrible ordeal. Julian was ruddy, plainly exhausted, and dripping with sweat. ‘Horse was glowing with both pride and perspiration, and looking thoroughly pleased with himself…

The Great Father of the Gao was also soaked from head to toe, his huge tongue lolling out the side of his mouth in a delighted, exhausted fugue.

Nofl hadn’t foreseen his presence at all. Oh dear.

“Fuck, I’ve needed ‘ta lift like this ‘fer a coupl’a weeks! Our turn now!” the Great Father roared. “Let’s show our little guy here what a real lift looks like!”

The two much larger males set up their lift at a nearby station, and those weights utterly dwarfed the incredible feat Julian had just accomplished. The equipment was clearly custom: a longer, much thicker and heavier bar, bigger and (according to the numbers) vastly more massive plates. The entire aggressive ritual was repeated, first by Daar and then by Adam, Julian cheering along just as violently as the other two had for him. Nofl watched with no small sense of intimidation. It took considerably longer for both males to finish their task as there were many more plates and many more repetitions at each step. The ground shook underfoot as each plate hit the floor, which Julian helped tidy up behind them with a subtle grimace of effort.

The two titans struggled mightily under the absurd load. Nofl didn’t know which of them was “better” at it, but at that level of performance, the answer seemed more academic than anything.

He waited at the doorway until they had reached a comparatively quiescent phase in their exercise. All three were now toying with relatively “smaller” handheld weights and engaging in some form of aggressively jocular banter while they trained. The two bigger males suddenly grew much louder and decided it was time to wrestle. They tackled each other with a loud, solid whump of enormous masses slamming together, and tumbled across the floor in what must have been some form of Deathworlder play. There didn’t seem to be any harm intended…

Julian, for his part, shook his head quietly and continued what Nofl decided must be bicep curls. Even in that simple seeming, one-armed exercise, Julian was casually curling many times Nofl’s mass under gravity that would crush him to goo, and his weight was considerably less massive than what the other two had been using. The sheer physical capability the three displayed was intimidating, deep in instincts a Corti sometimes forgot they still had.

For a moment, the ongoing fight and general display of Deathworlder danger prompted Nofl to consider creeping back upstairs and simply calling them instead… but his pride won out. He’d be damned if he would prove the cowardly Corti stereotype right today.

He straightened his own posture and knocked. The two combatants paused and looked up from the floor at Julian, then the trio collectively glanced in Nofl’s direction. A collection of firmly predatory grins lit their faces.

Predatory…yet, friendly. Daar in particular yipped happily, “Nofl! ‘Ya plannin’ on joinin’ us?”

Nofl had met Daar before, of course. Before he’d been raised to a peerless degree of both authority and responsibility. Back, in fact, when he’d still merely been Champion Daar, as opposed to the most powerful individual in the galaxy.

That grin was a sight he’d never expected to see again. And Nofl could think very, very quickly indeed sometimes. Especially when it came to speaking to people who were a long way up the ladder from his perspective.

“Oh… dear, this is embarrassing. Caught playing voyeur!”

Plumping for flippant sass might have been a risky move if he’d been dealing with anybody else, but Nofl had memorized the Directorate Intelligence College’s psychological dossier on Daar. The Corti knew a great deal about what made him tick, which was why Daar’s reaction was a pleased basso profundo chitter.

“I could smell ‘yer fungus-chompin’ tail the second ‘ya entered the buildin’, Nofl,” he rumbled.

“You caught my delicate bouquet over the stink of this place? Your nose really is legendary…”

“Man’s gotta have a talent,” the Great Father rumbled drily.

“…Right. May I come in please? You’ll have to turn the gravity down, I’m afraid.”

‘Horse detangled himself from the Great Father, grabbed his phone and tapped at it a few times. After a moment a faint infrasonic noise that Nofl hadn’t really registered faded to nothing, and the warning light over the door shut off. 1G: Earth standard. He then thumped over and opened the door for Nofl. Apparently as an extra safety measure it locked from the inside. Sensible.

“Is this how Deathworlders train?” Nofl asked as he ventured over the threshold.

“Naw,” boomed Daar, who was thrashing back and forth against the floor, presumably to reach some frustrating itch. “‘Least not all of us! ‘Ya gotta be a special kind o’ insane t’train like we do. Don’t’cha fellas?!” There was a lusty chorus of acclaim from the other two. “Ain’t no Corti can handle this, that’s for sure.”

