Waters of Babylon – Mitzvah Part 2

Date Point: 14M 4M 3W 5D AV

Three Valleys FOB, Gao

Fang Leader Vuutyo, Grand Army of the Gao

The Stoneback Claw and their Human companions that had been their instructors, guides, and battle-brothers had moved on to their newer recruits, and for the first time, his Fang had been approved to conduct independent operations. Vuutyo had heard stories, and had done quite a few operations with their guidance, but there was a tangible difference when he was the one that was responsible.

Operational tempo, if anything, had been stepped up significantly. Vuutyo’s own command structure, as thin as it was, had been supportive of him taking initiative, and his Fang was eager and willing to go. “Ready to rock,” as one of their Human companions had put it with a congratulatory slap on the back. The frustrating thing was, it seemed like no sooner would they clear one nest of drones out than another would spring up.

When they weren’t actively descending like the wrath of an angry deity on a drone nest, they spent time doing what the Humans called “hearts and minds” work, which both Champion Fiin and the Great Father vigorously endorsed. He didn’t see the connection at first…and then a corner was turned, and suddenly they were getting intel about what was going on where they’d never gotten it before. The connection between that and direction on where to go, what to hit, what to leave alone, and how to hit things was so much easier to see, and he often found himself wondering a little at how deep the expertise was that the Humans were teaching them.

A priority call came through his communicator. He opened an eye, rolled out of his nest-bed, and checked to see what it was.


So. A small settlement a short distance away was experiencing an attack. Vuutyo followed the example he’d been given and threw on his gear, dropped to fourpaw, and ran as though his tail were on fire to his Talon-leaders’ barracks. The alert to the Weavers on loan from the Humans was already copied out, and as he ran he fancied he could hear the ziiiiip of a recon drone headed in the proper direction already.

Probably the most important thing he’d learned from his teachers was that modern warfare was absolutely nothing like the stories and the Clan video-dramas. It was all about speed. Stoneback had known that since forever, and the Humans understood how to do it at scale in a way that was just…impossible to get his head around. Vuutyo knew, by the time he had troops in the air, he’d have overhead real-time images and some preliminary action analysis for preparation. By the time they arrived, he knew he’d probably have nearly anything he could ask for, including air support or artillery, just a short distance out and a radio request away.

“UP! UP! GO, GO, GO!!” he roared as he burst through the door. He suppressed a pant-grin of satisfaction as they erupted out of a sleeping pile into wakefulness, and without missing a beat, began grabbing and donning gear as they each cocked an ear to get what was going on.

“We have an attack in progress, [thirty klicks] out at the Green Falls settlement. We were there four days ago, so we have recent recon and contact with the locals. Drone images should be incoming in a few minutes—I want the Claw up and ready to board the Weavers in ten.” A succession of yips from around the room, laid over the top of the rattling of equipment, acknowledged the orders.

Vuutyo stood aside as his Talon-leaders boiled out of their barracks, moving smartly on fourpaw to the squat buildings they’d taken over as sleeping quarters. He watched as lights came on, shouting and the occasional yip guiding his still-green but rapidly progressing troops into gear, and out to the flight line. Comm checks were made, the various channels quickly run through, with an accompanying slap to the helmet with each trooper.

He hustled to the awaiting Weavers and checked in with the pilots to make sure everybody knew where they were headed. It’d never been wrong and there had never been an error, but there was one lesson that the Humans had taught him, over and over and over again. Complacency got people dead. Everything got checked, every single time.

In what seemed like a paw of minutes, his people were assembled and boarded, and they were airborne. Vuutyo busied himself getting the stream of data that was coming in from their ove rhead surveillance, and discussing with his Talon-leaders over comm links on how to properly approach the target.

Green Falls was a modest-sized settlement. One of the main reasons they’d been there several times was that it was fairly important, being one of three main water-routing stations from the rivers out to the farms and fields in Three Valleys. Mostly, it wasn’t drinking water—it was irrigation, which was in some ways far more important. Few of the several hundred residents had been biodroned—implants were fairly uncommon in communities this size, it seemed.

That, he realized, was odd, and it tickled at him. Why was it odd?

…if there weren’t that many drones out here to start off with, what is it that we’ve been fighting for the last month? Where are they coming from?

It hit him like a two-ton heavy thing. Someone, or more likely, something was directing the drones. It couldn’t simply be their residual, somewhat simplified programming that was guiding them—there was agency behind an attack like this, and for the other attacks that they’d been fending off lately. The doctrine thus far was to simply descend on the drones and annihilate them, which his people had gotten good at doing. That was Great Father Daar’s direction, anyway, or at least that was the overall principle. Vuutyo realized, though…he was in command, he had the power to make a somewhat different call, and his troops were good enough now to do what he realized needed done.

He switched over to the channel for his Fang leadership and clicked a couple of times to get everyone’s attention.

“Okay. You’ve seen the overheads. We’re going to deploy in a pretty standard defensive maneuver, put ourselves between the residents and the drones, and I want to move on encircling the drones, but we’re going to try something a little different.”

“I want to see if we can track these things back to wherever they’re coming from. For once, they’re not attacking in the rain, but we’ve had enough moisture in the air to make a damn good scent trail. If we can get them to break and retreat, so much the better, but I want the trail preserved. If there’s a larger nest of these fucking things somewhere nearby, we are going to root it out and burn it,” he said. Yips acknowledging the order came through the comm channel, and the Talon-leader with him nodded.

The Weavers began to descend. The ground looked in places like it was covered in sparklers, with kinetic weapons throwing lethal chunks of metal this way and that. The shielding of the Weavers began to take fire as they moved in, shrugging off mere bullets easily with shielding that was meant to protect against micrometeoroids. They came in hot and fast, and his troops moved out as they touched down, like the disciplined veterans they were becoming.

