The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 6

Date Point: 16y7m2w AV
Clan Starmind monastery, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Champion Gyotin

Gyotin was enjoying a rare quiet day. At least, relatively quiet. He’d had breakfast with the Bishop of Folctha that morning, but that was a weekly event anyway. And of course he’d spent some time at the Faith Center, met a few people, caught up on the news, offered some insights…

The opportunity to retire to the monastery garden and practice a nice long meditation in solitude was a welcome one.

It couldn’t last forever, of course. After maybe twenty minutes or half an hour, the distinctive scent of a very big and very familiar Human guest reached his nose, and he decided that he’d better attend to his responsibilities again.

It didn’t matter. Gyotin could meditate in a single breath, and often did so. It was a useful trick, just… taking a single moment to reset the mind and cleanse the moment. He certainly wasn’t going to be put out by the end of a decently long meditation now.

Standing respectfully at the garden’s edge behind him, though Gyotin hadn’t yet turned to face him, was Julian Etsicitty. He hadn’t made so much as a sound when he approached, which was a neat trick on a gravel path, but Gyotin’s nose didn’t lie about these things. The big man smelled troubled.

Gyotin half turned to flick an ear at him and greet him over his shoulder, radiating serenity. “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with you in private, Mister Etsicitty. Would you like tea?”

“…Sure, why not?”

Gyotin had to admit a certain fondness for his tea ritual. It had earned him some gentle teasing from some of the more experienced members of the Clan, but that was no worry. He gestured to a low table near the most fragrant part of the garden. The big man considered it, smiled faintly, and carefully folded himself into a cross-legged position before it.

Usually, Gyotin only spoke with Etsicitty when Sister Shoo came to visit. He wasn’t a Buddhist himself, and he certainly wasn’t a Gaoian. In fact, he’d always seemed to Gyotin like a man for whom the Great Question was… not resolved, necessarily, but certainly it didn’t gnaw at him the way it did some other people. Julian was very much a man of the world before anything else.

In fact, he’d always struck Gyotin as truly resilient. Something must have gone badly wrong, though he didn’t smell of grief. More… confusion.

Gyotin’s tea ritual was designed for relaxing simplicity and precision. He found that people usually relaxed when they watched it rather than growing restless, and so it was with Julian: by the time Gyotin poured a cup with a practiced, simple flair, the big man had taken a few steadying breaths and was radiating a little less stress.

He watched, seemingly bemused, until with a nod Gyotin indicated that he should take his tea. The cups weren’t overly large, since the point was to relax and not fill oneself to bursting, but they nonetheless looked almost tiny in Julians massive, calloused hands. Worthy of a Stoneback, those.

“…I’ve had a really weird sorta day.”

“You smell like it.”

Julian… explained. It took some time, in part because Julian was the kind of man whose thought process was rather like a climbing vine, feeling around and curling back on itself to find the next anchor point. In absolute terms, it was slow: in practical terms, it was methodical and thorough one-foot-forward-and-test-the-earth stuff.

Gyotin did what he did best and listened with both ears and nose.

In truth, just getting it out of his system for a second time seemed to have helped Julian enormously. His partners had had good advice and insights for him—well done, Sister Shoo—but there remained two unresolved questions.

The first, according to Julian, went something like:

“It’s like… well, okay, so I’m apparently bred to be what I am. Or, uh… what I’ve done? Like, all of it’s been in line with the kinda thing they were trying to achieve. They wanted… I guess someone who could go anywhere at all and handle it? Which is what I do! So it’s like I’m just following the script they wrote into me. But I like what I do! I like where my life is at right now, or, I mean, except for the crazy goliath bitch who tried to kill me, but other than that!”

He drank his second cup of tea and sighed. “I’ve been to amazing places and done amazing things and met amazing people and fell in love with two incredible women, and I’ve got, or gonna have, two amazing kids, and… I don’t know. Did I earn all that? Or am I just… I dunno.”

“Of course you did.”

Julian sighed. “Like, I know I did. Rationally,” he clarified. “My genes didn’t just, uh, pick up those weights themselves, or cut that wood all by themselves, or drag my ass out of bed every freezing morning on Nightmare or any of it. I had to earn it all, I get that. But they also let me do all that in the first place, which I’m learning is an opportunity that basically nobody else gets. And after dropping all that on me, Nofl said there’s more to tell me!”

