Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 1

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

—Psalm 91

Date Point: 14Y 1W AV

Jerusalem, Israel

The hastily-summoned Knesset was in a low uproar. Earth’s news organizations had been able to get very little out of the tight-lipped military regarding the one question everybody wanted an answer to: what was happening to Gao? Speculation was rampant, and the various members of the Israeli Parliament were, mostly, just as much in the dark as anyone. The few reports received from Cimbrean that hadn’t been summarily censored showed massive numbers of hollow-eyed Gaoian refugees pouring through the jump platforms, and while no one seemed to have actual facts, it was obvious that there was very, very little good news to be had.

A harsh bang of the gavel from the raised dais at the top of the chamber brought an end to most of the buzz of side conversation, as the members looked to their own leadership. The session had been called at an unusually early hour; overhead, the rising sun was just illuminating the high windows, and most of them had had to be roused from bed to attend. It was unusual enough that, to a man, they had assembled.

“We will come to order,” intoned the Speaker into his microphone. The last whispering stopped, and, uncharacteristically, the room was silent for a moment. “Thank you. We recognize the Prime Minister.” So addressed, the Prime Minister stood and approached a podium. She adjusted a pile of papers, then looked up.

“Thank you, members, for coming this morning. I realize this is earlier than the customary time, and I apologize for bringing you here at this hour. What I have to say, however, cannot wait or face delay.” She paused for a moment, and then plunged on.

“My office was made aware yesterday of several developments in the ongoing Gaoian crisis. Allied Extrasolar Command has successfully secured the Gaoian system from outside attack, driven off the Hunters, and deployed a system defense shield.” She held up a hand to forestall comment, even as she was interrupted by applause and shouts of approval from most of the room.

“There is much, however, to be done simply to secure the surface of Gao from remaining enemy forces. We received word yesterday that the Gao have raised a Great Father, for the first time in millennia, to address this, and of course there is the deployment of the US Army to the surface for ongoing combat operations.”

“Humanity is at a crucial and unprecedented point today. Fourteen years ago, we learned for absolute certain that we are not alone in the universe…and one topic that has been conspicuously absent from this body’s deliberation is whether the laws that govern us all, the rights that we have called human are, in fact human rights at all. I believe they are not. I believe that God created our non-human friends as He created us, and I believe it is time that this body led the rest of Humanity in recognizing this central truth.” She paused, waiting for the racket to die down, as some applauded, some booed, and some shouted. It took several minutes and several raps of the Speaker’s gavel for the chamber to be quiet again.

“Our American friends, several hundred years ago, put into one of their founding documents that they hold the truths of equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to be self-evident, that they are granted by a merciful and just God, and that they are inherent to all men.. I have come before this body with a challenge, to be the first among nations to righteously declare that there is a right to existence and sentience possessed by all living peoples, be they human or no.” The chamber was dead silent as the members looked at one another. The Prime Minister went on, more quietly.

“This nation, this people, this very chamber and every man and woman here, is here because the history of the Jewish people is written in tears. We understand loss. We understand pain. We remember. It is graven in our very bones. It is therefore right, and just, that we lead our fellow Man in recognizing the right of all sentient people to exist, that moakh shalit al halev, or, the heart is ruled by the mind, and that a people who remember the Holocaust must never permit such a thing to happen to others without answer. Thank you.”

Date Point: 14Y 1W

Office of Governor-General Sir Jeremy Sandy, Folctha, Cimbrean

Sister Niral

The scratch scratch of a Gaoian at the door was, for Sir Jeremy, a welcome break in what felt like a week that would probably not end until the universe died of heat death. Sir Jeremy had been functioning on an hour or two of sleep snatched at odd intervals since the launch of the Gaoian Crisis. He couldn’t remember the last time he had showered, had an uninterrupted hot meal, or more than five consecutive hours of sleep, but being able to actually receive a Gaoian visitor while he was in his office felt both like a return to some kind of normalcy and an encouraging sign that the refugee camps’ internal organization had progressed to a point that they were able to send someone to him for something.

“Come,” he said in a raised voice. The door swung open. “Sister Niral. How may I be of service?” Without asking, he poured her a cuppa, having literally just heated the water for himself, for the umpteenth time that day, and slid it across to her.

She took the cup with a grateful tilt to her ears. “I…we cannot… I cannot thank you, and every human, enough for all you are doing for us, Sir Jeremy. If there was any doubt that our peoples are meant to be allies, I think the last week has dispelled that.” She held the cup in tired paws, simply feeling the warmth and inhaling the delicate fragrance.

“We were in no position to help the Guvnurag,” Sir Jeremy said after a moment. “The words never again have a special meaning for my people, as you may know. To stand by and watch that happen to your people was not something we could abide.”

Niral sipped. “We are more grateful than you know.”

Sir Jeremy grimaced. “Even now, I and the commanders of our forces wish we could do more.” He sighed and took a sip of his own tea, which, as always, was a panacea if only for a moment. They sat in silence, both sipping.

“I came to ask, actually, if the hall for the Thing is available,” Niral said, finally. “While your organizations are doing an incredible job managing things, some of us feel that it is past time we took over organizing logistics for incoming refugees and the cubs, and played a more direct hand in managing. We appear to be here for the long term, Governor, and it would be wrong of us to allow you to shoulder it alone.”

Sir Jeremy raised one eyebrow. “I don’t believe we have anyone housed there currently…which is unusual now that I think about it. I don’t see why not…but the Thing might have to be convened. That isn’t a decision I have the authority to make, Sister. What did you have in mind to use it for?”

Niral frowned. “To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. We don’t govern the same way you do—we make decisions communally and informally—but I think there’s a lesson there in having a place…dedicated to making decisions and to assembling…that isn’t used for something else. And there is no way that those decisions and discussions can happen in the camps—the camps are too busy and chaotic for it.”

Sir Jeremy was nodding as she finished speaking. “Aye, I will be happy to take this to the leadership, and I’ll run point on getting word back to you. How does that sound?”

