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 him is a bald Middle-Eastern man with a neatly groomed mustache. Each is holding up his name on a small piece of card: “Hugh” and “Mustafa” respectively]

In other circumstances, Hugh Johnson and Mustafa Nazif would make for an unlikely pair of friends. Mustafa is a well-groomed, dapper and highly educated former dentist, whose clinic in Cairo made him a very wealthy man, while Hugh on the other hand is rougher, scruffier, less conservative, and openly acknowledges that he used to be a so-called “Coyote,” a human trafficker who made his money smuggling undocumented migrants across the USA’s border with Mexico.

Both are permanent residents the Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, a remote CIA outpost deep in the heart of the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area. It is from this camp, earlier this year, that the man at the top of the FBI’s most wanted list, Zane Reid, was able to escape.

In the aftermath of his escape, Reid spread several video messages across the Internet laying out his manifesto and his accusations against the Federal Government. In reply, the Government was kind enough to open the camp’s doors to journalists and give us unfiltered, unrestricted access. We have permission, in President Sartori’s words, to portray the reality of this camp “Warts and all.”

There aren’t many warts.

[Image: a smiling woman in a wheelchair and hijab, holding a steaming cup of coffee as she trades jokes with Hugh. The two have obvious romantic chemistry.]

As the camp’s name suggests, all of its internees are former biodrones—humans with neural cybernetic implants who were unfortunate enough to have had those implants used to turn them into unwilling puppets of the alien agency known as The Hierarchy. Although some lucky few former biodrones had implants that could safely be removed, the ones at Camp Tebbutt are not so fortunate: their cybernetics are all deeply embedded, and are beyond the ability of even the most cutting-edge human medicine to remove.

In Hugh and Mustafa’s cases, the implants in question were installed deep in their brains specifically to biodrone them. They will forever be potential agents of the human race’s deadliest enemies.

Their stories of exactly how it happened are eerily similar.

[Image: Mustafa’s scalp, which is covered in a neat hexagonal grid of almost invisibly fine scars.]

How did it happen?

HUGH: “Like something out of a B-movie.” He laughs bitterly. “I was out in the desert south of El Paso. One of my contacts from the other side of the river was bringing a boat over that night and, uh, we had to move fast. USBP were damn good at their jobs, you know? I think I was just about at Elpadre Canyon when my car just… stopped. Engine cut out, I rolled to a halt. I got out and I was still scratching my head under the hood when there was this bright light like boom from above, and then:”

He snaps his fingers. “Hijacked.”

MUSTAFA: “I drove home from work as usual, a little late because I worked overtime with a rich client. My house was very nice, with a security wall and a gate. I drove my car through, locked the gate and then there was a bright light from above. I looked up, and…”

He trails off and shrugs.

“The next few months are like a dream that never really happened. I remember bits and pieces, nothing more. And what I do remember, I can’t even be sure if I remember it well.”

HUGH: “Yeah. Like somebody else lived your life for a while.”

MUSTAFA: “Which of course is exactly what happened.”

Both of you were more than just biodrones, though. You were host to an actual Hierarchy agent.

MUSTAFA: “Yes. ‘Six,’ he called himself.”

HUGH: “Evil. Real, honest-to-God evil. I don’t think I ever believed there even was such a thing as true evil until I met the Hierarchy.”

What did they do?

HUGH: “They… this isn’t the face I was born with. I was always kinda an average-looking guy, but Six and his lackeys surgically altered me. They got rid of all my distinguishing features… It took me a long time to get used to seeing a different face in the mirror. They did that to a few guys, actually. There were three or four of us, and you coulda sworn we were twins. Triplets. Whatever. I’m the only one left.”

He sighs, shivers and nervously lights a cigarette.

“…And, they used my body to commit a murder.”

Mustafa puts a hand on his friend’s shoulder, sympathetically.

HUGH: “She was an… investigator of some kind. A PI, I think. I guess she got too close to exposing the Hierarchy’s operation in San Diego, because Six had her killed, and used me to do it…”

He trails off. I can tell this is a deeply painful subject for him. I don’t press him for more details, and he doesn’t share any.

