The Deathworlders – Chapter 65: Leaps of Faith Part 4

Date Point: 17y4m1w3d AV Chiune Station, west of Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches

Julian Etsicitty

Misfit was a lot smaller than Julian remembered, but damn if she wasn’t a welcome sight. And he’d have to be ten years dead not to smile at the way Allison was practically sparking with happiness at working on the old girl again.

“She’s just so unique!” she gushed, ducking under the landing gear to check it before flight. “Like, the production model took a few lessons from our girl here and they’re special and arguably an improvement, but Misfit is her own thing… She’s just got more character, you know?”

“I think Xiù and I need to be jealous.”

She gave him an amused Look, then stepped up on the landing strut to check inside the cavity above. “I’m not gonna fuck the spaceship, dummy.”

“Oh, I see. That’s all we are to you, huh?”

Her reply was to throw some wadded-up scrap paper from her pocket at him.

Julian collected it, pocketed it, then looked up and patted the hull fondly himself. Truth was, Misfit did hold a special place in his heart. They’d gone to some pretty incredible places and done some pretty incredible things with her, and he was glad to see that aside from a little understandable wear and tear she was still in fine shape. Her livery was still proud red and gleaming silver, her hull was still that squat, blunt sledgehammer shape that made her feel tough and capable. She still had that charming slight asymmetry from the observation dome built into her starboard side…

But now that he was seeing her for the first time in a long while, he had to admit… she wasn’t a big ship at all. Hell, she could have landed on a tennis court. The only reason she stood so far off the ground that he and Allison could walk around underneath her was because she’d been designed with long landing legs capable of setting down on uneven terrain.

She had a few new decorations on her, behind the cockpit, in the form of a red circle and six blue-green ones. Trophies of the worlds she’d been the first ever human ship to land on: Mars, Lucent, Akyawentuo, and Ayma, plus the three discovered by Jeremy Lee, Ben Sullivan and Sam Ackermann, Misfit’s current crew.

There’d be an eighth going on that list today.

Ackermann was the field researcher, the guy doing what had once been Julian’s job. They’d originally got off on the wrong foot, with Ackermann being quite sullen about losing “his” ship to them, but he’d dropped that grudge pretty quickly. In fact, the model of Misfit sitting on top of the bookshelf at home had been his idea, a gift from the new crew to the old.

Julian personally kinda liked him, but he had no idea how Lee and Sullivan could stand living with him in such tight quarters. Then again, they’d gone a very different route in their relationship: the three men were close colleagues, and had as much of the Right Stuff as any of the Apollo missions, but they struck Julian as a little too… professional.

Still. There was no disputing their results.

“I’ve been reading up on the target world,” Ackermann said. “You know this is going to be the first time Misfit sets herself down on a non-deathworld that isn’t Cimbrean?”

“We gonna paint the picture up there a little smaller, then?” Allison asked.

“A planet’s a planet,” Ackermann shrugged.

“Well… good news is, you took good care of my ship,” Allison declared, tapping firmly on her tablet to record her verdict.


“Now you bring my girl and my boy back in one piece, hear?”

Julian rolled his eyes and grinned affectionately. “We’ll be fine, babe.”

“Sure, but you’re gonna be cooped up in there with a buncha cavemonkeys for like ten hours. That little jaunt we did out to drop the system field is nothing next to that.” She gave him a hug and a smooch. “So keep ‘em from tearing up the place, okay?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good boy.” She gave him a second smooch then stepped away. “See you when you get back! Wo ai ni!”

“Wo ye ai ni!” Julian grinned, waved, ignored Ackermann’s amused expression, and then at his invitation preceded him up the ship’s ladder.

Climbing on-board, well…things felt a heck of a lot more cramped than they had before. He felt positively lumbering as he shouldered his way through the airlock, through into the crew space, and plopped himself down out of the way in the observation blister. The interior was much the same, though. Much the same…but not quite.

