Waters of Babylon – Tzedakah Part 3

Date Point: 14Y 1M 3W AV

HMS Sharman, Folctha, Cimbrean

Toran and Tybal


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 dawn was still several hours away. Toran led the way, with Tybal a close shadow at his heels, and both of them watching eight directions at once. This was the home of the SOR, after all…the biggestest, scariestest humans and Clan of all. Even scarier than Stoneback.

The two young Males had decided that, with their age of majority coming up, a proper bout of mischief was warranted before they were too adult and had to be all serious. The male Clans were utterly in disarray following the events on Gao, but both of them felt they were clearly elite Clan material; these were extraordinary times, so getting the attention of the Clan they both wanted to join, Whitecrest, was going to take something extra. Being efficient and doing both Mischief and getting the Clan’s attention at the same time was, they felt, exactly what an elite Whitecrest operative would do.

It had been Toran’s idea. The afternoon they’d been assigned to latrine duty, they had found themselves working within a clear sight-line of the back of the Human base, and they’d been able to see the gigantic Humans and the Clan members of SOR doing…something…outside that looked tough and physical. They had forgotten all about whatever it was they’d been arguing about, and had seized on the idea of sneaking in to see what the SOR was doing. Toran had just wanted to sneak in and look around, but Tybal had, as was typical for the two of them, had a Different Plan. Why just sneak in, when you could sneak in and do something? Several weeks had gone by, and the two of them had steadily pilfered the supplies for their adventure they were going to need. Stunningly, none of the rest of the cubs in their usual group of friends had picked up on what the two miscreants were planning, and it didn’t seem like Mama Seema had caught on, either.

Tybal was in charge of the climbing supplies. Toran, being the (self-declared) better artist, had claimed the cans of bright yellow marking paint that one of the IDF surveying crews had left unattended for a few moments. Everything was secured in packs they had scrounged and put together to prevent any untoward noises, and tonight was the night. Creeping on soft feet, they had evaded the sentry (who was probably half asleep anyway), scaled the fence, and were now at the base of the water tower. Tybal unslung his pack, getting out a rope and gloves for each of them while Toran kept watch. Both were simultaneously utterly convinced that nobody had seen them yet and also that the entire SOR were waiting to pounce on them from the bushes at any moment.

A quick loop of rope over the lowest horizontal beam got them as far as the ladder that started about ten feet up, and from there it was easy to scale the tower. The really hard part came when they got to the top of the tower and realized that their intended target, the flattened top of the oval water reservoir, was going to take a bit more work, but they managed it without too much difficulty. Once at the top, Toran took out a can for each of them and busied himself doing the outlines while Tybal filled them in. It wouldn’t be visible from anywhere except directly overhead, but they would know it was there. They quickly finished work, stashed the cans back in Toran’s pack, and descended the tower, chittering softly and convinced they’d gotten away with it.

As Tybal was stashing the rope, however, intent on leaving nothing behind to say that they’d been there at all, a shadow detached itself from one of the massive vertical supports for the reservoir.

“So. Whatcha doing?” A large adult male with a prosthetic left hand and a white topknot of fur that nearly reached the tips of his ears leaned easily against the big metal support, idly chewing on a stalk of dry grass. The cubs froze, realizing that in terms of getting caught, this was probably nearly as bad as it was possible to have been. “Let’s see,” he went on, sauntering over to them slowly. “Climbing gear, backpacks, fresh yellow paint on your paws, and the middle of the night in a secure military facility. Clearly you were having a picnic and got lost, yes?” He looked up at the tower. “At least you had the good sense to pick a target others have picked before you.”

Tybal turned, instinctively looking for another direction to flee, and found himself looking up into the teeth of another Whitecrest that looked like he belonged in Stoneback, or perhaps a Naxas herd. I didn’t even smell him….

“Oh no, little one. We’re going to have fun with you,” the behemoth growled down at him, definitely not pleased. That was a lot of teeth, Tybal realized, trying to back up into Toran and feeling his friend do the same thing.

The cubs both instinctively looked back at the first, marginally smaller male, who was regarding them with a mixture of sympathy and sadism. “Brother, you’re going to need to be more careful with these two. You can’t expect to keep breaking your toys and still be allowed to play with new ones. I don’t want a repeat of last time, am I clear?”

They could hear the grin. “I’ve been practicing with the other Protectors. They won’t break until I’m ready for them to.”