And after that?

HUGH: “Six wanted to… ‘poke the hornet’s nest.’ The Hierarchy still didn’t know much about mankind at that point, he didn’t know how we’d react to danger. So he decided to prod us and see what happened. He… tried to orchestrate a mass shooting.”

Tried to?

HUGH: “Yeah. Some sports event, a roller derby I think. I guess somebody in the crowd smelled a rat or something because the police arrived, shot one of the other biodrones dead and captured me. Or, uh, Six. Apparently they had to keep him in stasis for a few months so they could set up a facility to contain him, and… well. Here it is.”

He gestures around at the camp and the terrain surrounding it.

“I was Camp Tebbutt’s first internee.”

But Six escaped.

HUGH: “Yeah. I don’t know how, but he just up and left one day. He’d already told the interrogators everything, though.”


*“Oh yeah! By-the-book, humane, totally civilized. No torture, this isn’t Guantanamo Bay and we’re not terrorists.**

[Image: Mustafa being taught a hand-clapping game by a child of about ten years.]

Some of you have families here?

MUSTAFA: *“Not here. My daughter, Civene, she stays with a foster family in Fairbanks. The Hierarchy took my wife as well as me, and she died, but—alḥamdulillāh—Civene was too young for them. Rather than intern her here, America found a family for her to live with, and she visits me.

HUGH: “The camp’s only permanent residents are implanted. Everyone else is either staff or a guest.”

Still, that has to be difficult.

MUSTAFA: “I would like nothing more than to live outside these walls as a free man, with my daughter. But I can’t. There are seven evil little devices in my head, the size of bees. I have seen the X-rays. Those are my prison. This camp? In the winter, I wish I could be back in Egypt, but in the summer it is a pleasant place to live.”

A recent Gallup poll suggested that one in four Americans don’t believe the Hierarchy is real. What do you say to them?

MUSTAFA: “Polls say many things that contact with normal people would suggest is not true. I am not sure I fully believe that. But even then, it is hard to argue with the willfully ignorant. They will see the truth one day, In’sha’Allah.”

HUGH: “I guess I can’t blame them. I mean, an alien mind control conspiracy? Twenty years ago that woulda been pure ‘turning-the-frogs-gay’ nutjob territory. How many people still think 911 was an inside job? Or that the moon landings were faked? The Hierarchy is way more outlandish than either of those… But it’s real, man. They’re real, and they want us dead. We’re in a f•••ing internment camp because of what they did to us! People are dead! You’re from San Diego, right?”

I am.

HUGH: “Can’t be many of you left.”

No, there aren’t.

MUSTAFA: “Then this poll does not matter. I will ask the camp doctor to show you my X-rays. They can see that, they can go look at where a city once stood. If they still wish to doubt…”

He finishes the thought with a dismissive shrug.

[Image: An X-Ray of Mustafa’s head. True to his words, there are seven bright white bee-sized masses scattered throughout his brain, each one extending fine silvery tendrils into the surrounding tissue.]

Medical exchanges with the Corti Directorate have achieved some amazing things recently. Have you heard of Rachael Wheeler?

HUGH: “The Byron Group explorer, right? Yeah, we heard about her. They say the Corti brought her back from the dead.”

Does that give you hope?

HUGH: “I guess. I mean… I dunno if I like the idea of having my whole head taken apart to get this s••• out of me.”

MUSTAFA: “Neither do I, but I like the idea of being a prisoner for the rest of my life even less.”

HUGH: “Truth.”

Have you been offered that as an option?

HUGH: “Not yet.”

Have you asked for it?

MUSTAFA: “We were told they need to perform a “thorough safety review” first. We do not know exactly what that means, but that is not surprising. We are kept ignorant of much news because of our implants.”

HUGH: “I sure know that if they’re gonna yank my brain out and dig the tech out of it, I want them to know what they’re doing first. I’ve been here a long time, miss. I trust the staff here, and I know they want us cured ASAP just as much as we want a cure. It’ll happen. We just have to be patient.”