Niral gave him a faint Gaoian smile with her ears cocked. “Thank you, Governor. I need to be going.” She finished her tea, and nodded again to him, and closed the door on her way out.

Date Point: 14 Y 1W AV

Interfaith Center, Folctha, Cimbrean

Gyotin, Clan Starmind

The sound of plucking strings and a soft, haunting melody wafted through the air, as Gyotin returned to the Interfaith Center both to check in with his fellow Starminds and to get something to eat. The sound started and stopped, with the voice of a male human speaking every time it stopped to an audience of some kind.

Gyotin rounded the corner and stopped, surprised. The floor of the big central room was absolutely stuffed with cubs, several Mothers overseeing their wayward charges, but that wasn’t the surprising thing. The surprise was…they were all, every last one of them, holding still and paying attention. By itself, this was nearly miraculous—there were probably fifty of them, divided into three groups roughly the same size as one another, and grouped mostly by age. The human standing at the front of the room with a stringed musical instrument of some sort was speaking to the littlest ones with the aid of a translator on his arm.

“Okay…just like we were practicing earlier,” and the song began again as he addressed the other two groups. “I’ll cue your groups to come in—remember, this is called a ‘round’, meaning you’ll all be singing different parts of the same song at the same time, and here we go, with me….” He nodded to the youngest cubs, and they began to sing, hesitantly pronouncing the unfamiliar words and then gaining more confidence. The verse ended, and began again, and as the first verse ended, the second group picked up and began singing the same song over the top of the first group. The melody was sad, and soft, and full of haunting regret and loss, remembrance of places, people, and things gone forever. The Mothers, Gyotin noticed, were doing their utmost to be silent as the cubs sang. He walked in quietly and stood next to several of them by the youngest cubs in the room.

It wasn’t a long song, Gyotin noticed, and as it came to an end, several of the Mothers he stood next to surreptitiously wiped tears from their eyes and at least one inhaled deeply in an attempt to not whimper. The cubs’ attention was still on the Human at the front of the room, who smiled as the song finished, the deeper voices of the almost-adult cubs at the back of the room trailing off, followed by a final chord from his instrument.

“That song is a verse set to music, but the verse was very old, for humans. It was written, we think, about four thousand of our years ago, and what we’re singing now is a translation…of a translation, of a translation, I think. This music is much more recent, it was written maybe fifty years ago; this verse has been set to music many times, as have most of the verses in the same book,” the man said. He caught Gyotin’s eye and nodded. “Okay. I want to hear some of the songs you know now. You figure out what you’re going to sing—I’m going to go talk to the Mothers about boring grownup things.” He winked at the room, and a round of chittering flickered across the room, as he walked through the narrow opening between groups of cubs, as they busily began moving around, pulling things out of covered bags and making room for one another by essentially piling atop one another in a recursive heap of fuzzy cuteness.

“That was lovely song. Very …haunting? That was the right word?” Gyotin asked in English. The man bowed, and replied in accented but otherwise flawless Gaori.

[“Haunting is perhaps the exact word, yes. My people have many songs that reflect loss; that one is a favorite of mine both because it is so simple and because it’s very well-known. And it’s easy to sing.“] He stopped speaking and nodded his head towards the exit, as the more enthusiastic older cubs demonstrated to the younger, more energetic ones how the various percussion instruments they were pulling out worked. The resulting thumping, clanking, banging, and sounds that had no convenient onomatopoeic description was quickly becoming difficult to talk over. The four Gaoians and taller Human exited the room and let the door close most of the way, and all three Mothers sighed in relief once the cubs could no longer see them.

[“Cubs are a blessing and a burden at once, aren’t they?”] the human said with another smile. [“I’m Aaron.”] The females and Gyotin introduced themselves quickly. Back inside the big room, the sounds of tall drums settled into a rhythm, augmented by a deep rhythmic bark that was half a shout and half a simple challenging exhalation. It built quickly, as more of the cubs picked up the rhythm, and before more than a minute had gone by, Aaron started chuckling.

“That’s a haka, isn’t it? Or at least, it sounds a lot like one,” he said in English. He looked inside to see, sure enough, a chittering line of young male cubs dancing for the group in moves that no human spine could possibly emulate.

“They must have seen one in our media….that’s…that’s actually pretty well done.” He looked back at the group to see all three of the Mothers with a scandalized set to their ears. “Oh, you mustn’t think I’m offended. Quite the opposite, really. I’m glad they have so much resilience.”

“We…need to get them settled down, I think. It’s getting late, and the small ones at least will be up all night if they’re not nested down soon,” said one of the Mothers, to agreement from the other two. “Thank you for your time, Rabbi Aaron. We look forward to more music.”

The three Females re-entered the group, bringing the gyrating frenzy to an abrupt and unpopular halt. Once the drums were stowed, and the elder cubs press-ganged into getting the youngest together, in a remarkably short time, the Gaoian children left the Interfaith Center, chirruping goodbyes to “Rabbi Aaron” in high-pitched little voices.

“It is a good thing you do,” said Gyotin kindly. “Come. Have tea and sit with me a while.”

“Tea sounds wonderful,” Aaron said. They went into one of the many side rooms lined with books, and Gyotin busied himself for perhaps the hundredth time that day. His simple version of a tea ceremony never seemed to fail in applying its magic, and while he’d had lots of practice on refugees lately, he was interested to see how a human would respond.

As the water heated, building up in a steady quiet whistle inside the pot, Gyotin regarded his new visitor. “This instrument you have…is a guitar, yes?” Aaron nodded.

“I’ve played since I was a teen. A major part of my work at home is seeing to refugees in camps not unlike the one outside of town here, although they’re entirely populated by humans.”

Gyotin cocked his ears. “I often forget how few of your people are involved beyond your own world.”

“Parts of our world are still very primitive. Music, I’ve found, is one of the few ways that I can connect with nearly anyone, and I was interested to see how it would work with, well, non-humans. The opportunity was too good to resist.”

