The Deathworlders – Chapter 64: Survive Part 4

Date Point: 17y2w AV
Asteroid belt, liberated system, former Hunter space

Brigadier General Rylee Jackson

When Hunters didn’t want to fight, they were about as slippery as a bar of soap in the bathtub. When they did want to fight, they threw everything they had into it. No middle ground. It was dismayingly sensible of them.

Not that Rylee had expected this to be trivial. Or quick. They were crawling their way around a twenty-five AU circumference, thoroughly checking every asteroid. There were more than two million in this belt that came in at a kilometer or larger. Gaoian drone and sensor tech was making the process doable but that didn’t mean it was fast, or anything but tedious.

Pilot fatigue was a danger. And those always seemed to be the moments when the Hunters would appear. They had an instinct for it, or just had Murphy on their side.

Still. There had never yet been an engagement between deathworlders and Hunters where the humans and Gao hadn’t flown the pants off the Hunters. Their swarmships hadn’t changed much, in that they were still designed primarily to intercept freighters and capital ships, latch on and dig through the hulls. They were incredibly nimble and fast by the standards of transports… but against a dedicated air-and-space superiority fighter, they may as well have been heavily armed U-Haul vans.

It was hard to tell whether the Firebird or the Voidripper was more effective against them. Firebirds could accelerate much harder along their main thrust axis, but Voidrippers were far more nimble in three dimensions, being pretty much equally as good at +X, +Y and +Z acceleration.

The Gaoian ships were perfectly designed for space combat. They were more or less useless in an atmosphere, where acceleration and the “bite” of a flight control surface mattered. The benefits of priorities, and no need for air superiority in their own territory…

Together, the two designs of fighter formed a hammer and anvil. Firebirds could lance straight in and through, leaving shattered scrap metal in their wake and winning every time on sheer kinetic energy. Paired with Voidripper wingmen, they became impossible to catch off-guard.

All of that became a good deal less straightforward whenever an actual broodship or asteroid facility turned up, though. The belt seemed to contain hundreds of them, hidden in low-emissions mode or cloaked.

“This is RACER-FOUR-ONE, contact.”

Rylee kept a sharp eye on her instruments as a new violent clash played out somewhere fifty million kilometers away. If need be, that distance was nothing at all for a Firebird and she could personally lend assistance in fewer than five seconds. If need be.

As she listened to the contact report, the pilot’s cool, unflustered tone belied the severity of what he’d just run into. Three broodships had powered up and were now forming an interlinked shield web around themselves and an asteroid. Racer Four-One had found something important.

USS San Diego’s comms officer had a fittingly deep, resonant voice. “San Diego en route.”

In Rylee’s HUD, the San Diego and the Gene Roddenberry both blinked forward from the back of the formation, flashing across millions of miles of space to arrive within seconds, alongside their CAP.

Rylee let them work. She had a rock to investigate. It turned out to be a boring pock-marked potato, not yet touched by Hunter industry. Her WSO tagged it as clear, and they moved on.

Minutes later, her attention was drawn to that deep resonant voice again. “PHOENIX-SIX-ACTUAL, San Diego. Got a hardened facility here. GRANDFATHER wants your wing to tidy up and return to staging orbit.”

As a reminder that there was still only the one star on her shoulder, Rylee still had people she answered to, and right now, that included Grandfather Vark. She was in charge of the fighters, but that was just one component of this operation and in this case, that meant her fun was done. “Copy that.”

The staging orbit was back inside the safety of the layered shields around the liberated planet, and specifically at the beacon buoy where HMS Caledonia was waiting, with a HEAT team on board in case they were needed. Which, from the sounds of things, they would be. A hardened facility was any that, by definition, couldn’t reliably be destroyed from the outside even if they nuked it.

So, they’d nuke it from the inside instead.

She kept an ear on the flow of information, directed a few details as they came up. Her thoughts were on the job, of course, but a small part of her was wondering who exactly was on that ship, only five short kilometers away…

She’d met all the HEAT operators, through Owen. Part of her satisfaction at being out here doing this was the chance to get some payback for Blaczynski. If the HEAT were about to get to nuke a base, then they’d be having much the same thoughts.

She especially hoped Owen was leading them. He’d taken it hard.

She let the passing thought go and kept her attention where it needed to be. That facility’s presence stalled the whole operation, on the grounds that they couldn’t leave it intact behind them, and therefore couldn’t advance the sweep until it was destroyed. And they of course couldn’t just leave planes hanging out there in hostile territory standing around not doing anything. That was a sure recipe for disaster. So, over the course of several minutes, she recalled the fighters to staging and then…


Space battles were like that. Lots of waiting. The action, when it happened, happened in brief, intense bursts. For the moment, the battle was with shields and titanic forces a person could scarcely comprehend. Eventually, the San Diego and Gene Roddenberry would crack those shields wide open, and when they did…

Caledonia, San Diego. You’re clear to jump and deliver.”