The camp’s staff and commanding officer declined to be interviewed, but did provide the following prepared statement:

“Camp Tebbutt’s priority is the safe containment of people who, through no fault of their own, pose an immediate and grave danger to all the people of Earth, not just American citizens. We are acutely aware that our internees are victims rather than perpetrators, and do our utmost to treat them with the respect, dignity and humanity to which they are entitled. It is our hope that in the near future we will gain access to a means of safely removing their implants, at which point they will be released to rebuild their lives with as much support as we can offer.

“Until then, we will continue to provide them with as much freedom and autonomy as is reasonably practical. We reject the accusations made by Zane Reid, but will not comment further on the matter of his escape or his claims of inhumane treatment.”

For my part, as our helicopter takes off for the long flight back to Fairbanks, my lasting impression of Camp Tebbutt is a peculiar sense of community. The people here come from very different backgrounds and were thrown together by awful circumstances, but that seems to be a bond between them rather than a wedge. They have made friends, found love, grieved together and help each other through a daily necessary hardship.

These people have every reason to be broken and traumatized. Instead, they seem to share a peace and love for the simple things that I find inspiring. As we left, we were handed some freshly-baked Egyptian bread called Aish Baladi for the flight back.

It’s delicious.

Date Point: 16y2m2w1d AV
Folctha Jump Terminus, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Meeyuk, Champion of Clan Openpaw

“The Great Father will be proceeding directly from the Rich Plains and will expect an answer. I can imagine he will be demonstrating his, ah, usual patience with dithering…”

Meeyuk’s fellow Champions chittered nervously. They were five, in total: Meeyuk, Fiin, Thurrsto, Gyotin, and Wozni of Clan Shortstride. Meeyuk wasn’t quite sure why Wozni was present, but apparently it was at Thurrsto’s request.

Everyone listened to Thurrsto. He’d rebuilt trust in his Clan’s leadership after a couple of grave mis-steps by Father Regaari and the late ex-Champion Genshi, and if he thought something was important, then it was. He was one of the small retinue of towering intellects on the Champions’ council alongside Loomi, Gyotin of course… and the Great Father.

People sometimes forgot that Daar’s strongest muscle was probably his mind, and in that important sense, Thurrsto and the Great Father were kindred spirits. It wasn’t that Thurrsto was much of a scholar, though nobody could fairly call him uneducated. It was the fact that his mind was a scalpel that cut irrelevancies and “bullshit” out of everything until all that remained was the bare, lean substance of an issue. Nobody got anything past him.

Daar was much the same, if not more so. The difference was that, while Thurrsto was a calm, collected and deliberative man, Daar was the very definition of a mercurial creature. Generally playful and friendly, even gleefully cheery, he was not without his dark side and only the foolish forgot it. He could go from playful to murderous and back again in a blink.

“Are we certain we’re in agreement?” That was Wozni, who had a tendency to get caught up in detail. “I can imagine a number of objections—”

“Remember who we are briefing, Wozni. The Great Father values brevity.”

Sound advice indeed. If there was one true crime a Champion could commit, it was was to waste the Great Father’s time, and it was a sin he seldom forgave. Again, few were so stupid. After all, to pique the Great Father’s anger was to court death. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t so much as scratched anyone since the start of the War, outside of play-fights and combat. It didn’t matter that he was a patient and considerate man, to an almost legendary degree.

What mattered was his will. Daar had proven time and again that anyone or anything who stood between the Gao and their destiny wouldn’t survive for the barest moment against him. Nobody had ever forgotten the lesson of the late Champion Halti.

True to form, the Great Father arrived with his usual reserves of endless blustery affection for basically everyone, which contrasted strangely with the visceral threat his almost to-the-skin clip lent his appearance. He must have suited up again, or at least been ready for the possibility. He roared merrily and jovially, delivering hugs and crushing paw-pats to his Champions.

Meeyuk received special warmth in the form of an almost literally spine-shattering hug, followed by being pinned to the floor underneath Daar’s stupendously weighty bulk. It had been a while since they’d last talked, and that generally meant extra affection, complete with a wagging tail and a play-growl that would terrify anyone if they didn’t know Daar’s moods.

