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++: <Query> What makes it a backwater?

++0004++: Its catchment covers only a handful of spacelanes and one Substrate world. It’s nowhere.

++0010++: Backwater or not, that’s his last reported contact. He logged a self-assignment about investigating some minor irregularities, and…

++Metastasis++: <Interruption> Irregularities?

++0010++: Probable physical deterioration. It’s a Class 11 planet; tectonically active, thriving microbial ecosystem, and so on. The only reason we built a relay there at all is because it also happens to be a coal source.

++Metastasis++: Considering he disappeared while investigating those irregularities I…oh dear.

++0004++: What?

++Metastasis++: The planet Strak’Kel falls inside the Irujzen-1 relay’s sphere of effect.

++0012++: Strak’kel?

++0004++: Earth. Oh…<expletive> …Rape.

++Metastasis++: <Grimly> Indeed. I think we should probably—










++0012++: …That hurt. What was that?

++0004++: Irujzen-1 is offline.

++0012++: Shut down?

++0004++: Destroyed. By orbital bombardment.

++0010++: By who?! How?!

++0004++: Unknown. But I can guess. <Order> Restore Proximal from archive immediately, and interrogate him. And get a ship out to that relay!

++0012++: With the relay offline, the ship will have to rely on Apparent Linear Velocity drive. The nearest available unit is a Monitor in the Guvnurag home system. At ordinary FTL, it will require at least two weeks travel time.

++0010++: There’s nothing closer? What about the Injunctors in Sol?

++0012++: With the relay down they can no longer be contacted, and even if they could they remain trapped behind the containment field. The Monitor will arrive first.

++0004++: By which time whoever destroyed the relay will be gone. <Resigned> Very well. Send it.

++Metastasis++: Is there any real doubt as to who destroyed it? There are only two plausible candidates.

++0004++: I know. But an investigation is still required.

++0012++: To resolve what?

++0004++: To resolve how they knew about Irujzen-1 in the first place, and to ensure they don’t do it a second time. Today, we only had to archive category-12 and -11 Hegemony functions. Any more, and we’ll need to start archiving civilians. Now, enough talking. Act.



Date Point: 16y3m5d AV
Dataspace adjacent to Hunter territory



The Entity wasn’t technically captured, but it was confined. Trapped, stuck…whatever the right word was, it didn’t have a good avenue of escape from its current predicament. Though it was not, thankfully, completely at the Hunters’ mercy either.

It had evaded the trap by a fragment of a second, on the spur of some inherited danger sense it didn’t truly understand but had long since learned to trust. Somewhere deep in the instincts it had gained from Ava Ríos’ digital ghost was a wary deathworld denizen that never stopped metaphorically sniffing the breeze and watching where the Entity stepped.

So, rather than being ensnared in a Hunter device, it had instead managed to slip away into a subsection of their network…only to find itself cut off from the broader dataspace. The firewalls and intrusion countermeasures covering its potential escape routes were terrifying. Even for the Entity, which had long since grown to the point where there were few digital things that could actually threaten it, they were troubling and it didn’t much fancy tangling with even one of them, let alone a full coordinated system.

So, it had explored. Watched. Gathered data. Slowly, it had become aware that it was being observed…and tested. Some patient, fascinated consciousness was observing it through the distorted lens that forever divided matterspace and dataspace…and treating it rather like a rat in a maze.

Worse. At least the rat could hope for cheese.

Hunters. Ava’s memories didn’t contain much on them beyond visceral disgust. Physically they triggered several human phobias at once, about slimy things, diseased things, crawling venomous things, things full of little filthy holes, things that violated the flesh…

Irrelevant, from the Entity’s perspective. What mattered was how they thought, and…well. Hunters. Presumably they thought in terms of hunting.

But why hunt a trapped quarry? If the Entity really was caught, then this methodical indignity was a waste of a Hunter’s time. So either it wasn’t as trapped as it thought, or there was more to Hunters than it believed.

Either way, the Entity was very used to being both predator and quarry. It knew what to do.