“Who is your Mother, and what camp is she in?” the smaller adult asked Toran.

“Mo…mother Seema,” Toran replied. “She’s in camp four.”

“And what do you think she will say when I tell her where you two have been, cub? Will she be pleased at your initiative?”

”…No, Father,” they both said, sneaking a glance at one another.

“I should think not,” he said. “Some level of shenanigans from cubs your age is expected, and no Clan would ever accept a cub that had no motivation. I think it is important, however, that you learn that there are limits…particularly when you are dealing with humans and human holdings.”

“Yes, Father,” was the glum reply.

“Thurrsto, you and Faarek take our two new play toys over to that lovely vertical obstacle course that Warhorse was so kind to introduce us to. They love to climb, it seems. I’m interested in how their time stacks up against Great Father Daar’s. He certainly had the most bestest time with it, and I’m sure they’ll love it too.” Another shadow materialized from the lee of a nearby building to join the others, and the cubs were led away, tails dragging.

Regaari watched them go. When they were out of sight, he dropped to fourpaw and began scenting out their ingress pathway. Major Powell was very likely going to ask more questions when he spotted a pair of teenage cubs being run through an obstacle course that had given Daar problems by the unkind attentions of two Whitecrest HEAT members. The cubs’ Mother was going to need to be told where her erstwhile charges had gotten to, and it was probably best that she learn about it before the rest of the authorities.


Two young male Gaoians lay gasping for breath and utterly spent. Thurrsto was attending to watering them with a hose, as it had quickly become quite a warm day by mid-morning, and to their credit, they hadn’t started complaining. Regaari stood watching from the shadows of the command building balcony when Powell walked up, a SOR-sized stainless steel mug of steaming tea in hand.

“How are the ‘prisoners’ doing?”

“Surprisingly well. They didn’t give up. They went until they flat ran out of energy and kept going until he couldn’t Motivate them any further.”

“You sound impressed.”

“Their infiltration was…amateurish, but talented. With some training, those two could be ghosts.”


Powell ambled down the stairs and over to the two gasping cubs. “Get up,” he ordered. As wrecked as they were, they scrambled to their feet as quickly as they could.

”…You pair of bloody idiots could’ve got yerselves shot,” he said simply. “An’ about the only reason you didn’t is because we saw you comin’ days ago an’ decided we’d let you break in as a kind of test…which, to be frank, you failed. You are In Trouble, young men. Deep trouble. You have, in fact, committed a major crime.”

One of the cubs opened his mouth and Powell’s hand shot up to indicate that he would brook nothing other than total silence right now. “I wasn’t finished,” he snarled, and the pair cringed. “First, the good news. We’re impressed. You’ve shown daring, initiative an’ skill. Useful traits. The bad news,” he added as their ears came up hopefully, “is that talent an’ daring aren’t enough for us to overlook a serious count of trespassing and vandalism. Which is why we’ve sent for your Mother, and why you will be receiving a bloody harsh punishment, which you completely deserve.”

He let them stew in their shame for a second. “See out that punishment well, conduct yourselves from now on in a way as befits would-be Clan, and maybe we’ll give you summat in the way of an opportunity later if you ask very, very politely. Am I understood?”

Both cubs nodded numbly, unsure if it was proper or wise to speak to a very large, very angry Human who was obviously the Father here.

Powell nodded. “Outstanding. I’m going to leave you in the capable hands of my Protector here. Do not waste his time. Either of you. I’m currently in a good mood, and that would make me …unhappy.” He sipped at his Tetley.

As luck would have it, Mother Seema arrived at that point. It was like watching an oncoming tsunami or a tornado, or, Powell reflected to himself, like being a farmer watching the Vikings come ashore. Her claws were extended from her hind-paws and she was digging up little tufts of turf with every livid step. The only thing the scene was missing was lightning. She stomped up to the teens and managed to loom over both of them, despite being shorter and outweighed by both of them. Thurrsto, standing behind them in vaguely her same direction of travel, took a step back and gave Powell a look that clearly said I’m not getting paid enough to get in her way.

Gaoians, much like Humans, had a nerve cluster between their neck and shoulder that if grabbed just so was breathtakingly painful. Seema reached up, grabbed each of them with one hand, and ignoring their yelps of pain, bodily dragged the two of them nearly out of earshot of the rest of the group muttering imprecations under her breath the whole way. She took a deep breath, deposited them flat on their rear ends and stood over them, lecturing in a quiet, firm, and truly awful tone that, despite being low enough to not hear actual words, nonetheless managed to convey a full range of precisely how truly they had fucked up. Neither, to their credit, even attempted to give her an excuse or response.