Meeyuk could feel his whole body going numb from the squeeze, so he flicked his ears back for mercy and somehow managed to talk without wheezing for air. “How did it go, My Father?”

“Like lecturin’ a smelly wall,” Daar grumbled, helping him to stand up again.

Meeyuk chittered. “I had heard that might be the case!”

“I’ll git through ‘ta Henenwgwyr one day…” Daar shook extravagantly, growled something in the back of his throat, and then brightened. “Anyway. I assume y’all met me here at the jump ‘cuz you’ve pondered on ‘yer advice?”

“Yes, My Father. Let me brief you…”

“When we git to the embassy. First, let’s set some blood flowin’ through our brains…”

Without a word more than that, he dropped to four-paw and sent Humans, Gaoians, dogs and aliens alike scattering out of his way as he charged toward the doors at what, for him, was probably an easy relaxing lope.

For most of the rest of the Champions it was a much more vigorous bout of exercise. Attending the Great Father was not for the weak of heart, spiritually or physically.

Only in Folctha would the sight of a foreign head of state plus his entourage choosing to run on foot from the jump terminus to the embassy pass mostly without comment. Folcthans were familiar with Daar, by and large. The town’s police force especially knew to leave him do what he did.

Then again, Folcthans were used to people charging around on foot in general. It was a well-planned city with short routes between all the major focal points. Pedestrian traffic was the norm rather than the exception, and it was home to a military base and offered powerful tax incentives for sticking to fitness programs. Joggers, runners, living battering-rams loping down the street… By and large, it passed with nothing more than a little amusement.

The Gaoian Embassy in the Alien Quarter had been redesigned around the Great Father’s foibles, too. It was a straight shot right through the front doors to the main conference room, and the way was thrown open for them as they arrived… and sealed up tight behind them as they piled in, panting and well-exercised.

“‘Kay!” Daar chittered as hs surveyed the Champions with his usual air of mischief. “Now brief me.”

He waited while they caught their breath, then listened attentively as Meeyuk and the others relayed the essence of what they’d learned. As always, he asked many piercing questions of each of the Champions in turn.

Meeyuk shared everything. The ‘lock and key,’ the long-term consequences not only for Leemu but for all of the Gao regardless of whether or not Leemu went on to sire cubs… He kept it brief and efficient, but spared nothing.

Daar didn’t need much deliberation to arrive at the only reasonable comment he could make about the entire mess.


“Yes,” Meeyuk agreed, with a slight chitter. The Great Father gave him the first amused look he’d worn in several minutes, and then his face furrowed into the almost-snarl that the more throwback brownies tended to while thinking.

“Well…I ‘spose there’s nothin’ for it,” he decided after only a few seconds. “Authorized. Tiyun, if you could…”

Tiyun, of Clan Highmountain, was the Great Father’s personal aide. He duck-nodded sharply, always eager to please. “Yes, My Father.”

Daar flicked his ears gratefully. “‘Yer the best, thank you. An’ when ‘yer done…take the day off, ‘kay? I brought a little somethin’ back for ‘ya…”

Tiyun duck-nodded and backed out of the room. Meanwhile, Daar sighed and fell to all fours, as if a great burden had been lifted from him. “Well, that’s one soul-crushing crisis dealt with,” he commented. “Though Thurrsto apparently decided there’s a second one to lay on me…”

“Two in one day? You’re very productive, My Father.” Gyotin joked. He was the most relaxed around the Great Father, which was something Meeyuk honestly had trouble getting his head around. Then again, he was probably the only one at the table that Daar couldn’t spin circles around, at least with words.

In any case, it made Daar chitter. He shot Gyotin a Look that promised mild and enjoyable retribution later, then returned his attention to Thurrsto. “I can manage more too… anyway. You said it was about Stinkworld. Garl’s still out in the field there, I presume?”

“And Meereo.”

“Right. Any word on how that’s goin’?”

