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2023.06.09 05:56 Objective_Campaign82 Sins of the Father Ch35 (Hellworlder pirates 2)
The Battle You Can Never Win
Years ago, aboard a poorly maintained ship, in a dimly lit cargo hold with stained mats haphazardly thrown on the ground, a young girl glared at the old man before her. Her breath came in ragged heaves, her clothes were stained with sweat, and her exposed skin was covered in welts from the older mans bamboo blade. She was on the ground while the man was standing up straight, his breathing only slightly faster than normal but otherwise gave no hint that only moments before he had been swinging his practice sword like a demented blender.
The girl tried to stand but instead fell back down. “Why, the fuck are you making me do all this.” She growled at the man. Earning her a quick smack to the side for her foul mouth and impertinence. “Fuck!” she cursed, earning another strike in the process.
She continued to glare at the old bastard, most people usually flinched under her hateful glare. Especially the weak prey-like Xenos, they always coward at her wrath. But the old bastard didn’t. He just watched her with a calm and patient gaze.
The man was silent for a while before he sighed and looked to the pipes and looses wires along the ceiling. “You ask why I make you train? Why I push you unlike all the others? The better question is why you resist my teaching?” he looked down at her again. “You are taller than most men, you are naturally stronger than a girl has any right to be, and your fire is enough to melt iron. And yet you resist my attempts to polish those advantages. By all rights you should seek every chance to better yourself. And yet you don’t.”
“What’s the fuckin point? Like you said, I’m strong, and being already human makes me faster and tougher than everything out there. So what’s the point in training with stupid swords?”
He frowned, but didn’t strike her again for her foul mouth. “You are stronger than most creatures in this galaxy. But not all. The Kaydic are as strong as a grizzly, and if they get a good charge going they can pass through brick walls like they were wet paper. The Balikstro are faster on four legs than we can ever be on two. Any Uplifted Mammaloid could easily disembowel you with a careless swipe. And that isn’t mentioning the true monsters out there like the Aunviry.”
“Okay, yeah they’re all better. So what’s the point in training if they’re always going to be better than me? I’m only human.” She whined as she felt the growing bruise on her side.
“Because you don’t train for the battle that you can win, but for the battle that you’ll always lose. Because on those days the only thing that will keep you alive is training, good reflexes, and hardened combat experience. They are how you will win the battle you can never win.”
“That doesn’t make sense old man.” The girl snarked.
The air cracked, a brown sword blurred, and the girl let out a yelp as her ass was struck by a Shinai.
The old man who decided to be her mentor continued. “And the only way you get there is by training every day until your hands bleed and your legs give out.”
The girl glared at the old man, but she saw the sense in the words. Even if she hated the old man and his stupid sword. “Fine, but can we call it here. I have a cargo shift tomorrow.”
He looked down at her hands a tilted his head. “Your hands aren’t bleeding yet.” He said blandly as if remarking on the weather.
Daisey groaned, but got up anyways.
The old bastard Mizuno really did make her work until her hands began to bleed before letting her crawl off to her hammock in the sweltering space above the engine bay. She only got a few hours of sleep before the ship docked with the pirate capital and she had to spend the next ten hours moving cargo off the Black Saint.
And after that, when she had finally gotten to sit for a few minutes Mizuno found her and dragged her back to his ‘dojo’ for another round.
She had hated it at the time. Hated him. Hated the shitty rusty ship. Hated almost everyone one onboard. And hated those stupid bamboo swords.
But in time the pain paid off, and those skills that had been beaten into her the hard way saved her life when Greyson’s crazy bitch of a lieutenant tried to kill Daisey in some back alley on Parox. And later those same skills allowed her to best the men she had eventually called Sensei instead of Bastard.
It was strange to feel nostalgic for a time where everything sucked, and you hated everyone around you. But fighting Zera again brought back those bittersweet memories. She had hated Mizuno so much back then, but the man who had decided to mentor her eventually became one of the most influential figures in her life. Aster may hate her father and everything about him, but she couldn’t ever hate the heritage he had unwittingly tied her too. Because it was the same culture Mizuno had loved with all his heart. Warts and all.
Zera fought like a deranged beast. Slashing and stabbing with wild abandon. But while she had received some training to polish out her blind aggression, she never took Mizuno’s philosophy to heart. Greyson had ordered Mizuno to share his teaching with Zera just like he did with Daisey. But where Daisey, now Astarte, had accepted his ideas of training for the battle you’ll always lose top heart.
Zera learned how to cut better and how to save her strength. But once she had learned that she used her strength and youth to overpower Mizuno-sensei in sparring matches. While Daisey had restrained her own strength where she could so as to better learn Mizuno’s skill and techniques.
Even when after she had fought off Zera and took her spot as Greyson’s right hand she still trained until her hands bled. Even when she left the Terran Pirates and drifted around with her mother she trained. And when she met Karega and got a ship of her own she continued to train for the battle she would never win.
It was that mindset that let her finally surpass her old mentor during their final battle on the central Temple of Temple city. The very same mindset that let her match blows with a vile abomination like Kazlum and his brood. A literal battle she had no right ever winning. And it was the same teachings that she would use to beat this cyborg blast from the past.
Zera’s metal exterior was too tough for Astarte to cut. And it was highly unlikely that Astarte would ever exhaust her. But while she failed to land any actual wounds on her opponent, Zera the Butcher couldn’t land any on Astarte.
Zera aimed her mantis like blades at the kinks in Aster’s armor, but Aster’s reflexes and agility was enough to dodge and deflect Zera’s attacks.
But time was not on her side in this fight. Human endurance was legendary and superior to anything any other biological species could replicate. But no amount of sweat or anaerobic exertion would ever match the ceaseless movements of a machine.
Zera also had plenty of tricks hidden within her robotic limbs. The extra power in her legs had nearly bowled Astarte over when she triggered it as their blades were crossed. A third use had allowed her to dart to Astarte’s and strike at her thigh. Zera had found a kink in her armor, but a single step back had spared Astarte from any real damage.
Her leg felt warm and sticky as blood trailed down. But it was only a flesh wound and nothing that would hinder her mobility.
That attack had finally allowed Astarte to see exactly how Zera kept leaping forward. Somehow she was building up energy in her leg which could be released. A joint opened around where a bulging calf should have been and allowed her to double the length of her leg and gave her explosive forward momentum when used right. In the heat of battle Astarte couldn’t make heads or tails of the mechanism, she saw wires, tubes, and what looked like a hydraulic valve thing. She didn’t need to understand it at the moment though, right now knowing there was a way past the tough metal shell and into some more vulnerable internals was all that mattered.
The assassins’ arms also had a similar ability. But instead of explosively doubling the length of her arm Zera could have curved blade on her forearm launch forward in a powerful stabbing motion. Astarte dodged one of those attacks and saw the blade punch through the concrete of a nearby building. Zera had been stuck in the wall for only a second as she used the leg extension to pull her out and launch her back into melee with Astarte.
Zera also had a wider range of motion than Astarte was used to seeing in a human shoulder joint. When Astarte had rolled under a swing and came up for a slash at her exposed back the other arm was capable of swinging a full 180° backwards and deflecting her blow.
The way the arm had rotated in the joint had unnerved Astarte. She would have shivered in horror if had been given a moment to do so.
Those tricks had surprised Astarte the first time she saw them. And only quick thinking kept her alive. But once she saw them, she was capable of accounting for them and making her plans around them. She had fought enough alien opponents to know how to compensate for strange physiologies. The Aunviry for example had been far stranger to deal with than this borged-out human woman.
Sparks rang from their clashes and Astarte began to look for any more surprises. But as the fight stretched on Astarte began to suspect that Zera had already played her hand. And if she was reserving something then it was probably something she could only do once. With the factors accounted for, Astarte began to plan her actual counterattack, no more probing.
She couldn’t do much about the powerful arm attacks besides dodge, and couldn’t hope her armor could take the hit. The legs presented a weak point, but not one easy to get at. She would have to bait Zera into a launching attack and then sidestep fast enough to stab into her leg. A risky maneuver.
She thought about the full rotational ability in the arm joint. She didn’t know much about engineering, but she remembered some of Alwen’s lectures on the shoulder joint area after the Battle for the Confederacy. Alwen had to reset several bones in that region and she had taken the time to explain everything instead of just doing it. It was a complicated joint, and already prone to coming out of its socket. Did enhancing that range of motion come with any added structural weakness?
It was an idea.
As the fight drew on Astarte began to feel Zera speed up as her strikes became more and more sure. Astarte realized there was another blatant weakness that Zera had carried with her from the days she was fully human. Her mind.
Zera had a mercurial temper, plenty of triggers, and was highly unstable. And Astarte knew how to use all that to her advantage.
“You wanna know the funny part.” Astarte said in between blows. “Greyson didn’t even care that you were gone.” She taunted in between breaths. There was a reason most real combat didn’t have witty banter or heart felt speeches between foes. Every breath counted and wasting it on speaking was stupid. But she judged it to be worth the effort.
“Didn’t even question me about. Just said ‘Zera’s gone, now you will guard my back’” Astarte teased. “Then not even a week later I was second in command and got to sleep in his comfy bed.” She gave Zera a sloppy self-satisfied grin.
In reality Daisey hadn’t wanted to be Greyson’s guard, nor sleep in the same bed as a forty something man with the reputation for fucking anything with a hole and a heart beat. But she had little choice in the matter if she wanted to stay alive and keep working with the Terran Pirates.
The assassin’s eyes flared “And then you killed him like the deceptive whore you are!” she roared with another predicable jab.
“Of course I did, I refused to be the latest women he ruined and dumped into the gutter.” Astarte countered as she side stepped the blow. She was really glad Mizuno-sensei drilled her foot work so often, it was paying dividends at the moment. “Face it, your days were numbered. If it wasn’t me it would have been him.”
“LIAR!” Zera roared as she overextended again.
It didn’t offer Astarte the opening she looking for, so instead she went for a different sort of weak point. No matter how much her body changed there was one place that had to stay mostly organic.
No one fucked with the brain, not the Toy man, not the Union, and not the people who rebuilt Zera. It was too delicate to touch and far too complex. Just wiring in an advanced cybernetic eyeball to the optic nerve had caused a knock-on effect in Astarte’s head. And that was just a peripheral change.
The hilt of Tenken rammed into Zera’s face, smacking the same place she had dented earlier. There was a thud, like the sound of a dropped metal can, and then the sound of shattering glass. Zera stumbled back and put a hand up to her face where Astarte’s strike had warped the metal enough to loosen up her left eye out of its artificial eye socket. The eye had fallen and shattered at Astarte’s feet, and it now leaked a white fluid.
Zera looked up and Astarte saw the strange deformed metal plate of her face all scrunched up on one side. Half her lip was pulled up in a permanent smile while the more mobile part of her face scowled. She charged right back at Astarte and her right arm splint down the middle, Astarte saw the prongs of a stun weapon race towards her just as the other arm came up for a slash at her face. Astarte stood her ground, took the prongs, and lifted arm to intercept the blade.
The electricity didn’t feel like waves of fire like she had expected, but instead like all her muscles just got pulled at once. She felt her knees go weak as they wanted to buckle. But she gritted her teeth, remained on her feet, and took the pain. This was nothing compared to when she caught in that Egh’ahd sneak attack, nor when she fought Kazlum and had been bitch slapped across a whole room. This was a pain she could handle.
And compared to the electricity coursing through he the Mantis blade in her arm was nothing.
With one arm occupied in tasing her, and the other wedged into the bone of her forearm Astarte knew she wouldn’t get another chance like this. She grabbed the bladed arm with her other hand and with a twist of her hips, threw the Cyborg over her shoulder.
The assassin hit the ground with a thud and Astarte moved foot on her back.
The blade in her arm cut back upwards, got caught in the plates of her arm guard, and snapped off by the hinge. The pain in the arm grew too much to bear so she let that arm fall limp as her other arm held onto the assassin now beneath her feet and pulled. Zera let out a scream that hit the far range of human vocal cords and dipped into a sound only possible in dogs, dolphins, and machines. It even began to stutter like a corrupted audio file.
Even her voice was fake.
Then there was a pop and rip, and the arm came clean off.
Astarte stood there holding the still clothed arm in her hands as white fluids leaked out of the cyborgs open joint. Astarte glanced to the fake arm in her hands then down to the struggling cyborg, and with little hesitation lifted the arm and proceeded to beat the womans head in with her own arm.
Or she would have if a heavily distorted voice hadn’t interrupted her bludgeoning.
Astarte turned to stare at the cloaked black figure of the Arbiter aiming a pulse rifle right at her.
Astarte then raised her hands above her head, still holding the prosthetic arm. “It was self defense” Astarte said to the unwavering gaze of the Arbiter. A flicker of her eye into the Ultraviolet showed the scowling face of a much-recovered Rachel glaring at both of them. Previous
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2023.06.08 22:47 nikoamari Lord bung is just the yandere dev of yt animation
So many years and thousands of dollars given just to give us jack shit, nah jack shit would be better than this, being ghosted is better than being insulted. Also I feel bad for anyone who donated to their patreon, Im sorry that you guys basically got scammed. Its a bummer this all happened, confinement was such a great series at first, I wish none of this started.... EDIT: also they accused someone of SA, yet literally have like two dozen people get SA'd in the ep 8 leak????
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2023.06.08 18:36 SignalLetterty latest adult juicy teens pics Patreon latina OnlyFans leaks celeb Belle Delphine Telegram videos thicc asian leaked celeb lesbians tiktoks Corinna Kopf invite Natalie Roush
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2023.06.08 09:34 duddlered The Big Oof! Volume 1 Chapter 41: Token of Gratitude
This is the official end of the first Volume. Next week will begin Volume 2!
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Bennett was dead asleep in his hammock when he was roused by hushed whispers and the sound of activity echoed throughout the room, seemingly amplified by its cramped space.
“Ben.” A voice called out.
As the engineer slowly opened a singular eye, he found himself struggling to make sense of the situation. A figure was just a few meters away from him, rifling through a bag when they turned around and faced him. However, Bennetts groggy state prevented him from fully discerning who or what was responsible for the disruption.
“Ben, wake up.” The voice called out one more time.
Scowling in irritation, Bennett chose to ignore the voice and flipped over, burying his face into the hammock's fabric. He was determined to get back to sleep, even as the voice grew more insistent and the room's activity continued.
“Ben, wake the fuck up!” The voice finally yelled.
Suddenly, Bennett found himself suspended in the air, his groggy state replaced with fear and anxiety as he was forcefully yanked out of his hammock. He tried to process what was happening, but before he could comprehend the situation, he felt the cold embrace of the hardwood floor.
“Argh! Fuck!” The Engineer groaned as he slowly lifted himself up off the ground. "You goddamn asshole!" Bennett snapped, his voice hoarse from the mixture of pain and anger.
Standing over Bennett with a cackling Fairy on his shoulder, Elijah decided he wasn’t going to wait for the stubborn man to get up on his own. "It's time to get up," Elijah said, turning around to continue sifting through his bag. "We got a lot of shit to do before we leave, and I can't afford to have you sleeping in."
Bennett’s glare shifted between his captain and his sadistic partner. "Fine, fine. I'm up," he grumbled, rubbing his sore back. He knew Elijah was right, but that didn't make the sudden wake-up call any less infuriating. Yana, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying Bennett's misery, her laughter ringing in his ears.
Pulling out his remaining Bioscanner, Elijah began running diagnostics on the device, ensuring it was in working order for when he delivered it to Salvanius. It was a trade that he was loathing, but it was a trade he would make 1000 times if given the chance to get the rest of their equipment back. Even if they only managed to find a quarter of their property, that was still a lot better than having nothing at all.