“Now get up,” she finally said, louder. “Over here. Now.” She led them back to Thurrsto, and looked up at him, managing somehow to still look bigger than the enormous Whitecrest.

“Your name?” she asked tersely.

“I am Brother Thurrsto of Clan Whitecrest, Mother,” he replied.

“You are taking charge of these two?” she asked. Thurrsto nodded. “Excellent. My expectation is that their punishment will be profound, inventive, thorough, and sufficiently public to deter others from even considering attempting anything remotely similar. Am I understood?”

Thurrsto bowed in acknowledgement. “Yes, Mother.”

Seema glanced back at the teens. “You will remain with Brother Thurrsto and the Whitecrests until further notice. You may not come back to the camp until I tell you otherwise.” They nodded, staring at the ground, and without a backwards glance she marched back the way she had come.

Regaari had come to stand next to Powell, and nodded to Thurrsto, who pointed the cubs back to the obstacle course without a word. Powell took another long pull of his tea.

“Bloody ‘ell,” he said finally. “Forget WERBS. Let’s just point her at the Hunters.” Regaari nodded in agreement. “What did they graffiti on top of the tower, anyway?”

Regaari smirked. “The Whitecrest mon. They certainly have ambition, and it actually looks decent.”

A rare smile plucked the corners of Powell’s mouth. “Aye,” he agreed. He finished his tea and straightened up. “It’d be a shame to waste ambition like that, I reckon. See to it they don’t.”

“With pleasure, sir.”

“Carry on, Regaari.”

Date Point: 14Y 2M AV

HMS Sharman, Folctha Colony, Cimbrean

Thurrsto, Brother of Whitecrest and Clan SOR

“They aren’t giving up.”

“No. I believe they’re trying to impress you,” Regaari replied.

“They’re doing a credible job of it, Brother. Look at their vitals over the last week.” He handed Regaari a datapad. “Marked improvement in every category I’m measuring. They’re actually getting close to being able to complete this obstacle course adequately, and after their first shot at it a week ago, that’s saying something.”

Regaari mused, scrolling through the short data list. “This is that test protocol you and Warhorse were working on for the 82nd and their training efforts, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Thurrsto replied simply. “We wanted to establish a baseline on training from zero—all of us were already well-trained when we came here, after all.” He looked up at the two cubs. “I’ll give these two this much. They’re motivated. I’m going to move them up to the next phase a week early, I think.”

“Ah, you’re going to take care of that other thing you were wanting to work on, hmm?” Regaari cocked his ears, teasing. “Excellent. I’ll leave you to it.” He handed back the data pad and sauntered away.

Thurrsto had spent the better part of the prior week alternately running Toran and Tybal through the SOR obstacle courses and a watered-down version of their exercise protocols, and stuffing them full of food. This was the sixth time through the course today, and both were gamely trying and utterly failing to climb the hemp net about a third of the way in. He walked, at the slow, deliberate, leisurely pace that would have been instantly familiar to any variant of any military service drill instructor on Earth. When he reached the point the cubs were at, he stood below.

“Disgraceful. Get down here, both of you.” He paused for a moment, just long enough to allow them the sudden hope that the pain might end within their natural life spans. “NOW!!”

Tybal came slithering down at what was obviously an attempt at a controlled descent. Toran…plummeted…having let go and fallen, landing with all of the elegance of a Hefty sack filled with gravy. Thurrsto loomed over the two, baring his teeth down at them.

“With a performance that poor, the only hope for you two is to find something…simpler…for you to handle. I would think after a week and six tries today, you would have at least attempted to find a way to better performance. Sadly, I’ve never found a punishment that makes cubs think effectively. I think tomorrow I’ll try something else. Something new. Something…what was it your Mother said? ‘Sufficiently public’?” He sniffed. “Come. I don’t recommend you stay up at all tonight. It’ll make tomorrow worse.”

“Here. Sleep. Morning comes early.” The teens fell onto their assigned nest-bed in a furry heap and were asleep almost before they landed. Thurrsto shut the door thoughtfully.

The next morning

Toran and Tybal, Clanless cubs

Tybal was the first to awaken, possessing just enough cognitive awareness that his sense of something here isn’t right roused him a step ahead of Toran. He blinked awake, and realized, simultaneously, two things.