“Which is?”

“…I dunno. I kinda wish he’d just dropped both halves on me in one go. I think he thought he was being kind.”

Gyotin duck-nodded. “He tries. Genuinely, he tries. You must understand though, he is a Corti. Even in his case, he has a severe theory of mind deficit where emotional cognition is concerned.”

“…Well. I just… I wanna hear the other half. Whatever it is, I’ll deal with it, you know?” Julian took a deep breath and put his cup down. “…I don’t mind being what I am. I just wanna know how honestly I came by what I have.”

“Should I come with you?” Gyotin offered.

Julian’s expression was one of immense relief. “Oh, God, please yes. I don’t, uh…I’m not, uh, yeah. You don’t seem like a fire-and-brimstone sorta fella and I really don’t need that right now.”

“Fire and brimstone?”

“Y’know, the whole poly relationship with two not-wives, illegitimate children and taking alien religious rites thing. Folks… judge.”

“Father O’Driscoll might surprise you, but that’s an issue for later. When are you meeting Nofl?”

“…Uh… well. No time like the present, I guess.”

“I quite agree.” Gyotin stood. “His lab isn’t far, after all.”

Still, they took the scenic route and enjoyed the garden. To Gyotin’s nose it smelled of herbs from dozens of worlds: Gaoian sweetherb and Mishi, thyme and lemongrass from Earth, Cqcq, Urgurnivur, Wrythwk…

Julian had a certain similarity to the Great Father, Gyotin noted. Both had a very healthy appreciation for life in all its forms, herbs and flowers especially. The big man breathed in appreciatively through his nose as they meandered toward the exit, and perhaps looked back as if he would have loved nothing more than to stay there all day, soaking it all in.

“There is a lot of red and violet in your garden, you know.”

“So Leemu tells me. It turns out the Gao have color vision perhaps as good as yours, buried in an inactivated section of our genome.”


“Indeed so! There is a small therapy trial going on right now to reactivate those parts of our heritage; they were deliberately deactivated thousands of years ago.”

“…Yeah, I guess now I think about it, you guys can kinda sympathize with where I’m at right now, huh?”

“In a sense. I must admit, your case is very sympathetic for me. And I imagine would be for others in your orbit. The Great Father, for example.”


“You are a man who was bred to severe purpose. As are all of the Gao, most especially our Champions—usually, anyway—and our Great Father. We of course do this voluntarily…”


“Yet that was almost certainly a social behavior instigated by an enemy power. That is not a small thing to know, that old and vast powers have been using your ancestors in a game. But…”

“But at least I know.”

“You don’t believe that ignorance is bliss?”

Julian shook his head. “Ignorance is a great way to get killed.”

“Or at the very least,” Gyotin offered, “it’s unfulfilling.”

“…That too, I guess.”

The rest of the short walk to Nofl’s lab was made in pensive silence, and they found Nofl waiting for them at the door. Gyotin didn’t ask how the quirky Corti scientist had known they were coming: presumably he had a drone or cameras or something. It didn’t matter.

His usual chipper affectation was gone. He welcomed them in with a simple greeting and invited them to sit down with an offer of coffee that they both declined.

“So. The other half,” he said, and Julian tensed up. Nofl gestured with a control device and the holographic display in the middle of his lab shimmered into life. It showed a full-body scan of Julian, made transparent enough to show off the internal organs in a clean, clinical kind of way. Another click of the controller, and the image’s twisting intestines lit up blue.

“…Your gut biome has come into contact with Cruezzir,” he explained, without preamble. “Which explains the anomalous healing around your leg and your increased physicality over the last couple of weeks. You’re now effectively generating an unrestricted, early version of a super-soldier serum inside your own body. We’ve seen this before, and normally it would be straightforward to correct. Not pleasant, but straightforward… except in your unique case.”

“Why not?”

“Because you were the test platform for that serum, dear. You have, in fact, been generating precursor components of it since the day you were abducted and transplanted to Nightmare.”

“…Wh…wait. Back up just a bit. Cruezzir.”


“…Her blood, wasn’t it?”

“I do not know precisely what you’re talking about, but ingesting the bodily fluids of someone also producing Cruezzir presents a high risk of contamination, yes.”