“Not yet, at least,” Nofl said. “Who knows, in a few generations…”

“Man,” Adam laughed and wrapped a gigantic and uncomfortably hot, moist arm around Nofl’s shoulders in what was probably a friendly gesture. “There’s a thought…anyway, que pasa?”

Corti weren’t known for their sense of smell. For which, in this instance, Nofl was quite glad. He didn’t particularly want to know exactly what pure testosterone smelled like.

“Have you spoken with your father today?” Nofl asked him.

“Nah, not yet. Why?”

“Or Colonel Powell?”


“Something important came up.”

Daar heaved a sigh. “Look, little guy, I ain’t had a real good lift in ages an’ I been lookin’ forward ‘ta this all week, so unless you got somethin’ fuckin’ planet-shatteringly important—”

“…Yes, I think I rather do,” Nofl decided. “Perhaps even literally. A laughing man is no laughing matter, after all…”

That instantly drained all the mirth out of the room, as expected. Both Daar and ‘Horse sobered like Nofl had dumped cold water over them.

The shift in mood definitely wasn’t lost on Julian either, who glanced at the pair of them. “…Did I miss a briefing?” he asked.

“Yes. We gotta go. Now. You…”

“I have business with him, in fact,” Nofl said and gestured at Julian, who looked nonplussed.

“What kind of business?”

“Well, there’s a ship full of high-ranking Directorate brass orbiting above, and they want to talk with you about your cavemonkey friends.”

“Wait. Right now?”

“Yes. Right now.”

“Uh…Wow. Okay.”

Daar sighed, and looked almost wistfully at the weights and bars. “Ain’t no rest ‘fer a Great Father after all…”

“At least we got a good session in,” Warhorse commented helpfully. “Maybe we can lift again tonight?”

“See, that’s the ridiculous thing ‘bout you Humans,” Daar chittered tiredly. “You in particular. We just spent hours liftin’ like maniacs an’ ‘yer already thinkin’ ‘bout liftin’ again!”

“Yeah, well…look at you, though! Today you matched me pound for pound on every lift. You and Yan are the only guys who can! Hell, I bet if my equipment could take the weight, you’d straight beat me on the leg press, too!”

“Yeah! Gotta be strong t’be fast! I’ll take ‘ya up on ‘yer challenge, ‘Horse! You get a better press, an’ I’ll come over nice an’ rested up, an’ we’ll see just who’s got the stronger legs!”


Julian, who by rare fortune was easily the smallest Deathworlder in the room, gave Nofl a tired, amused Look that communicated much about the foibles of his two thunderous friends.

“You two are ridiculous,” Julian commented, then began performing a series of calisthenics.

“But…” Daar growled low to himself, “while I ‘preciate ‘yer esteem, let’s be honest. I still ain’t conditioned quite as good as you, and ‘yer always a bit over-optimistic ‘bout these things, too.”

“Eh…I think my friends maybe tend to underestimate themselves and their limits too easily…”

“Mebbe,” Daar chittered. “But I don’t wanna delude m’self. I may be ‘yer match ‘fer strength, ‘specially on a fantastic day like today, but I’ll never match up wit’ your endurance, neither. An’ anyways, I think we better get movin’ ‘cuz ‘yer gonna git recalled any minute, I bet.”

“Well,” Adam again grinned sheepishly. “Okay yeah, I get a bit over-enthusiastic sometimes. But don’t underestimate yourself, man! You’re awfully damn—Goddamnit.”

Sometimes, coincidences were enough to make even the most rational Corti wonder. No sooner had Daar uttered those words than Adam’s phone sprang into life with what Nofl recognized as the theme song from a cartoon he’d briefly studied out of anthropological fascination. The plot had been paper-thin and had mostly consisted of extremely large and muscular men screaming a lot while their hair inexplicably changed color…

Which made it oddly apt for ‘Horse, actually.

The sheer…geekiness of that ringtone contrasted sharply against the pair of blood-dripping, shattered Hunter skulls that plastered themselves gruesomely across his chest. Clearly his e-tattoo was programmed to respond to his phone.

“…Yup, that’s a recall,” he said ruefully, and answered it. “Yes? …Understood. I’ll be there in ten.”