As the Bioscanner's display indicated the device was functioning optimally, Elijah let out a small depressed sigh and slid it into his pocket. "Alright, let's get this over with," he said, opening the door and stepping out into the dimly lit corridor. Bennett followed, still grumbling under his breath about the hostile work environment while shifting his stink eye at both Yana and Elijah.
“GOD DAMNIT!!” Bennett yelled, rubbing his head after hitting the top of the door frame.
He had completely forgotten how cramped everything was on this wooden death trap and how he had to crouch throughout the entire interior. Frustration and annoyance etched on his face, Bennett muttered a string of curses under his breath as he adjusted his posture to avoid the low ceilings and narrow passageways.
“Midgets…” The Engineer sneered as he heard Elijah snicker father up ahead.
It only took a few moments for Elijah and Bennett to reach the deck, and there they observed Rhea efficiently issuing orders to the ship's sailors. Her authoritative voice rang out over the hustle and bustle of the ship’s crew, who were quickly scurrying about, securing ropes and checking supplies. What really caught their attention, though, was Rhea was finally out of her armor.
Adorned in a faded white linen long-sleeved shirt, Rhea left her chest straps slightly undone, revealing a hint of her modest, but alluring cleavage. The Knight Captain’s slim, athletic figure was displayed in stark contrast to the thick padding underneath the metal armor she normally wore. To accentuate her figure, the tight brown linen pants she wore hugged her humbly, but satisfyingly shapely curves and seamlessly tucked into her leather boots. The outfit, deceptively sultry, effortlessly exuded a sense of casual confidence and undeniable charm.
Turning her head slight, the Knight Captain finally noticed the two Humans and acknowledged them with a nod. “Good morning Sir Elijah, Sir Bennett and…” She made a difficult face when her eyes locked onto Yana.
“Your Honor will do!” The Fairy said in a chipper voice, crossing her legs. “I am both a Goddess and a confirmed Eternal Judge of the Fae courts!”
Rhea’s expression turned sour for a moment, but decided it was best not to engage any further with the mischievous Vanir. "Very well, good morning Your Honor," Rhea replied, forcing a polite smile. "We're running a bit late, but we should be ready to set sail in just a few hours.”
Elijah raised an eyebrow at the small fairy at the mention of being a confirmed judge, but shifted his attention back towards Rhea and nodded in understanding. "We'll be ready whenever you are," he said with his eyes traveling up her entire figure attire before refocusing on her face. "Just give us the signal when it's time to set sail." .
“I’m assuming the northern woman is still asleep?” The Knight Captain asked, tilting her head curiously.
Seeing her long elf ears bounce up and down seemed to be the final straw for Elijah, as an unbidden and almost adolescent fascination welled up within him. He blinked a few times, trying to regain his composure before replying. "Uh, yeah, she’s still asleep," Elijah finally responded, exhaling deeply. "We’ve been up for almost 36 hours, so I think it's best to let her rest for a while longer." he replied, trying to maintain a professional demeanor despite the lingering fascination with her elf ears.
Bennett narrowed his eyes in annoyance as he regarded his captain with a disgusted look. "Can you control yourself?" he asked with a judgmental tone.
Also noticing Elijah’s basically ogling her, Rhea couldn't help but laugh at the exchange while running a hand through her hair. "I'm glad to see at least someone finds me attractive," she said, her cheeks tinted with a slight blush. Elijah cleared his throat, trying to regain some semblance of dignity as he shifted his gaze away from her.
"Ah... My apologies, Lady Rhea, but I was caught off guard," Elijah said, giving her a genuine smile. "I wasn’t prepared for the famed Knight Captain to be so beautiful out of her armor. It's a pleasant surprise, to say the least."
Rhea found herself momentarily speechless as her cheeks flushing a deep shade of red. She wasn't used to receiving compliments, let alone being called beautiful by someone as striking as Elijah. A small, bashful smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she looked down to hide her embarrassment. "Well… I, um… Thank you, Sir Elijah.” she managed to say, her voice uncharacteristically timid. “I appreciate the kind words."
Noticing the usually confident and stern Knight Captain was completely flustered, Elijah knew she was on the backfoot and went for blood. “You’re more than welcome Lady Rhea,” he responded, bowing his head. “I was just saying it how I see it—”
"Yana, zap him!" Bennett ordered, sensing that Elijah was about to push his luck too far.
The mischievous fairy didn't hesitate, and with a magical pop, she immediately shifted forms, transforming the fiery inferno atop her head into a flowing teal, wind that cascaded past her shoulders. After her transformation, a maniacal grin spread across her face as she clutched two fistfuls of Elijah's hair.
“AHH FUCK!” Elijah yelped in pain.
A light chuckle escaped Rhea's lips as she watched the scene play out before her, momentarily pushing aside her embarrassment and wariness of the group. Their playful antics, though unprofessional, stirred a sense of lighthearted camaraderie she hadn't experienced in years. The thrill of exploring the unknown alongside trusted friends had been lost to her ever since she joined Salvanius' Order. The organization's rigid structure and hierarchy had dampened her once-adventurous spirit, and witnessing Elijah's crew sparked a touch of envy within her.
Yana, still grinning mischievously, finally released her grip on Elijah's hair. The man, now fuming with anger, made a hasty attempt to snatch her out of the air, but the nimble fairy easily dodged his grasp, giggling all the while.
"I'm going to kill the both of you!" Elijah yelled, glaring at both Yana and Bennett. His frustration only caused more laughter from the fairy and an amused smirk from Bennett, who crossed his arms and leaned back against the railing.
"Come now, Sir Elijah, there's no need for violence," Rhea interjected while covering her mouth in a poor attempt to hide her own laughter. "I'm sure you can find it in your heart to forgive their little prank.” She continued, adjusting her hair that was flowing in the wind. “We’re going to spend a few long days sailing if we’re going to catch up with them, after all.”
Glancing back at her crew, Rhea's face returned to its usual stern expression when she noticed the sailors gawking and whispering amongst themselves. It was evident that her momentary display of mirth had taken them by surprise, as they rarely saw their Knight Captain in such a lighthearted state.
"What in the name of Tylas are you all gawking at!?" She roared, placing her hands firmly on her hips “GET BACK TO WORK!”
Rhea's eyes narrowed as the scrambling crew members hastily returned to their tasks, their faces pale with fear. The ship's atmosphere instantly shifted back to its usual disciplined state as the sailors focused on their duties, aware that their Knight Captain's gaze was upon them.
Elijah let out an annoyed sigh in the realization that he was probably never going to catch that little psychopath and shifted his gaze to Bennett. “I’m gonna get you.” He hissed hatefully. “Mark my words, you piece of shit.” However, Bennett merely smirked in response, clearly unfazed by his captain's threats.
Just as Elijah was about to ask the Knight Captain about the whereabouts of her liege, the man himself appeared on deck. Salvanius came sauntering up the planks that connected the ship to the docks, his imposing figure drawing the attention of everyone present.
"It's quite rare to hear you so jovial, Rhea," the Demigod remarked, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his lips. Rhea, slightly taken aback by her liege's observation, straightened her posture and cleared her throat.
"My apologies, your grace," she replied respectfully, attempting to regain her usual composure. "I shall see to it that this Cog is ready to depart, post haste."
Salvanius waved a dismissive hand, his expression softening slightly. "There's no need to apologize, Rhea. It's good to see you enjoying yourself, even if just for a moment. However, you are correct; our guest would most likely appreciate departing as soon as possible."
With that, Rhea nodded and began barking orders to her crew, ensuring that everything was in order for their imminent departure.
Turning to his guests, Salvanius addressed them with an air of authority. "I assume you two have the magical tool..." He paused, recalling the events that transpired the previous day. "I mean, the tool. Is it ready?"
The two Human’s exchanged glances before Elijah stepped forward, pulling out the bioscanner from his pocket. "You’re not going to be able to understand it, but I’ve configured it in a way where you can still get a lot of functionality without having to read." he explained, holding the device out for Salvanius to see.
Time flew as Elijah went into an in depth explanation of the bioscanner's functions and features. He walked Salvanius through everything all the way from disease diagnosis to health monitoring and treatments. With each new feature the human listed seemed to make Salvanius’ jaw drop lower and lower until he found himself looking like a fool.
"And finally, if a red tube with a bolt of lightning ever just starts flashing, all you have to do is flip it over so these panels face the star and just wait," Elijah explained, pointing at the bright orb in the morning sky as he showed the Demigod the solar panels. "It's designed to recharge itself using starlight, so you'll never have to worry about finding a power source."
Salvanius' eyes widened even further, if that were possible. "Astounding," he breathed, clearly impressed. "And you’re just willing to give this to me…?"
“Eh.” Elijah shrugged dismissively. “I have augments- I mean I can already do most of that stuff other than a few things, so it’s mainly just redundant fail safe incase I’m away or dead.”
A complicated expression spread across Salvanius' face as Elijah mentioned that the device was merely a redundancy measure in case of his absence. Suddenly the prospect of having this man as a retainer became much, MUCH more appealing. However, his thoughts were soon interrupted when the Vanir made its appearance by landing squarely on Elijah’s shoulder while glaring daggers at the Demigod.
Salvanius met Yana's gaze and sighed, dispelling the intrusive and dishonorable thoughts of taking these Artificers for himself.
“I understand.” The demigod said, turning his focus back to Elijah. “The Holy Dominion will not forget this grace you’ve bestowed upon us.” He gave a grateful nod before spinning around and heading towards the dock.
However, he soon came to a halt as his eyes fell upon a group of women arguing with his knights at the ramp leading to the ship. The women seemed intent on gaining access to the ship, their arms laden with various items, including several sizable platters of food.
“W-Wait! I-I was instructed to board!” A slim and fearful redhead said, holding a large burlap sack.
Something felt… Off about her.
It was almost as if Salvanius could recognize the woman, even though he was fairly certain he hadn't met her before. Then again, he had met a great number of people in this damned village, but his instincts kept nudging him to take a closer look. But his thoughts were interrupted when he recognized the Beastkin woman and the gaggle of Ferfolk slaves next to her.
"What do ye mean we ain't allowed entry!? I gotta deliver me gratitude before it's too late!" the dog-like woman bellowed, her voice full of frustration and urgency.
An amused huff left Salvanius’ mouth before looking over his shoulder. “I do believe you have guests.” The Demigod said before making his way down the plank.
“Let them through.” He said to his knights, waving his hand dismissively as he walked past the group.
The knights obeyed without hesitation and stepped aside allowing the gaggle of women to board the ship. "Thank ye, yer grace," The dog-like woman bowed deeply before her and the Ferfolk ran up the ramp.
As Elijah approached at the edge of the ship , confusion spread across his face as Mara suddenly appeared with her renowned tubers in hand. The woman stopped a good distance away, staring intently at the man, attempting to gauge his reaction and determine whether he would be receptive to her presence. Seeing he was just staring at her impassively, Mara gathered her courage, and stepped forward with a warm smile.
"I... I wanted to give ye this as a token of me gratitude…” She said shyly. “Ye know, for everything ye done for us."
Elijah's eyes flicked between Mara and the tubers, his confusion slowly melting away into a wry smile as he flicked his hand in a beckoning motion. The action caused Mara’s Shyness to completely dissipate as she bounded forward and handed him the tubers with enthusiasm. "You really didn't have to, but thank you," Elijah said, accepting the gift.
Mara beamed at his response, clearly relieved. "It's the least I could do!” She said, with her tail wagging vigorously. “I couldn’t bear the thought of not makin’ amends with ye.”
Turning around, Elijah handed this plate of tubers to the salivating Engineer and watched as Yana bolted off his shoulder in an attempt to attack the pile of food. Shaking his head, Elijah turned back to Mara and the group of women with a bemused expression. "Hopefully they’ll leave me some," he commented.
“Ye can always come back and get more.” Mara replied with a coy. “I’ll let ye have all the service ye want.”
A chuckle escaped Elijah’s mouth as he ran a hand through his hair. "I might just take you up on that," he said with a smirk. "Your food isn’t the only thing I’m going to miss."
Mara's cheeks flushed deeply at Elijah's reply, her tail wagging even faster as she tried to play it cool. "Well, I'll be sure to make myself available whenever ye are in need of some company," she replied, propping up her supple chest.
Elijah couldn't help but let his eyes wander for a moment before meeting Mara's gaze again, a lopsided grin playing at the corners of his mouth. "I'll… keep that in mind as long as you promise not to try to get me killed again." he replied with a goofy tone that made the dog-girl giggle.
“So all I need to do is spread my legs if I’m ever in need of your forgiveness?” Azelines voice rang out from behind him as the blond Elf woman emerged from the ship still rubbing the sleepiness from her eyes.
With a mouth full of fried tubers, Bennett decided to chime in. “I told him his dick is going to eventually get him killed.” He said, beckoning the Ferfolks to place the other platters on a nearby box.
Bringing a hand up to press against his eyes, Elijah let out an annoyed groan before turning his attention towards the two. “Why do you have to make this weird?” He asked in exasperation. "It’s all about sincerity.”
Bennett snickered, shoving another tuber into his mouth. "Ah yes. You hear that Aze?” He continued in a mocking tone while elbowing Azeline in the ribs. “You need to put more effort in your apologies!"
Azeline smirked, her teasing nature starting to leak out. "Is that so? I guess I’ll make sure any future apologies come with… an appropriate amount of sincerity and effort." She said, striking a pose that was more satirical than seductive.
“Jesus Christ…” Elijah muttered under his breath while his two crewmates broke out into laughter. “I hate both of you.”
The laughter continued after successfully eliciting an annoyed response from their beleaguered captain. However, a quiet seemed to take over the deck as everyone's attention shifted towards the approaching Knight Captain. "So that's the type of man you are, Sir Eli-jah" Rhea remarked with a raised eyebrow. "I'll bear that in mind when you try to charm me with your honeyed words."
“Oh god damnit…” Elijah facepalmed and dragged his hand down his face as another roar of laughter erupted from everyone in the group.
Rhea’s hand was covering her mouth as she tried to suppress a chuckle. “A-Anyways…” She chortled. “We should be ready to sail any moment now, so make sure you’re all prepared for departure.” The woman said, walking off in the direction of the Helm while her shoulders shook in mirth.
Elijah just stood there for a moment, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Where the hell is Auri?” He asked no one in particular, his frustration starting to show.
Recognizing the voice, Elijah looked up to see a petite woman with bright red hair looking up at him expectantly while holding onto a large burlap sack. Glad to see that he at least didn’t have to go hunting for the dainty woman, Elijah let loose a heavy breath of relief. “Alright, I’ll go tell Lady Rhea-” He tried to say, but Auri interrupted him.
Auri squirmed nervously before asking, "Umm… Should I be worried that you also have designs on me?"
“Oh for fucks sake!” Elijah threw his arms up and let them slap against his thighs in frustration as the rest of the crew barked in laughter. "Let’s just go already!”
Yana however, completely ignored the incessant bickering and Instead, she hungrily finished off one of the smaller platters of tubers and chomped down on the last tiny morsel on the wooden plate. Sighing Contentedly, the Fairy’s gaze fell upon Mara and her small group of Ferfolks as they said their goodbyes and disappeared from view. In their stead, the more fidgety whelping appeared, the one who always seemed to look at Ben and Eli with eager eyes. Although this man seemed far weaker than his sibling, he at least displayed a measure of reverence towards her servants.
Turning her head up towards the clear blue sky, Yana placed a hand on her tiny belly and sighed contentedly. She couldn't wait to see what other delightful mortal delicacies or fanciful experiences she would get to experience in the future.