Caledonia promptly vanished with that characteristically anticlimactic blink of pure black, taking the handful of fighters and drones that made up her escort with her. Rylee checked her mission clock, made a note of the time, and listened intently to the command channel.

Shortly thereafter, she grinned inside her mask as the tactical network kindly informed her of a distant nuclear detonation, twenty light minutes away. A few seconds after that, Owen Powell’s distinctive round Yorkshire accent delivered a terse report that still managed to carry a freight of vindictive satisfaction.

“GRANDFATHER, STAINLESS. Mission successful.”

Rylee didn’t know if it was new tactics, unprepared Hunters, or simply a less dangerous situation, but from the moment Caledonia jumped out to the moment the nuke went off had taken a mere eight minutes and forty-three seconds. She’d have to congratulate Owen, after this was done. The Hunters wouldn’t have even known what hit them.

“Copy that, STAINLESS. PHOENIX-SIX-ACTUAL, GRANDFATHER. That obstacle is removed, please have your pilots resume their sweep.”

“Roger, GRANDFATHER. Resuming sweep.” Rylee was the last to jump back out to the belt, once all her pilots were away and the extermination was back underway. They’d probably just had a taste of how the rest of the day was going to go, but that was no problem at all as far as Rylee was concerned.

Caledonia jumped back to the staging orbit just before she jumped out. She gave them a fly-by out of respect, then returned to her work. There was still a lot of space to scour clean.

It was good to be back.

Date Point: 17y2w2d AV
Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Ferd Given-Man

It was Ferd’s fourth day of “leave.” A strange idea, but he wasn’t complaining! Lots of time for exploring, and eating well, and training with War-horse and friends… All the things that were best in life!

Especially when he went back to the ‘club’ from the last time he’d been in Folctha, and met the pretty-hair girl again. She ended up feeling even better than Ferd had imagined! They had been spending many nights together like all young and strong people were moved by the gods to do. Very enjoyable nights! She was stronger than she looked, and could last longer than Ferd would have guessed… And when she did need to rest, Ferd was happy to rest too.

Yes. Leave was good.

When he woke, it was still dark outside and the sky-people village was fast asleep. She was asleep too and curled up against him, all softness and good-tasting affection. The only thing he wanted to do (besides fuck again) was wrap himself around her and hug her so tight…

So he did that, and wrapped his tail around her, too. Human women weren’t like the women of his people. There was strength there, he could feel it…but they were so small, and so soft-feeling. Just the meat of his lower leg was bigger around than her hips and the rest of him was even bigger! But she knew how to play as good as anyone, even if it took a long, careful time for them to fit together comfortably. Strange, different…very, very pretty, though…

She stirred awake, gave him the cutest little sleepy smile and ran her hands along the hard lines of his body, appreciating the strength he had to offer. He did the same, squeezing at her wonderfully soft skin with his hands, and then his feet too, and soon…

Well. They played together all the way through the night, and the sun was up and streaming through the window of his ‘apartment’ long before they were done.

Humans were good about balancing Givings and Takings. Everything Ferd and his men did for them was fairly rewarded, mostly in the form of a steady supply of Mun-ee that, Ferd had discovered, was plenty to live on. So, he and the others lived at the top of a brick building that was like a hand of huts stacked on top of each other, and the ‘land-lord’ who owned it told them it was okay to climb up and down the outside wall if they wanted to.

He was very nice! Part of their Giving for the Taking of the room-hut they lived in was that they helped him do work around the place, which was never hard. They dug out a garden, and helped him build a shed out of bricks using a special mud called ‘mortar’ that dried hard like stone. Neat! Ferd learned how to use a level, how to use a square, how to read a ‘blueprint’ (which wasn’t actually blue) and measure things with a ‘tape measure’ like he’d seen Vemik use sometimes…

And he got to spend a lot of time with the pretty-hair girl!

Her name was a tongue-twister. Amaryllis. Am-are-rill-liss. It didn’t fit Ferd’s mouth at all, and came out more like “Amawiwish,” but she didn’t mind, and had told him to use “Amy” instead. Even so, he always thought about her hair first, so…pretty-hair.

He, Nomuk, Tumik, and Genn were staying in Folctha for now and lived in the ‘apartment’ when they weren’t back on their own world. Their days had fallen into a pleasant routine. Explore, train, learn, and do it all again, every day until their next mission was ready. They didn’t have any strong game to hunt on this other-world, but exploring the trails around the village was still fun, and some of the things were surprisingly tricky to catch. ‘Squirrel’ might have barely been a snack, but they were very tasty, and the bones were crunchy, too!

