The Deathworlders – Chapter 63: Torn Part 3

Date Point: 16y11m4d AV
Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches


Work done, head hosed down, feet clean, hair toweled dry. Babies blissfully asleep, and a long and very welcome bout of fun with Al and Xiù, while Amanda and the boys went shopping for supplies. Then a pleasant evening walk to escort her home, and a quick, easy jog back to encourage his boys—he didn’t care what anyone had to say, Tristan and Ramsey were his now. They closed out the evening cuddled up with him while he was stretched lazily across the couch, watching what must have been Gaoian cartoons. Both had been so starved for any kind of real affection growing up, they were making up for lost time every chance they got.

Julian didn’t have words for how good that felt. It was…the best. He almost wished he could sink into that big soft couch and just stay there forever, watching cartoons with his boys and smashing them into giggling fits with great big bearhugs.

But he wasn’t watching the cartoons, actually. He was w atching Al and Xiù.

The thing that always warmed his heart was looking at them and seeing how much in love with each other they were, just as much as with him. It was all in the little gestures, the small generosities and, yes, the familiar comfortable bickering over nothing important. And the kisses. Lots of those, like little punctuation marks so common and unconscious that they probably didn’t even notice them tick by.

And of course they were gorgeous. Kind of a study in physical opposites really, but that just meant he got to appreciate them both for their own reasons. Xiù was sturdy. Tough. Just curvaceous enough to be hot as all hell, but with a genuine hardbody underneath. He wasn’t afraid to admit that was a big factor in their play, too; they both played rough as heck. She was paler of skin too, with long, glossy black hair that she somehow had super-mom powers with. It never got in the way, it never had baby puke in it, it never seemed tangled or dry or… bad hair days just weren’t a feature of Xiù’s life.

Julian had never once had a good hair day, but they both said it looked good on him so who was he to complain?

Al was tall enough to rest her elbow on Xiù’s head, a cocky gesture she sometimes pulled out when she was feeling dominant. Which was odd because all her toughness was in the mind. She was a creature of long graceful legs and narrow body, with a sharp diamond-shaped face that was better described as “striking” than pretty. Still…hot. She hid it under a baseball cap and shooting glasses when she was out and about, and they suited her. Like a Scandinavian shieldmaiden dressed up to take on the Terminator.

He loved the way they put up with him, too. Julian had discovered that he, uh…well. He liked to play. He liked to play pretty hard, apparently. The more he lived with them, the more he’d learned how lucky he was, how good they were for him. He hoped he was good for them.

He could just lie there and watch them forever.

It was Al’s turn to cook today, but there wasn’t a power in the galaxy that could keep Xiù out of the kitchen when she wanted to be there. She loved cooking, and days when it was somebody else’s job were just an opportunity to treat it as fun instead of a chore.

Of course, the problem was that Al just… wasn’t as good a cook as Xiù. And Xiù wanted to Help. And Al could get prickly about that, sometimes.

“Hey, hands off!”

“But the potatoes need to—”

“Babe, am I cooking this thing or are you cooking it?”

“You’re cooking it, but—”

“Right!” Al claimed the potatoes, then put them on to boil. “…Thanks.”

And that was the charm of it all. Julian loved Allison’s prickly side, but it rarely became full-blown jerkdom. Besides, if she ever took it a little too far, then Xiù was no pushover. So Julian watched them kiss, smiled to himself, and returned his attention to the cartoon, where the protagonists—a trio of intrepid Gaoian cubs—were blinking at each other in bemusement as their human mentor, a mad scientist of the old school right down to the wild Einstein hair and Doc Brown manic energy, scurried around the giant robot he was building.

Its inevitable smashy escape from the lab was kinda predictable, but the Gaoians managed to put their own comedy spin on things by having it run up to a semi truck and sniff it in what was, by Gaoian standards, a decidedly amorous way.

Julian couldn’t help but snort, which caught Tristan’s attention. “What’s so funny?”

“Just thinkin’ about how hard Xiù would slap me if I tried that…”

“Tried what?”

Julian just grinned.

“…Ohhh.” Ramsey frowned at the screen, tilted his head slightly on one side, then the penny dropped with a splintering crash. “….Oh!! Oh. Wow. Um… is that…?”

“That’s Gao for ‘ya. They aren’t so fussy about some things.”

“Why not?”

Julian shrugged. “I dunno. They do grow up fast, though. Maybe that’s why? In fact if you were a Gao, you’d already be an adult. For them, that’s fifteen…in Gaoian years. So about twelve for us.”

