Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 1

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and of the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark.

—Psalm 93: 3-4

Date Point: 14Y 3M AV

Office of Rabbi Uwriy Walden

New York City, New York

The last several months had been utterly crazy-making. Rabbi Uwriy had been a part of many concerted efforts with the Chabad over the years to provide outreach to a family or a community facing some catastrophe. Loss of a family member or a natural disaster, the Chabad-Lubavich was there to provide support nearly everywhere Humans went, even if that support wasn’t widely known outside of the Jewish community.

Outreach to a people experiencing genocide, though…even after their efforts on Earth over the last fifty years, the scope of such a thing was frankly breathtaking at times.

Which was one reason among many that the young woman sitting in Uwriy’s office was a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.

Esther Blum was an ass-kicking corporate law attorney and lobbyist for a consortium of construction companies that operated across the borders of the United States, Canada, and Israel. Their reputation was well-deserved, and probably best described as “getting shit done effectively”. It was probably even all legal.

Uwriy took a cold bottle of water out of the minifridge under his desk and took a pull from it thoughtfully. The folder she had brought in with her and laid on his desk as a proposition lay open, pages akimbo after he’d taken a first pass through it for general impressions.

“You realize that the scope of what you’re proposing here is pretty ambitious.”

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable. It ticks all of the boxes—we get what we want, they get what they want, even the government gets what it wants. Everybody walks away happy,” she said.

“Oh, I’m not arguing that,” Uwriy said. “But…”

“Look. This is a unique opportunity here. After the Knesset passed their legislation, it’s a short step from there to tax incentives for aiding the relief effort. All I want to do is arrange a longer-lasting understanding. Plan for ‘later’.”

“You realize there are going to be some, particularly the Palestinian lobby, that will accuse you of war profiteering. The Chabad-Lubavitch cannot afford to be seen that way, Ms. Blum.”

“I’m confident the PR campaign will put that to rest, Rabbi Walden,” she smiled. “For one thing, there is a deep sentiment towards the Gao. Everyone, the Palestinians included, loves them. For another, the Israeli government literally just declared that the mitzvah of aiding the Gao is among the highest of all.”

“That’s as may be,” he said after taking another long pull from the bottle. “Are you truly confident that you can make this effort this…multinational?”

“We are. The power of this thing is its simplicity. Existential threat, combined with hard evidence of suffering, and an appealing victim population. Anyway, Rabbi. Thank you for your time. I have another appointment to get to, and I’m sure you’re just as busy.” She stood, gave him a nod, and left.

Uwriy swiveled in his high-backed leather chair and looked out across the skyline of New York City, and thought.

A big upheaval in terrestrial politics was on the horizon.

Date Point: 14Y 3M AV

General Assembly, United Nations, New York City

Deputy Ambassador Patrick Lewis (USA)

Patrick sat in his usual seat next to the Deputy Ambassador from the UK in the General Assembly’s room. Their seats were adjacent for the simple reason that the oft-touted “special relationship” that underpinned the British/American diplomatic friendship often needed things done quietly, before the media caught wind of some problem or another.

At the moment, though, he was trying to look like he was paying rapt attention to the Syrian Ambassador, who was droning on well past a half hour now and managing to turn what should have been a fire and brimstone speech into the verbal equivalent of room-temperature tapioca. It wasn’t that they were upset with Israel, although that was certainly also true…it was more that they didn’t apparently have much that was new to say beyond the usual chest-thumping, airing of grievances past and present with Israel, and the only real saving grace about it was that it was in a language that Pat spoke passably well.

Not that their grievances with Israel weren’t valid. There was an argument to be made for everything the Ambassador was saying, even if often it wasn’t a very good argument, but the issues had been debated in some cases quite literally to death, and not even a breath of fresh air like proclaiming that people who were alive had the right to remain that way seemed to derail the aggrievance train.

Business, in other words, was mostly as usual. Unfortunately.

His counterpart from the UK, Deputy Ambassador Shannon Gunn, leaned over and observed wryly, “He’s certainly getting his mileage out of this, in’t he?”

Pat nodded. “I’m betting what he’s winding up to is a recognition of the two-state solution again, or something like it. So far he hasn’t said much we weren’t expecting.”

