Action, Author, Chapter Four, Fiction, Mini Series, New, Novel, Original, Sci-Fi, Sci-Fy, Science, Science Fiction, Scifi, Scify, Scyfi, Writing, Zach Acid

Act One | Chapter Four | Episode Sixteen: Close Call

Voiyn stumbled forward, and exited the examination compartment intent on not giving the stowaway another shot. His hearts beating fast, he glanced at the wound. ‘Nothing vital,’ he thought. It had been an energy weapon, which was fortunate, Voiyn wasn’t going to bleed out and the cavity wouldn’t become infected. He needed to get to the K8’s Armory.

As fast as he could drag his magboots the great reptile labored through the sterile white corridors of his own ship. The Armory was behind a hidden door, on the way to the cockpit. Senses on full alert he heard light footsteps rounding the corner behind him. Quick on his feet, he ducked into behind the threshold of a personnel compartment. A green lance struck the opposite side of the threshold where his head was just a moment before.

The steps were careful and meticulous, but not enough for Voiyn’s senses. A small flick of his tongue and he could taste the pheromones wafting off his enemy. ‘Let’s get his nerves even higher,’ he smirked at the thought. Slipping his had behind him, he activated the controls to the door. When it hissed open, the stalker moved quickly to the compartment. The hand held weapon peaked out from behind the corner.

Voiyn lashed out like he was striking at prey, grabbing the gun and biting into its arm. Warm blood rushed in his mouth as looked into the eyes of one of the adept servants crewed with the Seven Hounds Bounty. The being’s eyes went wide with fear, and then glassy as the toxins in his fangs pumped quickly through the creatures system. Wrenching the black weapon out of the hands of his would be assassin a few bones cracked, the musculature of the creature going stiff.

Having captured his prey, he looked over the aspirant. A greyish epidermal layer with a finely scaled quality. It’s eyes had been yellow orbs bisected with red pupils, now they had turned milky white, the toxins were going to work on his physical senses. All swaddled in the typical solid black of the Seven Hounds.

‘Notan owes so much. I need to comb the ship for more vermin, but first to warn NaN.’

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

“Call them off,” Essec pushed, exasperated with the sluggish thing.

“They are not mine to call, or push, or convince to do anything,” Notan repeated. His foul breath crept into Essec’s olfactory. “Like you and your lizard master, I can only supply the motivation, whether or not you comply is completely voluntary.”

This was exactly why Essec hated this smug thing. “Then supply them with the proper motivation,” Essec said trying to keep his tone amicable, but it was slipping fast.

“My, my, aren’t you the impatient one,” Notan’s gurgling voice even more disgusting attempting what Essec could only imagine as cuteness. “If any harm befalls the little monkey, I will gladly reimburse Voiyn for his damaged property. A good one is hard to acquire, I know. Unless you have something to give me, something that could supplant the boys value. Only then would I see Gort’ekl turning around. If you have nothing to offer, then our business is concluded and I wish you and Voiyn the best.”

Essec went stoic, there was no way he was leaving without receiving some kind of aid from this fat, greedy thing. Fortunately there was one thing in his possession that could be offered to the Pit Master. One thing that was his, that was the only thing of his homeworld. Having reached the black thirty cycles prior he’d begun a quest for his past, a history that had been difficult to discover in the limited channels of this caged called The Vale. Nokitha in the Juxl system was where his race hailed from, it took seven cycles just to understand that. After that huge discovery he’d begun to collect any and everything about the world, far far from this insipid place. The crown of his collection was a jewel, the rarest from his world, and the only he knew of that could be bartered with here.

“I have something. In my own personal possession, that cannot be found within The Vale,” he proposed.

Notan’s eyes opened in curiosity, “What kind of something might this be?” Now Essec had the fat stumpy creature’s attention.

“A gem the size of my fist,” Essec said.

Notan’s excitement seemed to fade. “Do you have an image of it? A being in my position has many trinkets of rare quality. I’m sure you understand,” Notan gurgled sardonically.

Essec had taken a recording of it on his data card. He never wanted to imagine being rid of it, however he knew it was priceless and could very easily become something to barter with in an extreme circumstance. Just like the one he found himself in currently.

He pulled the data card off his omnisuit, and thumbed through it to the storage function. Selecting the video he handed the device to Notan. The gem and video was burned into his memory, after so many cycles of searching he’d stared at it for thousands of decacircuits once it had entered his position. It was a ovular gem, deep blue and black gem, the blue swirling within the sea of jet that made up the base of the treasure.

Notan’s excitement returned, “This will do. When can I have it?”

Essec smiled, “As soon as they return with the monkey.”

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Author, Chapter Four, Mini Series, Novel, Original, Science Fiction, Writing, Zach Acid

Act One | Chapter Four: Vexed | Episode Fourteen: Rescuing NaN

The Kal’rax Fnerckt, Gort’ekl’s ship, glinted off in the distance. Voiyn could track it with onboard tech signal or no. His ship, the K8-Blackstar, pierced through space inexorably towards the Seven Hounds Bounty. Primal maternal instinct raged through his changing asexual physiology, not only were they part of his crew, but he had imprinted on the fledglings. Being that he had not mated as a male in over thirty cycles, he remained both sexes at the same time. This maternal desire gave him focus, therefor he was not, currently, rejecting the emotional torrent that flooded his reptilian nervous system.

