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 it to catch up on rest, and so they would take a light day…including Firth. Especially Firth. But that wouldn’t do, not anymore.

Adam…wasn’t really happy with how Firth’s physical development had progressed. That was a strange thing for a hyper-competitive dude like him to admit, when he was literally the fastest and strongest man alive. Hell, the fastest and strongest man to ever live. But it was lonely at the top and Marty had helped him put into words a thought that had been bugging him for a while: That ultimately, Adam liked competition more than he actually liked winning.

He had other reasons for being dissatisfied too, but the truth was there was only one human being left that could compete with him…or rather should have been able to compete, except not so long ago, Adam had almost literally broken him in half.

Firth was the only man there was that might one day beat the tar outta Adam at his own game, but to do that he had to break out a lifetime of an unconsciously better-than-everyone mindset. That needed to change. Not just to satisfy Adam’s own need for genuine competition, but because of the Mission.

One day they were gonna need him at his best, especially if they were going to keep ahead of threats like the Hunters.

The trouble was, Adam couldn’t exactly correct Firth on that in public. Training sergeant he might be, but Firth was still in charge, deservedly so, and Adam had almost fatally injured his senior NCO’s reputation—and his own career, too—by going all caveman on him in a particularly stupid fashion.

So, he’d had learned the trick to correcting a superior NCO: do it in private. Be respectful.

But also be unyielding.

“Yuh? What’s up?”

“Uh…in private.”

Firth quirked an eyebrow but Adam didn’t relent. “Okay.”

Most of the Lads had gone away to attend to their individual training anyway. Moho was getting changed and playing his forever-big-brother role for Miller as he did so, but the locker room was a useful L-shape, and the end near the showers was relatively private. They retreated around the corner and lowered their voices.


Adam cornered him and dropped back into an old conversation. “Bro. Kickboxing? Right now, when you’re warmed up for something heavy? You ain’t got time to be dicking around, Firth. Hit the weights. You have a fuck of a lot of catching up to do if you ever wanna beat me.”

“This shit again? I know how to fuckin’ train, ‘Horse.” Firth grumbled. “I’ve been doing this a lot longer’n you.”

“Yeah, you have. And I’m way better than you.”

Out in the other half of the locker room, Coyers and Miller finally fucked off and left them alone. Maybe they’d heard everything and wanted to give them some room, maybe they were just off to do whatever they were doing. It didn’t matter. Adam retreated out of the shower, which always kinda smelled nasty anyway, and returned to his locker.

Firth followed, wearing a scowl. Adam knew that the truth hurt, but the taller man simply couldn’t argue that point. Not with the memory of their fight still kinda recent in both their memories.

“I’m better at everything.” Adam added, and casually retrieved his heavy ’kettlebell’ from his locker to do a set of too-easy swings. It was an oversized jerry can they’d cast iron into, and he’d taken to keeping it in there after one of the techs had tried to move it and wound up hurting their back. Most people couldn’t lift it at all. Or even budge it. Adam, on the other hand…

Well. Not even Firth could comfortably swing it like a kettlebell. Point made.

Adam was being aggressive as fuck, really. But he knew Firth, and that kind of blunt statement married to a visual demonstration was about the only way to smash through his ego. He put the can down at the end of the bench carefully, so as not to damage the floor tiles. “I’m better. Not just at bein’ strong, either. By so goddamned much it’s embarrassing. And we both know it.”

“What’s your point?” Firth growled.

“My point is, why the fuck are you wasting your potential? You should be embarrassing me every single day on every single training event we do, but you ain’t. Instead you’re wasting your time on kickboxing and other bullshit when you should be getting stronger. I’m pretty much at my limit, but you aren’t even close to yours yet.”

“I do actually need to perform, y’know,” Firth retorted. “That means I gotta stay on top of my combatives.”

“Dude. You know combatives. Better’n anyone! But I can still break you like a fuckin’ twig, and you can’t do shit to me even when I let you.” Adam shoved his bag in the locker and closed it. “Wanna know why that is, bro? It’s ‘cuz you ain’t hard enough, and you ain’t fast enough, ‘cuz you ain’t strong enough.”

Firth glowered for a second, not specifically at Adam. It looked more like he was glaring inwardly at himself.

