Our two favorite councilors do a stupid, get in a fight, and generally be... well...
The rest of this series can be found here
“Oh my little wiggly jellybean!” a distressed looking baleel exclaimed. “I’ve been so worried! I’ve tried and tried to get through but...”
“Calm down, mom,” Karashel said into the microphone of her incredible
new desktop (courtesy of the Xx), “I’m fine.”
“The whole capital is on fire!” her mom cried. “The news isn’t saying much but on those sites you told me about... Fighting in the streets? Orbital strikes? Did we… did we actually...”
“Yeah, we did,” Karashel said grimly. “I’m not supposed to talk about it yet but there are over fifty thousand humans dead in the city alone… Nothing justifies what they did in response but still...”
The pupils of her mother’s eyes fully dilated.
“What did they do?” she asked in horror.
“I don’t have all the details, but the humans have some sort of new ‘terror weapon’, something horrible that they used on the vulxeen homeworld. It’s killed… oh mom you don’t even want to know how many are dead or how they died. It’s awful
“They could use it on the capital!” her mom squealed. “Come home! Come home right now!”
“I can’t,” Karashel replied.
“Just quit that silly job,” her mom said imploringly. “You can get a job anywhere!”
“You don’t understand,” Karashel replied, “I can’t
. There’s a blockade right now. Nothing is going in or out of the capital. They don’t want the humans sneaking in one of those… things
and they don’t want any of the human warriors still here escaping. But don’t worry, I’m perfectly safe!”
“Human warriors? Terror weapons?” her mother cried. “How can you possibly be safe?”
“I’m staying at a friend’s embassy,” Karashel said proudly. “This place can take a hit from one of their fusion bombs!”
“THEY HAVE FUSION BOMBS?!?!?
Karashel winced. She shouldn’t have said that.
“Don’t worry! I’m safe in here!”
“Oh, Jellybean! You can’t possibly
“Don’t tell anyone
,” Karashel said as she leaned in close to the mic and started to whisper, “The embassy that I’m in, it belongs to-”
” an enraged screech echoed down the hall. “IF THEY THINK THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH THIS...”
“Mom, I gotta go,” Karashel said looking at the door. “Something is up.”
“Jellybean!” her mom cried. “Wai-”
Karashel switched off the transmission and quickly scooted out into the hall as the breaking of glass could be heard from Caw’s office.
She cautiously poked her head into the room as Caw pulled out a rather wicked looking carbine from a smashed bookcase and was slamming a black oblong object onto it.
“What?” he asked in annoyance as an amber light glowed briefly on the side of the weapon.
“What’s going on?” she asked nervously. Caw was many things, excitable, intolerant, pedantic, but one thing he wasn’t was violent, at least she thought he wasn’t.
“Robbery! Plunder! Violation!” he yelled as he started to storm out of his office. “And if they think I’m going to just sit here and let them do it they have another thing coming!” he yelled as he shoved his way past her.
“Wait!” Karashel asked desperately undulating after him. “Where are you going?”
“The Locus!” he shouted.
“But there are humans
“I don’t give a FUCK!” he screamed steadily leaving her behind.
“Can I come with you?” she shouted.
Caw stopped and turned around, looking at her in astonishment.
“Have you lost your mind? There are humans
“You don’t care, why should I?” she yelled catching up to him.
“Because I’m an Xx!” he exclaimed. “If the humans are smart enough not to wish to anger the kalent they will almost certainly extend me the same courtesy. You are a baleel. No offense but they could slow roast you over open coals and nothing of consequence would be the result!”
“I’m still a councilor!” she replied. “They can use me as another hostage or something!”
“Compared to who they are holding at gunpoint, you are of absolutely no consequence!”
“Yeah, we suck,” she snapped. “but I still want to go!”
“By the ancient gardeners why?”
“Because I want to talk to them!” she replied. “I’m getting nothing but wormshit from official channels! I want to understand
what’s happening and why? Who better to ask than human warriors!”
Caw looked at her in amazement. So great was her hunger for knowledge she was willing to risk her very life! That was so… Romantic!
It was something right out of dramas, out of ancient history!
How could he say no?
“Well, more than one person has died because of Xvakk’Keen, the knowledge madness,” he chuckled, “but few do it with such style! You can die from this, you know.”
“Possible, but not likely,” she replied. “one thing is certain though. I won’t get another chance like this!”
“Ok,” he replied with a shrug, “I’ll try to protect you with my Xxness but no guarantees.”
“Wasn’t asking for one!” she giggled nervously. This was insane
… exhilarating, but insane.
“Well what are you waiting for?” Caw grinned. “Let’s go!”
Caw sprinted down the hall, hissing in exasperation as he had to stop every few dozen yards as Karashel “ran” after him.
“Can’t you go any faster?” he shrieked.
“If I could I would!”
An Xx, pushing a hover cart laden with boxes of data crystals, walked around a corner. Caw lunged forward and seized his cart. With a single jerk, he slid all of the boxes off, scattering thousands of crystals across the floor.
The other Xx shrieked and screamed in an alien tongue. Karashel didn’t know the exact wording but from Caw’s grin, it wasn’t nice.
“Get on!” he yelled.
Karashel flopped onto the cart and started wiggling herself onto it. Caw, his patience finally gone, grabbed her, rather inappropriately, and threw her onto the floating cart.
She squealed in surprise as she tried to grip the cart as Caw tore off at a breakneck pace, scattering Xx and other races as he threatened to plow right over them.
She laughed insanely. This was fun
. She started making siren noises as Caw laughed, despite his rage.
“Woo Ooo… Wooo Ooooo...” she shrieked as Caw sprinted through the sprawling building.
A rather elaborately dressed Xx and a group of what were clearly guards were waiting for them at the exit.
“Woooo Oooooooooooo...” Karashel slowly tapered off into silence as Caw came to a halt directly in front of the lead Xx.
“What the FUCK do you think you are doing?!?!” the well dressed Xx yelled.
“Stopping a crime
, ambassador!” Caw yelled.
“You can’t be serious, Caw!”
“As serious as a blocked bowel!”
“One of the Eel Lords
is in The Locus right now! There is only ONE THING that would have one of them
“Now get the FUCK out of my way, Kawk!”
“Fuck it,” the ambassador said and started to walk away.
“Shouldn’t we help him?” one of the guards asked.
“Nah,” The ambassador said as he walked away. “It’s just one eel and a few humans. Caw is enough. Don’t reveal what that weapon does if you can help it,” he called out over his shoulder as he returned to his office.
He had a drama to finish watching.
Caw sprinted to his waiting grav-car, Karashel in tow.
Karashel squeezed her eyes shut as Caw, switching his grav-car to manual, careened through the capital with breakneck speed.
“By the progenitors themselves,” Caw screeched. “If they have touched so much as ONE THING I will snatch that glowing tally-wacker right off of his scaly head and SODOMIZE HIM WITH IT!!!” Kalent don’t glow...
Karashel thought to herself trying not to lose her rice balls as the grav-car turned on its side and she felt her stomachs being shoved down into her foot.
“What are they stealing?”
“Things priceless beyond measure! Things that belong to all of us, not just to those sanctimonious sperm breathers!”
“Eeeeeee!” Karashel screamed as they plummeted for what felt like forever.
Then, throwing her forward into the restraint webbing that had mysteriously appeared, the vehicle slammed to a halt.
She carefully opened one eye and saw Caw retracting the window. Standing there was a Federation trooper.
“What?!?” Caw snapped impatiently.
“You can’t proceed any farther, sir,” the trooper said calmly. “This is a combat zone.”
“Really?” Caw said in his best patronizing tone. “Is that why there are all these soldiers and tanks? Wow! I would have never guessed. Now get the FUCK out of my way!”
“Sir,” the trooper said pointing his weapon at Caw, “get out of the car, now.”
“Boy,” Caw said glaring at him. “Do you know who I am?”
“No, and I don’t care. Get out of the car!”
“I am Caw Itsheesh, the councilor for the Xx. If you think
you have a problem now, fuck with me. Then you will know what a problem really
is! Now I’m driving through this barricade. Shoot me if you want.”
