Part Eight – Oh, She’s A Paper Doll


Winter began to chew on her lower lip as she waited for Eddy to get his ass out here and into her car. She had used her connections, her reward for having been in the Marshals for over a decade, in order to get her reassigned as his parole officer in order to investigate his claims of a drug ring in Trepin. That meant that her precious vacation days, although heavily depleted, were no longer being wasted. She also subsequently managed to get Theo hired (with meager pay) by the Trepin PD as an ‘advisor’, whatever that meant, even though he wasn’t even on the planet and didn’t even know that. It was a surprise gift.

She tapped on the steering wheel as she watched the front door to Eddy’s crummy apartment swing open, and Eddy, as clumsy as ever, bumble out only to trip and fall down the stairs. Winter practically lept out of her car and to Eddy’s side, yelling, “Oh my god are you okay?”

“Yeh oi’m FOINE, jeez.” Eddy coughed as he pushed himself to his feet, wincing as he did so due to his bandaged hands. “Didn’t know you were the one drivin’ me.”

Now in order to save my sanity at trying to write out the phonetics of his accent, i’m going to simplify the phonetics of his accent. Back to the story.

“Well who else was gonna drive you?” Winter scoffed. “Unless you were gonna take the bus.”

“N-Nah I just, didn’t expect YOU to be drivin’ me. Wait a bloody second here why ARE you even helping me?”

That was a loaded question. Why WAS she helping him? Instantaneously, the answer came into her head; she wanted to feel useful. And that’s what she answered with.

“I want to feel useful. Also you have information on a drug ring unless you lied to me.”

“Huh? Ain’t bein’ a Star Marshal the definition of useful? You guys are all over the place, beatin’ the heads in of some tosser who sold drugs to kiddies an’ kickin’ down doors to save kidnapees!” He completely ignored the second part.

Winter just chuckled. “Yeah, heh, well, there’s not much of that going on nowadays.” She adjusted the rear view mirror of her car, a new rental, as she had slightly totaled the last one, before operating the the stick shift and pulling the car into the street between a minivan and a cruiser, with only a few feet to spare between either.

“You almost hit, heck, BOTH of those cars!” Eddy yelped, actually jumping when Winter swerved between the two other vehicles.

“But I didn’t, didn’t I?” Snapped Winter as she moved the stick shift. Eddy thought for a second, before nodding in silent agreement.

The drive to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was short and quiet, the two deciding to keep to themselves and not even dare to try and talk to one another. Winter waved him off when he went into the workout center, the location for the meeting, and was leaning on the hood checking through her PDA when someone she hadn’t expected to ever see again waltzed right up to her, golden prosthetic, new spiffy green jacket, bag of clothes and all. The former Goldbeak, Cordell, looking strangely… happy?

“Hiya Winter!” Beamed Cordell, and Winter, when she looked up and saw who it was, immediately went slack jawed and dropped her PDA on her foot, only noticing that after a few seconds of confused staring. Thankfully she had bought a strong case for it, but her foot still hurt.

“Fucking… Cordell??? Did you escape or something???”

“Escape? HAH!” Cordell heartily laughed, rearing back his head and letting out a mixture of squawks and roaring laughter. All the people in a ten meter radius around Cordell looked at him confused and slightly frightened, so he stopped laughing. “No, no no no no, the kobolds let had my sentence commuted! I’m a free man!”

“Uh, con, congratulations!” Winter faked a smile before leaning over and picking back up her PDA. “But seriously Cordell,” She addressed him as she rubbed off the screen of her PDA with her sleeve, “Did you break out? Did you have one of your goons do it?”

“I uh, heh, have no goons! Not anymore. Kolt, uh, killed most of them, the rest all got depressed or PTSD and ran off to who know’s where! F-Funny, right?” If Cordell had lips, he’d have quite the unnerving smile on his face, but his tone of voice said it all.

Winter squinted at him. “…what happened? Before all this I heard you were an asshole rapist who kept kobolds as concubines, but, now, you’re all smiley and cheery?” She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. “WHERE’S THE REAL CORDELL?!?!” She screamed.

Cordell just softly put his hand on her shoulder. “Misses W-”


“Miss Winter… to be honest, I haven’t felt this good in years. I was given a fresh start! A new lease on life! …and a few thousand forands by Helmin. Turns out he’s pretty much the chieftain of the kobold tribe now. Those people are so strange…”

Winter was about to ask him another question, or more accurately scream it in his face, but relented, giving herself a moment to think. During that moment, a sad, horrible thought flew into Cordell’s mind.

“Wait a second, y-you know how I got the kobolds OFF that planet, right? And why?”

“Well, yeah, the story of what you did was all over intergalactic news. You kidnapped them… for selling as sex slaves. I can barely believe the same man who ordered that is standing here in front…”

Cordell’s chaotic mind drowned out Winter’s voice, and his face gained a sullen look as his head slowly drooped. “Oh my god.” He whimpered. “I forgot about… about…”

Winter flicked him in the forehead, knocking him out of his daze. “Forgot WHAT, shithead?” She herself was startled when Cordell suddenly grabbed her by the arms and violently shook her.

“The GSS WANT that planet!” He cried, “That’s why I took them off the planet! I-I, w-was supposed to, to, to…” He collapsed onto his knees, and began to violently sob into his hands.

Winter had one word in her mind at this time: what.

She pulled him to his feet, brought back her hand, and slapped him across the cheek. “Snap out of it, for fucks sake, you’re making a scene. Come on,” She pulled open the passenger’s side door of her rental car, “We can talk inside, where we can be judged slightly less by, you know, all the people walking around us?”

Cordell sniffled, before nodding rapidly. “Y-Yeah okay.” He clambered into the passenger’s seat and slammed the door as Winter rounded the front of the car and got in through the driver’s side.

She pulled out a small notepad she kept in one of her jacket pockets, plus a nibbled-on half of a pencil. “Okay, use small words and talk reeeeaaalll slowly for me.”

Cordell began to recite what his true goals were, and Winter stopped writing things down after the first few words. She listened intently, resting her head on her hand as she leaned against the central console in her car, letting Cordell babble on.

The GSS had hired him.