The next few minutes were a blur; order, move, cover fire, recovery/reload, call for team to advance on the objective, man down, move, covering fire…so it went, as it always went, and before he knew it, it was suddenly…over, and he was left panting for breath as the battle-fever left him.

Two drones, one lightly wounded, had apparently withdrawn and were heading away from his troops and the settlement. Vuutyo gave the order to follow, mindful of the fact that this could also be an ambush. In training, his Human advisers had constantly used such retreating actions as cover for another attack, but the drones didn’t seem to think that way.

In fact, only Humans apparently thought of ways to actively use running away as an attack, which was one reason among many that they utterly dominated engagements like this. Gaoian tactics had always emphasized ambushes, of course; even cubs loved to play Pounce, and it had a definite military use, but they’d never put it together quite the way Human tactics instructors did, and the combination was lethal.

He sent scouts ahead, maintaining contact with the two biodrones via his overhead asset. It wouldn’t do to not be careful about this, precisely because of the Human tendency in training to use ambushes and guerilla warfare generally. Even if drones didn’t typically use those tactics…caution was still a good idea.

The scent trail left by the biodrones, as it turned out, couldn’t have been easier to follow if it had been marked by billboards and set on fire. He monitored their progress, keeping his scouts far enough back from the biodrones that they would probably avoid detection. A third of the Claw saw to coordinating first aid, while the other two followed the scouts at a good distance.

Before they’d gotten too far from the main settlement, he got a message from one of the Talon-leaders he’d left behind.

“Fang Leader, I’m seeing symptoms here of that sickness they told us to watch out for. The human one.”

“Give me a written summary, and contact the controllers at our base—see if we can get one of those portable bio-fields brought out here, and get everybody put through it,” Vuutyo replied. “I’ll send it up with our action report. Make ‘em comfortable—we should be back in a few hours.”

“Yes, sir.”

It took nearly a half hour of stalking behind the two drones to figure out where they were going. At some point in the area’s history, there had been some exploratory mining a short distance from the settlement that had apparently withered away, leaving only the detritus of aging buildings and some excavation. He made multiple passes with the recon asset, getting stills from every angle and a thorough look at the layout of the place. It was deceptively well-fortified, tailings from the mine forming suspiciously well-placed piles for cover in a firefight…and sure enough, there were several heat signatures on overwatch.

Two, however, could play at Pounce.

Vuutyo considered options. His goal, as far as he’d thought it out, was to try to capture this as intact as possible—if it was holding, or Daar-forbid, producing new drones, then it would go a long ways towards explaining where they were coming from and why they kept popping up. That, in turn, ruled out certain options, such as nuking it from orbit, but there were still other ways to be sure.

He moved his Talons to a good angle to enfilade both of the main watch points, and then chittered to himself. There was an element to what he was about to do that always appealed to the mildly-sadistic side of him, like the world’s greatest practical joke that was only funny if you weren’t the one on the receiving end.

The process of teaching and learning with Humans and the Stoneback experts had been somewhat one-sided, but there had absolutely been an element of mutual teaching and adaptation to it. Human weapons were created and intended for use on other Humans, so their lethality tended to be overkill for what was needed for use on other species, such as Gaoian bio-drones. The Humans—and the Stonebacks, for that matter—had strongly insisted there was no such thing as overkill but honestly it was hard to see the utility in a hand-held grenade launcher that would pulp a room filled with biodrones to goo.

Well, okay. Actually the usefulness of that was perfectly obvious, but if what one wanted wasn’t goo, but something more recognizable…

This led to some peculiarities in their use, and quick development of weapons that wouldn’t have had much effect if any on Human targets, but were quite useful otherwise. Vuutyo’s favorite of these was what the Stoneback brothers had dubbed the “popgun” mortar round—a repurposed firework display used in Human celebrations for its fast burn, exceptionally loud bang and overpressure wave, and brilliant white flash of light. It was a flashbang grenade, essentially, only much bigger and more incapacitating, in an airburst.

His mortar teams had been introduced, or perhaps re-introduced, to the idea of a “time on target” barrage of indirect fire, just a week or two before, and he could almost physically feel their eagerness to try it out. A wave of pride hit him when he realized they were already set up and prepped for the order before he’d even given it, and he realized something.

The processes and way of thinking that the Humans and Stoneback had been teaching the Grand Army weren’t new at all. What they had done was to take the instinctive and easy, natural flow of cooperative work that Clanless understood in their own right, and they applied military discipline, processes, and equipment to that already-existing template. The synergy of it was breathtaking.

And in a moment, that was going to be literal. He quit ruminating, gave the order, and watched, trusting his smart eye and ear protection to keep him from being deafened and blinded.

From above, the video feed caught the head-turn of the sentries as they heard the mortar tubes firing with their characteristic foomp. They had just enough opportunity to know that something was happening, when four airburst popgun rounds went off overhead all at once in a flash that dazzled the cameras, lit up the entire mine site in a lightning-quick flash of blinding light, and carried with them an overpressure wave that he could feel in his chest.

He didn’t even have to give the assault order. His Talon-leaders motioned their men forward, and in seconds the sentries were incapacitated, the two drones they’d followed here stuck with sleep-patches and unconscious, and the entire external site secured.

Vuutyo’s radio crackled to life again.

“Fang Leader, Third Talon. FOB says they don’t have a bio-field to send, the two the base has are already being used and won’t be free for a couple of days. Said they’re using them on a commune recovery, cubs and Females.”