“Must be nice…” Tristan muttered.

Julian chuckled. “Let’s revisit that idea in a few years when you’re paying taxes…” he said, and glanced into the kitchen again, where Al had finally relented to allowing Xiù to slice the vegetables, and was bobbing and rocking around the place with a baby on each hip. She saw him watching, pulled a complicated eye-rolling face that Julian took as conveying fond tolerance for Xiù’s foibles, and smiled at him.

He smiled back, and a kind of vague hugging gesture and a lift of his eyebrows asked the question ‘want me to hold them?’

She nodded, brought them through, deposited them in his arms, and then arched an eyebrow at the… vigorous chase scene on the TV. The truck’s self-driving AI had decided she didn’t want the robot’s affections, and was doing her level best to escape while the robot pursued her in an unhurried way. It was like if Pepe le Pew was made of steel and weighed eighty thousand pounds.

The sudden crashing heroics of an Emberpelt-like superhero blasting laser beams out of his whiskers added just the right level of Gaoian kitsch to really take it over the top.

“…What’s this show called?” Allison asked.

“…Uh, I’m not sure. I don’t read Gaori very well and it’s all stylized…wait, is it over already?”

“Yeah. The supergaoian just put handcuffs on the robot. And the mad scientist is very sorry.” Allison shook her head bemusedly. “Hey, can you get Xiù out of my kitchen? She’s helping.”


“Preferably in a way that leaves the babies attended and you two ready for dinner in ten minutes,” Allison clarified.

“Aww! Spoilsport.”

The boys both rolled their eyes. They were used to him by now.

“Just order her out,” Julian said. “You know she’ll yes ma’am and quit if you actually mean it.”

“Yeah, I know…” Allison tickled Anna behind the ear, grinned at her, then went back to try and reclaim the chore she was supposed to be doing.

Sure enough, a few seconds later Xiù beat an apologetic retreat and left her to it. She slipped in behind the couch and draped herself over Julian’s shoulders like an oversized cat.

“Bǎobèiiii….” she half-complained, and nibbled on his ear.

Julian reached up behind his head and massaged her scalp. “Stop making Al feel useless, babe.”

“Ugh, do all adults act like little kids?” Tristan groaned, rolling his eyes. Ramsey giggled and leaned a bit harder into Julian’s flank.

“Just the smart ones,” Julian opined.

“No reason why growing up should stop you from having fun!” Xiù agreed. She pulled a huge happy face at Anna. “Is there?! No there isn’t! No!”

“You can have all kindsa fun that you miss out on as a kid… Chores do kinda suck though.”

“Riiight…” Tristan rolled his eyes.

“Like art!” Xiù chirped.

“Not what I was thinking of, but sure…” Julian chuckled, then flinched as she tickled his ribs.

“Hey, we like art!” Ramsey protested.

“You like art,” his brother corrected him.

“Ain’t nothing wrong with art! I mean, I modelled…”

Al’s voice cut through from the kitchen. “That’s just ‘cuz you like showing off your huge—”

“Ego!” Julian interrupted her, at the same time as Xiù finished the thought with “Muscles!”

Goddamnit. Sure, all three of those were true, but still…

Tristan giggled again, while Ramsey squirmed a little. He’d always been the more straight-laced of the twins. Where Tristan had a sarcastic, cocky streak that was very much like Allison’s, Ramsey was more… earnest. And a bit more squeamish.

“…Sure. Exactly what I was gonna say.” Al grinned at them and then returned to whatever she was doing with that spatula.

“Actually…” Ramsey tried, in a valiant attempt to end their flirting again, “…Did you hear about that Gaoian artist? The one who’s actually got tri… triwhatsit vision? Like, he can see red like we do?”

“Oh, Leemu? Yeah, Daar won’t stop talkin’ the fella up! Haven’t met him yet…”

“He’s putting on an exhibit of his work at Oriel!”

“Boring…” Tristan muttered.

Julian shrugged. “Nah, that sounds interesting to me, actually.”

“And me!” Xiù agreed. “I bet Ava’s going to cover it.”

“It’s next week!” Ramsey enthused. “Can we go?”

“Sure.” Julian promised. “I’ll make time. You gotta come too Tristan and be polite about it, okay? Ramsey comes to every one of your wrestling meets…besides. I doubt it’s all artsy-fartsy stuff. There’s probably some cool posters too, I bet!”