Thurrsto was almost as relaxed as Gyotin. He turned to the so-far silent Champion Wozni. “Meereo says they’ve had a breakthrough, and he was so excited about it that he forgot how to dumb it down for those of us who don’t speak his language. I asked Wozni to join us so that he could make things a little more, ah, accessible,” he said. “I’ll defer to him.”

Wozni chirruped excitedly and fetched a notepad from his bag. Perhaps a bit paradoxically, he was rather like the Great Father in that he sometimes preferred paper over screen.

“Yes! Ah… here.” He clawed through it. “…We’ve figured out what the Irujzen node is.”

“Figgered that weird spacetime hole was more than just an art piece,” Daar rumbled. “What’s it do?”

“It’s… kind of the functional opposite of a Farthrow generator. It’s not a wormhole suppressor, it’s a wormhole booster. Space for hundreds of lightyears all around it is more… malleable, I guess. Wormholes form more easily, and are more stable. Stable enough to form single-end zero-point connections.”

Daar furrowed his brow again. “How…how in the fuck do you trick spacetime into doin’ something that fuckin’ magical?”

“We have no idea, My Father. We’ve only gleaned that through accidental discovery, when we attempted to set up a zero-point comms node. According to Meereo, the power required is…at least ten orders of magnitude less.”

Daar shifted and gave him a look of deep skepticism. “…Ten orders of magnitude.”

“At least. He’s running the realtime zero-point wormhole off a solar panel, My Father. We could call him right now, if we were on Gao.”

“I s’pose that explains how in the hells Six escaped from the Humans…” Fiin grumbled. “His cell was wormhole-suppressed.”

“Yeah. And I think it suggests that there’s one of these boosters somewhere in the volume around Sol.”

“Maybe. Or maybe it’s even worse, and only one end needs such a booster.”

“Yes. The receiving end. Meereo and his team is very confident of that for…” Wozni inspected his notebook and flicked both his ears uncomfortably. “…for very technical reasons that I don’t have time to go into. But the father in charge of the physics college over at Highmountain was…more than a little excited. They think the math says its possible, anyway.”

“It’s obviously possible ‘cuz we’re watchin’ it happen,” Daar noted drily. “Think we’ll figger out how it works?”

“Honestly, My Father? Not any time soon. But here’s the encouraging bit: the Hierarchy don’t seem to be watching it too closely.”

“…I remember when I was there, an’ the only things we really hadta worry ‘bout were snake-bears. I was expectin’ it ‘ta be a trap, we all were. Bestest friend was on edge the whole time. I unnerstand that a lot better now… Anyway. We chased this thing followin’ intel from one’a them, after all. How are they not watching it? How is it not a trap?”


Eventually, Thurrsto filled it. “…If it’s a trap, it’s a very, very good one,” he said. “Baited with real damaging intelligence.”

Daar snarled and prowled the room. Such was his presence that it was hard to watch him roll silently across the stone floor and not feel intimidated. “…I think the only thing more insultin’ than bein’ an engineered slave-race o’ Janissaries ‘fer uncaring gods who are actually digital malware…is that they’re so tiny-nut incompetent.” He reared up on two-paw and made a vague, violent gesture of frustration. “I mean, fuck! How could anyone with resources like this just leave’ em undefended?!”

“The are very, very old, My Father. We don’t know if they are born, or if they die. Or if they have a definitive state like life and death,” Wozni said. “We do know that it takes literal centuries of training for them to even be able to interact with the physical world. Everything they ever built, they built it a long time ago. And it maintains itself well, it keeps ticking over… but I honestly don’t know if they have the knowledge to really understand it any longer.”

The Great Father, like he often did, made a rather impressive leap of analysis. “So…basically, they’ve drifted too far from what bein’ alive is an’ they’re dyin’, then. Er, succumbin’ ‘ta entropy, mebbe? ‘Ya know what I mean. An’ we’re in exactly the right place ‘ta inherit their legacy an’ kill ‘em, if we can ‘figger out out how ‘ta exploit what we’ve got.”

“There’s a certain poetic irony to that, isn’t there?” Gyotin mused. “Destroyed by their own creation.”