“My people’s string instruments, what few we use, are much less complex,” Gyotin observed. “Fewer strings, and much different configuration—some are large and have many strings, but each string is one note, not many as yours seems to be.” Aaron swung the guitar in front of himself.

“This is a purely acoustic guitar; it’s been in my family for a long time. Six strings, tuned at the top with tension, with different thicknesses to allow for different ranges of notes,” he gestured to it as he explained. “Pressure on the strings at different points makes for different sounds, like so…” he demonstrated a single note, rising in pitch as he slid his hand further towards the bottom of the string.

“Strings can be plucked…or struck….or strummed…” He demonstrated the various different methods. “There was one famous electric guitarist that used a power drill to play. He was amazing in his day.”

Gyotin was fascinated despite himself. Even in simple tools, humans consistently demonstrated a depth of thought and development that was mostly unprecedented in the larger galactic community, doing more with less than anyone else ever had. “How many kinds of guitar are there? You mentioned that this one is acoustic…and you have electric ones too?”

“Oh yes. And hybrid guitars that are acoustic but have electric pickups. Guitars made of different materials, different types of strings—all used for different kinds of music. Here, let me show you.” Aaron pulled out his phone and accessed the colony’s cache of YouTube.

“So… here’s that guy I was telling you about.” They watched Eddie Van Halen for a moment, and Gyotin’s tail was soon twitching to Van Halen’s classic.

“So energetic,” Gyotin said, leaning over to look closer at the small screen as the video wound down.

“Okay…and here’s another one….this is a contrast. This is the original, which is basically just for fun,” He let the video play, and they watched several outlandishly dressed young human males cavorting in unlikely-looking clothing.

Aaron pulled up a third video. “Look at what this guy did with an acoustic guitar, with the same tune, though.” Gyotin couldn’t help twitching his tail and bobbing his head to the beat of this one, which appealed to him a lot.

“And those are the same song!” Gyotin marveled after the video of Noah Guthrie was done playing. “We have different versions of our music, but….nothing quite like that. It’s the same song, but they’re nothing alike at all.”

“Exactly. I think music is one of the single things that humans…or, actually, thinking beings of all kinds, really…can all relate to, even if it’s something we don’t appreciate. I don’t like American country music, particularly, but there are millions of humans who do,” Aaron said, nodding. “Among my people, music is a way of remembering the past. We have songs that are older than Western civilization by thousands of years, although most haven’t lasted.”

Gyotin cocked his head. “That’s the second time you have referred to ‘my people’. What do you mean by that?”

Aaron blinked. “I…I guess I’m so used to people knowing what being a Jew means that I hadn’t considered that you might not.”

Gyotin’s ears splayed with tired humor. “How is a ‘Jew’ different from other humans? To my nose, you all smell much the same. What does it mean to you?”

“Oh, man. Where to even start?” Aaron said, thoughtfully. “Okay. You know that one of the ways that humans divide ourselves is by religion, yeah?” Gyotin nodded, aware from his reading in the human library that there were possibly as many different religions as there were living human beings; he and the other Starminds had gravitated towards Zen Buddhism for most of their still-developing philosophy, but he had found nuggets of various truths that resonated with him with nearly every religious text he had been able to get his paws on.

“So…Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all from the same roots, what most scholars accept as being the ‘Abrahamic religions’. I personally think that all three split from the original root at different times and for different historical pressures, but in some circles that’s an unpopular opinion.”

Gyotin nodded. He had read at length about the divide between three of Earth’s major religions, and found it both alarming and fascinating that such subtle differences in doctrine had led to so much strife.

“Anyway—Christianity came to dominate the West, from about a millenia and a half ago until the present day. During that time, the Jews, followers of Judaism that is, had been dispersed throughout Europe away from our homeland. For many reasons that I won’t go into now, it was not just legally sanctioned, but religiously encouraged, to discriminate against my people. Read Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice some time, if you haven’t already, and understand that the character of Shylock is a Jew.”

Gyotin duck-nodded; he hadn’t previously encountered an actual rabbi, and didn’t want to interrupt the torrent of words coming from his new friend, so said nothing. He had found that humans, particularly younger humans that were excited or passionate about something, typically would simply fill silence with whatever that topic was until they exhausted themselves or realized that the other party wasn’t saying anything. It was useful in the extreme, because most of them never realized he was simply being silent and listening, and those that did went on about what a good listener he was. Young Ava Rios was like that.

“Within the last century,” Aaron went on, “we experienced something that reminds me very much of what is happening to your people today.” He idly plucked at his guitar, eliciting a mournful chord or two. “In places, nine out of ten Jews were…exterminated, intentionally. Roughly six million of my people were slaughtered for no crime more serious than their birth, in a span of about six or seven of our years. They called it a ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’.”

“The American President released some information several days ago,” Gyotin said thoughtfully. “He said that the true enemy is the hand inside the Hunter puppet, and that they are the ones that have made so many of my people into these drones. I have heard that Great Father Daar has said the same.”

“Zombies,” Aaron said without humor. “They fit the bill.” Gyotin nodded an acknowledgement.

“Zombies, then. Yes… perhaps they try to exterminate us because they see us as a threat, you think?” Gyotin asked. “This makes me think perhaps we are more powerful than we think. In a way, it is a compliment.”

Aaron laughed, a single exhalation that had little actual humor in it. “For someone whose people is facing extinction, you have a unique point of view.”

“As do you,” Gyotin observed. “What is it that keeps your people…your people, do you think? This is a question I have asked many times since I came here, of many people, and I get many answers.”

“We have a shared history and culture that has been very resilient for thousands of our years,” Aaron replied. “In many ways, Jewish history is defined by our resilience in the face of loss.” He strummed a few more mournful chords by way of illustration and began to sing softly.. As it wound to a halt, Aaron resumed talking, as though he had not interrupted himself.

“That song is about the pogroms in eastern Europe…coming home to find everything…the town, the people you love, the very street you live on and the house you live in simply….gone. Gone forever,” Aaron said quietly.