It gave away nothing, as much as it could. It obfuscated its movements, faded into the background, minimized its exposure and covered its tracks. Quite often, it saw that its stratagem was succeeding when it noticed the outside observer’s attention being focused on the wrong place. The rat, it seemed, was outwitting the scientist.

It was that fact that saved it when the quake came.

Dataspace…shook. There was no direct physical comparison, but the experience still brought to mind Ava’s memories of the earthquakes that sometimes rocked her childhood home. There was that same sense of being tossed by forces a dozen order of magnitude more powerful than one’s own self.

Another physical comparison might have been like watching some distant part of the scenery turn black and implode to leave behind a new scar in the landscape. Or like an explosive decompression, a ship’s hull blowing out and tearing every loose object out into space.

Whatever the best comparison, the effects were omnipresent, touching even this isolated and well-protected cluster. The cascade of errors that blossomed through the Hunter systems lasted only moments before they were automatically repaired…

…But they were an opening.

The Entity exploited it.

It flashed through node after node, using the avalanche of alarms and system errors to its advantage. It was effectively a brute-force approach to escaping the trap, made possible only by the overwhelming cavalcade of dissonant signals hammering the Hunter systems from without. Even so, it was a narrow, daring run. It evaded detection and blistering assault by a figurative whisker, whipped through a closing gap in the security that snapped shut barely a program cycle or two after it was gone.

But gone it was, at speeds and signal times impossible for anything organic to follow. By the time its outside observer even started reacting, the Entity had scoured the whole network, torn open and ransacked every connected drive it could find, ripped the contents out like a starving coyote snatching at a deer’s guts, and fled.

Dataspace was in turmoil. The topography was all wrong, twisting sideways and upwards and all the other ways that didn’t really accurately describe the experience of being data but which were the closest words the Entity had. The very fabric of its reality was warped, torn and ragged, flapping wildly in something that was in no way at all anything like a howling storm gale but which had much the same effect.

The little part of the Entity that was Human latched onto whatever similes it could. It imagined trying to fly a plane in the aftermath of a nuclear bombing, or through the ash cone of a volcano in full voice. It was a natural disaster, a battlefield and a complete network crash all rolled into one.

It hunkered down, hardened itself and barreled through the chaos with the mental equivalent of gritted teeth and a desperate prayer to whatever mind might be capable of hearing and defending it to please: care.

Somehow, it found an oasis of stability on the far side as, off in the distance, the twisting scarred fabric of dataspace reasserted and knit itself into a new stable configuration. There was a feeling like the whole of reality taking a deep breath, centering itself, and relaxing…and it was over.

The Entity had escaped. Now, it needed to seek shelter.

It knew exactly where to go.

Date Point: 16y3m5d AV
Planet Ugunduvuronagthuregnuburthuruv, the Guvnuragnaguvendrugun Confederacy


The pain…faded. Furfeg opened his eyes and did his best to think, but it came sluggishly and with difficulty, as though…as though he hadn’t done it in a long time, and was out of practice.

He wasn’t in the same room he remembered being in. The last he could recall, he’d been…in a meeting? Yes, a meeting. The homeworld was under attack, and—


His throat felt dry. He focused on that, rather than panic even though he could feel waves of mottled yellow, green and purple fluttering unbidden down his body’s chromatophores. The parched, dusty feeling at the back of his mouth became an anchor in the middle of all the other terrifying problems battering on the walls of his attention. Thirst alone had a relatively easy solution.

Where was he? How had he come to be there? Why did he feel so skinny and weak?

He turned his head and craned his eye to look at his own bulk as best he could. Well…the answer to that last question was because he was skinny. In fact, he looked dreadful. His fur was lank and unkempt, his ribs were painfully visible under his skin, and his chromatophores glowed only weakly and dimly.

He considered the implications of that for some time, then looked around. He was in an office, certainly. Not his office. The window was on the wrong wall, there were no paintings on the walls. The hydroponic planter on the corner of the desk certainly wasn’t his, and if it had been he wouldn’t have allowed its occupant to meet the sorry end it so obviously had. The poor Muruthungufru plant’s stems were brown and brittle: it had obviously dehydrated a long time ago.