“…Alright. Fair,” he admitted after a moment. He could take criticism well, once he’d let the anger slip by, but Adam was glad to see it was gone. The fight was behind them both, and he wasn’t eager to repeat it.

“You’ve got…what, another twelve years left on the Crude?” Adam asked.

Firth nodded. He’d started his Cruezzir-D regime later than Adam or ‘Base, like all the others from the original crew. And after Murray and Powell, he’d been one of the oldest among them even then.

“…Yeah. Something like that. Closer to thirteen.”

“Right. And you’re just now getting the full effect, right?”

“Yeah…” Firth looked across at the mirror and folded his huge arms at his reflection. “An’ fuck, look at me. I’m fuckin’ young again! It’s a goddamned head trip.”

Adam could imagine. Where the Crude had only paused his own maturation, in Firth’s case—and Powell’s, and Murray’s, and Blaczynski’s—they’d all visibly got younger in the face. Their wrinkles had vanished, their hair had thickened, their scars had healed. It was a fountain of youth. Adam had practically grown up seeing old, craggy Firth every single day, and now…he was young again, his old injuries completely healed and gone thanks to the Crude and other advanced regenerative medicine. He wasn’t weather-beaten, he wasn’t all smashed up anymore…hell, he was handsome now, in a brutal sort of way.

Everyone on the team was pretty fuckin’ genetically blessed, Gaoian and human alike, and there wasn’t a man among them who didn’t score well in the looks department. The “ugly” ones had always been Thurrsto—who really wasn’t, he just didn’t look like a traditional Whitecrest—and Firth, who had looked like what happened if you took a very good-looking young man and beat his face in every day for years on end.

Now? Well. It was strange to think about, but on a good day, Firth was maybe as handsome as Adam and behind only Sikes, who was officially the Most Prettiest Superhero on the team.

Adam still wasn’t quite used to that.

He was looking forward to the way things were going with medicine these days. There was a mild anti-cancer and longevity supplement that was coming onto the market, derived from the original Cruezzir. It wasn’t anything drastic, but it did promise the same Fountain Of Youth benefit all the Lads got from Crue-D. Which honestly, was most of how they did what they did anyway. A man normally got a year or maybe three in the full flower of his youth. What could he do with twenty, and the ability to recover almost instantly? The HEAT were living testimony.

Fortunately, the public wouldn’t be getting any of the “supersoldier” enablers the Crude had in it that even Cruezzir didn’t…but that was a good thing. Living on the bleeding edge of human (and Gaoian) capability was dangerous if a man didn’t have the right support systems in place.

The public wasn’t ready for that, not by a long shot. But, if there was a safer alternative available to everyone, then the temptation to try their luck might not be as strong. Or so went the hope.

In any case, twenty years wasn’t much in the long term. But it was eternity if one spouse got twenty years of not aging and the other aged normally. So long as Adam used the Crude, he’d stay a pretty perpetual physical nineteen-to-twenty-one years old, and by the time he stopped getting the benefit he’d be well into his forties…and Marty was a couple-few years older than him. Shit, if the aging just continued normally after it wore off then he’d wind up looking more like Diego’s older brother than his dad, but Marty would definitely be entering her middle age.

They hadn’t really foreseen that complication of the Crude when they first started using it. Now, at least, Cruezzir-derived medicine promised to fix that problem. And Adam knew Marty: She was unashamedly (and deservedly!) vain about her looks sometimes. Plus…Well. Who didn’t like being young?

She’d jump at the chance to take that medicine, when it came. And it was coming soon.

Anyway. All of that left a pretty big flaw in Firth’s reasoning, or maybe his lack of reasoning. Adam decided to point it out.

“Okay. So. Thirteen years left. Let’s do the math. That means, right now, you’re in the same position I was when I started, except you’ve got a much bigger head start. Your genetics mean you’re built way better for this kinda shit, too. You’re the only human I know of anywhere who’s a better natural talent than me or Julian, so…why ain’t you goin’ balls out?”

Firth was honestly pretty damn thoughtful when he needed to be. “…Yeah. I mean, it’s all good points. Can’t really argue it. I’ve just been focused on what I know, y’know? Bein’ strong always came natural, it’s the practice an’ the sparring I always had to work at.”

“So it hasn’t been first and foremost in your head.”

