The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 2

Date Point: 16y7m3w AV
Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Xiù Chang

Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was the Cruezzir… Maybe it was learning that one of her oldest friends was dying. Either way, try as she might, Xiù couldn’t quite pull herself together.

Her parents had taken Allison and the babies to the park to give her some time alone with Yulna, but really she would have preferred to have Allison there at her side. Or Julian. Or preferably both. Dealing with this without either of them was…


“Shoo, it’s okay.” Yulna cooed gently. They were cuddled up affectionately, Gaoian-style, two Females—two Sisters—sharing each other’s company. But Yulna was not in a good way at all.

Apparently her tumors had been held back for years by Gaoian medical science, suppressed to the point where nobody had even been able to smell them until fairly recently. Now though, the dam had burst. They were spreading and growing at an accelerating pace, and she had weeks at most.

Already, one eye was silvery and blind, and her left ear was lumpy and misshapen. She had dressings on the side of her neck, her elbow, and covering her right paw, and even to Xiù’s comparatively numb human nose she smelled… wrong. Sick.

“It’s not okay! How can you say it’s okay? It’s…” Xiù didn’t even know how to finish the sentence. Yulna just keened softly and stroked her hair.

“I’m sorry to hurt you like this. Now of all times…” she sighed. “You should be celebrating. You’re Mother Shoo, now. And what a baby! I’m glad cubs aren’t that big!”

Despite herself, Xiù smiled. “He’s…demanding. Always hungry.”

“That’s a newborn for you,” Yulna chittered, then coughed and her ears tweaked sideways painfully for a second. The concerned noise that dragged itself out of Xiù’s chest was almost a keen in its own right. Certainly the human equivalent. Yulna waved it off.

“…You know… it’s funny,” she said, and cleared her throat to get some of the gravel out. “The last twenty years have been a gift. I was convinced I’d die in that damn lab. You’d think I’d be able to accept this with wisdom and grace and look at the time I’ve had as a blessing… But all I can think is, I wish I had another twenty… or at least that it didn’t hurt so much.”

Raw grief laid its weight on every inch of Xiù’s body. She hugged as tight as she dared.

“…I wish I could do something…” she complained bitterly.

“You did, my dear Sister. You really did,” Yulna stroked her back reassuringly. “You gave me a lifetime. I know what I just said, but… but what I had was all thanks to you. And I am grateful for it.”

Xiù sat up and wiped her tears. Finally, at least, she felt like she’d shed them all for now. There’d be more, but…

“You deserve more,” she said.

“You know better than most that life doesn’t give us what we deserve,” Yulna replied. “You just have to cherish what it does give you.”

“Yeah.” Xiù sighed heavily, then reached over for a tissue from the box behind the couch, sniffled into it, and tucked it away before rubbing on some hand sanitizer. The last thing she wanted to do right now was add to Yulna’s health woes with some random Earthling microbe.

And for all she knew, the whole Cruezzir thing could just make the Mother-Supreme’s tumors worse, not better.

“So…this feels wrong even asking, but…”

“Who comes after me?”

“No. Well… I mean, I can kinda guess.” Xiù shook her head “…I was gonna ask… How many of us are left? From that lab, I mean.”

“…Just you and Myun, soon.” Yulna keened softly. “The war took so many of them.”

That same feeling of weight dropped on Xiù again. She sagged heavily into the couch and curled up a little. They’d been a dozen, once. She hadn’t learned half her cellmates’ names before they scattered to the winds back on Gao, but she’d always thought she’d get to meet them again.

She set the thought aside. “So you’re passing the reins to Naydra?”

“Let’s just say I doubt the election will be close-fought.” Yulna chittered again, without the cough this time. At least her sense of humor was intact. “She’s ready. She doesn’t think she is, but she is. More so than I ever was, at least.”

“Is it something you can be ready for?”

“She’s been doing it for years anyway, really. The titles will feel heavier than they really are.”


Yulna duck-nodded. “Mother-Supreme, Mother-Consort, and in all likelihood, Great Mother… I imagine you can understand the weight of that word a little more, now.”

“…Yeah.” Xiù admitted. “Sort of. Harrison needed a C-section.”

“Surgical delivery? You’re no less of a mother for that, Shoo. You bore and made a life, and he’s yours to nurture. You’re carrying the future now. Gyotin calls it ’sacred‘ and… well, he’s right.”

“Yeah… “

“…She’ll need a friend, you know. It’s… lonely. And I think you and she have a lot in common.” Yulna sighed, rested her forehead against Xiù’s, and then disentangled herself from their hug and rose to her feet with a pained noise. “I’ll be announcing my retirement tomorrow morning. I’d rather shed some burdens than try to bear them to the end. And then I’m going home.”