That exploring was just him and his men, though. His Human friends were back on Earth-world, most likely having young-man fun, and for various reasons that Ferd didn’t quite understand, he couldn’t come explore with them. Aww! Tooko was off too, wooing an apparently very pretty woman of his sky-tribe. Good for him!

That wasn’t to say they were completely alone. Ferd and his men had some success with the women when they went back; his men were big and strong and good-looking after all, and Ferd was all of those things even for a Given-Man. But they didn’t do well enough as far as he was concerned. Until he founded a tribe of his own, he’d have to constantly prove his worth to every pretty girl every time he felt the itch to fuck. Which, being a Given-Man…


He was just a man, after all. And she was just a woman. Who were they to deny the gods? But they couldn’t fuck all day long; she slapped his chest and shook her head.

“Oh, no. No. I’ve had enough. And I have work!”

The light from outside meant it was definitely well into the day…what time was it?

Ferd reluctantly glanced up at the big wall-clock she’d got him. Humans followed the tick of their machines more than the rise and fall of the sun, and Amy worked the “late shift.” She had to get ready. He had to go do some promised chores for the land-lord, and also help a very nice old woman living in the apartment across from his who had an old couch she didn’t want anymore and said he and his men could have it, if they wanted.

And he had to go meet his Human-friends at the terminal a finger before the sun went down, too. So reluctantly, he stood up and busied himself cleaning the apartment while Amy showered; Humans liked their homes uncluttered and clean-tasting, so he pulled the sheet-cloth off his ‘futon’ and piled it up next to the ‘washer’ machine thing, picked up things and put them away, opened the windows and the tall glass slide-door to get some fresh air. It was nice out today!

Then he made food. He was particularly fond of scrambled eggs and Yan had recommended he try putting ‘ham’ and ‘cheese’ in them. Tasty! They ate quickly, he gave her one last quick kiss, and a gentle bite on her neck as a promise of things to come…

Alone, now. His men had gone back to People-world last night to go make merry. He hadn’t followed this time, because someone had to stay behind in case there was a mission that came up, and Daar Stone-Back always said a good man led his men from the front. Strong words, those. Besides, Ferd had Amy, so it wasn’t like he felt too lonely. And sometimes Singer visited too! She loved Vemik very much so Ferd hadn’t chased after her too hard, but she had twitched her tail at him, and Vemik had snarled at him in a friendly challenge, so maybe they could have fun together!

He did chores. The couch didn’t fit through the door except if he turned it a very weird way, but it wasn’t heavy at all so mostly, it was like one of those fun puzzle-toys Professor had given him, where you had to pull the two things apart without breaking them. She gave him a kiss on the cheek as thanks, he went to go give mun-ee for more food, did some other things…

It was nearly sunset when he reported in at the “base,” with its metal fences and serious guards. The base had its own jump array, built underground near the HEAT’s training room and barracks. Wild, Frasier, Rees, Tooko and Coombes were already there, and Coombes’ grim face told Ferd that fun times were over, for now.

“Mission?” Ferd asked him.

“Yup.” Coombes nodded. “Hope you enjoyed leave.”

“Easy to get fat and lazy having so much fun.”

Coombes chuckled. “Y’ain’t wrong. Your guys should be comin’ through any second–”

There was the feeling of a heavy thump through the floor, and Wild laughed. “Good timing.”

Ferd hooted appreciatively, and stepped out of the way for the door to open. The air around Nomuk, Tumik, and Genn tasted of home as they shouldered the doors open and bounced through, slamming straight into Ferd in a coordinated tackle.

Ferd had learned some good tricks from Jooyun and his friends, though. The Given-Man spun on his left foot, turning their tackling motion into a hard bodyslam. Still. There were three of them…

…So it took him a few breaths to win. He pinned them all, using his hands for Nomuk, his tail for Tumik, and his feet for Genn. He’d be fucked if someone else decided to play, but that was okay. The humans were happy to watch and laugh, and Tooko wasn’t big enough to count. In fact, he carefully got out of the way.

Wild let them have their fun just long enough for Ferd to finish pinning his three friends, then delivered a hefty kick to Ferd’s rump. “Oi! Mind on the job, mate.”

The humans liked to tease him for his great big rump, but that was okay. Wild couldn’t really hurt him without a weapon, so Ferd would get his revenge later. When nobody was watching, maybe…

For now he let go, stood up, and helped his men to stand as well.

“Nearly got me that time!”

“Sure,” Wild said. “Come on, we’ve got work.”

They were shown to a gray room with bright lights that hurt Ferd’s eyes a bit, and small tables with sturdy steel chairs. He and his men knew by now to avoid most chairs, but these were the ones the big humans used. Anything that Yan or War-Horse or Daar Stone-Back could sit on was probably safe…

Still… he propped his tail under him just to be sure.