‘…Yeah, I s’pose. I’ve been relyin’ on ‘ya to keep kickin’ my ass forward, haven’t I?”

“…I’d say so, yeah.”

“Well.” A look of resolve crossed Firth’s face. “I’d better man the fuck up, then.”

That was what Adam wanted to hear. He bounced on his toes, suddenly happy again, and favored Firth what a playful slap on the shoulder. “Yeah, bro!”

“So where do we start?”

Adam grinned, and aimed a thumb toward the gym. “I’m gonna put you through Daar’s regime.”

Firth scoffed. “Daar? You kiddin’ me? I can handle any Gaoian’s schedule.”

Adam just chuckled. “Dude. Last time I checked he’s been kicking your ass on the regular. Real talk? Daar’s giving me a serious run for my money right now. Like…seriously. The last time we trained together it was for the entire fuckin’ day, and I was fuckin’ beat, dude.”

Firth gave Adam a look of genuine surprise. “Wait, really?”

“Yeah, dude.”


“Exactly. Big fucker’s a freak of nature and he’s still growing like a weed, too. And that attitude, right th ere? That’s why I’ve been pushing your shit in since I was still a teenager.”

Firth nodded grimly at that; the lesson was definitely sinking in. Good. Adam led the way through into the gym, which was thankfully empty at this time of day. He didn’t feel like embarrassing Firth in front of everyone.

“So…seriously.” Firth set to limbering up. “Daar? I mean, I’m havin’ trouble imagining that.”

“It’s true,” Adam confirmed, and set to stretching as well. “And that snuck up on me, too. First really started to notice it before the coronation. I’m super happy for him an’ all, and it’s given me serious motivation and I’ve been making progress again, but…”

Firth looked up from his position on the floor. He was doing the splits to open his hips up. “Like you said, you’re pretty much at your limits.”

Adam flumped to the mat and worked into splits as well. “Yup. Right now, my only competition is a talking space gorilla and the god-emperorbear of the universe. But Yan’s discovered weights and I have no idea what the fuck Daar is. I don’t think anyone does, least of all him.”

“And…what, you think they’re gonna top you? And that I can top them?”

“Yeah dude, you can if you really want it. I love ‘em both to death but they’re prob’ly gonna kick my ass, and I’m pretty sure that Daar’s gonna be straight ridiculous. And I’ll be fuckin’ damned if we humans get upstaged by either of them. I want us to keep that crown.”

Firth nodded gravely. “So it’s gotta be me, huh?”

“Right. This is important, bro. I mean…” Adam couldn’t really put why it was important into words, but some part of him knew that it was probably a good thing if the godzilla emperor spacebear guy in charge of a billion-strong army knew there were dudes out there who could humble him. Especially if those dudes happened to be human beings.

“I get it.” Firth looked around. “So where do we start?”

Adam grinned savagely and rolled his thick neck. “I’m gonna beat the shit outta you again.”

Firth gave him a look that carried a lot of unspoken complaint. “…Thought the point was I need to lift more?”

“The point is, you need to know just how far behind you really are. If a real fight was always about skill, I’d never once have won against you. So…I think you need to really get just how much ability you’re leaving off the table.” Adam took up position in the middle of the mat, spread his hands, and grinned.

“C’mon,” he said. “Time to learn.”

Date Point: 16y3m6d
Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Gyotin, Champion of Clan Starmind

Preed Chadesekan had become a regular sight around the Multi-Faith center. There weren’t many Buddhists who used the center—mostly it catered to the bewildering variety of Christian and Muslim worshippers—which might have been odd until one considered that the Starmind monastery was only a few yards away across the park.

Preed had politely declined Gyotin’s personal invitation to meditate at the monastery, however. He needed time among other Humans, and the Gaoian interpretation of Sōtō Zen was decidedly more…austere in its aesthetic compared to the Theravada tradition he practiced. Not to mention that Gaoians lived much more in the flesh than in the abstract spiritual communion with infinity that seemed to be the goal of Human spirituality.

That was why the multi-faith center had nondenominational spaces, though. A place where worshippers of any tradition, from Folctha’s sturdy pagan minority to rare specimens like a Thai expatriate could find a little peace in whatever form most suited them.