“So…Okay. You said ‘unrestricted.’ What the fuck does that mean?!”

“Mostly, that it’s essentially contagious. I was unaware of it, but the production-grade Cruezzir was designed to self-enable a synthesis pathway in E. Coli. I had nothing to do with that.”

Julian’s tone had grown understandably urgent. “What does this mean for my partners?”

“They are unlikely to contract it through intercourse if that’s what you’re asking. Unless they, ah, ingested…”

“…Let’s just assume so.”

“…Right. Well. For them it will be essentially harmless and treatable, if so. Um… I hope. Honestly, the thought of a pregnant woman with Cruezzir gut never occurred to me, hmm…”

Julian’s grip made the desktop creak. “Nofl…”

“Julian. Dear. I am appalled by all this and I will do all in my power to help, but I don’t think the risks are significant in their cases. They may even be a net benefit, it is a medicine after all. In controlled doses, it’s beneficial! No, my concern is more to do with the risks of long-term saturation.”

“What…sort of risks?”

“Cruezzir-derivative was designed with two major goals in mind. Firstly, that it would not form a transmissible hazard. But secondly, it was also designed to trigger certain bodily responses in the combatants undergoing treatment. Stronger tendons, skeletal adaptation, and so forth. For you…that won’t be a problem. You were…well, bred for this. Or something like it, anyway.”

“Those precursor components you mentioned?” Gyotin cued. “What do they have to do with this?”

“And why the hell didn’t you tell me about them before?” Julian asked. “You replaced my goddamn leg, Nofl. How did you not notice this?”

“Foot,” Nofl corrected. “And because one doesn’t notice compounds diluted to the nanogram unless they’re actively looking for them, which I had no reason to do. Which brings us back to the problem. You are fully adapted to their presence. It has been… how long? Seventeen years since they were first introduced to your system? Not counting time spent in stasis.”

“…About that, yeah. Eleven years or so since I was rescued, and six years before that.”

“Julian, a complete intestinal microbiome transplant would very probably kill you. You’re so perfectly adapted to the precursors, your body has built itself around its heightened capacity to heal. Just considering your heart alone—remember how we noted that it was highly enlarged? That’s not uncommon in power athletes…”

“It was a point of concern, yeah.”

“Not for you. It’s adapted to this. If I, to use a metaphor, ‘kick the stool out from under you,’ just one of the things that may kill you is a massive heart attack in a few weeks. Or a few years. Maybe. It’s impossible to tell. Plenty of other men live with your condition until old age…”

“But he has many such conditions,” Gyotin concluded with a sigh. “So taken together, it’s a potential disaster.”

“Exactly. As he is, he is perfectly healthy and living comfortably on the edge of what human biology can do, both because he was designed to be, and because of a self-sustaining suite of medicines in his gut. I cannot risk taking away that support mechanism now.”

“…What will this mean for me?”

“Well…mostly good things! You will experience prolonged life, heightened resistance to disease…basically, you will live as you have lived since your rescue from Nightmare. There are some side-effects you should note…”

“…Such as?”

“You may feel emotions more intensely, but I daresay you’ve felt them all along. There were reports of some other rather preposterous effects, but I do not credit them with much veracity.”

“How long of a prolonged life?” Gyotin asked.

“Cruezzir-derivative was designed to provide a minimum of twenty years of extended prime-of-life. He’ll get at least that. Possibly more.” Nofl cleared his throat. “…Possibly a lot more. I don’t actually know. The only other individuals this has ever happened to are missing or dead. I suppose… in theory, there might not be an upper limit.”

Julian stood up sharply and turned away. He prowled the back of the room absolutely reeking of anguish for a few seconds, then turned sharply back to Nofl. “‘No upper limit?!’ Nofl, I—!”

“I speak of theory, Julian. Theory and reality are very different things.”

“Oh, great. So I’m only ’theoretically’ immortal!” Julian gestured vaguely out the door. “Meanwhile, my family and all the people I love are very definitely mortal!”

“And forever is a very long time to find a solution, dear. Which I promise you I will work towards.”

Gyotin glanced at Julian, who stood up, massaged his face, and turned away again to do a little more pacing. There was a fight raging in his head, but as far as Gyotin could tell Nofl was saying the right things.