“Sir!” the trooper yelled as Caw hit the accelerator.
The air around the car glowed as bolts from the guards’ blasters struck the vehicle’s shields.
“They actually shot at us!” Caw laughed as he quickly turned a corner to get out of the line of fire. “Maybe I should get a diplomatic transciever after all!”
He looked over at Karashel who had wiggled out of the restraint web and was cowering on the floor board.
“Relax, they can’t get through these shields with those toys! They would need… One of those!” Caw yelled as he hit the brakes as a strange curvy… thing… floated down in front of them.”
Caw retracted the window again and leaned out of his ride.
“Get out of my way, eel!” he shouted. “I’m councilor-” “I am perfectly aware of your identity, Xx!”
a loud voice said. ”Go away.”
“I will most certainly not!” Caw yelled at the craft. “I am going to The Locus and you will not stop me!” ”The situation is delicate. We do not need an Xx, especially you, further complicating matters.”
“Barring me from the archives is a direct violation of the accord!” Caw shouted. “Are you telling me that the accord has been broken? If so, there is no reason for the Xx to remain sitting on this spoiled egg you call the Federation! If I leave I’m taking ALL of our toys and we are going HOME!”
The strange craft hovered there in silence for what seemed like forever. ”Proceed but be warned. If you cause harm to our lord, it will not go well for the pathetic Xx!”
“Try it, you prickless bastards!” Caw yelled as the craft floated back up into the sky.
Hands tied behind her, Tawnie, glared at the kalent with pure hate as she sat against the wall with one of the Forsaken soldiers standing over her.
Colonel Laurent rubbed his bruised eye. For a little slip of a civilian, that girl was a fighter. It took four of them, and one of her boots to his face, to stop her from attacking their hostage.
Thank God she snatched a sabergun instead of an AK. The AK’s safety was a lot simpler to figure out than the control interlock on what she grabbed.
“I am so very sorry for what the Federation did,” the sarcophagus said with a regretful tone.
“Fuck you!” Tawnie hissed as she spat at him, causing his attendants to leap between the two.
“Children, please,” the abyssal lord said calmly, “Human spittle is not dangerous to us.”
“You better fucking kill me!” Tawnie yelled at the kalent. “Because when I get out of here you’re dead! All of you are fucking DEAD!!!”
“Tawnie,” the colonel said still rubbing his eye, “you will get your chance to kill soon enough, I promise. For now, please calm down.”
” Tawnie shrieked. “They killed my family
!… They killed my MOM!”
“And we will avenge her,” Colonel Laurent said calmly.
“How?” Tawnie yelled.
“I think...” The colonel said turning to the kalent. “I think it’s time for you to leave.”
,” Tawnie hissed. “Let’s fucking do this!”
“The archives!” the sarcophagus said in alarm. “You can’t! We had an agreement!”
“The situation has changed,” the colonel said with a grim smile. “You need to go, now
“Sir?” a voice said over the colonel’s communicator. “We have a situation.”
“What the hell?” the colonel muttered in French as two figures were brought into the room, an Xx and … what the hell is that thing?
“What are you doing here?
” the colonel asked.
“I’m Caw Itsheesh, councilor for the Xx,” Caw said confidently.
“And I’m Karashel, councilor for the Baleel,” Karashel added cheerfully. “Hi!”
“I didn’t ask who you were,” Colonel Laurent snapped. “I asked what the fuck are you doing here!”
“I’m investigating a crime against all species!” Caw said in a loud confident voice.
“Well then I suggest going to the human enclave!” the colonel replied with an icy voice. “If you want your crime
, you will find it there!”
“And we shall, believe me, we shall!” Caw shouted in reply. “We are outraged by the events of today, the crimes committed by the Federation, and your kind
, are unforgivable!”
” Tawnie screamed from the corner of the room. “Our kind?!?”
she yelled as she struggled to her feet, only to be firmly sat back down by the human standing beside her. “Get off me!” she yelled at him as she bit his hand.
The soldier just smiled. Teeth don’t do much against combat gloves.
“But today I am addressing the crimes perpetrated by them!” Caw shouted as he pointed at the black sarcophagus. “Thieves! Vandals! Looters!”
“We have far greater concerns,” the sarcophagus said gravely. “the humans are going to destroy everything down there… everything.”
“W-what,” Caw gasped in horror. “You can’t!”
“We have the capacity,” the colonel replied. “Shouldn’t be that difficult.”
“What’s down there… It’s priceless!… Beyond priceless!… Please!” Caw begged.
“More priceless than fifty thousand lives?” the colonel asked. “They must be avenged.”
” Caw screeched.
“What?” the colonel asked.
“Oh dear,” the sarcophagus said in a rather shaken voice. “Yes, Colonel, Jessica Morgan exacted a terrible price for their lives. She unleashed what can only be described as hell itself upon the Vulxeen homeworld. They will be avenged several times over before the death ceases.”
The colonel shrugged and turned to Tawnie.
“Tawnie, if we untie you do you promise to behave yourself and get that lift operational?”
“Fuck yeah I do!” she said with a malicious smile. “As long as I get to see it burn.”
Colonel Laurent nodded to her warden who proceeded to pull her to her feet and cut her restraints. She grabbed her tools and sprinted towards the exit, pausing only to flip off the xenos as she left.
“Look,” Caw said imploringly, “Colonel was it? What is down there are treasures for all people, all species, things that-”
“If it’s for all of us,” the colonel said cutting him off, “then why are we just now finding out about it?” Yeah,
Karashel thought as she looked suspiciously at her friend. What are you hiding, Caw?
“It’s… complicated...” Caw said cautiously.
“Is it?” the colonel smiled. “Well it won’t be for long.”
“If you do this,” the sarcophagus said evenly, “It will be war.”
“It will be war anyway,” the colonel replied. “Do you honestly expect me to believe that the kalent, and the Xx won’t get involved anyway? It was a fucking kalent that suggested our genocide in the first place!”
“What she suggested was far from what transpired, Colonel,” the abyssal lord replied from within his sarcophagus. “You have already struck one of the races behind the travesty that befell your people.”
“One that you
, both of you,” the colonel said glancing over at Caw, “idly sat back and watched.”
“I didn’t know anything about it!” Caw screeched angrily. “You can be assured that we WOULD NOT have just sat idly by had we known!”
“I didn’t know about it,” Karashel added trying to help. “It wasn’t announced in the council or anything. For the record we are really angry about it too!… not that it matters much...”
“I beseech you,” Caw said his voice shaking, “please don’t do this!… Not this… The kalent does speak the truth, though. If you destroy what is down there, the Xx will never forgive you as well.”
The colonel kept his countenance grim but he was becoming increasingly concerned. Two “elder races”…
“Hey,” Karashel said with a friendly, if a bit disgusting looking smile. “Maybe… maybe we could work something out?”
“Quiet,” Caw hissed. “This is beyond you, Kara.”
“I might not be some big “elder race”,” Karashel said puffing herself up to her full somewhat slimy height. “But I’ve been studying humans! And from reading their history I know two important things. When they are angry begging for mercy doesn’t work.”
She then flicked her eyestalks over to the kalent.
“And neither do threats. Humans don’t give a fuck
when they are like this.”
She undulated towards the colonel.
“So, why don’t we make a deal,” she said in a friendly voice. “You have them by the, as you call them, ‘short and curlies’.”
The colonel laughed.
“So, give them a tug,” she said in a friendly voice.
The colonel smiled at the slug-like creature. It had offered him an out, God bless the thing.
“So what would you suggest, Kara was it?”
“Karashel, but Kara is cool.” she replied. “Well first of all why don’t we go see what all the fuss is about?”
She looked back at Caw with a wicked smile.
“I mean, these treasures are for ‘all of us’ right?”
If looks could kill…
The lift went down for a good minute before it came to a stop.
The doors opened into a wide hallway, wide enough for small vehicles to drive down it.
“Ok, we’re here,” Caw said as the group left the elevator. “The data center is this way.”
“Yeah,” Karashel said, “That’s nice and all but what’s down that hall over there, the one you are trying very hard not to look at?”