Vuutyo sighed. This sickness was really getting out of control. “Do what you can to make them comfortable—Human medic said stay warm, eat, and plenty of fluids, and just ride it out.”

“Acknowledged, Fang Leader. Third Talon out.”

He turned to Mura, his First Talon leader. “I want a couple of Claws to each structure. Get a sweep done, let’s see what they’ve been up to, and watch for booby traps.” He keyed his radio. “Second Talon will stay as reserve, in case we run into anything inside and below, or get stragglers.”

First Talon broke out into multiple sub-Claws of two or three soldiers, and the structures were silently, quickly, and efficiently cleared. The only real coming or going scent trail was to the main mineshaft, and he suspected they’d find whatever it was they’d come for in there. The lack of booby traps elsewhere made his hackles go up. Something about it wasn’t right. Something about it was far too easy. That was never good, whether one was clearing a building or laying plumbing for a building.

Suspicious, he held First Talon outside while a little recon was done.

Gaoian toys in some ways far surpassed the Human ones. Human tools were all about simplicity, often applying effective novel applications to things and doing more with less. Or at least that was the idea. They really had to, though; Human tech despite their expertise, was almost laughably primitive when compared to the Gao’s. One such was a riff on their love of remote imagery, and he deployed a finger-sized drone with a toss through the door. It caught air currents and wafted inside, no heavier than a large bug.

Heat sensors immediately caught the telltale warmth of living bodies, on the first level down. Below that, it didn’t see much using thermal, but there was definitely something there to check out. He waved his assault teams in, noses and ears alert for trouble from every corner, watching their progress through the drone feed.

The assault was almost perfectly done, troops moving in sync without words and coordinating with gestures. It might not have been as fast and tight as something a more experienced team would have done, but he couldn’t see any gross oversights. Rooms were cleared, floor swept, and the first floor was declared secure. They moved down.

At the top of the staircase, they halted. Vuutyo listened to the low chatter between the Talon Leader and two of the Claw Leaders inside.

“[Fuck], what a stink.”

“Smells like a lot of dead. Lot of decomp in the air.”

“Yeah. Everyone, button up and go to your bio-filters. Masks on.” There was a pause while those preparing to assault followed the order and reported ready with a quick radio-click.

“Ok. We’re going in quiet. Watch for traps, anything out of the ordinary, ready, 3…2…1…” In the team went, practically right on top of one another and fanning out at the stairs to move down what proved to be a fairly wide and open corridor with rooms on either side. The life signs had some from this floor, and they were quickly located as unresponsive drones each seated on the floor staring blankly at the walls, with greenish snot bubbling out of most of their noses.

“The [fuck]?” One of Vuutyo’s Claw Leaders was fond of the versatile Human word. He decided to weigh in.

“First Talon, capture one or two of them, but put the rest down. If they’re not moving, I want to know why, but we don’t need all of them for that.” He watched as those massively useful Human flex-cuffs were produced and used, and knives attended to the rest. A gesture from one of the Claw Leaders caught his attention, and he moved the drone to see what it was.

Towards the back of the room, there were perhaps another dozen dead, by all appearances having died right where they sat, like so many gargoyle statues. He activated the infrared light on the drone for better illumination.

“This coulda been way worse, sir,” said one of the soldiers to the drone. “I think these all died right here of the sickness. Explains maybe why we’re getting them in small groups.”

The rest of the Talon had continued clearing the floor, and was preparing to move onwards. In nearly every room it was the same—a few still-living drones seated on the floor and unresponsive, with a number more behind them. Vuutyo started prepping the report he was going to have to flash upwards to Central Command; he had a sneaking suspicion that more senior people were definitely going to want to look at whatever it was he’d found here. This wasn’t a typical nest of a few drones sheltering from weather and randomly striking out.

“Move in,” he said over the radio, following down the lead with his drone. Watching both the front via video feed and the back via his own eyes was a little weird, but he was rapidly getting used to it.

Silently, they poured down the stairs to find one large door standing slightly open. Lights were on down at this level, a knifelike edge of illumination spearing through the door and up the adjacent wall.

“Someone in there,” breathed the lead soldier, crouching at the edge and peeking inside around the corner, gun at the ready. Inside, there was the sound of something moving around, over the soft whir of fans and the whine of electronics. The soldiers on the stairs were poised.

“Try for nonlethal if you can,” Vuutyo said. Biodrones operating independently, when there were others nearby, was highly unlikely. A click click on the radio of acknowledgement, and he watched as they readied themselves, flashbangs and sleep patches at the ready. At some signal his camera didn’t catch, they exploded through the door.



0887’s task as a minor player in the Cleanse and Reset for this Control Species had been almost an afterthought. He had been recruited just after getting assigned his Hierarchy number, and had been assigned the responsibility for coordinating the biodrones in this area to wreck the agriculture and farming industries.

For the first few days, things had gone okay; he’d been left with a goodly sized stash of resources to draw upon for it by preparatory work done by previous Agents over hundreds of years as a contingency measure. The disconnection from his home network by whatever it was the Control Species had done had come as a rude shock, and then the evidence of the space battle overhead, even more so.

He had dispatched drones to take out the survivors of the wrecked starship, with only moderate success. He hadn’t quite reckoned with having Humans to deal with, and once they’d dug in, he had worked to discredit them with the population by using Human weaponry to pick off the un-Implanted whenever possible.

The real treasure was the small nanofactory he’d gotten connected and running. With that, he’d been able to construct a robotic implantation suite, and had been able to, carefully, expand his ranks of minions even after getting cut off from the Igraen network.