Xiù had decorated it with a few little personal touches, using acrylic paints. At first it had just been some girly leaves and flowers on vines and stuff, but later on after her first encounter with the glimmermotes on Lucent, she’d added those as well. That was the biggest detail, missing: at some point, her hard work had been wiped out.

Things were stored a little differently, too. Different personal items stashed in the bunks, some board games stowed to either side of the TV where they’d kept books… things like that. He very much was visiting his old home and seeing how other people lived in it. Not a comfortable feeling.

Being a passenger didn’t help, either. He knew every single step of the procedure for bringing the ship up to power and jumping her to space, and he could practically count it off in his head, following the familiar beats as the power systems came up, the airlock locked down, the artificial gravity took over from Cimbrean’s…

And the black flash of the jump itself, right on the zero as he counted down from five.

All in all, he felt weirdly out of his element from launch, up through jump, and down again for landing. He got to turn the tables, however, once the crew met the Ten’Gewek for the first time.

The experience was always much the same. Ten’Gewek were cheerful, blunt, and direct people. They were suspicious and stand-offish at first, but the instant they knew you were friendly, all boundaries aggressively disappeared. All of them.

Though on that front, Yan’s tribe was at least somewhat considerate. All the crew had to endure was curious children. Which, given they climbed like spider monkeys and often massed as much as full-grown men…

Lee managed to hold up with two of the very little ones sitting on him, combing through his hair, exploring around his upper body and absolutely pelting him with questions. Not bad going, in supergravity! Still, Julian rescued him before their combined weight (or grabby hands) could defeat him, and then turned to his first diplomatic problem.

There were far too many curious cavemonkeys who wanted to come along. Half a dozen Given-Men, three Singers, one of whom was beginning to go blind and so wanted to bring her Dancer along, Vemik of course…

Packing all of them into Misfit would have been a lot like running a herd of prime beef into a sardine canning plant. Not that they’d mind much, but there were functional concerns. And safety concerns.

And sweaty musky cavemonkey concerns.

“We can’t take too many. Didn’t you tell them, Vemik? Also, where’s Yan?”

“He’s out hunting, but he only just left, so we used the speaking-stone magic to call him back.”

“Okay.” Julian cleared his hair out of his face. Time for a trim. Or maybe he should grow it out… “We’ll be putting a jump array on the new world, too. You’ll be able to walk from here to there just like you can to Cimbrean. Then, anyone who wants to visit, can.”

That earned a hoot of approval. Ten’Gewek by and large were not wholesale adopters of alien tech. They were…selective. If they could make it or do it themselves, they preferred to stick to what they knew, though they weren’t shy about learning, either. Quite a few improvements to their way of life had come of simple refinement and better skills.

Writing was probably the best example of something they adopted whole-heartedly. All of the nearby tribes could speak fluent English at this point, right down to the children. Many of them could read and write too, and their two writing systems were more or less merging into a single coherent system, which was going to earn Tilly some post-doc accolades, probably…at least, as long as a certain curious gorillaboy didn’t distract her too much.

They were okay with the simple machines too, so long as it didn’t intrude on what they saw as sacred labor: the Hunt, the Dance, the Game of the tribes…anything to do with social ritual. They were also leery of anything that required Sky-Magic to work, even if they could get their head around the basic idea.

The story was different if that bit of tech did something completely impossible for them. Jump arrays were fine. That was so utterly impossibly magical there was nothing to ground it for them to the World That Is. Two-way radios were somewhat the same, and those they loved the most. They ended up purchasing simple, rugged models that could survive just about anything, and now there was at least one in the hands of most of the tribes.

They’d even got a start on a solar-powered repeater network, so before long the whole of the Ten’Gewek–at this point, spread out across an area comparable to Rhode Island–would be able to talk directly to each other. All the Given-Men and Singers knew how to use and maintain them, so along with the “Given-Man Post,” they were well on their way to communicating with each other as one culture.

Sure, they didn’t know how it worked. They didn’t even know the first principles at play. But that would probably be changing, actually. The Professor’s Academy had finally taken off, and the basics of learning were starting to spread pretty widely.