Coombes took a spot at the front of the room and placed the things he was carrying on the table there. “We’ve got coordinates for another Hierarchy relay,” he said. “This one’s a fair bit further from Earth than the first one, but if the nerds at Mrwrki are right then its coverage includes both Gao and Akyawentuo…”

He tapped on his tablet, and an image Ferd had seen before filled the wall behind him. Humans called it the Gal-axee. All the stars in the sky and many, many, many more besides, twisted around like a dust devil, or water swirling down a hole. Four points on it were highlighted: Earth, Cimbrean, Gao and home, scattered across the bottom quarter of the map.

“For the sake of our monkey friends… nobody ever really gets just how big all this is. So when I tell you the target is about here—” he tapped the tablet again and a new marker appeared “I want you to understand, this is a long way from civilization, even thought it might look like it’s somewhere in the middle. For Tooko’s benefit, the nearest spacelane is Green-Oval-twelve-forty-four-twenty-three, here.” a thin green line snaked across the map.

Tooko made a harsh noise in the back of his throat. “That’s a long haul. Where’s the nearest layover station?”

“This degaussing facility, here. ‘Next To The Endless’ From there, your target world is more than a month away at SBD’s cruising speed.”

Despite what Coombes said, the scale of what he was looking at suddenly landed on Ferd’s head. He’d seen how fast the ship was over land, and Tooko told him that in space it was one of the fastest ships anywhere. A whole hand of weeks to travel that short distance on the map?

He shivered a little. That wasn’t going to be fun. They’d probably spend time in stay-sis again. All of them, because the humans ate a lot of food, too.

Coombes gave the team a sympathetic look. “This is why we pay you gents the big bucks,” he said. “You’re gonna be a long way from anywhere. Anyway. Mission is to identify the precise location of the relay on the planet’s surface and engineer its destruction. We expect Big Hotel have tightened security around these things. You’ll be fully loaded-out with full weapons stores and long-term supplies. That means we’ll need to re-fam you with some of the nastier toys, re-test on ship procedures…”

Ferd grunted. “That will take some days, yes?”

Coombes nodded at him. “Yup. During which time you four are getting Warhorse’s personal attention.” Ferd growled happily at that while Coombes considered his notes. “…Obviously, how you go about executing this mission is going to have to be your call when you get there. You’ll be operating far outside of our territory, on an uncharted and unknown planet with no way of predicting exactly what conditions are going to be like on the ground. But shit like that is why JETS exists, and you’ve done it before.”

“Better be fuckin’ Christmas on the supplies, then…” Frasier commented. Ferd wasn’t sure what that meant, but Coombes chuckled and passed around a set of notes.

“Don’t worry. You’re gonna be loaded for bear. We’ll pack you to the gills with everything you need. That there’s your mission schedule. Any other questions?”

Feed reached for his copy of the mission file. He was pretty good at reading now and didn’t see many words he would need to ask about. “Maybe, we read first, think of question then.”

“Fair. I’ma go grab a coffee while you read, we’ll do the Q&A when I’m back.” Coombes left them to read.

Ferd’s thoughts were on one important fact: this thing threatened his home and his people. The sky-magic involved was more than he yet understood, but that part was clear and simple… and he remembered the bad days, of fleeing over the mountains, of all the empty burned villages, and the great flash and thunder of the Hierarchy’s “nook.”

The Big Enemy was hiding, but not gone. And Ferd Given-Man wouldn’t let them live. That was the only way to balance what they had done, and tried to do: Take everything they had until there was nothing left.

Life was good for him now… but it was good only because he was doing good. Putting the world right, one mission at a time. The Hunters, the Big Enemy, and whatever other terrible things might lurk out among the stars were his responsibility now.

And that, he took seriously.

Date Point: 17y2w3d AV
The White House, Washington DC, USA, Earth

President Beau Chambliss

Herculean efforts had gone into completely turning the White House over for Beau’s Presidency. He’d seen Sartori’s Oval Office, with its green curtains and space photos, but had never set foot in it. By the time he first walked through the door, his specifications had been followed, the place had been entirely redecorated and even the stationery was in place.

The Resolute desk had been swapped out for the Theodore Roosevelt, the curtains were a rich blue, the floor was polished wood parquet, the space photos had been replaced with oil paintings of some of America’s iconic city skylines and several family pictures…

A new office for a new president. A fresh start. A reset button, an opportunity to re-assess policies and direction.

It wasn’t without continuity, though. Traditions abounded, law was supreme. The President was not sovereign; American sovereignty flowed from the people through the Constitution.

But one of the first orders of business in the opening weeks of the new year was meeting somebody for whom the opposite was true. A living, walking, breathing sovereign who had to duck and turn sideways to fit through the door, and who seemed to strain the very space he inhabited, both metaphorically and literally; the sturdy floors creaked loudly under his feet.