Caw glared at her.
“Let’s go that way!” Karashel said brightly and started scooching along. I’m going to shoot her,
Caw thought darkly, Just as soon as I get my gun back...
The hallway ended at a large doorway.
“If you don’t mind,” the colonel said gesturing at the door.
Caw, cursing under his breath, entered a code into the keypad mounted in the wall.
A door as thick as the entrance to a bank vault silently started to open.
The lights switched on, illuminating huge chamber filled with row after row of books, scrolls, stone and clay tablets… statues…
And some cases that were completely obscured.
The colonel let out a low whistle as he looked around.
“A museum?” he asked.
“A repository of priceless manuscripts and artifacts”, the sarcophagus answered.
“Artifacts of what?”
He smiled as he caught Caw glancing over at whatever was in that black box behind him.
“Um...” Caw said uncomfortably, “Items collected from the various races of the Federation, things from their early history.”
“Annnnnd?” Karashel asked impishly.
“And ‘other stuff’...” Caw mumbled.
“My Xx friend here is quite correct in his accusations,” the sarcophagus said. “We intended to remove certain items for safekeeping. We felt they were no longer safe here. Our current situation is proof of that. Even you must agree, Caw Itsheesh.”
“Tell me about this ‘other stuff’,” the colonel said examining a most unusual statue. It unnerved him.
“There are species, civilizations, far more ancient than even the kalent,” he said, “Here is where their artifacts are stored, their writings, everything we could find is in stored here. This… This is why we joined the Federation. To gain access… to this.”
“And why didn’t I know about this place?” Karashel asked, just a bit angry.
“You?” Caw scoffed. “You haven’t even scratched the surface of the archives you can
reach! Until a few days ago you didn’t even try
. What good would this do for you? You can’t even begin to understand what is in here! If
you reached a point where this would be of use then you would have been made aware of it, not that it would ever, ever happen to a society so devolved as yours!”
“Well fuck you too.” Karashel replied. “Maybe if we knew such things existed then maybe more races would be inclined to seek your precious knowledge.” she replied nastily.
“You don’t even begin to understand how foolish you are sounding right now!” Caw sneered.
“And you don’t have the slightest idea how much of a condescending prick you are being at the moment! Do you know why we are so ‘devolved’? You shitheads fucking hobbled most of us out of the gate, do you know that?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Culture shock, motherfucker!” Karashel snapped. “I’ve looked at my history too!” she said advancing on her “friend”. “Blindsided by you ‘siblingfuckers’ before we were even close to being ready! Completely overwhelmed, swallowed up by a galaxy a million times bigger than anything we expected. Slapped around by the vulxeen and the morash, and a dozen other races while you, and you
,” she said pointing at the kalent, “just sat there letting it happen!”
Her body started quivering.
“And why? Why?” she said starting to yell. “Pure ‘devolved’ colonialism! A fucking land grab
! God forbid the Empire, who takes care of its subjects
get to us first! We just got swallowed up! Could the Xx have survived that? Or the almighty kalent? You were free to develop on your own, at your own pace, figure out things for yourself, and when you did enter the galaxy as a whole you did so fully established, able to stand on your own, protect yourself on your own!”
She turned on Caw undulating towards him angrily.
“And you have the fucking nerve
to look down at us
?” she demanded. “How long did it take you to develop your precious ‘post scarcity society’ huh? How many thousand years, how many hundred thousand years did it take? How many years did you spend just as fucking filthy as us? Did you go from where we were at first contact to your oh so perfect enlightened state in one-hundred and eighty-three years? Did you do it in two hundred and eighty-three, three hundred, four?”
“Yeah, that’s what I fucking thought!” Karashel snapped.
“Damn,” the colonel muttered. “I’m just going to look around a little while you guys sort things out,” he said with a smile as he started walking around looking at the strange and weird objects.
didn’t have the archives!” Caw shot back.
“So fucking what?” Karashel replied. “Technological and societal progress are two entirely different fucking things. You can’t expect a society to just magically change just because they have some fancy new toys, you… asshole
. We got grabbed and hurled right into the deep-end of this fucked up galaxy, free to ‘chart our own destiny’ right to the fucking bottom!… Fuck you! Our civilization survived
, intact! So did all the rest of us lowly little dirty undeserving worms! Until you get hit with something like we did, you can’t say shit
“You tell them,” the colonel smiled as he admired the most alien
thing he had even seen in his life, an obelisk, floating on its side in a long crystal case.
“Amazing,” he muttered and then he froze.
There on the obelisk, was a very familiar symbol, an eight-rayed chaos star… with an… eye?… in the middle. The rays weren’t straight though, they were curved making a spiral and those weren’t arrows on the ends…
They looked like… hands
Fear gripped him as he started to look at the other symbols more closely. He hadn’t been this afraid since his first battle, so many years ago.
He felt his mind “falling” into that obelisk… there was something in there
He wrenched his gaze away from it and staggered back.
Pale and sweating, he walked back to the entrance.
He sensed the creature in the sarcophagus looking at him.
“So now you understand?” it asked quietly as Caw and Karashel continued to yell at each other.
“I understand that you really
don’t want to lose what’s in here,” he replied.
“I have a proposal,” the abyssal lord said quietly, “How would you like to survive, not just you, your men as well. I can make that happen.”
“Yeah, only to stab us in the back once we are safely away from your little treasure trove.”
“You little boneless slimeball!” Caw yelled.
“You judgmental feathered poo-ball!” Karashel snapped.
“I personally believe that the Forsaken are here to stay,” the ancient fish replied. “The Federation isn’t going to win, at least not completely. How would you like to be their envoy to the kalent? Your men can be your staff. You join me on my ship and we return to our home system. We will prepare an embassy for you there where we can ensure mutual non-aggression.”
“I thought nobody returned from your homeworld.” the colonel replied quietly, their conversation completely overshadowed by the raging argument next to them. It was starting to get ugly.
“They don’t,” the abyssal lord replied. “It will be a one way trip for you and your movements will be very restricted.”
“Sounds like prison. Hard pass.”
“Perhaps,” the creature replied, “but it will be a most pleasant incarceration. Our guests are quite happy and it will be a far better fate for you and your men than your current one.”
“How can you say that?” Caw yelled. “The two situations are completely different! You are comparing a rock with a rock lizard!”
“Really?” Karashel yelled back, “Consider the rise of organized labor in twentieth-century America...”
“Oh here we go with the twentieth century again!” Caw exclaimed. “I wanted you to glance over it as a cautionary tale, not make a fucking religion out of it...”
“Why don’t you address my point instead of bitching about it… bitch
The colonel looked at the black sarcophagus with a shrewd look in his eye.
“Here’s the deal,” he said after a few moments. “I go with you. My men get the option between staying with me or evacuation.”
“Yes,” the colonel smiled. “A fleet of transports, completely unarmed, will be allowed into this system. We will then evacuate everyone
who wishes to leave, everyone
. While that happens I, and a few very well armed and well equipped soldiers will remain here, to ensure the Federation’s good behavior. If anything
goes wrong, we start blowing shit up. Once they leave, me and my men will go with you. You can execute us at that point if you want or you can take advantage of the opportunity to start a dialogue with the General, something that you really
want to do.”
“I cannot make promises for the Federation, Colonel.”
“Bullshit,” the colonel replied. “That’s my deal. Make it happen or hope you took good pictures.”
The sarcophagus sat there silently for a moment.
“Listen, you little shit,” Caw yelled, “You can claim ‘culture shock’ all you want but does not excuse-”
“It isn’t a fucking excuse, shithead!” Karashel shouted, “It’s an explanation!”
“What’s the difference?”
“What’s the difference?!?
Listen here, pillow stuffing
The sarcophagus moved towards the colonel.
“Alright, we will make it happen,” the creature said. “It will take some time, but we do have pull, perhaps not as much as you believe, but we can exert pressure.”
“No problem, gives us more time to set the charges,” the colonel smiled.
An hour later Karashel and Caw were still going at it.
“And you leave the aat out of this!” Caw yelled.
“Why?” Karashel replied. “Just because they are your little pets makes them immune to your pathetic rating scale? How is their ‘post scarcity’ coming along?”