“Wi Kao. The gift of knowing the manner of your death is that you may choose the details. I intend to die where I was born, where I became a Sister, a Mother… Where I learned to cook…”

Her ear flicked mischievously, because there was nothing that could ever quite dampen the mischief in the Gaoian soul. Especially not where food was involved. Xiù giggled, stood up too, and angled her head toward the kitchen. “…Well, now you mention it… I do have dinner to prepare…”

“I imagine you must cook a lot, with so many mouths to feed! Especially that big strapping male you’ve snagged!”

“Yeah, but you wouldn’t believe how much Allison puts away. I don’t know how she does it!” Xiù replied. Quite naturally and comfortably they fell into a routine they’d done many times before, in another kitchen, at another time. Together they managed to cook up a storm. Yulna had perfected the Gaoian version of pàomó—Xiù thought of it with a mental giggle as ‘Gàomó’—some years ago, and Xiù made a damn decent pork peshorky. A porkshorky.

Little word games like that had been the source of a lot of amusement as she struggled to learn Gaori during her abduction and stay on Gao. Bouncing the puns back and forth between them, just for a while, they managed to capture a slice of Old Times that Yulna clearly and desperately needed.

It got even better when Julian, Tristan and Ramsey showed up. Xiù was learning that there was nothing quite as weirdly fulfilling as happy boys who couldn’t talk because they were too busy eating.

For Yulna, clearly, it was a pleasure she’d needed to revisit, even just the once. She revelled in it, and settled happily into an evening of just being… well… a mother.

And at long last, Xiù understood why that was so precious.

Date Point: 16y7m3w1d AV
Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Ferd Given-Man

The stories Yan, The Singer, and Vemik Sky-Thinker had shared really hadn’t been big enough. At the time, Ferd had thought they were telling the tale bigger. But now he saw they’d actually left out a lot. Maybe they thought nobody would believe them.

Ferd wouldn’t have.

The ‘jump array’ had been, almost disappointingly, exactly like he’d imagined. In some tiny snap of time, they were gone from their home-world, and in someplace…

Bright, too bright. Tasted too clean. And the ‘gravity’ was weaker.

The first trial in their mission was meeting a small, furry creature with lively ears. He looked a bit like Daar…different fur, though. This was some soft and shiny black-and-white coat he had instead of Daar’s heavy shaggy pelt. Definitely a he, too; the air around him had the right sharp taste, but it was only barely there. Not like Daar, who tasted at least as strong as Yan.

The small man was wearing clothes like a human’s, too. One of those funny “shirt” things, and a wide blue strap tied around his neck. And a shiny steel thing on his chest with writing on it.

Ferd wasn’t so good at sky-people writing yet, but he was learning fast and he at least recognized those as Engwish signs. They said…well, ‘officer’ was there and he knew that was an important word. He wasn’t sure what “cus-toms and im-mig-ration” were though.

The Singer had come with them. She went on ahead, showed the little furry Gao one of those paper things. He read it, banged a thing down on it, and waved her through with friendly words like they’d done this before. The Singer had come to this other-world a few times, Ferd knew.

He dug in his bag for the papers Wild had given him. They were busy with pictures and words, and Ferd and his party had inked their thumbs and left a mark on the paper for some reason.

“Hello, welcome to Folctha. Documents, please.”

“Uh… these?”

“Thank you!” The Gao took them, sniffed the four men in front of him, then read the papers. “This is your first visit?”

“Uh, yes.”

“Reason for your visit?” The small Gaoian busied himself doing…something…with the folded paper-thing, and peppered them with questions.

Ferd wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but he thought an honest answer was best. “We are here to fetch things for ‘Sarge-ent’ Wild.”

“Ah, business, then. Is Folctha your final destination?” More flicking through documents, and pressing strange buttons on the ‘plas-tic’ board in front of him.


The Gao tilted his ears. “…Will you be going somewhere else? Or just here, then home?”

“Just here, then home.”

“And how long will you be here?”

“Plan is, we go back next time ar-ray thing, um… jumps.”

“Late afternoon tomorrow, then.” The Gaoian tilted his head briefly. “Here, that means you should be back when the sun is halfway between noon and sunset.”

“Thank you,” Ferd said politely. He could read his watch just fine, but the Gaoian was trying to be Helpful, so…

“No problem.” the officer handed the papers back. They had new marks on them. “Enjoy your stay! Next please…”

Ferd squeezed between the clear-walled barriers and found himself waiting on the other side for his men to do…whatever it was they were doing.