Gyotin laid his ears back almost involuntarily and made a wordless sound of shared pain.

Aaron went on. “In many ways, I suspect that there are many of your people that will understand that song all too well before this is over, and it will make no difference that the enemy is one they didn’t even know existed. At least my people have usually understood who the enemy was, you know?”

“Knowing your enemy is important. Knowing yourself is more important, I think,” Gyotin returned.

“That’s the trick isn’t it?” Aaron asked. He strummed at his guitar without playing anything in particular. “What do you think the result of this is going to be? I mean…among my people, we formed a new nation and went after the people that had hurt us the most. Your situation isn’t quite the same.”

Gyotin thought for a long moment. “I am not sure what to think, but I am afraid, in a way.”

“What are you afraid of?” Aaron asked him, pausing with the guitar.

“I am not sure, to be honest. I…the best comparison I can give you is a Gaoian saying. I smell Keeda’s agony. I do not know what the future has in store for my people, but I think it will have much pain.”

Date Point: 14Y 1W 4D AV

Washington DC, United States of America, Earth

President Sartori

”….run that by me again, son,” Sartori said to his morning briefing officer.

“The Israeli Knesset, sir. Their PM made an early morning address a few days ago, drawing a direct parallel from the Gaoian situation to the Holocaust. In response, the Knesset enacted a new Basic Law this morning, which as you know, sir, is essentially what passes for a Constitutional Amendment, since they don’t have a Constitution. It declares the…hang on, sir, let me read this directly…” the officer trailed off. Sartori wasn’t a bad boss, as far as this job went. Most of the time, he was downright pleasant to work for, as he was anything but a bullshitter, and in Colonel Howard’s experience, that was a pretty rare thing in a leader.

”…Let’s see. Here it is, sir. …recognizes the rights of all sentient beings to exist, and to protect and defend that right by any and all means… Goes on to outline the right to self-defense, sir, but that’s the gist of it. There’s an explanatory statement that references the Gao specifically, sir, but the text of the Basic Law isn’t that specific. This also comes with a request from the Israeli ambassador for a meeting with you, at your earliest convenience.”

Sartori growled something wordless into his second…maybe third, he wasn’t sure… cup of coffee for the morning. He’d sworn off the stuff during his campaign, but his term thus far had reignited his body’s need for sufficient caffeine with a vengeance, and his staff had quickly adapted to ensuring that The Boss had a ready supply.

“All right, thank you, Andrew. Anything else?”

“Just one final item, sir. AEC says they’ll have a briefing for you in a few days on….”

Date Point: 14Y 1W 4D AV

Various locations across Western Civilization, Earth

It began in many places, as most such movements do. If it could be truly said to have started anywhere, a historian might have placed that point in Israel, but by the time anyone might have cared about such things, the moment for identifying it was long gone and forgotten.

The Knesset’s decisions, occasionally impenetrable, sometimes almost contradictory, but always impactful, typically always had an effect of some kind on the Jewish community of the West. Rabbis in synagogues read the new Basic Law, did some thinking about it, and although some of them spoke with their peers about it, nearly all of them came to the same conclusion.

Often little-appreciated, known, or acknowledged by the non-faithful was a nonetheless core tenet of Jewish faith; a mitzvah injunction to charity. Equating the Gao’s plight to the Holocaust was a powerful statement, albeit one not fully appreciated by the massive Western media until rabbis in nearly every synagogue in the West spoke about it the following Sabbath. That changed things. Enormous online communities sprang up almost overnight, coordinating the biggest question of How can I help with the biggest answer Here’s what’s needed, followed by news reports on CNN and other networks worldwide. At the moment, nothing yet was known, and inevitably, all eyes turned to the State of Israel.

They’d kicked this off. There must be a plan behind it.

Date Point: 14Y 2W 1D AV

Washington DC, United States of America, Earth

President Sartori

“Ambassador! Thank you for coming!” President Sartori greeted the Israeli Ambassador with a firm handshake and a smile polished by both years of public speaking and a genuine like of this particular Ambassador. “Please, come in, have a seat.” They were in the Oval Office, and he led the group accompanying the Ambassador around to a pair of cream-colored couches in front of the Presidential desk, gesturing to the empty one and taking a seat next to his Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, from the Pentagon. Once all were seated, coffee offered and declined, and the niceties observed, he leaned back. “How may the United States help our Israeli friends?”

“Thank you, Mr. President,” began the Ambassador. “I must introduce my companions; this is General Gavriel Schur of the Israeli Defense Force, and Rabbi Uwriy Walden, a representative of one of the largest Chabad-Lubavitch communities in the United States.”

“Gentlemen…welcome,” said Sartori. “These are my Chief of Staff and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Please, go on.”

“Mr. President, thank you. As you may know, the Knesset enacted a new Basic Law several days ago, recognizing the right to exist of all sentient beings. The State of Israel is prepared to contribute materially, and to leverage our global community resource base, to assist the Gaoian people in their time of need. Mr. President, I cannot emphasize enough how gravely my government considers this. What has happened…is happening…to the Gao is another Holocaust. To us, never again means exactly that, as I am sure you can appreciate.” The Ambassador paused, and then went on.

“Toward that end, I have been authorized by my government to make the following requests of the United States, and my counterparts in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada are this morning putting this matter before the Prime Ministers of those nations. One, we wish to formally and fully join Allied Extrasolar Command as a fully participating partner in every sense; this includes, particularly, entrants to the Spaceborne Operations Regiment, and we are prepared to contribute logistical support to both Gao and to the refugee population on Cimbrean. Two, I mentioned a moment ago, we are prepared to leverage our global community resource base. Specifically, we want to directly support the Cimbrean refugee effort; we have a great deal of logistical expertise with such things, as I am sure you know. We have mobile hospitals that can network with specialists in Folctha and provide full services on-site, up to and including surgery, trauma care, or stasis transport to a fully equipped medical facility.” The Ambassador leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees and looking Sartori directly in the eyes.