“That is completely unfair!”
“My point exactly!”
“Gah! That’s ‘wormshit’ and you know it!”
“Ok, how are they when it comes to other societal factors, hmm? Public welfare doesn’t require literacy! How about universal suffrage? You mentioned kings, where does feudalism rank in your little grade book?”
“They are still developing!” Caw said defensively. “At their age, your people were likely still figuring out how to rub sticks together!”
“Why would we… nevermind!” Karashel gurgled, the yelling wearing out her voice box. “You love to compare us to you but compared to you we aren’t that much more advanced than your little aat buddies are we?… Or are you not as technologically advanced as you claim to be?”
“SCREEEEEEEE” Caw screeched. “You are without a doubt the most arrogant presumptuous sanctimonious little turd I have ever met!”
“Quit complimenting me and answer the fucking question!” Karashel said spitting up a little bit of phlegm. “Where. Do. We. Compare. To. You. Relative. To. The. Aat? Are we closer to them or are we closer to you?”
Caw just stood there and fumed.
“Thought so,” Karashel said triumphantly. “You give them a pass and shower them with cuddles and kisses only because they have tech that you want. I bet if we had things that you wanted you would be much more forgiving of our little shortcomings as well, us ‘still developing’ and all.”
you developed as much native technology as they have, sure, we would be much more ‘forgiving’” Caw replied, “But you haven’t done shit
and the aat had even more of your ‘culture shock’ than you did.”
“Wormshit,” Karashel snapped back. “The aat are protected by their bulletproof minds! They are so far behind most of it went clear over their heads… and
they have been protected by you
since you found out about all of their goodies! Nobody is going to fuck with them!”
“But they were the targets of the injustices you cry about before that!” Caw replied with a sneer. “And they came out of it the winners, unlike the baleel
. If you want to try to pull in another race in a pathetic excuse to distract, do take care not to use one that completely outclasses you in every single way!”
“Listen here you piece of...”
“It is done,” the abyssal lord said, “The Federation has agreed to an evacuation of the capital in exchange for you sparing the contents of this room.”
“If you are intending to fuck us on this you do realize that you will have to deal with whatever the General considers worse than what she has already deployed as well as what I do here, yes?”
“If the Federation ‘fucks’ you they have us to deal with as well.”
The colonel gestured to one of his people
“Get me a connection from here to the hyperspace relays. I need to speak with the General.”
“How can you not see the complete lack of validity your argument holds?” Caw screeched.
“If it is so invalid, prove it! All I hear is screeching and insults!”
“I can’t disprove a ghost! Your argument is indeed valid,” Caw screeched, “if your presumptions were true
. You have yet to prove a single one of them!”
“Should we tell them that we are done here?” the sarcophagus asked.
“Nah,” the colonel said with a smile. “We got plenty of time and I want to see where this goes.”
“Indeed,” the sarcophagus replied. “It is most gratifying to see an Xx get it’s rectum stretched over its head like this. What is that creature?”
“I think it’s a baleel?”
“Ok,” Karashel gasped. “I will agree to forestall this ‘discussion’ until I ‘acquire knowledge’ concerning some
of your points and verify some
of your less asinine statements.”
“Yes… yes… We are going around in circles,” Caw sighed in complete exhaustion, “And we are running out of new combinations of slurs. I will also investigate some of your outlandish statements.”
As the anger and the baleel equivalent of adrenaline faded she started to realize what she did, what she said. Oh Creators what have I done?
“So...” Karashel asked looking down at the ground, “are we still friends?”
“What?” Caw looked at her raising his crest in confusion. “That is the absolute dumbest question you have ever asked, and that’s saying something. Of course we are! I haven’t had that much fun in ages!”
“That was fun?” Karashel asked in shock.
“Well,” Caw replied with a smile, “Wasn’t it?”
Karashel looked him with a combination of shock and horror.
“By the Creators themselves, it was
… Void take me it was...” she gasped.
“Now we both retreat, gather fresh information, and then do this again!” Caw said happily. “You have chosen a most intriguing position, an invalid and doomed position, but an intriguing one. I look forward to the fresh thoughts this Xvakk’Lok, knowledge battle will create!”
“And I look forward to kicking your ass!… Not that I have feet...”
“I hope you will accept your defeat with the same amount of grace as the foolish confidence with which you approach it!”
“Oh bite me.”
“It’s a human term.”
“You two kiss and make up yet?” the colonel asked.
“We are taking a break to reinforce our positions,” Caw replied, smoothing his feathers.
“You do realize the exact circumstances in which you two decided to have your spirited debate?” the sarcophagus asked. “The extreme gravity? The potentially dire circumstances?”
“Silly me,” Caw replied. “I was so engrossed in teaching my silly little sidekick a lesson that you were the only one who had to make concessions. Don’t worry, if you had gotten in over your head, I would have come to the rescue.”
The colonel snickered.
“However, the fish is right. This is a rather unique situation,” Caw said to Karashel. “Since we are here there are some things I would absolutely love to show you...”
Was going to post this yesterday but got Hijacked by some buddies to go try 9th ed out. Watching my 4 Kastelan's Overwatch 72 shots into assault Intercessors, survive the attack and proceed to shoot them in melee another 72 times... Destroying the unit was fun. R.I.P brave data smith you did your job well. Now comes the times of shooty vehicle melee.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy.
Finley Macdonald was currently reclined in his favourite chair, a nice cup of coffee in one hand and a book in another. Having just returned from nearly the edge of Terran space from a really shitty mission, all he really wanted to do was to kick back and shut his brain off. He had always liked reading after a mission. It helped him forget some of the more unpleasant images he was exposed to in his line of work. He always stuck to the more silly fantasy books, they always seemed to do the trick. His current book about robotic chaos wizards vs the galaxy knight was seemingly serving its intended purpose of putting him in a good mood. That is, until he received a notification on his implant.
"I thought I shut that damn thing off.
" He complained, double-checking his com implant and noticing that it was already in do not disturb mode. Swearing, he ran a system diagnostic which swiftly reported nothing abnormal. "Shit, damn glitches. Guess I'll have to see the doc tomorrow.
" Getting back to his book, he only got another thirty minutes of reading in before he heard banging at his door. "Oh for F~" Moving to the door, he keyed the cam to find out who was on the other side. To his surprise, six men in military uniforms were standing respectfully on his steps.
"Oh, crap." Trying to remember if he did anything inappropriate on his last mission as the men waited patiently, he came up blank. "What the hell do they want with me?" More banging on the door brought him back to the present. Looking back at the door cam he noticed one of them had pulled out an odd-looking tool and started waving it in front of his door, he watched in horror, as his door unlocked itself and Finley came face to face with six very large drop marines.
"Uhh, hello guys." He tried with a smile. "What can I do for you today?"
Five marines stepped into his house while the remaining one began to speak in a very authoritative tone. "Finley Macdonald, as previously notified via com, you have been selected to lead an important aid mission whereas your expertise in frozen climates are required. A specialised fleet and crew are currently being prepared as we speak. Everything you will need is being taken care of, however, if you require anything else, please use this device to make your request."
Once the marine handed the device over and finished his speech, Finley turned around and looked at the marines roaming through his house, picking up objects and clothes. "I don't suppose I get a choice in all this, do I?" He asked.
The marine smiled. "Even if you did, I guarantee you would take it."
Finley turned around and began helping the marines pick through his useless gadgets. Pointing out the more important tools he would need for his new task. After about 20 minutes his custom tools were packed and he was ready to go.
"That everything sir? You may not be back for a very long time." The talkative marine stated.
"That should be everything. I'll be able to make most of the tools I'll need while in route after I'm briefed on the mission." Finley replied, stepping into an armoured shuttle. Without so much of a word, the marines sorted his tools in the cargo hold and directed him to an area where he could sit down.
Finley stumbled to his seat as the shuttle started climbing into space at an astonishing speed. "I'm used to rushing guys, but isn't this a bit much? there must be other frozen climate SAR experts that are active in space right now." He protested.
The talkative marine looked at him. "Two of them actually. Both are currently in sol on route to Eris."