It was then that he noticed something. There were sky-people above them, not making much sound…and he could only just see them now that he was on the other side of the clear wall.

It was actually a very well-planned trap, Ferd could see. One or two of the men had beasts beside them, fast-looking things with big teeth. They looked at him with passing interest… then looked away, watching everybody and everything.

Ferd relaxed. Not a trap for him, then. A trap for anyone who made trouble. This was the edge of a sky-tribe’s land, and they were protecting it. Smart. Strong.

They eventually followed the big colored signs towards the way out. There were a lot of very strange sky-people. Most were Humans, tall and short, big and small, fair and dark. Some had steel in their face, or marks in their skin, or hair in strange colors. Some were pathetically weak, some respectably strong, if still too small. Most were…

A tall blue thing that Ferd first thought was a beast stopped and talked with one of the humans. It had a magic speaking-stone around its neck, Ferd could see. A ways down the smooth stone path he saw a sky-person like a very big fat human with four arms and no ears waving and calling to the crowd, trying to get their attention. Most ignored him, but one stopped and spoke with him, then hopped up in a nearby chair. The big four-armed one took up brushes and rags and started to clean the human’s shoes.

It was too much to take in. Ferd was used to forests, and listening to the tiny details. He was used to licking the air for the subtle taste of Werne, watching the shadows for the small things out of place. Here, everything was loud, and big, and everywhere!

No wonder Wild had sent them here.


“What do we do, Ferd?” That was Oki, from Meb Given-Man’s tribe. He was always one to focus on the task at hand.

Ferd considered. A part of him wanted suddenly to explore everything despite his nerves, but the other part thought it would be bad if he failed this mission; how would he ever fuck beautiful maidens again if he couldn’t do something little like this? How could he earn a tribe?!

Well. First things first. They needed a safe place to come back to as they…well, not raided exactly. Explored. Yes. Much better sounding.

“…We should find this ‘hotel’ thing.”

The problem was, he had no idea where he was, or where anything else was. He had a map, but…

No matter which way up he turned it, it didn’t make a lot of sense. Everything was straight lines. There was only one thing for a man to do when he was lost like that: get up high, and find the sun.

Fortunately, everything looked pretty easy to climb. Maybe that big steel pole? No. It looked small and bendy.

A nearby… hut? A big stone hut. It got his attention by having plenty of handholds and interesting bits a man could grab. There were square baked red stones on the outside: “bricks,” he vaguely remembered. They were nicely rough and grippy, but his fingers were much too big to fit between the little gaps where the hard white mud had joined them.

No matter, he had a strong grip and could break through if he had to…but if he used all four hands carefully, he could probably avoid doing that. Mostly.

Well, that and the gravity was lighter here. Maybe if he jumped—

He nearly missed and fell. The gravity was much lighter, and he went a tail-length higher than he’d aimed for. Down below, humans scattered and shouted as he hit the wall with an “oof!” and just about managed to grab onto a wide stone slab under some glass.

Once he’d stuck himself to the side of the hut, he couldn’t help but grin and trill stupidly. That was fun! And now that he was off the ground, the rest of the way up was easy!

Pretty soon he was at the top, standing on a pointy roof made of thin grey stones. There was another metal pole, this one with a colorful hide in blue, white and red flapping in the breeze at the top, and he wrapped his tail around it for balance.

Cloth, actually. He remembered that word. It was pretty though! He wondered if he might have enough ‘mun-ee’ after all this to trade for one himself!

…No, he couldn’t do that. It wasn’t his money to Give.

Nomuk shouted at him from below. “Can you see where we are?”

Ferd found the sun easily enough. It was… different. Bigger in the sky, and a different color.

“We really are on a different world…” he muttered, looking around and comparing what he saw to the map.

There was a green area the shape of a werne haunch over there… and the river was that way… and the sun was over there… which meant…

Good. He knew where the top of the world was now. And so if they went that way between the huts, then turned left and went to that spiky hut over there with the green space around it…

He had a plan. Satisfied, he rolled the map back up and put it in his pouch just as a Human appeared out of a door in the front of the hut he’d climbed, and looked up at him seeming more amused than mad. [“You know, if you wanted to go up to the roof you could have just asked!”]

Ferd grinned sheepishly, and decided to do something a little daring and jumped down. Several nearby people were watching now, and many of them took a step back when he slammed into the ground and bounced on his toes. That was fun, he could jump from such a height here!

[“That not so fun though!”] he explained.

The Human man played like he wasn’t too impressed, and crossed his thin arms across his chest. [“Uh-huh. And who is going to pay for it if you damaged anything up there?”]