Daniel fretted about the cultural harm that caused, of course. English came with a heavy freight of concepts that had hitherto been entirely alien to the Ten’Gewek, and he’d gone on quite a long diatribe about the history of European cultural development, the interplay between Christianity and Germanic languages, they way that simply learning to speak it meant effectively outsourcing a couple-few thousand years of cultural development…

The usual stuff. The humans working on Akyawentuo were all pretty much resigned to the inevitable reality of cultural contamination at this point, and generally dealt with it by reminding themselves that the alternative for the Ten’Gewek had been extinction.

Personally, Julian thought they were worrying too much. They were thinking like civilized people. Hell, they were thinking like academics, and that was the problem. Ten’Gewek were not civilized, nor were they academically inclined. Not even Vemik was overly interested beyond a practical sense of engineering. And that mattered, because their relationship to all of their new “sky-learnings” was very pragmatic. Where the stories stuck together, they were happy to let them. Where they didn’t…eh. Tribes had different stories, after all. No sense getting too worked up about it, there were bigger problems at hand, like hunting their next meal.

So it always was. And stories didn’t bring in the meat.

In the end, knowing there was a jump array coming allowed Yan to wade into the gathering and get them to chill out while he, Sky-Thinker and his Singer made the trip. Three Ten’Gewek in the ship was a much less uncomfortable proposition, even if Julian was pretty sure he’d get pretzel’d at least three times through the trip.

Sure enough, he went zero for three against Vemik, who was definitely feeling his oats and enjoying his strength. Frustrating. Maybe if Julian wasn’t trying so hard not to break anything…he did get Vemik pinned on their fourth bout, though. Julian spent the rest of the flight exacting his revenge, but not really. Vemik had a way of bring out the kid in anyone.

Yan spent most of the trip asleep, surprisingly. Apparently he’d been hunting extra hard the last few days to make up for however long he was going to be away. And the Singer was quite content to curl up in the observation blister and watch the stars crawl by.

She almost fell out of it though when they arrived in orbit around the target world. That was the thing with FTL travel: things didn’t swoop up all slow and graceful, they just… appeared. One moment, open black sky, the next… a planet.

Julian chuckled as she flipped over onto the floor, twitched her tail at it, then stood up and tried to reclaim some dignity, kind of like a cat who’d just fallen off something and was trying to walk it off.

“I never did get used to that,” he admitted. “I think pilots do it deliberately. Xiù sure did.”

“Shyoo has big mischief in her soul,” the Singer replied. She twitched her tail again, then stepped forward to consider the world below. “…So these are our sky-tribe-lands. Funny thing, for another sky-tribe to claim land for us that we never saw before.”

“It’s supposed to prevent wars. Didn’t work so well, but I like the idea in principle,” Julian said. “Should be about an hour until we land. Falling safely down through the sky and landing are the careful bits.”

“And then what?” Vemik asked.

“We find a place to land, we set up the jump array, the others come through, and then… well, we see what kind of planet she is.” Julian patted the wall beside him. “Misfit’s done it plenty of times. It’s what she was made for.”

“What do we do until we land?” Vemik asked.

“My advice? Watch the view. There’s nothing like it.” Julian perched himself on the back of the couch, facing the window, and followed his own advice. And for a little while, that feeling of being out of his element went away.

It was good to do this again, one last time.

Date Point: 17y4m1w4d AV
Relay planet, deep uncharted space.

Sergeant Ian “Hillfoot” Wilde

“Reminds me of Machu Picchu.” Rees decided.


Wilde shifted his binoculars, comparing what he was looking at to the map that Tooko’s instruments had made as they came in to lan d. He could see what Rees meant though. The Hierarchy had obviously obliterated some poor native civilization once upon a time, then built their relay in the ruins, proud upon a mountaintop surrounded by the crumbling stones of what had once been a metropolis.