Finley shut his mouth once the marine mentioned Eris. "You don't mean to say I'm going to Eris, do you?" The marines only smiled as the ship went to warp for a few seconds and exited. That's when Finley got real worried. "That was a warp skip in SOL space right beside the bloody Earth, wasn't it?" He asked quietly.
The marines stood up and made way to the cargo bay, the talkative one staying behind to guide Finley. "This way please sir."
Finley decided asking questions wasn't in his best interest of yet and decided to follow the marine to the cargo bay. It only seemed to take a few minutes before he felt the shuttle dock and the cargo hatch begin to open. Finley nervously followed the nameless marine down the ramp and into the hangar where he was finally able to look around, mouth hanging open in surprise. Hundreds of ships. Coming and going in every direction, with thousands upon thousands of soldiers, workers, and civilians, tens of thousands of people moving around, gathering and storing things. Moving them into what looked to be the interior of. "This is a fucking moon base!" Finley shouted.
"Oh look he can use his eyes." One of the untalkative marines replied with laughter.
Finley closely followed the marines into a personnel lift and watched as the leader key in a command. The ride only lasted a few minutes, but it was unnerving and felt like he was being tossed around in a can as the lift moved in almost every direction.
"This way please." The nicer of the marines requested, finally directing him into a room with a bunch of other confused-looking people, some still in their pyjamas.
Finley looked around the room and laughed, gathering a bit of attention. "Anyone know why the hell we're here?"
The chorus of negatives was all he needed to hear, deciding to take a seat and wait. After a few more people were slowly piled into the large room, he decided to ask a few questions.
"Hi, my name is Finley, I'm a frozen climate SAR commander," he said with a smile. "Been here long?" He asked the very augmented man closest to him.
The man looked back at him and shrugged. "Just got here, I work in orbital mechanics. Not sure why I'm here either." Another man joining in on the conversation piped up. "Sorry to interject, but I'm a biologist. Not sure why I'm here, and I've asked around already. Unfortunately I don't see a pattern in careers either."
Finley thought to himself how weird this whole situation was, watching as more people were hurriedly ushered in. After a few more minutes passed by, an important-looking woman entered followed by two marines. The three quickly moved to the holo-display in the middle of the room, and the woman stepped in front of the gathering.
" I am base commander Kendra Brown. Yes, you are on a moon base. No, you may not go yet." She stated with a straight face, only able to hold it for a few moments before breaking into a grin. "You and you families will be my guests while we embark on possibly the most important mission humanity has ever had the pleasure to be apart of."
Finley wasn't buying it. What kind of important mission would need a frozen climate SAR specialist to be hurried onto a bloody moon base? But, he decided to humour the lady.
"I see a few of you aren't convinced. I'm sure some of you have noticed that the gathered personal here are the foremost experts in frozen world-ecology or similar fields." Pulling out a data pad, she tapped on it a few times and brought up a frozen world. "This is the Planet Aaster."
Finley watched with mild amusement, he could tell just from looking at the planet that by the time a moon base got to that ice ball, even it if was next to sol, everyone on it would be dead. "What a waste of time." He whispered to his augmented new friend.
"Is that so? Mr.Macdonald? Care to tell me why?" The base commander asked with a wicked smile.
Finley wasn't stupid but decided to play her game and point out why. "The entire ocean is frozen solid from what I can see. To much dust and cloud cover, hardly any sun. That's an ice planet with no source of solar power to rely on, with a hazardous atmosphere. I see blizzards and ice storm being a constant threat to any outboard electrical while at the same time slowly freezing onboard systems. It's not some cold climate, where you can survive a few weeks inside a crashed colony ship with some fire and rations. By the time this slow ass moon base gets there, whatever crashed on that planet will be dead." Finley heard a few murmurs of agreements and smiled.
"Very astute observation Mr.Macdonald. You are correct. The inhabitants of this planet die within a minute when they leave their envirodomes."
Silence permeated the room while people digested what was just said. Kendra tapped her data pad, and a new picture came up of a biped snake lizard thing, rotating for all to see. "These are the people you will be responsible for saving."
The room burst into a flurry of yells and excitement. The commander letting people get it out of their system before continuing. After a few minutes, she clapped her hands to gather attention, and Kendra continued. " The people gathered here are experts in orbital mechanics, climate control, rescue, and terraforming. We have also gathered biologists, botanists, and virology experts and a lot of doctors. You will be given fully stocked labs with the best equipment and fabricators, as well as any assistance you request. Now then, with that out of the way, if you wish to decline this mission, you may leave out that door, a shuttle will take you back to wherever you need. I'll give you 10 minutes to decide."
Finley decided he liked moon bases after all and leaned back into his uncomfortable chair.
Captain Andriet was currently on com with First Tail Chrarada discussing the ongoing efforts of Terran ground forces. "We're stretched pretty thin as is Chrarada. The ten thousand helped a bit. But that's two billion people down there."
Chrarada sighed in resignation. "I'm sorry Andriet, this kind of malfunction has happened before and they've survived without death. I'm just worried."
"We can still send engineers to help, but the supplies will take time. Once 'Speaks With Fists' is finished with its refit things will get better." Andriet said softly trying to console Chrarada.
Chrarada chuckled, "Do all Terran ships have such silly names?"
Andriet burst into laughter, "You have no idea, we tend to have a habit of bestowing things with silly names."
"Must be all ethanol you Terrans drink. I have come to find it can lead to interesting effects amongst the males of my kind." Chrarada teased.
Andriet leaned into her monitor and wordlessly begged Chrarada to spill. "You can't just tease me like that."
Chrarada eyed Andriet back and relented. "I find it makes them more forthcoming and bold. I quickly became the... target? Of my own plan. I would say, victim, however, there was no victim that night."
Andriet had a massive smile. "Would you like another bottle?"
"Maybe another time Andriet," Chrarada said teasingly. "We still have business to attend to."
"Right my apologies. Speaking on business, I need you to look at this data. I know your people were barely setting up their first orbital station when Accaro was destroyed. But are you sure your people didn't see anything? I know you can tell from the data, but it looks like someone was testing weapons in your system."
"If they did, the logs were destroyed. You have to understand it happened over two hundred years ago. The remnants of my people were more focused on survival when the destruction ended, and the planet started its rapid cooling."
Andriet sighed as another report came in from the surface requesting more food aid. "We can hardly feed the places we're currently set up." She said quietly, forwarding the report to Chrarada.
Chrarada just looked at the report with sadness in her eyes feeling a bit of guilt tug at her heart. "If... I let the remainder of your fleet into our syst~"
"Don't, your people aren't ready yet, and it won't matter much. Sure we could feed a few more mouths. But not as much as you think. Our current fleet is running their fabs hot for things they shouldn't need to due to our fleet support ships aiding your people. If we park our fleet in your system, your people might think you lack control or have been conquered. Give it a few more weeks." Andriet said with regret.
Chrarada was angry at the situation but knew Andriet was right. People might get the wrong idea and start to attack the Terrans if their fleet enters the system. "You're right I'm just frustrated, My people are resilient and we can survive until your aid fleet arrives."
Andriet was happy with the change in Chrarada. "Your people survived without our help, now together we can rebuild what you've lost." Andriet said with a gentle smile.
"Thank you for your support Andriet, let me know if there is anything else you need. I should get going back to the bridge."
"No, nothing right now. Just more things neither of us can handle at the moment." Andriet said, pausing for a time then sighing and sending more reports to Chrarada.
"Always some new problem." Chrarada replied, keying in some new orders.
Srettia stood in the hangar, looking at her ship in awe. " It looks like I can take on the galaxy." She said happily.
"I made sure all angles of fire are covered with either a lance battery or rail gun.
Srettia moved towards her ship in glee. It was covered in thick armour and sleek looking turrets that pointed in every direction now. Waving at the tired-looking mechanics, she boarded her ship to check out the changes.
"This ship is definitely not anywhere close to being legal for a civilian Jack. What's going to happen when she completes her commission?" Michael asked, following behind his excited partner.