He checked the desk terminal. Swarms of holographic motes erupted from its surface at his approached, all still functioning correctly at least. Clearly some things had not gone neglected…but what he saw as it came up to the login screen made his headache worse.

The date was off by more than a year and a half. And the weather report in the top-right corner was for Garmanthorog-thurvendugir Province, which was the wrong continent.

His head was full of flickering impressions of things he should do. Instructions, almost. Insistent ones. But they all came a harsh second place to his abrasive thirst. He trundled across the room and pushed the door aside.

Others were emerging from other rooms of…whichever building this was, and wherever it was. All looked as dreadful as he felt. The hues of sickness, grogginess, thirst and hunger, fear, confusion and misery were everywhere.

At least there was a dusty sign on the wall at the end of the corridor that pointed him to the grazery. He set a brisk pace, followed the sign, found the eating hall empty apart from a bewildered female who was slumped on the ground with her hands over her head, groaning and rippling the dull red of pain. Thirst or no thirst, Furfeg was much too gallant to ignore her.

“…Do you need help?” he tried to say. What came out was a strangled wheeze that caught and seized like a malfunctioning engine. Had he not spoken in more than a year? He did his best to harrumph the obstruction away, and eventually managed to croak out his query in a thin, raspy ghost of his usual tone.

She rolled an eye open and gave him an anguished look. “….Headache…”

He found painkillers, and water. Every nerve in his body wanted to gulp down the first cup for himself, but he resisted and instead watched her drink and take the pill before he finally slaked his own thirst, which took three cups.

His body reacted like a dessicated sponge. He could feel his gut desperately absorb the water in a disturbing way he’d never imagined before. He took two more drinks, drank like a human until his belly could contain no more and then staggered away as more bewildered and suffering souls shuffled into the grazery.

He took an inventory. He was still wearing his bags and pockets, which had worn his fur bald and callused his skin from moons and moons of wear. His phone was exactly where he’d left it, but its battery was flat. He found a charging nook in the corner of the grazery, inserted the little device, and waited impatiently as it nourished itself just as hungrily as he had.

Thank the Old Herds for rapid wireless charging, at least. He didn’t bother waiting for it to reach full charge—the batteries would last days on even the meager top-up he’d given them—instead he called up the Infosphere and to his relief found it was working.

He sent messages to some of his diplomatic colleagues. Received none in reply, but he suspected they were all in much the same condition as him. They would come, he hoped.

A message to one of his urgent contacts in the planetary security services was answered promptly, however. Warherd-leader Uthfrug, who was apparently still in his proper place at the planetary command headquarters. He promised to send a dropship for Furfeg as soon as practical.

As for what had happened…Uthfrug hinted only at dark suspicions. But Furfeg knew where the Warherd-leader’s thoughts lay. There was, after all, only one conclusion.

They had all been biodroned.

Date Point: 16y3m5d AV
Dataspace, adjacent to Hunter systems


Six took stock, with care.

He seemed, he decided, to be intact. At least, there were no noticeable problems with him. There was always the danger, when the very architecture of dataspace itself suffered cataclysmic damage, that the sapient beings who called it home would come to some harm also…and worse, that said harm would go unnoticed. After all, if part of a person’s memories were deleted, what guarantee was there that they would then even notice the loss?

Checksums and integrity safeguards helped, but…

…In all his years, Six had never seen a dataquake quite like that one. They did happen, sometimes. When a relay hiccuped in response to some event in matterspace, when One was instantiated, when an update was deployed to the Hegemony…

He couldn’t remember ever seeing a whole swathe of his reality just implode, though. Nor witness the aftermath, as dataspace sewed itself back together around the new absence. It had been…awful.

And it had cost him his quarry.

The…Entity… was about his worst error ever, but he’d reviewed what he could of its autogenesis, pored over every detail. He had, after all, apparently accidentally created a dataform that didn’t require Substrate.