Xiù hummed softly as she poured herself onto the back of the couch to lie across Julian’s shoulders. She scritched behind his ear with one hand, while murmuring a quiet warning into the other ear. “Careful, there’s a chance you might be in that gallery, too…”

“…Oh. Well.” …Yeah. That was a thing now. “Uh. Oh well, I guess.”

“Oh please, I’m not gonna buy one of those.” Ramsey had an impish streak, when he wanted.

“Maybe they have sports car posters!”

“Maybe! I always thought those looked cool…wait.”

Julian’s phone pinged with a breaking news alert, so he grumbled a bit, dug the remote out from under his butt and flipped the TV over to the local news channel, to the boys’ half-hearted protests.

Xiù quieted that protest with a gentle gesture. Ava was in the ESNN studio, talking with the anchor. That always meant some kind of big extraterrestrial news.

Julian had a sudden realization. “Y’know, Adam hasn’t texted me all day…”

“Marty and Freya both made apologies on our moms group, too…”

Goddamnit. Julian pulled his boys close into a big protective hug. They seemed to sense something was wrong because neither of them protested any.

“–mobilized a few days ago for offworld activity, but until now there’s been no official word on where they were or what they were doing. Now, we’re waiting to go live via real-time wormhole to Washington where the Gaoian Ambassador to the AEC nations and Supreme Allied Commander General Greg Kolbeinn are about to make a statement.”

“Did I hear that right?” Allison ducked through from the kitchen. “Live from Earth?”

“Holy crap,” Tristan agreed. “Isn’t that really difficult?”

“And stupid expensive, yeah…Al, you might wanna put everything in the stayfridge for a second.”

Al nodded, and briskly transferred the pans into the stasis fridge. They’d come out just as hot as they went in, even if this broadcast went on for an hour. She parked herself on the couch, sideways across Julian’s lap, and watched with the rest of them as the ESNN studio went respectfully silent to hear what the general and the ambassador had to say.

There were three emblems at the back of the stage: The mon of the Gaoian Conclave of Champions, the seal of the US Department of Defence, and the AEC logo. While Ambassador Shano of Clan Goldpaw took to the stage wearing a protective biofilter forcefield harness, general Kolbeinn stepped up to the podium and knocked some papers on its surface to straighten them out.

He acknowledged the reporters in front of him with a nod, cleared his throat, and set the papers down. “Thank you for being here. I know there’s been some speculation going around about a deployment of our spaceborne assets and the Grand Army of the Gao, and today I’m going to clear up what that’s all about.”

He glanced down at the papers again, then nodded, abandoned them, and addressed the room with increased certainty. Clearly the general was a little uncomfortable in front of cameras. “A few weeks ago, a joint spaceborne reconaissance operation was launched into Hunter space to determine the disposition of their forces and planetary resources. This was a historic mission, in that it represents the first time in known history that scouts have successfully operated within Hunter territory. The mission was a success, and the brave men who went on it were able to report back a startling find.”

“They found an enslaved species,” he said. Xiù’s fingers tightened on Julian’s shoulder. “We’ve established a few facts about these people: they call themselves the E-skurel-ir and by their calendar the Hunters first found and occupied their home planet a little more than four hundred years ago. They have lived in unimaginable misery and cruelty ever since, and their home planet has been poisoned, stripped of its natural resources and utterly devastated by Hunter industry and tyranny.”

“Upon learning of this fact, the Great Father of the Gao decided to liberate them. Even now the Grand Army has established a firm beachhead on that planet and is prosecuting a full-scale planetary invasion, with the intent to deny the Hunters access to the planet, its resources, and its people. To that end he intends the complete eradication of every Hunter in the system. As the Great Father is sovereign in his own right and beholden to nobody, we of course must respect his decisions, and as allies, we are honor-bound to offer support.”

“Jesus…” Allison muttered.

“Fortunately, the Great Father’s military acumen is well-respected and rightly so. Upon review of the developing situation, the President has decided under the War Powers Acts to offer our aid, and will be addressing Congress as soon as is reasonable to discuss further action. The other Aliied nations are also making their own preparations, but I can confirm that AEC assets, including elements of the Spaceborne Operations Regiment and some of our ships, are already active in support of the mission in accordance with the Extrasolar Defence Treaty. Our intent, with the advice and consent of Congress, is to secure the liberation of the E-skurel-ir. We do this not only because it is a moral imperative to act, but because this will strike against one of our great enemies, against whom Congress has already declared a state of war. That completes my statement. Now, myself and the Great Father’s Ambassador, his excellency Father Shano, will take your questions. We are necessarily limited in what we can speak about—yes?”