Still. Gyotin made a point of checking up on the elderly Human just as carefully as he kept an eye on Leemu. Even if the Great Father wasn’t so obviously invested in their case, it was a matter of personal fascination for Gyotin himself.

He’d tried to keep an eye on Gorku too. The big brownfur seemed deeply and politely confused by the entire attempt, and so he left him to his own devices. Some people, apparently, found their center in the vigorously material.

Besides. Gyotin wasn’t about to interfere with anyone’s success in courting a female.

As for Preed…well, Gyotin had to profess to some irritation there. The Thai approach to tea largely seemed to involved doctoring it up with all sorts of spices, sugar, coconut milk…

To each their own of course. But the whole allure of tea for Gyotin was the balance between its simplicity and its delicacy.

On the other hand, there was always cocoa…

Preed sipped it, then tipped his head back with a sigh. “…Thank you.”

Gyotin sat opposite him, chittering good-naturedly. “Not tired of Gaoians yet, then?”

The elderly Human laughed softly. “Not quite.”


“I had not appreciated how…intensely your kind socialize. Those two never stop.”

“Young males are always affectionate. And unreserved in their affection,” Gyotin agreed, then thought about that statement some more. “…Most old males too, actually.” His ribs were still a touch sore from the last Great Father Hug. That was almost two weeks ago.

Preed laughed again. “Yes. I’m very fond of Gorku and Leemu, but an old man needs some peace and quiet now and then. And clean spaces. Now that Leemu has discovered paint, I don’t think the house will ever be neat and tidy ever again.”

“I had been meaning to ask after him on that. How…he can see a whole new color, now?”

“More than that. He can see a whole new primary color. I’ve been reading on this in the library. Apparently we can see billions of colors…” He shrugged self-deprecatingly. “I look at green and I see green. Shades of green, maybe.”

“So your names for colors are more a category, rather than a specific appellation.”

“Truthfully, I never thought about it much before. But now here we are: Leemu can see red and orange and purple, and all their shades. So as he learns new things about colour, he tells me all about them even as he leaves little red pawprints through the living room.”

“Has he had his vision tested?”

“Yes, weekly. He’s reached the point where he is officially not colour-impaired by human standards. The doctor—Nofl. You know him?”

“I know him.”

“He said things have ‘settled down’ now, whatever that means. Which means all the rest of what’s changing in him has started to come to the fore. And that makes him…restless. The only thing he seems to focus on is painting, so he watches tutorial videos. A man called Bob Ross.”

Gyotin had to chitter at that, and especially at the absurd mental image that popped into his head of Leemu sporting a voluminous afro, a large pallet and a pocket full of squirrels.

He’d never met a squirrel. Or rather, he’d never met one up close. Annoyingly, something in his instincts made him want to chase them, and too many cubs had given in to that impulse, so the ones imported to Cimbrean had grown up hyper-wary of being chased by Gaoians and dogs alike and were thus considerably more, well…squirrely.

Daar had said they were a fun challenge to catch, but they had sharp little claws and therefore were not much worth the effort.

Or for a brute like the Great Father, Gyotin suspected, the calories.

He took a sip of his cocoa to cover the momentary tangential train of thought and returned to the here-and-now. “So Leemu’s making a mess.”

Preed made a dismissive gesture. “I don’t really mind the mess. We have this funny little robot carpet cleaner. But he sings while he paints.”

“…On behalf of all Gao, I apologize.” Gyotin said, with deadpan solemnity. He knew full well that even quite a good Gaoian singing voice was excruciating to Human ears.

“I don’t really mind. It’s good that he has found something that energizes him! But it is rather…piercing.” Preed gave a sorry, embarrassed look. “So sometimes, I need some quiet.”

“We’re all watching his case with interest,” Gyotin acknowledged. “This…transformation he is going through intrigues our scientists. And as for me…”

“It makes you uneasy?” Preed guessed.


“I can understand. I admit, it makes me uneasy too.” The old man pondered his cocoa for a second. “…I know that what he is gaining is what I take for granted every day. But to see him be…rewritten like this? I don’t know how to feel.”

“I find it helps to focus not on how you should feel, but on what you do feel,” Gyotin advised. “How can you know where to go if you don’t know where you are?”