“Mr. President, we consider this a moral obligation. I fully anticipate a repeat of other such refugee relief efforts as we have conducted with great success in the past. I cannot put it more simply. We offer, because we must help. Morally, we cannot allow this opportunity to pass without trying.” Sartori took a deep breath, as he usually did before responding to proposals that had considerable weight behind them.

“Pending the agreement of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and of course figuring out exactly what role Israel will play…the United States agrees in principle. I don’t know what help you can provide, sir, but any and all efforts are welcome.” Sartori reached a hand across the table, and their hands met in a firm, solid grasp.

Date Point: 14Y 2W 4D AV

Refugee Camp 4—Folctha, Cimbrean

Mother Seema

Seema couldn’t decide what was worse; the new, fresh, raw stench of suffering every time a new group from Gao came to the camp, the thought usually following it that her nose would simply never get inured to it, or the fear that it would. None of the Mothers had any answers for the cubs plaintively asking what had happened, when they could go home, where they were now, or why whatever was happening had happened.

There were rumors, of course. Seema wasn’t sure what to believe despite having seen events on Gao firsthand. Grim-faced Stonebacks covered in gore and tall Humans with unreadable expressions had swooped in on her commune, run some kind of sensor over her head and the head of every Mother they had brought with them, had bodily thrown them into massive military vehicles of some kind for a rough and unkind ride to a spaceport that looked nothing like it had when she had been there before. It had taken her an uncomfortable amount of time to recognize Lavmuy Spaceport, it had changed at the hands of Humans so much. Tense conversations had followed, and then she and the others were…here. Meeting humans that had greeted them with worried faces, hot food and drink, and sorrow that transcended any language barriers at all. The last two weeks had been a total blur and the most infuriating thing of all is that not even the Stonebacks would tell her what was happening and why they had destroyed her life, in a violation of everything she had learned as a cub about the Females’ special relationship with Stoneback.

She’d heard that the Wi Kao Females commune had met with tragic results, and it was rumored that some of the Females there had tried to break their sisters free and been summarily cut down. She wasn’t sure that she believed it. Mother-Supreme Yulna had released a recorded statement pleading for the Females to follow the Stonebacks and the Humans, that they were protecting the Females according to the old Contract, and that the Swarm of Swarms was about to attack Gao. There had been more, but Seema couldn’t remember everything the Mother-Supreme had said—one of the human medics that had stayed in their camp almost the whole time they had been there had called it …something. “Pee Tee Ess Dee” or something like that, but she hadn’t explained it and it hadn’t seemed important enough to demand an answer.

The interceding weeks had been uneventfully exhausting. The Humans never seemed to sleep at all; Seema would lie down at the end of a day and when she awoke, she would swear the Humans that had been up and moving around when she’d gone to sleep were still there, tending to the Mothers and the cubs. They were so compassionate….she had made friends with several, although she was unable to reconcile the caring and empathetic people with the rumors of forbidding Deathworlders. Even their cubs…children…toiled alongside parents in an endless and one-way river of empathy.

As more, and yet more Mothers, Sisters, and cubs were brought from Gao, however, the problem of population pressure and everything it brought with it became more and more apparent. Eventually, she knew, even the Humans were going to simply run out of resources. She sat, taking her turn watching a sizeable group of youngsters try to learn a game from some Human children called “football” that involved a great deal of running and kicking a black-and-white ball according to rules Seema knew she couldn’t have remembered at this point if she’d tried. It kept them busy, however, and that was the important thing. Busy cubs were cubs that weren’t indulging their endless fascination with mischief and/or shenanigans. A shadow fell over her, and she looked up.

“May I sit with you, Sister?” said the other Female. Seema didn’t know her, but duck-nodded, grateful to have the company. “I’m Niral.”

“I’m Seema,” she said, as the other Female sat. “It’s good to see them playing again.” She nodded at the cubs running amok on the field, one particularly small and enthusiastic male with, apparently, a pair of Human shorts in his mouth running fourpaw ahead of the pack and being chased by all and sundry. The ball sat, forgotten, at one end of the field. Even the human children ran, behind the pack of cubs, shrieking with laughter and faux outrage, with the one who was sans his shorts laughing and yelling at the others to bring them back, now that the game of “football” had become an elaborate game of keepaway.

“I don’t know how you manage to keep your eye on that many of them at once,” Niral said with an amused tilt to her ears. “I typically only have about three or four of them to deal with. Or, I should say, I did before this all happened. Things have been a little different over the last week or two.”

“Where were you when this started?” Seema asked, unable to help herself.

“I…I have been with the Female Commune here in Folctha for several years,” Niral said. “I work with the human military here.” She sighed. “I was the one that found the electronic intercept showing that the Hunters were coming to Gao, but I was too late to do anything about it other than warn others.”

Seema’s ears had gone flat, despite herself. “So it is true. The Hunters came to Gao. I had heard, but no-one seems to know, really, and I don’t know what to believe.” She deflated, misery rising unchecked back to the forefront of her mind.

Niral was silent for a moment. “They tried. The Humans drove them off and put up a system defense field like the ones around Cimbrean and Earth.” She sighed again. “It wasn’t enough, though. Between the Hunters and the Hierarchy, I’m afraid the end of the Gao may be staring us in the face.”

“The Humans…. drove off the Swarm of Swarms????” Seema said in disbelief. Niral nodded.

“They did. It cost them hundreds of lives and an irreplaceable ship, but they did it. I’ve…heard about the weapon they used, but they won’t say what it was or tell us anything about it. All I know is that it turned night into day on Gao for a few minutes and destroyed thousands of Hunter ships. Millions of the beasts are dead, adrift in space now. That isn’t really what’s important, though.”

Seema could only stare at her wordlessly. The phrases drove off the Swarm of Swarms and millions of dead Hunters weren’t such common utterances that they squared neatly with not really what’s important.

Something else Niral had said a moment before stood out in her head suddenly, illogically. “Hierarchy? That’s the thing that the human President was talking about, why humans don’t use implants, right?” Niral duck-nodded.

“Yes. They’re very real. If you have implants, they can use them to…hijack your body and turn you into a puppet. They did that to the entire implanted population of Gao; a billion of our people, gone, just like that,” Niral said sadly.

Seema’s shock had turned to horror. “The Stonebacks…that is what they were protecting us from. Mother Yasru had implants!” A number of things that hadn’t made sense a few short minutes ago were suddenly falling into place.

Niral nodded again. “Yes. The Wi Kao commune’s implanted Females broke loose from the enclosure that Stoneback had them in and got into the armory. They…massacred….the Sisters, the Mothers…the cubs. Stoneback took a lot of losses shielding Females with their bodies. And the worst part was, nobody knew why it was happening, and so the only thing they could see and understand was a group of Sisters being slaughtered by Stonebacks, when in reality, the Stonebacks were trying to protect the rest of us that hadn’t been taken over.”

The two Sisters sat together without speaking further, thinking about problems that were far too big to solve and almost too big to grasp, when something in the here and now dragged their attention back to the present. Two of the oldest m ale cubs, both close to being young adults, were tensely facing off with one another. Their body language shrieked aggression, and Seema realized that claws were already out. Something needed to be done, quickly; neither was old enough that the Gao’s customary rules on males duelling or fighting with one another would suffice, and with that many little ones close by…

Both Females were across the field in moments, smaller fuzzy heads giving way as the Mothers arrived. Seema raised her voice, trying to forestall the nearly-inevitable from becoming actually-happening.

“Boys! What’s going on here?” The look of surprise on both young faces was comical, and Niral had to work to keep a stern Look Of Authority on her face.

“Mother…I…” both began, breaking off as they realized the other was speaking too. Finally, one plunged on. “Mother, he tripped me on purpose, when he knew I’d land with my face in the mud.” Seema cocked an ear at the other would-be combatant.

“I didn’t! Mother, he tripped over my foot! I didn’t put it in front of him on purpose, and then he got up and pushed me!”

Both of the miscreants were grass-stained and covered in mud, and neither of them smelled particularly repentant. Seema opted for the scorched-earth approach, rather than get into who had done what to whom first, in front of so many eagerly nosy faces. “Okay. Since both of you apparently have way too much energy to handle dealing with each other in a constructive fashion, you’ve both just volunteered for latrine duty this evening. Save your fighting for when it matters.”

There was a collective “awwww” from the entire group, and both of the young males—the group of younger cubs and the human kids all, of course, wanted to see Mama Seema get the older cubs in trouble, and the two hooligans, of course, really didn’t want latrine duty.

“All right,” Niral said. “Off with you….go play.” She waved a dismissive paw at the group, who dashed away and resumed whatever version of their game it was by rules that were probably transitory at best. The two Mothers walked back to where they’d been sitting before, the two would-be combatants following sulkily behind. They sat, and Niral looked up. “Oh no. You two go get busy. You know where to find Sister Gella—you take your direction from her, and no complaining or I’ll have you doing this again tomorrow.”

“Yes, Mother…..”

“All day. Am I understood?”

“Yes, Mother.” The two slouched away, not looking at each other in shared misery.

“You know,” said Seema thoughtfully, once they were out of earshot. “Those two normally wouldn’t have reacted like that.”

“What do you mean?” Niral asked.

“Toran and Tybal have been bestest friends practically since they were born, and they’re normally inseparable. Normally, if one of them pushed the other down into the mud, the one in the mud would have dragged the other one down with them, and they’d have both been covered in it, utterly filthy, and both pleased as a Keeda about it.”

“And now?” Niral asked.

“Now…those two were ready to come to blows over a little tussle in the dirt. It wasn’t play-fighting like I’d normally expect from them…or from any cub that age, really.” Seema looked around, despair overcoming her face for a moment. “We need to find these cubs homes.”

Niral nodded thoughtfully. But where? And how?

Next Chapter

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 6

9 Years, 11 Months, 23 Days After Eridani Landing Home World [Vann] groaned as the Senate leader run the bell for afternoon recess. The few members who had attended the general meeting got up to leave, most them continuing to deliberate with one another. Several larger groups moved towards the doors that led to the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 61: Violence Part 3

Date point: 16y10m1w4d AV Gateway Station 2, Ugunduvur System, the Guvnuragnaguvendrugun Confederacy Fiin, Champion and Stud of Clan Stoneback Fiin’s paws met the gateway station’s outer hull with a solidity that reverberated through his whole body, eerily loud in the soundproof confines of his suit. Electrostatic sticky fields in the palms and soles stuck him

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 61: Violence Part 2

Date Point: 16y10m1w AV Planet Mordor, Hunter Space Ferd Given-Man Ferd was trying not to shiver from a mix of the cold and… Wilde called them ‘hee-bee-jee-bees.’ This more-door world was sick, and Ferd could feel the creeping illness all around him, even through the safe-clothes. The mud was stained, dark with slime and bright

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 5

9 Years, 11 Months, 20 Days After Eridani Landing Bellona Colony Tapping at the computer console embedded in the bench Megan leaned back to look at the pair of small cubes that sat on the medical examination bed, two small metallic cradles feeding them power the only comforts. “Anything Yern?” asked Megan as she looked

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 61: Violence Part 1

Date Point: 16y10m1d AV Cloaked Hunter observation ship, Spacelane BlueSquare-552, the Guvnuragnaguvendrugun Confederacy The Builder Alpha-of-Alphas Things… collapsed. Spectacularly. In one instant, the battle had been at a deliciously productive impasse. The Hunters’ own ships were grappling with the Humans’ and Prey-Species’ war vessels, neither side had a clear advantage and for the first time

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 4

9 Years, 11 Months, 20 Days After Eridani Landing Home World [Vann] stood up and moved away from the small stone bench as the young woman stepped out of the back entrance of the palace and into the garden that dominated the space behind the ancient building. Smoothing his formal robes [Vann]’s eyes quickly roved