"The admiral says it's not his problem as she's in a grey area. Not belonging to Terran navy nor do her people have rules on the types of weapons her ship has.
"Well, I guess that solves that problem." Boarding the ship Michael walked to the cockpit looking for Srettia.
"I have new controls! Teach me what they do." Srettia asked as Michael came into her view.
"Well most are weapon controls, so you won't need to worry about them as either Jack or myself will be in control. You added some Ion boosters?"
"Tanda suggested that since there was space, they would increase mobility by 8.3%. With his reactor modifications and my armour plan, there will be no drain on the main system when activated.
"Damn Jack that's amazing. no wonder Tanda wanted to keep you."
Srettia pinched Michael and gave him an annoyed look as her tail tried grabbing onto him.
"Right sorry, so when we're at impulse if you need an extra bit of manoeuvrability just key that button. It won't increase speed too much since the impulse engines work by pushing on space not thrusting the ship, but should give you better movement." Watching as Srettia looked over her controls, Michael sat in his couch and waited.
"Can we go now?" Srettia asked, looking over at Michael.
"You're the captain. Request away." Michael replied, keying in some commands.
"I could always order you to do it." She replied, thinking about her newfound power. "In fact, I get to order you around from now on, don't I?"
"You could order him to do the things he's not doing that should be obvious. Hangar control is transmitting clearance.
Srettia burst out laughing. "I was told that it was an uphill battle on wheels." she replied, manipulating the controls and piloting the ship out of the hangar. "I don't feel any difference in the controls."
"I'm just finishing up on compensating for the armour now." Michael replied, still poking away at his console.
"I don't think he heard us.
"Isn't that just normal for him though?" Srettia laughed, finally exiting the hangar.
"Keep at it he'll crumble eventually.
"Alright all done. Now, do you still want to head out to that system with the nebula you picked out yesterday?" Michael interrupted.
"I definitely want to head to that system. It should only take about a week, right?" Srettia replied, watching as Michael got out of his couch and walk over to her.
"Alright, Lesson one. The warp system is built so stupid people don't run into other stupid people trying not to run into other stupid people." Michael stated with a chuckle keying in an odd sequence that brought up a new window.
Srettia fought back the urge to taste the air as Michael leaned over her and started showing her the more advanced controls. "So with this new console, I notice that nothing is automatic like the other one I was just looking at. What happens if I key something wrong." She asked unconsciously wrapping her tail around Michael's leg.
"Well, you run your ship into a planet or bounce off a star or smash into an asteroid." Michael said with a chuckle remembering his recent crash.
"So wait, this is super dangerous then. Why are you showing it to me?" Srettia asked, mildly horrified.
"Because you're going to learn how to pilot this ship properly and not rely on idiot-proof systems. So when the boogeyman shows up, you'll fly circles around him while jack and I blow his pants off."
"I'm sure the removing of pants will happen a few times during our travels.
"What makes you think that?" Michael asked.
"Just a feeling partner.
"So If I plot a course like this, it works to get us to the system safely, and from what I've noticed, I've already cut down a day and a half of travel?" Srettia asked, changing the subject back to teaching.
"I think you're being a bit too conservative around this area." Michael replied and pointed out an area that seemed out of place on her course.
"I didn't want to get to close to that dust cloud." She replied and tightening up her route, shaving six hours off the travel time to her surprise. "Why did it do that?"
"It's just the way warp mechanics work you'll get the hang of it." Michael replied, uncurling Srettias tail and sitting back down.
"I was never taught, warp mechanics." She said quietly.
"Nope, you weren't. That's why I'm here to teach you, although we can skip that boring book stuff and do it the fun way." Looking over her course, Michael smiled. "Wanna see how I would do my course?"
Srettia thought for a moment. "Go easy on me?"
"I'm not sure you should be asking him that.
"Why not?" Srettia asked, looking into the camera.
"You should be asking him to go hard on you... I mean, how else will you learn.
"Alright, this how my course would look." Michael said, trying to sound approachable.
Srettia looked down at her nav map and was astonished. "That's almost a full two days you took off of my route."
Michael brought up her route and put it beside his on the main viewer. "See where the differences are?
After studying it for a moment, she noticed where she had messed up and smiled sarcastically at him. "Alright, I get it. Stellar objects are meant to be flown through."
"No, you dummy rotate the map." Michael retorted.
Srettia realised where she fumbled before she even looked at the map. "I'm an idiot. she said with a laugh. What kind of pilot am I who can't remember space is three dimensional?"
"One that didn't bother rotating the map." Michael laughed. "It's a damn good lesson though. You ready?"
"You bet." Srettia keyed the control, and the ship began its short journey to a new system.
Jessica makes a few phone calls...
The rest of this series can be found here
A much leaner and well-toned Brenda pressed herself into the grass as sensor information was fed into her eye.
He was close.
He had given her the slip six times… Six!
That was a record. Six missed kills. It was no longer professional...
It was personal
! She never
And now, she had… Six times!
Today, it would end.
That fucker was going down!
She winced as she opened a small case and started to silently assemble a slender weapon… A weapon
! That is what she had been reduced to, crawling in the mud with a fucking energy weapon
Every trap had failed. Every snare… evaded…
A “cockroach” transmitted a brief signal. It had caught the scent!
She smiled and interfaced with her weapon. Its (ugh) targeting reticle appeared in her vision.
Her roach sent another signal… Movement!
She zoomed in on a small stone outcrop as he poked his head cautiously around a small crack. He knew he was being hunted.
Slowly he started to creep into the open, nervously looking all around.
She smiled. I got you, you little shit...
she thought as she pulled the trigger.
The weapon vibrated slightly but made absolutely no sound as her target spasmed once and then collapsed motionless upon the stones.
She smiled as she lept to her feet and started to sprint. Seconds later she was standing over him. Everyone
falls in the end… everyone.
She pulled out her scanner to confirm the hit.
“Plestiodon fasciatus…” she giggled. “You, my friend, are officially unextinctified!”
The lizard was already starting to wiggle a little. Wasting no time she pulled out her knife and lopped off a few millimeters of his bright blue tail and, using tweezers, quickly put it into a sample vial.
Seconds later the lizard blinked, flipped over, and darted back into the rocks.
She stood there admiring her prize. This little snippet was going to keep her in beer and chocolate for months!
The next day Brenda threw one hell of a party at a nearby lodge. Gene-prospectors came from hundreds of miles away to admire the footage and fill up on free food and booze.
“Keep them coming, Harry!” Brenda exclaimed as another group wandered in.
“I still can’t believe it, Brenda,” a grizzled old woodsman said shaking his head. “A lizard-zapper… Never seen that one before.”
“Yeah,” Brenda said as she took a big gulp of beer. “Rub it in...”
“What you mean?” the old man asked. “You hit a fucking skink at thirty yards.”
“Yeah, but I still had to use a fucking gun, slippery little bastard.”
“What’s your deal with guns?” the old man asked. “It’s damn near unpatriotic!”
“Noisy, messy, and totally lacking in imagination,” Brenda scoffed. “Where is the creativity? Where is the fun?”
“You’re an odd one, Brenda,” the man chuckled, shaking his head. “Damn good prospector, but fucking weird
“This from a man who has a poop collection?” Brenda laughed.
“Hey! Do you know how many samples I’ve gotten from shit? You kids and your fancy degrees and high-dollar scanners and you literally walk past a fucking gold-mine holding your delicate little noses all the while. I’ve gotten twenty varieties of edible plants all from scat.”
“Yup. You should take time to stop and ‘smell the roses’ every now and then.”
“Gross, dude,” Brenda laughed.
“H-hi Brenda!” Jason said as he rushed up.
The old man grinned and got up to leave ignoring Brenda’s pleading glance with a wicked little smile.
“C-congratulations!” Jason exclaimed as he sat down next to her. “A skink! That’s amazing! I had no idea they were so beautiful!”
Brenda just sighed. Jason had been “tracking” her ever since she decided to take up gene-prospecting as her latest cover. (She had really enjoyed camping during her last job.)
“Um… Thanks,” Brenda replied, a little flustered. Jason was
cute, exactly her type, and super nice.