Shannon listened to her translation for a moment. “He’s going to insist that Iran be given the next time slot.”

Pat nodded again. Apparently another prediction had come true. “So, I think another round of talks is probably where this is going,” he said. “I can’t help but think the Israelis have shot themselves in the feet a little bit here. You know the Palestinians are going to get mileage out of this. They had to have known that was coming.”

A thought occurred to Shannon. “Hey, look at the upcoming time docket, though.”

“What about it?”

“Jordan, Egypt, and the Saudis haven’t asked for any time at all. They’re not making any statements,” she said.

Pat raised an eyebrow. “Well. That’ll make the talks interesting, if they end up happening.”

Date point: 14Y 3M 1D AV

Port Authority of New York, New York City, USA

Rabbi Uwriy Walden

Many things had changed over the last fourteen years, but the constantly busy working docks of the Port of New York’s only concession was that most of the machinery being used was electric. There were other tendrils of more-modern tech, of course—stasis-containers, safety features using kinetic thrust boosters for things going overhead, and full-time air surveillance via drones that never landed, but for the most part, things looked much as they had for the last half-century.

A crunching of scattered gravel heralded the arrival of a dark grey sedan outside one of the mid-sized warehouses at the waterfront. The ship for the warehouse’s contents was on its final approach to the harbor, and Uwriy wanted to check in and make sure that everything was ready to go. Massive doors stood mostly closed as a concession to the frigid wind blowing in off the harbor, as busy teams of longshoremen driving eerily silent electric forklifts moved loads into waiting containers, sealing and activating the internal stasis fields. He stepped out of the warm car and pulled his wool trenchcoat’s collar up to ward off the winter wind. It was cold.

His foreman came over with tablet in hand. Another concession to modern tech; paper clipboards just weren’t enough anymore, and at last someone had thought to come up with a tablet that was mostly worker-proof. For an irreverent moment, he wondered if it was a Nokia.

“Mornin’ rabbi!” came the cheerful greeting. Dave was about as stereotypically a New York longshoreman as it was possible to get—big, burly, bearded, a little gruff, but utterly devoted to his union and his brood of children.

“Dave! Where are we this morning? I’m told the ship is coming in.” The vessel in question was the Overloaded Perambulator, a cargo-hauler under a Panamanian flag of convenience, and leased by a company that a friend’s cousin worked with. It had been “loaned” to the Chabad-Lubavich once they had seen exactly how…massive…the need for it had been and had put the word out asking for transportation help.. The warehouse was crammed, and the massive yard outside stacked with containers three and four high.

“I think we’re on schedule, and we’ll be ready by the time it docks,” Dave said, frowning down at something displayed on his tablet. “You got stuff in this load from all over, man.”

“Yeah. And there’s more where that came from. As soon as this load is gone, there’s gonna be at least one more run. Lot of it is just food. Gaoians don’t eat a lot, but they eat different, and you put a quarter million of them in one place, yeah. You’re gonna have trouble keeping up.”

“Damn weather.” Dave pulled a clean handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his nose. “I’m gettin’ too old to work in this kind of cold. I wanna retire, move to Florida with the missus, live on the beach the rest of my days drinkin’ margaritas and making eyes at twenty-year-old blondes. Half my crew has this cold.”

Uwriy nodded, pulling his coat closer around him, which didn’t help at all. “Is there any inspection left, or are you just loading for transfer this morning?”

“Nah, we finished up the inspection on the last stuff about two hours ago and put it all right into stasis, food actually. Manifest says pretty much all of this stuff goes directly to Gao?”

“Most of it, yeah, about three-quarters of it. The camps on Cimbrean aren’t as big, and they’re already getting a stream from the portals with London and Scotch Creek, and the new Israeli one from Tel Aviv. This goes through the portal at Tel Aviv directly to Gao.”

Dave nodded. “Makes sense. The last stuff we’re loading now, none of it’s perishable. Tents & stuff, I think.” He looked back up at the rabbi, who was starting to shiver.

“Hey, man, you’re lookin’ pretty cold there. How ‘bout you step in here for a cuppa my joe, huh?” Uwriy nodded gratefully, and they retreated to the office.

“Were you able to get everything bio-fielded okay?” Uwriy asked, once he had warmed up with at least a half cup of Dave’s coffee in him. It was remarkably good coffee.