Julian chuckled low to himself and ran a hand through the mop of his hair. “Sounds like you jinxed it, Tiggs.”

“Jinxing is what tiggers do best,” the Great Father grumbled mirthlessly. “Right. Imma go hose off upstairs. I’ll…see ‘ya later. And tell Tiny he’s a wimp ‘fer not showin’ up today!” With a round of guffaws and a nod to the other two, Daar turned and slinked silently up the stairs.

Adam looked at Julian and grinned. “He didn’t wanna be outlifted by you again, I bet.”

Another quiet chuckle. “Well…he keeps dodging us, he’ll be living up to that nickname soon enough. Anyway…” He gave Adam a meaningful look. “Get going, I’ll take care of this.”

“Right. See ‘ya.”

Nofl found himself alone with Julian, who sighed, flopped to the floor and began to stretch. How a being as heavily built as he was could contort himself like that was beyond Nofl’s comprehension. Eventually he grumbled to himself, then glanced at Nofl and sighed again.

“So, uh…fill me in.”

Date Point: 16y2m AV
Planet Rvzrk, Domain Space

Grandfather Garl of Stoneback, Warleader of the Grand Army

The last Hunters on the planet died in the same psychotic frenzy of teeth and claws as the very first.

That was the problem with Hunters. Breakin’ their spirit just didn’t happen. The fuckin’ things were soulless, an’ they didn’t negotiate, they didn’t surrender, they didn’t seem ‘ta fear death…

…Did make ‘em awful fun to murder, though. But it meant tearin’ up the rulebook on war, a bit. Shock and awe tactics? No point! Hunters couldn’t be shocked and awed. Psy-ops? Shit, half the time the fact the Hunters just didn’t give a fart meant the Gaoian troops got unnerved instead. Fighting between males was as much about intimidation as anything else, after all.

There just weren’t no way to intimidate a Hunter. There was only slaughter.

That fact cost a lotta lives. Not too many, but a lot. Especially in the early days of the cleansing, when the Hunters still had ammo for those crazy oversized bullet-throwers of theirs. When they ran out and fell back on kinetic pulse weaponry, the casualty rate dropped. Even an armored silverfur with proper shielding could handle KP, once they’d been fed up. Sure, they couldn’t wade through it like a Human, but they could get back up again.

The final Hunter holdout was a lumber plantation in a valley. They hid among the trees, dug a warren amid the roots and held out there even after the Firefangs dropped all kindsa crap on that forest. Repeated firestrikes burned the whole plantation down to ash, black earth, and jagged charcoal stumps, but they just emerged from the smoke and embers. Seismic tunnel-crushers shoulda buried the fuckers where they lived, but they just scuttled straight back up from under the ground.

Which was why the Clan’s engineer corps was busy diverting a nearby river to flood them out.

Champion Fiin was a smart one, and he left Garl to do his job without lookin’ over the older male’s shoulder. Garl approved of that: Good leaders knew the art of delegation, and Fiin was a good leader. In some ways—never say it out loud—for this moment in Stoneback’s history, he was maybe even a slightly better leader than Daar, who’d played the game of Champions extremely well but definitely was happiest when he was bein’ the Clan’s stud-prime.

Well…hard to blame ‘em, really.

Fiin had a little more… humility. If that was the right word. He’d come up the hard way. Daar, for all his hard work and determination, had life handed to him on a polished wooden platter. Fiin wasn’t naturally the most bestest at everything, but he’d made himself into what the Clan needed, and taken some hard lessons to heart along the way. Right now, while they rebuilt the Gao…maybe an authentic Champion was a bit better than a living Keeda.

One of Fiin’s lessons had been in accepting when other people knew better’n him. He knew he was still young, and he knew he didn’t know everything. Garl could really respect that.

Yeah. Garl felt good about leavin’ the Clan in Fiin’s paws. That was a load off, for sure. With luck, it’d be the last big worry off of Garl’s back.

“Why divert a river?” Fiin asked as he reviewed the map alongside Garl. “Why not, say, a thermobaric weapon?”

“Couple’a reasons,” Garl said. “We already bombed ‘em to shit an’ those tunnels are still there, so they’re prol’ly shielded an’ stuff. Firestrikes didn’t work neither, so they’re well-designed to keep out heat, pressure, flame… But I bet they don’t have SCUBA gear. We turn that valley into a new reservoir, an’ I’ll be happy to just leave ‘em ‘ta drown in their holes.”