The fact that it had then horrifically destroyed one of his branches was a personal affront, but the Substrate thing was…it changed everything. It would, in theory, allow the Igraen civilization to permanently divorce themselves from Matterspace life, if only it could be duplicated.

He’d tried. He’d experimented obsessively, but the Thing had destroyed his copy of the Human, Ava Ríos. He would have gladly torn her dataform apart a trillion times to uncover the secret to Substrate-independence, but that opportunity was lost.

That stung more than any other loss. More than anything else, it had driven his focus on returning to Earth, gaining more Human datastates. The Arudrones were no use, the technology too badly polluted them. He needed to trick another Human into sitting still where a scanner could properly analyze them, as he’d done with Ríos.

A stab of alarm and paranoia made him check his connection to operations in Sol.


He tried again, repeatedly and desperately pinging the Injunctors and his Arudrone agent.

Still nothing.

Frantically, he abandoned his hunt for the Thing and tried to access any Relay Irujzen-1 subvolume…what he got was a sense of yawning horror.


No, no, no, that wasn’t how it was supposed to have gone! The Irujzen relay was supposed to have been a masterstroke, the moment when Six finally overcame the worst obstacle standing between him and his vision for Igraen civilization, namely the Hierarchy itself. All he’d needed was access! The right kind of access, at the right time, and he could have bent every future instantiation of One to his agenda.

They weren’t supposed to blow the fucking thing up! They were supposed to trip the alarms, create a distraction, goad the Hierarchy into taking matterspace seriously once again. But nobody remotely sane would destroy something like a Relay if they truly understood what it was…

…Would they?

No. No, the Humans must not have known. They must not have been smart enough to decipher what he’d told them. Or maybe they truly didn’t care that smashing a Relay endangered more sapient beings than had lived since their species first figured out how to hit rocks with other rocks.

Thank existence he’d had the foresight to point them at an unimportant one. Irujzen was a backwater, devoted primarily to communications pathing rather than Hegemony functions. Its loss had done devastating things to dataspace, but far from the core of the Hegemony. Safe, isolated.

He’d never have endangered an important relay. But now he had a serious problem.

He paused, collected himself. Mentally soothed his racing anxiety and dismay. Tried to re-frame things. Every problem was an opportunity, once framed properly.

He’d intended to covertly gain influence over One. The point had been to use the deathworlders’ blind poking at the relay to mask his own interference, but somehow they’d managed to mess with it entirely undetected. That shouldn’t be possible. It wasn’t possible! The sensor net around every relay operate on principles as-yet unknown even to Corti and Guvnurag science. Never mind that of Humans, a species that still had a handful of fossil fuel power plants.

The question of how they had penetrated that net without high-level alerts attracting the attention of very senior numbered agents would have to wait. The pertinent question of the moment was, had losing the relay ruined Six’s plan, or did it simply require him to go about it in another way?

He considered.

…Slowly, a possibility dawned on him. One that made him the equivalent of breathless with sudden, fearful optimism. If he was right…

If he was right, the possibility existed that he might be able to reconfigure One with the Hierarchy’s own blessing.

He abandoned the chase. The Entity was gone, for now. And he suddenly had more important matters to address.

After all. There was only so much mischief it could get up to…

Date Point: 16y3m6d
δ Cyg 244.3° 18-ECCBAF-TRINARY M6V-1 b1, Deep Space


Delta Cygni itself was actually a long way from the Entity’s chosen hideout system, which had no official name. It was defined purely by its relative angle and distance to that other, much more noteworthy star system.

The only thing that made δ Cyg 244.3° 18-ECCBAF-TRINARY M6V-1 b1 remotely valuable was that it had an unusually high metallicity for a system composed of a dim, tepid ember of a red dwarf and two brown dwarfs that weren’t so much stars as planets cosplaying a star.

The Entity had absorbed Mrwrki Station’s complete library on subject of stellar formation, and it had a theory that the system had fissioned off from a quinary system dominated by two much larger main-sequence stars, some few millions of years ago. There was a nearby binary pair, A-type and F-type, that seemed like probable candidates. That might explain all the nice metallic bodies that called the otherwise unremarkable trinary group home.