Rees nodded. “Fuck aye. Saw it when I was fourteen, my Nan and Dadcu took us to Peru… Except Machu Picchu never had a fuck-off giant alien death monolith in the middle.”

Wilde didn’t even bother fighting the amused smile that smeared itself across his face. The Relay was pretty unmissable, given that it had to be a good hundred meters tall and had an eye-bending space fuckup at the top. “You sure about that, Reesy?”

“I think the fuckin’ tour guide would’ve pointed it out… Fuck, security’s a lot tighter than the last one, innit?”

Wilde nodded. They were camped out on a mountainside a good few miles away from the distant alien ruins, and it was plain to see that the relay was far better protected than Irujzen had been. Hierarchy Repealer-class drones, the same ones that had done the heavy lifting in genociding the Ten’Gewek, were circling above it in dense swarms like flocks of evil starlings. High overhead, a faint heat-haze shimmer in the air hinted at the presence of a huge domed forcefield angled upwards to protect the facility from orbital strikes.

“Makes me wonder why they didn’t just Football the planet,” he mused.

“Maybe they can’t?”

“Why not?”

“Iunno. Maybe it fucks with the relay or somethin’? I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud here.”

“Hmm.” Wilde considered that possibility. “Well, that’s one for the brains back home to figure out, I guess.”

“Yup…” Rees nodded in satisfaction as he finished setting up his camera. “Be nice if I was right though.”

“Ready to move on?”


Cover was sparse on the mountainside. They were in alpine terrain, more than two thousand meters above sea level. No trees grew up this high, though here and there where the craggy, broken terrain created little pockets that weren’t blasted constantly by the wind, scrubby little patches of dense foliage had been able to establish themselves, haunted by an assortment of animals that had never met a sapient being in their whole life and didn’t understand the concept of fear.

One in particular was like a particularly ornery honey badger, and only the fact that Ten’Gewek skin was so naturally thick and tough had protected Tumik, though it had taken a good minute or so to pry the enraged creature loose from his arm.

They shrieked like a fucking banshee when they got mad, too.

Annoyed, Tumik had eventually broken the critter’s jaw to free his arm, then pulled it the rest of the way apart with his feet. He’d suffered some superficial cuts and a torn uniform, but the “madbadger” as Frasier had named it had earned a healthy measure of respect. Wilde was determined to stay the fuck away from wherever one might be nesting.

They weren’t much good for eating, either. The meat was stringy and… musky. The Ten’Gewek didn’t seem to mind all that much, but even they said it wasn’t very tasty.

So, considering the sparsity of good concealment, moving unseen was proving to be a challenge much like training back on Cimbrean. Luckily, one of their uniform options turned out to be a fairly effective camouflage even to Ten’Gewek eyes. Testing had shown they definitely had deep color perception, so if they found it difficult to follow, then so would most any untrained vision AI, right?

It was a good working idea, anyway. And backed up by the fact that a swarm of plasma-spitting drones hadn’t descended on them yet.

Getting and keeping the Ten’Gewek in uniform was a small source of grumbling, though. They especially hated their “boots” which were really super durable gloves for their feet. Not being able to feel the ground through their feet threw them off a bit, but the sharp, jagged little flints of rock laying about everywhere ended up being a pretty good motivator.

It was a good old hike over to the next camera spot, made all the slower by the need to pass undetected. Wilde was silently grateful for the Ten’Gewek: while he, Frasier and Rees absolutely could have handled the cross-country mountain marathon with a hundred kilos of equipment on their backs, the cavemonkeys could wear that much like it was a shirt. That freed up the humans to move nimbly and openly, and so their whole patrol could set a respectable pace despite the difficulties.

Work was still work, though. Moving that much weight around burned calories, and so did powering the bodies that could do that kind of work in the first place. Progress was therefore slowed a bit, and around ten klicks in they needed to pause and eat.

They discovered a nice natural overhang that seemed fairly cozy, and it only took a few minutes to establish a nice lean-to that was effectively invisible from above.