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2023.06.07 06:21 Substantial-Can-2438 Hey Yall
Dislcaimer: Aimed towards the idiots who attacked Dani and also aimed to hopefully educate peeps on the situation
So it would appear that a lot of seething people are really hell bent on just being an angry mob instead of trying to understand.
-Dani doesn't owe patreon supporters any refund nor were any of you entitled to getting episode 8, it wasn't a Kickstarter, it was a patreon.
-The direction confinement had taken was drastically different to all previous episodes, now I would ask that you take some time to really think as to why that is. I'm not going to spell it out for you guys but clearly something happened, such as a new person being introduced, a new person that arrived on the scene some point during 2020 when production began to slow down. someone who has been proven to be a liar.
-The narrative of "Oh my money went to 4 minutes of soft P*rn" is just so wrong, and very very unlikely to be true and so dumb to make that assumption as it was A LEAK in the first place.
You pushed and pushed and are surprised when Dani goes to cancel confinement and now delete the channel?
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2023.06.07 00:48 Top_Foundation416 Chad is all butt hurt … Patrick Melton calling him out
2023.06.06 22:46 Mobile_Appointment39 Medieval Venlil
| || | submitted by Mobile_Appointment39 to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]
1.- Full plate armour Venlil, inspired from a comment made by u/McPolice_Officer
. The design goals I had in mind whilst making the helmet, were for it to allow the user to have some basic periphery vision, but mainly focus on the front. Due to this, the helmet looks like it is meant for creatures with forward facing eyes, but really, part of its function is to serve as a bit of blinder. Such as the ones used on war horses, but less narrow.
2.- Series of sketches, that unintentionally turned into a short comic fight, between the Saxon Venlil and Warden from "For Honour", prompted by u/whothefucktookmyname
3- Just some more drawings of the Venlil warrior. Thought I'd call him Gillit, so I guess an OC? Anyways, u/crazy_dude360
, you got your tail mace.
• hehe, get it the shield is... Is Saxony but like.. the dragon and the yknow uh... Wales funni
• just realized I wrote yield instead of weild. Unlucky.
4- Just some of the work in progress. The scene with the Warden charging towards the Venlil was way more annoying than anticipated. I ended up getting it correct in my notebook during a German language class, so that works. I'll probably come back at some point to get the fight scenes in a finisher state. But, as Aragorn would say, it is not this day... Why did I quote Lotr?
5- funni meme. I made it quite a while back but felt odd posting it on its own so here it is.
2023.06.06 19:40 AutoModerator Weekly Free Talk and Index Thread - new and fresh every Monday!
Welcome to the Weekend Free Talk and Index thread! You can post whatever you want here - unsubstantiated rumors you heard from some Patreon, fan theories, random shower thoughts, or even musings that are unrelated to the Marvel universe. Anything goes - please just follow the Reddiquette
and above all else treat each other and those that contribute to this subreddit with respect.
Potential points of interest:
- The last post of MarvelStudiosSpoilers Sad day for everyone. Hopefully the official sub will be back up and running.
- Source Accuracy Tiers - Not sure what sources people consider trustworthy? Start here! (Note: This list changes and is not infallible - use this as a general guide only)
- Sub Leak Accuracy Database - A list of scoops submitted to this sub and their associated accuracy. (Note: This databases is not updated on a daily basis and contains mostly post-2021 leaks)
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2023.06.06 07:31 vren55 [A Fractured Song] - Chapter 190- Fantasy, Isekai (Portal Fantasy), Adventure
Cover Art! Just because you’re transported to another world, doesn’t mean you’ll escape from your pain.
Abused by her parents, thirteen-year-old Frances only wants to be safe and for her life not to hurt so much. And when she and her class are transported to the magical world of Durannon to fight the monsters invading the human kingdoms and defeat the self-titled Demon King, Frances is presented with a golden opportunity. If she succeeds, Frances will have the home she never had. If she fails, Frances will be summoned back to the home she escaped.
Yet, despite her newfound magic and friends, Frances finds that trauma is not so easily lost. She is dogged by her abuse and its physical and invisible scars. Not only does she have to learn magic, she has to survive the nightmares of her past, and wrestle with her feelings of doubt and self-loathing.
If she can heal from her trauma, though, she might be able to defeat the Demon King and maybe, just maybe, she can find a home for herself. Teaser: The fall of the Traditionalists
] [<=Chapter 189
] [Chapter Index and Blurb
] [Chapter 191 on June 12 or now on patreon
] The Fractured Song Index Discord Channel
Just let me know when you arrive in the server that you’re a Patreon so you can access your special channel. The flares had gone up, but the gates remained shut. Martin hadn’t stopped staring at them since the troops had moved into position. He’d only paused to blink.
It was unlikely they’d been betrayed. The Water Tower had fallen to their forces after all. That being said, there were always delays in military operations—
Martin blinked. The gates were swinging open.
“Alright everybody! Up and at them. Mages, smoke us up! Musketeers suppressing fire!”
Cheers rang out along the line as puffs and clouds of mist and smoke began to shroud the Lightning Battalion. Horns blared as the wave of soldiers charged.
Martin was at the head of them, shield raised. He knew his kit was a little archaic, but frankly he could use the extra protection at the moment.
As they neared the gatehouse, Martin could hear sounds of battle within. As he made it over the drawbridge and into the building he could see a ring of soldiers marked with blue and red armbands trying to defend the opened second gate against a flood of soldiers coming from the main castle building.
“For Erisdale!” Martin bellowed.
He and the Lightning Battalion plunged into the melee with troops flooding through the gatehouse,.. Martin managed to slam his shield into one of Darius’s soldiers and stab them, before stepping back to look around.
Already he had teams of soldiers rushing up to help with those fighting in the gatehouse proper. Musketeers were taking position and the mages they had were casting spells at the incoming reinforcements.
There were a lot of Darius’s troops coming, though. They were rushing out of every door, and from every tower to concentrate on the breach.
Martin grimaced. He was sure that he was going to break through at some point, but it would take time. The rest would have to be up to Jessica’s team.
“Come on! We’re nearly there,” said Elizabeth.
Leaning heavily on her, Leila limped as fast as she could. They’d healed her as much as they could but she was still exhausted from the ordeal she’d suffered.
“Why don’t you just carry me—” Leila cut herself off with a Word of Power. Several soldiers were running down road leading to the Citadel, trying to intercept the pair. A fireball erupted from in front of them and smashed into the unfortunate enemies, blasting them off their feet. Leila waved Elizabeth’s arched eyebrow off. “Nevermind. Give me a moment.”
“Yeah, hard to cast if you’re being carried.” Elizabeth paushed to look behind, down toward the city. The way the Traditionalist defense line had been structured was that it left a protected section of the city between the Citadel and the Water Tower.
Before her eyes, Erlenbergian ships were pulling into the harbour, disgorging hundreds of marines and mages that stormed into the city. The Traditionalist forces that had been attempting to retake the Water Tower were now flanked. It would take time however, until they could take control of the area and make their way to the Citadel.
But at least at this moment, the gate that led up to the Citadel proper was unguarded, the drawbridge down. The soldiers having been stripped to defend the city and the main gatehouse or try to secure the harbour.
“You ready?” Elizabeth asked, glancing at Leila.
The Otherworlder shook her head. “Nope, but I need to be at Janize’s side,” she croaked out.
Elizabeth giggled. “Well, since you are hopelessly in love with her. Let’s get you there.”
Leila rolled her eyes. “Fuck you,” she stammered, but she was unable to help herself from smiling.
Scarlet was damn good and tricky to fight against. The head of the Red Order had stored a number of spells into her magical rings, which she used to vary up her arsenal. Fireballs would be followed by vines sprouting from the ground. The earth would suddenly ice up, followed by gusts of wind that would try to knock Ayax off her feet. She was also very fast, and Ayax found herself dancing around Darius’s garden, using whatever cover she could and shields to keep herself safe.
The problem was that as the fight drew on and Scarlet continued to keep throwing spells, the outcome of the fight became clearer and clearer.
Ayax was not the head of a mage order. She didn’t quite have the extensive magical equipment that Scarlet had in her possession. Scarlet also had a powerful magical gift and the cost of it was not a mobility impairment. Leila had told Ayax that Scarlet was missing an eyeball, having replaced her missing eye with a glass replica.
That pupil-less eyeball now glimmered at Ayax as the troll returned Scarlet’s fireball with a larger fireball of her own, forcing the mage to take cover behind a statue of a knight that was blasted apart. Scarlet stepped out to cast, but Ayax was faster, she had already thrown several magical cards. They slammed into the red-robed mage, crackling and popping, smoke and sparks blinding the woman. She barely managed to get a shield up but instead of hitting her again, Ayax paused for a split second before throwing more cards.
These hit Scarlet clean again and she screamed as she staggered, firing magical bolts wildly. Ayax practically just sidled behind a tree and watched the mage pant as she gathered her own power.
No, Ayax had none of Scarlet’s money or ability, but she did have years of seeing the most intense frontline combat of the Great War. She had trained against the most powerful mages of her time, Edana and Frances Windwhistler. She was a gifted mage in her own right with unparalleled athleticism and grace. And to top it all off, she had read Scarlet’s rhythm of casting and was now very much in it and messing with her.
Oh and she’d exhausted Scarlet by making her cast all the spells she had.
So when Ayax threw Frances’s lightning spell over her shoulder, Scarlet only barely blocked it. The woman was knocked backwards and slammed into the perimeter wall of the mansion.
Ayax was soon charging after her. Scarlet managed to fire a torrent of water at her, but the troll sang, drawing up a wind that lent speed to her step and pulling up a mound of earth that blocked the jet. She ducked under the woman’s clumsy attempt to cast a slashing spell at her, and slammed her staff into Scarlet’s head.
Blood poured from the cut across her skull, and the woman crumpled to the ground. Her glass eyeball popped out from the force of the blow, rolling onto the glass. For good measure, Ayax grabbed Scarlet’s wand and pocketed it. She also cast a binding spell that would stick the woman’s arms and legs together so she couldn’t get up.
Then she stared.
One of her parent’s killers was lying in front of her, unconscious and helpless. Scarlet wouldn’t even know if Ayax cut her throat with a dagger. It was more mercy than she deserved.
Biting her lip so hard Ayax thought she was going to cut herself, she turned on her heel. The troll forced marched herself away, thinking of her dear Elizabeth and how she needed help.
Step after step turned into a run and soon Ayax was racing down the city streets for the gate leading to the Citadel.
As she rounded a corner, she saw a column of soldiers fast-marching, also towards the main castle.
“Ayax!” called out a very filthy red-haired woman.
The troll ran up to her friend. “Ginger, oh dear, that was a horrible trip wasn’t it?” Ayax asked as she took in Ginger’s odor.
“Yes. I strongly advise you don’t touch me,” said Ginger. She tilted her head to another approaching mage, whose orange dress quickly gave up her identity.
“Ophelia Voidsailor, good to see you in person!” Ayax exclaimed, clasping her fellow Erlenbergian’s deformed hand.
“Ayax Windwhistler. We never settled who won the Winter Tournament did we?” Ophelia asked.
“I conceded to you if I recall.”
“Bah! That doesn’t count! I want a rematch once this is all over!” Ophelia giggled. She coughed into her fist. “We’ve secured the harbour and the Water Tower. The Traditionalist’s remaining forces are running to the Citadel.”
“Excellent, lets hope Janize holds out long enough for us to get there,” said Ginger, starting to jog again.
It was terribly un-queenly behaviour and perhaps didn’t do the best for the morale of her soldiers, but Janize decided not to sit in her throne. Rather, she was using the very large chair as cover and had opted to sit on a simple wooden chair.
Even then she wasn’t entirely safe and despite herself, she couldn’t help but hold onto a bunch of her crimson hair, as she desperately attempted to keep her breathing level.
Erisdale’s throne room featured the standard long hallway leading up to an upraised dais and two thrones. It also had a second-level gallery meant for nobles to be able to gather and watch the proceedings. This gallery comprised of two large rooms open to the throne room itself. Sculpted stone railings kept the onlookers safe. Underneath the upper galleries were two covered hallways which functioned as ways for people to go up and down the the throneroom without just walking through the main hall.
Normally, there were ways to get to the upper galleries, but the soldiers loyal to Janize had barricaded these entrances. They could not however, barricade the stairways to the entrances that were near the throne room’s main entrance and led up to the galleries. Their defense relied on them holding the throne room’s main front.
Naturally, that had been the focus of the assault by Darius and his soldiers.
“Master George, I distinctly recall you informing me the Throne room was the safest in the Citadel?” Janize mused ass stray bullets whizzed over their heads.
Crouched down beside her behind an upturned table, George smiled wanly. “Yes. It has enough space to hold the soldiers loyal to you, and the entrances can easily be blocked off. The other barricaded entrances can also be opened if we want to make a break for it. So yes, this is the safest place when you consider the other option is your personal chambers which can’t hold all your guards.” Fluidly rising to his feet, George fired a musket down and reloaded. “Hang tight, I’m going to check on the other barricades.”
Janize nodded slowly. She was getting a bit better at not wincing at every crack and whine from the spells and bullets that were sailing through the throne room door. That had been the first to fall and followed by a charge from the Traditionalists. However, the numerous barricades of tables and furniture that had been stacked to form several lines had checked the enemy’s advance.
So a vicious melee had developed at the entrance, with both sides firing guns and spells over the tops of each other’s heads. Janize was no military tactician, but she knew that if Darius’s soldiers gained the galleries, they were in deep trouble. They were also losing those galleries.
Elizabeth arched an eyebrow at Leila. They were now in the castle proper which was unsurprisingly deserted. The non-combatants having fled or hid. “Leila, where are we going. The throne room’s front door is not this way.”
“Yes, but unless you want to get completely fucked by the mass of troops probably fighting there, we’re going to have to break in to help them—” Leila stopped so quickly, Elizabeth nearly dragged her forward.
A column of soldiers were spilling out from one of the corridors into the hall. Their boots were caked in indescribable brown stuff and from this distance, Leila and Elizabeth could smell where they had come from.
At the head of the group of soldiers was a blonde woman with a cat mask. Thier were both Alavari and human and they all had light-blue armbands or hauberks emblazoned with a silver lightning symbol.
“Jessica?” Leila whispered.
“Leila, it’s been a long time.” The masked Otherworlder’s reply was cool. Elizabeth did notice a tremor in her voice.
“Jess, I’m so sorry. I was an idiot and I—”
Tearing off her mask, Jessica took several long steps to Leila and seized her in an embrace. “I missed you.”
Leila couldn’t help but cry. “I missed you too—OW!”
Jessica had flicked Leila’s forehead with a finger. Smiling, crying and scowling at the same time. “Also, fuck you for trying to blast me, several times.”
“Sorry,” Leila croaked.
Jessica gently stroked Leila’s hair. “And I’m sorry for calling you a monster.”
Leila managed a watery giggle. “I deserved it.”
The pair laughed and let go of one another. “Right, which way to save your queen? Also, you alright? You look like a wreck,” said Jessica.
“This way.” Leila said, leaning on Jessica’s shoulder for support. “Oh wow you really did crawl through a sewer.”
“Eat shit, or did you already?”
Jessica snorted. “Fuck you.”
“Glad to see you getting along, but how are we going to make sure we take down a barricade without getting shot at?” Elizabeth asked.
“You’ll see!” warbled Leila.
After dispatching a band of Traditionalist soldiers, they’d come to a doorway that looked fairly ordinary but as Leila laid her hands on the wall it shimmered. “Yo, George! Don’t shoot! Reinforcements are here!”