Julian became aware that Xiù’s fingernails were biting into his shoulder. He put his hand up and squeezed hers, and after a second her death-grip on him loosened. She turned her hand over and gripped his instead. He didn’t need to ask what the problem was: she was the only person he knew who’d actually shoved her arm down a Hunter’s throat, whereas Julian and Allison had both been fortunate enough to never encounter Hunters. She hated the fucking things…

“Come sit down, babe.” That seemed to be exactly what she needed. He swallowed her up in a full-body hug and the boys leaned against either side of him while they watched the news.

The ESNN stream cut back to the studio—presumably because staying live to Washington to follow the questions would have been way too expensive and difficult—and Julian turned the volume down. He decided to add the comforter to the equation and wrapped them all up into a loose burrito of warmth.

Al scooped up the babies and sat down on the couch’s arm. “Not a lot of detail.”

“No,” Julian agreed. “That Goldpaw fella probably can’t say much either. I bet I know what that does mean, though.”


“Means I’m gonna get re-deployed back to Akyawentuo here pretty soon…yup.” A shadow flit along the living room window, and Hoeff let himself in without knocking. He looked like he’d been interrupted in the middle of a workout and had his all-business expressionless demeanor plastered on.

“Ambassador Rockefeller wants to talk with you, big guy.”

“Right now, or does he have time for dinner first?” Allison asked.

“I’m in my running shorts and dripping sweat, so…”

Julian sighed. “…Right.”

He did insist on taking the time to hug everyone and assure them he would be fine. That done, he gathered up his bug-out bag, threw it over shoulder, and thumped back out into the evening.

The jog over to the embassy wasn’t too bad. “Things moving that quick?”

“Yeah,” Hoeff huffed. “Get you safe on monkey planet.”

They arrived a few minutes later. Hoeff did need to catch his breath a bit, being a short guy, but the ambassador met them at the door and there was apparently no time for pleasantries.

“Mister Hoeff, Clan Whitecrest have made a request. They’d like to consult Professor Hurt about the first contact situation.”

Hoeff understood immediately, even if he was panting. “So…I’m…gonna be his…bodyguard?”

Rockefeller gave him a sympathetic look. “If Julian permits it, yes. We’d normally arrange for additional protection but we don’t have time. This is a pressing request and in any case, Hurt already trusts you. That should make it…easier…to manage his protection.”

Hoeff smirked at that and shot Julian a look. “Well, think you’re gonna be safe for a bit, big guy?”

Julian sighed, and injected a little humor. “Not from Yan’s armpit, but there’s nothing anyone can do to save me from that. If anyone can keep Hurt safe in a warzone, it’s you.” He turned back to the ambassador. “Yeah, I’m okay with it. What’s my role in all this?”

“Ferd Given-Man and his men are part of the JETS team that first scouted the planet and found the natives. They’re still active and carrying out missions. Having talked with the archeologists, and with the professor…my staff thinks the Ten’Gewek have a keener interest in this than we think. Your job is going to be to feel them out on that.”

“Talk with Yan. Got it.”

Rockefeller nodded. “You have a very simplifying way of doing things.”

“Yan’s the kind of clever man who likes to keep things simple. He doesn’t like saying ten words when one will do.”

“Well, then. I’ve requested an urgent change in jump traffic. The Array folks tell me they’ll be able to send you in two hours. I suggest you use that time well!” Rockefeller shook their hands. “Good luck, gentlemen.”

Well. So the cozy home life was over for now. Julian had known it wouldn’t last forever, these weren’t the kind of times where a guy like him could just stay at home and be a dad. But on the bright side, he enjoyed his time on Akyawentuo. There was always something interesting to help Vemik tinker with, a conversation to be had with the Singer, a humiliating wrestling match followed by a conversation to be had with Yan…

Or just the chance to get out in the forest and hunt. Be part of nature again for a while. So all things considered, he wasn’t exactly facing a hardship here.

Funny. When he was at home with Xiù, Al and the kids, he missed the forest. When he was in the forest, he missed being at home with Al, Xiù and the kids. One day, he hoped, he’d get to take the family with him to Akyawentuo, and then have the best of both worlds.

But for now…

Duty called.

Date Point: 16y11m5d AV
HMS Caledonia, Mordor System, Hunter Space

Colour Sergeant Robert “Highland” Murray

“HIGHLAND, slap him for me, wouldya?”