“So… what can Julian and his family do in the meantime?” he asked.

“Well… Your partners and children, born and unborn alike, will need to come in for a scan and… whatever therapy is necessary. Which I hope turns out to be none at all!” Nofl hastened to add. “But this is unknown territory. Curiosity and caution are our guides, I think.”

“And if they do need it?” Julian asked. “Xiù’s pregnant and Anna’s only a couple of months old!”

“Julian.” Nofl stood up. It was a ridiculous thing to see a tiny, skinny Corti stand squarely up to a human many times his mass, but it worked. Julian stopped pacing and listened. Nofl looked him square in the eye. “I will do everything I can,” he promised.

“You can’t ask for more than that,” Gyotin agreed, softly.

There was a long silence. Finally, Julian sighed, straightened up, and ran a hand through his hair. “…Fine. Okay. Thank you. I’m just… I’d better go tell them.”

“I’ll see you soon, dear,” Nofl told him. “My door is always open to you.”

“As is mine,” Gyotin promised.

Julian gave them both a grateful look that was almost a smile, then left. Or maybe ‘bolted’ was a better word.

Once he was gone, Nofl sighed heavily and distractedly tried to tidy up an already immaculate lab. “That could have gone better,” he declared.

“At least it went,” Gyotin replied. “Better for him to know, however difficult it may be for him.”

“Yes.” Nofl gave up on trying to improve on perfection, and sagged back into a chair. “I feel partly to blame, you know. Cruezzir was my creation. The Directorate picked it up and did terrible things with it once they saw the potential, but it all starts with me.”

“Can you turn it toward the good?” Gyotin asked.

“I already have!” Nofl said, sounding a little offended. “Many times over! Cruezzir is a gift to the world, a miracle medicine! It’s already changed so much, and will change much more in due time. It just… has some complications. And I will set them right.”

Gyotin duck-nodded. “I can’t fault your passion,” he said. Nofl laughed, darkly.

“Yes. The very thing the Directorate likes the least about me,” he muttered. “…Thank you, Champion. I don’t know how you make time for everybody like you do.”

“Some days I can’t.” Gyotin sniffed at the coffee apparatus. He had to admit, coffee did smell amazing. Alas that it tasted so different to its aroma. He’d take tea every time. “But on some days, the universe seems to make room, when it really matters. Anyway. I should leave you to your work.”

Nofl nodded wearily, and Gyotin let himself out.

He was, he found, not worried. Undoubtedly he’d be seeing Sister Shoo at some point, and probably Julian again now… but those were meetings to look forwar d to, really. As emotional and troubled as they would surely be, well…

…It was good to have people to help.

He took a single meditative breath, and returned to his garden.

Date Point: 16y7m2w AV
Mrwrki Station, Erebor System, Uncharted Space

Lewis Beverote

Lewis was officially the human race’s foremost expert on designing shit for a nanofactory to build.

It was kind of a multidisciplinarian thing, in a shallow way. He needed to know just enough about a fuckzillion different subjects to know how he could fit bits and pieces together, but he needed to also know when to hand off to a real in-depth expert and ask “can it be done?”

There wasn’t an official name for his little coterie. In theory the Mrwrki nanofax was overseen by Master Sergeant Lee. In practice, every blueprint that ever got fed into the big beauty was Lewis’ handiwork, signed off on by all the people who worked with him. On Mrwrki’s org chart they were known just as the nanofactory blueprint lab.

Among themselves, they were the Fellowship of the ‘Fax. After all, if you couldn’t shamelessly geek out on a station full of massive nerds literally named after Tolkien’s writings, where could you?

The coltainers had been… eh. They were absolutely a success, sure. Every mission objective achieved, thank you very much. But they weren’t the giant fireworks-and-eagles suck-my-dick success he’d wanted. AI, even the most advanced AI the human race had ever dreamt up blended with some bleeding edge ET tech, just wasn’t smart enough to handle the complexities of the real galaxy.

Some of them had been stalked by Hunters and self-destructed. A few had suffered industrial accidents. One had apparently got stupid confused about size and distance and plunged into a gas giant while squawking inanely about how much trouble it was having in figuring out what was wrong.