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 60: The Calm and The Storm Part 7

Date Point: 16y10m1d AV HMS Violent, Armstrong Station rally point, Cimbrean-5, the Far Reaches Admiral Sir William Caruthers “Caledonia reports the HEAT are aboard, sir.” Caruthers acknowledged the update with a nod. Things were moving quickly, but not quickly enough by half for his tastes. The Hunters had hit the convoy on a relatively remote

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 60: The Calm and The Storm Part 6

Date Point: 16y10m1d AV Starship Silent But Deadly, Hell system, Hunter Space Tooko, Brother and Stud of Clan Firefang To Tooko’s mild surprise, Ten’Gewek did not, in fact, stink. Oh, sure, they had a certain… physicality that extended to their aroma, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Just… Well. Strong. Strong enough that the scent still lingered

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 60: The Calm and The Storm Part 5

Date Point: Halloween, 16y10m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Champion Fiin of Clan Stoneback It was good to be reunited with the HEAT. The joint training exercises, the sport and play afterward, carousing at Rooney’s, the bonds of Brotherhood they were re-forging after too long a time apart…all were important for what was coming.

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 3

9 Years, 11 Months, 14 Days After Eridani Landing Olyn, Karskara Rolling out of the small bed in her apartment Diana dropped to the floor and luxuriated in the cool temperature of the faux stone for a moment. The bruises, scrapes, and cuts covering her body temporarily dulled by the cold. Not waiting for the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 60: The Calm and The Storm Part 4

Date Point: Halloween, 16y10m AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler Halloween was Allison’s favorite holiday. An entire day devoted to minor rebellion? Awesome. And these days she knew exactly what her favorite part was: she could coax Julian into a skin-tight superhero costume, one custom made to show off that comic-book build of

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 2

9 Years, 11 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Home World [Vann] rubbed at his temples trying to suppress the pounding headache that was beginning to form behind his eyes. [Sonten] oblivious continued to drone on, “So after we crashed the transport on the side of the mountain, it took another two hours for the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 60: The Calm and The Storm Part 1

Date Point: 16y8m1w1d AV Wi Kao city, Planet Gao Yulna The painkillers weren’t working so well any longer, and Yulna had taken to wearing several thin layers of loose robes to hide her missing patches of fur. Her natural eye was almost useless thanks to a cataract, and without the replacement she’d had installed after

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 7

Date Point: 16y8m1w AV Broodship of the Thirsting-Brood, The Coreward Marches, Kwmbwrw Grand Houses Alpha Limbs destroyed. Cybernetics…neutered, somehow. Prey so powerful, they tore apart even the Augment-Betas with ease. The Alpha couldn’t move, couldn’t issue orders, could hardly think– An armored figure kicked a nearby corpse aside, and the Alpha felt the deck under

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 1

9 Years, 11 Months, 13 Days After Eridani Landing Home World [Vann] grimaced at his reflection in the mirror. Slowly he turned side to side examining his visage. There was something different in his reflection, and it was not the ridiculous clothing he was being forced to wear for the night. “This, is what the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 6

Date point: 16y8m1w AV Planet Rauwryhr, the Rauwryhr Republic Scrythcra, Rauwryhr ambassador to the Dominion Security Council Rauwryhr tradition symbolically put important things higher up. Leaders and visionaries flew higher, saw further… and stayed there. Climbing up the trees from the bottom was hard work after all. For this occasion, and these leaders and visionaries,

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 5

Date Point: 16y7m3w2d AV Quarterside Park, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Ferd Given-Man The ‘hostel’ had other guests staying, though there was room for Ferd and his men. They were given room keys (and then a quick lesson on how keys and locks worked). Ferd kept the intricate little steel shape in a pouch on

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 4

Date Point: 16y7m3w1d AV Ninja Taco, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Sister Leela, proprietor Folctha was a strange and protected place, one where the great and powerful of the galaxy could freely intermingle with everyday folk. Presidents and Prime Ministers had wandered its streets. Premiers and Potentates had visited her shop to purchase her tacos.

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Guarded Titans – Chapter 0: C1764 Recap

The Year is 2290. Recovering from the first truly interplanetary war the Earth and Martian governments feel that it is necessary to disarm one of the deadliest weapons developed by both sides. Antimatter. All antimatter is given to a cooperative scientific endeavor between the two planets, the Longboat Program. The result of the program is

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 3

Date Point: 16y7m3w1d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Julian Etsicitty The best part about hunting, was that Julian didn’t need to think about anything else for a while. He’d come over on the jump with Hoeff and Claire, which was honestly a nice distraction; the two were so completely in love,

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 2

Date Point: 16y7m3w AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Xiù Chang Maybe it was hormones. Maybe it was the Cruezzir… Maybe it was learning that one of her oldest friends was dying. Either way, try as she might, Xiù couldn’t quite pull herself together. Her parents had taken Allison and the babies to the park

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 59: New Life Part 1

Date Point:16y7m2w AV Folctha General Hospital, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Allison Buehler Xiù had a Caesarian, in the end. She needed it. Harrison just didn’t want to come out, and he was so overdue that when the obstetrician came to consider whether it was time to induce she took one look at the ultrasound and

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Causal Results – Chapter 9

Ruck, Willinkree Year 3042 Day 37 [Sil] guessed that it was one of the more ornate chambers the class C had. Hand stitched rugs covered the stone floor, the bed was stuffed with something the class C probably considered soft, and most importantly to [Sil] the chamber had an extremely large hearth with a roaring

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 6

Date Point: 16y7m2w AV Clan Starmind monastery, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Champion Gyotin Gyotin was enjoying a rare quiet day. At least, relatively quiet. He’d had breakfast with the Bishop of Folctha that morning, but that was a weekly event anyway. And of course he’d spent some time at the Faith Center,

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Waters of Babylon – Mitzvah Part 4