…Yes. Right. They were supposed to be careful here.

[“…Sorry. I was looking for ‘hotel.’”]

[“Ah! Spending the night? …Well, there are a few good ones, but for you chaps I think the youth hostel out by Scrapyard Lake might be better. “]

Tumik spoke up. [“…Hoss-tell?”]

[“Yes. Same idea, you pay them for a place to sleep, but… well, they’re less expensive and the furniture’s more sturdy for a start. And if you don’t mind my saying so, I assume you’re quite young…and the other guests will be about your age.”]

Ferd looked to his men, who all seemed to like that idea better. [“Yes, good idea! We save mun-ee, meet more sky-people!”]

[“Yes yes, well…next time, don’t go climbing people’s buildings without permission! Uh, please.”]

…Ferd was scaring the man. Well, that would normally feel good but right now…not so much.

[“You’re right. Was bad guest of me,”] Ferd apologized. [“Where is this hoss-tell?”]

The man gave them directions and they said their goodbyes, then set off along the strange stone and straight paths the sky-people built everywhere. They learned a few things very quickly. Firstly, the very big path in the middle was not for people. It was instead for sky-magical steel…not beasts exactly, but more like the ‘Weaver.’ Machines. Machines that did what the stories said the city-People once did with small, tame werne. ‘Cars,’ Ferd thought. And something that was like a very big car but they used a different word he couldn’t remember.

Walking on the raised path to the side was easier. Everyone got out of their way, and Ferd wasn’t quite sure if it was because they were very wide-shouldered compared to the other sky-people, or…well, if they were being scary again. Again, for some reason he didn’t enjoy the idea as much as he normally might have. Not with these strange sky-people.

Some weren’t afraid. A tiny creature who must have been a Gaoian child ran right up to them on all fours and started to rain questions with no sign of fear. [“Are you Ten’Gewek?! Did you come through the jump array?! Have you met the Great Father?! I heard he spends a lot of time on your planet, do you know him?! You look really strong, can you pick up a car?!”]

There was no gap between questions for Ferd to answer any of them. Standing nearby, both protective and fearful, was what must have been the child’s mother. Like most sky-people she was very small, but…

There were claws on her paws. Hands. And she had a hunter’s teeth. And her ears were back.

Only a fool came between a mother and her children.

There was only one thing to do. Ferd squat down and sat on his tail, and his men did the same.

[“Let’s see… Yes, yes, yes, yes, and… I never try but not good idea to now, I think. Look expensive.”]

[“Oh, yeah, cars are super expensive, mama Myun said they cost way more than her sword and she has the most biggest sword she’s so cool you should see it—”]

“Feeko!” the Gaoian woman yipped, and Ferd had to try hard not to trill his amusement. Irritated mothers sounded the same no matter what sky-tribe they came from.

[“Go, little one. No man last long against angry mother!”]

Reluctantly, little Feeko peeled away and was ushered away by the Gao woman. Her ears were up when she glanced back at them, though. Ferd didn’t know what that meant, but she seemed less… dangerous, now.

The magic of villages worked in mysterious ways. Somehow after meeting the little Gaoian girl, the rest of their hike toward the ‘hoss-tel’ was much less knife-edge.

The chief of the hoss-tel was an unbelievably tall blue sky-person, whose words sounded too much like very many rocks falling down a mountain. Something about him tickled Ferd’s instincts completely the wrong way; the blue person seemed much too much like prey to be happy about. But, prey didn’t have words, and words were the first strength that seperated people from prey, so…

“The five of you, then? How many nights?”

“One night,” Ferd explained. “And we go get things. Buy things. Bring them back here, then take them with us when we go.”

“I don’t need to know all that, but very well. Identification, please?”

“We have… these?” Ferd handed over the same papers he’d given to the Gao at the array.

“Those will work. That will be fifty-six pounds, please.”

“Uh…” Ferd twitched his tail as he looked at the funny colorful little slips of mun-ee. He could read numbers just fine, so he needed a ten, and two of twenty… no, two of the ten. The blue man could Give the extra back, he remembered.

It seemed to work. He got little round bits of metal back with very tiny art made all over every part of it, even the edge. Not even Vemik could do such a thing, Ferd bet.

The blue man did some…uh, something behind the table. Ferd wasn’t sure what. When he was done he handed them each a small toothy bit of metal.

“Your room keys. All of you are in room fifteen, which is down the hall and to the left. Breakfast is served at sunrise until noon. There is a shower at the other end of the hall, towels are in the closet right next to it. Please be considerate of the other guests. Thank you.”