Overall, the coltainers were multiplying as designed, but it wasn’t exactly an exponential surge. The rate of replacement was just ahead of the loss rate.

So… yeah. A success, but not a home run. A solid B+. Adequate. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

The Fellowship were perfectionists. Adequate was not good enough, to them. So, after seeding enough coltainers, they’d turned the ‘Fax toward different projects instead.

Right now, it was building deep space survey satellites tuned to listen for and precisely triangulate a specific kind of quantum… thingy. Lewis thought of it as kinda like a heavy blanket draped on top of the great quantum mattress of the universe. His advisor on all things quantum-mechanical, Doctor “Just” So, had pulled a pained face when he said that but accepted the analogy was good enough for Lewis’ purposes.

Point was, by watching for weird spots in the sky where the great quantum blanket did weird shit, they could in theory find the Hierarchy’s remaining relay worlds.

Exactly what that would lead to…

For now, though, there were no ‘official’ projects coming their way. The ‘Fax was hard at work churning out the satellites, and it pushed out a new one every ten minutes or so. But up in the blueprint lab, all the stuff coming down from on high was already done and dusted. So the Fellowship were… tinkering.

And eating snacks.

“I’m tellin’ you dude, ain’t no way in a million years the military are ever gonna touch power armor.”

“It’d save lives.”

“Would it? Stickin’ dudes inside a fuckin’ robot that’s stronger than them? Sounds like a deathtrap to me.”

“Not if you design it right.”

“Okay, and then what? So you’ve got a superhuman humanoid robot. Why d’you even need a dude inside it? Why not stick him in a control bunker on the other side of the world with some kinda VR rig?”

“Actually, yeah? Why not?”

“Well, signaling, for one. I ran this one by Champion Meereo last time he visited and the Anubis-lookin’ motherfucker looked like he wanted to beat me to death with his ears. I learned more than I ever wanted to ‘bout latency, loss, channelized communications, electronic warfare, Shannon’s Law—well, their equivalent to it…”

Lewis cronched down an imported snack that was kinda-sorta the Gaoian version of a potato chip. Or a generic cheese noodle-thing. Something. Both. Whatever. Wozni and Meereo brought them over by the literal caseload and they fulfilled the Law of Cronch along with the Cheesy Addendum, so why not?

“So, assumin’ you can’t reliably remote control them, and absent wormhole comms like the kind we’re trying to kill then you absolutely cannot, then you still have the problem of a meaty dude inside a killer robot,” he said. “You’re also not thinking about reflexes, my dude. Or what you’d need to do to fix that.”

“So what are we working on?”

“Proof of concept, nothing more.”

“We’re proving a concept they’ll never go for?”

“I never said there were no applications to the technology did I? Bomb robots? Long-distance surgery? Fuck, I dunno. Tiny little miniature humanoid robots that can go down inside drains and unblock ‘em? If we can manage tactile feedback from the robot hands to the human hands then that opens up all kindsa shit.” Cronch. “It just ain’t gonna git rid of big scary dudes killin’ some poor other fuckin’ dudes for bein’ in the wrong place or on the wrong side.”

He swivelled his chair to check out the latest experimental run of what they were calling myopolymer. It was materials science at the frontier, a pretty damn decent attempt at duplicating the way human muscle worked in a synthetic format.

There were still a lot of bugs to work out, and a long way to go. In fact, it was occuring to Lewis that if carbon fiber was the best thing to make bones out of, humans would have evolved with carbon fiber bones.

Actually. He filed that idea away for later, and then it became a moot point anyway because his phone rang.


“Mister Beverote, it’s Colonel Nadeau. I have some guests here who want to discuss something with you and the Fellowship. They and Darcy will be with you shortly”

“You got it, boss. We’ll clean up.”

“Thanks.” Nadeau could sound dryer than the fuckin’ Gobi when he wanted.

The Fellowship in fact kept their place scrupulously neat despite being snack fiends thanks to Merry and Pippin, the robot vacuum cleaner and the mobile waste paper basket. The former constantly patrolled the floor for bits, the other could zip under and neatly intercept any scrunched-up piece of trash tossed vaguely in his direction.

Both had little googly eyes on them.

Still, a fair warning like Nadeau’s was their cue to quickly wash and stack the coffee cups, clear their desks and close a few (dozen) browser tabs.