Then, somehow, impossibly, the Humans had done whatever it was they had done and had driven off the Hunters, put up a system defense shield, and had started to push back against him. One after another, his carefully-created drone nests had been found and put to the torch. He had more drones, of course…lots more, in stasis below in fact, but he’d realized something just a few days before when one of his drones had reported pulmonary problems.

There were other ways to fight than going out and sniping off one or two civilians at a time.

Some work with the nanofactory had produced a passably good genetic lab; 0887 had studied genetic modification, and although he’d never gotten to work with a virus as potent and resilient as something from Earth before, he had plenty of material to work with now, and had had no trouble isolating the virus. He’d spent the last week or so trying to enhance its effects on Gaoians, and had had several test batches running upstairs.

Unfortunately, with the disconnection from the Igraen data network, he was also not able to monitor the goings-on upstairs, and so the sudden apocalyptic flash of light and noise actually knocked him from his feet and stunned him completely. The following surge through the door of armed and armored Gaoian soldiers didn’t even have time to register. He felt a prickling sensation at the back of his neck, and everything went black.


Fang Leader Vuutyo

Vuutyo had never sent a Flash-alert to the Great Father’s office directly before. He had hastily been writing and re-writing the brief message, getting almost ready to hit send and then rethinking it.

Was he really sure he wanted to do this? It was necessary, but…


Closing his eyes, he accepted the inevitable and sent it.


Date Point: 14Y 4M 3W 5D AV

Office of the Great Father, High Mountain, Gao

Father Regaari

Regaari vetted literally hundreds of messages a day from the field for the Great Father, in the normal course of his duties, deciding which Daar needed to see, which he could answer on Daar’s behalf, and which needed to go elsewhere. Much, if not most, of the traffic ended up in summary reports that the Great Father got with his morning meal.

An alert from near AEC’s FOB in the Three Valleys region saying that they had captured an active enemy bioweapon lab and a possible captured Hierarchy demon under sedation was the sort of thing that Daar didn’t grumble about a bit. Regaari tried extra to find those nuggets in the message traffic. It was fortunate that it was coming in at the beginning of the day.

Daar, he knew, would be up; the Great Father was an early riser, despite often going to bed after Regaari himself. He scratched perfunctorily at the door and was opening it even before the rumbled, “Enter, Regaari,” came rolling through the door.

“Word from Three Valley Fang, Cousin. They had some action this morning, I gather.” He handed his data tablet over, which was promptly and utterly swallowed up by a massive paw.

“Huh. Interestin’. Wonder how he captured nine, when my standing orders have been to put drones down immediately.”

“Creative thinking, no doubt. And perhaps he smelled something on the field that caught his attention. We’ll have to ask.”

Daar scratched himself unselfconsciously. “Mebbe. Can’t have people gettin’ too creative with those standing orders, we ain’t got the time for it. Awright. Gimme a coupla minutes to get up, eat something, an’ we’ll head out there.”

“I’ll let the Fang Leader know we’re coming, and get the human CDC people waiting with a claw from First Fang.”

“Y’know, I seem to ‘member a report about two, three days ago in that summary that drone attacks had decreased overall. They shut down when they’re gettin’ sick,” Daar mused.

“This group appeared to be behaving differently. Perhaps that’s what occasioned Vuutyo’s initiative.”

Daar grunted. “Mmm. Maybe. Good thinkin’ if so. We’ll have to see.”

Date Point: 14Y 4M 3W 5D AV

Hierarchy operational base, Three Valleys Province, Gao

Fang Leader Vuutyo

The first actions Vuutyo had taken after sending his message was to order Fourth Talon, back at the FOB, to relieve Third, and for Third to join them in securing the site. Medical stasis units had been kludged together out of some inactive ones that had been inside, and they’d put all nine of their captives into stasis as an added precaution.

Vuutyo had been one of the first Clanless recruited, when Great Father Daar had come to the Three Valleys Province months before. He’d met the Great Father, and only the Great Father’s overwhelming friendliness and honesty had kept Vuutyo from being terrified of him. The Humans that he’d trained with thought highly of the Great Father, and more than one of them had mentioned that anyone who could roll with the HEAT team was, “a fuckin’ badass.”

The sound of the incoming Weaver shuttle overhead got everyone’s attention, and Vuutyo had to reassert what they were supposed to be working on. He wasn’t completely sure whether or not Great Father Daar would personally come out to inspect the site, but he was reasonably certain of it, simply based on his recollection and experience with him. The Weaver landed, the side doors slid open, and….yes. That colossal shambling wall of muscle could only be Him.

He wasn’t alone of course; he was escorted by a Claw from Stoneback’s First Fang, his Whitecrest attache, Father Regaari, and a group of civilian Humans carrying all manner of gear. Vuutyo resisted the urge to gulp, and stood at attention.

“Fill me in, Fang Leader. What’d you find out here?” Great Father Daar asked, in a low and dangerous rumble that was just short of a growl. Vuutyo suddenly realized something else. The enormous proto-Stoneback had positioned himself downwind and was actively sniffing. He screwed up his nerve.

“We responded to an automated report from a sensor cluster we put out here about a week ago, Great Father. I considered it likely that there would be a further incursion here, based on its remote location and the periodic attacks we had had approximately a month ago. Once on scene, we identified the main body of attackers at the southwest ridgeline. I placed my men between the attackers and the civilians at the settlement and began an envelopment maneuver.”

“So far so good,” growled Great Father Daar.

“Two of the drones attacking retreated when the rest were killed. Seeing excellent scent-trail opportunity, I elected to follow them back to their point of origin to see if there were additional drones to be dealt with. I ordered nonlethal methods be used to incapacitate the two drones that had fled the firefight, as well as the sentries, because…I can’t explain better than this, Great Father, but the pattern of behavior of these drones was just different, and rather than steps that would permanently damage them, if they needed to be treated as specimens, I wanted to ensure that was a possibility.”