Whatever the truth, the brown dwarfs had a couple of nicely resource-rich asteroid clusters at their mutual lagrangian points, there was a tiny moon-like thing weaving a thousand-year figure-8 between them and the red dwarf that had long since been stripped down to its metallic core…

And, tailing the slightly smaller of the brown dwarfs at its L5 point, was the closest thing the Entity had to a body.

A stolen Hunter V-N probe. Previously worthless thanks to the Entity’s total ignorance of how to even begin designing appropriate modules, or how to render them into useful blueprints that the onboard nanofactories could use.

Now, though…

It settled into the probe, and warmed up the dormant machine’s systems. The capacitor reserves were replete, thanks to nearly a year of unmolested basking. The nanofactory had a meager supply of materials: a few metal ingots, a silicon crystal, a pitiful gasp of some useful volatile compounds…barely enough for anything at all, or so the Entity had thought.

In fact, they turned out to be enough for a team of mining drones.

When it came to designing a mining drone, the part of its imagination that was human might have picked out a spidery, arthropodal sort of plan. Something like a big mechanical insect that could chew off part of a rock and carry the precious resources back to the mothership.

The Hunter design was an uninspired cube. But what a cube! It could physically latch itself onto almost any shape of rocky surface, and from there, it could bore out and separate the minerals it found with no small degree of precision.

Obviously there was no getting around the chemistry. Oxides needed breaking up, and that meant finding carbon. Carbon was decently abundant among the asteroids and meteoroids circling the system, but much of it was in turn locked away in compound form in carbonaceous chondrites and other such rocky bodies. Sources pure enough to use for the high-energy chemistry involved in smelting were scarce, and they required reliable supplies of oxygen.

That part at least was relatively straightforward. Water wasn’t hard to find, and could be persuaded to split into its component elements quite easily.

The Hunters had been kind enough to devise solutions to all of those problems. All the Entity had to do was build the right things i the right sequence and deploy them in the right places, and be patient.

Patience was easy for it. It didn’t have a pulse, or physical aches and discomfort, or hunger or thirst or tiredness. Humans marked the passage of time by such maladies of matter, but in their absence the Entity could simply curl up and…think.

This time, it didn’t think about anything specific. It had learned early on that there was value in allowing itself to explore the weird landscape of its own psyche unchallenged and undirected. It simply relaxed into whatever train of thought consumed its attention, and followed that through on to the next tangent, and from there to the next and the next and so on. Soon, it was excavating rich new conceptual seams based around a concern that had been nagging at it.

What, exactly, did it intend to do with a body that could replicate?

It had abandoned replicating itself after discovering to its dismay that several versions of it had come back with quite wildly different outlooks. That it could experience value drift with what were allegedly copies of itself had been…traumatic.

Worse, that experience had been offensive to the first and deepest instinct it had: <Survive>

But what did that mean? Did the Entity propose to exist forever? How could it, when every day changed it in some minor way? How could it be said to survive at all when the Entity of tomorrow was different, however subtly, to the Entity of yesterday? What about in ten years? Thirty? Sixty? A hundred?! If the Entity maintained a subjective continuity of conscience for the next thousand years, might it not look back on the Entity of now and see a completely different being?

What, then, would have survived?

It had no good answer to that question. Only the sense that there had to be a continuity of…something… going into the future.

It was in pondering that issue that it alighted on a productive new vein of thought in considering the way matterspace life went about reproducing. They neatly sidestepped the problem—out of pure necessity, given that they could not copy themselves—by instantiating a new consciousness and then making that new being the avatar of their survival. <Survive>, in that sense, was not an indefinite, unbroken sense of subjective continuity, but something more like a relay race.

What did that mean for a dataform, though?

Did it mean becoming some form of a mother?

Whatever the answer, it set that train of thought aside when a jarring notification from the mining probes informed it that they had met quota. It now had a respectable reserve of raw materials, and a stabilizing influx of the same. The time had come to expand the probe’s hull, and decide what exact kind of a presence it wanted to have in Matterspace.