That also gave them the first opportunity of the day to drop their gear and piss. Soldiers of old would have wondered at the need to be careful there, but: they didn’t know the local wildlife, and hyperspectral overhead imagery could spot such things. That was why they had to be covered head to toe and the Ten’Gewek needed to wear “boots.” They couldn’t leave any chemical markers.

Which also meant cold food, sadly. Not knowing the capabilities of their enemy, they couldn’t risk the fumes being detected. Hell, really they should be wearing re-breathers too, but…

…There came a point where ascribing magic powers of detection to the enemy got ridiculous and maddening. The Ten’Gewek for example were absolute masters of not leaving any sign of their passing at all, but for them it was a magic art more than anything else. That meant they had…superstitions.

The biggest one had to do with being in the open in the first place. The forest covered a multitude of sins: it was gloomy, the foliage muffled sound, the still air kept scent from circulating. Being out in the open, in the bright light where sounds could travel and where the wind could carry a scent…well, it put them on edge. The given-man in particular was flinching and making a warding gesture at every kicked pebble, or every time his unfamiliar shoes scuffed against something.

“Relax, Ferd.” Wilde said in a low voice. “They can see many things from overhead, but they can’t hear from that position. Remember about how there’s no air in space?”

“They can be invisible, yes?”

“And they would have hit us by now if they were doing that. Relax. We’re not dead, so they’ve not noticed us. And they probably won’t either, as long as we’re reasonably careful.”

Ferd’s response was a grumpy chuff. Nomuk, however, was a good deal older than Ferd and had some more life experience to draw on.

“Lots of small animals here anyway. See? Burrow over there, shit over there… probably lots of little noises here all the time. Making noise is not so bad, if animals make that noise too.”

The thing that made Ferd a good leader was that he was smart enough to realize his men were all older and wiser than him, and that he should listen. That was the biggest reason Wilde respected him. It wasn’t his absolutely ridiculous brawn, really. Well, okay, that was actually pretty impressive. But really, it was that he knew enough about himself to know he didn’t really know anything at all.

He also knew that monkeyfun wouldn’t be a smart idea here. So instead he grinned, deliberately showing off those two-inch fangs all the Given-Men seemed to have, and nodded his agreement.

They couldn’t rest forever, or even really for very long. But getting that shelter up was good, it’d give them somewhere to come back to later. For now, they had three more cameras to deploy. Wilde stood up, stretched, and hefted his pack–still bloody heavy, even with gorilla porters–and bounced a bit on his toes to loosen up his hamstrings.

“Time to get going, lads.”

Frasier and Rees nodded and stood. The four cavemonkeys collectively made the unhappy noises of men who would have really liked another five minutes or so, but that was the limit of their complaint. They rolled upright, grabbed their gear.

And, with a final luck-gesture from Ferd, they headed out again.

Date Point: 17y4m1w4d AV
The Giving-World, far from home

Vemik Sky-Thinker

Vemik had gone to other worlds many times now. He’d been to Cimbrean and Earth, and those were fascinating places, very strange. One had all of the Humans’ old history all around them, in the stones and the ground and the air. The other was younger, and everything was busy.

He’d never been to an empty world before.

The Giving-World, or at least the bit of it they’d landed in, was… there wasn’t a lot going on. There were plants, and animals, and things, but he couldn’t taste what was going on around him like he could at home. He couldn’t read the land around him. Even the desert on Earth hadn’t been so…

He didn’t know the right word. There was life all around him. Interesting life! And lots of it! But something was… missing.

The trees were… nice. Tall and slim and white, with interesting purple leaves, and lots of them had smaller plants growing up them. But when the Singer, lightest of the three of them, tried to climb one, the branch cracked and peeled off the tree under half her weight. Yan, when he tried, needed not much of his strength to just heave it out of the ground and push it over.

The rocks were still rocks, and the dirt was still dirt, but the gravity was weak. Vemik had no trouble bounding so high in the air, he’d managed to somewhat flip over and land badly.

Which didn’t hurt much.