“Interestin’ line of thought, Fang Leader. You’re aware of my standin’ orders on drones?” the Great Father asked in a rumble that carried.

“Yes, Great Father. To continue…?” The only response was an assenting grunt.

“We cleared the buildings using a standard envelopment and breach, saving the main building at the center there for last. Inside, on the first subterranean floor, we found several rooms full of inactive drones. I’ll…have to show you where and how we found them. I saved two of the living ones, as they show visible signs of illness. The rest appear to have expired where they sat. Once that floor was secure, we continued downward.”

“Go on.”

“On the second floor, we found one male Gaoian biodrone and a room full of genetic resequencing equipment with a civilian-model nanofactory. He was incapacitated at my order, as I believe there is a high probability he is hosting a Hierarchy agent. We secured the second floor as well, and below that in several of the old mine tunnels, we found several hundred biodrones in stasis.”

“Mmm. Fang Leader, I suppose I don’t need to remind you how serious I take my standin’ orders, do I?”

“No sir. I take full responsibility for the order to incapacitate rather than kill outright. My men followed my orders.”

The Great Father leaned forward and inhaled deeply, taking a deep sniff of Vuutyo. “You do, don’t you?” he asked, half to himself. He turned and gave Father Regaari, who was standing next to him looking inscrutable, a long look.

There was a deep whuffing sound, and abruptly Vuutyo realized Great Father Daar was….laughing….chittering fit to burst in that enormous bass voice. It continued to escalate, and others began to chitter along with him, mostly out of a mix of relief and sympathy. Daar laughed until he had tears coming out of his eyes, with his ears laid back and bent over with his paws on his knees, hardly able to get a word out.

“Damn….damn me, Vuutyo, yer a ballsy motherfucker. I ain’t never had someone under my command outright contradict one o’ my standin’ orders, give me such a reasonable description of why they done it, and then have the stones to tell me to my face. Jus’ about anybody else woulda taken that order literal, and all’s we’d have is dead drones here and one maybe dead-Hierarchy-body,” he chittered. His laughing petered out to a low, rumbling, continuous chuckle.

“This…this’s really good work. Three Valleys Fang has done some excellent work this morning. I brought in some human infectious-disease experts here, and Imma let them get down into the guts of this place and tell us what we’re dealin’ with.”

Vuutyo fought the urge…hard…to lay his ears back in relief. Around him, he could see that the Great Father’s comments were having an effect; his people stood just a little straighter, and had just a little more pride in their bearing.

“Honestly, Great Father, I wasn’t certain of it at all at the time…it just seemed like the right move to make. Something about things seemed…off.”

Great Father Daar gave him a hearty back-slap that nearly knocked him over. “Nah. You saw the situation fer what it was, and your people carried out those orders great—standin’ orders like that have to be pretty clear an’ simple to get followed, but there’s always gonna be exceptions. Like this.”

“Yes, sir.”

He gave Vuutyo a sly look. “If it wouldn’t set a totally wrong precedent, I’d give you a scar or two ta’ be proud of, but you’ll have to settle fer a commendation, I think. Havin’ a professional standin’ army is gonna have to change summa our customs.”

“It appears that Fang Leader Vuutyo is correct, Great Father. The Human team inside says that the lab clearly was attempting to modify the Human rhinovirus,” Father Regaari said. The Great Father duck-nodded.

“They were trying to capitalize on it, make it into somethin’ more lethal. Fyu’s nutsack, I hate these motherfuckers,” Daar snarled, mirth gone abruptly. “Damn, this was close. You done good, Fang Leader. You done real good work here.”

Date Point: 14Y 5M AV

Tiritya Island Refugee Camp, Tiritya Island, Cimbrean

Sister Naydra


Had a near miss a couple of days ago. Three Valleys Fang found a lab with a H agent in it that was weaponizing this Human cold virus. Mighta gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that damn young cub runnin’ the Fang. He disobeyed almost all of my standing orders about drones, captured a bunch of em, and in the process, might have saved all of us. Ain Isn’t that something?

Father Gyotin and I had a chat yesterday. He had a suggestion for me that I’m gonna try. Didn’t sound too hard. If it works out I’ll send you a picture!

I’m so proud of the Clan of Females for stepping up and carving a place for yourselfves out of this mess we’re in. You probably already know this, but when I got your letter, I made real sure that Dark Eye knows anything from the Grand Commune that comes thru has top priority.

We’re moving Mothers and cubs through the portals as fast as we can. Gao is gonna seem real fuc strange without Females on our home world, but it’s the best thing for everyone. You were all right about that.

I’m afraid if I visit the Grand Commune, I’d take away from the image of the Females doing this. All of Gao is watching, and while I want to see it and the progress you’ve all made very much, I think it’s probably best if I not come unless I’m invited by the Mother-Supreme and it’s a state visit (which I hate). I have a long, real dark shadow these days, and I don’t want you getting caught in it.

Date Point: 14Y 5M 6D AV

Racing Thunder, Outer-system picket, patrolling in vicinity of Gao

Ship-Father Yefrig

Every time the Racing Thunder passed close enough to Gao to again pick up the tumbling hulks of Hunter derelicts on sensors, Yefrig again found his thoughts returning to the final day of the conflict, when the Humans had deployed the system shield for good. How any species that had only been spacefaring as long as Humans had could have come up with…whatever it had been that they’d used to disperse the Hunter fleet, he had no idea. By this point, he’d resigned himself to the fact that he would never know.