A slot in the door opened up and there was quick peek. From the other side they heard a great sigh of relief.
“Thank God, get in here.” Their was some scrabbling and the door swung open to reveal the blonde-haired Otherworlder warrior. “They’re making another push. Good thing you remembered the designated escape hatch.”
“Ah, you left an emergency exit, a sally port. Good idea,” said Elizabeth. “Musketeers to the galleries and check your powder before you start shoting. Jessica, Leila, get to the queen. I want a section to guard the sally.”
There was a thunderous bellow from the outside of the throne room. Then another louder one.
“They’re hyping themselves up. This is it!” George bellowed. “Leila get to the queen!”
“Holdup.” Jessica picked Leila up and leapt off the railing. Her friend screamed as they dropped down, only slowing at the last minute due to Jessica’s spell.
George stared at the pair for a moment, but Elizabeth had grabbed onto him and was dragging him. “Let’s get to the front, hurry!”
Janize peaked behind her throne. “Leila!”
The queen was soon embraced by the shaking Otherworlder. “I’m sorry. This is um, Jessica.”
“A pleasure I’m sure, but we are in a dicey spot.” Jessica ushered the pair behind the throne and began casting. Leila soon joining her.
A flood of armored knights had forced the throne room’s entrance. The sheer mass of the column was overwhelming the defenders at the entrance. Leila could see George and Elizabeth fighting furiously back to back against the tide. Elizabeth’s war hammer taking out a knight with every swing, whilst George’s spear flickered into weakspots and gaps in enemy armor like a snake. Far above on the right gallery, the Lightning Battalion’s musketeers were raining musket and magefire down on them.
Yet Darius’s troops were forcing themselves up the staircase to the left side gallery, which didn’t have the additional Lightning Battalion troops.
“Jess! Left side!” Leila hissed.
“I know, shit!” The pair turned their attention to the gallery on the left, unleashing fireballs and bolts of magic. That kept any attackers and musketeers who wanted to shoot back pinned down, but they had a mage on the left gallery that kept shielding their attacks.
It also meant the flood of attackers pouring through the throne room doors only increased.
“Elizabeth where the fuck are your troops!” Leila screamed.
Ayax knew she wasn’t going through the front door, but after running around the throne room’s upper galleries she was wondering if there was any other way in.
As she hammered on a final door, a familiar human face peeked through the slot.
“Helen, good to see you!”
“Get in here and duck!” Ayax’s adjutant opened the door and lead the troll into the throne room. She instantly could see that things were not going well. Musketeers filled the gallery opposing them they were ducking behind a black-haired mage’s shield due to Leila and Jessica shooting at them. However, that meant Jessica and Leila weren’t casting at the knights charging through the throne room.
Ayax could glimpsed Elizabeth locked in a duel with another knight that she dispatched, another Otherworlder protecting her flanks. The pair were pulling back, though and the Lightning Battalion soldiers trying to come down the gallery stairs were forced to come in single line
And Traditionalist forces kept pushing. No matter how many were shot dead, the armored men and women were storming forward, stepping over the bodies of dead comrades with a desperate, furious pace. At the centre of the column was a man surrounded by the biggest and burliest knights Ayax had ever seen and with gold-trimmed armour.
It was Darius and he was in her sight. Ayax blinked, started forward and shook her head. He wasn’t the priority. He couldn’t be the priority. She could see black magic leaking out from her hand, but she forcefully kept her gaze on the gallery.
Taking a deep breath Ayax bellowed, “Clear the way!” Running forward, Words of Power pouring from her lips, she leapt over the railing.
Elizabeth was very nearly distracted by a glimpse of her girlfriend doing a superhero impression as she flew across the top of the Throne Room, carried by her magic. Ayax, her staff punched forward like a spear, slammed into the first musketeer she saw. The Traditonalists ran, trying to make space but that also gave space for Ayax to run after the panicked looking black haired mage.
Whirling her staff around, she slammed him so hard he crashed into the wall with a sickening thud. Then she was hitting the musketeers, sending them flying with her strikes. Even so, musket balls screeched by her, nearly missing her. More musketeers were pointing their weapons at her.
A massive fireball slammed into the railing, setting enemy uniforms aflame. Ayax glanced over the railing to see Leila give her a brief wave before turning back to keep firing at Earl Darisus’s guards. The troll blinked, but there was no time to contemplate, she had to keep fighting. Leaping forward, she sent another human soldier flying. Torquing around, she ducked under a bayonet stab and punted a human woman into a wall.
When she turned around to look for another opponent, Ayax froze. The remaining musketeers were fleeing, retrating down the gallery stairs and away from her. However, there was a blonde haired woman on the gallery with a fox-fur lined coat. She was aiming a musket, but not at Ayax. Instead, she was pointing it toward the dais of the throne.
Ayax’s eyes immediately took in the trajectory of the musket and the scowling dark-haired Otherworlder she was pointing it at. Leila, while taking cover from the bullets and bolts of magic from the main entrance’s direction, was exposed to the woman’s shot.
I could let her. It wouldn’t be me. It’d be an accident. Janize can’t blame us for a battle. We’d still have her surrender.
Besides, Leila doesn’t deserve to live. Why should she live after all the wrongs she’s committed? Why shouldn’t I just let her die.
Nobody would know. Few would care.
Ayax glanced down at her hands and at her staff. There was no black magic pooling around her. It was just her. Her decision to save or let die, the woman who killed her mother.
This was a woman who’d apologized and promised to let her do whatever she wanted to her. Who sought not her own safety but to protect the life and the child of the one she loved.
Ayax bit her lip and charged the enemy musketeer. However, her hesitation had cost her. She could see the musketeer pulling the trigger. There was no time for a Word of Power. Ayax slammed into her the musketeer. The weapon cracked, the bullet whizzing off course as Ayax pushed the woman over the railing.
But the screaming woman now grabbed onto Ayax and the troll found herself tumbling over.
Acting on instinct, the troll seized her enemy with both hands, her cat-like tail twisting to try to direct their momentum. The pair fell down, but Ayax was managing to get her legs atop the woman. Acting more on instinct, Ayax leapt off the musketeer, slammed into a Traditionalist knight and rolled clumsily over the ground.
Dazed by the impact, her sides and wrists screaming with pain, Ayax could just hear a stomach-churning thud. She chanced a glance and immediately looked away. The woman was very clearly dead, having hint the stone floor headfirst.
It was then she saw that standing over her was the heavily armoured Earl Darius halted dead in his tracks. He lifed his visor, and Ayax could see that despite the sweat that trickled down his face, his eyes remained wide with horror and rage.
“You killed her. You killed my daughter!” Roaring like a wounded animal, Darius swung down at Ayax with his sword. She managed to get her staff up, the metal chomping into the wood. Again and again the Earl brought his weapon down. Aching, exhausted and far far too close for comfort, Ayax scrabbled back, trying to escape. But the earl was possessed with grief and fury and the desperation of a cornered animal.
“Die! Die! Die and join your father and mother!”
Author’s Note: Oh dear, so Ayax has gotten over her anger, but… she pissed off Darius anyway!
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2023.06.05 15:52 C0mmitToasterB4th Opinions
So now that everything’s leaked, and all of bungs dirty laundry has been aired out, what are your thoughts on the entire situation?
Feel like this could have all been avoided if bung
A. Didn’t spend all the patreon money on weed And B. Didn’t falsify evidence against kwite
Maybe this series could have turned into something special if the creator wasn’t such a dickwad.
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2023.06.04 21:58 DrBlackJack21 Of Men and Dragons, Book 3, Chapter 45
Other stories of mine can be found in my wiki
For those who want to go back to the beginning, here's a link to book 1 chapter 1.
An image of Lon'thul
Of Men and Dragons, Book 3, Chapter 45
The order had finally been given. A bellow arose from thousands of argu'n before everyone surged forward. Dak'ton felt his blood thirst rise as he launched himself ahead, albeit a little more slowly encombered as he was by the new tool Lord B'arthon had insisted they bring with them. Then there was a shout from the enemy lines that preceded the first volley of small spears launched toward them.
Dak'ton hadn't believed they could be thrown this far, but judging by the path they were arching in his general direction, the warrior was suddenly grateful for the large thick wooden planks Lord B'arthon had insisted they carry with them. Raising it over his head, he could hear impacts all around him and a few screams as the wooden planks proved insufficient for some in the face of such a barrage. Dak'ton himself felt a jarring impact as one small spear hit his shield and a second impact as it pierced through the wood and hit his chest plate.
The warrior froze momentarily, wondering if he was dead, before realizing the combination of wood and his bone plates must have saved his life. However, Dak'ton was further delayed by trying to wrench the spear from his chest and planks as more warriors ran past. Finally, there was a sharp jolt of pain as he pulled the spear free. He was dismayed to see a trail of blood leaking out of a wound in his chest, but it wasn't deep enough to be a serious concern, so with a grunt, he threw the spear to the ground and resumed his charge.
Looking around, it was clear others weren't as lucky as him. Several were down when the spears impaled their legs where the wood hadn't protected them. Others had spears piercing through their wood like Dak'ton had, but the spear had gone on to hit them in more lightly armored areas like their arms or sides. One unlucky warrior had his wood now pinned to his arm as he screamed and grasped the small spear in an attempt to pull it out.
As Dak'ton gained more ground, another shout went out, and he raised his wood planks again, this time bracing in place, feeling his blood rush in fear as he waited again for impact. However, he didn't have to wait as long this time and again felt a jarring impact. This time the spear pierced through his planks higher up, punching all the way through and continuing to the ground beside him, narrowly missing his head. Around him, others fared worse a second time. A few had dropped their planks after the first barrage, having been unable to wrench the spears free, and were now paying the price.
Dak'ton blinked stupidly a few times before dropping his planks as instructed and running toward the enemy lines again. Lord B'arthon had told them the enemy would only have time for two barrages before they closed the distance, and rushing there after the second would eliminate the risk of a third, and all Dak'ton wanted was to never experience something like that again. Those small spears traveled so much further and faster than normally thrown spears, and they hit much harder despite their small size.
That was when he looked at the enemy and realized Lord B'arthon had made a mistake. Only half the enemy had fired the second round. The other half was still waiting with those odd spear throwers ready to unleash their second round. Dak'ton had a moment of grudging respect for those workers' discipline before a third shout was followed by more spears launched in their direction. Without the protection of his wooden planks, a spear hit Dak'ton clean in the shoulder, and he felt himself being pulled back as if some large creature had ahold of him and was pulling him bodily to the ground. That was when the searing pain came, as though his shoulder was on fire, and Dak'ton's screams joined the chorus of those screaming around him.
Lack'nul had no idea how Jack had foreseen the enemy would have those wooden planks, shields he'd called them, but the guard captain was glad he had. Perhaps the human had even more magic than he let on? He'd even been right about the enemy dropping the shields before engaging in melee, saying they would likely be too crude to wield while fighting due to rushed production. Because of that, the second half of the second volley devastated the enemy's front line in the section in front of his workers.
Further down the line, the warriors of the hill people were hurling more traditional throwing spears to lesser effect, but thankfully the enemy didn't seem to have enough shields to arm their entire front line with, so the spears were still effective.
The spears and belly bows had thinned the enemy front lines, but they were still drastically outnumbered. Lack'nul shouted for the workers to discard their belly bows and take up their spears. The workers threw the bows to the ground a few feet in front of them, hoping to trip up the enemy, then raised their spears and braced for impact.
A'ngles frowned from his position overseeing the battlefield. The second half-and-half volley had been unexpected. Not that it had cost them too much in the way of manpower, he estimated in total they'd lost maybe a hundred warriors between all three volleys and perhaps a hundred more across the rest of the front lines to the more traditional spears, only a fraction of the two thousand warriors charging in at the moment. Still, it definitely had an impact on the morale of that all-important center formation. Moreover, they'd slowed enough that the front line had bowed back slightly in the middle. Between that, the enemy's armor, and the obstacle the bulky weapons presented on the ground, the eventual charge had much less impact than he'd expected, with more of his own men going down in the initial exchange than the enemy.
Even all this wasn't nearly enough to change the battle's outcome, but it was just a few reminders that this wasn't their usual opponent, and only the gods knew how many more surprises they had in store.
The fighting was starting to get desperate. Lack'nul parried blow after blow with his sword, trying to create openings for the workers next to him to take advantage of with their spears. Occasionally an enemy would go down, taking the spear with him, but then the hill people behind them would hand the worker a new spear, and the fighting continued. Then there were the longer spears being thrust from further behind by the hill people. They didn't account for much in the way of killing blows, but they were one more complication the attackers had to beware of, preventing them from striking with total confidence.
It was strange for the guard captain to be fighting on the side of the hill people against what were likely guards from other villages, but he shoved that thought out of his mind as he parried another couple of spear thrusts around him. He wondered if any of the workers he was now familiar with had already died, but again shoved the thought from his mind as he took advantage of an opening and shoved his sword through an enemy warrior's midsection.
His victim grabbed hold of the blade as he fell, and rather than fight for the weapon and leave himself open for others to take advantage of, Lack'nul let go of the weapon and shouted behind him. "Spear!" Soon enough, the shaft of a spear was pressed into his waiting hands, and the guard captain resumed the fight, spinning the end of his spear in a way meant to shake loose his opponent's grip on their own weapon before thrusting forward and scoring a grazing attack his across the warrior's throat. It wasn't deep enough to kill but more than enough to spook his opponent, who drew back for a moment in shock.
That created enough of an opening that Lack'nul should have been able to get another kill, but then he noticed a spearhead flying toward him from the side, forcing the guard captain to step back and bring up his own spear, spinning the shaft in a way to deflect the strike and allow him to bring his own spearhead around to strike, driving his second foe back before turning his attention to the first, swiping with the butt of his spear before bringing the head around for another strike more designed to buy a moment than land a killing blow.
The guard captain was breathing heavily, wondering how much longer he should try to hold this spot.
A'ngles watched intently as the fighting continued, focusing most of his attention on that all-important center line. He could see individual fighters moving back and forth on both sides. Occasionally some fell and were replaced, but the armor on the workers kept them alive longer. But, of course, that also meant they were constantly fighting for extended periods, unable or unwilling to switch out with the less well-armed and armored allies behind them. In a massive battle like this, endurance was the key to victory, and it was just a matter of time before his greater numbers took their toll. Perhaps it was simply his imagination, but it seemed like the enemy line was starting to bow just the slightest amount in the middle. He just had to keep the pressure on...
Turning to two of his aide, the Village Lord issued his orders. "Send a runner to either flank and order fifty warriors from each to peel off and reinforce the center."
The aide nodded and repeated his orders to two runners as the old Lord continued to observe the battle.
Lon'thul traveled through the forest with an arrow knocked but not drawn as he crept ahead of the rest. Aside from Jack, Angela, Em'brel, and the wolgen all at the rear, the rest in their group were all hunters, used to moving quickly and silently through the underbrush, but even compared with the proud hunters of the hill people, Lon'thul was the undisputed master of his trade. So he walked ahead of the rest to look for ambushes.
It could have been just another day on the hunt if it weren't for the sounds of battle a little to his right. The hunter was glad non of his friends could see him at the moment, or else they'd notice his characteristic grin was absent in favor of a more stern expression. Something felt off about the forest, and he couldn't quite place a talon on what it was. He felt as if a presence had passed through not long ago, but the only person who could move this subtly was...