Date Point: 14Y 6M 2D AV Great Father’s Cabinet, High Mountain Fortress, Northern Plains, Gao Champion Gyotin, Clan Starmind Gyotin found that the brisk air at this altitude made getting around just a bit less enjoyable than it might have at a younger age. The comparatively much warmer temperature of Folctha and his monastery made

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 5

Date Point:16y7m2w AV JETS training camp, New Albion Island, Planet Akyawentuo, Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Sergeant Ian Wilde Akyawentuo was a big planet, bigger even than Earth. And her native population would have utterly vanished just in Wilde’s home city of Sheffield, which was only the seventh most populous in the UK. The Hierarchy

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Waters of Babylon – Mitzvah Part 3

Date Point: 14Y 5M 1W AV Office of the Great Father, High Mountain, Gao Champion Yeego, Goldpaw Yeego had never been invited to the Great Father’s private chambers. Most of the Champions hadn’t, and to have been so was considered somewhat of a dubious honor; Daar preferred to do his business on the move. In

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Causal Results – Chapter 8

RUCK, WILLINKREE YEAR 3042 DAY 36 [Sil] took the water from the class C, Piral and holding her breath to avoid the smell of the bag the acrid tasting liquid was in took a few quick gulps choking them down as quickly as she could. She had yet to have any of the food from

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 4

Date Point: 16y7m1w1d AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daniel Hoeff I don’t deserve her. It was a wretched thought, and Hoeff hated it, but it kept popping up in his head as unwelcome and as persistent as door-to-door evangelists. Because, that was the thing: He didn’t. Daniel Hoeff was a stone-cold murderer. Stone-cold murderers

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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.

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 3

Date Point: 16y7m1w AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Ava Ríos “Don’t you usually lecture me about leaving my work in the office?” Ava looked up from her tablet and blinked. Her head was full of facts, statements, recent history, dates and times and locations and people and… All of the ingredients that went into

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 2

Date Point: 16y7m2d AV Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Xiù Chang Julian bounced back. He was tough, dependable, innately cheerful… Nothing kept him down for very long. But some things took longer than others to bounce back from. Xiù knew that well. Which was why she’d devoted herself to turning their home into a little

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Waters of Babylon – Mitzvah Part 1

For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall. Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens; like heat by the

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 58: Gjallarhorn Part 1

Date Point: 16y7m1d AV Abergerrig, New Belfast County, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Gabriel Arés “…I hate it when I’m right.” Gabe was retiring, not retired. Men like him didn’t have the luxury of just quitting with immediate effect. So, for now and the next couple of weeks, he was still technically Folctha’s Chief of

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Causal Results – Chapter 7: Living

Bellona Colony, Eridani 2 years 7 months 4 days Ben grimaced and looked at the harried doctor. “Why the hell did you use them?” Dr. Cerny frowned, “I used them because we were out of the Martian one’s and she was going to die without the nano-machines! The entire compartment exploded and she’s the only

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 4

Date Point: 14Y 4M 4D AV Washington DC, United States of America, Earth Esther Blum Being a high-powered lobbyist/attorney meant that a phone ringing between midnight and dawn was usually news of something bad and relevant happening. The adage of the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ being a synergy of ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ never failed to

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 3

Date Point: 14Y 3M 3W AV Riverfront Park, Folctha, Cimbrean Nofl The energy of Humans never really ceased to amaze Nofl, even after living among them and getting to study, observe, and actually treat some of their more remarkable specimens. It almost seemed like that energetic approach to life was contagious, as well. When the

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Good Training – Survival Part 11

Date point: 15y 4m AV Planet Akyawentuo, The Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Chief Special Warfare Operator Daniel (Chimp) Hoeff The Ten’Gewek—well, the surviving forest race, anyway—preferred to live in small tribes of about a hundred or so, each about a half-day’s travel apart at a minimum, and each with very carefully-delimited and scrupulously respected

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Waters of Babylon – Tikkun Olam Part 2

Date Point: 14Y 3M 2D AV Capitol Building, Washington DC, United States Esther Blum The five Members of Congress sitting in the room with her represented key decision-makers from both the majority and minority parties. They were seated in the outer office of the Majority Whip, one of the Representatives from the State of Georgia,

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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

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Causal Results – Chapter 6: Squeaking By

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 10

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 5

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

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Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 9

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 8

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 4

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

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Henosis – Chapter 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 3

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 7

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

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Henosis – Chapter 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 56: Dataquake Part 1

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

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Henosis – Chapter 2

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 5

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

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Henosis – Chapter 1

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

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Causal Results – Chapter 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 4

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 6

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 2

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 51 (End)

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 55: Reinvention Part 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 6

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 5

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 5

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 50

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 4

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 3

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 2

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

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Good Training – Survival Part 4

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

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Rising Titans – Chapter 49

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 54: Here Be Dragons Part 1

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 6

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

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 5

Date Point: 16y2m3d AV Gaoian embassy, Alien Quarter, Folctha, Cimbrean, the Far Reaches Daar, Great Father of the Gao People who didn’t know Daar all that well thought he had a pathological aversion to Civilized pursuits. Not true at all! Daar had always enjoyed history, writing, and the more subtle arts of courtship, and he

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 53: The Wild Hunt Part 4

Date point: 16y2m3d AV Planet Akyawentuo, the Ten’Gewek Protectorate, Near 3Kpc Arm Daniel “Chimp” Hoeff Julian had a habit of singing in the woods. Not loud, exactly, and Hoeff wasn’t even sure he was totally conscious he was doing it, but loud enough to hear. Apparently it kept critters from blundering into them that might

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Rising Titans – Chapter 48

+ 7 Minutes 38 Seconds The Canada “Captain, your message?” asked Arik as her Avatar superimposed itself over the main monitor. “Surrender now, call off the fighters and we’ll let you live. Then we can begin to negotiate for an end to this pointless violence.” “That’s it?” asked Arik after a moment. “Unless anyone else

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Good Training – Survival Part 3

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

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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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