They wanted the planet.

It was that simple.

The whole new colonization effort was specifically meant to mine ‘uninhabited’ planets of their resources, which was all fine and dandy as there were shortages almost every month, but according to Cordell, most of those planets had sentient life to begin with. The solar system that Kolt had visited with Flagdynn, the jungle planet, was naturally populated by the kobolds, which were not actually kobolds but pygmy lizards with digitigrade legs, but they themselves adopted the nickname and began to trade with the GSS upon their discovery a few decades prior, some kobolds actually leaving their worlds and ‘becoming civilized’. Scientists were still trying to determine where the hell they even came from and how they evolved to be so close to the lizard anthromorphs that people know about, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Most of the worlds in that system were inhabited by similar species’ of kobolds and their tribes, but over time, they all left their planets and integrated into the GSS.

Except for one.


A planet of traditionalists who knew about the GSS, the existence of space travel, and the wonders of modern technology, but opted to stay out of it. They built their huts from bricks, wore clothing made of animal hide, and refused to even use the most simple of muskets, sticking with the spears they had wielded for thousands of years; those who wanted to leave had already left, and it was just this small tribe left. And according to Cordell, that planet had a large, juicy vein of petroleum on it, and considering how strapped the GSS is for resources due to it operating colonies far, far away and having to shuttle tons of supplies to them every few months on large, gas-guzzling ships, they wanted that petroleum, and they wanted it bad. So bad, that they ‘unidentified’ the planet, unpersoning the entire celestial body. The kobolds had essentially cut themselves off by refusing to modernize.

Cordell, back when he was still known as Goldbeak, was asked by the GSS to kidnap the people of Flagdynn. They’d supply the ships, and his people would get massive quantities of food, something that was hard to get on Centim due to the high temperatures and long deserts lacking any sort of fertile ground. He thought it was a good idea, but he didn’t expect the GSS to backstab him and send mercenaries after him. His explanation for the large amount of deaths and the weird catacombs under his fortress? The GSS constructed it, and refused to allow him or anyone else down there, before dragging most of the kobolds down there to do… SOMETHING. The fact that Helmin got down there so easily is that the GSS-provided guards were obviously gone, as the GSS was busy trying to get Cordell out of the way.

“What do you expect ME to do with this information Cordell?” Asked Winter, a little stunned at the information that she was hearing, “Go tell it to one of my superiors and earn myself a suicide through shooting myself thrice in the head with a revolver ten meters from my head?”

“I-I don’t know, maybe, maybe Kolt can do something?”

Winter had forgotten about Kolt. “He’s in a coma, Cordell. There’s nothing he can do.”

“W-What? How? How did he get into a coma?”

Winter didn’t answer, just pantomimed putting a finger gun in her mouth and going ‘pow’ with her mouth. Cordell suddenly looked extremely depressed, his head drooping once again. “So, there’s nothing we can do?” He whimpered.

“Well, do you know what they plan to do with the kobolds, now that they’ve been returned to the planet?”

“N-No. And i’m worried.”

“Yeah, I would be too.” She looked down at the ample amount of words she wrote onto her notepad. Heck, there was ENOUGH information on it. “Alright,” She slid the notepad and pencil back into a pocket on her jacket, “Where are you staying?”

“A-A hotel near Konstanz District, w-why?”

“Go buy a pair of walkie-talkies and meet me back here in aboooouuut,” She checked her watch: it was 12:04. “Two hours and fifty-six minutes, so, at three. Now go! My parolee leaves his DA Anonymous meeting in sixteen minutes.”

“Parolee? Y-You’re a parole officer now?” Cordell laughed, and although in normal circumstances Winter would be pissed that he laughed at her stupid new job, she was actually happy that he showed some positive emotion.

“I am because it’s allowing me to stay in the city without wasting any more of my vacation da-hey how did you even find me?”

“Still have a few connections in the GSS and wanted to see Trepin anyways, but I also wanted, w-wanted to say h-hello, b-but all i’ve done is, burden you with stupid crap.” Crap, now he was looking sad again. Winter put her hand on Cordell’s lap, and he re-established eye contact with her.

“Cordell… you’re fine. This information might do me some good someday, so don’t worry about it, okay? Now go on, skedaddle, go, hire a lizard prostitute or something.”

Cordell, mustering up a weak smile with the edges of his birdy mouth, turned and opened the passenger’s side door and lumbered out of the tight car, closing it behind himself and giving Winter a small wave. Winter waved back, smiling as warmly as she could, and he turned and began to walk down the sidewalk, towards the interior of the city.

“Ohhhh Hillary,” Winter sighed as she unzipped her jacket and grabbed her metal flask of whiskey, “You have just signed your death warrant.”

Unbeknownst to Winter, on top of a rooftop a few buildings over an individual wearing black gloves pulled their vaguely gun-like microphone off the ledge at the top of the building and pulled out their earbuds. They packed both things into a large rectangular case before sticking a hand into their also-black trench coat and drawing out a brick-like gray phone, extending the antennae and punching in a few numbers. They craned their neck and pulled the top half of the phone out and bent it towards them, before holding the contraption up to their cheek, the speaker pointed directly into their ear.

“She knows.” They growled.

“Good,” A female voice responded from the phone, “I’m glad the crow is there as well, we may be able to dispose of him as well, although it’s not a priority.”

“Can I go home now?” Hissed Yehudi, who watched as Eddy limped out of the gym and towards Winter’s car, “I don’t want to be around her for any longer than possible, and I really, really don’t want to listen to more exposition about this stupid conspiracy you and your friends have going on.”

“Yes, Yehudi, you can go back to the safe house.” Johannes replied.

“Grand.” Yehudi ended the call and collapsed the phone before sticking it back into his coat. He had ambushed and threatened Johannes in the parking lot when she left for the day a few hours after his failed assassination; he held her at gunpoint until she told him the truth. She really did order his killing, but she knew he would easily dispatch his assailants, and it was all part of her ‘immaculate plan’ somehow. Yehudi almost shot her right then and there until she told him something that changed the atmosphere of the situation entirely: she needed him to do one more task, and then he would be completely and utterly free of her influence for the rest of his life. He had to tail an old friend of his.