That was when the hunter noticed another scout ahead of his position. By Lon'thul's standard, he was moving loudly and clumsily. Looking around to ensure there wasn't anyone else present, Lon'thul took aim while inhaling silently. Once he had his target, he began exhaling while drawing back on the string, letting loose the arrow when he was about halfway out of air. After long hours of practice and countless hunts, he knew the arrow would fly true. However, he couldn't help but momentarily hold his remaining breath as he waited anxiously for a fraction of a second it took the arrow to clear the distance to its target.
As expected, the arrow embedded itself into his target's throat, pinning him to the tree behind him as the scout struggled briefly before falling limp. After ensuring there was no other movement to indicate another watcher, Lon'thul crept up and silently removed the arrow. Jack had once again been proven correct. It looked like B'arthon had sent an ambush to cut off their flanking maneuver. However, if the hunter could get enough of their scouts quickly enough, they might be able to ambush their ambushers. Cupping his hands around his mouth, he mimicked a kovaack's grunt to signal a halt. To his ears, it sounded nothing like an actual kovaack, but other hunters had told him it had an uncanny similarity from a small distance away.
Assuming one to two hundred warriors, they probably had ten to fifteen scouts. As the hunter snuck through the brush, he kept his ears open for any minor disturbances. A shadow out of place, or the sound of a twig cracking where he knew no animal would be. After an agonizingly long minute during which he tried to not think about what was happening in the main battle, he found another hunter, but this one was dangerously close to a second.
Lon'thul frowned, sliding sideways to get a shot from their flank with his back to the position of the one he'd already taken out so he could sneak closer to take his shot. Finally, after a few more agonizingly long seconds, he was in position, and the hunter knocked another arrow.
Standing and drawing in one smooth motion, Lon'thul took quick aim at the further of the two hunters before either knew what happened and loosed his arrow. However, rather than wait for his arrow to hit the target this time, Lon'thul dropped his bow while drawing a knife in one smooth action and flung the blade at the second scout, who was already starting to move at the appearance of the enemy from his supposedly protected flank.
Once again, rather than wait, Lon'thul leaped at his target, who was starting to fall, opening his mouth to shout out, but the hunter wrapped his arm around his victim's throat, slamming his mouth shut on his tongue, turning the scout's shout into a loud whimper as the hunter finished the job.
Lon'thul grabbed his knife and slunk back into the shadows, waiting for more scouts to come to check on the sounds of the scuffle. It was only after none appeared for over a minute that the hunter retrieved his arrow and returned to his bow with a frown. He was confident he'd been quiet enough to avoid detection by the main force, but the next scout over should have heard the twigs snapping as the two combatants struggled. Had he simply run back to report the disturbance without checking on the source of it? Given Lon'thul's reputation, it might have been a good move, but then the whole group would be "ambushing" every medium-sized animal in the forest, giving away their position! It didn't make sense...
The hunter calmed himself. Rather than jumping to conclusions, the only thing for him to do was precisely what he thought they should have done, go and check it out. He'd simply have to trust Angela to inform the rest if he walked into some ambush since she was silently watching everything from his headset.
As he rounded another tree, he found some disturbed underbrush roughly where he expected the next scout to be. As he crept closer, he realized there was a body there. The scout was already dead!
Lon'thul froze, holding his bow and ready to draw in the blink of an eye if any threat presented itself and thought rapidly. He knew he was the only one of his people's scouts out this far, so it couldn't have been any of his men. But what purpose could they have for placing this body here? He'd suspect a trap, but it made no sense. Still, it wouldn't help anyone if he stayed here any longer than he had to, so Lon'thul resumed movement, redoubling his efforts to remain silent and hidden as he moved.
After another moment, he came to another likely location and, after a moment of observation, found another dead scout. This time the hunter crept closer, inspecting the body. The sout's throat had been slit, likely from behind. He could even imagine someone's hand wrapping around the poor scout's mouth to silence any shout before the knife had done its work. That meant someone had walked right up behind the scout as he'd been searching for his own prey. Lon'thul might have been able to pull that off on a good day, but he'd never have risked it with so much on the line. Remembering the presence he'd felt earlier, he realized only one other hunter could pull something this brazen off...
Now Lon'thul was fully alert, scanning every shadow and listening for even the slightest disturbances while waiting with an arrow ready. This time he didn't have the luxury of waiting for his opponent to act first. He had to take the initiative and do it now! But beating his father in a duel wasn't his objective. Outmaneuvering the enemy force was. Putting a hand on the headset, the hunter activated the com and broke silence for the first time. "My position may be compromised, but if you move fast, you can still take the enemy unaware. Tell Jack to charge now!"
Putting his hand down, Lon'thul settled into position and readied another arrow. He knew his father wouldn't kill him like the other scouts, but that didn't mean the old hunter wouldn't try to pull him out of the battle now that he'd given away his location. The younger hunter would just have to be even faster this time...
In case you missed it and are interested, book 1 is available to purchase in digital or physical form.
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2023.06.04 19:10 tulpacat1 To Kill a Predator, Chapter 23
To Kill a Predator is a work of fan fiction set in the Nature of Predators universe originally created by SpacePaladin15
whose Patreon you should subscribe to.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Depiction does not equal endorsement.
Hope you enjoy it!
--- Memory transcription subject: Martin Russo, Human Refugee Date [standardized human time]: November 30th, 2136
“Wait”. The voice is so sudden I don’t even realize it’s my own at first.
Mosun looks up at me, confused. I’m confused too. Thiva’s right in there. I want to storm in, but there’s something wrong, there’s A recording of a crying baby
I shake my head and step back, motioning for him to follow me.
Another scream echoes through the hall. Mosun swallows, but lets go of the handle. Think. You’re in charge of a bunch of terrorists all gung-ho to go Helter Skelter on humanity. You’re a sadistic alien psychopath. You mutilate animals. You keep trophies. You don’t give a damn about your sister. You kill humans. Your tools for that are firebombs that go off when they open doors, and recordings of vulnerable things in distress. But why here? Why set the trap here? Taking her to a second location makes more sense. Why your base, or this close to it? Why are you luring the human here? It’s not because he’s here too soon. You expected the warpath right away. You know their empathy and protective instincts overrides their rationality. You might not have expected him to gather a posse, but you know the humans are social animals. You had to know it was a possibility. So why… Here…
Mosun whispers. “Martin, what’s the matter? Why aren’t we going in?” There’s something I’m missing. Think. Think! You were happy to get the first human kills while you weren’t even in the area. You might’ve placed the traps or had your mooks do it but either way you were fine with being absent when they went off. Why is this time different? It’s because the humans were gathered in one place, isn’t it? The fire wasn’t about killing us. It was about scattering us and leaving us solitary enough to hunt. Or maybe... Maybe it didn’t satisfy, didn’t scratch that itch. No trophies, no mutilations. Because you are a predator. An ambush predator. You want to be close to the trap, like a spider. You want to look the human in the eyes as he dies, and take something to remember the kill by. You’re here, somewhere.
I swallow, and look at the door. It slides open, like almost all Venlil doors. Alright, time to Human.
I take the strap to my rifle, and gingerly unsling it from the weapon. I grab one of my last zip ties and loop it around the handle, and in the buckle of the strap.
Mosun flicks his ear in a Venlil-esque sign for understanding and agreement at once, and moves down the hallway. I follow him.
The strap and zip-tie together are perhaps two meters in length, so with a bit of an annoyed grunt I take off my belt and add that to the makeshift rope. That gives me a little under a meter extra.
I hand the rifle to Mosun, and hold a hand up to him while clutching the rope in the other.
Three. Two. One.
I close my eyes and turn away in one single motion, tugging at the door handle. As soon as the door parts from the frame there’s a blast, sending me and Mosun to the ground. The air stinks of wood-pulp, smoke, and dust. Jesus Christ!!
My ears are ringing as I get on my unsteady feet and grasp the rifle from Mosun, stumbling my way to the ruined doorway and peering inside.
The room is empty but for shrapnel and debris and a cloud of dust. None of it looks like it was alive. Oh thank God, the bastards weren’t using live bait.
With the high-pitched ringing slowly subsiding I take a few steps down the hall, before falling to one knee from disorientation.
I don’t hear the Exterminator storm up the stairs. But I see them just fine.
The visor’s reflective. The armor’s bulky. The flamethrower’s lit.
With Mosun behind me in the small hallway, there’s nowhere to run. No time to think.
This isn’t aiming at someone’s back, or a sleeping and prone body. I don’t have time to hesitate, so I don’t.
I start shooting from the hip and raise the gun to my shoulder while firing. The weapon jumps in my hand with each pull of the trigger, and from my awkward stance I have quantity stand in for quality. Wood splinters fly from the wall behind the Exterminator, who jerks as some of the shots strike true.
After swaying for a second and losing their grip on their flamethrower, they tumble right down the stairs. The weapon clatters down after them, connected to their fuel tank.
I get to my feet and try to rush over to the stairs. I slam into the wall for my trouble, but get my bearings and raise the rifle.
The Exterminator’s laying prone at the foot of the stairs. They stir weakly and move a paw toward their weapon.
I fire another salvo of rounds. The sound echoes and makes my ears hurt even worse than the blast already did. The Exterminator jerks a couple of times, lets out a shuddering breath, and then goes still. They’re dead. This is it. I killed someone.
I expect it to hit me like a sledgehammer. I expect to end up doubled over, hurling my guts out. That’s what you always see in the movies.
Instead my response is as anticlimactic as the killing itself: I just hope it was Renak.
I feel Mosun’s hand on my back. He speaks with quiet sympathy. “…Are you alright?”
I sigh slowly. “Yeah… Yeah. Predator, remember?”
Some of his usual energy creeps back into his voice. “Oh, I see how it is. You get to say it.”
We head down the stairs while I fiddle with my makeshift rope to restore my belt and rifle sling to their proper places. The sling needs to be tied into a knot to be put to use, as the buckle is beyond saving. “Yeah. I’m sure I’ll break down later, but for now we have a- MOVE
I see a cylinder about half the size of a Pringles can roll into the room, and push Mosun forcibly into the kitchen. To his credit he doesn’t question it, instead lunging past me.
Instead of a pipe bomb blast as I had feared, the grenade starts leaking thick white smoke. They don’t have CS gas and that thing looked homemade. So probably phosphorous.
I look around the kitchen desperately before finding a salad bowl in the dishes. I immediately turn the faucet to full blast to fill the bowl with water while the hissing grenade spreads its noxious fumes. I can start to smell and taste the acrid, garlic-like stench. My body starts coughing, my eyes watering and lungs itching. Yeah. Phosphorous. Fuck.
Mosun coughs a few times and tries to cover his mouth with his arm. “What are you d-doing?!”
As soon as there’s enough water in the bowl, I turn around and lunge at the grenade. Using an awkward double-handed dunking motion, I trust centripetal force to make it work as I flip the water-filled bowl and slam it down around the grenade.
There’s a mess of sloshing, and a lot of hissing, but no more gas escapes. Water slowly starts to leak out from the bowl’s edges, but by the time it’s done it’ll have stopped the reaction.
“Mosun, w-wash your… Oh FUCK OFF!!”
Halfway through my statement I see another Exterminator enter the room. They step over their fellow’s body without a glance and raise their flamethrower toward us.
I raise my rifle in turn and begin firing: three shots in rapid succession.
Before I’ve had time to adjust my aim they’ve already disappeared from view down the hallway beside the stairs, long tail visible for a split second before vanishing. I’ve never seen a Venlil move as sinuously and quickly as that.
I cough a couple of times and wipe my eyes. It doesn’t help. When Mosun appears with a glass of water however, I can dump it directly onto my face. My stinging eyes cry out with relief.
After just a few seconds of exposure to the gas, I’d love a date with an eyewash station. But it’ll have to wait.
Mosun takes the lead wordlessly, motioning with a paw for me to follow. So I do, stepping over my kill in the process. Unlike the Exterminator, I can’t help but look down at it. There’s so much less blood than I expected.
As Mosun rounds the corner into the next room, he’s forced into an awkward duck against the doorway as a stun rod swishes through the air. He kicks out at the assailant with a growl, and lunges forward into the other room.
I follow as quickly as I can.
In the living room, the two are already locked in a brawl. Mosun’s shorter than the Exterminator, and has less range.
I make a guess and try to distract them. If the Yotul gives me some distance I can shoot. “Renak!”
The Exterminator freezes for a split second, and Mosun gets a good kick in. Guess that’s you then, motherfucker.
Renak rolls with the kick and manages to get Mosun’s leg caught in his arm. The stun rod swings down, and Mosun’s forced to block it with his arm. The electricity courses through him and he gasps out, dropping to a knee.
Without a good angle, I drop the rifle and trust my sling to keep it from hitting the ground. Instead I charge in to join the fray.
With a wild and poorly planned left hook, I manage to get Renak to take a single step back. Enough for Mosun to rise to unsteady legs. The little badass weaves a few times as he moves into an elegant-looking stance. “Ambush, ambush, ambush. You only know the one trick, huh?”
In response, Renak drops into his own stance. The stun rod’s held in one paw, high near his shoulder. The other paw’s held outward in a warding gesture.
Feeling left out, I get into a boxer’s stance. Though all this excitement’s making the wounds on my right arm ache and act up.
The three of us are still for a moment. “…There’s just you left, Renak. Your terrorist group’s done for.” Technically there’s one other Exterminator left unaccounted for. But I don’t see a reason to tell him that.
He tilts his head toward me for a second. I see myself reflected in the visor.
Mosun’s the first to move, lunging in low. I charge in right after. Renak doesn’t step back, instead swinging the rod down.
Mosun leans back so far he’s almost prone, using his tail and one arm as leverage to kick up at Renak’s arm and stop the descending blow. The movement is beautiful, and wouldn’t look out of place in some sort of Capoeira. By all rights it should break the arm, but the heavy Exterminator armor takes most of the force.
I come in with my own simple straight punch with my left, but I overextend and Renak swats it aside sharply with his own free arm. Instead of relenting, I jab with my right. I catch him on the shoulder and do little damage.
Renak shifts his stance and raises his baton to swing it downward at me. Mosun moves to intercept, but Renak’s leg lashes out and catches Mosun’s knee from the side. The swing that was coming my way turns into a descending thrust at the Yotul, who gets the baton jabbed straight into his torso.
Mosun’s shriek fills the room as he thrashes under the coruscating electrical blow, and I strike Renak with everything I’ve got in a desperate and unrefined haymaker.
I catch the bastard right in the visor and hear a loud sound. It hurts
. Renak staggers back with a yelp, dropping the stun rod, and turns to look squarely at me. I’ve cracked his visor, and probably broken a finger or two in the bargain.
I stare for the length of a breath at the cracks in the reflective surface, seeing my own rage reflected in a dozen fractured images.
Renak calmly reaches behind him and pulls out his sidearm. He doesn’t even glance aside as he extends his arm and puts two bullets into Mosun. The gunshots echo in the enclosed space.
” I hear myself shouting as I fumble for my rifle. Renak turns his arm toward me and fires again. I hear the crack and a whistle as a bullet flies right past my head.
A second bullet whizzes past and strikes the door frame, tumbling past with a ricochet whine. It missed only because I’m falling to one knee.
With my own rifle raised, I return fire. We’re firing at each other from mere feet away. I fire three times. I miss the first shot, but the second hits him in the thigh. The third takes him in the side somewhere.
He’s spun around, but empties the gun in my direction as he staggers into a dash out of the room, toward the basement.
It’s only when I rise to my feet that I realize I’ve been shot too. My left leg burns, and can’t carry my weight. I awkwardly hop over to Mosun and kneel to investigate his wounds.
