The Deathworlders – Chapter 57: Cat and Mouse – Hunter and Hunted Part 7

Date Point: 16y6m AV
Bryant Park, Manhattan, New York, USA, Earth

Vemik Sky-Thinker

Humans. Humans everywhere. Walking so tightly packed that they almost touched, driving cars so close together he had no idea how they didn’t crash. Just as they drove from the jump array to a place called a ‘park,’ Vemik had seen more humans than there were Ten’Gewek in all the world.

They were moving busily through their lives and working their weird magic, and he didn’t understand even one finger of what he was seeing. How they made steel and stone reach higher than Ketta, or the lights, the assault of tastes on the air, the people walking around with hair in bright colours that couldn’t be natural, or with marks on their skin and clothes that moved, or…

There were some angry humans with signs. The car rolled past them, pretty quick, but not quick enough to stop Vemik from reading the signs.





The last two days had been fun, though! Despite the way his last visit to Earth had gone, Vemik had always wanted to come back, and this time he got to bring the Singer with him… and to his delight she’d brought their son, Vemun.

The boy was being kind of quiet, and clinging to the Singer closely with one arm while hugging his tail for comfort with the other, but Vemik couldn’t really blame him. This place, this ‘New York’ was loud, and busy.

And huge!

One odd thing was that, among all this steel and stone and glass and people, the humans had set aside a huge space for trees! The noise of the city never went away of course, and the sky was always lit by the glow of their ‘electric’ lights…

But it was nice to see. Even here, in a place where ‘civilization’ was at its most intense, the Humans spent a lot of their valuable space to show proper respect to nature. None of the trees were as big as a Ketta, but the oldest and biggest of them were grand, strong things anyway.

The Singer had approved heartily. They’d both tried their hand at a fun-looking game called ‘baseball,’ which was apparently part of the joke of Baseball’s name. The small skinny children playing it were much better at it, but they had fun nonetheless. Not even Jooyun was as good as them! There was another game called ‘frisbee’ which was about throwing a thin bendy disc and trying to catch it. That was a lot more fun, and Vemik got to show off a little for the kids, and the Singer met a ‘choir’ who wove their voices into something that shimmered in the air…

But sadly, the fun times couldn’t last. There was much to see in New York, including meeting some important people, going to a ‘museum’ which Vemik wanted to explore top to bottom…

The ‘hotel’ was a bit strange and the bed so soft it felt like he would sink right through. It complained loudly when either he or Jooyun sat on it though, so Vemik decided to be nice and pull the top part off and just put it right on the floor. Much better.

Apparently, it was not okay to climb up the side of the hotel, even if it was nicely easy to grip and their room was wonderfully high up. Something about “King Kong,” apparently. There was definitely a joke there at his expense he’d need to squish out of Jooyun later.

Not enough time to see and do everything he wanted. And everyone was friendly!

Except these people with their big writing on very big paper. They made Heff go still and watchful, too.

“Are those the same people who attacked us in ‘Canada’?”

“Prob’ly not. But they think a lot of the same things,” Jooyun decided. He didn’t sound like he liked them at all. “These ones are just regular activists.”

“Means what?” the Singer asked.

“Means they think very strongly that something is wrong and it needs to be fixed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but people can get blinded when they feel something so strong.”

“Worth watchin’, though,” Heff grunted. “These ones might be all talk an’ no action, but you never know.”

Their car stopped in front of a new kind of building that Vemik hadn’t seen before. It was white, with thick carved stone tree-trunks along the front and stone humans in strange loose clothes high on the walls. It looked very climbable, but somehow he just knew that this building was absolutely not for climbing at all.

“You’ll like this place,” Jooyun declared.

“What is it?”

“The New York Public Library. A place where we keep knowledge and people can read it.”

“Professor tell me about libraries!”

“Uh-huh. Uh, just so you know, you normally keep quiet in these places. And no offense, but you have a loud, deep voice. It carries.”

“I’ll be quiet,” Vemik promised.

As it happened, the moment he set foot inside he knew he’d have no trouble keeping his word. The place felt… sacred. It was a subtle feeling, but there was a hush, and a solemn feeling on the air that the people from the ‘teevee show’ with their cameras and tiny drones couldn’t spoil no matter how closely they watched.

The sacred feeling only really hit though when they had climbed high in the building and entered a space like nothing Vemik had ever seen. The Singer made an awed sound and stopped: Vemik simply gaped.