He peered over the edge of the roof, down at Winter’s car, which she had begun to pull away from the side of the road. “I’ll be seeing you again soon enough, Erma. Sooner than you think.” {A}


Hoji was depressed and homeless. Not only had he failed to kill his target when the opportunity was standing in front of him and practically begging to be taken advantage of, but his warped sense of honor and pride made him not go back to the LRG forward operating base, but instead made him sit in a park, on a park bench, and silently sob to himself. Seeing Kolt all swaddled up and covered in heavy blankets like that brought back some really sour memories, ones that he swore he wouldn’t remember, but alas, he definitely did, and they still hurt his soul just as badly as they did almost a decade ago.

He had pulled the violin out of its case, and was busy attempting to learn it through practice, somehow, without any sort of instruction. It was an odd instrument and, heck, if he was just going to sulk in public he might as well sulk and try to learn a new skill. Sadly his efforts were soon rendered moot as he accidentally pressed too hard on the strings with the bow and snapped two of them. Cursing in Japanese, he stuffed it back into the case, and instead tried to simply absorb the nature around him.

He brought up his legs onto the bench and crossed them. Putting his hands on his knees, he relaxed, and closed his eyes.


He began to dissociate from reality, letting his breathing slow and his only movements being the bobbing of his chest and the flaring of his nostrils. His rabbit ears flicked as he the wind brushed past them. He listened to the birds, and the shaking trees. He listened to the extremely faint laughs of children in a park close to half a mile away, their happiness carried on the wind and into Hoji’s large ears. And finally he listened to the frantic breathing of a thief that was attempting to steal his violin case.

He jutted his foot out, aiming for the source of the stressed breathing, and when he opened his eyes saw the hoodie-wearing wannabe crook laying on the concrete in front of him, shielding their bruised face with their hands.

“Did you really think you could steal something sitting directly behind me back, in broad, visible daylight?” He asked in a tone of disgust as he brought his right leg onto the ground, foot slightly sore from colliding into the face of the criminal, who was a fox. He scoffed, “Did you really think you could outsmart HOJI?” He practically announced his name as he stood up, arms in line with his shoulders as he stood in his form of a power stance, and all around him, people heard his alias and began to raise their heads from their books and PDAs.


“THE Hoji?”

“Hoji? The rabbit dude?”

“That one criminal?”

“That hot rabbit stud?”

“The dude with the Japanese sword fetish?”


FUCK. Hoji frantically grabbed his violin case, kicked the downed criminal in the gut, and screamed at a pair of passing (and confused) Gilded State Gendarme, “YOU SEE NOTHING!” He then ran away, and the Gendarme, too confused to do anything, just scratched the tops of their peaked caps.

One turned to the other and asked, “You wanna get some donuts?”

“Hell yeah.”

Hoji was starting to realize that maybe he wasn’t cut out for this kind of stuff. He was no spy. He didn’t want to dress up as someone he wasn’t. He didn’t want to fake being someone else, to act different, to BE any different. He liked himself just how he was, thank you. But arrest warrants aren’t fun, so he ran back to the nearby woods, stumbling through the grass and overgrowth, and actually running into a tree with half of his body and falling to the ground in a spin, grunting in pain as he landed on his back.

“Why did I take this job?” He whined, and then got back to his feet.

After a few more minutes of cautionary-yet-frantic running, he made it to the clearing where the FOB was set up, and was greeted with gun barrels shoved into his face. He simply traded the oblivious look on his face with some very furrowed eyebrows, and the LRD militants realized who it was and pulled their guns off of him.

“So,” Asked the captain of the vessel Hoji had travelled to Earth in, walking up to the incognito assassin with his hands on his hips. “I’m guessing the task is complete?”


“Wait what? No?”

Hoji quickly formulated a lie. “There were guards in front of the door, and the bug’s room was on the top floor of the hospital. If I attacked the guards just to make it into the room to kill Kolt, I wouldn’t make it out of the building alive.”

The captain, although a little peeved, accepted his excuse. “Well, when another opportunity presents itself, you can kill him them. Go into the ship and get cleaned up, you look like trash.”

“And you look like an inbred hillbilly supporting a dumb cause. Don’t talk to me without permission, inbred.” All the LRG militants in the clearing gasped, even the ones farthest away, and as Hoji walked past the captain of the ship, he slammed his shoulder into him, knocking him out of the way quite roughly. He still had a reputation to upkeep, and it felt good to say those things. They were all idiots, and although Hoji wasn’t the most ‘street-smart’ and frequently dropped his spaghetti, he was like Einstein in comparison to the rest of the lot.

He had no designated room on the ship; he just farted around in the cargo hold, sleeping precariously between the massive palettes of wood that, if they weren’t bolted to the floor, could easily crush him into a fine jelly if they shifted just slightly. None of the militiamen usually went down there anyways, most were playing ping pong or crying to each other about all the troubles on their farms and the dumb reasons why they ‘took up the cause’. Hoji didn’t care.

To be honest, no one really cared about the LRG. At all. They were just a bunch of religious nutjobs sitting on their tiny planets way out in the middle of literal nowhere doing nothing but making empty threats and being obnoxious since their creation. Yet, the news agencies LOVED them. They were interesting, and drew viewers; none of the current generation had experienced something like this, a direct and obvious resistance to the GSS, albeit a shitty one. Articles were ran every day on every little related subject, people were arrested for supposedly having connections to the group, almost all of them lagomorphs, and the citizens of the GSS just cheered them on, bloodthirsty as ever.

But what had they done?

Sent a message to some news agencies, mobilized, and sat on their asses?

The most daring thing they had done in the first few days of their creation was go to Earth with Hoji in an attempt to eliminate what they view as a possible future threat, Kolt Saudwell. As mentioned awhile back, he WAS hired to mess with a few insurgencies a few years back, minor things that only took him at most maybe two to three weeks to deal with, and he was always brutally efficient.

The Combined State of the Northern Asteriods? Fell in a matter of days due to him sabotaging the nuclear reactor in their capital space station, leading to mass evacuation and hundreds of rebels with radiation poisoning along with a leadership with nowhere to go.