His collarbone’s been shattered by one bullet. Another has caught him on the inside of the shoulder. I don’t know Yotul anatomy, but I’m guessing if it’s caught a lung or an artery he’s in real trouble. “Come on, you can’t leave me alone here; you’re the only one I can talk to.”
He takes a slow breath and doesn’t even bother trying to get up. He simply looks at me and plainly says “Ow.”
I can breathe again. The wound’s leaking, but not spurting. Oh thank God
“Christ, okay, we gotta get you out of here. I don’t think it’s immediately fatal, but the blood loss is gonna get you if we don’t stop it.”
“Later. Get him, then help.”
I shake my head. “I can’t just-”
He swats at me with his good arm. “Not safe to extract. And still need the girl.”
I look around and end up taking a blanket folded over the couch and handing it to him. “Press this into the wounds, as hard as you can. I’ll be back.”
“Y-You better be. I’ll be upset if you m-make me walk back to the truck on my own.”
I get up and grasp my rifle, and limp my way after Renak.
Unless he’s got another ambush planned in the basement, Thiva is his last chance. And the bastard knows it.
I make my way down the basement steps, but it’s slow going. I have to use my injured right arm to brace myself, holding the rifle ahead with the left. My adrenaline’s starting to go down enough that the leg is starting to really hurt. So’s my left hand.
At the foot of the stairs, Renak’s discarded the helmet. The room contains several boxes of explosives, and flamethrowers. Their weapons stores. Great.
In the middle of the room there’s a chair. Bound to it is Thiva. She’s got cuts and bruises over her body, and her beautiful fur is matted orange all over.
Behind her stands Renak. He’s got a knife to her throat.
I raise the rifle and stare right at Renak. “Let the girl go.”
Thiva gasps out as she sees me. “Martin!” She tries to lean forward, but the blade presses harder into her neck and she shrinks back into the chair.
Renak stares back at me, head-on and with both eyes. When he speaks, his voice is emotionless and without inflection. He sounds bored. “Move a muscle, predator, and Thiva dies.”
I look at my friend. She looks terrified. “Hey Thiva, don’t worry. I’m here. Everything’s gonna be fine. Alright?”
She gives the tiniest nod.
Renak growls. “Look at me, predator.”
My eyes shift back to his again. They’re dull and empty. Just black beads of glass set into his face. It’s like looking at a machine. A complex structure, but no soul animating it.
My leg is trembling, and I feel hot and sticky blood running down it. “You don’t need the girl. You can just let her go, and we can leave, and nobody else needs to die.”
He blinks slowly. “My sister is better off dead than as a predator’s mate. If I can’t save her body from you, I can save her honor.” To emphasize his point, he lets the knife dig further into her throat. I see some orange running down it, and the fur beneath Thiva’s eyes are damp with tears.
My breathing is heavy, and my aim is shaky. “I stormed a terrorist compound to get this far. I’m not leaving without her. You can have her over my dead body.”
He stares silently for a moment. “Fair enough.”
He raises his other arm toward me with a smooth and mechanical motion. His sidearm is in it.
I pull the trigger.
The bullet takes him in the head. With his strings cut, he drops in a heap.
I drop the rifle and rush forward to undo Thiva’s bindings. As soon as I do, her arms fly around me painfully tightly. I return the hug as best I can.
“Thiva, listen to me. Can you walk?”
She gets up and winces, but nods. “Y-yeah.”
“Okay, good. There’s a Yotul upstairs named Mosun. He needs immediate medical attention. We’ve got a truck waiting, we’re gonna head up and get both of you out there.”
One of her eyes suddenly moves up and stares behind me. I turn in place.
Vansi’s standing in stairway, taking in the scene.
“Thiva… Go. Now. Now!” I rise to my feet and put a hand on her back, walking alongside her for a few steps before she rushes the rest of the way past her mother and up the stairs.
Vansi doesn’t move to stop her. She just stares at the crumpled corpse behind us.
It’s only after I take another step that her eyes snap to me with fury.
And I realize my rifle’s right at her feet.
She snatches it up into trembling paws and aims it right at me.
“Vansi, listen, I-”
The weapon goes off.
I fall to my knees. My hands reach my stomach and feel sticky and wet.
She pulls the trigger again, and it clicks dry. She pulls another few times, but it’s empty.
I rise to my feet and try to lunge past her. But she simply swings the empty rifle at me. It hits my wounded stomach, and I fall to my side. She swings it down on me several more times, snarling and cursing, until the weapon breaks enough that she simply tosses what’s left aside. It hurts. Jesus Christ it hurts so fucking bad.
I try to think of a way out of this as she staggers past me toward her son. I try to get to my feet again, but fail. I drag myself to the wall, and use it to pull myself up bit by bit. I limp along the wall, smearing trails of my own blood with my hands as I go.
I’m almost at the stairs when I hear an inarticulate scream and feel agony blooming out from my right side. I look down and see the knife, in Vansi’s paws. Fuck.
I collapse on the ground and try to fend her off with my hands. She stabs me straight through the palm of my right hand, then stabs twice more at my left arm and shoulder. My left arm doesn’t respond to my signals, simply flopping down limply.
With only one chance left, I punch her with my right. Again and again, while she stabs at my torso.
There’s a cold math to blood loss. The more you lose, the weaker you get.
‘So you see, that's how I am going to die.’
Each of my blows does less than the last. My hands and feet feel ice cold, while my chest burns.
‘I'll sneeze in the sunlight, or turn my head a bit too fast when someone wants my attention from my blind spot’
Before long I can’t fight back. I simply lay still and hear my flesh tearing and Vansi screaming in my ears.
‘or show happiness with a smile or a laugh’
I can’t lift a finger or even turn my head as Vansi staggers off of me. My shallow breaths are agony, and I can feel one of my lungs has collapsed.
‘or god forbid I might try to save a life again.’
She returns with something else in her hands. I close my eyes.
‘And then someone like your son will show up and burn me alive for it.
’ /// ERROR /// Memory transcription fragmented /// Subject no longer conscious. ---
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2023.06.03 17:06 Prestigious-Buy-5160 looking for Jurassicraft leak minecraft
does someone own a leak of Jurassicraft patreon?
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2023.06.03 16:05 SpacePaladin15 The Nature of Predators 121
First Prev Next Patreon Arxur POV of the Cradle Series wiki Official subreddit Discord
--- Memory transcription subject: Captain Sovlin, United Nations Fleet Command Date [standardized human time]: January 15, 2137
It wasn’t my imagination; our triangular shuttle was sinking like a stone. Water bobbed up against the cockpit windows, entombing us beneath the waves. Hull integrity would eventually give out and allow water to flood the compartment. The predators were just watching it happen, with not nearly enough panic showing in their binocular eyes. They made no attempt to inflate a life raft and escape, while we could still get the doors open.
The craft had tipped forward at a slight angle, and the airborne vehicle began to sink nose-first toward a watery grave. A feeling of immense claustrophobia gripped me, as the nightmare scenario came to fruition. My claws wrapped around Samantha’s arm before I could stop myself; the human looked at me with sheer disbelief, and pushed me away. Her nose was scrunched in an obvious sign of distaste. Carlos would’ve definitely been more amenable to my desperate outreach for support.
Samantha heaved a sigh. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just fucking do that, but it better not ever
“Please! We’re sinking!” I croaked.
Onso snickered. “Sinking? You don’t feel the engines running? It’s a submersible aircraft.”
Upon closer listening, I could feel the quiet hum of the engines. Somehow, the combustion drive was still running underwater, and pushing us in a controlled manner further into the ocean. There were no signs of leaks seeping through the walls, despite being encased in the depths. I’d never heard of a plane that could fly underwater, but I should’ve gleaned our safety from the predators’ calmness. If a human is running or terrified, that’s when it’s time to assume our deaths are imminent.
Sam wasn’t the least bit amused by me latching onto her arm, but Tyler and Carlos were both masking smirks. I dipped my head in shame. How had the Yotul known of technology which was unfathomable to the wider galaxy? Until today, I wouldn’t have thought such devices would ever have a use. It was embarrassing that the primitive kept his head better than me around novel technology, though I tried to push that egoistic thought out of my mind.
“Do the Yotul have this kind of technology, Onso?” I prompted the reddish-furred marsupial to answer, though I knew the reply would be in the negative. “I’ve never heard of such things, so I’m surprised it’s old news to you.”
“Well, I took it upon myself to read up on the specs; they were included with our briefing notes. Never know when shit’s gonna break, and someone’s gotta fix it. The Yotul have a saying, ‘Everything can break, so assume it will do so today.’”
“That’s valid. Every spacecraft crash is due to a ‘one-in-a-billion’ mechanical failure; unlikelihood upon unlikelihood. Uh, anyhow, I’m a little out of my element here, clearly nothing like you.”
“I don’t mind the water, Sovlin. Mama had a sailboat, which she’d take around the harbor. It was a little disappointing to hear human water activities involve hunting. There’s so many beautiful things to see; it’s the last untamed frontier. Even after space is explored, the oceans still hold so many mysteries and unique lifeforms!”
“Plenty of humans agree with you, even ones who enjoy fishing like Tyler. We’ll go snorkeling or scuba diving just to explore reefs and view marine life,” Carlos chimed in. “No boat, nothing but a basic breathing apparatus.”
“There’s water sports too. Surfing, where you try to ride massive waves on a board.” Samantha made odd gestures with her hands, as though conveying a series of hills. “Parasailing, up in the sky tied to a boat. White water rafting, where you go down turbulent, rocky rapids in an inflatable.”
I groaned. “Why…are any of those not
mortally dangerous?! What is wrong with you predators? I thought you evolved from the fucking trees!”
“It’s all in the spirit of fun, a memorable experience. Don’t tell me none of it sounds like something you want to try once.”
“No, those stunts sound horrible. This
is horrible. I can see the depth meter going up…it’s double digits! I can’t see the sky!”
“Quit being a baby.”
“Quit being a predator! I hate humans; I can’t stand you! Onso, back me up.”
“The surfing sounds totally badass. I can imagine riding a wave up to its crest, and trying not to fall,” the Yotul answered. “We should try it together, old man. Conquer your fears, do things you think you can’t.”
“I am not doing that. No way on the cradle.”
Tyler sported a devilish grin. “Hey, it could be worse, Sovlin. You could be doing shark cage diving.”
I offered the blond human a blank stare. Through the cockpit behind him, I noticed orange-striped fish swimming clear of the aerosub. There was a dark shadow in the murky depths below, which filled me with palpable unease. What if it was some sort of massive predator which hid in this oceanic range? Chewing at my claws with anxiety, I tried to parse through what he said. Cage diving? That can’t be what it sounds like; locking yourself in a cage and jumping into the water…not trying to escape. What’s a shark?
We moved closer to the ambiguous shadow within the turquoise ocean, which I tried to ignore. The humans would freak out if there was reason for alarm; I couldn’t make a fool of myself again. Plastering a look of confusion on my face, I flicked a claw at Tyler for an explanation. His blue eyes twinkled with amusement, and my former guards watched with interest.
“Ah, you’re wondering what that is.” Officer Cardona tapped his fingers against his holopad, and noticed that his Yotul exchange partner was intrigued too. He showed a picture to Onso first. “I’d say it’s self-explanatory. Oh, and, yes, they have side-facing eyes, but sharks are predators. Humans have movies about them eating us, even though that’s uncommon in reality.”
Tyler turned the device toward me, and I flinched away with disbelief. Sure enough, a pack of Terrans were suspended in a metal cage below the water. “Sharks” circled them with predatory intent, serrated teeth visible. From what I’d learned about Gojids being omnivores, I’d trust the primates on binocular eyes not being necessary to eat living food. However, deciphering human behavior was a maddening endeavor. Was this some twisted way of reasserting their dominance as apex predators, against animals that dared to prey on them?
“You just said it was in fucked-up human movies…it’s CGI! That’s not a real fucking thing!” I screamed. “I thought we were keeping it professional,
huh? You all are definitely saying, and making up, predator nonsense on purpose, at this point!”
Tyler flashed his teeth. “It’s real. We don’t need to make anything up; humans will go to great lengths for thrills.”
“That seems to be tempting fate. I’ve always believed in respecting nature, though it would be cool to see these animals up close,” Onso said.
“Good news: you can see them in aquariums too.” I thought humans would think water decorations were stupid…wait, what did he just say?!
My spines were bristling. “You have aquariums, like the Kolshians on Aafa?”
“Yep,” Tyler affirmed.
“And instead of sea plants, you keep dangerous predators in them?”
“Yeah? They’re cool to look at, man.”
“Protector, I don’t care if we’re in the middle of the ocean. I want off this sinking boat!”
Carlos stifled a laugh. “Well, your wish is about to be granted. This puppy isn’t meant to dive deeper than 100 meters. The UNS Deep Core
is up ahead.”
The foreboding shadow had grown larger in my periphery, and my eyes swiveled back to the viewport. It was a submersed ship, but one that was so large, its breadth faded into the murky distance. There was no way this wasn’t in the triple digits of meters long; the all-black, undecorated exterior would cause an observer to mistake it for a shadowy patch of water. There was a tower affixed to its spine, which perhaps housed an equivalent to a bridge.
“The humans must’ve snuck this ship here days ago. How long has it been lurking?” I murmured to myself. “They couldn’t have airdropped it from too high up either…I don’t think.”
Samantha rubbed her hands together. “If you think this is the only one sent, think again. We’re told as much as we need to know, Sovlin, but it’s a blast to fill in the blanks.”
Our aerosub glided down to the bottom of the Deep Core
, before flipping over and latching onto a watertight door. It was similar to how a spacecraft would dock for boarding; my concerns were assuaged a little, noticing some familiarity. Packing such a large crew into a metal tube must be stressful for any land-dwelling species, but the humans were insane enough to tuck their senses aside. There could be enough predators aboard to compose a small village.
I disliked the fact that I was hanging at a ninety-degree angle, though I didn’t voice my complaints. The humans awkwardly dismounted, with Tyler helping Onso down. Carlos hoisted me to my own two feet, and I took a steadying breath. Our own watertight hatch, which I mistook for an emergency exit when I thought it was a sane vehicle, was on the right exit. There was a click, as human personnel opened the circular door from the other side.
The five of us were helped up through the threshold into the submarine, and we admired the metal inner workings of our surroundings. The tunnels were narrow, with small doorways leading between compartments; many required a slight step up to clear. One Terran greeted us at our docking point, though he wore a different uniform than the getup I was used to. I wasn’t sure what to expect from land predators who operated underwater, but the ample facial hair checked out with my mental image.
“Welcome aboard the Deep Core
. I’m Commander Fournier; your presence is requested on the bridge,” a gruff voice greeted us.
I blinked in confusion. “May I ask why…sir?”
“First aliens to step foot on a submarine. You’re VIPs; it’s a good photo-op, you could say. Follow me.” Of course, the humans are worried about optics as we’re descending to an outlandish location. Sometimes, they’re awfully predictable.
Claustrophobia threatened to flare up, with the cramped passages and lack of direction. Onso showed no such uneasiness, forcing Tyler to ensure that the Yotul studied objects with his eyes, not his paws. The primitive seemed enamored with any machinery or design quirks, even basic things such as hinges. I was really trying not to look down on him, but when he was gawking at simplistic nails, it was difficult. At least his dimwitted curiosity was a distraction from our present environment.
The bearded commander led us to a steep stairway, and communicated for us to follow his lead. There was a thunderous bark of “up ladder!” before the human-in-charge popped open a hatch. Tyler waved a hand at me and Onso, signaling for us to climb after Fournier first. I ensured that my balance was steady, hustling up the rungs. There was a railing surrounding the hatch, along with a safety chain that our guide was unclipping.