“Yeah. Well, most of it. The field wasn’t working right yesterday morning, I think, but I stuck a note on ‘em inside. Pretty sure they’re fine anyway—it started flickering on a couple of batches, but Johnny gave it a thump on the side and it came back on just fine.”

“Good old ‘percussive maintenance’,” Uwriy said, taking a sip of blessed liquid warmth.

“Yeah, ‘xactly. They’re gonna get passed through another one at the other end anyway. Not sure what the problem with the thing was; I hate dealin’ with alien gizmos.” Dave said, wiping his nose again. He sneezed into his handkerchief.

“Gesundheit. You did mark them, though?”

“Sure did. Put the notes inside where they can’t come off in transit.”

“Good. I’ll have someone come look at the thing, probably next week.”

Date Point: 14Y 3M 1D AV

HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean

Toran & Tybal, Clanless Cubs

The room resembled an interrogation room from any standard-fare Human police drama TV show, right down to the table in the middle of the room and mirror set on one wall. If the last nearly month and a half had taught the two young Gaoians anything, it was that when dealing with this group of their elders, or Humans, it was that patience and self-preservation were intimately connected.

So they sat. And waited.

The sound of a heavy tread outside heralded the entrance of Thurrsto, Clan Brother of Whitecrest-SOR and one of the largest Males either of them had ever encountered. Behind him, Toran’s quick nose caught the scent of at least two others, a Human and another Gaoian whose scent was unfamiliar. Thurrsto, however, came in alone and shut the door behind him. He set a datapad down on the table and sat across from them.

“So. Let’s talk about what you two have been up to, mmm?” he rumbled, giving them a level look. The cubs exchanged a glance.

“The charge you two were given was, ‘take these carts and clean up the trash’. Was any part of that unclear?”

Neither cub said a word, shaking their heads in the negative. Silence and its relationship to self-preservation was also something they had learned.

“In the last four weeks, that somehow has turned into….let me see,” Thurrsto said, picking up the tablet and thumbing through its contents. “You somehow managed to recruit several thousand other cubs, got them to work with you collecting trash, and then separating out all of the recyclable material. You negotiated a contract with the City of Folctha Municipal Waste Company to access their incentives program, then used that to actually pay your…employees. You have also managed to get everyone involved to keep quiet about the details.”

Thurrsto sighed. “I am going to have to go back to your Mother with a report on this. Tell me, in as few words as possible, what you think I should say to her.”

The cubs looked back at each other. “Well…you didn’t tell us not to, Father,” Toran finally said.

Thurrsto growled softly. “Do you know what the worst part about this is?” he asked.

The cubs shook their heads.

“The worst part about this is that the success of your little endeavor has come to the attention of the Mothers, who believe that this entire thing was a subtle Whitecrest operation of some kind. They have publicly thanked us for our ‘efforts to motivate cubs and teach valuable lessons in self-determination’. They’re actually pledging to carry on your program under proper Clan of Females administration. It’s going to be a thing now.”

It was impossible for either cub to hold back from chittering at that. Thurrsto tried, with all of his might, to hold back as well, and finally gave up, joining them. Eventually the mirth subsided.

“You’re both close enough to your majority now that I think it’s time we evaluated what your next step is,” Thurrsto said. “The war is going to make that a little more complicated, unfortunately. The normal routes no longer exist.”

“We both want to be Whitecrest, Father,” Tybal said.

“I’m sure you do. It isn’t that simple, however, young one. First, I have to decide what to tell your Mother. We’ll go from there.” Thurrsto stood. “I’ll send a message to the camp for Mother Seema, and we’ll release you to her soon.”


Thurrsto closed the door behind him and gave his head a side-to-side shake. “I don’t know how you Females manage to handle cubs full time. I truly don’t.”

Myun, leaning back against the other side of the hallway, chittered softly so that the sharp ears of the cubs inside wouldn’t hear her. “You can’t tell me you aren’t pleased with their initiative.”

Thurrsto grimaced. “Regaari laughed at me so hard he fell down when I told him,” he said ruefully.

“Really, what were you expecting?” Myun asked, unknowingly echoing Faarek from nearly a month before. “Their solution is exactly what one would expect from one of you, and he was right. You didn’t tell them not to.” She poked him in the ribs lightly with one claw. “See what happens when you get a reputation for being clever?”