The Ha’sall Regime? Kolt publically made their ‘Glorious Leader’ strip to his skivvies and paraded him around the street, and when the people saw the piss stain on his underwear, they DEFINITELY knew that he was no god.

Henry’s Harriers? Granted they were a bandit group, but Kolt took them out in a matter of HOURS because they were also struck by the Famine of 2071, and simply told them there was food in the prisons. Granted he didn’t tell them the quality of the food, but they turned themselves in rather quickly.

He was experienced in dealing with pests, and right now, he was just laying in a hospital bed, undefended, barely alive. And Hoji just turned around and left.

Maybe i’m not… ‘made’ for this type of work, he thought as he entered the ship. I can’t just kill someone who is undefended and limp in a bed! What’s the honor in that?

He just sighed.


Dream Kolt’s mission to kill Moses wasn’t going as planned. Yes, the previous club Kolt had been to was in fact the gay strip club that he was supposed to go to in the first place, but Kolt, being Kolt, decided to take a few revolutions around the poles himself in his own skimpy speedo (which he had for emergencies like this, which thankfully was still in one of his pouches on his trusty utility belt when he was given it back) and earned himself quite a few forands along with some local currency; cash is always useful. He did however spot Moses watching in the crowd (quite astutely, too) in his bright clothing that would put an 11th century Middle Eastern merchant to shame, his blinging jewelry made him shine through the dim lights of the strip club. After Kolt finished his little performance, Moses pulled the hood of his cloak over his head and promptly disappeared into the crow. Kolt hopped off the stage, grabbing his nearby pile of clothes and throwing them on as he trailed behind the blue lizard, to the docking bay of the station. Kolt watched closely as he took off in an ancient refurbished shuttle.

Dude must have money, Kolt thought, LOTS of money. He knew the shuttle Moses flew was made sometimes in the 2060s and in low amounts, so if he had one of those in THAT GOOD of condition… he was definitely well off financially. Kolt hopped into his spaceplane and took off in slow pursuit, staying close enough that he could SEE Moses’ ship, but only as a spec on the horizon. The nearest sun almost blinded Kolt as he zoomed past, but the cockpit automatically dimmed to make sure he didn’t get blinded. “Nifty.” He commented as the glass faded to a transparent black.

Moses’ shuttle drifted for a good twenty minutes, during which Kolt took the time to strip, disassemble, and thoroughly clean his AR10 with the cleaning kit in the stock, wondering when he would be able to blast some fools with it, plucking 8mm rounds off of his stripper clips for his M48/63 and loading the empty magazines he had stolen, causing the bolt-action to shed a tear of cosmoline from its foregrip, which drifted off of it in the lack of gravity. Suddenly, the retro ship’s engines blasted, and it zoomed into the nothingness of space as Kolt scrambled to put his gun back together in zero-g and chase after it. After a good forty minutes of flying, Kolt saw a twinkle of light off into distance, and leaned forward a bit, widening his Aldearian eyes a bit.

Due to the biomechanical nature of his eyes, he was able to cheat biology a little, and his eyesight zoomed forwards a smidgen as he stared at the dot. Yep, it was Moses’ ship, and it was back to normal speed again. “Guess he was tryin’ to shake off any possible stalkers,” Kolt dictated to himself, “But it takes more than a little running to shake off this stalker! Geeze that sounded creepy.” He went back to his usual routine of following at an extreme distance away, and soon the pair were travelling towards a large, dusty planet. Centim? No, it was too big, and the surface looked darker. Moses’ ship blundered straight ahead, towards the swirling atmosphere of the planet, and Kolt followed along.


The surface gave Kolt some extreme deja vu. The pair landed in a large desert eerily similar to Centim’s, Kolt taking a few seconds to slow down and hide his ship behind a dune. The planet’s sand was a visibly darker shade of yellow than Centim’s with a bit of orange to it, and it was also noticeably thicker, and Kolt’s feet didn’t sink into it as much as they did on Centim. Kolt grabbed a handful of it and stuffed it into his mouth. Yep, tastes like sand.

He was currently laid across the top of a sand dune, head smashed through it so only the black top of his head was visible, and his hands were similarly thrust through it. Kolt’s monoscope was pressed directly against his right prosthetic, and he eyeballed a large stone compound in the distance, Moses’ ship sitting outside on a tiny landing pad. Unlike Goldbeak’s fortress, this building was made of imported dark red bricks, and it stood out for miles. The exterior of the castle had ramparts, tiny portholes instead of windows, looked like it was comprised of multiple blocks smashed together with a few small towers strewn here and there, the usual castle-y thing. His view focused on the ramparts of the castle, scanning them for the usual guards. Flecks of sand flowed off them with each passing gust of wind, and Kolt was starting to get confused.

Was there no one at all?

Kolt glanced at each of the visible openings in the brick, watching closely for any movement. He waited a few minutes, hoping to see maybe a guard or two walk by the ‘windows’.

No movement.

“What the hell…?” He whispered to himself, before munching on some sand in front of him. After waiting another five or so minutes for any sort of movement whatsoever, he shoved his way through the sand dune, forgetting entirely that there was a steep drop in front of him, and Kolt learned how Sonic the Hedgehog felt whenever he was doing one of his spin dashes. Head over heels, he fell down the dune, coughing and sputtering with each revolution.

From a window, up in the castle, Moses watched in slight amusement as the lanky bug man tumbled and tumbled and tumbled down the dune, until he finally landed face first in front of the stone base of the castle. Moses chuckled, before disappearing, wondering why a stripper wearing a Privateer uniform and GSS flak jacket was following him, but he had more important matters to deal with than watch them flounder about.

Kolt flopped over on his back and groaned as his entire body now ached horribly. 

He already had a bad feeling about this, but that was probably because he had bad feelings all over now.


Winter’s laser pistol fell out of her jacket and discharged into a nearby trash bin, the paper inside lighting on fire and causing a minor fire. All that caused that to happen was her lightly tapping the side of her jacket. The lead scientist in charge of the laser weapon program just looked at the fire with a look of complete shock on his face, before babbling, “That’s uh, that’s uhhhh, not supposed to, it’s, supposed to be drop, drop safe, yeah.”

