Part Eleven – A Soft Return


“The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.” -Richard Adams

The year was 2076.

The month was May.

The place, deep, deep in space, far from most civilization.

The person, Kolt Saudwell

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It was a long, cold trip. Many days had passed before Kolt was let off the cargo ship, the exact number unknown as he wasn’t keeping count, but it was at least a week. He spent the hours floating in the cargo bay, left in there with little light and no food. They fed him on the third day, generic gruel from an emergency ration packet. Why did they feed him emergency rations? In order to pass the time, he would hover limply in the middle of the room, arms crossed, and think of the last few days. Winter, dead, six months, gone, and things are different now. But what kinds of things? Did he choose the right path, letting himself be taken captive by the inept lagomorphs? He had no idea.

On his last day in the cargo bay, he floated over to the airlock connecting to the rest of the ship, listening in with his new honed hearing. At first, he only heard a few random quips and short conversations here and there, like usual, but after a few minutes the forced, gruff voice of the sword-wielding rabbit boomed over the all others, which began to slowly trail off and hush themselves.

“…and what do you think I should do, hmm? I was hired to KILL him, and all we’re doing is letting him sit with our cargo! Well, float, but still.”

Another, more tired voice answered him. “As soon as the boss is done with him, you can do what you want with Kolt, nobody will care. But until then,” Kolt heard fabric being hit, presumably from someone poking someone else in the chest, “Stop complaining. We’re only a few hours out now, so just, go polish your sword somewhere.”

“I would, if he HADN’T SNAPPED IT IN TWO!

The talking stopped, and Kolt ‘swam’ down to the floor, pulling himself along the crates. When he was extra bored, he’d slide himself between them and adventure through the crevices; it was almost like a maze, and he imagined himself crawling through a dark cave, or the decrepit halls of a long-abandoned space ship, or a particularly large pair of panties. The boredom was killing him.

When the ship finally landed, gravity abruptly came over the entire ship, and Kolt was thankfully doing one of his excursions into the imaginary cave at that time. After pushing himself back up to his feet, a small horde of gun-wielding lagomorphs wearing makeshift uniforms flooded out of the door behind him, and as one pulled a lever and lowered the ramp, the others shoved him forward with the varying barrels of their random guns.

He was on a station, a quite old one judging by all the exposed piping and electronics running below the grates used as floorboards and across the ceiling, wrapping around the light strips that lit the halls. He was led through the rusted halls to a small cell block, but instead of being shoved into one of the barred rooms, he was instead forced at gunpoint into the solitary confinement room, pitch black with concrete walls. He stepped inside, and the door behind him was promptly swung closed, his only light coming from a small slit at head-level. He sat on the ice-cold floor, crossed his legs, and wondered again, did he really do the right thing?

Maybe he could’ve escaped to Switzerland, taken refuge there, try to track down a ship. Maybe he should’ve fled to the Alps, but if he did that there was a chance he would’ve accidentally crossed into the State of Austria and been arrested by GSS gendarmerie. He didn’t have much choices at the time, and now, he had even less. He sat there, pondering his situation for hours, before wondering, what happened to Theo and Velent?

But after seven hours of sitting there, alone in the darkness, he remembered something he noticed when he was being escorted to the room; one of the guards stared at him like he was made of gold, wide eyed and in permanent awe. He realized why; he must’ve been one of his fans. Kolt had a small fanbase following, mainly a bunch of people saying he was the ‘next Kay Kaliburr’ due to him being an Aldearian that kicked a lot of ass, but he viewed himself in a more humble light.

Kolt stood up and looked through the tiny viewport in the door. There they stood, a short brown-and-white rabbit wearing an old Brodie helmet. Kolt then grimaced, as he realized that his best way out of here involved doing something he really, really didn’t want to do.

“Fuck.” He sighed, before whispering through the hole in a sensual tone of voice, “Hey, handsome, you with the Brodie.” The rabbit collapsed almost immediately, unable to control their nervousness. Kolt internally screamed.


Two rabbits, both assigned to guard the new VIP, bumbled on down the hallway to the isolation cell. “Well dang!” Said one as the pair turned a corner, “I sure do think our cause is gettin’ us some support nowadays!”