Voiyn’s hands made microscopic adjustments as he approached the rear of the enemy, staring directly into the fire-red exhaust ports. Not for a microsphere did he tamper with his speed.

Within the thousand unit killzone of their hull Voiyn commanded, “All weapons engage in targeting lock.” Multiple overlapping reticule glyphs appeared in his optics, he paused a moment before launching the fusillade. “Disengage all lethal weaponry,” commanding the ships brain reduced the locked on glyphs to three. Without moving his eyes from the back of the Kal’rax, Voiyn red the still active weapons list in the bottom right peripheral of his vision. His trusty hook, electromagnetic disruptor rockets, and a jamming sentinel. Swipes with his foreclaw highlighted the third option projected into his eyes. A squeeze from his left hand and two sentinels thumped out, self propelled, immediately attracted to the heat produced by their target.

A blast fired, hitting one of the drones, exploding it in a corona, the second with luck attached itself to the top of the boxy ship, laying as flush to the metal skin possible. If it took damage, so would they.

Realizing this the same golden beams began firing upon the K-8 intermittently. Deftly, Voiyn maneuvered around the aim of their ships autoturret’s algorithm, as he waited for the jamming device to effectively kill all sensors aboard the Kal’rax Fnerckt. For a moment the golden beams continued firing into the same point in space.

Taking advantage of the wayward turret, Voiyn flicked his talon to the electromagnetic disruptor rockets, and squeezed. Carbon based fuels emitted a orange glow as the fired pair streaked for their target. For the first time since the chase began Voiyn backed off the throttle. Anything within five-hundred units of the blast, that required electronics to function was about to go limp.

Coruscating energy rushed outwards in visible overlapping spheres, the Kal’rax disappeared as it was engulfed inbetween their expanding diameters. Voiyn watched cautiously waiting for the apex of the effective range. Less than a hundred units away from the the tip of the K-8’s fuselage the energy field was unable to keep its integrity, scintillating into nothingness. A jerk of his right hand gunned the engine forward, his hook all ready to fire at his command.

Getting the K-8 lined up on her left wing, on the boxy modified runner’s right. Firing, the barbed cables into its side, winches whined as they pulled the two ships together. Then came the ssekhratess, the gap between the two ships less than ten units, the oversized, spiked piston jut out, piercing the hull of the other ship, its gem like spear folding open to create a permanent, airtight, connection. Until Voiyn decided to sever it.

Red, green, and purple warning lights, and alarm klaxons signaled all of the obvious, they were under attack. Except one. To NaN these were all but warnings or alarms, these were symbols of hope. Suddenly, the ship went black, like a tomb.

Emergency powered life systems clicked to life, a faint hiss could be heard as the recycled air flowed through the ship.

The Seven Hounds Bounty was driven insane, a maelstrom of cursing and shouting could be heard beyond his cell door. Their chaos gave him more hope still. The crunch of metal piercing metal was the next odd sound. The ships gravity synthesizers down, NaN could feel the shift as he collided with the bulky door. The same death-like silence followed, even the crowd beyond had become completely still. The vessel stopped moving, his mass continued in the same direction, floating away from the door.

Near him, from the other side of the bulkhead came the most ungodly sound as the alloyed metal plating of the hull was punctured, and then peeled back. Disturbing as the noise was to hear, it could only signify one thing. They had been borded.

ssekhratess – Piece de resistance

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Author, Chapter Three, Mini Series, Novel, Original, Science Fiction, Writing, Zach Acid

Act One| Chapter Three: Entanglements | Episode Thirteen: The Chase Begins

Voiyn maxed his thrusters, directing Valevyinellin roughly with his hands towards the triangular glyph on the display being projected into his ocular lenses. That is where the young one would be found. All three of his hearts beat in a discordant rhythm signifying his high levels of stress.

“Any word back OhkBD?” he snarled each word unconsciously.

“Essec has only just replied, he said tht he will do what he must to ensure the safety of the monkey,” OhkBD replied.

“Then there is nothing else we can do. Save chase down that flakhassh*,” the curse hissing through his razor sharp, poisoned fangs.

Essec was in a fit of rage. ‘Calm,’ he reminded himself, ‘calm.’ Still, he couldn’t help but feel a slight bit of blame, both of the pubescent apes were proving to be worthy crew and he’d grown an attachment to them as they sought to earn their place amongst Voiyn’s Hounds. Having completed his own, personal, business in the Pit, he’d received the news as he was returning to the ship no longer awaiting him on the docking level. Feeling even more powerless, being stuck in this hive of the unclean. Furthering his distaste in the situation, he now had to cavort and barter with the likes of Notan. A creature given to excess that was foul in every dimension of the feeling.

Alas, how else could he aide the young, and aide him he would. Shrugging off his ego in the matter, he stalked swiftly through the Pit crowds back to its lowest sanctum, the den of the Notan creature. Traveling down the sloping spiral he couldn’t help but gag at lease twice at the thought of its pheromone stench.

‘Think,’ he quit the cycling disgust in his mind. ‘Essec, you are being relied upon to find a way to retrieve your ValeHound’s precious property. What can you offer a creature, not wanting for anything, without committing to it any living organism, nor the Valevyinellin, or K8-Blackstar?’ All the way down he pondered this considering everything of value he’d ever owned or come across. After his lengthy descent, he grimaced coming to a conclusion. There was one thing that he could hold for last, he hoped it wouldn’t come to a point where he needed mention it.