There were books everywhere. Stacked neatly in rows down the long walls, or dotted here and there on the ornate tables as Humans pored over them under the light from a hand of hands of intricate metal frames. Everywhere around him were beautiful carved wood and stone: the tables, the ceiling, the walls… everything. The craftmanship of them was just…

Vemik knew wood-carving, and stone-working. Or he thought he had. What he was seeing hurt him a little, though: Deep in his chest and belly, he knew that his people would never build something like this. Not because they couldn’t, but because… this was a very Human place. They’d built it not just to store knowledge, but to worship it. It could only be here because there was a great hive of a city outside its walls, because the Humans had settled here hundreds of years ago and never moved on.

That was not the Ten’Gewek way. And as proud as he was of his people and how these incredible people from another world valued them… The Gods had made the People for other things than this. They would never build something to match it.

For a brief moment, that thought made him very, very sad.

But behind that, he realized he now knew more than ever just how much the People needed this friendship. They could not build a place like this, and if he was right they never would… but the Humans already had, and they were happy to share it.

With that thought to lift his mood, he moved towards some of the tall book-stacks almost without thinking, but Jooyun’s hand rested on his shoulder to stop him.

“Careful, fella. You can look at these all you want, but we’re here for a tour and to take some footage. Let’s get that done first, okay? You’ll still get to read some things, though. The librarian’s been planning this for a while.”


“Yeah. Which means…”

“Someone…who takes takes care of a library?”

“Very good!” somebody said. Vemik turned: He’d seen Humans in fancy clothes before, and thought they looked strange but the newcomer seemed oddly right for them. He was short, small, didn’t have much hair, and his glasses were just as big as his smile. Vemik had heard the word ‘dapper’ before, but now he finally knew what it meant. All those layers looked heavy and warm, not good for the forest. And he had no idea what the blossom of bright red cloth on the man’s throat was for…

But, well, he was on Earth, and he hadn’t actually met many Humans. Maybe this was normal, and Jooyun was the weird one. Who knew?

“Mister Etsicitty,” he said warmly, and shook Jooyun’s hand at length. “Sven Schuster, it’s a pleasure to meet you at last. And these are our guests?”

He reserved an extra special smile for Vemun, who was chewing on his tail and giving him the wide-eyed wary look that children of any species kept for meeting a stranger, then shook first the Singer’s hand and then Vemik’s.

“We’ve never had extraterrestrial guests before,” he said.

“We have never been in a place like this before,” the Singer replied. She hiked Vemun a little higher on her hip and held him in place with her tail. “Not just the books and all the knowing there is here but the…”

She paused, then waved a hand at absolutely everything around them as she turned to Jooyun. “Is there a word for all this?” she asked.


“Hmm. Odd word. Don’t know if it’s big enough.”

Shoo-ster (Vemik decided immediately that he’d have trouble fitting ‘Sven’ around his teeth) chuckled. “I agree. It’s a fussy word for grand things, isn’t it?”

“Grand, yes.” The Singer tasted that word, and gave it a soft hoot of approval. “I like ‘Grand.’”

“So many books!” Vemik sighed appreciatively. “More than I could ever read, maybe! But this library is so big and this is just one room! This isn’t all, is it?”

Shoo-ster beamed happily. “Oh, no! We have millions of items in our collection, Sky-Thinker. Not just books but maps, records, newspapers, old documents… They’re kept in stacks in the levels below. This is just a reading room.”

“Really?! Can we see??”

Jooyun chuckled. “Sorry, fella. That’s not for the public, and anyways you and I would be way too big to fit. But don’t worry, the Professor is going to set up a library exchange with Folctha, so you will have access to all the books from places like this.”

“Really?!” Several nearby readers looked up and shot amused glances at them, and Vemik cringed. His excitement had beaten the air of the place after all. “Really?” He whispered.

“Yup. For now though, we’re just here to meet and greet. You can each check out one book to read tonight, okay?”


Vemik decided on an enormous picture book about the plants and animals on this part of Earth. Singer checked one out too, and Jooyun’s was something about ‘code-talkers,’ whatever they were.

Heff got a book about weightlifting.

It made for a quiet night back at the hotel. Once Jooyun explained that they’d have to give the book back, Vemik threw himself into it, and then read the Singer’s for good measure after she was done with it. Hers was a book on healing, full of pictures about how to clean and dress a wound, splint a broken bone and sling an arm. All things that Singers did anyway, but as always the Humans had just… been doing it for longer. They knew a few extra tricks.