And that was the problem. Sooner or later, maybe next year, maybe tomorrow, she would disappear, suddenly and without a trace, and he didn’t deserve that.
Neither did she. You could always ‘retire’,
that little voice piped up in her head. She could. Lord knows she had the cash, millions
But she didn’t keep at it for the money. I mean, that last job… The fucking head of Federation Intelligence!… What a rush! No, there was no retiring for her, at least not yet.
For example, there was Patricia Hu to consider. She normally didn’t do “bounties”. She felt them to be beneath her but Holy Jesus on a Popsicle stick! That was a lot
But how would you even do it? She has
to be off world, hiding in one of her
bases, surrounded by her
How would you even begin to track her?
She felt her pulse rising.
Then you would have to get in, grab her, alive no less, and get her out. I mean, yeah, you could kill her, but oh the challenge
It would be a little “shady” since she was her last client but she wouldn’t have to kill that many people to ‘bury’ that little detail and nobody would fault someone going after such a big score…
Something touched her arm. Her hand instinctively slid into her pocket as she exhaled slowly taking care not to swivel her head overmuch.
It was just Jason.
He was still talking.
“Can I see the rifle?”
“What?” Brenda asked as she let the adrenaline wash away and her hand left her pocket.
“The rifle you used on that skink. Can I see it?”
“It isn’t a rifle,” Brenda replied. “A rifle is a projectile weapon that imparts a spin on the… Nevermind,” she smiled. “Sure. You can see the weapon
, but don’t call it a rifle. It hurts me.”
“O-okay!” Jason said excitedly.
The pair headed towards the exit.
“Keep everybody full and get them drunk!” Brenda yelled over her shoulder. “I’ll be right back.”
Harry just grinned and gave Jason a little thumbs up.
Brenda pretended not to notice. The only thing Jason was getting a peek of was her lizard-zapper. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little fun,
that voice said. Yes, it would,
she replied to herself.
As Brenda and Jason stepped outside Brenda came to an abrupt stop.
Outside, at the edge of the parking lot, was a grav-limo, a nice one. One of these things is not like the others...
she sang in her head as she took a quick glance at the hover-trucks and RV’s.
She threw a quick “eye” over it as her hand slipped into her pocket and grasped four large bright yellow marbles, each one bearing a cheerful smiley-face. Armor… shields… cloaking… Fuck.
“Wait inside,” she said to Jason.
“Is something wro-”
“I said wait inside,
” Brenda hissed, her mask slipping.
“I’ll… I’ll wait… inside...” He said quietly as he opened the door.
“Probably just a silly ex who doesn’t know what’s good for him,” she added with a winsome smile. “I’ll be right back.”
Jason went back inside with chills running up and down his spine.
“Now who might you be?” Brenda asked cheerfully as she walked towards the limo, marbles in hand.
As she approached, the cloak switched off revealing one occupant, no other life signs.
The rear passenger window retracted…
And she burst out into a goofy grin.
“Markie!” she shouted with a cheerful wave, still holding the marbles in her off hand.
Marcus Delacroix carefully kept his eyes forward and his hands where she could see them. Approaching Brenda unannounced was a very, very good way to wind up dead.
He noticed a flash of yellow in the corner of his eye and wondered what other cheerfully colored toys were in the area.
When she was about fifteen meters away he slowly turned his head to face her.
“I’m leaving the vehicle,” he said in a cultured Imperial accent.
“Don’t.” Brenda said in a light cheerful tone. She’s pissed… and completely unconcerned about this floating tank...
He carefully inhaled and slowly exhaled and consciously lowered his pulse. He had a reputation to maintain and it wouldn’t do if he looked as… “concerned”… as he actually was.
“It’s great to see you Markie!” Brenda enthused as she stopped a meter from the side of his ride, “What a completely unexpected
“Likewise,” Marcus replied. “I must say that you look especially lovely this time. The blonde hair suits you.”
“You like?” Brenda said with a goofy smile. “Not over the top?”
“Absolutely not! You look ravishing!”
“Flattery will not save your life if you don’t start talking… Now
...” Brenda said in a sweet voice. “What the fuck
are you doing here, Marcus?”
“I have a client who wishes to speak with you.”
“So why didn’t you use a dead-drop… Markie
?” she hissed, her eyes blazing.
“Because you aren’t answering them, Brenda
.” Marcus said in an annoyed voice as he met her gaze. Ohhhh she’s Pissssedddd…. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck…
“And that should tell you what?” she asked in a rather pointed tone.
“I would normally respect your desire for some down-time but this is an extraordinary situation.”
“It better be,” Brenda smiled. “It better be extraordinary
enough for me to overlook that there exists a person who can find me when I don’t feel like being found. I don’t like that which means I don’t like you
“At least hear them out before you unleash the… marbles?”
“I like marbles. They’re fun, especially these,” Brenda said with absolutely no expression. “You have ten seconds before you find out exactly how much fun
they are,” she said, Marcus already turning into a fine red mist in her mind’s eye.
“One billion credit retainer,” Marcus said calmly. “Guaranteed one-hundred million credits a head after the first ten, if it comes to that. I would appreciate it if you at least talk to them before dispatching me.”
"Ruin my vacation? Want me
to talk to your
client? One million. Now
“(sigh)… Fine,” Marcus grumbled. “Can I reach for a transactor?”
“Do it slowly,” she smiled as she opened her hand and all the marbles turned to face him.
A million credits richer, Brenda slid into Marcus's limo.
“Oooo!” she said happily. “This is nice!”
“I’m glad you approve,” Marcus said never taking his eyes off of the four little faces staring at him. How can marbles look suspicious?
“Fucking stupid, but nice!”
“High dollar ride in this
neck of the woods?” Brenda said in a scolding tone. “Shoulda rolled up in a camper or something.”
“I couldn’t find an armored camper on short notice,” Marcus replied.
“Really?” Brenda asked. “Call me next time. I know a guy.”
“If I could have called you I wouldn’t have… Nevermind,” he said as he slowly and very carefully moved his hands to activate a holo-screen.
“I’ll give you some privacy,” he said as he carefully reached for the door.
“Nuh-huh!” Brenda said cheerfully. “You keep your ass right here where my little buddies can keep an eye on you. I
trust you but those little guys don’t like weebs very much. You give them a loving home, try to raise them right, and they still turn out to be little racist shitheads. It breaks my heart. It really does.”
“Very well,” Marcus said in an amused tone as he activated the limo’s encrypted transmitter.
A minute later Brenda sighed in exasperation.
“That million credits wasn’t for all fucking day, you know.”
“Patience, please, my client is very busy.”
“So was I,” Brenda scoffed. “Those beers ain’t gonna drink themselves.”
Much to Marcus's discomfort, Brenda started humming to herself as she started making the marbles play leapfrog, and balance on each other’s heads as she waited.
An eternity later Jessica Morgan’s face appeared.
“Well fuck me running!” Brenda exclaimed. “Hi Jessica!” she exclaimed as she waved happily.
She snapped her fingers and the marbles jumped into her pocket, much to Marcus's relief.
“Brenda!” Jessica replied. “Love the hair!”
Roberts had fled the cabin and taken shelter at one of the bars in the cruise ship they were taking to their refuge in the Empire.
When Helena was writing she could be testy on a good day. These days? Hoo Boy! The latest news that Daemon managed to snatch from whatever that “chatroom” was had Helena foaming at the mouth.
As well it should, over fifty thousand dead in the capital alone. Jesus. Porkies weren’t Roberts’s favorite people, not by a long shot but still…
That was pretty bad. The fact that Jessica exacted a pretty terrible revenge did little to placate Helena either. If anything, it made her even more enraged.
Nope. He was sitting right here until it was time for dinner.
Helena was typing up a storm when the intercom pinged.
It was the captain. What the hell?
“Excuse me, Ms. Sterling?” he said in a polite tone.
“Yes?” she asked wondering exactly what the fuck she had done. They had been behaving themselves the whole time… mostly…
“You have an, ahem, priority communication from the Federation.”
“Wha?” Helena wittily replied.
“Yes, they are waiting for you.”