— — — — — — —

NaN awoke in slow motion. ‘Probably some drug cocktail,’ he surmised internally. Everything felt sluggish except his mind was still running fulll speed. He couldn’t help but be surprised at how much redundancy the Seven Hounds Bounty had used to restrain him. ‘Though,’ he supposed, ‘I am unaware of their ships docking point on the Pit, or the layout of this ship. What was her name again?’ He remembered hearing the ghastly females name just before he blacked out.

“Xyxila!”

That was it, but from from an even more alien voice than he could remember.

“Voiyn has gained a lock on our location, and is bearing down on us as we speak!” The voice was deeper but seemed to have difficulty speaking in Pit Standard. “I warned you of this! We needed a clean get away!” There was a sharp smacking sound from beyond the synth metal plating encasing NaN in the dark room. He refused to move a micro unit, gathering as much information for as long as he could maintain the charade. Who knew what kind of biometric sensors were in place watching him.

“Valegbosh, I searched him furiously,” her voice sounding almost girlish, even pleading. “The only object I recovered of the thing’s body was a simple datacard, nothing more.”

“Where is it?!” the first voice demanded. NaN began to wonder how long it could sustain it’s roar.

“Here,” a pause. “I’ve already had its contents whipped, I was going to salv…”

Another smack rang out silencing her.

“I told you to destroy ANYTHING found! That reptile is extremely clever! If we lose our cargo it will befall YOU to pay the price of the bounty WE’D have extorted!” A pause for a couple heavy breaths before the deep voice continued, “Xyxila, you have disappointed me farther than I could have ever dreamt possible, get to your armed station! No doubt his could cost us more than this foundling primate.” A tense silence followed.

“NOW!”

NaN couldn’t believe his luck, JOS had to’ve gotten back to the Valeviynellin not long after the Xyxila woman threw him in the black compartment in which he found himself. Knowing Voiyn was hunting him down completely changed his perspective on the situation. ‘Come and get me,’ he thought, full of hope. ‘I’ll take whatever punishment is coming for being late you big, scaled, softy.’

— — — — — — —

“The tracking signal from the datacard has been cut off, but long range spectral scans have them within range of the Blackstar. How should we engage?” OhkBD asked, all business for one rare moment.

“You take the piloting console, I’ll take my ship. Combined we will get our boy back,” Voiyn was terse, each word hissed, ending in a growl. “I also wouldn’t mind giving them an intimate lesson in how Voiyn Valegbosh does things.,” he was pure venom.

Voiyn quit his controls, lumbering gracefully back into the depths of Valeviynellin to the hangar housing his precious ship. He’d spent the last sixty cycles of his three-hundred and twelve, modifying it to suit his every need in combat and bounty capture. The ssekhratess* it’s boarding clamps. There was not a ship within The Vale that could escape its grip. Three-Unit thick cabling with eight pointed claws would jolt a diamond shaped punch, which doubled as the boarding ramp, creating an airlock from any location on the ship he wished to board.

Entering the hangar he called out to the ships brain, “Prepare to lift off. We’re getting our teeth bloody Blackstar.” Without touching the ship, the K8 began its start up automatically, lowering the assault ramp to accept its pilot. Voiyn practically ran into the cockpit, which was just his size. “OhkBD, open the hatch,” he commanded to the technical officer while taking his seat in the markedly similar piloting apparatus. Rolling his right hand forward inside the blue holographic sphere, the ship whipped around on hundred and eighty degrees. The same action from his left shot the ship out of the opening bay doors, barely large enough to fit the K8-Blackstar through. Now he would prey upon those who would do harm to his team.

Flakhassh – Carrion worms that largely feed on excrement

ssekhratess – Piece de resistance

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Author, Chapter Three, Mini Series, Novel, Original, Science Fiction, Writing, Zach Acid