“Sir, may I ask how much air we have left?” I couldn’t resist asking, despite being out of breath from the short ascent. “I presume you’ve been submerged a few days. Even spaceships can only carry a few weeks of oxygen, and I don’t see any tanks, um…”
Fournier issued a throaty laugh. “Scared of submarines, Gojid?”
“A little, uh, yes…sir.”
“Don’t be. We have as much air as there is water in the ocean.”
Onso bounded after us. “The Terrans use electrolysis to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in seawater they collect, then use that O2 to ventilate the ship.”
“Why, I like this one!” the commander bellowed. “Read up on subs, haven’t ya?”
“It drew me in…like a vortex of knowledge. I always liked machines.”
“Then I take it you’re an engineer? I can see that kid-like glee in your eyes.”
“A rocket engineer. The unchanging rules, the complex order, the concreteness and the planning: it speaks to me. Having a new class of machines to study really lit that fire, for the first time since the Federation killed my passion. Not even studying your weaponry truly scratched that itch. It’s just, I never dreamed I’d discover a new alien boat!”
“Well, well! I’m no engineer, but I’ll be happy to share what I know. Feel free to ask any questions; we love talking about what we do, to someone who really wants to hear it.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Commander Fournier led us into a stout compartment, where a vast array of gadgetry and screens covered a wall. Humans were examining a green circle on display, with a rotating line and labeled angles. Data feeds were also listed there, which led me to conclude it was a sensors equivalent. Navigations was at the front, at least from the appearance of several control columns. Some predators appeared to be acting as officers or supervisors, peering over others’ shoulders and issuing commands. This isn’t that dissimilar to a starship, but where is the viewport? How can they see?
I cleared my throat. “Sir, where is the viewport? There’s no windows!”
“We don’t need windows,” Fournier explained. “We use sonar, because sound travels further in water than light. Glass or transparent materials are just a weak point in the hull, and a potential source of leaks if we take a hit.”
“Okay. Then why did the submersible craft we took here have windows?”
“Because it needs to be a spacecraft too, and you need to see when you’re flying. It’s useful enough to outweigh any concerns,” Carlos chimed in.
“This is so cool!” Onso bounced on his digitigrade hindlegs, and the commander fortunately didn’t take offense to his excess excitement. “The sonar doesn’t need to see at all. It just…listens
Fournier nodded. “Precisely. I saw you examining the bearings on our machinery, and I’ll impress upon you the importance of noise reduction down here. We keep everything detached from the hull frame to avoid vibrations…even dropping a wrench can give you up to an enemy. Sonar receptors pick up the slightest vibration, and then, they know you’re there.”
“That explains why your engines have to be so quiet. I was reading about how you try to avoid cavitation…you know, where the vacuum pressure caused by the propeller makes water boil. The bubbles pop and give off noise.”
“You don’t need a rundown at all, Yotul; you already know everything. We have a speed range where we can operate silently.”
I was growing bored of the technical explanations, and Onso, a primitive, was outshining my knowledge to the humans. Perhaps the Yotul was desperate to prove himself as an academic equal, but he didn’t need to prattle on about science like he was reading a textbook. While there were impressive feats of engineering on display here, I agreed with Samantha’s assertion of naval obsolescence. What good was fighting in the water, except in this extraordinary circumstance? The predators can hide far away from any targets or locations of value forever. How ingenious. They’d be unseen altogether if the other human tribes realized this theater was irrelevant in a war.
I suppressed an irritated huff. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“Granted,” Fournier replied, a curious twinkle in his eyes.
“Respectfully, sir, I do not see the purpose of putting all this time into submarine development, at least for military aims. You’re a spacefaring species, and you’re incredible at ground assaults. What use is it to hide so far away from civilization…from the action? Maybe you sink a few ships that are using an outdated method of moving resources, but I don’t get it. You have better weapons.”
“You really don’t know? To use your word, these ships are masterful predators; nearly undetectable, capable of hearing the slightest sound, and able to surface anywhere in the world. But it goes far beyond that. The destructive power housed here is a hell of a deterrent. That’s why we’d never actually
trade nukes like ya Feddies thought we did.”
“Nukes? I’m not following.”
“There’s tens of nukes stuffed onto just one of these things. We can hang off the shore anywhere, and fire missiles while underwater. Not that we have to be close to our target; we can shoot ICBMs halfway around the world. You never know where we are, if it’s right down your neck or prowling distant shores. We’re waiting to strike, anywhere and everywhere, with the technology to end civilization itself, even after command is destroyed on land. Obsolete, my ass.”
I gulped with discomfort, wishing I could recede into the ship walls. That declaration was so calm yet predatorily destructive; there were chilling implications for the extent of human aggression. It suddenly made sense why Earth tribes were intent on sniffing these predators out of the ocean’s recesses, and why the subs tried to remain undetectable at all costs. Should the current battle go awry, Talsk could be devastated by an unseen arsenal of epic proportions.
As Commander Fournier took his post, I tried to understand why humans would devise such machinations, for use against their own civilization. The Federation’s “irradiated Earth” could’ve been a reality; these capabilities shouldn’t exist in any culture. I didn’t understand why my kind-hearted friends would even think of such predatory weaponry. Surely, understanding the apocalyptic consequences of these vehicles should’ve convinced them not to build them.
My therapist could’ve elaborated further on the full heights of Terran aggression. Humans didn’t enjoy killing, yet they brainstormed and actualized the optimal ways to kill every human in existence? It was a paradox. Perhaps their predator nature factored into their decision-making in a manner they didn’t understand. Orders were issued to begin our descent, and for all sailors to report to battle stations. I felt the submersible tilt down, so I tried to clear my head of what the primates were capable of. I have to believe that they will never actually do something like that…that their goodness will prevail. They didn’t snap after Earth, right? I trust their better judgment.
“W-well, if there’s really a base at the bottom of the ocean, the Farsul are fucked,” I murmured to my posse.
Samantha’s fist tightened, as her smirk returned. “I’d say they are.”
The numbers on the depth meter continued to escalate, as the submarine navigated the ocean which spanned below us. Locked inside a steel tube with predators, and knowing the potential of its onboard weaponry, my nerves were anything but quelled. The submarines somehow eclipsed even the worst starships in its dastardly capabilities. The Farsul wouldn’t be prepared for this predatory contraption, should we stumble across any of their flotilla.
I was glad that the humans were on the same team as me; there was no telling where their capacity for annihilation ended.
--- First Prev Next Patreon Arxur POV of the Cradle Series wiki Official subreddit Discord
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2023.06.03 04:01 GrantGorewood Folklore series hiatus notice for the month of June 2023. Folklore series will be returning in July 2023.
I have multiple reasons for going on hiatus for the folklore series. It will only be for the month of June and part of that you can thank my landlord terminating my lease under false reasons for.
I have realized that it will be impossible for me to move everything out of my apartment, clean the apartment, modify the jeep, finish my cosplays (I kind of have a commitment from last year for one convention that I go to), go to my interviews for the new jobs I’ve applied to, and grieve my cat while also doing all of the work that goes into the folklore series.
I have not had the appropriate time to grieve the loss of my kitty Tigris. I have in large part been writing the folklore series since she passed to try to fill the void she left in my life.
I’m sure it’s shown in my writing but my heart just isn’t 100% in it right now. I need more time to properly process losing her. And thanks to my landlord that time has been made more difficult.
This does not mean the folklore series is done for good, or that I will not be posting two sentence horror. I will probably start posting non-folklore two sentence horror with the occasional folklore story, unrelated to a specific region in June.
But it does mean that the dedicated daily stories will be on pause until July.
The apartment situation has taken a massive toll on my physical and mental health as has the loss of my kitty. The other day, I found a massive colony of orange sponge mold of some type in my bathroom walls. This colony of mold likely predates my kitty and I living in the apartment. It is so big that it is growing from at least where my toilet is on one wall to the other wall connected to that one where my bathroom window is. It is fruiting out through my window seal and through the brick wall from the inner wall right next to my bathtub.
On top of that the ceiling of the unit is currently crumbling and cracking and showing signs of potential collapse. There is a gas leak that has not been resolved and apparently by tightening the valve the landlord just caused it to escape in a different way.
There is apparently black mold in the kitchen under a plastic sheeting, and likely more of it in the bathroom. There are holes randomly appearing in walls and places I could not reach. The place is filled with cracks, fractures, bubbles, you name it.
Asbestos in the ceiling and asbestos in the floor. Rot, mold, and decay is so bad that the place is a biohazard.
I am going to need to move all of my property from the apartment to a storage unit and this will include me building a shelving unit in my storage unit.
While I’m moving everything I have to leave a few items to show that I’m still living there. I’m going to need to convert my jeep. The jeep conversion will take at least five days. Thankfully I’m not planning anything too complicated.
If the people that have been contacted about this situation, cannot do anything by June 28th I am going to have to move the remaining items out of the property.
And while all of this is happening, I need to mourn my kitty. I also need to go to job interviews, which take a lot of time to prepare for.
The reason I continued the folklore series for May 2023 was I wanted to finish out the Indonesian and Malaysian section. It didn’t feel right leaving it unfinished. But now that the month of May is over, I can take a month off to grieve and to deal with all of this chaos that is happening in my life.
And before anybody mentions it yes, I will be figuring out a gofundme, Patreon, and all of that during the June hiatus. When I return in July, I will probably be living in my Jeep.
On the upside it’s going to be converted, so it won’t be absolutely horrible. But at least for the month of July and possibly August I will be living in my car. It will definitely make for interesting story inspiration material.
I just want to note that this was an incredibly difficult decision to make. The folklore series is very much a passion project for me.
And as much as I love the folklore series, and I love writing it, reality is since Tigris passed the quality level I used to have isn’t there. I have really been forcing myself to write. Hoping it would fill the void and make things easier.
And though I thought it was helping me grieve, in reality it was just helping me deny what I have lost and prolong the grieving process. Taking time off to deal with these very serious issues with my life and to grieve the loss of my Tigris properly is something I have to do.
And there is another reason that I have decided to take the hiatus in June. June 12, 2020 was the day that the family cat; that I raised and cared for for much of his life, Morris died. He also died of kidney disease. Morris was 26 to 27 years old. But he was also like a big brother to Tigris. Every year since he died, I have been hit with a severe depression around June 12th. Morris was a big living teddy bear of a cat. He was also there for almost the entirety of Tigris’s life. And like Tigris he died in my arms. So this year it will be extra difficult for me, because now Tigris is also gone.
The Folklore Series will return in July 2023 after I have processed my grief more and things in my life are hopefully less chaotic.
Thank you for your support, see you on the daily again in July 2023.
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2023.06.02 23:20 eiramired Ignite the Ashes Chapter 4 - Edith
First Previous Next Chapter 4 - Edith Northern Facility, Vanstead Dukedom of Augustein, Year 989
News of the Raymoths’ demise spread quickly throughout the cell. Neither of them had been particularly quiet, after all, and soon enough everyone was muttering about it.
Edith still wouldn’t talk to her. Every time Amara approached, the other girl would huff and turn away. It got to a point where Amara regularly had to resist the urge to grab her and demand what the hell was wrong.
More present than irritation, however, was growing fear and concern. Edith had been pulled away for more and more sessions lately, and Amara didn’t miss the way she could barely work up the energy to stand sometimes. At night, Amara would wake up and see her staring up at the ceiling, eyes wide open and distant. She looked like little more than a doll like that. Motionless and unseeing.
Amara would lay awake as well, watching her. Her fingers would ache to reach out and shake the girl, to make sure she was really alive, but she never did, too scared that she might do it and find Edith unresponsive.
The night was cold. Amara frowned and rolled over, not even flinching when her bandaged wounds pressed into the ground. A strange unease had bubbled in her stomach all day. Something about the way the guards had paced around outside their cell, more active and restless than usual, and even the steady drip of water from the leak that had appeared in the ceiling a month ago felt wrong
Amara squinted, allowing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She rolled over again, bumping into Lily. She winced and held her breath, but the girl’s breathing remained even. Amara sighed and slowly sat up. It was probably better to move somewhere else for the night, lest she wake someone up with her tossing and turning.
Rising to her feet, Amara spotted the old corner James used to occupy so many years ago. Sometimes it felt like just yesterday that the boy had been dragged away, limbs thrashing and flailing. Other times it felt ancient and distant, every bit as blurry as her supposed life before the facility.
Amara crept over to the shadowed corner, pausing when she realized it was occupied. Edith sat with her back against the wall, her face hidden as she hugged her knee. Amara frowned. Edith had been taken away for a session before her that day, and when Amara had returned to the cell, she hadn’t seen the other girl. She was about to ask when the girl had come back before she remembered that Edith wasn’t talking to her, so she stayed silent. She glanced around, searching for another open space, but before she could move, a hand shot out and grabbed her.
Amara spun around, tensing, but the main thought ringing in her mind was how cold Edith’s hand was.
Edith mumbled something, and Amara leaned in closer on instinct.
“I can’t hear you,” she muttered, eyes briefly flickering over to the rest of the cell.
Edith exhaled shakily, and her breathing sounded shallow and uneven. Amara’s brows furrowed in concern.
“...I did something really bad,” Edith whispered. She released Amara’s hand, reaching up to yank on her hair that had grown so much thinner since she’d first arrived. Her eyes squeezed shut for a moment before opening again. “I don’t—I don’t think, I don’t know—” The girl stumbled on her words, sounding nothing at all like the Edith Amara knew.
“Edith, what happened?” she asked urgently, struggling to keep her voice quiet. “What’s going on?”
Edith just shook her head over and over.
“You wouldn’t get it,” she said. She pulled her hair tighter, and Amara grabbed her hand, carefully moving it away.
“You know, Amara, I used to be really jealous of you,” Edith was saying. Amara swallowed and kept her attention focused on untangling the girl’s fingers from her hair, refusing to look at the other girl’s face as she continued to babble.
“You never react to things, you don’t get mad, you just exist and don’t care about anything. I wished I could do that. Be like that. It must be nice to not have to feel things.”
Amara’s throat was dry when she swallowed. The feeling in her gut rose.
“It’s not like that,” she whispered, but Edith didn’t hear her, her words still rushing out all at once like a broken dam.
“I tried, you know. I really did, but I just can’t push things down like that. So I thought, it’s okay if I’m not like you, because I’ll be the one who fights.” Edith laughed hollowly. “I thought, _I’ll show her, _I’ll be the better one, I’ll be the hero.” She squeezed her arms around her knees so tightly that they shook. Amara’s hands hovered above her, not sure what to do or where to place them.
Finally, all at once, the shaking stopped. Edith’s entire body slumped down in defeat, and her head dropped back down, thin dark strands falling like a tattered curtain over her face. When she spoke again, her voice was muffled.
Amara swallowed. “Yes?”
“Can you promise to look after the others?”
Amara nodded, then remembered Edith couldn’t see her. Her fingers clenched into a fist, then relaxed again. “I promise,” she said, forcing her voice to remain as steady and calm as she could manage.
For a moment Edith didn’t respond, silence pooling between them. And then, slowly, Edith nodded.
“Thank you,” she mumbled. Head still lowered, Edith turned, shifting so that her body was facing away from Amara and leaning slightly against the wall on one side. The movement was clumsy and uncoordinated, and it took much more effort than a simple action like that should have.
Facing away, only her hunched form visible, Edith whispered, “Good night.”
Amara stared at her, wondering if her back had always been so small. She ran through different words in her mind, but her tongue felt heavy. Finally, she simply swallowed and turned away as well.