At least Jooyun was enjoying it. He was doing the thing he always did of singing to himself as he worked. The Singer was listening with interest to that: Human songs went to strange places.

♪“…I don’t want the world to see me, ‘cause I don’t think that they’d understand. When everything’s meant to be broken, I just want you to know who I am…”♫

Weird. Or maybe just going over Vemik’s head, though from the looks the other Humans gave him… just weird. Either way, Vemik shrugged and helped the four of them build the jump array. Sully-van was doing something interesting with a thick black cable and a hatch under the ship, but he waved Vemik off, and appealing to Jooyun didn’t help either. Sky-Brother just shook his head.

“Sorry, bro. Too dangerous.”

“What’s he doing?”

“Pulling power from the ship’s capacitors to power the array. That’s a lot of juice, easily enough to kill if you don’t know how to handle it right, so leave it in Sully’s hands.”

Vemik sighed, but gave up on it. Jooyun usually let him join in, so if he said no that meant it really was important. But nobody ever learned anything by being safe! And what Sully-van was doing didn’t look too difficult…

…But no. So instead, he headed out after Yan, following the trail markings the big Given-Man had left with his knife.

Eventually Vemik caught up with him on a ridge where they could look back and see the ship’s gleaming red hull through the trees. The forest wasn’t… it was thin. That was the word. The trees were slim, and they stood far apart, and there wasn’t much living around them. He could see between them almost like standing in the open. It wasn’t like the forest at home at all.

And Yan had caught some things, easily. Some kind of spindly little thing that kind of reminded Vemik of a bibtaw except it had feathers instead of fur. He was busy skinning and roasting them over a campfire.

“They didn’t even run away,” Yan grumbled. “Or fight. I walked right up, and they didn’t even get scared until I Took one.”

“Good meat?” Vemik asked. Yan shrugged, grabbed the one he had spit over the flames, and tore a chunk off with his fangs.

“…Tastes okay,” he decided after chewing and swallowing. “Doesn’t hit the belly hard, though.”

That sounded a lot like Cimbrean. Or at least, the things that had always lived there. Jooyun and Tis-dale had said that Earth things were moving in and taking over because they were much stronger than what was already there…

And that would happen here, too. Vemik wasn’t sure how he felt about that. But he couldn’t shake the feeling that the gods should have made stronger life here.

“Something in your head, Sky-Thinker?” Yan offered him a crispy haunch.

Vemik took it and bit in. A bit bland. Maybe with a bit of salt, and some of Jooyun’s pepper, or rubbed with some Tanew leaves…

“I think…” Vemik considered his words before he spoke. “I think, this place would make us very weak. Not weak like being civilized. Weak in body.”

“We haven’t seen much of it yet.”

“I’ve seen enough.”

Yan nodded with a grunt. “They did their ‘fo-to-gam-a-tree’ thing when we were orbiting. This was the spot they picked…so did they pick a strong spot, or a weak one?”

“It’s a planet. The whole thing has gravity like this. But plants, beasts? That’s a different song. Could be we landed in the land of weak scrawny critters, and there’s good hunting a hundred days that way.” Vemik waved his hand.

“But gravity is still weak. Weaker than Cimbrean-place! Look how high I can jump, Vemik!”

Yan did so. Even for him, who could jump higher than any man Vemik had ever seen, as high as Daar Great-Father could with a bit of a run… it was wrong, how high he launched himself.

Yan landed and Vemik growled in knowing. “Too weak.” Yan sat himself back down. “What did they say the Gee-number was?”

“Point seven-six Gee. That’s like…three of a hand? And that hand is Earth-Gee. That means…”

“I get it.” Yan nodded. “…Doe-min-yun were stupid giving us this. We’d never use it.”

“They Gave it because it was inside a bubble of a certain size around our home-world. I don’t think they did any sky-thinking at all.”