Murray chuckled, reached out, and gave Blaczynski’s helmet a firm clout. He hadn’t been listening to what was going on, but he knew with religious certainty that STARFALL deserved it. He and FORREST always deserved whatever they got.

“Thanks bro!” Burgess grinned at him, then went back to grimacing at the shock of cold water his techs gave him to help squeeze him into his suit. That was a new technique, chilling the suit before putting it on, to buy a little extra time before the inner lining expanded and compressed in response to the operator’s body temperature.

Deacon was looking bloody serious today. She was in charge of the suits after all, and they were about to be put through a serious trial. Nobody had ever gone EVA within sixty million kilometers of a star before. Whether or not they all got the worst sunburn ever was resting on the poor lass’ shoulders a bit.

She was up to it, though. They were in safe hands, with Deacon and her techs.

Safe, but remorseless.

“I still fuckin’ hate that ye’re started wi’ the cold water now,” he grumbled, hissing as the liquid salty slush was pumped into his undersuit. It was like having an icicle run firmly across his skin, all over his body at once.

“Aww. Big strong lads afraid of a bit of chill?” She teased, reading something off her arcane tools as she drove the long probe into his life support pack to check its inner chemistry was all in order. “And don’t you do the ice bath thing after workouts sometimes anyway?”

“I don’t fuckin’ like it then, either…” Murray grumbled, bouncing on his toes to try and keep his muscles warm. One small and slightly irrational point of pride was that, despite everything, he wasn’t quite Lad enough to shake the decking doing something like that. He was the ‘smallest’ one among the fighting Lads: squint and look at him sideways, and he’d maybe almost pass for normal human size. Even FORREST was passing him by these days, that fat American fuck.

Still bigger’n ABBOTT and STAINLESS, though. Gotta keep those officers in line.

“Man, I am sure am glad I don’t gotta put up with that.” That was Kodiak, a giant bear of a Gaoian who was just now stepping into his own Suit. Murray watched with some jealousy as the Suit self-zippered all its layers together right up his spine. Apparently, there was some pretty sophisticated nanotechnology involved, so the entire suit—or at least the air seal layer—was effectively one giant molecule encasing its wearer.

“No cold water? No nothing?”

“Naw. The Suit don’t squeeze down until I tell it to.”

“I feel like that’s the kindae tech that allies would share wi’ their mates…” Murray told him fervently.

“You get talkative when you’re cold, doen’t you?” Kodiak chittered. His real name was Gurrum—with a growl over the syllables, and therefore almost impossible for most non-Gaoians to pronounce—and it was kind of an open secret among the Lads that he was eyeing up challenging Fiin to take over as Stoneback’s Champion. So far he was holding off, probably because a good champion had to be a good judge of when the time was right, and for now it wasn’t.

Murray knew when he was being given a good-natured no-sell, so he returned his attention to the chuckling Blaczynski, who was already suited up and comfortably warm again. “So what’d you say this time?” he asked.

“Just tellin’ ‘Base he oughta be glad of the ice bath. Might actually shrink his nuts down to size.”

Murray snorted, and slapped him upside the head again.

“Aye, don’t be jealous, laddy. An’ don’t provoke the other big fuckers.”

“I’m not jealous! I like bein’ able to walk straight!”

He was totally jealous, even though by any normal standards the lad was practically a bull. On this team, though…Murray just gave his old friend a knowing look, then shivered as the water reached his own groin. Right next to the femoral artery, he could feel the chill seep into his bones. “…Sure could use some of that insulation myself… Christ…”

“I woulda thought you’d be used to this. Aren’t you from the frozen bonnie northlands, where the freezing wind goes up your kilt?”

Deacon grabbed Murray’s arm before he could slap Blaczynski a third time.

“The more you wriggle around,” she cautioned him, “the longer this takes.”

“Right, aye… Don’t mind me…”

“I got you,” Kodiak rumbled, and a paw the size of a dinner plate bounced off the back of Blaczynski’s helmet.



Deacon snort-laughed, let go of Murray, and a minute later his armor was being sealed around him, tepid water was being pumped in to flush out the arctic stuff, and the ordeal was passing.

“Might just be because I’m a real man, mate. I see you aren’t complaining…”

All the Gaoians flicked their ears simultaneously, and Kodiak was as ever just…mildly amused. “Oh gods not this again. Y’all Humans sure think awfully highly of ‘yerselves…”

“They really do…” Regaari agreed.