“So do I! Lotsa new recruits, although a lotta ‘em are kinda shifty lookin’. Well, whatever, we all looked shifty when we first got here, right Cletus?”

“You got that right, Clem!”

Clem put his paw on the touchpad next to the door, and it slid upwards, revealing the small hall with the isolation cell at the end of it. They didn’t see the other guard and, suspiciously, the door to the cell was open. Cletus clutched his bolt-action carbine wearily, whimpering in a shaky tone, “A-Ah don’t think ah wanna be here anymore, Clem.”

“N-Neither do I, Cletus.” He gulped, before beginning to sneakily walk down the hallway, Clem apprehensively following. When they got to the heavy metal door that had Kolt’s cell behind it, Cletus use the barrel of his carbine to ease it open, as Clem stood behind him, his own carbine at the ready. However, they didn’t find Kolt inside. Instead they found the rabbit that was supposed to guard Kolt laying against the back wall, pants down, eyes still rolling in their sockets. The two lagomorphs immediately grimaced, Cletus even gagging from the sight of another man’s genitals.

“H-He,” The rabbit stuttered, mouth in a crooked smile, “H-He…”

Clem rushed to his side, making sure to avert his eyes from the fellow lagomorphs genitalia. “He did what, brother, what did he do to you!”

“H-He… he’s got a mouth of gold, man!”

Cletus retched.

Kolt, a few hallways away, also retched. That was salty. Too salty. His escape however had gone off without a hitch, and he was glad these guys were stupid enough to not install security cameras or else he would have to fight his way out of here. He found a maintenance tunnel obviously meant for lagomorphs and only lagomorphs as the dimensions were beyond cramped, so he had no other choice but to blindly waltz through hallways and hope that he found Theo, or even that bitch Velent. He would take anyone right now. He had clobbered a rabbit militiaman who was walking through the same doorway as him, taking their ancient carbine, an Italian Carcano from the Second Great War, but decided that he wouldn’t use it on anyone; he didn’t want any of THEIR blood on his hands, they were just a bunch of stupid hick kids!

He stopped in the middle of fake park and took a breather, sitting on the astroturf and stretching out his legs. His left hand rested on a plastic rock, which he picked up and examined closely, noting the molding seam running through the middle. This park was faker than most of the 100% natural food products out on the market, thought Kolt before flinging the faux rock into the two-inch-deep pool of water nearby meant to look like a pond. The walls had been painted different shades of green in order to increase the immersion and try to add some atmosphere, but the smiley faces and stick figures with rabbit ears ruined that instantly. Good lord, he thought as he looked at one of the rabbit stick figures, these guys really ARE kids!

Suddenly one of the doors into the park opened and a rabbit walked in, completely unaware of Kolt. Kolt whipped his right arm around with the Carcano still in his hand and fired a single shot at the top of the doorway, the blast and corresponding sparks raining onto the rabbit’s large ears causing them to screech and zoom away, dropping their rifle as they went. No training can go a long way in the wrong direction.


Velent crossed her arms. “So, you think your little rebellion has a chance?” She asked the weary rabbit standing in front of the holographic map, leaning over it with both hands on its edge.

“Not really,” Santan Tectin responded, his answer surprising the lynx, “It wasn’t meant to be like this.” Velent had also watched the proclamation video Tectin had sent to multiple major news stations the last week, but in real life, he seemed more feeble, less of a leader of a rebellion and more like a father figure for his flock of misguided youths, and definitely more friendly than the blank-faced rabbit on the video.

“Be like this? What do you mean?” Velent shifted in her seat.

“There weren’t supposed to be any deaths, at least for the first few months. Everything that was planned out fell apart, due to the GSS realizing they could just dispose of us.”

Velent stood up. “You mean to say, this revolt is a false-flag?”

Tectin turned and nodded. “Yep. The only ‘forces’ I have are approximately eighty rowdy youths armed with weapons older than their great-grandparents who think they have a chance against the million-strong military of the Gilded States. I gave them false hope.” He looked down on the holographic map, which was currently shut off and covered with newspaper clippings from the last month, almost all of them focused on the ‘bombings’ in Trepin. {A} “Look at what it’s given me.”