Supposedly he could smell lies. If so, he’d certainly be able to smell trepidation, which was a hard emotion to quell in light of how serious and important the day’s conversation was going to be.

Daar was all friendliness, though. He spared Beau the infamous crushing bear-hugs, and instead seemed genuinely happy to meet a new face.

And he came bearing gifts.

“Congratulations on ‘yer victory, Mister President! Here’s a small gift ‘fer you from me, an’ a less small gift from the Clans o’ the Gao to the people o’ the United States!”

The small gift was a simple stoneware vase bearing a handsome arrangement of alien flowers. Recalling his conversation with Naydra at the ball, Beau accepted it. “One of your creations? I understand flower arranging is one of your hobbies.”

“Yeah. Kinda against type I guess…” Daar pant-grinned. “But a man’s gotta ‘member what the point o’ all of it is, yijao?”


“Ah! Yi an’ jao are the Gaori words ‘fer yes and no. It means, uh…sorta both ‘y’know’ and ‘do we understand each other’ at the same time.”

“Actually, I think I have heard it before…” Chambliss recalled. “My grandchildren use it, I think.”

“Prob’ly! It’s kinda fascinatin’ how much our cultures’re cross-pollinatin’ these days.” Daar turned and gestured to his personal assistant. “Anyhoo. That less small gift.”

The gift was presented in a wooden and glass display case, about the length of a man’s forearm, with a large and sturdy key. Inside, resting on the polished wood, was a slender spearhead. It wasn’t any kind of a complex ornate shape, but it wasn’t unadorned either: the metal had been engraved with Gaori text.

“That there is from the spear that won Great Father Fyu his final victory at Wi Kao, an’ ended up makin’ him a Great Father in th’ first place. The poem he inscribed on it is a lament ‘fer more peaceful times…it’s a love poem, actually.”

“To Mother Tiritya?”

“Her, yes. An’ the Females. An’ the Gao as a whole, too. Tricky wordplay there, way better’n I’ve ever managed…I’ll leave it ‘fer you ‘ta translate, if ‘ya want.”

Beau regarded the artifact with a combination of awe and trepidation. “This seems like it would be a treasure of your people.”

“It is. I ain’t giftin’ it lightly, Mister President. Consider it a gesture o’ trust an’ esteem. President Sartori’s expressed a sort o’ grudging respect o’ you, y’know.”

Beau smiled and gestured to the couches, wondering whether or not that spearhead had a place in this office, or…

Well. No. It did. He couldn’t avoid that much. Like it or not, the Gao could not and would not be ignored, and Daar’s gift was not the sort of thing to be displayed out in the corridor. Daar knew it, too. There was nothing subtle about a gift of that magnitude.

Well, then. The best approach was to be unsubtle with him, too.

“You’re making a powerful statement here,” Beau told him as they sat. “And a blunt one. Ever since I won the election, I’ve been… pressured, let’s say, with a pretty strong message. You clearly don’t like my campaign promises.”

“That ain’t the concern, Mister President. I ain’t gonna begrudge ‘yer people rebuildin’. Balls, that’s been what consumes almost all my attention, most days. What I can’t permit though, is ‘fer any more Gao t’fill Hunter bellies.”

“You have the resources of a whole planet to achieve that. I have the resources of one nation. A nation with friends and allies, maybe, but most of t he Earth—” Chambliss waved a hand toward the window. “Isn’t on board, and probably won’t ever be. Meanwhile we have people out there working longer than full time hours and still not holding it together. We have a large and growing underclass in this country of people who just don’t have the same opportunities as everyone else. My first responsibility is to the people I represent, and the war that Sartori fought alongside you is quite literally taking food out of mouths.”

“There’s a bunch’a people who’d disagree with that assessment, but I ain’t gonna wrap m’self up in ‘yer politics. I don’ think that’d be appropriate.”

“Thank you. But you see my point. Don’t get me wrong: the Hunters are monsters and the Hierarchy are evil. But I made promises I intend to keep.”

“I ain’t askin’ ‘ya ‘ta be a liar, Mister President. I’d never ask that, of anybody. What I am askin’ is that you not forget that some’a the best people I ever knew died fightin’ ‘ta end both those evils, an’ that you think good an’ hard before you do anything that might waste their sacrifice. Because this ain’t won, not by a long shot, an’ the consequences o’ not winnin’ it when we can could be civilization-endangering.”

Beau looked up as his personal assistant brought in some coffee and fruit for them. “Is your concern with the war effort, or is it specifically with the HEAT?”

“Ain’t no difference ‘tween the two. They’re the only folks that can fight this war.”

“And you consider yourself one of them.”

“‘Cuz I hafta be. Ain’t many who can do what we do.”

“You appreciate of course that America has been budgeting that program in its entirety. An oddity, considering that the only two officers in the HEAT are a Brit and a Canadian.”