“I’m…happy to have my friend back,” Preed said, slowly. “But he’s different now. I miss the Leemu that was. This new Leemu is…sometimes his old personality shines through, and I smile, but then it vanishes again. He can quickly become very depressed and anxious, and only the colours and the paints pull him out…but those drive him manic! It is rare that he is just…himself.”

“I am given to understand that is the way of depression among humans. It is…a novel experience for my kind. I’m told his situation will likely improve with time…”

“I wouldn’t know,” Preed said. “This is new for me, too.”

“Hmm.” Gyotin scritched at his cheek in thought. “It has been a while since I’ve visited anyone. Perhaps I should pay Leemu a visit?”

“You’d be very welcome.”

“I’ll come around this evening then.”

“Good idea. He likes to watch the sunset. It puts him in a good mood.”

Plans didn’t come much simpler. So, once Preed had gone home, Gyotin spent the rest of the day busy attending to Clan matters, quietly chatting with the various beings who used the Center as a place to balm whatever was troubling their souls, and generally did what he did best.

Sadly, the day’s sunset turned out to be underwhelming. The nightly rains were always preceded by cloud cover, and it arrived a little earlier than usual, casting a dull and grey sky rather than a vibrant one full of new colours for Leemu to enjoy.

Still, Gyotin kept his promise and arrived around about when sunset should have been. He found Gorku loudly clanging about in what had originally a garage but was now full of mats, heavy objects and the smell of physical exertion. It couldn’t be called anything so grandiose as a “gym” but it filled the same function.

He waited patiently for the big Stoneback Associate to complete the round of whatever it was he was doing—something involving repeatedly picking up a very heavy-looking bar and putting it down. Eventually, the bar was dropped with a tremendous, ground-shaking crash and Gorku celebrated with a kind of happy dance, huge tongue lolling out the side of his muzzle and an otherwise delighted expression on his face that grew even bigger and more delighted when he turned and saw who had come to visit. Clearly his sense of smell still needed time to improve.

“Oh, hey! How’ya doin’ champ?!”

As with most brownies, it was hard not to like Gorku. He tended toward the same cheerfully irrepressible irreverence that defined Daar. Gyotin should probably have reminded him once again that it was Champion, but…

No. No point, really. He meant well.

“Oh, I am doing quite fine, thank you. Would you like some tea?”


Well, Gorku was easy to please. And eager to please! He crashed into the living room and swirled around it, tidying it up and trying to put straight a riot of nick-nacks and oddities that looked like a mad inventor had collided at full speed with a tortured artist. The commotion summoned Preed from the small office he’d claimed at the other end of the house, and he gave Gyotin a knowing smile.

“Sorry ‘fer the mess! We’ve got Leemu doin’ some pretty advanced stuff now! Little guy’s strong as balls, likes tusslin’ more an’ more err’day! And he likes ‘ta tinker, too!”

“He’s been playing around with copper,” Preed expanded, finding a clean spot on the couch. He moved a sculpture of some kind out of the way, a tree wound inexpertly out of thin wire.

“Copper?” Gyotin asked, as he ducked through into the kitchen to make the tea.

“To Human eyes, copper has rather a rich orange-red hue. I understand to Gaoian eyes it’s mostly just another metal.”

Gorku whined very slightly in jealousy. “It’s been super weird watchin’ him discover it all. But! I’ve been smellin’ stuff now that Nofl’s been fixin’ my brain up. It’s weird, yijao?”

“I suppose it’s difficult to imagine what a thing one has never experienced is like…” Gyotin mused. “I can see why you’re so delighted by it.”

“Yeah! It’s been helpful too. I can smell, uh…this sorta sharp scent on Leemu a bit before he has a bad mood, now. I just give Preed an ear-flick an’ he knows too.”

“Ah! Yes, that one comes the easiest. If you can smell that you’ll be able to smell the other emotions eventually. And in Humans, too!”


“Yes! Is Leemu available?”

“Uh…yeah. He went out to the garden to rest after we tussled a bit. I won,” Gorku added with a smug flick of his ears, “but not instantly! He’s getting pretty good!”

“I’ll visit him, if you don’t mind.” Gyotin delivered two steaming cups of tea, got a nod from Preed which was enthusiastically echoed by Gorku, and took the other two cups with him out into the garden.