“Yeah, well, the ladies seem to like me when I go out clubbing! Might be ‘cuz I’m not pretending to be a draft horse in my pants…Actually,” Blaczynski turned his big manic grin toward Adam. “How the fuck did you ever pull as hard as you did, ‘Horse? Didn’t you manage to smash every willing woman in Folctha like three times over before Marty tamed you? It’s not like they didn’t know what they were getting into…”

“Size matters, bro! You just gotta know what you’re doing!” Adam bounced his huge slab of a chest, and the anime characters fighting across his big e-tattoo reacted as if they’d just been knocked down by an earthquake. Neat little bit of tech, if a bit tacky…

“Can it, Lads.” Powell called from the other end of the room. “You’re all pretty and too big to handle. Now, shall we get suited before the Great Father shows up?”

“Naw, too late.” Daar prowled in with a notable lack of deck-shaking bounciness; his humor was still there, but he was in a much more serious mode of leadership. “Briefing time.”

Everyone who could, gathered round. The rest, being stuck having their suits bolted on, their fur slicked down or their EVA packs tested, perked up and listened from where they were standing.

“Our naval friends have identified a superweapon being built in orbit around the star,” Daar explained. One of his assistants scurried round, handing out printed reading material with all the details. “Looks to be a giant forcefield array. The concern is, it can pack enough energy into one coherent beam that the system defence field won’t be able to block enough in time. It’s not yet online, but as far as we can tell it’s structurally complete, so it won’t be long. We need to capture and destroy it before that can happen. Plan is to board, penetrate to the core, drop nukes, learn what we can, an’ pull out. Thing is, the mission ain’t actually that simple.”

The Great Father looked to Powell. “Colonel?”

“The array orbits this system’s star at only fifty million kilometers or so. That’s about the orbit of Mercury. Temperature in the open is as high as four hundred degrees Celsius, and stellar radiation is as high as nine thousand Watts per square meter. Staff Sergeant Deacon assures me that our suits are rated to handle such an environment. Sergeant? Any specific advice?”

“We’re adding BoPET sheets to your outersuits to protect you,” Deacon said, lifting her voice over the sound of Tisdale bolting on the last of MOHO’s armor plates. “Your suits are rated to handle the radiation, but only for a little while. Shielding you from the high-energy stuff, refrigerating you and dumping the heat spends energy from your onboard pack, so spend as little time as possible in direct sunlight. You need to get in the shade of that structure ASAP. Be aware, your visors are going to be in maximum glare reduction mode while you’re outside, so transitioning into the structure is likely to leave you effectively blind for a couple of seconds while the visor adjusts. You’ll want to rely on your helmet’s sensors.”

Adam, being cleverer than he looked, raised his blunt hand and asked a question. “Won’t BoPET make us shine like fuckin’ stars?”

“Your suit could have the albedo of charcoal, you’d still be lit up like Christmas with that much light bouncing off you. We figured protecting your equipment and maximizing your safe exposure time was the higher priority.”

“What about the ‘Crests fancy-tail active camo?” Kodiak was also much too clever for his size. “Or am I just wishin’ an’ this is too much ‘fer it to handle?”

“Definitely wishing,” said Shim.

“So…no element of surprise, then. Smash and grab as fast as we fuckin’ can.”

“That’s the shape of it,” Powell agreed. “This is another one of those short-notice ops where everything’s bein’ done according to our training. No specific instructions, and we sure as fook don’t have any worthwhile intel, so just keep your eyes open, your wits about you and your arsehole puckered.”

“Y’all know I don’t like deployin’ ‘ya ‘less I gotta. ‘Specially when it’s so short notice.” Daar gave them all a steely look. “But you all—we—are the fuckin’ best of the very fuckin’ bestest. Ain’t nobody else could even dream o’ doin’ shit like this, yijao?”

There were serious nods and duck-nods all around the bay. The banter was over, playtime was over. Everyone was listening closely.

“Space and entry are gonna be limited. We’re keeping the rest o’ the operators on hot standby in case anythin’ goes wrong, ‘cuz this mission cannot fail. We don’t have time to evacuate everyone an’ everything that are vulnerable. Colonel Powell an’ Champions Fiin and Thurrsto are in command of our standby forces. This group…well, I don’t need to tell y’all what you already know. You’re the bestest, most seasoned operators we have. ‘Cuz like I said…”

Daar held up his paw. “See this? We figger the shield can react mebbe within a nanosecond, an’ that ain’t even enough time ‘fer a beam o’ light ‘ta cross the width o’ my paw. But even then, this thing could mebbe throw so gods-damned much energy down range, it’d be enough to flash-vaporize even th’ Destroyin’ Fury inside her shields. So we absolutely cannot fail this mission.”