Winter stared directly into the scientist’s eyes, leaned over, picked up the pistol again, and dropped it once more. It discharged again, this time lightning on fire papers in the hands of a nearby now-freaked-out scientist, who let out a girlish screech as he threw the papers into the air and began frantically running around the room. The Marshal just crossed her arms. “Tell me, why am I the only one field-testing this weapon again?”

“There uh, may be some, minor issues with the, the laser discharger as you, umm, have illustrated to me,” The mink gulped, “But uh, nothing we can’t fix, hehe!” He awkwardly laughed as he daintily picked up the laser pistol and quickly carried it over to a secure container, gently placing it inside before sealing it closed, hopefully never to be opened again. “Umm, sorry about that Miss Winter.”

“The next time you guys make a stupid little prototype for us marshals to mess with,” Winter lurched forward and grabbed the scared scientist by the collar of his labcoat, pulling his face close to hers. She growled, “Make sure it’s working first, barfbreath.

She released the mink, who whimpered, “Y-Yes ma’am, sorry Miss Winter.” Winter was already walking towards the door, but she stopped to turn and correct the scientist.

“Do what everyone else here does, and just call me Hill…… “ She suddenly thought of something and frowned, cutting off her sentence.

“Y-Yes Miss Hill.” Said the scientist erroneously.

Hillary just rolled her eyes and walked out of the room, but stopped in her tracks and pondered for a moment. Hill definitely sounded nicer than Hillary. Hill Winter. Hmm, had some sort of strange ‘ring’ to it. I kinda like it! I always have wanted a nickname of sorts to get rid of that shitty first name, hell, it’ll work!

Hillary was now Hill, and she already found herself liking her new name a lot better. It was HER name; not something randomly stamped on one of her transfer papers when she joined the Marshals, like Hillary was.

Hill Winter, reveling in her new name, jovially walked through the wide halls of the appropriately named ‘Realm Marshal Security Offices’. One didn’t expect anything less from the quite-literal naming scheme of the GSS. The aforementioned halls of the RMSO were baked in a hazy yellow glow from the lights under the floor panels, the complex located on a world called Haris. Haris was close to The Gap, leading to many (thankfully failed) raids on the RMSO by some of the less-intelligent pirate groups, as you have to be pretty stupid to raid the headquarters of probably the most elite paramilitary force in the entire GSS. Winter was here on official business, mainly to deal with the fact that she had been in Trepin for quite a while and her supervisors were quite worried and called her in for a short meeting. Or that’s at least what she was told.

She hopped onto the moving conveyor-belt like floor panels in the middle of the hallway, pulling out and fiddling with her PDA as the moving floor took her directly to her destination, other people on other paths sliding past once her path entered one of the larger hallways. These hallways were wide enough to accompany multiple of these moving walkways, and Hill’s tablet currently had a very pixelated map of the RMSO’s complicated network of moving paths. “For fucks sake,” She grumbled as she pulled her thumbpad across the screen, “Where the hell am I?”

A sign attached to the wall passed to her left: VAULT —>. Yeah, that’s not where she wanted to go. She squinted at the digital map again before hopping to the line on her left, and the moving floor took her close enough to where she wanted to go that all she had to do was hop off and literally walk between the lines. And about a minute later, she knocked on one of the many white doors that populated the floor, and it was pulled open from the inside by another fox, wearing an green suit and matching skirt, along with a beret of the same color.

“Ah, Marshal Winter, please, come in.”

Winter’s small smile collapsed faster than a building blown up from the inside with approximately two-thousand pounds of TNT.

Johannes Vorhausen. Of course.

Winter did so, walking into the office of the temporary Chief Marshal. As the Generalmajor made her way to her seat, Winter broke protocol and said to her, without having been talked to first and in quite a pissy tone to add, “Generalmajor, I have already clarified multiple times to the other officials that my business in Trepin i-”

“Personal, I know.” Jo grimaced slightly as she sat in her chair, scooting it up to her desk and setting her arms on top of it. “I’m more worried about you, Marshal Winter.”

Winter’s look of slight annoyance grew into one of confusion and suspicion. “Why?” She didn’t hold the Generalmajor in high regard; Johannes was known for being a bit brutal to her underlings and lacking compassion, and there was also a rumor circulating that she had personally talked to the Fuhrer multiple times after getting her thankfully-temporary post as Chief Marshal, worrying many of the other Marshal’s but just making Winter suspicious.

“You have spent a considerable amount of your vacation days waiting for someone you barely know to come out of a coma. Why?”

“They saved my sister, and I never got to take Kolt out for drinks afterwards.”

“Out for drinks?” Jo raised an eyebrow

Winter crossed her arms. “In case you haven’t read, I have no time for dating. As a friend.”

Johannes flipped open a file on her desk and quickly glanced at it. “Yet you’ve sat on Earth for multiple periods of time over the last five or so months, doing seemingly nothing?”

“’Doing seemingly nothing’? I regularly help the local police force, to, dubious results. I even recently took down a small drug ring there with the help of an informant. Are you watching me or not, Vorhausen, because if you are at least praise my actio-”

Jo held up her hand. “I’m not meaning to be rude, Marshal, just curious of your dealings, that’s all.”

Winter imagined rolling her eyes. “Generalmajor, there’s a large difference between curious and rude.” Hill turned and walked out of the room.

“I wasn’t done talking yet Marshal!” Yelled Johannes to pointless effect, as Hill closed the door as she left.

Johannes pinched the bridge of her nose, yawning to herself, “Gah, thank god i’m having her killed.” She picked up the phone on her desk and began to dial…

“Yes, is this the pizza place down the road from the RMSO? Yes, i’d like a medium Algerian Bacon pizza please. And add breadsticks. Send the pizza directly to the RMSO, someone will pay for it and pick it up in th-” Winter suddenly leaned back into the room and gave her the bras d’honneur. “In the lobby, WINTER!!!” She slammed the phone down as she heard the Marshal run away snickering, and Johannes bit her lower lip to stop herself from yelling out again. Don’t worry Johannes, she’ll be dead soon.


Hillary. Winter. Hill. Winter. Eugh that actually sounds worse than I first intended! Hill/ary wondered about her awful name as she stomped down a smaller hallway, one without moving floors, and was about to pull out her PDA when she heard a familiar clunk. Door bolts dropping.

No, door bolts dropping in SUCCESSION. Clunk, clunk clunk clunk clunkclunkclunkclunkclunkclunk. Hill/ary, watched as metal pegs attached to the outsides of the doors around her began to drop into the floor. “What the hell…” She heard bangs on a nearby door paired with agitated yelling, and while Winter was focused on that, the lights suddenly went out, replaced with red emergency lighting.

She pulled open her jacket and grabbed her holstered handgun, pulling it out and keeping it at low ready in one hand. She managed to slide out her PDA from her back pocket, remembering to buy pants made for MALES next time, and tried to look at the digital map again. An error message instead blocked the screen:


Oh joy. She pocketed her PDA and began to slowly walk down the hallway, her shoes softly clicking on the reflective floors. Power outage? Pirate raid? Something worse? She quickened her pace, raising her gun and pointing it upwards as she cupped it with both hands, jogging down the hall and around the corner.

Two soldiers stood there, backs turned to her. She lowered her gun, asking in an annoyed tone, “What the hell is going on?” The soldiers slowly turned, and Winter raised a thick eyebrow. They wore bulky vests and held integrally suppressed ‘Selbstadler’s’, a firearm known as the M1 Carbine on Earth. Their faces were covered by some sort of green anti-shrapnel facemasks, stretched over their noses and with a slight sheen to it, and they had no sort of markings on their collars or rank insignias on their shoulder. Their eyes were shielded by black single-lensed goggles.

“The hel-” Winter gasped as she felt a sharp pain in her side, a glancing blow by a bullet, and quickly dived back behind the corner, laying on her back and scooting back as she held her handgun out in front of her. What the fuck? Where did pirates get those outfits? One of the suspected infiltrators rounded the corner, rifle raised, and Winter proceeded to destroy her eardrums by attempting to ventilate them with lead, but they absorbed three shots to the chest and only had to take a step back and catch their breath. Okay seriously what the HELL? Winter continued to scoot back as she blasted at the infiltrator, who was flinching hard due to the force off the bullets hitting their vest, and they actually dropped their carbine when they lost their balance, toppling back onto the wall. The carbine clattered to the floor next to Winter, and by the time the second infiltrator made it around the corner, she had both the Selbstadler and her Double Eagle pointed at them, and she smiled devilishly before pulling the triggers of both of her guns as fast as she could.

The Double Eagle locked back after one shot, signifying that she had emptied most of her rounds into the other infiltrator, who was wheezing as they sat against the wall with broken ribs from being shot repeatedly in the vest, but the Selbstadler had a full magazine, and she dropped her Double Eagle and maneuvered her other hand onto the foregrip of the carbine. Her sights were set on the infiltrator’s face, as shooting the center of mass apparently did nothing, and in the red light she saw their head snap back as liquid splashed up from their facemask onto the ceiling, and their Selbstadler fired off down the hallway, missing Winter entirely. The now-dead infiltrator went limp immediately, falling down almost instantaneously, and the other one struggled to pull a handgun as Winter swung the gun over to them, and she fired thrice, two bullets hitting them in the facemask, the last one hitting the wall and leaving a dent.

All this happened in less than thirty seconds, and Winter was glad it wasn’t any longer. Her heart was attempting to escape through her ribcage, and her side stung quite bad. She stumbled to her feet, holding the carbine against her shoulder as she scanned for any other threats, walking around the corner and looking down the hallway where the two false soldiers came from, before turning back to the hallway she was in and looking down there too. No one else was around. She found a nice spot on the wall and leaned against it, slowly sliding down and leaving a small trail of blood from the flesh wound in her side, and letting out a sigh of relief as she checked her jacket. An almost dime-sized hole was punched clean through, and as she stuck her finger into the hole, she flinched, and the pain in her side intensified for a moment due to her accidental poking of the grazed spot.

“Y-Yeah, shouldn’t be touching wounds.” She stuttered to herself, before closing her eyes and sighing. That was too close. Way, way too close. Rubbing her eyes, she opened them again, and looked down at the carbine in her hand. No markings on the receiver or the massive integral suppressor, but when she looked closer and opened the bolt, ejecting a live round in the process, the crude machining marks identified it as a crappy clone of the normal Selbstadler. The fact that it worked at all was surprising. Winter’s Double Eagle sat next to one of her shoes, and she pulled it towards her waiting hand with her foot, ejecting the magazine on top of one of her legs and setting down the carbine to put the empty mag into a pocket before sliding in a loaded one, giving the slide catch a press and chambering a new round.

Suddenly, she heard the far off stomping of boots, getting gradually closer each second. After a few seconds, three security guards ran in from the hall that the two infiltrators were standing in. They stopped, mouths agape at the mess in front of them, before one, an orange cat of some sort, asked, “What… happened?”

Winter pointed at the two dead bodies, and breathed, “Puh-Pirates.” The guards all widened their eyes and began to look around frantically.

“Where’d they go?” Asked the cat again, walking over to Winter and crouching next to her. “The pirates?”

“T-There.” She continued to point at the corpses.

The security guard turned and looked at the bodies, then back at Winter. “Uhhh, what?”

“N-No markings, on their, hhhehh, uniforms.” She crawled over to the one slumped against the wall, the feline guard wanting to stop her in case her wounds were serious but allowing it. She put her hand on the helmet of the dead infiltrator, and pulled it upwards so the guards could see their bullet-ridden facemask. “M-Mask,” She pinched their collar,“N-No pins,” She patted the shoulder of the corpse, “A-And no rank. P-Pirates.”

And then she collapsed from exhaustion.


“This isn’t what I expected.” Velent sighed as Kobold walked around the damp room, flipping on switches and bringing on a pair of floodlights. The pair turned off their flashlights, and Velent walked up to a fold-out table in the middle of the room, wiping some dust off the top and squinting at it. “Why are we here anyways?”

“This is where you’ll be staying.”


“Calm yourself, you’ll like it here.”

Velent rolled her eyes and began to seethe. “I am NOT going to be staying in some disgusting, poo-smelling sewer complex under some random city I had no idea existed!” Kobold didn’t listen, instead he kept walking around the room and messing with small devices on top of tables, inspecting the large tarped-over objects. “What even IS this place, Kobold?”

Kobold turned and glared at her. “Don’t call me my ‘nickname’. It was forced upon me when I joined the Privateers, I didn’t make it myself.”

“Then what am I supposed to call you?”



“Don’t call me anything.”

Velent raised an eyebrow quite dramatically. “Oh, so you’re one of THOSE types of mercenaries?”

Kobold crouched down and pulled open a grate on the floor, shining his flashlight down it. “I’m not a mercenary, Polito Velent.”

“You work for the Privateers. You’re a mercenary.”

“I only work for them as a means to an end.” He put the grate back into place, before walking over to one of the large tarps, grabbing it and yanking it off. Velent’s eyes widened almost instantly.

“I-Is that a-”

“SakrinTec blood analyzer? Yes it is.” He went and pulled another tarp off a large object. “And this is the strongest microscope that exists,” He yanked off another tarp, “And this, an untraceable computer with seventy-two proxies, and this, well, I don’t know what this is, but that over there is a coffee machine, and this…”

Velent immediately tuned out, focusing more on the massive machinery around the room. Dials, knobs, buttons and screens oh my! This place was more advanced than the laboratory on freakin’ Cerberus Station! She wiped off one of the screens of a device, staring at her reflection through it. Her lady parts were tingling quite fiercely, a fact that would disgust Kobold greatly if he knew about it.

“…and this is, Hey, Velent,” He pulled off a glove and snapped his finger, and Velent turned around to see Kobold standing in front of the largest object in the room, a massive tarp also pulled over it. There sure were a lot of tarps in here. “This, I think you’ll find interesting.” He pulled off the blue tarp, and underneath was a strange device. It was some sort of circle-shaped chamber, with a curved glass window peering inside. Velent walked past Kobold, placing a hand on the glass window peering into the open-topped chamber with her mouth agape.

“What… is it?” She asked, looking back at Kobold and stepping away from the window.

“Well, it’s SUPPOSED to be a teleporter, but it’s unfinished.”

“I don’t have a degree in quantum physics, or mechanics.”

“I never said it would be hard to make it work. This,” He banged his fist on the side of it. “Will save us all a lot of trouble once we get it working.” Kobold turned and began to walk towards the grate, and crouched down, pulling it open once more.

“Wait, ‘us’?”

“Wait here.” Velent had more questions, but before she could ask anything else, Kobold disappeared down the hole. Velent ran over to it and tried to shine her flashlight in, but the grate was pulled back into place by Kobold, and she could just barely make out his white uniform as the ladder he was on clanked and groaned. She heard him step into something wet, and his footsteps petered off.

“Fiddlesticks.” She sighed, before finding an ancient leather chair and sitting in it, not caring that she was getting dust all over her labcoat. She propped up her head on her hand, and examined the strange teleporter from behind the U-formation of tables she sat in the middle of. Wires and tubes connected to the back wall as more cables reached over to what seemed to be a large rusted generator. Four pillars sat on each corner of the square plate the device was sat on, covered in teeth for some sort of wheel mechanism, probably to lift it up for some reason. With Kobold gone, the eeriness of the room began to sink in. Velent slowly rotated her chair, looking around at the mistreated machinery and unused electronics, and she swore she could hear the woosh of wind from the tunnel underneath the grate.

Kobold had brought her there after landing on the outskirts of the city, which was located somewhere on Earth, she didn’t know where nor did she care. The planet was boring. He brought her to a thin river, and the two followed it out of the woods to a larger river. A black tunnel was held by a massive block of cement stuffed into the hillside, and Velent couldn’t see anything inside it. Someone had constructed a small wooden bridge across the river, and the two carefully crossed it, Velent wondering exactly where they were going. Kobold had handed her a small flashlight as the two approached the tunnel, and he walked in without a word. Velent apprehensively followed, noting the whooshing noise coming from farther down the tunnel and the murky liquid they were stepping in, along with the awful smell. But she trusted him.

And now here she was, in a dark, damp room, pipes lining the ceiling, ancient (and some not so ancient) machinery lining the walls, tables sitting around covered in unrecognizable devices, and the only light being a pair of dim floodlights. And the smell was still here. Velent stood up from the chair and began to look at the devices on the tables. One looked almost like a VCR player, but without a slot for a tape and instead a blue screen with a wiggly cyan line on it. There were multiple books too, but they were all in some lesser language that barely anyone knew, probably English.

The grille opened again, and Velent looked down at it excitedly. She did NOT want to be alone in here. Out crawled… “Kobold?”

“I said to not call me that.” The man hissed as he tossed a large bag out of the hole. When he crawled out, it looked almost as if ‘Kobold’ was a whole new person; their bleached Privateer outfit was gone, replaced with an oversized orange-ish tan trench coat, buttoned closed, with some black dress pants and quite nice brown shoes. He wore brown leather gloves, and of the part of his collar that wasn’t buttoned up, a red tie was visible, attached to the collar of a white shirt. His brown face sheened in the warmth of the floodlights, and his nose was actually quite prominent and hooked. His face was sharp, with a small chin, and Velent had just now noticed that his eyes had a slight slant to them. She’d seen his face before, like in the elevator on that station she was quarantined to, but all she got were fleeting glances before he threw his cigarette away and put back on his facemask. He fit the description of a Sapien alright, the colloquial nickname of humans who live in the GSS, and NOT on Earth.

“Alright. Nice outfit, is it a disguise?”

“My previous outfit was a disguise, Velent, this is my normal one.” He lifted the bag onto a table, zipping it open and beginning to toss out firearms, magazines, military rations, the kind of things you would expect in some sort of doomsday stash. Velent eyed the sealed cans of food with a look of horror in her eyes, and the man noticed that, asking, “You okay?”

Velent just stared at the cans, and in a faint voice squeaked, “Never better.”