Clearly, the green space at the back of the house was being lovingly tended. There were ceramic pots everywhere, each overflowing with life and scents. Many of the plants smelled culinary or medicinal to Gyotin’s nose. Though the fetid stench coming off the pile of decomposing vegetable waste and grass clippings at the far end of the garden persuaded him not to go that way. Humans used some truly fearsome microbes in their gardening.

He found Leemu curled up in the middle of the wooden deck, with his nose resting on his rump and staring forlornly at the western sky in a slump of deep disappointment. It wasn’t a happy posture, but Gyotin had seen more miserable too. And at least the young male raised his head and pricked up his ears on his approach.

“…Champion. What brings you here?”

“Tea,” Gyotin chittered softly and handed the drink over. Leemu smelled a little dehydrated. “And I hear you’ve been experimenting with paint and copper. It sounded fascinating.”

“It is!” Leemu’s mood instantly brightened, and focused into the slightly manic personality that Preed had warned him about. “I don’t even know how to describe it! It’s like…the whole world is more alive than we ever knew! Even little things, everywhere…and I’m the only Gaoian who gets to see it.”

His ears drooped as he said that. “I was trying to…catch it. But Gorku can’t see it, and Preed doesn’t…he can see red, but he’s always seen red, so it isn’t special to him. So he doesn’t really get what I’m trying to…”

He trailed off helplessly.

“You’re trying to show what nobody else can see,” Gyotin summarized for him, and sat down. He was gratified to note that Leemu was at least well-groomed and clean. Gorku’s doing, probably, but still good.

“Yeah. And other Gao don’t see it ‘cuz they can’t and Humans don’t see it ‘cuz they’ve never not been able to. I mean…” Leemu flexed his claws animatedly. “It’s like trying to really explain air to somebody who’s been doing it every day their whole life. How do you really appreciate something that’s just…part of life to you? You can’t!”

He let out a frustrated keen and then curled back up on the ground. “…I want to share,” he lamented.

“But you cannot share with a mind something that is beyond its comprehension.”

“Right. Yeah.” Leemu huffed sadly and buried his nose in his fur.

“You do not wish to be alone.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, it’d be nice to have somebody who can see what I see the way I see it, but…”

“Have you visited the Multi-Faith Center? One of the Humans there is colour-impaired. He wears special glasses to help him see as he’s meant to.”

“It’s not the same. He’s not…He’s not Gaoian. He doesn’t know what red smells like.”

“It has a smell?” Gyotin asked, curiously.

“More like…it has what it should smell like? And sounds! A Human would say that red feels warm and they associate it with spicy and romantic and all these other things, and I get those. But I also get…” he paused, then sprang to his feet and dashed to the door. “Preed? I’m gonna light the fire again, ‘kay?”

He bounced happily upon receiving an “okay” from inside the house, and pounced on a rough circle of cinderblocks in the middle of the paved area, in which he set about constructing a kind of cone of wood.

Gorku came meandering out to join them as he worked, a wet towel draped around his neck. “Ah, gonna watch the fire again ‘fer a while, Leemu?”


“‘Kay, I’mma jus’ do my isometrics. ‘Ya gotta do ‘yers too! Don’t forget or I’ll make it worser!”

Leemu waved his paw distractedly in acknowledgement and finished his work. Gyotin watched with interest as he lit the assemblage with a short-nosed windproof lighter. The wood was well-dried stuff imported from Earth—Gyotin could see a mesh bag in the corner labelled “Firewood” in English—and it didn’t need long to spring into vigorous life.

Gorku huffed amusedly, and stretched himself out athletically near the fire. It had been amusing to discover that Humans had something quite similar to pose-work they called ‘Yoga.’ Gorku was evidently quite good at it; Gyotin thought he’d maybe engage his services later on.

“Gotta say, s’weird how cheap wood is here. Ever think you’d be able to just burn it like this?”

“It smells very nice,” Gyotin nodded. He might start doing bonfires himself, he decided.

“It’s called ‘birch,’” Leemu declared. “I looked up a bunch of firewoods, and the website said this one produces a lively flame and a nice smell. I’ve tried a lot of different firewoods.”