Act One | Chapter Three: Entanglement | Episode Nine: Discovery

NaN’s nerves wore off after a few circuits. The atmosphere was still tense, and stifling, but they were pretty much ignored, their novelty had already worn off. Everything seemed a little clearer this time. Directly across from the Docking Bay were the eateries and ethyl-alch lounges, ‘For those times when you need inebriation as quickly as possible.’ His imaginary commercial voice perfectly irritating. A hodgepodge combination of these businesses formed the outer orbit, two intersecting, diametrical corridors ran into the center of the station. Down into the real Pit.
Every store front corridor had an odd synthesis of natural and synthetic structure. Overall it was an easy layout to understand, it took them the better part of the first half of the one revolution allotted them by walking the circumference. After reaching the first leg of the intersecting passageways, NaN whipped out his datacard to trace a map with his relative position in space. Plans for future visits were already being made.
“…more apes. Can you believe how quickly they reproduce? They should keep themselves to their own cesspool in the Eleventh District. Us good being want have to not put up with their fragile little lives, paying with my good orn to pump this filthy oxygen…” The voice of the passerby clicked as he trailed off into the pockets of crown surrounding them.
“You hear that?” NaN clapped JOS enthusiastically.
“What,? The screaming from the back of that eatery?” JOS pointed at the restaurant bearing a sign: Quality Meats – Fresh?
“No…” NaN lost his focus for a moment, distracted by the many shades of neon making up the sign, he remembered, “No.  There was this thing that was talking about a place here, just for our type.”
“New?” JOS was so clueless.
“Not new to the Pit, it’s a place filled with the same species as us,” NaN could see he’d gotten his friend’s attention.
“Where is it?”
“Some place it called the Eleventh District,” NaN answered.
“What is, or where is the Eleventh District?” JOS beginning to sound frustrated having to repeat himself.
“Probably down in the lower levels, our datacards shouldn’t have any problem mapping any route we take, sound like fun?” NaN watched JOS think about it.
“I’ll set mine as well, the moment we go out of range we turn back. We cannot get lost here,” despite the serious voice JOS’s eyes betrayed his excitement. JOS detached his datacard from his magbelt to set the map tracker.
NaN kept his eyes on the descending spiral about 800 Units away. “Let’s go,” JOS commanded. Together they continued through the light crowds towards the center of the Pit. More aware of the surrounding environment without protection, there were several directories posted around the entrance to the Pit’s main artery. A group of beings were gathered around it, they looked familiar, it was hard to place anyone after seeing so many shapes, sizes, and types of bodies.
He tried to pick out recognizable details, but they all stood cloaked by the back lighting of the directories. Only five in the group. ‘It’s them!’ the thought sounded off like a klaxon. Seven Hound’s Bounty, from down in Notan’s Lair. His hand shot out to stop JOS.
“What?” JOS surprised, “Wasn’t this your idea to begin with?”
“No,”NaN shook his head, “no, I see something better. See those guys by the central spiral?”
“Yes.”
“Recognize them?”
“How could we possibly know anybody here NaN?”
“You’re not thinking about it clearly enough. Look closer.”
NaN watched his friend scrutinize the beings hoping to see him come the same conclusion as him. Now JOS was irritated,”I don’t recognize anyone.”
“Maybe almost dying made you forget, think back like twenty circuits before that,” NaN reminded JOS.
JOS’s eyes went about as wide as his mouth did, “Those are the guys we’re supposed to hunt with right? What do you think they’re doing?”
“That’s exactly why I stopped you,” NaN’s voice was conspiring. “Let’s find out.”
“Are you trying to get us dead?” JOS asked incredulous.
“Not killed, I think we’ve got an obligation to know more about these guys, and what it is we’re getting into. “
JOS thought on it, before he could respond NaN had to include, “Or are you too terrified?”
NaN was always surprised at how JOS could remain stoic, even with his constant checking for cracks in JOS’s ego.
“Alright, I’ll concede. More importantly we can get a guided tour from some serious killers,” JOS tried not to sound nervous. “I’m sure they’ll go to all the best section of the Pit. Set the timer on your datacard now.” JOS fiddled with his own as he continued, “We have about half a revolution, fifty-three circuits exactly. Once our timers hit thirty circuits we return, no matter where we are.”
“Yes, Valegbosh,” he mocked JOS sarcastically.
JOS gave him that stern look of disapproval he often received, “Are you ready to do this?”
“After you Fligar,” NaN meant it. Having any name was better than some anthropomorphic serial number. He caught the smile JOS tried to hide by taking the lead. Not that NaN wanted it anyway. This was JOS’s specialty, stalking clientele, moving noiselessly through hallways teeming with auditory sensors to alert customer’s at the Servitude Colony that they could be heard by the servants. As property of the Juxl Corporation, they were encouraged to learn the secrets of their customers, which the Corporation would gladly keep safe, for a fee.
‘A precautionary measure to ensure the safety, comfort, and privacy of our staff, patrons, and wonderful guests,’ the faceless monotonous feminine voice from the Colony still clear.
Another large group was within fifty units of the Seven Hound’s Bounty, still having a great time bogarding the directory. The two did their best to blend in by having a silent conversation, actually watching their prey, which only stood around making more noise than anyone in the vicinity. They seemed to stand there for revolutions.
Without warning the five Hounds shifted as a group into the central spiral, NaN and JOS stayed relaxed. JOS followed first, just before the last one slipped out of sight. Standing at the entrance was like his first leap across the void. NaN breathed out, taking the lead now, he was feeling powerful, and wanted to test his own abilities. The group wasn’t moving very quickly, making them easy to keep up with, but hard to watch. It’d be too simple to give themselves away if they rushed their stalk.
Halfway down, the entrance into the Pit proper revealed itself again. Imagining it in his mind distracted him from controlling the weight of his boots. It clacked a little too hard against the metallic flooring. NaN pushed his body into the bulkhead they were walking along. Everything was too quiet, NaN’s heart pounded in his throat.
“I smell dessert…” the slimy voice could be heard through the sound of adrenaline try to burst his heart through his sternum. One more check in with his data card, ‘Plenty of time,’ he thought. Twenty-four more circuits until that alarm would go off.
“Fligar,” NaN flashed a smile, nodding at JOS.
“Ragilf,” JOS nodded back in confirmation.
In one motion both of them lifted themselves from the wall, slinking into the vast crowd that made up the permanent residents of Notan’s Pit. Eyes and ears were on full alert, searching for their “guides”, and the Eleventh District.

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Author, Chapter Two, Mini Series, Novel, Science Fiction, Writing, Zach Acid

Act One | Chapter Two: Notan’s Pit | Episode Eight: Fligar & Ragilf

With this he could defend himself, if he managed to keep it, it would be paramount in establishing his name as Ragilf. NaN basked in his self-aggrandizement for a moment. First, he had to figure out a way to keep it better hidden, since it had already atomized his sleeve. He checked his data card for the time. More than a revolution and a half before the rest were back onboard. “If some aren’t back already,” he whispered in embarrassment to himself.

Now or never. He climbed out of the hatch, back into the engineering compartment where he looked for a couple of heat masks. JOS was probably in the fitness arena already done with his tasking, attempting to train. The thought made NaN smile. Then he imagined JOS’s reaction to the nanobrains.

Likely he’d defecate on the spot. NaN chuckled to himself rounding the corner towards the fitness arena, the imagery of his hardline friend, eyes bulging with shock, mouth moving speechlessly. As if gasping for air. Too amazing.

He’d almost forgotten the need to be paranoid when he heard the whisper of a door from the fitness arena opening further down. “You’ll never guess what happened!” NaN called out.

His heart sank.

“What exactly happened?” Voiyn’s deep voice made the feeling worse. NaN swore he saw Voiyn look at his arm before he could shift it out of view.

Quick to reach for something, “Vahl’s compartment is absolute filth. It was so foul I had to hold my breath the entire time,” he mimed, placing his right hand over his nose and mouth. In an attempt to draw the attention away from hand holding the masks, covered in nanobrains, poorly hidden behind his back.

“And the masks?”

‘Think, think…’, “They’re to help with JOS’s training, I figure he’s probably not going hard enough in there,” he served the lie on silver.

“You’ll be surprised. He’s training harder than I’ve ever seen. Maybe being so close to death from that Boi-zht gave him some fire,” Voiyn said with great knowing. “You both should go through the Pit. Show the other Packs that Voiyn’s Horde is unafraid. This time show your faces proudly. You have a revolution and a half to explore. Don’t get yourselves killed. This next hunt will be big. Worth close to half your debts. Don’t waste the opportunity being reckless.” NaN couldn’t help but stare into the poisonous yellow eyes that reflected the light in the semi-shadow he stood in.

Voiyn carried on nonchalantly towards his private compartment. NaN was drop-jawed, ‘He knew. That crafty lizard knew,’ he looked at the matte black coating his hand. His footing returned to him as he began reading into what Voiyn had said. His mind flicked through an infinity of scenarios. “Yartūss*…” he shrugged to himself continuing on. That had been the only permission he could have wanted. Hopefully JOS wasn’t too dead to make this soujorn into the wild.

“Incredible,” NaN gave JOS a clap after watching his friend leap knee height, drenched in sweat.

JOS shot him a fierce look, he wasn’t the first interloper, JOS wasn’t in the mood. “Are you going to to stand there and stare, or join?”

NaN flashed a toothy grin, “You’ll never believe what happened.”

JOS’s face switched from anger, to exasperation.

“Remember how you told me about nanobrains?”

JOS sunk his body in annoyance.

“Wait!” NaN stopped him from turning around by raising his blackened arm.

JOS stared for a moment, “If this is some trick you’re playing, I’ll kick you so hard you’ll vomit,” he snarled. Marching towards NaN, his footsteps echoing off the walls, sounding harder with every step towards him.

Before JOS covered even half of the distance between them, NaN opened his hand like before. The unit long spikes stopped JOS in his tracks.

There it was. That face, it was even better, JOS looked like he’d just had a bucket of water thrown on him. NaN wasn’t sure if his smile could get any wider.

“Is that real?” JOS was still processing everything.

“Quite,” NaN responded haughtily, wanting to sound impressive.

“How?” was all he could say. ‘Got ‘im,’ NaN thought.

“That’s not even the best part,” he relaxed his fingers causing the spikes to recede, ‘I’ll have to remember that.’ “We have just receive notice of our allowance off this box, to go explore this Pit.”

“This is getting ludicrous. You’re telling me you have a nanobrain weapon,” JOS pointed at the matte black hand, “and somehow you secure us leave off the ship.”

“Something like that,” he waved towards the sanitation compartment, the nanobrains for med into talons. “Awesome,” NaN examined his hand. “Let’s go get back in our omni-suits, Valegbosh’s request.”

Donning their omni-suits, NaN exlained Voiyn’s offer, then he told JOS what he’d learnt going through each compartment. NaN finished up his magtags, deciding on a pair of black machining gloves instead of the matching pair. One puncture anywhere on his omni-suit would be a disaster to repair. ‘It’s better not to risk it,’ NaN reasoned with himself.

“How have you planned to tell Essec about the microscopic artificial intelligence attached to your arm?” JOS asked with those eyes that made him feel like a target. NaN hadn’t actually given it as much though as he probably should.

“By giving it back… if I can,” NaN hoped the joke would misdirect.

Nonplussed JOS responded,”That’s clever, I bet you have a voidsealed plan for getting off the ship without any permission. And at the same time, though unintentional, you stole someone elses belongings.”

NaN took the criticism for what it was, JOS knew he needed to hear it. As much as being wild was fun, the level of trouble for a single mistake beyond the protection of Voiyn’s Horde was too great.

“You can get what you want without asking sometimes too. Opportunities are everywhere it’s important to take advantage of them when you can. Which means you have to take risks.” NaN was all snark. He held his hand in the thumb and finger chevron sign of sarcasm.

“Since we’ve got our permission, let’s go out. Better learn something about this place if it’ll be our docking home for the foreseeable future,” JOS deadpanned.

“One of these rotation’s you’ll stop doing everything so stressfully,” Nan sighed. “You’re right though, let’s go learn about this filthy mess.”

Both exchanged a look of excitement.

“Ragilf.” JOS said.

“Fligar.” NaN responded, together turned in sync proceeding towards the hangar exit.

NaN remember, turning to JOS said, “Oh yeah, Voiyn said, don’t get us killed”

JOS punched him in the shoulder, sending him into the bulkhead.

There was a tense, silent moment between them. Then, JOS laughed. NaN joined, they laughed together until they couldn’t stand.

Finally able to catch their breath, they stood up, brushed themselves off, and went off into the plums of yellow, questionably nontoxic, gas.

* Yartūss – slang. Used when performing an undesirable task, (ex. “Oh well…”, “Git ‘r done…”, “Yartūss…”)

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Author, Chapter Two, Mini Series, Novel, Science Fiction, Writing

Act One | Chapter Two: Notan’s Pit | Episode Seven: Curiosity & Calamity

NaN did his part. If he didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to get away without notice. And, JOS would be impossible to convince otherwise. He grimaced, putting a polish shine to the last vanity in the sanitation compartment. He too a look at himself, the way his black hair shined purple and green as it passed through light. The four rectangular geometric dark brown marks next to his right eye caught his attention, which made him look into his eyes.

Never having seen them until recently it was still a shock. Silver with hidden stripes of blue, almost pointing to his birthmarks. The way it was set against his almost white skin. When he’d finally seen his reflection he was surprised he didn’t have the same features as JOS, both descendent of apes, he’d assumed they would look the same. He knew they had different markings, and colors.

JOS had too distinct of an appearance even as an ape. Mostly his skin was pale, like NaN’s, however he had fierce dark brown markings, a crescent that touched his top lip, where his skin was a white grey, and ended above his eyes, almost symmetrically. Another formed on his chin and remained unbroken down to his chest, where his heart would be.

He saw the last smudge of grease fade into a perfect shine from all angles. Satisfied, he moved on to the last on the list. NaN had to check all personal compartment filtration systems. A task scheduled specifically when Valevyinellin was docked. Not a whole lot to do if there was any problems with the filters floating in the Void.

While everyone was gone, NaN had to take advantage of this perfect opportunity to know his packmates better. Maybe. He had to be the one to volunteer for it, JOS would never appreciate the situation.

OhkBD’s was first. When the door hissed open NaN nearly leapt in shock. Every microunit* of surface was perfectly cleaned. They knew he’d be coming in. ‘Challenge accepted,’ NaN thought as he stepped into the spotless compartment.

The bed was against the left most wall of the square space, probably four units cubed. Opposite the door was a maze of monitors and what were, NaN could only assume, input devices. Probably all designed by OhkBD himself. ‘That’s the most dangerous thing in this entire compartment. If I do anything he’ll know, probably being recorded right now,’ he thought reaching the circular vent just above the layout.

He pulled the datacard from his coverup pocket, thumbed through its various function icons, selecting the EviroCert one, with the bacteria swimming, another OhkBD creation. Holding it up to the vent, it began reading the particulate count being filtered into this space.

NaN played the game that was also the data processing screen. He was the big black bacteria, eating the smaller bacteria in a three dimensional space. The game ended after you ate the last one in your territory and evolved, then the screen faded to white. A report of showing the contamination analysis faded back into view. Clean, within .001% variation from norm, it gave him a small bit of satisfaction to know he was literally polluting OhkBD’s space.

‘Not this time. OhkBD, your guard’s way too high my mate, we’ll learn about you some other way,’ NaN thought, turning to leave the compartment, confident, not wanting to give away his disappointment.

Next was Vahl, “This’ll be interesting,” he mumbled checking off OhkBD’s compartment. He need to think of a way to get his hands on a usable weapon, and some kind of knowledge about Notan’s Pit and how it worked. Maybe not far, not into the crowds. If they got ahead of themselves they would die. Something came together, “It’s the best alibi if we get caught. Just completing the checklist.” No one would question them, the display of death was convincing enough, even for NaN.

NaN opened Vahl’s door, assailing his olfactory senses with a cacophony of smell, which was somehow dominated by the stink of sulfur. Scanning the dimly lit compartment, NaN regretted taking this task, ‘Funny how wen you seek something, the universe provides.’ He scratched his head in frustration, face plastered in a look of disgust.

One more breath of fresh, as fresh as he’d ever known it, air. Bravely he entered, breath held.

His eyes darted around, searching the piles of scrap on the floor, whilst maneuvering through them. In the corner was biomaterial forming some kind of bed, nest. Heat was emanating from it, probably the source of the smell. NaN thanked him self for having good lung capacity, as his eyes began to water.

‘Somehow,’he thought putting his datacard up to the vent, ‘I have a feeling they’re all like this. Trying to keep us from their things, instead of hiding the real treasure, their full personalities. Like I would steal from them, I have to live with these beings.’

OhkBD is in VirtualSpace rather than reality in his compartment, and is protective, bordering hyper paranoid. Judging by his ridiculous rig with nineteen or more cameras, he was also probably very insecure outside of his intangible world. Every pinhole could’ve been one as far as he was concerned. Vahl seems to have nothing to hide, seeing as he so delicately cares for his personal space. NaN couldn’t say either way, the Ioikheil had a personality much like how his compartment looked.

The EviroCert completed, perfectly normal readings, not that he wanted to remove his other hand from his nose and mouth to bask in it. Using the last of his held breath he examined the walls of the compartment. Still, and in-motion images lined the walls, NaN couldn’t tell if they were supposed to be gory or pornographic. Either way, they were effective at warding him from the space.

There hadn’t been much to expect, but their datacards would only generate the codes for their compartments once per docking. Once a compartment was checked off, it’d be back in restricted access. Giving him one shot at a look, who knows how often.

“Best is last,” he said to himself snaking the thin electronics device between his fingers. ‘Probably not,’ he thought. ‘There’ll be nothing visible, but thousands of tiny hidden digital eyes watching and following me,’ he couldn’t control a giggle as he thought about how true a statement like that might be.

Of all the members of Voiyn’s Horde, Essec was by far the most mysterious. Speaking his mind here and there, but otherwise kept to himself. Inside the compartment, behind the door that JOS and he practically worshiped. The one he was standing front of.

NaN placed his datacard against the same sized compartment lock. He watch, eagerly waiting to see the red “Forbidden” pyramid, switch to “UNLOCKED” in gold on the screen.

“Sa-ka!” he exclaimed reading the word with excitement. His body felt like it was on autopilot, numb and out of control from hyping up his entrance into Essec’s compartment. This time the surprise was pleasant, he didn’t think it’d be possible with Essec’s mysterious behavior, there was no way Nan’d expected this.

There had to be at least one hundred awards and certificates from various institutions and systems. The largest NaN needed to be all the way in the compartment to see. A large canvas banner in some impossible language, a creature’s decapitate head held by what looked like Essec’s arm filled the left side of the image.

NaN imagined a scene where Essec stood as the executioner for his bounty. Holding it’s severed remenants for all to see, the crowd cheering for blood. ‘I’ll ask,’ he said to himself. ‘Maybe I’ll ask.” JOS would want to hear anything about outside the Vale.

Ever since the first rotation they’d met, when JOS punched him back for hitting someone JOS was friends with. They fought like younglings, NaN touched the spot where his nose had been broekn. Even since then, NaN and JOS were bound by friendship to leave this forsaken section of space. Information had always been kept hidden, now he knew they had genuine access to the real thing. He’d always been sure that there had to be more out there, too much of reality argued for that point. Now he was standing amongst the treasures commemorating the exploits of one of his packmates, whom has been outside the Vale.

The compartment wall to his right was lined with weapons, projectile and melee. All the classic Juxl weapons were there, the AP6, the GRØ-Tohrax, a single handed energy projectile weapon. Easy to recognize from the cylindrical power core that hung from the users waist from the thick cable connected to the hand hold of the weapon. Some he recognized, most he couldn’t even imagine how to operate. Or their purposes.

NaN checked the vent before he fed into his fascination with weaponry. Didn’t need to get distracted at the last moment. He hadn’t noticed in Vahl’s room, but his little bacteria had maintained it’s evolution and now needed to pray on other, bigger bacteria. All good. He slipped the card back into his huge pocket.

NaN went over the exotic pieces first, one at a time, inspecting their uniqueness, feeling the strangeness of the materials origin. Careful to keep his limbs he restrained himself from any lingering touches on any of the devices. The very last one he came to was the least attractive on the rack, a matte black sphere. It’s commonness made NaN that much more intrigued by it.

He reached out to feel the material, at his touch the sphere seemed to come to life. The material reached out, grabbing at his hand. NaN panicked, ripping, pulling, biting to escape the things grasp. Nothing worked, this was the worst.

NaN wondered if this was some new crew ritual intended for a laugh, ‘No Essec isn’t that funny,’ he confirmed mentally. Then, what if it was far worse, if this device was anything like the blood feeders he’d heard of. The thought was too much. Cutting off his own hand might be better then the embarrassment of being found like this.

NaN flew from Essec’s compartment as near the speed of light his body could manage. His favorite hiding hatch was on this level, in the engineering compartment. ‘Something, something…’ coming up with ideas felt as futile as swimming in space, “Think of something!” he yelled at no one.

The glassy black liquid-like material began to solidify, fingers first, then all the way down to his elbow. The device had eaten away the material in its path as it had formed to NaN’s arm. NaN spread his fingers apart. Spikes shived instantly into the air from every fingertip. Again. Same thing. Then it came to him, ‘Nanobrains.’ It’d always been something he wanted to see, he’d convinced himself they were made up stories to scare young ones about the future. Maybe they would be able to go a little be further than just outside now. If he was stuck with it, may as well own it.

*microunit – micrometer

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Author, Chapter Two, Mini Series, Novel, Science Fiction, Writing

Act One | Chapter Two: Notan’s Pit | Episode Six: Collection & Comfort

“Beings have died for less than assaulting a packmate,” Essec reminded his potential victim.

“You’re the one to do it?” garbled ML.

“Twitch wrong,” Essec invited, still as carved stone.

The moment between them hung in time, JOS tried to search for some kind of improvised weapon. There were too many careful, watching, eyes, and talented hands in their own methods of death to do anything. Not that he could really be of any help, but Essec was protecting him. there was an obligation for him to do something. From everywhere around him came the intense feeling of being in focus, having all attention directed at him.

Uneasy JOS stayed frozen in place, feeling the erratic palpitations in his neck and teeth.

“Nothings like you. Not worth the damage you could cause.” The way the sound of its footsteps moving away, into the crowd, put JOS a little at ease.

“Ræpk*. Te tu nao xilach,” Essec called after the being. JOS tried to remember what all the words meant in Notanish, he could only remember that it was a very insulting farewell. Usually reserved for the Double Dosca.

Reading the situation he turned back to face Voiyn. Less than an arms-length away from the Vale Hound, senses on full alert.

Muffled gurgling suddenly in his ear piece caused him to whip his head around. What he faced was a creature drowning in its own neon blue blood. Essec stood behind the thing, one hand restraining the fowl, ruddy, gelatinous head. Infinite tiny serrated teeth were exposed, pulsing with each attempt at breath. The other of Essec’s hands performed the killing stroke deep into the spot where JOS’s trachea would’ve been.

“That confirms it,” Essec said to himself.

No one asked what he meant. The Hounds would listen when he decided they required an explanation.

“Sorry you and your new friend couldn’t hangout longer,” NaN tried really hard. OhkBD laughed weakly.

JOS couldn’t respond, he was still trapped in fear of the blade in the creatures extremity, now dangling lifelessly at its side. He received a hard look from Essec, “Let’s move, we don’t need to give his friends any time to find him like this.”

Right, back to Valevyinellin. JOS felt like tearing himself to pieces over the whole thing. There was nothing he could’ve done. He wasn’t fast enough, well enough armed, experienced enough. Who was he kidding, he’d failed his confidence most. Something not unfamiliar to him, JOS would force Essec to teach him anything that he could convince the Haw-Kow to teach. Not a single doubt, a strategy began to form . Everything it would take for him to grow. That never again would he recognize being this self.

It’s what generated him so much favor in the Servitude Colony. Instead of shrinking like others, JOS spent valuable time picking up new skills, learning more effective methods. He remembered the approach of his fifteenth cycle, how angry been to still be so deep in.

Reality checked back. Giving JOS the ideal team, along with the closest person he’s ever known, his hard work had payed off.

Nerves subsided he set his mind back in the moment. Returning to Valevyinellin as one piece.

———————————————————————————————–

Back aboard, Vahl couldn’t resist, “I just lost ten thousand because you didn’t get skewered.”

“Thank by the by,” OhkBD offered JOS and NaN a hand to shake, a third placed in front of Vahl expectantly.

NaN grabbed the hand and shook exuberantly, JOS grabbed it reluctantly. Vahl batted it away, “Like lᴂr I’m paying up right now. You know you only get paid if they make it five cycles. If you die before that, then the money is mine.”

“5 cycles?”, Nan feigned bewilderment, “Can you both even make it that long at your advanced age?”

The hangar echoed with raucous laughter. The tension of the moment before non existent.

“Prepare for the gathering,” Voiyn’s command redirecting their focus.

“How do we prepare?” NaN asked. Eager to do anything to get JOS back on good terms quick. At least pretend that’s what he wanted to do. JOS hesitated back there. While he felt bad, he knew JOS well enough. He’d have to follow whatever new path his friend chose, guaranteed he would learn a bunch of crazy new things. Just thinking about it got NaN excited.

“Stay. Put.” Three voices chorused, Voiyn stood there. The look said everything, crafty lizard, ‘No one will be coming to save you.’ Or at least that’s what NaN wanted to interpret it as.

“You two are restricted on board with me.” Voiyn gave the final verdict.

He’d been planning this for too long, of course they wouldn’t be able to stay in their new omni suits. They’d have to get into their normal work gear anyway. “Yes Valegbosh!”, JOS saluted.

“Yes Valegbosh!” NaN followed as earnestly as he could, not wanting to appear to be scheming. JOS knew all about his intelligent personality. He just preferred if everyone thought he was simple, less pressure to do the right thing. Which right now, in his mind, was making sure JOS was happy. A bit of mischief is exactly what NaN had in mind.

“Have we been paid BD?”, Voiyn asked.

Spindly fingers furiously weaved complex motions in the nearby Brain access. “Looks like it,” OhkBD confirmed.

“Divide the earnings appropriately. You have three revolutions*. Be back for the final attendance. Go! Enjoy yourselves, it’s been a while. I will be negotiating with the Seven Hound’s Bounty. During our e.r. meeting we will discuss the perimeters of our next hunt,” Voiyn finished debriefing them. “Adjourned.”

The crew departed until it was only the two of them left. “What happened?”, he asked JOS.

“Nothing really, I just bumped shoulders with that thing,” JOS admitted.

NaN cackled, “That nasty thing really wanted you dead for it too.” He couldn’t help it, something about JOS always invited that kind of trouble. It’s why NaN could stand to be around such a rule-follower for so long.

“I’ll get Essec to teach me so it never happens a second time,” JOS was vim and verve.

“Sounds like fun,” NaN punched JOS in the shoulder. “It’ll be just like at the colony, except we won’t be guessing.” JOS shot an ‘are-you-kidding-me-you’re-going-to-do-this-too’ look. NaN winked back, “What are we going to do while the Double Dosca and Essec are out?”

“Probably complete the rest of our responsibilities. Then I was thinking about starting some physical training.” Already JOS was aiming to better himself. More reason for NaN to get his friends mind off the subject.

This is what always happened. JOS gets reprimanded, destroying his confidence. Then he tears himself down to atoms doing these “routines” all for the sake of some little mistake. NaN made it his duty as a friend to make sure his pralo had fun too.

“Work first,” he agreed. “I’ve got an idea for some training after,” Nan hid his dastardly grin.

 

 

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