One, he was surrounded by the largest adults he’d ever heard of outside of Stoneback, or, perhaps, Emberpelt, who were staring down at him.

Two…everything hurt. Even his fur hurt, and even after a week of it, this was a new level of discomfort.

“Oh good. You’re awake finally,” a voice growled. Tybal recognized the voice of their enormous tormentor. “You, lads, get to play with some new toys today. In a way, you’ve made some of our Human Brothers very, very happy, because they got to build something they’ve been wanting to. First, though, you need to eat. A lot. You’re going to need it today.”

The cubs groaned and rolled apart. Toran yelped a little as he, too, realized that absolutely every part of his body, even the parts he’d forgotten he had, hurt, worse than they had throughout the week.

“Up. Or I will water you again,” Thurrsto growled. Remembering that particular indignity from their first day, they scrambled awkwardly to their feet, standing in a passable imitation of an ‘attention’ stance. They could feel the disdain coming from the Brothers behind them.

Thurrsto grunted, then indicated with his muzzle that they were to come with him. Wordlessly, they followed, still encircled by Whitecrest Brothers. Thurrsto led them outside where a table piled high with food that smelled like it had been marinated in Essence of the Divine sat next to a pair of metal carts with wheels, two long handle-like attachments sticking out front like…

…like livestock carts.


“Sit and eat, gentlemen. You’re going to need every bit of energy you can get today.” The two didn’t need any further encouragement and bolted for the table, inhaling food nearly before they sat down.

As they finished, they were joined by two extremely large Humans that the simple sight and scent of sent every sense either cub possessed or had developed in their short life clanging with fear. Although they’d seen both from a distance, up close these two were clearly predators, in a way neither had ever encountered before. Two sets of eyes, one blue, one brown, and neither particularly friendly, met theirs and evaluated them. Both Humans were grinning…hungrily.

Thurrsto pant-grinned in a most disconcerting way. “You two have a choice. You can let my Clan SOR Brothers here, Righteous and Warhorse, continue your instruction; it will be similar to, but not nearly as pleasant as, your experience on the obstacle course. Your other choice..,” he held up a pair of harnesses, “is to put these on and drag those carts wherever I tell you to go.”

The cubs looked at each other, and then as one reached for the harnesses. They nearly changed their minds when they realized that properly attaching them to the cart was impossible while standing on two legs.

These…were going to require being on fourpaw. A look back at the two still-grinning Humans, however, cemented their resolve. It took a few moments, but finally they were hitched to their various loads and stood expectantly, wondering what was going to happen next.

“I suppose you two are wondering exactly what part of this has to do with making you think,” Thurrsto said. “I was going to personally supervise your entire time period of punishment in person, but watching you two continuing to squirm is throwing off my delicate sensibilities, and rather than take something for it, I’ve decided to deal with something else that requires my attention. Whether that’s fortunate for you is up to you to figure out.”

“The camps have a problem that’s gonna get worse if it’s left alone, and that’s the problem of waste. Since so much of both camps are laid out over little trails, the big movers aren’t able to get in there and deal with the problem. You’re both young strapping lads…and no Female should have to handle trash. Trash is a Male’s job. Your job.”

“So.” Thurrsto stood, looming down at them. “You have yourselves, and you have two carts. You will gather the trash from the camp and get it to the Human waste disposal organization—this will continue until you have gotten it all.” He pointed up, at a barely-visible drone with cameras overhead. “We’ll be watching when we need something entertaining to watch. For this morning’s starting point, you will follow Warhorse on his first morning run. Try to keep up—if you lose him, he won’t be doubling back to check on you—he is Clan SOR, not a babysitter.”

Warhorse stepped out front, clad in little more than the short shorts that the Human SOR Operators seemed to all wear, bouncing just a little on his toes and with an enormous happy grin plastered across his face. “All ready?” he asked the teens. “Okay. Here we go then.” With that, he took off at a bouncing jog, both cart-pulling Gaoians behind him and straining to keep up. Somehow, they managed to stay in sight of his billboard-sized back all the way out of the base, up the hill, and out to the still-being-built Israeli base that was at the natural epicenter of the camps spreading out across the landscape.

They pulled up a few moments behind him, both gasping and winded already, and in agony from the effort. Warhorse, for his part, wasn’t out of breath at all, and was pacing back and forth with exaggerated steps that displayed a ridiculous amount of flexibility. The only saving part out of it for Toran was when he noticed the jaw-dropping looks from the Humans inside the perimeter.

“You two okay?” he asked kindly. They both duck-nodded, heaving and utterly convinced they were about to die. “Okay,” Warhorse went on. “Your Brothers want you starting right here, with this camp. Enjoy.” With that, he turned and dashed off at a pace that made it abundantly clear that he’d been actively trying not to lose them before.

Toran and Tybal looked at each other, and set to it once their breathing had returned to mostly-normal. They realized several things almost immediately; this was going to suck, because the tents weren’t set up into neat rows. It was going to take forever because nearly every tent had quite a lot of amount of trash already. It was going to suck, forever, because they were doing this job in front of every last one of their peers and younger cubs that looked up to them, and neither had any doubt at all that Mama Seema had advertised at least something of the reason that they were doing it.

Date Point: 14Y 2M 1D AV

Israeli Defense Force FOB, Folctha, Cimbrean

Rav Samal (Chief Sergeant) Moshe Harel, IDF

“Hooooooooooly SHIT!”

The startled expletive came from one of the work teams by the quickly-erected border fence. Moshe ambled down to see what had happened, as he’d been looking the other way and hadn’t seen whatever it was they were gawking at.

“What’s going on?” The group of three soldiers were still staring off into the distance; whatever it was that had occasioned the comment was no longer in view. Moshe looked after them, raising his binoculars to make sure and seeing nothing out of the ordinary.

“That….guy. You didn’t see that dude!?” one of the youngest, a new recruit in her late teens said.

“No. What ‘dude’ are we talking about?”

“Fuck. Sergeant, I swear to God, that was the biggest fucking guy I’ve ever seen. He just went sprinting by, didn’t even say anything, and the only thing he was wearing were these tiny exercise shorts. I swear, I felt the ground shake and he wasn’t even wearing shoes.”


“Yes, Sergeant?”

“You’re currently standing on another planet, digging a hole so that we can help protect a race of skinny raccoon people from invisible digital monsters. A large naked man running past and giving you a funny feeling in your lady parts is far from the most unusual thing you’re going to encounter out here, so best to focus on what you’re doing and try not to get distracted.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“No matter how moist.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

Date Point: 14Y 2M 1D AV

Refugee Camp, Folctha, Cimbrean

Toran and Tybal, Clanless cubs

Surprisingly, the job they’d been handed was difficult, but both more and less so than they’d thought it would be. As Toran pulled up, lugging a heaping cart-load of refuse that stunk to high heaven, he found himself pulling up next to Tybal. His friend was up-ending the cart, having unhooked the harness and was dumping the contents of it into a sizeable pile. They exchanged a look and started chittering ruefully.

“This…isn’t a good way to go about this,” Toran said, unloading his cart next to his friend’s.

“We’re being punished, stupid,” Tybal said, his ears splayed out playfully and removing the sting of the insult.

“Yeah,” Toran said. “That’s not what I mean, though.”

Tybal cocked his head. “What do you mean?”

“Well, look. Brother Thurrsto said we were supposed to think, right?”


“So…we weren’t told how to do this, just that we had these carts, and we were told that we were supposed to remove all of the refuse, right?”

“Right.” Tybal thought for a moment. “So you think we should…what….find a way to do this better?”

“Exactly. Doing this the obvious way isn’t what a Whitecrest would do. That’s more of a Stoneback thing,” Toran chittered softly at the thought. “On my route, what took me the longest was getting the bags together and into the cart, because they’re never out by the trailside.”

“Me too.” An idea struck Tybal right between the ears so hard he nearly fell over. “Great Father Fyu. I…just….”

”…had an idea.” Toran’s eyes went wide. “I bet I’m thinking the same thing you’re thinking.”

The two cubs looked at each other with glee. Tybal led off, with Toran close at his heels, one cart right behind the other, back into the camp. On their prior trip, both had been sort of sulkily doing as they were told, loading up bags of putrid-smelling refuse into their cart and dragging it willy-nilly along their chosen trail. This time, though, they bounced along as though the whole thing was a game of their invention…which, of course, it was to some degree.

They’d gotten no further than perhaps a half-dozen cart lengths into the next pathway, when they were stopped by a young Mother. Behind her, crucially, several very curious sets of eyes and ears peeked and poked through the bushes, around trees, and over fallen logs.

“What exactly are you two doing, racing around on fourpaw and behaving like draft animals?” she asked.

“Good morning, Mother! We’ve been asked by Clan Whitecrest to see to the trash here in the camp!” Tybal said enthusiastically.

“I see. All by yourselves?” she asked archly.

“Yes, Mother. It’s an extra-special duty that we earned, just the two of us,” Toran replied. “The Brothers spoke to us this morning, and gave us these carts.”

“Well, if you earned it, then you should get on with it, of course. Your Mother does know what you’re doing this morning…?” she asked.

“Yes, Mother. She knows where we are,” Tybal said.

“Very well…slow down a little, though. Some of the little ones are still asleep, and you’re making a great deal of noise—I realize you have a lot of work to do, and it’s very responsible of you, but you must be patient,” she said, turning back to her tent. “Here you are.” She held out a small bag of trash, which Tybal took and tossed into his cart.

“Thank you, Mother!” They moved along quickly, and behind them a growing crowd of very curious cubs followed, as stealthily as possible. When they reached the end of the path and were ready to turn back, having gotten nearly everything in one cart or the other, they found themselves cornered by nearly thirty younger cubs led by a young male nearly their own age.

“How come Whitecrest picked you to take care of this? That’s not fair! You’re going to be old enough to take the Rites soon, and they’ll pick you for sure. Nobody else is even going to get a chance!” Firin spat, his ears at a nervous angle that belied his belligerent tone.

“Hey now, hey now,” Tybal said smoothly. “Hang on a minute. We didn’t exactly ask for this, you know. They picked us for a reason, that’s all I can say.”

“I bet the Mothers would be furious if they knew you were trying to sway Clan Trials like this,” a much younger, big-eyed female cub named Ciera said. “You’re just trying to hog all the glory.”

Tybal grimaced, and his ears splayed out shamefacedly. “Okay. I guess…” he looked at Toran.

“No way. You heard Brother Thurrsto..,” he trailed off to outraged shouts from the group of cubs. “Okay! Okay!” he said placatingly. “We’ll let you help…but you have to promise you won’t sell us out, here. The Clan Brothers picked us for a reason…they didn’t tell us we couldn’t have help, but…”

Firin’s ears took on a more determined set. “You’re going to let us help, or we’ll turn you in,” he declared. “And there’s nothing you can do that will convince me otherwise.”

Tybal sighed. “Fine. We’ll let you help, just…please, don’t ruin this for us.”

Date Point: 14Y 2M 1D AV

Israeli Defense Force FOB, Folctha, Cimbrean

Rav Samal (Chief Sergeant) Moshe Harel, IDF

Word had quickly gotten around the base throughout the day about the Very Large Mostly Naked Man running through the refugee camp; the truism that gossip exceeded all known parameters on FTL remained confirmed. A high number of interested female soldiers and curious male ones managed to find something to plausibly be doing within a short distance of the border fence, and so the third time that the guy came through, Moshe was a little better prepared and in position. Sure enough, here he came…Moshe could feel the impacts of his feet as he ran—barefoot—down the main thoroughfare from some distance away. The man had to be one of the SOR—HEAT troops they’d seen online. Nobody else could plausibly be…that big.

He stepped over to the fence and waved the guy down, curious despite himself and fully realizing how many of his troops were trying very hard to find the perfect line between being in earshot and far enough away to not get called out for eavesdropping. The man skidded to a stop, wet with sweat but not particularly out of breath.

“Hi!” He came over to the fence and gave him a handshake with an enormous iron-like hand.

”…The fuck do they feed you?” was all Moshe could stutter out. The guy gave him an enormous grin.

“Mostly all I can stuff in my face. I’m W arhorse, with the Spaceborne Operations Regiment, but I kinda get the feeling you knew that part. Nice to see IDF here, man. The colony can sure use the help.” He bounced on his toes and the balls of his gigantic feet.

“So what are you doing out here besides making all of the women in my platoon flustered and nervous?” Moshe asked with a grin.

The gigantic slab of a man actually blushed at that and belly-laughed. “Ha! Just out for a run; I needed to do something a little different for exercise today, and had something else that brought me out this way anyway. Figured I’d run thru the camp a few times…“”


“Hey! I’m taken and Marty wouldn’t approve. Prob’ly.”

“Marty? I mean…he must be a brave man.” Moshe found himself blushing, then.

“What? Haha, no! Martina, my fiance!”

“I think you’ve just broken a lot of hearts.” Indeed, behind him, he heard several muttered curses.

Warhorse grinned smugly. “Yeah, she’s possessive…anyway. It always helps out CCS when one of us runs through town, even if we don’t do anything in particular, so…”

“So you thought you’d come out this way to play King Kong?” Moshe said, unable to help himself. He was rewarded with an enormous and hearty laugh.

“I like that! Anyway—I got limited time here, so I gotta run. Seeya!” With that, he darted off, if getting a hulk that size moving could be called ‘darting’. Moshe turned around, and suddenly everybody in sight realized they had Something Else To Be Doing Right This Minute, Sergeant. In moments the coast was clear.

An hour or two later

Warhorse came thundering up to the IDF camp, and realized as he was passing it for the fourth time that morning that this time was a bit different.

…He was being cheered this time for one thing, and some wag had obviously been busy hooking up a bitchin sound system, solely to play what had to be the most appropriate choice of music ever. Laughing uproariously, he threw several lightning-fast jabs as he ran past, pumped his fists over his head, and was gone.

Left behind inside the compound, several young women exchanged looks and went back to work.

Date Point: 14Y 2M 2D AV…. early

Thurrsto and Faarek, Clan Whitecrest

Thurrsto sat in the barracks common area, pondering the video feed from Sikes’ loaner camera drone. Despite what he’d told the two cubs the day before, he hadn’t actually been actively monitoring them the day before, having had other things to work on. He had done a quick video once-over, and had had to backtrack to almost the beginning to understand what was happening and what his charges had done with his instructions. He found himself chittering softly.

Behind him, the barely-heard whisper of soft clawed feet padded up as Faarek joined him.

“Can’t sleep?” Faarek yawned theatrically.

Thurrsto gave him a level look and handed over the datapad with the linked feed. “Here. Our two would-be Whitecrests had quite a day yesterday. I wanted to see what they’d been up to before I woke them up this morning.”

Faarek dutifully scrolled back to the beginning and watched as the feed advanced at a speed multiple, condensing it into something meaningful. His ears remained where they were for a long moment, and then cocked quizzically, and he began chittering as well.

“Your instructions to them appear to have been followed, Brother,” he chortled. “I’m interested in what, exactly, they said to the rest of those cubs…but really. What were you expecting?”

Thurrsto imitated a human gesture he’d seen, usually on the faces of the SOR techs when accommodating an unruly Operator, and pinched his muzzle right in front of his eyes, shaking his head. “I suppose I should have anticipated this. I’m sure Regaari would have. Great Father Fyu, now what??”

Faarek hadn’t stopped chittering. “See it out. See what they make of it! Turning a punishment into an opportunity is what a First Rite is all about, anyway. I can’t think of a more …Whitecrest response, actually.”

“I’ll think of something,” Thurrsto mused, taking the datapad back.

“That’s what you said about…”

”…Yeah, I know. It’ll work. I should have the rest of the ingredients in the next day or two. I think I have the right presentation idea, I just…”

“You know,” Faarek said thoughtfully. “I bet she would appreciate a fighting knife. I have a Cousin in Ironclaw that does custom work; he actually has a shop here on Cimbrean, he didn’t work on Gao. She’s well-known enough here, I bet he would jump at the chance to make her something…special.”

Thurrsto’s ears perked up. “That is an excellent idea. I can put a note with it too…”

“You’re going to send her a …note? Brother….” Faarek was serious now.

“I have better luck with the indirect approach…you and Regaari made sure I knew that.”

Faarek let out a whine of apology. “I’m sorry, Brother. You’re right…and I’ll help you with this one.”

Previous Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

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

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Next Chapter

Sweetness – Love and Kiing (NSFW)

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

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Sweetness – Implications

CopRit Empire, Halfil Sol 25 Of Race 4 Year 4958 Monty Publishing House, New Baltimore Slowly gathering myself I stepped into the hologram chamber, the projection flickered and the simulation automatically paused as I stepped in. I quickly looked around to get my bearings, I appeared to be on a starship bridge enduring greatly exaggerated

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Sweetness – Chapter 4 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 3 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 2 (NSFW)

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Sweetness – Chapter 1 (NSFW)

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Shades of White and Orange

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Mother Earth

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Adam, Artemis, Atlas, & Icarus Part 1

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+ 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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Rising Titans – Chapter 44

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The Deathworlders – Chapter 51: Anticlimax Part 4

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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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