“Tangy smoke,” Gorku decided. “I can smell it better err’time he lights it, thanks ‘ta that little grey fella. Never thought I’d get a regular look at my own brain…”

“That must be an…interesting…experience,” Gyotin commented, flicking an ear at him.

“Yeah.” Gorku switched to a different, more challenging position. “Like, he’s got me all rigged up in this thing so I don’t dash my brains against anything ‘cuz I got an itch or somethin’, and he chats me up while he works, ‘sposedly so’s he knows what bits he’s tinkering with. The really weird part is when he lifts bits out and sorta…spreads things apart to get where he wants. He’s done now though.”

Gyotin wasn’t sure he could ever possibly be so matter-of-fact about an experience like that. He was sure he would have preferred if Gorku had kept the details to himself; he felt a little queasy.

Leemu flicked an ear amusedly, and said the most heartening thing Gyotin had so far heard from him. “Well, it wasn’t like you were using it too much anyway, big guy…”


Gyotin relaxed happily, glad to witness that little show of friendship, and they sat and watched the fire for a while. To Gyotin’s eyes, it was…just a fire. The flames were certainly lively, and a healthy bright yellow hue to his eyes but aside from the wood and the scent it wasn’t anything special as far as he could tell.

Leemu, though, put his chin down on his paws and watched it with an expression of lazy contentment, as though he’d happily lie there for the rest of the night if nothing else came along to move him.

After a while, Gorku finished his pose-work, sat down atop Leemu and wrapped himself tightly around his friend. “…I wish I could see it like you could.”

“I wish you could, too.”

The big Stoneback Associate snuggled his friend tightly and stared into the fire. A little while later, prompted by some internal thought, he looked back at Gyotin, and something about the moment told the Champion exactly what was about to be discussed. There was a heavily pregnant pause.


“Well,” he said, building up his courage. “I’m already a big science experiment anyway. An’ he don’t have an example o’ how all this works with a brownfur, don’t he?”

Leemu looked up with the most hopeful expression Gyotin had ever seen on anyone, but thankfully he didn’t say anything.

“…You understand, my very large friend, I am in a complicated ethical position on this one. I cannot offer you advice.”


“What’s good for you, and what’s good for the Gao, and what the Great Father wants, and what I might be concerned about, all of that pulls me in different directions.”

“Well,” Gorku looked fondly down at the not-so-small silverfur and nipped his ear. “What do you want?”


Leemu’s reply, however, was truly and deeply encouraging.

When Gyotin left, an hour or so later, he sent his progress report to Daar with the conviction in his soul that things were going to be okay.

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Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

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

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Next Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

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

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More by HamboneHFY

Sweetness – Implications

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 25 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Monty Publishing House, New Baltimore Slowly gathering myself I stepped into the hologram chamber, the projection flickered and the simulation automatically paused as I stepped in. I quickly looked around to get my bearings, I appeared to be on a starship bridge enduring greatly exaggerated

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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 Of Race 3 Year 4958 Suburbs, New Baltimore I looked back up at the shopkeeper, the small Human was trying to appear unconcerned. Not that I could really blame ‘him’- glancing over at the human I checked the chest. It was a male, the chest did not protrude and there

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire Sol 77 Of Race 7 Year 4957 PackRat IV, 5 Months out from Halfil I slammed into to deck plating. Coughing, I rolled over onto my side and vomited on the floor, trying to get over the fact that everything was spinning around me. “You know, Humans have perhaps one of the most

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 of Race 3 Year 4958 Athletic Complex, New Baltimore I jumped to the side, dodging the attack. I felt the breeze as the weapon passed my abdomen; it missed me by only a few millimeters. Twirling to the side, I brought my foot up. Reacting with amazing speed, my opponent

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 Of Race 3 Year 4958 Divsion 3 Police Station, New Baltimore “What?” The officer frowned and pushed the circular data tablet across the table to me. On it was an image of the woman I had met at the bar last night. She had green skin, of a shade that

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Shades of White and Orange

Sneaking forwards Kalif slowly tilted his ears to either side and waited in the darkness. Not sensing anything he slowly crept forwards towards the statue, and the artifacts in its base. Slithering as silently as possible Kalif focused his eyes on the objects, as if afraid they might disappear at any time. Reaching the statue

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Mother Earth

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

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

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

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

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

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

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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

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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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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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

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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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