“And it’s not as destructive, I guess…” Fiin duck-nodded as he ran a claw along the river’s course.

“Yeah. After all the nukes the Humans dropped, I don’t wanna go an’ ruin good land.”

“I can see why they set up there,” Fiin said. “That little bit of high ground in the middle of a depression. It’d be a good spot, if they controlled the area.”

“An’ it let us trap ‘em, and now we’re gonna drown ‘em jus’ like vermin,” Garl growled happily.


“Late tonight. Lotta explosives ‘ta lay.”

“Can your field staff manage it without you?”

“…Yeah. But I’ll be honest, I really wanted ‘ta be there an’ see it happen.”

Fiin chittered. “Me too…I think we’ll have time.”

“You didn’t come here for the fireworks though,” Garl guessed.

“Yeah, they’re more like a happy bonus…” Fiin chittered briefly. “…I need you to muster forces for another mission, to begin re-deployment as soon as can be had.”

“This ‘fer the thing Fourth Fang’s doin’?”

“Uh-huh. They’ve done their recon and emplacement. Now we need to burn the Hierarchy’s shit to the ground.”

Garl chittered again. “…I ever tell you how I like the way you think, my Champion?”

Fiin flicked an ear, looking pleased. “I thought you’d approve. How quickly can you muster?”

“Two days. I’m thinkin’ I should leave this ‘ta Matso. And…uh, I have a request, my Champion.”

Fiin caught the sudden change in tone immediately and cocked his head. “Name it.”

“…There’s a, uh… well, a reason I wanna see that valley flood. It’s gonna be one’a the last things I can see clearly.”

Fiin paused, sniffed at him for a second, then keened softly. “…I see.”

“Oh, don’t go keenin’ at me like a weaning cub,” Garl grumbled. “I’m eighty-eight, it was gonna happen sooner or later. An’ I’m too old an’ horrible for the Crue-G ‘ta work.”

“Does the Great Father know?”

“Yeah. He sniffed it on me the mornin’ I first noticed my sight was startin’ to go. Figure I’ve got half a year, maybe. Gonna be blind as a rock in half that time, though… Can’t lead an army when I can’t see shit.”

“No, I ‘spose not. Uh…is Matso ready?”

Garl chittered. “Balls no! But neither was I… An’ neither were you, my Champion. He’s got what it takes, though… You know who he is?”

“I’ve heard the name. Story a lot like mine, too.”

“Yup. Whole lotta hidden treasures in the Clanless, if ‘yer smart enough ‘ta find ‘em.”

“Right, well…stay, then. Get this handed over. I’d still like you to pay a visit to Stinkworld, though. This is gonna need the touch of experience.”

“Aright, my Champion. Now git, I got work ‘ta do.”

Fiin nodded and sniffed noses with him, rested a brotherly paw on his shoulder, then turned back to his business. A Champion never rested.

Nor did a Grandfather, really. Not until the very end. Strange, he’d imagined he’d be worked up about the inevitable but really…he wasn’t. He’d had a good life, sired many cubs… shit, sired a Great Father!

Briefly, he wondered what Fyu’s own sire had been like. Maybe if there was an afterlife, he’d sniff the ol’ pelt out and they’d raise some Talamay together, or do whatever it was the Unseen did. If they did. Whatever.

Garl shook his pelt out. Balls, gettin’ close to nava mulch was makin’ him all sorts of sentimental! He should spread the cheer, and he knew just the victim to pounce on. He limbered up and ran like the wind over to Matso’s little encampment. He was definitely Daar’s sire and he wouldn’t get to enjoy his body for much longer…

…He did manage to restrain himself from flattening the much smaller silverfur with a tackle, though.