“There’s more, My Father.” Wozni shuffled through his notes. “We found a coal mine, of course. Every civilization needs steel and I am told coal is required for that. What we found in the mined-out parts, though…”

Wozni chittered nervously to himself, reached for his communicator and tapped a claw on it. What appeared on the wall was a picture of an endless-looking warehouse of…racks. All exactly the same, all completely featureless. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out what they were.

Daar leaned closer, blinking as it sunk in.

“That’s… That’s them, isn’t it?”

“…I think so. We’re not certain exactly how they were assembled, but destructive analysis reveals the devices are, essentially, solid bricks of computational logic and storage. Each one has… incalculable memory and processing capacity, and that one bunker contains tens of thousands of them.”

Daar shook his head in disbelief. “…is Six actually insane?! He didn’t jus’ give us a leg up on intel, he gave us the means to obliterate ‘em!”

Thurrsto looked similarly appalled. “Meaning he’s either playing seven-dimensional underwater space Ta’Shen or he is, yes, utterly insane.”

“Or, ignorant about what Stinkworld actually is,” Gyotin suggested. “If he mistakenly thought it was some harmless peripheral system…”

“Never assume your enemy is an idiot,” Thurrsto said.

“…Hrrm.” Daar finally sat down again. “…Wonder what Yulna would have ‘ta say about all this? You did invite her?”

“She sends her apologies, My Father. Apparently there’s a certain birth she’s taking special care of.”

Daar reflexively glanced north, at a blank wall and the distant island far beyond it and hundreds of miles away over the sea where the Grand Commune lay. His ears pricked up, swivelled back and forth for a moment, then drooped.

“…Right.” He shook himself back into the moment. “So. More an’ more, we’re pickin’ a fight with our gods. Pretty much literally. An’ they ‘parently got godly tech, too. An’ they’re too stupid to realize it. Or too far gone.”

Fiin made the rumbling noise of a Stoneback channeling a thought from somewhere deep in his gut. “Gods or not, stupid and too far gone or not, it’s not like we have any option but to fight ‘em… Have we informed the Humans yet?”

“They don’t have anybody on Stinkworld right now,” Thurrsto said. “I thought it prudent to discuss this in council first.”

The Great Father sank to the floor and stretched himself out impressively with a teeth-flashing yawn. “Inform them.”

“Yes, My Father.”

“This all looks like I gotta go to Earth an’ make an extended visit, an’ do so with a delegation,” Daar decided. “‘Cuz I think what we just stumbled into, My Champions, is a path to victory. Either that or the meanest, most devious trap I ever did see.”

“How soon, My Father?” Tiyun asked. Meeyuk almost jumped: he hadn’t seen or heard him return. Good aides, it seemed, could be preternaturally discreet.

“…After Leemu’s therapy,” Daar decided. “However it turns out. Obviously it’ll hafta include all the AEC leadership, so…take ‘yer time an’ get it right. An’ didn’t I tell ‘ya t’go take the rest of the day off?!” There was a growl in his voice…but his tail was also wagging.

“I had a feeling you might need me again after all, My Father. Thank you for the jerky.”

“You an’ your damn perfect instincts…” Daar growled. “…Is there anythin’ else I need ‘ta know?” he asked of his Champions, who collectively indicated that there was not.

“Alright then. Meeyuk, you an’ I are goin’ up ‘ta the spaceport. The Empirical Razor’s waitin’ ‘fer us. The rest’a you…” Daar pant-grinned with a little more fang than usual. “…It’s Friday here on Cimbrean an’ I somehow suspect ‘yer Clans can manage without ‘ya tonight. Take the rest of the day off! Me, I’d highly recommend y’all go clean out Ninja Taco…”

Fiin in particular seemed to like the sound of that, and so did Wozni. Gyotin and Thurrsto both took the suggestion with characteristic understated good humor. Meeyuk wished he could go with them.

Instead, he had an altogether less pleasant appointment ahead of him.

One way or another, the future of his species was going to change once again in the next few hours.