“I know. That’s….I mean, Fyu’s hairy bunghole, what am I supposed to do with them now?” Thurrsto asked.

“With ambition and creativity like that, there’s only one thing you can do,” said Costello, who was leaning against the other wall with his arms folded and watching the whole thing with undisguised amusement. “You harness it and make it work.”

“I have a proposal that I’m going to put to the Mother-Supreme about advancing our training for cubs to include combatives much earlier than we used to,” Myun mused. “It seems like there is room for lots of other training there. You were right, these two are a good opportunity.”

“On Earth, we have childrens’ sports leagues,” Costello said. “The whole point is to get kids to be active, team-oriented, and so on—that’s all stuff that Gaoians do normally anyway, I bet you guys would kick ass at it.”

Myun nodded. “The Mothers have been reporting that male cubs, especially the older ones, are acting out a lot more than is normal. These two, for instance. How long before other, similar incidents?”

“Exactly. So put them to work,” Costello suggested. “I bet a big part of it is just being uprooted and feeling uncertain. Keep ‘em too busy to have grand ideas.” He thought for a moment.

“You know…I bet there’d be interest in putting some kind of league together, if we could come up with a game that plays to both Human strengths and Gaoian. Not, like, rugby or American rules football, or cross-country or whatever, but… We have enough kids living here now to make it viable. How about I see if I can connect you with somebody? You can work out something, maybe a partnership.”

The Gaoians nodded soberly. Sports leagues did exist…had existed on Gao, of course, but there had never been a serious effort to push that into the population of cubs.

“Let’s look into that,” Myun suggested. “It’ll give us something to build on with the Humans here anyway, and I can certainly work with a game that teaches…I don’t know, agility training, perhaps?”

Thurrsto duck-nodded. “Yes. Something to keep these two busy, especially, I think, and out of mischief.”

Date Point: 14Y 3M 2D AV

Lavmuy Spaceport, AEC Command Center, Gao

It was an oddity of operations on Gao, and with non-humans in general, that the usual red light and klaxon which humans tended to associate with Danger! had had to be changed to the more widespread blue-violet color associated with hazards by the Dominion and by Gao. Gaoians, of course, couldn’t see red, and out of consideration to their far-more-sensitive hearing, the klaxon had been changed to a far less intrusive warbling tone.

Not that anyone who spent any time at all duty-stationed to Gao ever had any problems understanding what the danger signals associated with jump portals were. You couldn’t get away from it, and the various NCOs charged with the safety of their troops never let anyone forget it.

The mid-morning jump was moderately unusual for the soldiers at the receiving end, simply because normally, Gaoians were going to Cimbrean, and not coming from there unless they were couriers with AEC or one of the Clans coordinating things. This was particularly true of Females, generally speaking; Myun, known colloquially and admiringly by the human troops as Valkyrie came through at least once or twice a week to consult, but other than that…

Seeing five Mothers, led by one whose fur was almost completely white with age, occasioned a quick buzz that was only shut down by the Officer On Duty’s quick stare promising dire consequences if it wasn’t stopped immediately. Mother Ginai and her Sisters stepped from the portal platform and greeted the young Lieutenant with a nod.

“Good morning. My sisters and I have come to meet with Mother-Supreme Yulna.”

“Of course, Mother.” He held up a hand scanner. “I’m very sorry, but I must insist on checking each of you. Great Father Daar has been very strict on this point, as has my own command.” Each Mother in turn presented her head dutifully. That duty being done, the officer stepped back.

“I will put a call in for you, Mother,” the officer said with a deferential head-nod. “I believe the Mother-Supreme may be in the field at the moment, but if you would care to wait for her, I will take you to her office.” He gestured with one hand. “This way.”

Yulna’s office was a repurposed conference room several floors below the surface. It was immediately obvious that it had been chosen for its defensibility; apparently, even here, paranoia and caution were defining factors for Humans. The delegation of Mothers was seated in the outer, secure office, and after a minute or two, another soldier came bustling in with cups, saucers, and a large carafe of hot tea. Through the door, they could see that an armed sentry stood guard.