The visitors who followed Darcy into the room a minute or two after they were done making themselves presentable were… well, two of them were welcome and familiar: Wozni and Meereo, Lewis’ two favorite Gaoian geeks. Champion geeks, at that!

Behind them was a man Lewis didn’t recognize, and an armed security-lookin’ MP sorta dude. The man was getting on in years a bit, which just made him seem kinda… nondescript. Like, he was a handsome-enough lookin’ dude, but Lewis wasn’t sure he coulda picked the guy out of a lineup though at the same time he looked kinda familiar. His posture was kinda weary and tense, like the kinda guy who’d been at the bottom of the pile in life for a long-ass while.

Darcy made introductions. “Hugh, this is Lewis Beverote, Sergeant Lucy Beverote and Master Sergeant Lee Jun-Seok. They’re… kind of the experts on the sort of thing we discussed.”

“Pleased to meetcha,” Lewis said, shaking the dude’s hand politely. Hugh smiled and murmured a nervous hello as he shook hands.

With that formality out of the way, Lewis’ next priority was the fact that Wozni had brought snacks, a new brand he hadn’t seen before. Lewis wasn’t great at reading Gaori, but he thought the syllabic blocks, so weirdly similar to Korean hangul spelled out…


…Fuck, they were. Same branding, same packaging. He’d only taken so long to recognize it ‘cuz he wasn’t expecting it. Wozni had a bag of Nava-flavoured Doritos.

With a totally-not-something-like-Daar tiny cartoon…thing…exploding out of the corner.

Meereo had… something else. It was a briefcase, sorta. Or at least a big box of equipment with a handle on the side. Lucy made room for him on her desk and he put it down gratefully: it sounded heavy as shit.

“…Before I ask about the doom-briefcase…nava Doritos?!”

“Very popular import!” Wozni chittered, and handed them out. “Very… what’s the word in English? Umami?”

“Dude, that ain’t even an English word.”

Darcy took a bag. “I’ve had them,” she said. “They’re nice!”

“I prefer the mishi root flavor,” Meereo said. “I’m told it tastes like horseradish? Whatever that is?”

Lee dug in his desk drawer. “You want some wasabi peas, then. Try one of these…”

A few minutes of friendly snack exchange ensued, before finally they acknowledged the giant technological elephant in the room.

“So, uh, now that the Law of Cronch has been satisfied…”

Wozni duck-nodded. “Right, right. The doom-briefcase. Meereo’s been dying to tell you all day, but I think Hugh should tell his story first.”

The nondescript guy gave a nervous smile to the room. “I… um… This is the first time I’ve left Earth. Hell, it’s the first time I’ve left a detention camp in Alaska in more than ten years… I was a Hierarchy biodrone, and an agent host. In fact, I still have the implants in my head, hence…” he turned and nodded at the guard.

Darcy saw their surprised looks and explained. “That briefcase contains, among other things, a wormhole suppression field generator that should keep Hierarchy forces from connecting to Hugh’s implants,” she said. “But it also contains something else, the Entity’s last parting gift to us before it vanished: A Hierarchy agent who claims to have defected to a rogue faction of peace-seekers known as the Cabal.”

“I’m here as… Substrate, they call it,” Hugh said. “Igraens need it to stay sane and live in a digital environment. Without the Substrate generated by folks like me…”

“Yeah, dude,” Lewis nodded kindly. “We’re briefed.”

“Right…” Hugh cleared his throat. “The point is… Um…”

“In exchange for some concessions, Hugh agreed to be Substrate for this captive so that we could interrogate him. During the interrogation, an intriguing possibility came to light,” Darcy explained.

“Namely?” Lucy asked.

“I’ll let him tell you himself.”

There was a moment of confused silence, and then a voice spoke from a speaker in the box. It had the slightly halting synthetic quality of a deepfake rather than the true natural rhythms of ordinary speech, and the speaker was clearly a kind of an afterthought after all the other tech crammed into that box. But still, it was clearly not any of the other people in the room.

“…Good evening, everyone. My name is Proximal,” it said. “And I would like to discuss the possibility of ending the Igraen people’s dependence on Substrate forever.”

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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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+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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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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+ 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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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 52: Autoimmune Part 6

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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

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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

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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

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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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