Easy enough, Ferd thought. He checked his watch and saw they still had plenty of time until sunset. Time to go out and get some of the things on the list of supplies they’d been sent for.

“Uh…” Ferd rummaged through his bag. “Wild gave me some fones. Like we used before. It’s just a better kind of talking-stone.” He handed one to each of his men. “He said the magic should work for two days before it needs to rest, as long as we don’t use them too much.”

Genn asked, “What do we do first?”


Ferd dug through his bag again looked at the list. It wasn’t too long…

“I think… Okay. Tumik, you and Oki go find ‘War-horse,’ give him the thing from Wild. He’s supposed to have things for us to take back, too. Nomuk, Genn, you two go find ‘bat-er-ees’ and chock-lat, and all the camping things. Wild says we can get it all from one person. I will go get the ‘ammo cart’ to bring back to Heff. Did we forget anything?”

His men thought for a moment and shook their heads.

“Okay. We meet back here when we’re done, use fone to call each other if we need to.”

The all nodded, and part ways.

Wild had devised a devious test. For one, simply finding everything was a surprisingly tricky puzzle. Folctha was too big to just walk up every path and peer into every hut. They had to ask people where to go and read their maps very carefully, until a very nice truly ancient Human had showed Tumik how to use his fone to find things. It had taken him three excited attempts to explain it with the far-voice button on his fone, but that discovery was strong magic! A man could ask it a direct question, and the machine, uh…spirit? Was that right? It felt right. The fone’s machine-spirit could answer! It could then draw a map on its flat surface that moved with the man holding it!

Well, usually. Apparently the machine-spirit in fones was very picky about how you asked questions of it, which seemed a fair trade to Ferd. He wouldn’t want his time wasted either. But with the machine’s help, getting up to the ’base’ got much easier. It was a long hike but that was okay, Ferd liked exploring, especially when they hit the edge of the ‘gravity field’ and now it was so weak, it felt like they might fly away into the sky if they weren’t careful! It grew pleasingly strong again when they got close to the base…Ferd liked that. Weak gravity was strange.

Explaining who he was to the human guards took a little longer.

The guards were the type of small-strong that Ferd had gained a deep respect for in his learnings with Wild. For one, they were probably quick like him, and they had knives. Wild had shown them he was plenty quick enough to sink a knife into a man’s throat before they knew they were in a fight, and Heff had shown that he was strong enough to actually throw Ferd across the ground somehow. His own men couldn’t do that! There was clever wrestle-play there, he knew. And until he learned it all, it didn’t much matter that he could crush them to paste without trying, not when they knew how to wrestle men much bigger than themselves, or use their own talking-stones to bring much misery down upon anyone’s head. And they had guns. And, Ferd had learned, much, much worse than that hidden away.

He had a long not-arguing sort of encounter with the guards until one of them suggested they just ‘call up’ the people they were there to meet.

Ferd almost punched himself in the head, it was so obvious. They had these magic fones for talking to people far away, so why not use them before going somewhere? That way the person you were going to see could be ready for you!

[“Who are you here to see anyway?”] one of the guards asked.

[“Uh… Coombes?”]

[“Master sergeant Coombes? Alright. I’ll call him.”]

The guard vanished into the small hut, leaving Ferd to wait under his friend’s watching eye. To his surprise, before the human returned, Ferd heard his own name being called, and he turned around to see Tumik and Oki coming up the path towards the gate.

“You are supposed to be looking for War-horse!” he said.

“We found him! He lives in a tall brick hut down the path maybe a half-finger away at a trot, but he does his work up here every day.”

Another thing that could have been known if they’d used the fones. Ferd really felt like he was learning. He wasn’t quite sure what he was learning, but maybe that was the point. He was definitely learning that he didn’t know very much at all outside the tribes.

He got the tribe-guard’s attention. [“Also, we need to see ‘War-horse.’”] For some reason that made the guard smile, but he promised they’d send for him too.

Coombes came down the long path not long after and waved them through, all happiness and jolly good humor. He greeted them in the People’s words, “Hello! Are you the cavemonkeys I was told to expect?”

Ferd trilled and tasted at the air. Yes, he knew exactly why Coombes was in a good mood. “Yes! I am supposed to pull the ‘ammo cart’ down to the array. And you taste like you just fucked someone nice not too long ago!”