“Well, okay,” Helena said, more than a little confused, “Put them through.” She felt a moment of panic. Had something happened on Zaran? Oh God! Had her parents been infected, or worse?
“Ah… It’s not something we can route to your cabin, I’m afraid. Please come to the communications center, we have a private lounge there.” What the fuck?
“Ok, I’m on my way.”
“What’s that all about?” Daemon asked as the communication ended.
“I have no fucking clue,” Helena responded as she headed towards the door.
“Oh you gotta be fucking kidding me!” she exclaimed as the holo-screen in the private lounge switched on.
“I wasn’t prepared to jest,” Jessica said with a little chuckle. “Have you heard the one about the two nuns and the eggplant?”
“What the hell do you
want?” Helena replied caustically.
“Well first of all I wanted to say that I’m quite the admirer of your work,” Jessica said with a pleasant smile.
“Oh I’m sure,” Helena said rolling her eyes. How the fuck does she know we are on this ship?
Helena suddenly thought in alarm. That wasn’t good. That was really
“That piece you did on Gwendolyn Shay? Marvelous! She was screaming for your blood for weeks! And don’t even get me started on your expose’ on hidden monopolies and price fixing! God! That one stung! Do you have any
idea how hard that one hit? Cost me millions!”
“Glad to be of service,” Helena said in a snarky tone.
“Oh! And the one about corruption in the counsel and the reconstruction contracts? How did you ever find out?” Jessica asked with admiration.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“Actually, I would,” Jessica laughed. “If you only knew how much trouble that one caused! I was looking down the barrel of an actual indictment! Good thing I know where the bodies are buried. Not literal ones, of course.”
“Of course,” Helena said rolling her eyes.
“I do want to set the record straight on one thing,” Jessica laughed. “I have NEVER slept with Cyrus Red! Ever! That man repulsed me. I’m glad he’s dead.”
“Is Cyrus Red dead?” Helena asked leaning forward.
“Oh absolutely,” Jessica said with a smile. “He pissed off the wrong person, or, if we are being precise, the wrong fish.”
“Who killed him?” Helena asked fumbling for her phone.
“Axlea, director of Federation Intelligence,” Jessica said quickly before she could get the recorder switched on.
“I would say to ask her yourself but, even with your considerable skill, that’s almost impossible.”
“Sorry,” Jessica smiled as Helena finally managed to switch on her recorder, “I misspoke. Impossible… Definitely
impossible...” Jessica said with a wolfish grin.
“Hmm...” Helena said looking at her suspiciously. “Why the fuck are we talking?”
“Because, my intrepid reporter,” Jessica said with a warm smile. “I want to offer you access.”
“Most certainly not,” Jessica replied. “I like having the best and you have definitely proven yourself to be among them. Relentless, fearless, and most importantly, effective
, all things that I admire. You are definitely a valuable resource, one that I would be foolish to ignore, not that ignoring you is easy, mind you,” she added with a rueful laugh. “I would like you to join me.”
“There is absolutely no way in hell that I would ever come to work for you
“And I wouldn’t expect you to,” Jessica replied with a smile. “I just want you to embed yourself with the Forsaken. I offer complete access, total freedom of movement, and absolutely no interference or censorship. I just want you to come over here and do what you do best.”
“Be a pain in your ass?”
“Report the truth
,” Jessica said emphatically, “as you see it, both the good and the bad, no punches pulled, no stone unturned. Just do your thing.”
“Propaganda I have,” Jessica replied. “I have an entire cruise ship filled with artists, writers, musicians, video producers, marketing teams
… I’m sure you have seen their work?”
“Yeah,” Helena said sourly, “I have.”
“And it reeked of bullshit, because propaganda is by definition just that,” Jessica smiled, “You know it. I know it, and, most importantly, so do a LOT of other people. Right now it’s a bullshit contest. My bullshit artists against the Federation’s.”
Jessica leaned forward and grinned a wicked smile.
“So I want to do what I do best,” she chortled. “Cheat. There is one thing that the Federation is definitely NOT expecting, the truth
, the pure unadulterated unvarnished bloody ugly hard stuff. The truth is a weapon that hits as hard as a sabergun and as far as the monsters and fiends of this galaxy are concerned, myself included, there is little more that we fear than a light shining under our particular rock. I want to bring the truth, the real honest to God truth, into the mix. Lay it all out there, for the whole galaxy to see, both the good and the bad. History is being written and I think it would be very interesting for it to be penned by an actual unbiased observer for once.”
“I can assure that I am completely serious,” Jessica replied. “I want the truth of this whole mess laid bare and put out there for everyone in the galaxy, Imperial, Terran, and Fed to see. Let them see what you uncover and let them make their own decisions. Let’s see the Federation spin doctors handle that!”
“And your spin doctors?”
“They will do what they are hired to do,” Jessica said, “They will twist the truth and spin it and weave shit into gold, exactly as I demand. However, they will be at least a little constrained since they will have my royal bard up their ass, at least I hope that they will. They also have the advantage that we honestly are on the right side of this.”
“Are you?” Helena asked. “I’m not so sure.”
“Well, I’m inviting you to find out for yourself,” Jessica replied with a smile. “Go wherever you want. Talk to whoever you want. Dig. Find the dirt.”
“And I’m sure you will just let me print it when
“Absolutely,” Jessica replied. “With one little restriction. We are at war. I am unwilling to allow you to compromise active operations. It’s the same with any war correspondent. Other than that, you have a completely free hand and anything that is deemed to be operationally sensitive will be yours to publish the moment that it is no longer so. Let history judge me fairly.”
“And how do I know this isn’t a trap? What’s keeping you from tossing my ass out of an airlock the second I drop by?”
“And prove that every single thing you have ever written about me is true?” Jessica scoffed, “Please. People who kill the press are fucking idiots. Why the hell do you think an assassin hasn’t already come calling?” Jessica asked. “Because I told all of my less enlightened comrades to keep their fucking hands off, that’s why. You ignore the press. You discredit the press. You don’t kill them. That’s just plain stupid. I’m a lot of things, Helena, as you will have the opportunity to find out. I’m a whole lot of things, but I’m not stupid.”
“So a ‘tragic accident’ happens then?”
“Those have a nasty way of coming back to bite you in the ass,” Jessica replied. “If anyone knows that things won’t turn out the way they definitely should
it’s me,” she said ruefully. “Besides, you have a guardian angel.”
“Shelia motherfucking Donovan!” Jessica exclaimed. “If there is ONE person I do not want to add to my list of troubles it’s that bitch! No thank you! I fuck you over and I have her to deal with and I don’t want that. She took the White Star with no casualties, except for one ding-a-ling who refused to wear their armor, and she’s perpetrated the biggest security breach in Federation history only then go and break her own record? That’s one big pile of ‘nope’ if I’ve ever seen one. I’m in no hurry to tangle with that.”
Helena angled her recorder towards the screen.
“Is that why you haven’t sought revenge for your grandson, Councilor Morgan?”
“Shit, why did you have to remind me?” Jessica groaned. “I gotta address that. I mean she did save me the trouble but-”
“Saved you the trouble?!?”
“Oh yeah,” Jessica replied, “You think he was just hiding from the Feds on that ship? He was going to cut a deal where he was going to reveal… well… a whole bunch of things that no longer matter, actually.”
“You were going to have your own grandson killed
“I guess you would need to interview me to find out wouldn’t you?” Jessica smiled. “If you agree to hang out with us I promise I’ll give you the story, along with a whole bunch of others. I mean, a lot of it no longer applies. I’ve killed half a million and counting! I am no longer concerned with a lot of shit and the other people involved are either dead, dying, or in the process of committing crimes that make all that old stuff pale in comparison. Hell. I’m willing to bet a lot of my ‘confederates’ would just love to brag about most of it.”
Jessica leaned back and spread her arms wide.
“So, whadda you say? Feel like enjoying some bardic immunity?”
Helena staggered into the bar where Roberts was enjoying a gin and tonic.
He looked up at her as she stumbled in.
She looked rough
“Paul,” Helena said with a confused and troubled look in her eyes. “I just think I made a deal with the Devil...”
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