“Yeah, kinda the consequence o’ ‘yer size an’ power. Most o’ the SOR is American, of course…but if what ‘yer lookin’ for is a better cost-sharin’ I’m sure we can arrange something.”

Well, at least there was no need to delicately work around to that point. And it spoke volumes that Daar had made the offer so readily and casually. “You really care about them, don’t you?”

Daar’s duck-nod was emphatic. “Yeah. Part o’ that is why I fight with ‘em. Shouldn’t ask somebody ‘ta do somethin’ y’ain’t willin’ ‘ta do ‘yerself, if ‘ya can.”

“…I can respect that,” Beau admitted. “And a more… even-handed… distribution of the costs would allow me to keep my campaign promises…”

Daar gave him what could only be as an uncomfortable look. “‘Ya sure ‘bout that? I ain’t a human, an’ I ain’t American, but it seems ‘ta me that ‘cutting military spending’ means a whole lot more’n money-things ‘fer a whole lotta people…”

Chambliss sighed and stood up to take a slow stroll around the room. “I’m not a peace-at-any-price pacifist, no matter what my detractors may say. I’m not naive enough to believe that Earth is safe yet, and I’m not callous enough to abandon a whole galaxy full of sapient beings to being eaten, enslaved and slaughtered, but I do believe we got the balance wrong and committed more than we can afford. I simply cannot justify feeding a handful of supermen when our basic social safety nets are in tatters and the nation’s infrastructure is in dire need of some investment.”

He sighed and rested his hands on the back of the couch to look Daar in the eye. “So when I said I would cut military spending, I meant exactly that and nothing more, and if there are people out there who thought I was using code for something else, that’s their problem and I’ll handle them. Here and now, all I’m concerned about is that I keep the promise I made. I’d prefer to do it with your help.”

Daar made a grumbling noise in his chest, but if Beau remembered his reading on Gaori expressions and body language then the set of his ears and jaw meant grudging respect.

“That puts some’a my fears at ease,” he admitted.

“I’m glad, because I do want to have a good working relationship with you.” Beau said, and sat down. “Though, I’ll be honest. You frighten me. You’ve done terrible things. Not without reason, I’m sure. Had I been in your position… I don’t know what I would have done.”

Daar gave him what could only be interpreted as a sympathetic look. “Mister President…I think ‘yer ‘bout to learn some things ‘bout ‘yerself in this job that you ain’t ever know’d. I know I sure as fuck did. Jus’ promise me ‘ya won’t ferget, yijao?”

“…We understand each other.”

“Good.” Daar stood up from his position on the floor and rose to his full colossal height. “There’s a lotta things I’d be willin’ ‘ta do ‘ta keep SOR runnin’, includin’ joint treaties, alla that. If I gotta pick up the tab, I can prol’ly do that personally. Now I ain’t jus’ offerin’ a free ride here…but I think we unnerstand each other.”

“I’m glad. We’ll leave the negotiations to our experts, shall we?”

“Ha!” The Great Father made a noise that surely must have been a chitter, except it was several octaves too low and would have shaken the windows if they weren’t armored. “Champion Sheeyo’s been lookin’ ‘ta sharpen his claws on someone! Figuratively speakin’ of course.”

“And I know a few people who’ve been looking for a challenge to sink their teeth into. Also figuratively.” Beau offered his hand, and received a firm but restrained paw in return. “Ours will be an… interesting… relationship, I think. My compliments and regards to the Great Mother.”

“An’ mine ‘ta the First Lady. ‘Yer lucky to have her, Mister President.”

Beau chuckled. “Yes, and the same to you. Until next time.”

Daar duck-nodded, and took his leave. Beau had a moment to himself alone in the office, and he spent it celebrating, a good old-fashioned fist pump and private “yesss!!”

Who said a president couldn’t have his cake and eat it?

Date Point: 17y2w3d AV
London, United Kingdom, Earth

Daar, Great Father of the Gao

Who said a Great Father couldn’t have his cake and eat it?

Travel from D.C. to London was, well…a lot less interestin’ than Daar had hoped. He’d really wanted ‘ta take one o’ those nifty C-17 cargo planes—an actual airfoil!—but sadly, that would have been ostentatious in a way he couldn’t bear. Not when there was a perfectly functional jump link. Folks were literally commuting between the two cities on foot, nowadays.

He did get to galumph his way down toward the Jump Array, though! He’d been cooped up being all civilized an’ shit all day, so a chance to really stretch his legs—and maybe put a teensy bit of fear into the chase driver’s heart, when he had to floor it to keep up—was a temptation way too fun to resist.