Ferd took way too much joy in making Humans squirm about that sort of thing. He had no idea why they were so…shy? Embarrassed? Something. Anyway, they were mostly very private about their bodies. Why?! They were a beautiful people! And he’d met Jooyun, seen him with his women. Seen Claire and Heff!! He knew Humans loved fucking as much as the People, but why were they so shy about it?! Always, they waited until they thought nobody was looking. That was strange. Oh sure, it was nice to fuck a pretty woman in one’s own hut where nobody could bother them, but sometimes it was fun to sit around the village fire with friends too, sharing the Give and Take of life’s pleasures, the magic of man and woman, of renewing the tribe, of making friends with other tribes and bringing them all together. Humans though…

Coombes was wise to their ways. “Yup,” he agreed with a smug look. “Just so you know though, a lotta folks wouldn’t take too kindly to talk like that.”

“…Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

Ferd just accepted they were a strange people in some ways he’d never understand.

Some things he could understand, though. Visit another tribe, live by their ways. Human ways might be strange, but he was on their lands, so for now they were his ways too.

They were met at the largest building in the camp by the biggest Human man he’d ever even imagined, whose long bouncy stride was heavy enough to make the ground thump underfoot like a charging bull Werne. Human he might be, but this Human made Jooyun seem like a puny underfed boy. No. Stronger than that. He looked like he could snap Yan in half!

Ferd felt himself instinctively crouching back a bit just from the man’s obvious strength. He must have been this ‘War-horse’ Yan was always talking about.

He seemed friendly. [“Hey, monkey-bros! I’m s’posed to give y’all a once-over in the gym! Did Wilde give you a sheet?”]

Ferd nodded, and pulled out the paper. [“Wild say much about you. Said, best man anywhere at strength-games. Teach us, yes?”]

War-horse laughed in that strange way Humans did when they weren’t feeling strictly jolly. [“Eh, best teacher anyway. Daar’s kicking my ass bad right now.”] He grumbled to himself for a bit but then immediately cheered. [“But where are the rest? Weren’t there s’posed to be five?”]

Ferd looked back toward the gate. [“Nomuk, Genn, they go to camping people to buy big long list of things. Cold weather, bags to carry…”]

[“Oh! Well, they’ll need all y’all to measure up for coats and stuff. Why don’t we go there now? We can get the rest of it later.”]

The rest of the morning was a confusing rush of activity. War-horse jogged over with them as they knuckled along at a nice trot. The Humans had trained them hard on covering long trails. Before, they would all be out of breath and in heart-pain but now they were just happily warmed up. Still had to breathe heavy, though. War-horse and Coombes didn’t look tired at all.

The Human at the place they went to was called an ‘outfitter’ and he piled them high with many, many things. Then there was a thin strap with numbers and lines on it—measuring length, Ferd guessed. He was right, it was called a ‘tape measure’ and the outfitter and War-horse talked much about…cloth-making? Something. Either way, the little Human measured Ferd and his men every which way, asked them to walk around, swing their arms, pull their muscles tight like they were working hard, all sorts of things. He asked them to step down on a smooth glass machine that was supposed to measure their feet too, but Ferd broke it when he stepped up, so instead they stepped on some strange crumbly bricks that took a perfect shape of their feet. Then they left, with a promise of clothing later that day.

They ran back to the base carrying bags stuffed to bursting with many things, to which Coombes added a heavy wheeled cart laden with boxes full of boolets and guns. They showed everything—Coombes said they had to see, to know what they were getting—then closed the boxes up and ‘locked’ them so that only somebody who knew the right number could open them again.

Smart magic, that. Though, Ferd or any of his men could easily have pulled the metal boxes apart anyway. He thought it best to keep that thought to himself for now.

They pushed the loaded cart back down to the jump array, talked to some more little Gao-People who sniffed at everything very carefully, along with some of those beasts he’d seen earlier. ’Dogs.’ Some of the dogs around town seemed friendly, but these were busy guarding the village. Good dogs.

Once everyone was happy, they put the cart into a strong box of some kind, one that the Gao could keep safe for them until they jumped back tomorrow, and ran back to the base. They were doing a lot of that today. But that was okay. What did not kill a man only made him stronger. Wisdom he would share with his Human friends, the next time it made sense.

There was much food and a nice greeting feast! Some of it was very strange but he liked it all. They met many people, all on the ‘heat’ team while Ferd and his men would be ‘jets.’ Those were something called ‘ack-ro-nims’ that he’d learned from Professor Daniel but he didn’t quite understand them yet. Seemed a strange way to invent a new name for something. The ‘heat’ had Gao-People too, but these were big Gao, hard and strong even though they all had black and white fur. Apparently fur color wasn’t like crest color, didn’t mean the same thing.

He learned a lot just listening to them. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was learning, but sometimes learnings were like that. When Taking a new tribe’s words, a man just had to wallow in it, listen to everything, and trust the gods would reward patience. Eventually the words Gave their magic, if a man Took every one he heard.