“Hey, Matso! I’ve got ‘ya a challenge I bet ‘yer gonna just love the shit outta…”

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

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

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

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

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

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

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

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 5

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

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

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 9

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 8

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

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

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Henosis – Chapter 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 7

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

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Henosis – Chapter 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 1

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

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Henosis – Chapter 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 5

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

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Henosis – Chapter 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 6

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m3w AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1722 ++0008++: In summary, the infiltration of Sol means the operation was a success, though not an unqualified one. We have four Injunctors on Earth, and a further two in the outer system, but the new Arutech biodrones appear to be an abject failure. The Cimbrean infiltration

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Rising Titans – Chapter 51 (End)

9 Years, 7 Months, 2 Days After Eridani Landing Chront Leaning down and putting her head to the table Stagg yawned. “Try the tea,” repeated Derrick sounding just as exhausted as she felt. The Captain turned to look at the engineer and then at the small pot on the table. “I did. Taste’s like mold.”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m3w AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao “Hey, this ain’t a bad little house at all!!” Daar followed in behind Gorku, who was carrying a completely exhausted Leemu on his back and had to mind his steps. “Humans know how to build houses arright,” he agreed. “Maybe

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m2w1d AV Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Vemik Sky-Thinker One of the Human archaeologists was a metallurgist. Tilly was a strange and delicate name that didn’t suit her at all, Vemik thought. She had a sharp face full of metal piercings, skin full of bright pictures, and a half-shaven crest of

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Good Training – Survival Part 5

Date point: 14y 2m 3w 4d AV SOR barracks, HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Meanwhile… Brother Faarek (Southpaw) of Clan Whitecrest–SOR “Are you sure you want to do this, Brother?” “Yes,” Thurrsto said with absolute conviction. “She’s the most beautiful Female I’ve ever seen and she’s hurting. I can’t bear doing nothing.” Faarek

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 5

ESNN Magazine article: “Prisons In Their Head- an interview at Camp Tebbutt” Author and photographer: Ava Magdalena Ríos [Cover image: two men seated on a bench in front of a chain-link fence, with a stunning Alaskan vista behind them. On the left is a scruffy bearded white man with shaggy salt-and-pepper hair, and next to

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Rising Titans – Chapter 50

+15 Minutes The Canada “Can this thing fly?” Shouted Pankin as a rattling howl began to echo through the ship, the crew members on what was now the ceiling tightening their straps as objects that had been floating began to rattle on the floor as the ship dove deeper into the atmosphere of the planet.

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 4

Date Point: 16y2m2w AV Weaver dropship, Rich Plains contact volume, Kwmbwrw Great Houses TSgt Timothy “Tiny” Walsh All throughout the ordeal of becoming HEAT and finally earning the Mass, the one thing running through Walsh’s head was that one day, he too would serve at their level. Do the mission like none other. Walk through

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 3

Date Point: 16y2m1w5d AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon-Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Ava Ríos “You ever rode a helicopter before, Ava?” Ava jumped, and looked away from the window. She’d been enjoying the view. It was her first trip to Alaska, and the thing that struck her as she’d watched the landscape rolling by

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m1w2d AV Gaoian embassy, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao There was shit to catch up with. Stuff to read, stuff to make decisions on, stuff to be briefed on in case he had to make a decision later… At first Daar did his best to

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Good Training – Survival Part 4

Date point: 14y 2m 1w AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Singer “So, if we salt the roots in boiling water with some herbs, and use a very tight…what was the word?” [“Jar,”] Julian said encouragingly. “—And then we boil the whole jar with the lid on loose, so the bad spirits

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Rising Titans – Chapter 49

+10 Minutes The Singer [Vann] stood in the center of the bridge the three-dimensional hologram showing the entirety of his fleet as well as the surrounding space. The cubic formation was going to be tested now, up to this point the only gauge of effectiveness was how [Charles] had reacted to it in simulations. He

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m5d AV Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Xiù Chang Yan was having to explain himself. It wasn’t that the men who’d come out to hunt the Brown One were disappointed, exactly. None of them had been looking forward to the battle at all. They all knew the stories of how many

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m4d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Julian Etsicitty Daar caught up with them about an hour after Xiù called ahead to let them know he was coming. A lot had happened in that hour. Yan had laid out his bibtaws in a kind of scent lure, some distance out

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m3d AV Gaoian embassy, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao People who didn’t know Daar all that well thought he had a pathological aversion to Civilized pursuits. Not true at all! Daar had always enjoyed history, writing, and the more subtle arts of courtship, and he

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 4

Date point: 16y2m3d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Daniel “Chimp” Hoeff Julian had a habit of singing in the woods. Not loud, exactly, and Hoeff wasn’t even sure he was totally conscious he was doing it, but loud enough to hear. Apparently it kept critters from blundering into them that might