“Hmm. All rules, no thoughts. Stupid, like I said.” Yan stripped the last meat off his prey’s bones with his teeth, and tossed the bone into the fire. “Maybe, this is a gods-blessing in disguise. The sky-people Jooyun talks about are very sick. Maybe this would help them heal.”

“Maybe…but the gods would re-make them to this place, like the gods make everyone for their place. Jooyun and Tis- dale call that ‘ev-o-loo- shun.’ But,” Vemik considered, “they also think maybe that’s part of why we and the City-People were so different, too.”

“We come from the same place,” Yan pointed out. “So a people’s place isn’t the only thing that matters?”

“I think, yes. I only know the shape of the idea. Too many other things I need to know first,” Vemik growled in frustration. “It’s a big sky-thought. Professor Daniel says it changed their whole world when a very smart thinker of theirs first thought it.”

“An important thought, then.”

“Yes! Professor says, of course the gods make a people, and change them. But he says, they also change themselves, too. Very slowly.”

Yan nodded. “Makes sense. We changed a lot just since you came along, little Sky-Thinker.” He looked around at the thinly wooded hills around them. “…But this place, I think, would change us the wrong way. No. I don’t like it here. Best thing we can do with it is Give it to the sick people. That seems to me like it would please the gods.”

“Maybe Jooyun will see that too, now we’re here.”

“Maybe. He tries to protect us from the sky-world and I love him for it. But we are not stupid. We are blessed by the gods to be a thing none of the sky-people can be. But that means we can’t be like them, either. I think you have been thinking on this, yes?”

“…Yes.” There was definitely a bit of a sullen note in his hoot. “But that means… a lot of wonderful things we’ll never do. Inventions and things. If we can’t be like them, there’s so many things we won’t have.”

Yan nodded, shuffled round, and put an arm and tail around him in a fatherly hug. Vemet had hugged him like that, many times. For a moment, it made Vemik sad to remember.

“There’s many things they don’t have, Sky-Thinker,” he said. “But we’ll get to keep them. And we can share, yes? So don’t look so sad. Be happy in what you are!”

“…I guess…”

“Guess nothing! You are a fine man, Vemik Sky-Thinker. Handsome. Very good shape to you, tall red crest and good hard muscles. Stronger than Jooyun! Smarter too! Why be sad because he has read more books? You have half his years, and already you do so much!”

…That was true. Maybe Vemik was being jealous. The gods didn’t like jealousy. And really…Yan was right. He didn’t have anything to be jealous of against anyone, not even Jooyun. Being jealous would be an insult to everything he’d been Given.

Feeling better, he nodded, then stood up. “Array should be ready, the others will be here soon. I think they won’t need long to see things your way.”

Yan just grinned. He bounced up to his feet with a push of his tail, nodded, and led the way back down the hill. Vemik took a look around again before following. They’d go to many other places on this world first before Jooyun and the other Humans were satisfied, but Vemik knew already.

They were Giving this place, and it was the best thing they could ever do with it.

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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

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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

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 of Race 3 Year 4958 Athletic Complex, New Baltimore I jumped to the side, dodging the attack. I felt the breeze as the weapon passed my abdomen; it missed me by only a few millimeters. Twirling to the side, I brought my foot up. Reacting with amazing speed, my opponent

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 78 Of Race 3 Year 4958 Divsion 3 Police Station, New Baltimore “What?” The officer frowned and pushed the circular data tablet across the table to me. On it was an image of the woman I had met at the bar last night. She had green skin, of a shade that

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Shades of White and Orange

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

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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

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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

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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,

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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

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Date Point: 16y AV Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Zane Reid The cold didn’t hurt anymore. At first, it had been like forcing his way through a wall made of knives that cut through his clothes. Zane’s every breath had blinded him as it billowed and steamed in the air, and when he’d experimentally licked his

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 5

Date Point: 16y AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Hugh Johnson Snow. Of course, snow in January in Alaska was hardly surprising, and this one threatened to be heavy. At first, Hugh had thought it was probably just an seasonable dusting that’d add a couple of inches to the foot or