Finally… well, there was nothing left to do. But when Ferd checked the watch on his wrist, he found that not even half the day was gone. They’d done all that before the small finger on the watch had gone a quarter way round.

Another Human difference to the People. Life at home followed slower beats, ther e was more time between doing things, and the things took longer to do. If Ferd wanted to sharpen his knife, he needed to put aside lots of time. The women spent all day cooking, or preparing to cook. The men were either away on hunts for maybe days at a time, or were making and mending their tools.

To pack so many things into a morning and not even notice was… it felt like a strange kind of magic itself.

They had two big things left to do. First was War-horse’s cart. That one was built very sturdy and was much, much heavier than the boolet cart, because it was filled with things to play strength-games with, just like Yan’s tribe had. That was a good thing in Ferd’s view; if he could one day set them up in his own tribe like Yan did, then many young men would visit all the time, bringing news and making friends, just so they could play strength-games too. And it was no bad thing for friends to play!

But he and his men were very, very tired after pushing that to the jump array. And then running back. Again. He felt like he’d carried a good Werne home from a whole day away, one no orange-crest could Take.

War-horse seemed happy though. He lined the five of them up and gave them a broad smile.

[“You cavemonkeys are straight naturals at this stuff. That’s good! Any of you lift before?”]

Ferd knew what War-horse was saying. [“Yes. We play with ‘weights’ at Yan’s village sometimes, and do much other strength-play with Wild. But, we not use weights every day like Yan or Vemik. Too far away.”]

War-horse grinned then. It wasn’t exactly friendly…

[“Well! What I gave you is yours to keep, Ferd. So let’s go downstairs! I’ll show you what to do, write out a training program…”]

Ferd learned the true meaning of strength and weakness, then.

All his men knew they were weak and slow next to him. That was the way of things, how the gods had blessed the red-crests of the People, and he was grateful for his men’s loyalty in return; no Given-Man was a village by himself. But War-horse was at least as far above Ferd as Yan was. Probably, even more. His fists could blur through the air so fast that Ferd couldn’t see them, like a lightning bolt hitting a tree. Gods, he could move his whole body like that, as fast as Yan could! And he could use that unbelievable strength of his in a room where gravity itself could be made to feel so strong, even Ferd felt weak and useless. And in that gravity…

War-horse hardly seemed to notice. He teased Ferd while he somehow pushed that gods-heavy bar over his head again, and again, and again. [“Yan can handle this weight just fine, y’know…”] He grunted while he pushed the bar up many more times. [“Daar can lift a lot heavier these days, too…”] More grunting, [“Hnngh, more than I can!”] War-horse finally slammed the bar back into the rack and made a satisfied sort of panting noise. [“And y’know, Vemik isn’t all that far behind you, either…”]

War-horse somehow bounced lightly on his toes, suddenly all manic energy not unlike the Sky-Thinker himself. [“Okay! Your turn again, Ferd! Let’s see how far we can push you…”]

Pretty far, it turned out, but it wasn’t long before Ferd had to admit defeat. Complete defeat, and that was before War-horse showed Ferd how little he knew about wrestling, too. The huge Human knew exactly what he was doing and had Ferd tied into knots almost as soon as they started. Not that he could have done anything against War-horse even if he knew how: War-horse was heavier than Yan, harder than Yan, and definitely stronger, too. Yan had not lied, the Human Given-Man could have broken Ferd like dry Forestfather bark underfoot, and done so easily. That was humbling. Ferd had very much growing left to do if he was to be a proper man of the People and stand up against sky-people like War-horse and Daar. But now he knew how. Or at least knew who to get learnings from, since War-horse and Daar were both happy to share their strength-knowings, just like Yan. Ferd swore an oath to the gods that wouldn’t be weak next to them for very long.

But it was still fun! And even though he and his men were exhausted, sore, growing hungry like never before…somehow, the little hand on his watch wasn’t quite pointing down yet.

Ferd found himself feeling a bit foot-itchy. He wanted to explore Folctha.

Genn looked over from his spot on the big, soft ‘couch’ they were resting on, obviously feeling the same ideas. “What should we do now, Ferd?”

The answer to that was easy. Ferd and his men said their goodbyes, then set out on an adventure.

Date Point: 16y7m3w1d AV
Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Gabriel Arés

“The guy’s a ghost. Identity unknown, whereabouts unknown… about the only thing we have to work with is some unidentified DNA from Briggs’ safehouse in New York City, and even then that could belong to almost anyone. Interrogated APA personnel call him ‘The Handler’ but their accounts are contradictory. Even his description is useless.”