Mother-Supreme Yulna, as it turned out, was back from the field and had been upstairs debriefing with her Guards and Great Father Daar. She came sweeping in after the group had been sitting only a few minutes, perhaps sensing something on the wind. She came to Ginai immediately, giving her a warm embrace.

“Ginai, it’s good to see you. How goes the refugee effort on Cimbrean?”

“Mother-Supreme,” Ginai duck-nodded. “It goes well. The Human relief effort is…like everything else about them, a little overwhelming. We could not ask for better friends.”

Yulna busied herself pouring herself a cup of tea, inhaling the fragrance with an audible sigh of appreciation. “I find myself appreciating even their measures to relax.” She took a deep sip, then speared Ginai with an unwavering gimlet eye. “What brings you and your companions to Gao?”

The Sisters all looked at one another. Ginai steeled herself; she hadn’t been dreading this moment exactly, but Yulna had a well-deserved reputation for blunt, even harsh rhetoric.

“Mother-Supreme, the Mothers have Met. Two Questions were posed to the assembled; the first was very straightforward, that the Mothers will ask the Human government for administrative control of the camps, supplies, and so on.”

“Indeed?” Yulna sat back and tilted her head, listening.

“The Clan of Females is at least nominally in control of the relief effort on Cimbrean.” She trailed off, plainly expecting Yulna to engage her further in debate.

“The other Question, Mother-Supreme….this comes to you. The Clan of Females has determined that a permanent commune colony for the Clan should be created on the world of Cimbrean. We are here to ask for your assistance with the Human government to ensure it goes smoothly, and….with the Great Father to secure his blessing as well.”

Yulna sipped her tea, and tapped against the cup with one claw, thinking. “Daughter, it occurs to me that I should have heard of this before today. Before the decision was made to ask.”

“The decision not to advise you, Mother, was mine as the presiding Mother for the Meeting.” A rueful cock to her ears betrayed her continuing uncertainty. “I felt it was best that this decision’s discussion be independent of our relationship with Stoneback, good or ill.”

“Your candor is…unexpected, Daughter, even if it was not what I wanted to hear.”

“Mother, the consensus of the Meeting, at Myun’s urging, was that Great Father Daar and Stoneback must understand that no insult is intended at all. Mother Naydral had much to say on that subject as well,” Ginai replied, gesturing to the youngest member of the group.

Yulna grunted. Of course Myun was at the center of this. She went to the door and addressed one of the Guards outside that had relieved the human one when she arrived.

“Daughter, I need a message sent to Great Father Daar, please. Would you ask him to either join us when he has time, or send word when he is available, and we will come to him?” She closed the door and returned to her seat.

“It sounds like the last month or two has been…interesting.”

“Yes, Mother, it has. It hasn’t been discussed, formally anyway, but some of the cubs, the older males, are getting almost reckless in their behavior. We had two of them that sneaked into the Human military base where the Whitecrest Brothers live and graffiti the water tower. They were punished suitably, of course.”

Yulna nodded. They continued talking for several more minutes, when there was a heavy scratch at the door, and Great Father Daar entered. They all stood, and he waved them back to their seats with a massive paw.

“Good morning, Daughters, Mother-Supreme.” His huge voice filled the room, and he sank to all fours and then sat with a fatigue that smelled bone-deep.

“Great Father,” Yulna said, bowing and then seating herself. “My Daughters have come from Cimbrean with a request for you.” His shaggy head turned and regarded them.

Ginai bowed slightly. “My Father, the…the Clan of Females on Cimbrean has conducted a Meeting of Mothers to answer the Question of whether we…the Females…should create a permanent Clan of Females colony. On Cimbrean.”

Daar’s head tilted a little as he thought. “That’s a bold Question, Daughter.”

“It is, Father…the consensus of the Mothers was that we must not offend you, or Stoneback, by asking. No offense is meant, I swear it, I…” she trailed off.

“You shouldn’t fear to ask anything of me,” Daar said, finally. “Any of you.”

“My Father, I…we…none of us fear you. I am safer in this room with you than anywhere else I have ever been in my life. There are other hard truths, however, that the Females discussed, that I am afraid to share with you.” She paused, and pressed on.