Later, when weariness settled deep into her bones and her lids grew heavy and her senses hazy, Amara thought she heard Edith say something. But the growing weight of sleep had already taken its hold, and before she could respond or ask her to repeat what she’d said, it was already too late.
When Amara woke up the next morning, the space beside her was empty. She slowly moved her head, scanning the cell with dull eyes, but Edith was nowhere to be found.
Tom whispered that some of the guards had taken her away for a session that morning. Amara had just nodded dully, the words barely processing. She let herself sink into the distant comfort of numbness.
She stayed there for the rest of the day, back against the wall and eyes never leaving the cell doors.
The night passed. Amara stayed awake the entire time, not caring how much her eyes burned. She refused to look away from the gleaming metal cell door. She simply sat there, still as a statue.
Another night passed. Then another.
By the third morning, Amara was so exhausted that she could barely hold her head up. Her head throbbed and her vision was so blurred that she could barely make out Ben’s hesitant form approaching her.
“Amara?” he asked, and she distantly thought about how strange it was to hear him say her name. No one but Edith ever did.
The boy’s body shook, or maybe that was the weariness catching up to her. Ben’s voice was small, and he sounded more like the crying child he’d been in those first few months than he had in years.
“Where’s Edith?” he asked. His voice cracked.
Amara stared at him, vaguely registering other figures gathered around them. All of them knew, just like she did. They were looking for confirmation, the sort of confirmation they usually turned to Edith for.
Amara swallowed, throat dry. Her limbs felt heavy, like they weren’t her own, but still she reached forward and hugged the boy, hoping that the flaring cold deep within her core hadn’t spread to her skin. Ben froze slightly, then buried his face deeper into her shoulder.
“She’s gone,” Amara whispered.
“She’s never coming back.”
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2023.06.02 19:43 tulpacat1 To Kill a Predator, Chapter 22
To Kill a Predator is a work of fan fiction set in the Nature of Predators universe originally created by SpacePaladin15
whose Patreon you should subscribe to.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Depiction does not equal endorsement.
Hope you enjoy it!
--- Memory transcription subject: Jarkim, Unemployed Krakotl Date [standardized human time]: November 30th, 2136
If they were following standard procedure, they’d be storing munitions separate from personnel and weapons. In guild offices there were hermetically sealed rooms for it, ensuring any stray fires would be snuffed out as soon as they devoured all the oxygen.
In a place like this, my bet was one of the sheds or root cellars. I had sent Russo and Mosun to handle the garage and workers’ quarters.
Of course it was possible they hadn’t got enough fuel, ammo, and explosives to prosecute their campaign. Possible, but unlikely. The attack on the shelter hadn’t been the actions of a group running on fumes. Honestly, if I were in their position I’d hole up here too. A large farm makes sense. They’d have phosphorous, ammonium nitrate, local stores of benzene or fuel oils, ipsom grain to make into powder, even the septic tanks if you’re really desperate… there’s more ways to create fire bombs at your average farm than I can be bothered to count.
I ran the math in my head. I didn’t like the result I got: the Liberators probably had enough fire to turn every human in the district into ash several times over, and they might still have enough left over for everyone who voted for Tarva too.
I approached the first shed with Slavik. It was one of the simple above-ground ones. Unlikely target to bear fruit, in my mind, but it was the closest. “I’ll go in first. You watch out with the rifle.”
They nodded at me, grimly.
The door opened and I rushed into the darkness.
“It’ll be the fourth.”
“Four’s a lucky number.”
“No it’s not.”
“Sure it is. If you have to count past it, you have to use a second paw.”
The first shed had been empty but for tools. The second had held spare parts for their generators. The third had led to a root cellar full of sun-dried and salted fruit, and some jars of preserves.
Lucky number four was a steel door surrounded by concrete inset into the ground, and as soon as it was wrenched open the stench of chemicals assaulted me. Even Slavik coughed with distaste, and they didn’t have a nose.
“Well Slavik, turns out you were right.”
“That… does not taste lucky.”
“It doesn’t, does it. Alright, let’s go.”
I moved in. Slavik was right behind me. We headed into the gloom, slowly waiting for our eyes to adjust. Slavik muttered a bit before turning on the light attached to their rifle. They swiveled their entire torso back and forth, eyes focused on the rifle sights.
Industrial tanks of chemicals stood like forlorn monsters in the dark, the threadbare light by the rifle’s muzzle casting ugly and stark shadows.
“Never should’ve come here.”
I froze. The voice was coming from behind me… and to the left.
There was a second Venlil, lunging out from behind one of the tanks with a breaching tool held in both paws. He struck Slavik’s gun, and I heard the weapon hit the stone floor somewhere in the dark. With a second swing he caught Slavik across the head, and they went down hard.
I lunged at him, talons grasping for purchase in the short Exterminator-cut fur of the assailant. I got a good digging grip and pulled him back, raking grooves in his shoulders in the process and sending the crowbar clattering into the shadows.
I recognized him as Vilrak, and he screamed with anger and pain and managed to strike me in the eye with his elbow. I reeled back, squawking, when his paw struck me in the stomach. Pain blossomed and spread like fire. His claws were outstretched, and dug in under the feathers and tore skin.
In response I lashed out with a talon, tearing bloody gouges in his snout. Venlil snouts are sturdy and solid bone, and I did little actual damage. It was still enough to send him back with a yelp.
We both caught our breaths, blood dripping from claw and talon alike.
Slavik was on the ground. They weren’t moving.
“Vilrak, it’s over… Stand down.”
His voice was filled with loathing. “…Jarkim. So Karta failed to get rid of you, you traitorous piece of-”
I interjected immediately. “What you’re doing here isn’t going to work.”
“Oh, but it is. We’re going to bring Venlil Prime back to sanity, and back into the Federation.”
“There’s no going back. The Interview, the humans, the proof that even the Arxur
can be bargained with after they returned their Venlil cattle… The galaxy’s a different place than it was just a cycle ago.”
I plead with him to turn from his path. When he realized and accepted the situation, he’d do the right thing. Just like I had. “We’re going to have to learn to live in the new world. One that doesn’t need us. We believed our job was necessary… We were only acting on… On the information we had, the information we were given. But we were wrong. Listen to me, Vilrak. There’s another path here. We can reform the Exterminators. We can make it into something better, something that serves the community.”
He straightened up and lashed his tail at me, turning and walking away. One eye was locked on me the entire time. “Oh you stupid, sanctimonious fuck. You’re the only one who ever believed any of that predshit.”
I paused. “…What?”
He walked slowly. I followed, staying at a careful distance. “Being an Exterminator was the perfect job. We had respect. We had power
, Jarkim! You’re the only one who didn’t seem to realize that! Oh, you useless damn joke of a Krakotl… You turned your beak and curled your talons every time you had to pull the trigger, and always made sure the PDs came in without a fight. The rest of us loved it!”
I felt sick. I had never liked Vilrak, but this was… Like Vikar, and Renak, and Luarik, and Karta, and…
Not unprecedented. But hearing it put in such stark terms…
“I always hated rolling out with you, because you’re too insufferably straight-laced. The rest of the guys understood the opportunities. But not you, oh no. As soon as you get in the van the fun stops. No taking money to make PD cases go away, no letting off steam with the rods and some drunk, no sharing cuties collared in the back of the van…”
My talons itched to tear out his evil fucking throat
. But more than that, I wanted to tear down the entire system I had been complicit in. I had looked the other way, made sure to not ask awkward questions I didn’t want the answers to. And that made me one link in the chain. The facilities, the prosecutors, the assessors, they were all working with the Exterminators. Everyone knew that we were the only way they’d stay safe, the firebreak between the civilians and the predators. So they let us do whatever we wanted.
“Vilrak… It’s not going to stay that way anymore. It can’t. It mustn’t. The winds are changing. If everyone’s as… sick and twisted as you, and the Exterminators can’t be reformed? Then we’ll be abolished instead.”
“That’s right, because the humans are fucking it all up! They did more for Venlilkind in one paw than we Exterminators have done since we joined the Federation, just by sharing food with the greys! And now everyone knows it!”
“Exactly. There’s no going back.”
“Yeah, well. It’s worth a shot.”
When he turned to face me again he was holding a flamethrower, the tank under one arm and the nozzle under the other. In the darkness I only realized he was firing when it spewed incendiary death in a wide arc.
I had to gracelessly take flight, leaping back and thrashing with my wings to get behind one of the chemical tanks in time. I ended up smashing into the wall for my trouble, and I felt something in my wing snap.
But seeing the burning trail where I had stood a blink of an eye beforehand, it was still a worthwhile trade-off.
Other than what little light the fires gave off, and the light from the open door, the room was dark. The flashlight on Slavik’s gun had gone out.
I slowly crept around the tank… step by step. Listening for the Venlil’s footsteps, and hearing nothing.
I heard the sound of the tank shifting nearby, and froze in place. I held my breath.
He was speaking from just a couple of wingspans away, in the dark. “You’re not the first predator I’ve had to hunt. And you’re not gonna be the last.”
There was a click as the flamethrower’s ignition line turned on.
A line of fire spewed from the muzzle, sending me scrambling for cover again. I needn’t have bothered, he wasn’t aiming at me.
With the second line of burning fuel gel, he created a ‘V’ shape against the wall. He was simply boxing me in, cutting off my escape. Standard procedure when dealing with poor-visibility terrain.
Now all he had to do was hose the enclosed area, and that would be it.
I felt panic slowly begin to flood my brain, and forced it down. I couldn’t let myself become an animal. He knew how to burn animals.
Gotta get out of here, or I’m kindling.
With only one working wing, I was rapidly running out of options. When Vilrak spewed another gout of flame, my options dwindled further. I took flight, my one wing fluttering as I twisted my body in a desperate attempt to get above the flames and the equally dangerous super-heated air right above them. I felt the oppressive heat and could imagine my feathers curl and blacken as I made my desperate lunge over the fire-wall.
My talons scraped the stone loudly upon my rough landing, and I ended up falling prone. I yelled out as I landed on my bad wing again.
Starting to rise slowly, far too slowly, I heard Vilrak whistle out a laugh from nearby. I saw his shadowed form looming out of the dark, lit from the side by the growing flames. The flamethrower’s ignition line clicking on. Faced straight at me.
There was a bright, sudden light. And a scream.
Vilrak reeled back. So did I, good wing raised in a meaningless gesture of defense. I couldn’t see anything, blinded by Slavik’s flashlight. I heard a shout. “Jarkim, get down!”
I laid myself prone on the ground without hesitation. KRAK-Ow
Superheated plasma flew overhead, sizzling the air and filling the enclosed space with the rank stench of ozone.
The shot impacted Vilrak’s fuel tank. The ensuing breach sent burning fuel and bits of hot metal all over the cellar, and threw him back into the wall. With my head down I could do nothing but flinch and hope.
A searing lance of pain impacted my leg, making me squawk out. A glance down showed a piece of jagged metal the size of a wing feather sticking out of my thigh.
Blinking the spots out of my eyes and coughing from the smoke filling the room, I saw Slavik holding the plasma rifle. It was aimed at the prone Exterminator, who was already screaming and crawling. His legs were on fire, and looked shredded from shrapnel. The flames were eagerly eating their way up his short-cut fur, already spreading up over his back and sides. His voice was a high-pitched, babbling shriek.
All that confidence, bravado, and gleeful sadism had vanished the instant it was his turn. And I wasn’t a good enough person to not take some vindictive joy in that.
“Not the flames not the flames please not the flames!! No no no nono please please not the flames!! Help meeeeee!!!
The second shot took him in the face. I looked away sharply, not interested in seeing the results.
“C’mon, you useless lump. Move your ass before it’s cooked.” Slavik grabbed me by my good wing, dragged me out of the burning cellar like a sack of grain, and closed the door behind us.
The fire would eat through all the oxygen long before it burst any of the chemical tanks. Even so, Slavik didn’t stop dragging me until we were a good distance away and we could both collapse in a panting heap on the ground.
Slavik’s head was leaking orange blood into their wool from the hit, and an ugly lump was already forming on their head. They looked at me darkly. “…That was mercy. I’m not going to let myself become the kind of person who’d have let him burn.”
I felt jolts of pain searing through my body each time I coughed. “Khakh, Khahhk… Y-You just saved my life. You don’t have to justify yourself to me.”
They looked down at their weapon in silence for a while, before speaking so quietly that I barely heard it. “You’re not the one I’m trying to convince.”
After a long silence, I tried my arm and grimaced. My leg refused to even bend now that the adrenaline was flushing out, and I didn’t want to take the metal out in case it was sitting in an artery. I didn’t even want to know what my feathers looked like. “…Wing’s busted. L-Leg too. I’m no good like this. Khahhk… I’ll head back, you try to link up with the other team.”
Slavik shouldered the rifle, and lifted me up. “After I get you back to Hanya.”
The trek back was awkward, and slow. I was left to hop and cling to Slavik as they half-dragged me along. I hoped the other team was having more success.
--- Memory transcription subject: Martin Russo, Human Refugee Date [standardized human time]: November 30th, 2136
I raise my hand to Mosun. Three. Two. One.
The door opens. Mosun lunges in low, I sweep in high.
Nothing greets us but silence. We sweep the ground floor of the main house slowly, room by room. I move my aim back and forth like a metronome as I seek targets. My eyes dart around from place to place. Those saccades the Venlil are so afraid of.
The place shows clear signs of being lived in. Very recently. There are still-damp dishes in the kitchen.
The living room is an even bigger tell. On the table there’s a map of the whole district, and another of the town. Addresses are circled in different colors. I might not have recognized the map so quickly, except I’ve also been studying up for my own campaign.
As we search the place it appears that nobody’s home. They seem to have removed all the signs of the original inhabitants. I see pale reverse-shadows on the wall where once hung pictures or pieces of art.
I tap Mosun’s shoulder. He looks at me, and I point up, then down, and give a shrug. Upstairs or basement first?
As Mosun considers the question, we hear a scream. I freeze stock still, and Mosun’s eyes go wide. It’s from upstairs.
I brave a soft voice. “…Is that…”
Another scream. A word carries through the drawn out, inelegant blubbering. “Mhh-aaa-aahhhahhhu-hurttii-hi-hiiinnnn!!”
My blood feels ice cold, and my stomach drops out. Jesus Christ it’s my name. She’s screaming my name
I’m acutely aware my tongue is dry.
Another scream, this time just a shrill sound of pain.
I’m running up the stairs. My grip on the gun is so tight it hurts. For a few seconds my thoughts don’t form words, just the panicked urge to rush to my beloved friend. To help and defend her.
Upstairs there are four rooms. Two on the left, one on the right, and one in the far back. The only one that matters is the one with the noise.
I rush to the door and almost wrench it open right away, but pause. Stay frosty.
Mosun almost runs into me in his haste to keep up.
I turn and look at him. His furious face mirrors mine. I cringe as another shout comes from the room right beside us.
He nods grimly and grabs the door handle. We both take a couple of deep, steadying breaths.
I raise my hand to Mosun. Three. Two. One.
Here's some fun fanart of Martin's Ghost Gun by Asclepius on the discord, thanks Asclepius! https://imgur.com/a/zpJf1S9
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2023.06.02 14:01 AutoModerator Weekend Free Talk fresh every Friday!
Welcome to the Weekend Free Talk and Index thread! You can post whatever you want here - unsubstantiated rumors you heard from some Patreon, fan theories, random shower thoughts, or even musings that are unrelated to the Marvel universe. Anything goes - please just follow the Reddiquette
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Potential points of interest: Old plot leak for The Marvels archived from MarvelStudiosSpoilers
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