The Human reactions were interesting to read as well. Yefrig would have bet his chances of ever mating again that almost none of the Humans he’d had hushed conversations with had known, prior to the weapon being deployed, that it existed at all, and not a one would say anything even if they had. AEC’s Fleet Intelligence people had descended on every ship that had been in sensor range of the conflict, and had forcibly stripped every sensor record from at least ten minutes before the event to about ten minutes afterwards, erasing as they went. Nothing flying was spared; that command had come from above the highest levels of the theatre commander, from what he’d gathered.

Rumor had it not even Great Father Daar knew what the Humans had done.

At any rate, the aftereffects of the weapon’s use had been …interesting. Racing Thunder, as the primary superluminal patrol vessel outside the system shield, passed through the debris field’s sensor vicinity often enough that their records were “collected” every time they came in. As a result, to prevent too much ransacking of their databanks, Yefrig tended to steer his ship clear of that area. It was, as the Human saying went, a pain in the ass.

At the moment, they were in deep interstellar space, running quiet and simply trawling for contacts. Merchant traffic was nonexistent, which made things simpler—everything that came up on sensors was possibly an enemy of some kind, and warranted checking out. Yefrig sat in his command chair, trying to set a good example and remain alert, but by the First Mother’s teats, this job got boring when things were this quiet.

A sudden stir from Brother Duri at the sensor console got his attention. “Report, Brother.”

“Father, I have superluminal traces from several ships, bound directly for Gao. It appears to be two, perhaps three heavy escorts, and one…very large vessel they appear to be escorting.” He raised his head from the sensors and looked at Yefrig. “They’re Corti vessels, Father.”

Yefrig growled softly. “Usual intercept protocol; peaceful message, but order them to halt. Dispatch message buoy back to Gao.”

Yips of acknowledgement accompanied his orders, and the Racing Thunder accelerated, no longer interested in hiding. Yefrig watched on his display. As ordered, the approaching ships halted, and in a moment, they had IFF readings.

“Father, the escorts are the Exquisite Proof and the Rational Binomial…and they are escorting the Common Denominator, which registers as a…a biological research vessel, Father. One of their big terraforming ones.”

Yefrig’s ears were erect in undisguised surprise. Corti vessels like that were rare, and with the system shield up, there could only be one reason that they would be headed in Gao’s direction. Almost as if prompted, his comms officer spoke. “We’re being hailed by the Common Denominator, Father.”

Corti in general always looked to Yefrig’s eyes vaguely like they were somewhat constipated, and the face greeting him was no exception. He adjusted his chair so that he was a little more squarely in the view of the camera.

“Good morning, Common Denominator. I am Ship-Father Yefrig of the Racing Thunder. What is your business in this area?”

“Greetings, Racing Thunder. I am Ship-Master Kvan. We have come to assist with the Gaoian relief effort at the suggestion of the Directorate’s Varos College. The escorts are simply a precaution.”

“You won’t be permitted inside the system shield, Ship-Master. The Human command is busily sanitizing this area and are still on a threat-response footing. You are also about to enter the wormhole interdiction zone; I mention this as a caution, because you will not be cleared to jump out if the Hunters make a sweep through this area.”

The Corti blinked slowly. “The caution is appreciated, Ship-Father. We have no intention of requesting entry past the shield.”

“There is a substantial debris field ahead of you from the Hunter attack, just be aware. The interdiction field may not cloud your sensors, but it’s best to know it’s there nonetheless. I will alert the system pickets of your approach and let the Human command know you’re coming. You’re cleared to approach the Gaoian system.”

“Your diligence is commendable, Ship-Father. Common Denominator out.” The screen darkened, and the Corti’s face faded out.

“Unexpected, but not unwelcome. Helm, get us within superluminal comm distance of the system. I think I should have a word with General Stewart and Great Father Daar.”

Date Point: 14Y 5M 6D AV

Office of the Great Father, High Mountain Fortress, Gao

Father Regaari

Humans had a term for what his job consisted of that sounded way cooler than the job actually was, Regaari reflected. Being Batman was something you were supposed to feel awesome about. Or..a batman, anyway.

Regaari, as Great Father Daar’s personal assistant/attache/gofer was in a unique position to get nearly all of the communication traffic intended for and from the Great Father routed through his desk, and as such it was a Whitecrest coup, of sorts, that was unparalleled in the history of the Gao. Regaari saw everything…which of course, meant that he was rarely at liberty to pay attention for very long to much of anything.

His own priority message list had gotten quite a bit longer than it had been since Operation NOVA HOUND, and it included a lot more humans on it than before. Now, he had an entire list of people who might be sending messages to the Great Father to pay attention to as well, and most of those were what he paid attention to.

A priority message from Ship-Father Yefrig on the Racing Thunder, copied to Brigadier-General Stewart and others, definitely fit into the category of things that should interrupt the Great Father’s deliberations, and so, with little hesitation, he arose from his desk in the outer chamber of Daar’s office and scratched at the plate. Daar had left him a very explicit and pointed general directive about what not to interrupt him for earlier.

”…Enter.” It came with a sigh.

“I apologize…but this could not wait,” Regaari said. “Some good news, apparently for a change, and something I thought you’d want to see right aw…” He trailed off, then with head cocked, couldn’t resist. “What are you doing?”

“Gyotin suggested I try a human art form. It’s called ikebana, and it’s hard as fuck.” Daar stood, bracing his massive knuckles in his back and stretching.

“It looks like…flower arrangement.” Regaari said, nonplussed. It did—there was a vase, water, and several types of Gaoian flowers sitting in an evident state of disarray between the table and vase.