Powell nodded, though he looked rather less grim than usual, anticipating the mission to come. “Time to play big damned heroes again, Lads. As the Great Father said, I’ll be commanding standby forces, Captain Costello will be with the assault team. Between the suit thing and other factors we won’t have the element of surprise on this one, so hit ‘em hard and eyes peeled for every dirty trick in the book.”

There were nods all around, though they were grim. There were few environments in space deadlier than a space station whose owner was alerted of a pending attack and had time to prepare. This one was going to be fierce. Murray was suddenly glad of his suit. It might be a pain to get into and out of, but it had kept him alive through some shit in the past. It’d do so again.

“That is why it’s us,” the Great Father rumbled. “I want people with the bestest chance o’ comin’ back alive on this mission.”

“Let’s make sure we all do,” Powell agreed. “Finish your preparations, see the chaplain if you need to. We go in twenty.”

And that was that. Everyone moved with a renewed sense of purpose, the chatter dropped off to just business. Murray was glad of it. He’d always done his best preparation in the peace of his own mind.

He took a deep breath, prepared himself, and went to work.

Journal of Keeper Ukusevi, Librarian of the Old-Bent-Leg Archives 9th hour of the 206th day of the 417th year of Punishment.

”Helplessness is like a heavy blanket: It smothers at the same time as it comforts.”

It has been five days since the coming of the Gao, and Garr-avf’s words will not grant me any peace by leaving my head. I hear them when I sit and compose my thoughts. I hear them when I try to comfort the faithful, and when I recite the Long Chant. I put them to the page now in the hopes that perhaps my pen can do what thought alone could not, and make sense of them.

How can helplessness be comfortable? What does that mean?

My late teacher, Iskoritr, taught me to work backwards in these situations. “Begin at the end,” he would say, “If an answer to the big question eludes you, ask smaller questions. You may find that even small questions are very large on the inside.”

What is comfort?

That is a small question. What is the definition of a common word? And yet, as Iskoritr foresaw, I find that it is much bigger on the inside. The light of the bigger question shines in from outside, illuminating whole new warrens of meaning that I had not considered before. What is comfort?

When I am comfortable I do not wish to rise from my bed. When I am comfortable, I have no need to move myself so as to alleviate an itch or ache or numbness. Comfort, in that sense, is inertia. An unwillingness to change anything about one’s condition because the alternative seems worse.

I am sitting comfortably. Why should I change my posture and risk an aching back?

I am comfortably warm in my bed. Why would I wish to rise and be cold?

The Answer: Because I must. Sooner or later, the Almighty delivers to me some task or obligation that cannot be resolved from my comfortable chair, or my warm bed. But there is the paradox at the core of Garr-avf’s words. To be comfortable is to be inert until compelled to act… but to be helpless is to be unable to act.

…Isn’t it?

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

Read More »
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

Read More »

More by HamboneHFY

Sweetness – Implications

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

Read More »

Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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

Read More »

Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

Shades of White and Orange

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

Read More »

Mother Earth

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

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

Read More »

Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

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

Read More »

Similar Stories

Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 4

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 10

Date point: 14y 9m 2w 1d AV Trail hiking, Lakebeds National Park, west of Foltcha, Cimbrean Hayley Tisdale Julian had been quite firm that he wouldn’t do a sweat lodge or anything like that. She understood, there was some controversy about cultural appropriation and all that nonsense, and Julian seemed like he’d rather not be

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 3

Date Point: 14Y 1M 3W AV HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean Toran and Tybal “Shhh…” “You shhh…. I’m already ssssh’ing.” The two cubs, having crept past the outer fence surrounding the base, slinked in behind a short hedge and remained motionless. It was late enough that the nightly rain had, overall, stopped, but early enough that

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 5

Ruck, Willinkree Year 3042 Day 35 “No! Let go of me!” shouted [Sil] as she struggled to break the brute’s hold. The class C stared dumbly back at her, glaring at him [Sil] pulled at her bonds and sat down on the ground unable to make them even budge in the large alien’s hands. On

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

Date Point: 14Y 1M AV The Thing, Folctha, Cimbrean A Meeting of Mothers was much like a Conclave of Champions, and it was only coincidence that both terms alliterated nicely in English. Neither was terribly common, and both were typically invoked by their various constituencies to deal with an issue bigger than any one constituent

Read More »

Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

For He will instruct His angels in your behalf, to guard you in all your ways. They will carry you in their hands, lest you hurt your foot on a rock. You will tread upon the lion and the viper; you will trample upon the young lion and the serpent —Psalm 91 Date Point: 14Y

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 9

Date point: 14y 9m 1d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Meeting of Given-Men Yan Given-Man “When will Jooyun return and take the Rite of Manhood?” Yan mopped some of the sweat from his crest and loosened up his crushing grip on his challengers. “Soon,” he said confidently. “Soon.” Fall was almost

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 4

Species C543 System 4 Years 2 months 23 days Before C1764 FTL Jump “Ma’am.” [Sil] tried to turn away from the noise and tried to remain in the blissful realm of unconsciousness. “Ma’am!” [Sil] forced her eyes open and let out a low groan of pain. [Fred] was next to her on the ground, her

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 8

Date point: 14y 9m 1d AV Total Combat Fitness, southwest Folctha, Cimbrean Mid-morning Dr. Marc Tisdale Marc was, at heart, a gentle man. He had love for most everyone he met and refused to hold anger for anyone or anything unless they had truly, irrevocably earned it. That said, he was still a man and

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 3

Species C543 System 4 Years 2 months 27 days Before C1764 FTL Jump [Sil] looked at the controls for the pod and slowly shook her head, “This is not good.” [Fred] only able to operate because of the minimal effort needed to move around in zero-g drifted forwards, “I would agree, but what is the

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 5

Date Point: 16y3m1w Memorial Concourse, Old Commune of the Clan of Females, City of Wi Kao, Planet Gao Mother Shoua There were days when Shoua missed the old commune, at the other end of the city. The new commune was larger, more modern and much more secure of course but… …But the old one had

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

Date Point: 16y3m1w Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Ramsey Buehler Ramsey didn’t think he’d ever get used to being one of the cool kids at school. Actually, just going to school was kinda weird after all the home schooling he and Tristan had had back on Earth, but whenever he and his brother had got

Read More »

Henosis – Chapter 4

“Hey, that’s my suit!” A naked Gaoian fell on the Hunter from the tree above, landing on the sextupedal predator’s back. The impact was enough to stagger the creature, and Keegi was nearly thrown off. The claws of one paw extended, sinking into the Hunter’s glossy flesh as he held on as hard as he

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

Date Point: 16y3m6d HMS Sharman (HMNB Folctha), Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Technical Sergeant Adam “Warhorse” Arés “Firth, I gotta ask ‘ya something.” Per Colonel Powell’s standing orders, they had the rest of the day off for individual training time after a mission. Adam always took maximum advantage, but some of the other operators might use

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 2

First Landing Earth, Florida, Launch pad 39A April 12, 2033 “Ignition Sequence start, five, four, three, two, one, lift off!” The crowds several miles away from the historic launch pad watched as the craft slowly began to move up into the atmosphere. Almost an homage to the craft that had taken Humans to the moon

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 7

Date point: 14y 8m 2w 2d AV The Dog House, Folctha, Cimbrean Late afternoon Julian Etsicitty Agony. If Adam had a singular talent that stood out, it would have to be his supernatural ability to give his training victims some very dramatic results by inflicting insane amounts of pain. Julian both dreaded and eagerly anticipated

Read More »

Henosis – Chapter 3

Virtrew had been relaxing in the starboard docking array. He’d been feeling inspired and creative for the past ten-day… it was too late to alter the structure of the current station, but he had ideas for the next. He was off-shift, so he’d picked up his data tablet, a bowl full of Vzk’tk salad, and

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 2

Date Point: 16y3m6d η Ithacae, 94.9° 12-GERBER-UNARY G2V III, “Heafield” Technical Sergeant Adam “Warhorse” Arés Every now and then, Adam had a day where every little thing went so well and he found himself firing on all cylinders so perfectly, he could feel right in his big ol’ slab of a chest that exact same

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 1

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

Read More »

Henosis – Chapter 2

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 5

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

Read More »

Henosis – Chapter 1

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

Read More »

Causal Results – Chapter 1

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 6

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 2

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

Read More »

Rising Titans – Chapter 51 (End)

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 1

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 6

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 5

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 5

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

Read More »

Rising Titans – Chapter 50

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 4

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 3

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 2

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

Read More »

Good Training – Survival Part 4

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

Read More »

Rising Titans – Chapter 49

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 1

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

Read More »

The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 6

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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”

Read More »

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”

Read More »

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

Read More »

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!”

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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…

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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”

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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,

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »

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

Read More »


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

Read More »

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

Read More »

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *