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.”

It is my very great honor to bring you the first book from the fluxDominion,

THE CARNAGE OF PALTOCK

The most important piece for any historian of the fluxDominion. Written by Toretia Wailxl the personal assistant to the mightiest of Supreme Leshers, Umixquios the Grand. About his life and how he became the Grandest Umixquios in Preshood history.

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

Act One | Chapter Four | Episode Fifteen: Combat

Voiyn stepped through the portal connecting both ships. The Golden Reptile was lit by the emergency lights to dread effect.

Nothing in the first compartment, mostly ammo and things of low value stored in synth-metal crates. His magboots active he had no problem stalking through the flotsam. There was no code required to exit this space, he pressed the switch. On emergency power the doors slid open slowly.

They were yet unaware of his presence, giving him a little time, he thought.

His boots clicked against the ground, he followed his instinct to the left. A hatch began to open, he readied himself for the fight. A pair of sycophants wet themselves at the sight of him, both barely up to his hips. The pair cowered back into their compartment for safety. None were safe here.

He closed the distance slowly, growling. Through his vocal emitter Voiyn’s long growl sounded like some dark god from long ago. Fearful, the iyediu* backed into a corner.

Having them cornered, Voiyn leaned forward putting his large golden helmet microunits from either face. “Where is he?!” Voiyn asked through clenched teeth.

Both unable to speak out of fear pointed further down the corridor. One swiped of his palm and both were unconscious. Slamming his right palm into the first, who’s head struck the other in the swelling brain gland that protruded from the side of its head.

Forgetting them he continued on. They had been helpful but not specific. The more time he spent here the more chance he’d have to fight someone with real skill. He opened every door in his path, and peon after peon attempted to attack him. So many that the corridor was strewn with bodies floating, or stuck to the bulkhead at random some missing body parts. There were a few more doors before he reached the rear of the ship, if those iyediu* were wrong, he’d be taking them back with the foundling. There was something unusual about so many crewmen aboard the ship, however it matched the rumors about the Seven Hounds Bounty. The faces never wanting to dirty their hands unless it was worth it.

Two more doors that he’d had to crack with OhkBD’s programming and there he was bundled up, floating aimlessly throughout the compartment. Even through his rage Voiyn had to suppress the urge to laugh. Cutting the bonds with his clawed gauntlets finally the gag. “Valgebosh! I can’t believe you came,” NaN shouted, ecstatic.

“There’s no time. Let’s leave,” Voiyn began dragging him through the corridor from which he’d just come.

Moving through the littered bodies, some of whom where now awake, he noticed a figure in the distance. She was moving towards him, part of him wished she’d tried to highjack his ship, the optical lock would focus and burn the eyes off anyone whom hadn’t been registered by him to fly it. The creature seemed feminine, a black mask covered the face, and her body seemed wrapped in a similar material.

She was using the walls to bound in his direction, Voiyn put a hand up to signal NaN to stop. Data streamed into his oculars as the K8’s brain examined her. Projecting the data in fine streams. A targeting glyph pointed at the upper left of her abdomen, and one at the base of her skull, the weakest points on her body. Voiyn wanted to maim, not kill. She was within a body length and he readied himself for the attack.

The black figure leapt forward, thrusting a foot out to stomp his helmet. Casually Voiyn moved his head out of the way, whilst simultaneously grabbing her leg at the knee. To his surprise she used the momentum she’d built to fold back over, as she kicked out of his grasp he felt a slice against his thigh. He watched her slip through his legs, swimming in the lack of gravity. Stepping back, he swung his elbow where her head should have been behind him. He’d missed the mask by a finger width. Fortunately NaN had leapt back out of combat range. Carrying over the rest of his momentum he lashed out with his right hand, full extension rotating of the shoulder to grab the mask of the wretch. Catching it he squeezed with all his might, the poly-synthetic mask burst into a glitter of the glossy black. His claws had marred the already mangled face beneath in four even trails from each corner of her face. Carrying through with his attack, he lifted one of his magboots off the deck and slammed it into her chest. A sickening crunch reverberated through Voiyn’s leg he was sure that he’d broken a few things within the foul thing. The force sending her flying at speed down the corridor, the shard that had been her weapon floated harmlessly before NaN.

Voiyn motioned for him to take it. He did with the look like when he’d been purchased to crew the Valevyinellen. That maternal instinct in Voiyn swelled with pride. He ignored it as quickly as it had flooded him. Finding the compartment he’d entered was simple enough, making sure that NaN boarded the ship first, lest there be any unexpected surprises. Voiyn entered behind the floating child magboots falling heavily on the bulwark of the K8’s hook. “To the cockpit. We need to leave. I need to go repair my epidermis,” Voiyn commanded.

They split directions, as Voiyn made it to the biorepair deck, he heard the distinct closing of the hook. The two wires chinking as they disconnected from the Kal’rax Fnerckt. Voiyn sat down to examine his wound, it wasn’t too bad though the blue blood was seeping out rather profusely. Her weapon was clean so the wound was as well. He grabbed an auto-suture and began stapling the gash with sterile twine ensuring that his omnisuit was not included. Finished, he stood and limped towards the cockpit where NaN awaited him.

White hot pain suddenly lanced through his torso, he knew their escape had been too easy.

It is my very great honor to bring you the first book from the fluxDominion,

THE CARNAGE OF PALTOCK

The most important piece for any historian of the fluxDominion. Written by Toretia Wailxl the personal assistant to the mightiest of Supreme Leshers, Umixquios the Grand. About his life and how he became the Grandest Umixquios in Preshood history.

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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

It is my very great honor to bring you the first book from the fluxDominion,

THE CARNAGE OF PALTOCK!

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Act One | Chapter Three | Episode Twelve: Enraged

Voiyn put the young one down to sleep. Wasting no time he informed the others of the small amount of information he’d been able to gather from the broken words. Vahl and OhkBD were in the main hold awaiting Voiyn’s return with the two boys to observe their prescribed punishment which was forgone after the proceedings. Unfortunately he had to disappoint because of the significant investment that had gone into acquiring those two apes.

“OhkBD get to your position in the cockpit. Prepare Valeviyenellin for launch,” Voiyn was sure to snarl, expressing his need for urgency, “Vahl get to the guns. We need our disabling munitions locked into place.”

“Are we going to need Essec? he’s still offboard,” OhkBD asked meekly.

“Reach him. Inform him that the black haired one has been taken by the Seven Hounds. We need to get out of this rock and onto their scent if we wish to retrieve him in one piece. Request that he speak with Notan about this matter. He has permission to tempt the yüel* with anything short of this ship, my personal transport, and anything living to get him to force his hand in the matter,” Voiyn couldn’t remember needing to say so much in a long while. OhkBD diverged on his way to the cockpit, while Voiyn went to prepare for a fight. His Omnisuit had been modified over many cycles to allow him total freedom of movement within the grip of the Void. One-hundred and twenty circuits of life support, was enough time for any operation.

He would gladly show these scum what it is like to put themselves against a true Valegbosh. One whom earned their title with their own blood, rather than by standing on piles of dead, with none other to claim it as with Poichal Nrkthah*. Foul defiler of the noble title Vale Hound.

Sealing his suit with his golden helm, he moved with jarring speed to the cockpit. There Vahl was in his seat, optics fitted against his sclera, guns at the ready, “Non-lethal’s loaded Valegbosh.”

“Excellent.”

OhkBD was in his control position, multiple arms flying furiously between his multiple input devices. “BD, find their ship first. If there’s no trace search all bandwidth channels for the foundling’s datacards. That is what they’re for correct,” Voiyn posed rhetorically. “Twenty beats ahead Valegbosh,” OhkBD gave his affirmation of the command. Voiyn finishing his preflight checks lamented the empty chair, but Essec would serve a more functional purpose. Then sat in his own command console, inserting his hands into the blue and red orbs respectively and began to lift the Valeviyenellin off the deck.

An unsolicited com-channel opened on the display projecting into his eyes, “Not even going to let me know you’re leaving,” Notan’s overfed voice oozed through the audio outputs against his cranium. Voiyn restrained his anger, the pay for this next one was too great, “The crew you hired to accompany us has taken one of my crew, and my personal property. From your noble house no less. I have placed a high value on the young one now in their possession it is imperative that he is returned to me intact. My best, Essec,” he made sure to hiss the name with menace,” will be speaking with you shortly. If all you need is a farewell. Consider this farewell for now. Have your men open my docking hatch. I swear to return the moment I have retrieved what is mine.”

“Then I wish you good fortune Voiyn Valegbosh,” the sickly voice cut off. It was all he could do to resist the primal urge to sink his poisoned fangs into something. Being pushed into a corner made Voiyn into something to be feared.

“Let’s go get our young,” Voiyn felt the maternal urge of his reptilian asexuality taking over, as he willed the barrier to close off his ship to the living Pit. He spun the ship around towards the porthole leading out of the rock. Klaxons rang outside the ship, and caution lighting signaled that the space was being opened into the Vale. “Do we have them yet?” Voiyn demanded.

“Lock on the datacard has been successful, they’re moving quickly,” OhkBD spoke as fast as his hands moved.

“Put it on my screen, I’m going to chase them down. They’re going to remember why we remain unmolestable in this Pit Territory,” Voiyn caught the reticule on his optics, pointed the Valeviyenellin at it, and blasted out of Notan’s Pit in wrapped in the fiery cloak that scored the docking bay he’d left behind in a flash.

It is my very great honor to bring you the first book from the fluxDominion,

THE CARNAGE OF PALTOCK!

Be sure to stop by and become a fan of The Carnage of Paltock’s Crowdfunding Campaign.

Accessible at thefluxdominion.pubslush.com

Help support the expansion of the fluxDominion!

Be sure to stop by and become a fan of The Carnage of Paltock’s Crowdfunding Campaign.

Accessible at thefluxdominion.pubslush.com

Help support the expansion of the fluxDominion!

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Act One | Chapter Two: Notan’s Pit | Episode Five: Welcome Return

Docking procedures confirmed, Valevyinellin was set to take its place in the mudball known as Notan’s Pit. For Voiyn’s Hounds, the closest thing to a terrestrial home. JOS’s prisoner, Rooioe Çör, remained fully restrained, especially his oral cavity. Uncovered, it was impossible to resist the urge to break one of his jaw hinges. Prattling on about how connected he is in the Corporations. He was the third catch he’d seen making such lofty claims. It’d probably be the third time no there would be no reaction against Voiyn.

“You’re going to help pay for these,” JOS jibed. Pulling on the collar of his omni-suit.

“Not a bad chunk either.” NaN leapt on the prostrated body, poking hard into it’s chest. “You’re lucky it was him,” pointing at JOS, “not me.” NaN winked, jabbing again, ego swollen.

The pedal exit door hissed open, the rest of the Hounds stood around anxious to exit the ship, no matter how briefly. “ You two better have all the credentials prepared on this one. We want it quick, we’d like to enjoy ourselves as long as possible.” Vahl’s voice impetuous, and alpha.

“Don’t worry about what we’re doing. We haven’t made a mistake to date.” NaN beat his chest right back.

“Call on me after you do, then we’ll talk.” Vahl threw up an obscene gesture, “Pull your weight first, you’ve got a long way until you’ll touch black.” OhkBD put the final word on it, “You’ll be near our age before you can even dream of erasing your debt at this rate.” The Double Dorsca crossed forelimbs.

JOS couldn’t help but repeat the image of OhkBD saying “..at this rate..” scanning him with those spindly fingers. He made a face thinking about it again. ‘One of these days you’ll change your opinion, we’re doing better at this than you ever did.’ JOS started building back his confidence.

“Get ready grubs, stay close. Bad things happen to things with soft flesh in in Notan’s Pit.” Vahl, malicious as possible.

Essec reassured them with a touch. “Anything reaches for you and they lose a limb.”

“Why you got to coddle the little ovellies*,” Vahl pushed.

“Do you remember how it is to be fresh out of the colony? Have your fun, they need to learn. But they’ll know they’re protected from things outside they aren’t prepared for,” Essec’s voice remained cold, and direct. Vahl didn’t make another sound as the crew exited Valevyinellin together.

JOS and NaN were advised to keep their helmets on to withhold their species, and more importantly their age from the waiting predators. Together they carried their catch one arm holding the magtray. A nasty smoke plumed in sheets of red and brownish yellow as Voiyn’s Hounds left the ship.

Vulgar gambling and excess occurred on the outside of his vision. He didn’t remove his eyes from the grime encrusted catacomb, and Voiyn’s back. “Voiyn’s got vekhæ*.” A faceless voice called out from some random corner, causing a lump to form in his throat. JOS did his best to avoid tensing up as the cavernous pathways erupted with vile calls, and a flurry of flying objects.

Maintaining his poise was key, not to be intimidated. His helmet took a blow from something orange and slimy, obscuring the left part of his vision. There were red chunks of something biological in the ooze. Hopefully this would be a once through experience. With a reputation, respect would be given freely, rather than tolerate this.

The rest of his confidence stemmed from the three at his back, and it was he who made pulled the lever. Remembering the takedown set his shoulders back, confident and bold. He followed right. Into the teeming marketplace, a motionless glace around showed beings of all types. Trading, and engaging in what would certainly be considered “illegal” in front of a corporate official. Concerns like those were best left elsewhere. One wrong look could see him with a slug punched through his cranium.

As they moved further into Notan’s Pit the jeering crowds died with the lack of a reaction. NaN, and he had held firm. The Hounds continued their march to The Grand Lair, Notan’s private entertainment compartment. As Voiyn described it on the way in, “The richest hub in the Pit. Listening is how we stay ahead.” His ears would stay hyper vigilant, even if he had no idea what was being said. JOS would do his best to latch onto anything he could grasp.

At the end of the market would be a descending helix, leading to insect maze that made up the asteroid-made livable. Reaching the bottom, the six plus one were lead into a vaulted domed space, filled with immaculate scenes of debauchery at its most refined. On grand display in the center of the room, on decorated platforms; a female of some beautiful lethal species, and a male strong, and powerful looking. Both in chains, linked to a torture mechanism meant to keep their bodies suspended. All gold.

Very off putting against the shifting colors in the semi-translucent floors and ceiling.

She was being decorated. Pierced with lavish jewels, skin marked with knife and ink, all in a seductive display for the sinister creature atop the throne with a perfect view of the bizarre spectacle. Across from her the male was being encased in some precious alloy, a slow process so that the metal would bond to the exoskeleton without damaging its internal organs. JOS had heard about ancient practices like this, they sealed the body to have the energy protect them for eternity.

It was so unbelievably quiet. The realization of the sound proofing somehow made it much more twisted.

“Ah! Welcome Voiyn!” The creature JOS could only guess was Notan, rose taking small devices out from around his neck. Overfed, what used to be muscle was now oozing flesh between plates of natural calcium on his front and back. Loud and over dramatic, his gesture caused his blubber to jiggle. “I see you’ve go my coñnä*. You’re so quick, I’ve got a lot of trust for you.” JOS repressed the sick feeling, watching the crusted fold jump and crack apart as Notan stroked his leader’s ego. Or, the constant hanging yellow drip from the corner of his mouth.

“After all this time doing work for me. I think you deserve a better opportunity. Something one pack could never do alone, a very big hunt.” Notan stood nearly as tall as Voiyn, but danced around him like some small excited thing. “Direct from the corp head hunters, right off the top of the list. 719,000,000orn.” Notan exposed his thick, herbivorous disgusting teeth in a snarl as he stepped up onto the platform, dripping the molten element down his slaves front. Drinking in the silent scream.

Never moved in either direction, Voiyn replied,”Sounds worth hearing about. Though I don’t think my two newest are ready, yet. Since they made their first catch, I can’t tell them no if they want in.” Voiyn paused, looking over NaN, and him. “I am sure you have another pack in mind for us. Before that I would like to ensure our payment.” Voiyn maintained his posture.

Notan’s thick, encrusted finger motioned across the pavilion to a half-moon shaped ethylalch* station and lounge. Seating five shadowy figures. JOS followed the stub across each of the unique faces, all races unknown to him. Every one of them equally dangerous.

“Seven Hands.” Vahl mouthed quietly behind them.

“If we must. The price is too large to pass.” Voiyn responded.

“Good,” Notan purred,”you’ve always been my number one, because you understand so well how my business operates.” Pure, disgusting, honey.

“Have your technicians relay the appropriate link to us on the V-alg Comm.” Voiyn ended the conversation, moving towards the exit. “Don’t forget to include a new magtray in my earnings. You’ll thank me.”

JOS stayed in step, feeding of the confidence exuding from the being before him. Returning up the dank passageways, to the Valevyinellin. He couldn’t help but think how amazing the Vocal-Algorithmic Communication system is. Instantly translating communications into Mean Language, being the commonality between all languages know to the V-algComm’s database.

Distracted by his thoughts, his shoulder met with a passerby’s. “Gxbo fule pukoda siōp.” JOS barely blinked, and Essec was there, between him and the other. All he could really see were the wall stained rags around the creatures shoulders, Essec’s back took up the rest of his view. His eyes couldn’t help but focus on the hand ready on the thin blade behind Essec’s back.

Ovellies – babies, younglings

vekhæ – cabin boys, whipping boys

coñnä – forced submissive partner

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Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode Four: The Hunt

JOS watched the heavens become swallowed by the opening above as the eased into the ships depths.
“Activate tracking, and set friendlies.” Voiyn growled.
“How?”, JOS couldn’t figure it out.
“Fix your pupils to the target icon in the upper right.”
He’d hardly noticed the images in his peripherals. JOS focused on the dot inside of a circle.
Non-Combatants Target
Looking into the blackness the brain continued.
Team Target
A quick shift of his faceplate towards Voiyn, the computer generated outline lagged to keep up with the subtly of his vision.
Hold
Selected
More?
Turning to NaN made his magboots click audibly. Both targets set, he peered back into the darkness.
No Target Selected
Continue?
“Yes.”
Tracking Activated
Select New Target
The text blinked, shifting into the upper left field of his vision. Aware of the menu icons, JOS took a moment to gain some familiarity with them: Screen Customization, ‘After the mission.’, Vision Modification, Audio Modification, and Target Tracking. He Opened the Vision mod menu first: Standard, Infrared, and UltraViolet. JOS activated the Infrared.
Everything went black, except the onscreen images. He stared hoping to watch the screen change, to his chagrin he blinked. Activating the Infrared imagery. JOS gaped as he viewed the elaborately etched tunnel the descended into. Beautiful and terrifying images of titan-like creatures, of a more alien origin than the craft they were searching. Locked in combat, consumed by flames.
The lift ceased. Before them a tall door, the etching of two opposing giants seeming to keep the door locked by way of their contest of strength.
“NaN, are you seeing this?”
“See what? Black.” NaN’s voice dripping in sarcasm,”There’s lots, and lots of black.”
“Why are you so slow?” JOS asked no one,”Go to the Vision Mod menu and turn on IR.”
All three stood in silence while NaN adjusted his sight.
“Woah…”
JOS watched NaN as he surveyed above. Remembering their purpose JOS was surprised by Voiyn’s patience.
Voiyn slipped the device from his shoulder again, placing it up against the only smooth space along the side of the door. Roughly the same size as the device. The same glow appeared, only now the figures in the door seemed to ball up their hands. Rapping the same sequence, the two appeared to pull the door apart.
Beyond the entrance lay a vast empty space. A pile of wreckage discarded in the corner. Some other Pack had picked the ship clean of any and all technologies. It was a near guarantee the only thing of value was the living being within these walls, and the vessel he used to get here.
JOS wondered how one could escape a Pack. Voiyn’s Hounds would’ve give chase to the ends of The Vale if NaN, or he attempted the same.
“Spread out. Stay equadistant on my flanks. Weapons ready, look for any heat he’s left behind.”
Simultaneous clicks as all three detached their weapons. JOS looked to see the stun stick in Voiyn’s massive grip, a heavy 17(weight). Too bad for anything on the receiving end. He ventured out to the left, the enormous cavity opening into a circular hemisphere, eventually leveling of into a straight line. Making sure his position was in line with the other two.
Nothing to see but the ornamental imagery surrounding them. He passed through the black limit of his IR mod scanning everything dutifully, “Nothing to see on the left.” JOS announced.
“Same here.” NaN checked in.
They continued in silence, JOS examined the walls looking for any mechanism to open, glow of any kind, and trying to take some sort of knowledge of this lost race. Definitely fascinated, and dedicated to war, many of the images of clashing dichotomies; vessels, infantry, creatures in single combat. Once he could afford his own, he’d have to get an ImageryCollector.
UltraViolet might reveal something different about the artwork, he surmised. JOS flicked his eyes to the vismod. Blinking, again set the new modification, the light was brilliant and deep blue and black, certainly bringing out an incredible new quality to the art. Revealing motion in the application of the UV reactive substance.
“I’ve got a faint lock on his ship mixed in with the trash, and a trail of just glowing blood going back into the ship.” NaN called, forcing JOS to drag himself to the opposite side of the hangar, he switched the mod back to IR. His breathing felt sharp as he tracked the five hundred units, while trying unsuccessfully to make no noise.
Joining the other two, Voiyn gave JOS a hand sign to maintain silence. He tiptoed the last few steps behind NaN to the right of the entryway. Voiyn opposite, ready to watch their rear, he used the device, JOS notice the just barely glowing pool at the foot of the door. Voiyn manipulated the panel, causing the door to groan open. JOS scrunched his face as they lost their surprise. The moment the door was wide enough, NaN slipped in, JOS stayed right on his heels covering the left.
Every step on time with their heartbeat. Focused and calm. Corridor width, seven units. Height, five units. No heat signatures yet, “See any doors?” After a hundred units, JOS had to ask.
“I’m looking at the same things pralo. Are we missing anything boss?” NaN replied.
“You are performing excellently. Continue forward.” The reptile commanded soothingly.
A deep breath, JOS returned his focus to the long corridor ahead.
“Get that?” A new trail of blood.
“Yep.”
Adrenaline kicked in, JOS could feel himself running. His mind still, focused, body reacting instantaneous. Every moment dedicated to seeing a limb, or some other recognizable shape giving him the signal to squeeze the lever sending the being into a severe electro-paralysis.
Two-hundred units down.
Three hundred.
The drops of blood became more frequent, glowing brighter, they continued along in the grey blackness of the corridor.
Twenty more units and the blood veered off behind a bulkhead. A fresh smear on the compartment control. NaN palmed the panel, opening the door. As one they entered the room. A concert of movement, practiced as young boys while they were supposed to sleep. Just like the games back then, only real.
JOS caught a couple of empty hand prints, bi digit, multi-limbed. His pace increased, feeling how close he was to bearing down on his first. Blood, rushing intently. All nerves screaming for the moment, his vision lit up white with what looked like a limb.
Sure of his sight, his suit confirmed the life signs, and range.
<span A million lights buzzed in a chaotic sphere of light. Temporarily overloading the IR cameras. Once the lights dimmed, JOS took off to pin down the catch. Three limbs out of each shoulder joint, a thin creature. He placed his magboot on the thing’s middle while NaN and Voiyn set to restraining all those arms.
“The went perfectly. Well done, both of you. You didn’t give him an opportunity to counter you. You both are definitely riding on the next lethal hunt. Very smooth.” Voiyn complimented, “We need to get him back to Valevyinellin. Electro-paralysis after a grievous injury can cause vital systems to shut down in some species. Not worth a whole lot but experience if he’s dead.” Voiyn gave his congratulations.
Getting the creatures body back to K8 would be simple enough. Jumping back to the K8 would be the only place they needed luck. Voiyn made it clear that he would handle the task. “You pups need to learn to orient yourself in space still. This thing’s not even heavy.” As he reactivated the lift, sending the giants back to combat.
“Can you show me how to operate that?” JOS pointed at the device Voiyn had been using to unlock the ship with.
“The Ancient’s Key.”Voiyn mused,”One rotation. You will probably have your own.” Soundlessly they rose back up into the brilliance of the Vale.
JOS took the response as yes. Somehow it seemed Voiyn was saying more than that. Surely if there was other meaning, it would reveal itself in time. The K8-Blackstar looked intimidating hovering so close. Imagining being the focus of the death machine sent a chill. The lift reached the top, automatically sealing the handmade ship. ‘I still can’t believe we just pulled that off so well.’ JOS still high on his endorphins, shocked in mental disbelief.
“You’re going to have to use me as your outboard hand holds.” Voiyn motioned the two over, positioning himself for their benefit.
NaN went first this time, JOS stay right behind him, he swore he heard the distinct sound of the stun stick going off, or maybe it was Voiyn leaping off after them.

Comeback next week for the start of Chapter Two, come to Notan’s Pit your new home from home maybe?

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Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode Three: Breaking-in

K8 successfully traversed the contraction. JOS looked out of the viewport to see the hulking, angular remains of an Ancient’s ship. The biggest he’d seen this intact. Voiyn went into a flurry of action, stopped, turned to face the compartment. “K8 has an amazing sensorial array. First, infrared.”, he instructed.

Poomph!

The ship rocked on invisible threads in the sea of nothing, as the IR drones launched from it’s belly. Ten shells in all, each containing five probes. Have a unit in size, and as black as the void, it was impossible for JOS to follow as they worked.

“No external heat, loiñl*must be defending inside. Don’t die little monkie…” Voiyn silenced the tiny OhkBD with a jab from his talon. In the immediate silence after, the whole crew could hear the strain on the synth-metal plate. Seriousness returned, somehow JOS didn’t feel as tense anymore, like the atmosphere had thinned.

“Then we use Boomers.”

Two thumps, each an audio emitter and receiver. By pumping out ultra low frequency to ultra high frequency waves throughout the ship. Creating a three-dimensional model of the entire structure, excluding air tight compartments. Data streamed into K8’s brain, and began to form into a map from the holoprojector. JOS watched the map draw itself in greater and greater detail. Finished it was like nothing he’d ever seen.

Elaborate corridors in circular designs, weaving throughout the ship in complex, even overlapping, what he could only assume, corridors. Much of this floating rock remained internally intact, a nearly functional structure.

Voiyn unstrapped, standing from the pilots seat. Walking up to the projection, examining it carefully. The crew stood, following Voiyn’s lead, JOS tried to understand the design before thinking about looking for something out of place.

What do you see?” Voiyn’ too close voice startled JOS.

Circles. Paths. A ship. His mind tumbled, he took a breath, gathering his thoughts in the process, “I see a very complex design, like a catacomb intended to house life. Determining what’s in these sealed compartments will give us a better idea.” JOS completed the idea.

“Good. This time we don’t though. Throughout the Vale, there are a decent amount of these. Zepzhyr, half-alive. Two have been converted into Pits.” Voiyn lectured, “These seven compartments,” His touch leaving red chevrons along one side of the vessel, “are our secondaries. Getting to these can prove difficult. He’s probably in the main hangar.” Voiyn tapped the huge hollow spot on what he assumed was rear.

“How will we get in?” NaN asked with a little too much confidence.

“We have a few choices. Best to enter through the manual hatch from outside.” Focusing his talons to a point, he touched the external portion of the projection. Expanding his fingers, magnified the image. He then spun it a quarter-turn, revealing a flat panel JOS assumed was the entry point.

“The hunt start’s here.” Voiyn assured them, “Go below, and prepare. I’ll meet you in the depress. Essec, con. Vahl, guns. Disable only. You two,” Voiyn motioned to JOS and NaN, “grab a 5-dij* immobilizer. There should be two Twister-AP6’s for you.”

Neither cared if there were more instructions or not, bolting to the common compartment in the first curve of the ship. Then slid down to cryoprison/armory. Amongst the various immobilizers were two shoulder stabilized, hip shot weapons. Bulky and strange. Cylindrical cartridges were lined next to the weapons.

Both reached for their own, first the Twister which attached to the magtag along their spines, followed by their ammunition, securing the cartridges to their belts.

“Pralo, this is real.” JOS almost yelled.

“I know!” NaN barely restraining himself.

“If you die… so will I, to kill you a second time.”

“You first.”

Both roared, any nerves had been lost.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

JOS, and NaN pulled their matching helmets from the nearby rack. Sliding them on the suits gave a temporary glow, as it sealed itself. JOS watched the suits computer analyze his body composition, physical diagnostics, and personal biometrics.

SYNC? The suit asked

“Yes, now.” JOS demanded, it felt nice.

Lines of code scrolled past his eyes.

SIGN?

“Fligar*.”

“Ragilf*.” Came from NaN. Using the call-signs they’d created cycles ago, just for such a moment. Their secret identifier, so they’d always be aware of the other, even if they were enemies.

Excitement bubbling, the two went to exchange glances. Frozen by the shock of their appearances. Both stared into the reflection of themselves off the mirrored surface of the angular face shield.

“Pralo…”

“I know…”

JOS let out some air.

“Let’s get ‘im.” NaN slapped JOS on the back of the head.

A final embrace, the two ascended to the common compartment, cocksure. No words along the way. Waiting for them in the depress, Voiyn stood fully regalia. Rather than the basic oblong helmet, Voiyn’s elaborate headpiece was as or more foreboding then the being himself.

Sharp, black horns protruding out of the back. Golden, grotesque teeth formed a sinister smile across the face. JOS had to force through the momentary lurch of fear it cased.

“How d’you activate the external audio.” NaN’s amplified voice causing enough feedback to double over JOS, and Voiyn. As JOS reoriented himself, he saw NaN fly into the back of the compartment from the great reptile’s slap. “No outgoing coms for you.” Voiyn snarled, JOS suppressed a laugh. Continuing, “The control mechanisms are opposite your aural cavities. Left, “ he demonstrated on NaN,”outgoing. Right, external receiving.”

JOS inserted his index into the device, and audible click was followed by a ringing. Clearing up, he could hear the hollowness of the space, as NaN picked himself off the wall.

“You three done? I’ve been ready to drop you for six circuits now.” Vahl sounded agitated.

“Depressurize.” Voiyn not losing control for a sphere.

“Depressurizing now.”

JOS’s nerves made his body feel like an automatron. Aware of his actions, and consciously deciding them. Only, his body performed the in-between. Coupled with the depress, every part of him felt foreign.

“Compartment depressurized.”

“Open up K8. JOS, NaN, stay close. Emergency situations are the only reason you should leave my side.”

“Valegbosh.” Chorused the youth.

Opposite the entrance, a portion of the bulkhead silently slid into itself revealing the external plate shielding. A hiss as the shielding detached and swung into the void. The behemoth sat before them. JOS had never seen an object so large. It’s entirety had to be close the size of the whole Servitude Colony, he couldn’t even see the ends.

“Jump. Magboots first. Directly onto that smooth octagon. On my lead.” Voiyn gave them a parting flick of his digit. Effortlessly, Voiyn took the outboard handholds, JOS followed, NaN came out, positioning himself like his comrades. “Watch closely.” Voiyn lifted his body perpendicular to the ship. Aiming with his feet, he pushed with his arms. Nice and gentle, Voiyn glided across the hundred unit gap. Imitating, JOS pointed his feet, one last check before he leaped. NaN looked good to go.

JOS inhaled deep, pulling himself to K8. Watching the point where his heels met, he exhaled and pushed. Sensationless motion caused his mind to race as he watched himself fly straight for Voiyn, already landed and waiting.

Closer, and closer, until he heard the definitive click from his magboots attaching to the surface. Looking up, NaN had another ten units before touching down. Relieved, JOS threw out some encouragement, “You look as graceful as a pxois* dancer.”

Unable to receive a response, JOS imagined NaN’s contorting features trying not to laugh. JOS barely contained his own.

“NaN, outgoing coms on.” Voiyn commanded. “Hereforth, your life is threatened, focus yourselves accordingly. Anything trapped in a corner is likely to fight o the death to live.”

“Valegbosh.” the crew responded.

JOS watched intent to learn. Voiyn unslung a rectangular device from his shoulder, placed it against the far edge of the panel on which they stood. “Step back.”

JOS and NaN moved back to the outside edge of the octagon. Placing a hand on the device,Voiyn became basked in the fluorescent blue glow emitting from his hand’s outline.

The center of the ‘access hatch’ fell into itself. “On, quick.” growled Voiyn. Both maneuvered awkwardly onto the platform. Voiyn fingered the device in an apparently random series. JOS’S eyes were fixed on the dazzling light. “Let’s make these easy orn.” Voiyn disconnected the box, and slung it back up on his shoulder as the platform descended into the heart of the floating giant.

Loiñl – an insult something like scared baby.

Pxois – an dancing entertainer whom has no skill or ability.

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