The ‘teevee’ show the next day was very, very weird. They were ‘shooting’ in the smaller park in front of the library, after returning their books and dodging the protestors, who were just the beginning of the rush that followed. Everything about the show was hurry-up, be here, stand there, wait before talking, do all the talking in barely a finger of time…

The Humans were wearing ‘makeup’ because apparently, ‘teevee’ cameras could make even a very pretty person look ugly under those lights, which were just much, much too bright. They were careful not to shine them into anyone’s eyes, and it was outside during the day, so it wasn’t too bad really, but still… the heat coming off them reminded Vemik of being back in his forge.

It was all a little confusing. Apparently millions of Humans were watching them ‘live,’ and the weird timing was because like so much the Humans did, everything was on a ‘schedule.’

They were showing some very simple things about village life. Apparently, this would help some of the more nervous Humans like them more. Heff stood off to the side: he was there to protect them, not to be on teevee. but Jooyun and Singer were right there with Vemik, knapping a simple flint blade and preparing a fire. Jooyun had been slightly unhappy with everything until they were doing the ‘dem-on-stray-shun’ for the cameras. He was out of his suit and the hated ‘tie,’ and was now much more comfortable like he was back on Akyawentuo, knife in hand and talking animatedly about why they did every little thing, exactly like they were teaching a child.

Which they were, in fact. Vemun was paying rapt attention to the three of them and trying to knock a flake off his own core. He especially paid attention to Jooyun’s hands. Strange. In some ways, Vemik thought Jooyun might be more like the People than a Human.

There was one of those weird breaks, suddenly, where the host promised the people watching they’d be right back.

“And…we’re off-air. That was brilliant!” She enthused, “Did you three decide to teach Vemun like that?”

“Why waste a good opportunity?” Jooyun replied. “…Hey, it’s a really hot day. Could we get some water, please?”

No sooner had he asked than a bustling somebody pressed a bottle into his hand and then vanished on some other errand.

“–Oh! Uh, thanks!” he called after whoever it was. “…That was fast, dang.”

“Show-biz, Mister Etsicitty! We’ve got, uh, ninety seconds. The next segment will be seven minutes long, not the little teaser segments we’ve been doing. You’ve got your speil ready?”

“Yeah! Then we do some fun up in the trees after that, right?”

“Yes. We put your notes up on cue cards for you–Mark there will hold them up for you. You don’t need to read off them, it’s just to help you remember what you’re talking about, just like we discussed.”

“…Okay. Prompt, not read.”

“Exactly! Don’t worry Julian, you’re a natural at this. Thirty seconds warning, see that? Make-up will be here–” a flock of Humans descended on the two of them and did…something… “And you might want to wash your hands, they’re muddy. There’s a spot on your shirt too, can we fix that?”

“Fifteen seconds,” somebody else called. A figure with a bright orange stick of some kind rubbed the spot off Jooyun’s shirt and then ducked down and aside as quick as he’d appeared.


“Okay, last check–”

Somebody gently guided Vemik, Vemun and the Singer away to one side. Apparently the next bit was for Jooyun only. That suited Vemik just fine: learning to knap a flint properly was hard enough without lots of interruptions, so he was glad to give his child a bit more time to knock on his core and ask questions.

As they stepped aside, however, something… itched at him. Something was wrong, and not in the weird alien strangeness-of-Humans way. As Jooyun and the host started talking to the camera again, Vemik’s instincts were telling him something was up. And considering that he could still hear the chanting from the sign-people over the street noises and traffic…

He looked around. Godshit, there were so many people. None of them looked like they were about to attack, but he just couldn’t set aside the crawling feeling, or the way his crest naturally rose and fluffed out a bit.

The Singer noticed. “…Something wrong?”

As he turned to reply, it finally dawned on Vemik what was bothering him. Something—or rather someone—was missing.

“…Where’s Heff?” he asked.

Date Point: 16y6m AV
Window overlooking Bryant Park, Manhattan, New York City, USA, Earth

Wilhelmina “Bill” Briggs-Davies

Bill’s nest was a good spot alright. She’d been smuggled in at dead-o’-clock in the darkest scrotal recess of the night, and fuck had that been slick. She hadn’t seen her escort’s face, but the fucker knew how to make locks sing and dance, that was for sure. Not just mechanical ones, either.

After that… the waiting game, made a bajillion times worse by the fact that she couldn’t just put her head down and sleep. Who coulda? If all went to plan…

…Fuck. If all went to plan, she was gonna be dead before most people had even had their breakfast. That was… big. In the dark and the quiet, as she waited for the city to get a little more lively, that one thought had really just landed on her, heavily.

She wasn’t scared. Shit, she was actually kinda looking forward to it. Most of the poor fuckin’ sheep out there just kinda drifted unconsciously until the end caught them by surprise, but Bill had known the date and manner of her demise for weeks. She’d had plenty of time to straighten things out. ‘Cuz she sure as shit wasn’t gonna die quietly.

Her one last ‘fuck you’ at everything was gonna be goddamn historic.

So she didn’t sleep. She woulda liked to have a phone with her or something, to pass the time, but no. She had nothing in her pockets, nothing on her to tie her to anyone. Just a rifle, a pistol, her stompiest boots, some makeshift armor sewed into her clothing…

…And way too much time to kill. Too fucking bad her Handler had “sanitized” her safe house and taken away all the evidence. She woulda liked to have that surveillance of her target in the shower, to help her pass the time…

Her encrypted radio finally started making noises just before dawn.

“Party vans are on the road. How’re you doing, birthday girl?”

She keyed her mic. “I’m bored outta my mind, here.”

“Understood. Nobody’s late, the guest of honor has RSVP’d. Don’t spoil the surprise.”

Rather than say she understood, she just clicked it and slumped down next to the window to keep waiting.

Dawn came eventually, along with the usual NYC slice of life, commuters and pedestrians and yellow cabs. The all-dick-and-no-balls squad with their stupid fucking signs and chants showed up half an hour before the vans from CBS, and half an hour after that there came Etsicitty and the monkeys, who vanished into the Schwarzman Building. Good little boy scouts had to return their library books…

There was nothing to do but keep her head down and wait, but she decided to give an update.

“The guest of honor just arrived.”

“Good. Keep me posted.”

The show started on schedule. It was actually kinda hypnotic, watching the ballet going on down there. Turned out there were a lotta people involved in sending out live breakfast TV, and every one of them knew exactly where they had to be, what they had to do.

Fuck, if they turned that energy to something useful they maybe coulda even achieved something. Too late now. Bill stayed low and in the corner of the window so as not to show a humanoid silhouette, and watched until…

Yup. There were Etsicitty and the monkeys, doing their boy scout survival bullshit on the ground. Where they actually making flint knives?

She grabbed the rifle, and keyed her radio.

“The guest’s ready. How we doing?”

“Party vans are in position. They’re going to an advert break in two minutes. Party time is right after they go live again.”

“Awesome.” Fucking fantastic. Millions of people were gonna see Julian’s brains get blown out in high definition, live to the whole world.

The commercial break started, and Bill grinned as she took aim.

It was gonna be a pretty clean shot, in the end. She’d been worried about the trees at the park’s edge, but Etsicitty was standing in clear open ground and she had a perfect line of sight. The only thing spoiling it was the makeup bitches swarming all over his face.

“…Fuck. Kind of a waste to splatter a pretty fuckboy like him…” she muttered, as she tried to get a better angle.

“Don’t get sentimental on me now. Twenty seconds to party time.”

Bill nodded, shifted her weight, and growled to herself as some other dipshit swept in to spot-clean him with a Tide pen. This sniping shit wasn’t as easy as she’d thought it would be.

“Ten seconds. Vans on final approach.”

The vans had two jobs: block the escape routes, and raise hell. No stupid fuckin’ baseball bats and shit this time, this time the APA had sprung for guns. When the party started every poor fucker in the park was gonna be caught in the crossfire. They were about to stack a lot of bodies.

Fuck, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this excited. Her heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was knocking on her ribs, and she stared unblinking down the scope with her teeth bared in a clenched, delighted rictus. This was it.

She settled the dot perfectly on Etsicitty’s head, right as the commercial break ended.

“…Gotcha, asshole.”

Her finger tightened on the trigger, and the party started with a bang.

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

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Henosis – Chapter 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 5

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

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Henosis – Chapter 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 6

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 2

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 51 (End)

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 6

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 5

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 50

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 4

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 49

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 6

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 4

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 48

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 2

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 47

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 1

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 6

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 46

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 3

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 1

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 45

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

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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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