The man, who will no longer be called Kobold due to his insistence that he not be called that, proceeded to forget about Velent’s strange look and pulled six firearms out of the bag, a few of which he began to show Velent. “These,” He explained, “Are for emergencies. In case someone who means us harm finds us down here.” He pulled out an antiquated assault rifle. “This is an-”

Velent cut in. “STG44, mothballed service rifle for the GSS. We have hundreds of thousands of them but we don’t give them to troops for fear of them somehow shooting themselves.”

The man smirked. “Very good, Velent. I got this one for a stash in Syria a few years back.” A stash in Syria? What’s Syria? He sat the assault rifle down on the table and pulled out a familiar gun. “This is my MAC 10, don’t touch it ever.” He put the stubby submachine gun next to the STG, and Velent watched eagerly as the man pulled out a handgun she knew well.

“I know that you’ve had experience with the lackluster clones of these, but, this,” He raised the handgun into the blue light, which detailed the stepped slide and glittered on the matte finish, “Is a Browning Hi-Power. You used a copy of one of these in the Pointless War, right?”

“Yes act-wait a second how do you know that?”

“You’re not dead. Almost everyone who didn’t have a gun in that war ended up dead. And considering how inefficient with that suppressed ‘45 you were, I think it wouldn’t be that bad to hazard a guess that you’re better suited with handguns.” Velent still felt a little suspicious, but she gratuitously finger-fucked the gun after the man set it onto the table, pulling open the slide, ejecting the empty magazine, examining the adjustable sights, which the military handguns didn’t have.

The man set a handgun that was semi-similar to the Browning Hi-Power onto the table without explaining it, and when Velent looked up from the handgun in her hands, the man said, “Do not touch this. Ever. This is mine too. It’s a CZ75, manufactured in nineteen-seventy-five, the first year of production.” He tapped on it with a finger. “This is my baby.”

“I had no interest in messing with it anyways. This, ‘Browning Hi-Power’, is adequate enough.”

The man’s smirk returned. “Alright. One final gun.”

He set out a weird mixture of a Walther P38 and Beretta 92.

“Kolt Saudwell’s PHP MV 17.”



Velent literally dropped the Hi-Power on the table and grabbed the PHP. She looked up at the man, eyes wide in confusion. “Where the hell did you get this?”

“Cerberus, after you blew off his hand.”

“What, you were on Cerberus?”

The man nodded. “I would suggest not questioning the things I do, Velent. It’s all for a reason. Remember, coincidences don’t exist.”

“Yes you’ve already said that, but,” She looked back down at the pistol, “How’d you, when did you, how…”

The man pulled a pack of unfiltered cigarettes from a pocket on his trench coat, along with a pack of matches. “You’re wasting useful brain space trying to figure out my reasons and ways, Velent.” He stuck a cigarette in his mouth, but before he could strike a match, Velent placed the handgun on the table and raised her hand, still staring at the pistol. The man looked at it, slightly confused, but then realized what she was doing.

He placed a cigarette between her fingers, and struck a match, pressing the small flame to the end of it. Velent shakily put the cigarette in her mouth as the man then lit his, and closed her eyes.

She breathed in.

And then she breathed out.

Smoke bellowed from her nose as she plucked the cigarette from her mouth. “So…” She sighed as she opened her eyes. “What do we do now?”

“We wait.”

“For what?”

“You’ll see, lynx, you’ll see.”


Kolt had already failed his mission. Moses captured him after he managed to find a small crack in one of the walls of the fortress, kicking it in and crawling inside. He fell roughly ten feet onto his head into a pitch black room, and after brushing himself off, used his lighter as a light source. As he tried to find his way around the pitch black room, he took a step back, and bumped into something burly, large, and smelling of cologne.

He turned around, and the flickering flame of his lighter reflected off of Moses’ reptilian eyes. Kolt stood there agape for a moment, before awkwardly smiling. “Hiiiiii budddddyyyy.” Moses then punched Kolt in the face.

The next time he woke up, he would be shackled to a ceiling, upside down. Moses was there, sitting in a quite regal wooden chair, and the inside of the castle gave Kolt a sense of deja vu; it looked like a palette swapped version of Goldbe-I mean, Cordell’s castle.

“So…” Moses growled in a deep, manly voice practically oozing testosterone, “What brings you here little bug?”

“O-Oh nothin’, i’m just checkin’ out the neighborhood that’s all heehee oh gosh I can feel the blood rushing to my head.”

“Sure you were. That vest you’re wearing is Gilded States property, along with that bomb collar. You’re some sort of slave, aren’t you?”

“Slave? Well, not really, metaphorically yes bu-”

Moses stood up, stomping up to Kolt with his powerful digitigrade legs, and crouched down in front of the Aldearian. He leaned down, face to upside-down face with Kolt, and breathed, “Just tell me why you’re here. I am not in the mood for petty jokes.”

Geeze his breath smells like raw meat, thought Kolt. “Okay. No more jokes. Unless they’re accidental jokes.”

“SPEAK.” Moses suddenly boomed, causing Kolt to grimace a little because hoooo weee his breath STUNK.

“I tried to kill myself and the GSS fixed me up and in return I have to kill you, okay? You happy now? They put this bomb collar on my neck and haven’t told me ANYTHING about how and why it would go off, so i’m a little stressed, okay?”

“Hmmmm… they didn’t tell you when it would go off?”

“Yeah they di-wait a second what do you mean ‘when’?!?”

Moses stood up and reared back his head, letting out a laugh that was more along the lines of a primal roar, and Kolt, if he was a weenie, would’ve shat himself, but Kolt’s not a weenie, so he just peed himself a little instead. “They, heh, haven’t even told you WHEN your time is up?”

“P-Please elaborate?”

Moses instead grabbed the shackles holding Kolt’s ankles in the air and unlatched them, allowing him to fall forward onto his face with an ‘Ooph!’, before crouching down to unlatch his hands. Moses chuckled and helped Kolt to his feet, before giving him a rough pat on the back. “Ohohoho, come my boy, you have things you need to see?”

“Uh, alrighty.” Hey this might not end with either his death OR his asshole caved in! This might end up being a good day after all.

But that remains to be seen, as Kolt was led into the depths of the castle by a scarily-jovial Moses. He had no idea what to expect to happen to him.

He just hoped it wasn’t too bad.