“My Father…you, more than any of us, understand what our people face. Gao right now is not safe for Females, and will remain so the foreseeable future. Your…burden, My Father, in making it safe for us, will be a work of years, not weeks or months, is one none of us would see any harder than necessary. We must have safety, if our people are to survive this at all.” Ginai spoke haltingly and in a rush.

Daar chuckled in a low rumble. “Ain’t nothin’ to worry about there. ‘Clan First’ goes fer you too.”

“We cannot ask of you, or of Stoneback, that you ever have to shield us with your bodies against our own Sisters again,” Ginai said. “The Contract between us also goes two ways, Father.”

“Stoneback provides and protects. That’s what we are.”

“You are also still our sons,” Ginai said gently, sadly. “Your task is harsh, and brutal, and necessary. And it is only by the Females taking action for ourselves, to place ourselves into safety, that it can be completed.”

Daar looked to Yulna. “What do you say, Mother-Supreme?”

“I was not asked, My Father, until just now. Nonetheless, I believe my Daughters are correct in their assessment.”

A long moment went by while the Great Father’s gaze turned inward and he thought about it. Finally, he visibly came back to the room he had never left, shaking his heavy head and shoulders.

“I’ll write something for the Humans for you to take back.” He stood on two legs finally, up and up and up, his head nearly brushing the ceiling. “I’m proud of you, takin’ charge like this, though! Lemme know what you need for materials—Dark Eye ain’t so busy that we can’t use it fer this too.”

“Thank you, Father,” Ginai bowed. Daar nodded back in acknowledgement and left. The room seemed …smaller… without his bulk between them and the door. Naydra stood quickly and followed him without a word.

Yulna nodded. “I will come to Cimbrean with you to make the request.”

Date Point: 14Y 3M 2D AV

Lavmuy Spaceport bunker, Gao


Naydra pattered after the Great Father, trying vainly to catch up with him. Realizing he was being followed, he stopped and turned, sitting on all fours. Great Mother….he’s sitting down and I’m almost looking him in the eyes.

“Great Father, I…,” she started, and trailed off. Everything she had thought to say at this point, everything she had wanted to say for the last month and a half had just vanished out of her head now that she was face-to-face with him. He waited patiently.

“Hello again, Sister,” he finally said, gently. “How are you feeling?”

“I…I wanted to say thank you, Great Father. For…for rescuing me…us, I mean, and for…for seeing justice done.” It sounded lame, to her own ears, as she said it.

“I did as you asked, Sister,” the Great Father said. He sounded almost…sad, but the faded scent of remembered rage still clung to him.

“You did. I…you were right. I shouldn’t have watched. I felt like I needed to, though. He was punished because I told you what he did, so maybe I’m responsible, and…” Abruptly, she was swallowed up in a massive wall of furred chest and hulking arms, and found herself keening into it, as he stood, simply holding her.

“Sister…I did what had ta’ be done,” he rumbled, finally. “You asked, but it was my paws on the mallet, my claws in his body. That’s my burden. Only reason I wanted you not t’ watch was ‘cause I didn’t want you to have to bear that too. You’ve dealt with enough pain already.”

Naydra couldn’t respond at first, shuddering with keening sobs into his chest. Eventually, she calmed somewhat, and he cautiously released her, standing back and clearly torn over wanting to Protect her from something else, or perhaps to just Protect in her general direction. His huge paws rested on her shoulders lightly as he bent to look her in the eye.

“Than…thank you, Great Father,” she said, once she had gotten her breath back, and hiccuped.

He tipped one big finger under her chin, raising it a bit to meet his gaze. “Sister…anything you need me to Provide, just ask.” She nodded, a little weak in the knees suddenly, and not from the crying. The ghost of a smirk played out behind his eyes and in the set of his ears for just a moment, and was gone.

“I’m sorry to keep you, Great Father. I need to get back to my Sisters,” she said lamely, aware that she was probably keeping him from something important, somewhere else. He seemed to understand, however, and held her gaze for just a moment longer.

“Thank you, Sister. I’m sure we’ll meet again,” he said. “Goodbye, for now.” He duck-nodded to her with a step back, turned, and left.

Naydra returned to the room her Sisters were still standing in a loose circle and chatting. More than one suppressed a quirk of amused ear-tilts at her expression, but none of them said anything aloud.

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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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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 3

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Rising Titans – Chapter 43

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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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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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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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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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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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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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