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Rising Titans – Chapter 48

+ 7 Minutes 38 Seconds The Canada “Captain, your message?” asked Arik as her Avatar superimposed itself over the main monitor. “Surrender now, call off the fighters and we’ll let you live. Then we can begin to negotiate for an end to this pointless violence.” “That’s it?” asked Arik after a moment. “Unless anyone else

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Good Training – Survival Part 3

Date point: 14y 1m 2w AV “Clan Young Glory,” western unincorporated territories, Gao Sister Naydra Naydra and her fellow Sisters were slowly dying. The “Clan” that had “liberated” them from the clutches of what they now knew were biodrones had decided their honored guests needed “protection.” Their so-called protection consisted of imprisonment. Their “protection fees”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 3

Date point: 16y2m3d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Professor Daniel Hurt “What exactly did he say he’s fetching, anyway?” “An M107.” Daniel frowned. Although he’d learned more about firearms in general over the past few years than he’d ever imagined he would, there were times that the people who really “got”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m1d AV Chiune Station, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler Allison hadn’t slept well in a couple of nights. It wasn’t that she begrudged Julian and Xiù going offworld, not at all, but it did disrupt the sense of familiarity that made home, well… Home. If she didn’t have her brothers to

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Rising Titans – Chapter 47

+ 30 Seconds The Canada “The Empire ships are now in range of the ACE field!” reported Arik. Stagg grimaced as the ship shook “Activate,” “New contact!” shouted Arik interrupting. “What?” “IFF is identifying the vessel as the HSB Russia, they just exited a spatial rupture directly between us and the Empire fleet!” “Open communications!”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m1d AV personal sanctum, Dataspace. Cynosure/Six Data sophonts did not sleep, and thus did not dream. Nevertheless, Cynosure had a recurring nightmare of sorts. When his attention wandered, he found that it almost inevitably alighted on a handful of disturbing subjects. The details varied, as he worried at different aspects of the problems

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Good Training – Survival Part 2

Date point: 14y 7d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Later that day Julian Etsicitty It was approaching mid-day and the day’s morning work had been taken care of. The scouts had come back and reported that the nearby werne had just calved and would need to be left alone for a

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao “Poor bugger hardly knew which way is up…” Powell grunted, once Wagner was gone. “Who can blame him? His whole crew going violently psychotic on him with no warning, only to be stasis-hopped right into a Corti’s lab being sniffed

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Rising Titans – Chapter 46

9 Years, 6 Months, 14 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Diana blinked in surprise as the jungle was suddenly lit up by a fantastic reddish glow, glancing behind her towards the city Diana watched as another blast of energy, identical in color to the flash fell from the sky. Unable to see from her vantage

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Julian Etsicitty The house was a mess when Julian got back, which was rare. Nobody in their household was naturally untidy—living on Misfit had driven Allison, Xiù and himself into an ingrained habit of orderliness, and the boys had lived in fear of their father’s belt

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 4

Date Point: 16y2m AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1536 ++Asymptote++: I have bad news. It would seem our new drones are detectable. ++0004++: <Dismay> you’re certain? ++Asymptote++: The force I sent to Cimbrean was captured immediately upon arrival. ++0007++: How? ++Asymptote++: Unclear. The Arutech drones don’t report as concisely as conventional biodrones. The connection is…

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 3

Date Point: 16y2m AV The Thinghall, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Gabriel Arés Every civilization needed its icon of executive power. The UK had the black door of Number Ten Downing Street and, somewhere behind it, the Cabinet Room; the USA had the White House, and the Oval Office; Folctha had the Alien Palace. The

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Good Training – Survival Part 1

You may also want to read Pyrophytes in The Deathworlders series. Same story, different angles. Date point: 14y 7d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Professor Daniel Hurt “You want me to read it by next week?” Julian mopped the sweat from his face and bounced loosely in place. “What was it

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Rising Titans – Chapter 45

-7 Hours CHRONT THE CANADA “More contacts!” said Arik as she flashed every monitor on the bridge a bright red. Stagg glanced up at the monitor, “How many more?” “I’m counting!” “You’re counting!?” A grainy image of the approaching Empire patrol vessel was quickly displayed, a small box around it. Additional boxes quickly filled the

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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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