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I had made my way through the tournament, but most of my matches had been won by the skin of my teeth, and I had only the advantage of being evolved from a pursuit predator to thank for it. Our great endurance had been the one boon that had kept me going, and I was

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He awoke to a pleasant smell. “…Eggs?” Hoeff detangled himself from Natalie and the sheets and stumbled towards the kitchen. Daar was busy in front of the comparatively little stove and fridge, humming some terrible Gaoian tune to himself. Seriously, their music was like Chinese opera with extra pain. Some Humans liked it, though…but “atonal”

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Rising Titans – Chapter 42

9 Years, 6 Months, 15 Days After Eridani Landing The [Singer] The explosion hit and [Vann] watched at the lights on the main hologram and different panels flashed a blinding white light, before dying and plunging the entire bridge of the [Singer] into darkness. “What were we supposed to do?” asked someone near the weapons

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Day 1. I’ve made it on board the human trading vessel! They didn’t detect my presence, and I’ve managed to smuggle myself into their engineering bay, and disguised myself within a cluster of cables! My small, serpentine body makes me indistinguishable from a thin, grayish cable, and the Humans won’t notice my existence until it

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 1

Date Point: 15y 10m AV Camp Tebbutt Biodrone Internment Facility, Yukon–Koyukuk, Alaska, USA, Earth Hugh Johnson Camp Tebbutt wasn’t actually a bad place to live, if you didn’t count the fact that it was essentially a prison for innocent victims. Hugh understood why he was there, and why he couldn’t leave… but after eleven years,

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 3

Firth Regaari chittered, “It is difficult to imagine you ‘humbled,’ Righteous.” “Heh,” Firth chuckled. “You do know most of my attitude is straight fuckin’ bullshit, right? Adam and John know why.” Regaari looked over at John, who shrugged massively. “He’s a scary dude. Being ridiculous kinda takes the edge off, y’know?” Regaari duck-nodded. He was

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Rising Titans – Chapter 41

9 Years, 6 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Moving down the hallway Diana paused at the double doors, carefully she moved forwards into it’s threshold and they slid open. A woman in an orange smock looked up from her Comm for a moment, and then going back to look at it did a

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The Good Samaritan

I felt a white-hot pain in my back as I was stabbed. Once, twice and then three times. I fell to the ground clutching my new openings, and for a moment I couldn’t grasp what had just happened. I had walked through an alley as a shortcut back home, and then suddenly someone had grabbed

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 6

Date Point: 15y9m3w AV Mrwrki Station, Erebor System, Unexplored Space Darcy “Does it seem… different to you lately?” “What?” “The Entity. It’s actin’ different, dude, I swear it is.” Darcy sighed and set aside her work as Lewis sat down. She was sitting drinking a Moroccan Mint tea in the station’s rec lounge, with its

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Rising Titans – Chapter 40

9 Years, 6 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Popping the restraints off of her legs Diana swung herself off of the table, the two class A’s still in their isolation suits were pounding at the door of the room the three of them were in. “It’s out! Open the door!” shouted the man

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 2

Master Sergeant Christian (Righteous) Firth The end of the movie came and the ladies were fast asleep and prolly too tired to head home with any comfort. The other bros were asleep, too, and Firth was tangled up with them pretty good. Oh well, both ‘Base and ‘Horse were heavy-ass sleepers and only danger or

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Hell. It’s a completely Human concept. The concept of a realm of eternal torture, to which you are sent depending on the whims of one deity or another, is something only found in Human fiction. And it’s not an isolated occurrence. Almost every human culture since the dawn of humanity itself has had it in

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 4

Date Point: 15y9m2w AV HMS Sharman (HMNB Folctha), Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Senior Master Sergeant Christian (“Righteous”) Firth “Hey, fuckers! Guess what hit the newsstand today!” Adam looked up from his needlework for a second and raised an eyebrow. “Imma guess Coombes’ centerfold spread with Ava?” Firth deflated, somewhat flummoxed that ‘Horse had stolen his

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