“It is. And it isn’t.” Daar rumbled. “Gyotin said it’d teach me inner peace, but I kinda think he’s fuckin’ with me. It’s a human thing. Like everything about human things, it’s one thing, and it ain’t actually that, it’s somethin’ else.”

He looked up at Regaari. “You came in here for somethin’. What’s going on?”

“Yes. You have a message from Yefrig on the Racing Thunder. There is an enormous Corti bio-research vessel coming into the system with a couple of heavy escorts. With the shield up and the Human fleet out there, there’s only one thing a ship like that can be here for.”

Daar nodded. “Aiding the relief effort…and makin’ the Corti more money while they’re at it.”

They stood, thinking for a moment. Regaari had long since learned that simply letting the Great Father think about a problem for a minute or two usually had better results.

“Fuc k. I ain’t got the mental energy to do what it’s gonna take to keep from getting raped by those little grey pricks,” Daar said finally. “I ain’t got the time, neither.”

“Send Champion Yeego,” Regaari suggested.

Daar duck-nodded wearily. “That was gonna be my go-to. What’s ‘yer read on ‘em?”

“On the Corti? I have no idea, beyond the usual follow-the-money advice.”

“I meant Goldpaw.”

“You wonder about his loyalty.”

“Eh, it’s just…I ain’t ever smelled a more oily kinda male in my whole life, Cousin.”

Regaari chittered. “I think I know what you mean. Maybe it’s not his loyalty, so much as just…his priorities?”

“Goldpaws and Corti have some things in common. They like money a lil’ too much,” Daar said darkly. “An’….he smiles. Like a human does, only not in a funny way.”

“You smile too.”

“No, I grin an’ you know Keeda-damn well that ain’t the same thing.”

“Daar, you have the biggest fangs I’ve ever seen. Calling that a grin is a bit much.”

“Yeego winds gold in his whiskers!” His contempt could not be contained.

“Then perhaps a firm emphasis on what his role needs to be. Have a private chat with him, Emphasize the importance of the task,” Regaari suggested. “I think you might be surprised by what he’ll accomplish.”

”…Yer prob’ly right, as usual.” Daar took the opportunity to flop to the ground with a calamitous thud and scratch his back on the rough wooden floor.

“I’ll request Champion Yeego attend you. Here at High Mountain, I think? After all, he may weave gold into his whiskers but you have a timber-beam, unfinished wooden floor over two thousand years old, from when Gao was still rich with forests. He’ll appreciate that better than anyone.”

Daar grunted in amusement. “I can’t scratch my back on gold whiskers. Ain’t practical!”

“Yes. I’ll leave you to your eminently practical floral arrangement,” Regaari said with a teasing ear waggle. He closed the door behind him before Daar got any pouncy ideas.

He did, however, hear Great Father Daar mutter something very un-Great-Father-like as he went.

Previous Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 14 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Frostal Secondary, New Baltimore Sitting down in the chair across from the Principal’s desk I nervously swallowed and tried to calm my heart. The Principal could probably hear it, and smell my perspiration. Which was only making me more nervous. “Thoomaas,” squeaked the principal from

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Next Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 14 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Frostal Secondary, New Baltimore Sitting down in the chair across from the Principal’s desk I nervously swallowed and tried to calm my heart. The Principal could probably hear it, and smell my perspiration. Which was only making me more nervous. “Thoomaas,” squeaked the principal from

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Sweetness – Implications

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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

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

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

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

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Shades of White and Orange

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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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 2

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

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Date point: 14y 1m 2w AV “Clan Young Glory,” western unincorporated territories, Gao Sister Naydra Naydra and her fellow Sisters were slowly dying. The “Clan” that had “liberated” them from the clutches of what they now knew were biodrones had decided their honored guests needed “protection.” Their so-called protection consisted of imprisonment. Their “protection fees”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 3

Date point: 16y2m3d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Professor Daniel Hurt “What exactly did he say he’s fetching, anyway?” “An M107.” Daniel frowned. Although he’d learned more about firearms in general over the past few years than he’d ever imagined he would, there were times that the people who really “got”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m1d AV Chiune Station, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler Allison hadn’t slept well in a couple of nights. It wasn’t that she begrudged Julian and Xiù going offworld, not at all, but it did disrupt the sense of familiarity that made home, well… Home. If she didn’t have her brothers to

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Rising Titans – Chapter 47

+ 30 Seconds The Canada “The Empire ships are now in range of the ACE field!” reported Arik. Stagg grimaced as the ship shook “Activate,” “New contact!” shouted Arik interrupting. “What?” “IFF is identifying the vessel as the HSB Russia, they just exited a spatial rupture directly between us and the Empire fleet!” “Open communications!”

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m1d AV personal sanctum, Dataspace. Cynosure/Six Data sophonts did not sleep, and thus did not dream. Nevertheless, Cynosure had a recurring nightmare of sorts. When his attention wandered, he found that it almost inevitably alighted on a handful of disturbing subjects. The details varied, as he worried at different aspects of the problems

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Good Training – Survival Part 2

Date point: 14y 7d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Later that day Julian Etsicitty It was approaching mid-day and the day’s morning work had been taken care of. The scouts had come back and reported that the nearby werne had just calved and would need to be left alone for a

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 6

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao “Poor bugger hardly knew which way is up…” Powell grunted, once Wagner was gone. “Who can blame him? His whole crew going violently psychotic on him with no warning, only to be stasis-hopped right into a Corti’s lab being sniffed

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Rising Titans – Chapter 46

9 Years, 6 Months, 14 Days After Eridani Landing Jikse Diana blinked in surprise as the jungle was suddenly lit up by a fantastic reddish glow, glancing behind her towards the city Diana watched as another blast of energy, identical in color to the flash fell from the sky. Unable to see from her vantage