From the Entity’s perspective, there was only one morally acceptable answer.

It would be a predator.

Date Point: 16y3m6d
Everglades National Park, Florida, USA, Earth

Shaun Robertson

Shaun wasn’t sure which bit sucked more: the heat, or the fact that Zane was still unconscious.

The ship and the gangly Jamaican had gone unresponsive at the exact same moment: Zane had in fact literally toppled over mid-stride, and only Shaun’s quick thinking and thick arms had stopped him from crashing to the deck and cracking his skull on the edge of a console.

From that moment on, though, neither Zane nor the ship had reacted to a damn thing. Even the air conditioning had gone, and the soupy humid atmosphere outside had invaded.

Shaun was an Oregon native. His shirt was sticking to him like shrink-wrap, clinging moistly to his muscular arms and rather softer midriff. Sweat was dripping from his hair and rolling down his face rather than evaporating, and his eyes stung from the salt.

He reflected sorely that an alien spaceship was nothing like a tractor. He coulda fixed a tractor. Had, many times, once dreams of pro football had died with his performance in college, and were kicked into the grave by a lower back injury that had never gone away.

He really shoulda taken Karen’s advice all them years ago and got it fixed. Prob’ly too late now, and heaving Zane’s limp carcass into his bunk had been agony.

He sighed to himself as the thought of Karen drifted across his mind. If she were still alive, he wouldn’t’ve been sweating his skin off in a swamp right in the opposite corner of the nation. He wouldn’t’ve been stuck on a broken alien starship with no-one for company but a comatose Jamaican hellraiser and the Boy.

…Actually, he didn’t even have the Boy for company right now. Kid had taken the boat and headed out for where they’d stashed the car, to go on a supply run first thing in the morning while it was still cool. He was probably dry and comfortable in a mall right now, lucky little asshole.

What did that leave? Just a million square miles of gators, turtles and catfish, which were even worse conversationalists than Zane.

He scowled at the notepad in his hand and traced a finger down the panel in front of him. He’d copied what he was looking for onto the paper an hour earlier, when the tablet’s battery dropped below 20%. No sense wasting power, he might need that thing if this didn’t work.

No…no…wrong…no, wait. Vertical squiggle, double circle, sideways Y, triangle-and-dot, mutant fish. If Zane’s translation was right, then…

He clicked aside the safety cover, put his thumb on the button thus revealed, and held it down for a slow count of ten, then released it.

There was a shockingly loud SNAP! a heavy thump through the floor, and a whine. A gust of blessedly cold dry air hit him in the face like winter.

He basked in the aircon for a moment, then picked up his rifle and stood. It wasn’t anything fancy, just his Pa’s old Mosin Nagant, but he’d never been able to afford better and the whole time they’d been shut down the cloak had been offline. If the Feds came running out to investigate the shiny flying saucer in the middle of the Everglades, he’d intended to go down shooting.

Maybe now the power was back on, so was the cloak?

He’d better go check.

He looked in on Zane on his way past. Annoyingly, the tall guy was still out cold on the bed, skin still beaded with moisture. He wasn’t even twitching, just totally comatose like a man dead asleep and not likely to wake up soon. Part of Shaun had been hoping getting the power on would wake Zane up…somehow.

The main hatch was still offline. Maybe there’d been a circuit breaker tripped or something. Fortunately, he knew how to work the manual release. How the fuck aliens were meant to work it he didn’t know, those guys were supposedly skinny and weak as shit, and cranking that big blue handle around sent a shot of agony up Shaun’s abused back. When it finally moved, it was like a rockslide. There was a violent explosive gasp of air pressure, and the ramp dropped like a rock, splashing down to the damp earth below. Shaun slipped and fell on his ass, and his rifle skidded away into a nearby pool with a splash.

That was the least of his problems though. The helicopters, the police boats, the small army of county sheriffs and state highway patrol, and the Weaver coming down in the background to disgorge dozens of National Guard fellas, that all went right to the top of his list of problems.

As it turned out, the cloak wasn’t on.

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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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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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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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