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 10

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

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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

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Causal Results – Chapter 5

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 9

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 8

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

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

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Henosis – Chapter 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 7

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

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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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Rising Titans – Chapter 50

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 4

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 49

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 6

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 4

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 48

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 2

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 47

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 1

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 6

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 46

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 3

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 1

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 45

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m AV Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Nofl Leemu had become unresponsive. Nofl’s quarantine facility had alerted him after the patient had been anomalously still for twenty minutes, and the reason why became obvious upon a quick inspection of the cell: Leemu was sprawled on his back, staring blissfully up at

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Good Training – April Fool’s

13y 3m 29d AV One-Fang workhouse, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Sergeant Regaari (Dexter) of Clan SOR One of the best things about the humans was that they had a springtime holiday dedicated to mischief. Before them, only the Gao could claim to celebrate such a thing and it was one of the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m AV Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Nofl Nofl’s lab was spacious, but inevitably finite. When it contained an alarming number of alarmed Humans, not to mention one particularly sculpted canine and a Gaoian brownie who was doing his best not to loom at everyone… well, there were times when Nofl

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler After a lifetime of helicopter parenting, Tristan and Ramsey seemed addicted to every opportunity they could find to do something their mother would have scooted them away from. And who could blame them? Amanda had never managed to get her head around the idea

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Rising Titans – Chapter 44

9 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing Deep Space The Russia shuddered again as the engines slowly powered down and the ship slid out of the red blue haze that was the tachyon FTL corridor. James blinked several times trying to clear the haze from his eyes as the regular black background of

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 4

Date Point: 16y1m AV Dataspace adjacent to Mrwrki Station Entity The Entity understood the concept of boredom in an academic, abstract way. It could even vaguely summon up Ava’s memories of being bored. But understanding the idea and actually feeling the emotion were two different things. The closest it could get was the sensation of

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 3

Date Point: 16y2w AV Air Force One, somewhere over Asia, Earth President Arthur Sartori “…You want to give us a Farthrow generator.” Daar’s image was janky and low-resolution thanks to the vagaries of current wormhole comms, but the audio was a lot clearer now. Technology marched onwards. “It’s loaded up on a train and ready

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Good Training – Pecking Order

13y, 8m AV Operator’s Barracks, HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean Officer Regaari (Dexter) of Clan Whitecrest “I got an idea, Regaari.” Regaari flicked his ears forward in annoyance. “This again?” “Well, yeah. I gotta win that bet, Cousin!” Regaari duck-nodded wearily. Not long after Daar had received the SACRED STRANGER briefing, he’d sulked off to think

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Good Training – The Champions – Tidying Up

Messier 24 Mission day: 3 Sergeant Daar (Tigger) The third day was always when things settled into routine. Daar didn’t really know why, ‘cuz that was prol’ly some complicated psychology stuff (maybe he should read up?) but he did know how it worked, practically speaking. Daar always pondered morning thoughts like that when he was

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 2

Date Point: 16y2w AV Weaver dropship, Gaoian space Sergeant Ian “Hillfoot” Wilde “So in all the excitement, we clean forgot about these things. That’s what you’re telling me.” Champion Meereo made a sound that was half a sigh and half a chitter. “…That’s more-or-less exactly right, yes. We had… well, bigger priorities.” Wilde had to

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Rising Titans – Chapter 43

9 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing Bellona “Ready?” asked Alpha from where he sat on top of the Captain’s chair. “I’m good!” said Red from where he sat at the controls for the ship. It hadn’t taken much to convince him to pilot the vessel. James glanced down at his own console

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 1

Date Point: 16y AV Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Zane Reid The cold didn’t hurt anymore. At first, it had been like forcing his way through a wall made of knives that cut through his clothes. Zane’s every breath had blinded him as it billowed and steamed in the air, and when he’d experimentally licked his

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 5

Date Point: 16y AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Hugh Johnson Snow. Of course, snow in January in Alaska was hardly surprising, and this one threatened to be heavy. At first, Hugh had thought it was probably just an seasonable dusting that’d add a couple of inches to the foot or

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I had made my way through the tournament, but most of my matches had been won by the skin of my teeth, and I had only the advantage of being evolved from a pursuit predator to thank for it. Our great endurance had been the one boon that had kept me going, and I was