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, The Far Reaches Julian Etsicitty The house was a mess when Julian got back, which was rare. Nobody in their household was naturally untidy—living on Misfit had driven Allison, Xiù and himself into an ingrained habit of orderliness, and the boys had lived in fear of their father’s belt

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 4

Date Point: 16y2m AV Hierarchy/Cabal Joint Communications session #1536 ++Asymptote++: I have bad news. It would seem our new drones are detectable. ++0004++: <Dismay> you’re certain? ++Asymptote++: The force I sent to Cimbrean was captured immediately upon arrival. ++0007++: How? ++Asymptote++: Unclear. The Arutech drones don’t report as concisely as conventional biodrones. The connection is…

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 3

Date Point: 16y2m AV The Thinghall, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Gabriel Arés Every civilization needed its icon of executive power. The UK had the black door of Number Ten Downing Street and, somewhere behind it, the Cabinet Room; the USA had the White House, and the Oval Office; Folctha had the Alien Palace. The

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Good Training – Survival Part 1

You may also want to read Pyrophytes in The Deathworlders series. Same story, different angles. Date point: 14y 7d AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Professor Daniel Hurt “You want me to read it by next week?” Julian mopped the sweat from his face and bounced loosely in place. “What was it

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Rising Titans – Chapter 45

-7 Hours CHRONT THE CANADA “More contacts!” said Arik as she flashed every monitor on the bridge a bright red. Stagg glanced up at the monitor, “How many more?” “I’m counting!” “You’re counting!?” A grainy image of the approaching Empire patrol vessel was quickly displayed, a small box around it. Additional boxes quickly filled the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 2

Date Point: 16y2m AV Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Nofl Leemu had become unresponsive. Nofl’s quarantine facility had alerted him after the patient had been anomalously still for twenty minutes, and the reason why became obvious upon a quick inspection of the cell: Leemu was sprawled on his back, staring blissfully up at

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Good Training – April Fool’s

13y 3m 29d AV One-Fang workhouse, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Sergeant Regaari (Dexter) of Clan SOR One of the best things about the humans was that they had a springtime holiday dedicated to mischief. Before them, only the Gao could claim to celebrate such a thing and it was one of the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 52: Autoimmune Part 1

Date Point: 16y2m AV Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Nofl Nofl’s lab was spacious, but inevitably finite. When it contained an alarming number of alarmed Humans, not to mention one particularly sculpted canine and a Gaoian brownie who was doing his best not to loom at everyone… well, there were times when Nofl

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler After a lifetime of helicopter parenting, Tristan and Ramsey seemed addicted to every opportunity they could find to do something their mother would have scooted them away from. And who could blame them? Amanda had never managed to get her head around the idea

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Rising Titans – Chapter 44

9 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing Deep Space The Russia shuddered again as the engines slowly powered down and the ship slid out of the red blue haze that was the tachyon FTL corridor. James blinked several times trying to clear the haze from his eyes as the regular black background of

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 4

Date Point: 16y1m AV Dataspace adjacent to Mrwrki Station Entity The Entity understood the concept of boredom in an academic, abstract way. It could even vaguely summon up Ava’s memories of being bored. But understanding the idea and actually feeling the emotion were two different things. The closest it could get was the sensation of

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 3

Date Point: 16y2w AV Air Force One, somewhere over Asia, Earth President Arthur Sartori “…You want to give us a Farthrow generator.” Daar’s image was janky and low-resolution thanks to the vagaries of current wormhole comms, but the audio was a lot clearer now. Technology marched onwards. “It’s loaded up on a train and ready

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Good Training – Pecking Order

13y, 8m AV Operator’s Barracks, HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean Officer Regaari (Dexter) of Clan Whitecrest “I got an idea, Regaari.” Regaari flicked his ears forward in annoyance. “This again?” “Well, yeah. I gotta win that bet, Cousin!” Regaari duck-nodded wearily. Not long after Daar had received the SACRED STRANGER briefing, he’d sulked off to think

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Good Training – The Champions – Tidying Up

Messier 24 Mission day: 3 Sergeant Daar (Tigger) The third day was always when things settled into routine. Daar didn’t really know why, ‘cuz that was prol’ly some complicated psychology stuff (maybe he should read up?) but he did know how it worked, practically speaking. Daar always pondered morning thoughts like that when he was

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 2

Date Point: 16y2w AV Weaver dropship, Gaoian space Sergeant Ian “Hillfoot” Wilde “So in all the excitement, we clean forgot about these things. That’s what you’re telling me.” Champion Meereo made a sound that was half a sigh and half a chitter. “…That’s more-or-less exactly right, yes. We had… well, bigger priorities.” Wilde had to

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Rising Titans – Chapter 43

9 Years, 6 Months, 28 Days After Eridani Landing Bellona “Ready?” asked Alpha from where he sat on top of the Captain’s chair. “I’m good!” said Red from where he sat at the controls for the ship. It hadn’t taken much to convince him to pilot the vessel. James glanced down at his own console

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 5

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

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 4

Date Point: 15y 10m 1w AV HMS Violent, Rvzrk System, Domain Space The ground battle churned on for days. That was the problem with Hunters. There was no surrender involved, it was a kill-or-be-killed fight where smashing their will to engage in war simply didn’t achieve enough. Any Hunter left alive would just keep murdering

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 4

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 42

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

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Trigger Part 1

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

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 3

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 41

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

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The Good Samaritan

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 6

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 40

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

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Good Training – The Champions – Doom and Gloom Part 2

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

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 50: Counterattack – Homefront Part 4

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

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