London was very different to Washington. It was warmer, for a start. Rather than being knee-deep in snow, the British capitol was just slick and silvery under low clouds and a thin, light rain. Anywhere else, it woulda been dreary, but somehow it worked. As Daar’s motorcade slipped through the city, past landmarks that were older than all but a precious few buildings on Gao, he couldn’t help but reflect sadly on all the history he’d personally had to destroy to save the Gao themselves.

Still. That sad thought aside, his day was goin’ damn well. Not many world leaders came trotting up to 10 Downing Street, prol’ly, but Daar did so with his tail high and a renewed spring in his step. After the mission on that array, the most depressin’ thought he’d had to deal with had been what would happen to the HEAT. Now, that problem looked to be fixed and the SOR’s future secure, so long as Chambliss didn’t actively—to use a local phrase—take the piss.

Future Presidents prob’ly wouldn’t like the new arrangements, but that was okay. Daar knew a good firesale when he saw one.

Prime Minister Stephen Davies met him at the famous black front door, where there was a brief bit of stand-and-smile for the cameras while they shook hands–Daar discreetly sat back on his haunches, so as not to totally dwarf the poor man in his own country.

Inside, the conversation was warm.

“So. How did it go?” Davies asked

“Naydi is weapons grade charming,” Daar rumbled fondly. “Poor man din’t stand a chance.”

“Buttered him up nicely, did she?”

“Well, I mean…she convinced me ‘ta buck over a thousand years o’ tradition an’ bond wit’ her, so this ain’t her first rodeo!”

“Thank you for the warning.” Davies chuckled softly. “Tea?”

“…I really should warn ‘ya, I’m one o’ those Gao who’s super sensitive ‘ta caffeine…”

“We should have some decaf around here somewhere…” Davies glanced at one of his assistants, a man in a quiet suit, who nodded.

“Then yes, please.” He wasn’t really a tea drinker, but he did enjoy an occasional cup.

“Well, you’re ahead of the news from Washington,” Davies said as the arrangements were made.

“Marvels o’ the modern world, that. ‘Yer people inventin’ the jump array’s prob’ly the most impactful thing that’ll happen to th’ galaxy in our lifetimes, ‘sides mebbe killin’ the Hierarchy.”

“I doubt we can really claim credit. It was an idea that would have come along long before we did if the Hierarchy hadn’t suppressed it.”

“Balls, sure ‘ya can! You ain’t achievin’ no less just ‘cuz you don’t know who mighta come before.”

“True enough I suppose…” Davies looked up as his assistant returned and tea… happened. The funny thing was, Daar could tell that there was a certain amount of ceremony involved in how it was made here, but unconscious ceremony. The room stopped for it.

Aliens were weird. Humans especially. But the biscuits were crunchy! And frankly, crunchy snacks were one of the easiest ways to Daar’s heart.

“Anyway. News from Washington,” he said, plucking a few more off the plate. The flavor was subtle, but he kinda liked that. So many things on Earth were kinda heavy-handed in their scent and taste. This, though…just butter, flour, and sugar, but not overpowering so. “…Local butter? It….really slightly smells kinda like the general aroma of the isle, I think?”

“I honestly have no idea,” Davies admitted, with just the faintest hint of polite impatience.

“Sarry. Business. News!” Daar regretfully put the biscuit down for the moment. “Chambliss ain’t worried about the SOR still existin’ so long as he can take a smaller military budget ‘ta Congress an’ say ‘Look! I keep my promises!’ He couldn’t care less if the money comes from somewhere else, so…I offered ‘ta foot some o’ the bill.”

“That’s…devious. Are you sure you can afford that? The SOR costs more than most nation’s entire armed forces.”

Daar duck-nodded. “I got the means.” He didn’t feel any need to go into detail.

“So Chambliss just sold you the SOR…” Davies mused.

“Not sold so much as agreed ‘ta let me fund a big part o’ the operations. I’m sure there’ll be treaties an’ all sortsa dung we gotta work through, but…”

Davies sipped his tea. “Still. AEC up until this point has been the America-and-Friends club, because most of the funding was American. Whoever controls the purse strings has power. I’m surprised he’d let go of those strings so readily. Goodness knows, the Royal Navy Space Service only exists thanks to American money. If we funded it all by ourselves, we’d have nothing left over to maintain conventional military or our nuclear deterrent.”

“Ayup. An’ he either don’t realize that, which means he really ain’t ready ‘ta lead at this level, or he does and in that case, he shouldn’t be callin’ th’ shots ‘fer somethin’ like the SOR anyway. Meanwhile, I’m rich as fuck an’ I know what a valuable resource they are, so…”

“You do understand this could put my nation in a complicated position.”

“Yeah. I ain’t lookin’ ‘ta mess up relations wif’ my most closest allies, yijao? Right now, all I care ‘bout is securin’ a fuckin’ irreplaceable asset against uncertainty. I mean, balls! Maybe Chambliss is a stand-up guy under it all! But I don’t know. An’ as far as I can tell, nobody does, ‘cuz he’s a populist that came outta nowhere.”

“Oh, that’s been the story of this century so far.” Davies sat back in his tall-backed leather chair and drummed his fingers thoughtfully on the armrest. “To be frank, the SOR, the Space Service and all the rest of it still have their role to play here on Earth. The HEAT in particular are effectively a nuclear deterrent themselves. When men like them could drop on your roof from orbit, neutralize your nation’s leadership in an instant, and then retreat through an array before any possible retaliation could arrive… Suffice it to say, we—and I mean the Allied nations, not just Britain—cannot afford for them to be unavailable for operations here on Earth. They’ve done a lot of good simply by existing. Those treaties you mentioned would have to reflect that need.”

Daar duck-nodded. It was a moot point that no AEC asset had ever been deployed in any of Earth’s perpetual smouldering regional wars. The whole point of a deterrent was you hoped like hell you never had to actually use it.

“Like I said. I ain’t lookin’ ‘ta hurt our relationship,” he reassured. “This ain’t a free ride, an’ I’m gonna want some assurances ‘fer bankrollin’ them…”


“So the question is, is America gonna keep supportin’ the Space Service, or are you gonna hafta look elsewhere?”

Davies sighed. “Well, either way our ability to maintain it is dependent on the generosity of an allied power,” he said. “But I don’t intend to impose on your generosity, and I don’t know whether it’s entirely wise to let Chambliss duck too far out of his responsibility to this fight. America still needs to contribute, and it needs to contribute more than just talented young personnel.”

“Yeah. But I got a good sniff o’ the new President. I think he’s a good man. He’s just…prob’ly gotta learn some things, s’all. This may jus’ be buyin’ enough time ‘fer him ‘ta learn it.”

“…That, if I may say so, is a remarkable endorsement.”

“Well, this good-lookin’ muzzle o’ mine is ‘fer more’n bein’ pretty, y’know…”

Davies had a sort of one-beat chuckle that temporarily lifted the worry-lines off his face. “Goodness knows, we all learn this job the hard way,” he said. “I imagine you had similar concerns about me, when I first showed up.”

“I was real careful not ‘ta break ‘yer hand…” Daar threw in a friendly lil’ snarl, just to keep Davies on his toes. “‘Course, I was just Champion then. An’ a lowly sergeant unner Powell’s command. So technic’ly unner ‘yers at the time, too!”

Davies chuckled at that. “How times change. Well, I know this was just a flying visit. You’re at Sandringham this evening, I believe.”

“Yup. Goin’ pheasant shootin’ in the morning, too.”

“Then I won’t keep you. But thanks for dropping in. It’s been good to get your opinion on the man across the pond.”

They shook hands again, and within a minute Daar was back in his motorcade and slipping through the twilit streets on his way to the airport and a day or two of being entertained by the King, which was the longest stop on his rapid-fire tour of Earth to meet with the Allied leadership and a few other nations. He was especially lookin’ forward to Thailand.

Naydra met him on the concrete at the airport. She didn’t say anything, just gave him an affectionate nip on the ear before they boarded the private flight up to Scotland.

It wasn’t a vacation. Not really. He was here for work and business. But it felt kinda like one, and he realized just how badly he’d needed it as he settled down on the plane’s cozy floor and prepared to fly in a real aerofoil vehicle for the first time in longer than he could remember.

He suppressed a brief stab of guilt at enjoying himself at all. He’d be useless to everybody if he drove himself into a dark prison of the mind. Taking care of himself was an important part of the job. He was a generally high-spirited and positive kind o’ ‘Back, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t find himself in even darker moods. He didn’t have stone-breaking claws for nothin.’

Just bein’ around his Naydi was enough to make him happy, though. Especially seein’ as it was close quarters on-board. More time for snuggles!

Careful snuggles, though. Daar was always careful with his Naydi.

“You’ve had a good day,” she commented as they settled in and the plane taxied for takeoff.


“Good.” She scritched his ears. “Did you get what you wanted?”

“After a fashion, I guess. Looks like my bank accounts’re gonna be whole bunch lighter!”

“That will please Sheeyo, I imagine.”

“Oh, he’s gonna be delighted.”

“And you?”

“The SOR’s prob’ly gonna be secure. That’s all that matters. No SOR, no winnin’ the war.”

She duck-nodded and kept scritching, which was unfair. She knew it always made him sleepy. But tellin’ her to stop just wasn’t gonna happen…

Weeks of stress fell away, like a heavy load he could finally put down after movin’ it. There’d be more to pick up an’ move later, but right now there was just a chance to relax, and Daar knew how to take those when they came along.

He relaxed into Naydi’s side and dozed off before the wheels even left the runway.

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 *