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 4

Date Point: 15y 10m 1w AV HMS Violent, Rvzrk System, Domain Space The ground battle churned on for days. That was the problem with Hunters. There was no surrender involved, it was a kill-or-be-killed fight where smashing their will to engage in war simply didn’t achieve enough. Any Hunter left alive would just keep murdering

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 4

He awoke to a pleasant smell. “…Eggs?” Hoeff detangled himself from Natalie and the sheets and stumbled towards the kitchen. Daar was busy in front of the comparatively little stove and fridge, humming some terrible Gaoian tune to himself. Seriously, their music was like Chinese opera with extra pain. Some Humans liked it, though…but “atonal”

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Rising Titans – Chapter 42

9 Years, 6 Months, 15 Days After Eridani Landing The [Singer] The explosion hit and [Vann] watched at the lights on the main hologram and different panels flashed a blinding white light, before dying and plunging the entire bridge of the [Singer] into darkness. “What were we supposed to do?” asked someone near the weapons

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Day 1. I’ve made it on board the human trading vessel! They didn’t detect my presence, and I’ve managed to smuggle myself into their engineering bay, and disguised myself within a cluster of cables! My small, serpentine body makes me indistinguishable from a thin, grayish cable, and the Humans won’t notice my existence until it

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 1

Date Point: 15y 10m AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Hugh Johnson Camp Tebbutt wasn’t actually a bad place to live, if you didn’t count the fact that it was essentially a prison for innocent victims. Hugh understood why he was there, and why he couldn’t leave… but after eleven years,

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 3

Firth Regaari chittered, “It is difficult to imagine you ‘humbled,’ Righteous.” “Heh,” Firth chuckled. “You do know most of my attitude is straight fuckin’ bullshit, right? Adam and John know why.” Regaari looked over at John, who shrugged massively. “He’s a scary dude. Being ridiculous kinda takes the edge off, y’know?” Regaari duck-nodded. He was

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Rising Titans – Chapter 41

9 Years, 6 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Moving down the hallway Diana paused at the double doors, carefully she moved forwards into it’s threshold and they slid open. A woman in an orange smock looked up from her Comm for a moment, and then going back to look at it did a

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The Good Samaritan

I felt a white-hot pain in my back as I was stabbed. Once, twice and then three times. I fell to the ground clutching my new openings, and for a moment I couldn’t grasp what had just happened. I had walked through an alley as a shortcut back home, and then suddenly someone had grabbed

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 6

Date Point: 15y9m3w AV Mrwrki Station, Erebor System, Unexplored Space Darcy “Does it seem… different to you lately?” “What?” “The Entity. It’s actin’ different, dude, I swear it is.” Darcy sighed and set aside her work as Lewis sat down. She was sitting drinking a Moroccan Mint tea in the station’s rec lounge, with its

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Rising Titans – Chapter 40

9 Years, 6 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Popping the restraints off of her legs Diana swung herself off of the table, the two class A’s still in their isolation suits were pounding at the door of the room the three of them were in. “It’s out! Open the door!” shouted the man

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 2

Master Sergeant Christian (Righteous) Firth The end of the movie came and the ladies were fast asleep and prolly too tired to head home with any comfort. The other bros were asleep, too, and Firth was tangled up with them pretty good. Oh well, both ‘Base and ‘Horse were heavy-ass sleepers and only danger or

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Hell. It’s a completely Human concept. The concept of a realm of eternal torture, to which you are sent depending on the whims of one deity or another, is something only found in Human fiction. And it’s not an isolated occurrence. Almost every human culture since the dawn of humanity itself has had it in

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 4

Date Point: 15y9m2w AV HMS Sharman (HMNB Folctha), Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Senior Master Sergeant Christian (“Righteous”) Firth “Hey, fuckers! Guess what hit the newsstand today!” Adam looked up from his needlework for a second and raised an eyebrow. “Imma guess Coombes’ centerfold spread with Ava?” Firth deflated, somewhat flummoxed that ‘Horse had stolen his

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