Gabe was sitting down with his replacement, going over the things he thought were especially important that the small library of documentation the man had already read might not have stressed enough. Whatever few dregs were left of the APA were at the top of that list for a few reasons.

The Handler, however? High-priority though he may be, Gabe doubted they’d ever catch him.

The incoming Director of Colonial Security was English, and previously well-positioned at GCHQ. A solid choice, and frankly more of a comfortable fit for the Folcthan government’s foibles. Gabe had always prided himself on bringing a little America to the table: Eric Knowles on the other hand was tipped for a knighthood in the forthcoming New Year Honours List.

“What’s your take on him?” he asked Gabe, reviewing the Handler’s dismayingly slim file.

“Hostile foreign intelligence, I suspect.”

“A double agent,” Knowles summarized.

“Exactly.” Gabe sighed. “Couldn’t say who, though I doubt it’s one of the usual suspects.”

“You’re probably right. I usually know more about what’s going on in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran than in Westminster or DC.”

Gabe chuckled. “Yeah, it’s even worse here. All the news arrives at the same time with the communications cycle. If there was ever another San Diego, you wouldn’t know about it for three hours.


Gabe shrugged. “Small exaggeration. In a real emergency, NORAD would jump over a Firebird with updates for us. But you definitely do need to prepare for this weird position we’re in of being the front line gateway to the rest of the galaxy, but the last to know what’s happening on Earth… which reminds me. You picked an excellent day to take over from me.”

“How so?”

“Because right now we have a team of nonhuman JETS candidates on a training operation in the city.”

“What’s so excellent about—?”

“They’re Ten’Gewek.”

Knowles’ expression was masterfully restrained. He blinked, sat back in his chair, and sniffed.

“…Well, bugger me with a fork,” he said, gently. “Whose idea of a merry prank was that?”

“The SOR’s of course.”

“Will they be a problem, do you think?”

“Probably only an amusing one. They’re friendly and mean well, but they’re a species of testosterone-poisoned supermonkeys who are still on a crash course introduction to the iron age. Modern civilization is likely to, uh…”

“Confound them,” Knowles finished. “Bloody hell.”

Gabe gave him a smile that was equal parts sympathetic and gleefully mischievous. “Welcome to the job. This isn’t Britain, Eric, this is Folctha. The town’s foremost spiritual leader is a noodly six foot Buddhist raccoon, one of our most prominent citizens is a Roswell Grey who must never be allowed to learn about drag, the military presence are the very best of the very best across two different species, the most popular takeout in town once hit on the bright idea of putting broccoli in tacos, the dogs are the next best thing to sapient and a rambunctious space emperor-slash-bear spends many weekends here, trying and mostly failing to have a ‘normal’ day… Folctha is, uh, weird.”

Knowles chuckled. “I met Gyotin already. He reminds me of a vicar I once knew: Tall, slim, dapper, neat beard, soothing voice, calm aura…”

“Noodly…” Gabe grinned mischievously.

“Folctha’s strangeness was part of the appeal,” Knowles explained. “A unique challenge, which hopefully means uniquely rewarding.”

Gabe smiled, “I’m glad. You’ll want to cultivate that attitude. And you’re absolutely right: Folctha is special.”

Knowles smiled. “…You obviously love this place. And the job! I almost feel bad, taking it over.”

Gabe shrugged. “It’s the right time for me to go,” he said. “And…being honest, the right time for someone of your background to take over.” There was much he left unsaid.

It didn’t need saying. Knowles nodded solemnly, and stood. “Well then,” he said. “I shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your final day on the job. I gather the office has quite a party planned.”

“I’m not supposed to know about it,” Gabe smiled.

“You’ll enjoy it, I think. You have good people here. I look forward to getting to know them.”

They shook hands, and Knowles left after a few more small well-wishes, leaving Gabe to sit back in his chair, sigh, and look around the office.

The day before yesterday, he’d still called it his office. That had changed, now that the personal effects were gone. His family photos no longer dotted the walls and furniture, the picture of him in uniform along with his old SDPD colleagues no longer graced the top of the filing cabinet. His Padres shirt, bat and signed game ball – miraculous survivors that he’d purchased expensively at a charity auction to put San Diego’s last children through college – were no longer framed on the wall behind the desk. Now, it was just an office. One that Knowles would surely make his own within a day or two of taking over.

He should have felt sad, maybe. But he didn’t. This wasn’t a closing book, this was a turning page and the next chapter awaited him.

He couldn’t wait to find out what it contained.

Previous 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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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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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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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

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Mother Earth

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

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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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