“Dead civilians.” Answered Velent, who walked over to the holographic map, looking down on the newspaper clippings as well. “Mister Tectin, I do think your cause is noble, even if it’s meant as a ruse. We both have enemies in the GSS, as does, and I regret to say this, Kolt and his friends, what’s left of them at least… How did you get involved in all this?”

Tectin chuckled. “A land rights dispute with a GSS official landed me in debtor’s prison after they convinced my wife at gunpoint to sign over all my acres to the government, but after only a week in jail I was approached by a woman, a Generalmajor in the GSS, who offered me amnesty if I went along with a plot the government was planning.”

Velent’s ears flicked. “A Generalmajor you say? A fox?”

“Yes, and uh, don’t tell my wife about this, but quite the looker too. Anyways, she arranged for my release, and after a few months of preparation, I recorded my ‘declaration’ and mobilized my tiny fleet, and here we are. We’ve done nothing except go to Earth in order to drop off an assassin hired by an associate of the Generalmajor to kill Kolt, although as you’ve said, it seems we’re all in the same boat now, so to speak.” Velent however was completely zoned out, staring intently at one of the newspaper clippings; a cut-out article speaking about the GSS’ statement in the aftermath of the ‘Trepin attacks’, but it wasn’t the statement that caught her eye; it was the picture.

Generalmajor Johannes, speaking to reporters at a podium in Austria two days after the incident in Trepin. Tectin noticed this, following her eyes to the clipping, and asked, “…what exactly happened in Trepin? The news stories all mesh together but, they’re all too vague.”

“Somebody wanted to clean up their mess, that’s what. I had a death squad sent after me, and the Trepin attacks occurred only a few days later.”

The door into the command center slid open, and Theo was escorted in by two lagomorphs, sans his overcoat and with his hands unbound. He crossed his arms and asked, “I hope you realize we’re all friends here, Tectin.”

“I do.” The rabbit nodded. “I do indeed. Although, not all of the people under my command might agree.”

As if on command, in walked the hare with anger issues, one of the sheaths attached to his belt empty. His odd metal legs drew the gaze of Velent and Theo, and the lynx asked, “Well is anyone ELSE going to stumble in here?”

And in stumbled Kolt, holding his Carcano and breathing heavily. He instantly pointed it at Tectin, while Hoji drew his uchigatana and pointed it at Kolt. “What,”  Breathed the Aldearian, “The hell is going on? Theo and Velent?”

Velent pushed up on the bridge of her spectacles. “That definitely is our names, you see Kolt, it turns out that these lagomorphs are actually on the same side as us.”

“H-Huh?” He swung the barrel of the Carcano over to Hoji, who furrowed his brow in response. “This little shit tried to kill me only minutes after I woke up!”

“Because he was hired by the GSS, Kolt.” Responded Tectin, who walked up to the Aldearian and put a hand on his arm, completely ignoring the fact that he was armed and quite confused. “We’re not enemies. No matter if you broke Hoji’s sword, he’s under MY orders now, and,” He turned and glared at Hoji, “If he wants to get paid, he should keep his sword in his pants.”

Hoji grumbled before sheathing his sword, and Kolt lifted the barrel of his Carcano off of the hare, operating the bolt and rechambering a new round, having pointed a technically empty gun at him. “So, you guys are gonna help us?” Kolt asked.

“Well, if you want to stay here with us as we wait for the inevitable raid by the GSS, that’s fine with me!”

“Great. Theo, Velent, we’re leaving.” The two didn’t move, Theo just standing there with his arms crossed, and Velent staring at the newspaper clippings. “Guys. Guys!”

Theo shook his head. “I’m staying Kolt. The GSS got Winter killed, the least we could do for her is find who did this and rip off their limbs.” Kolt DID like the thought of ripping off the limbs of the person who got that fox to kill Winter, but he didn’t feel safe here, especially around Hoji, who hadn’t averted his eyes from Kolt since he had entered the room. But other than his gut feeling, Kolt realized that, maybe this WAS the safest place for them to be. The GSS probably thinks they’re running through the forests of southern Germany unless they spotted the shuttle taking off, but he doubted that. His gloves audibly tightened around the stock of the Carcano, but he relented, sighing, “I guess we’re staying for the time being then.”

Tectin gave a small smile. “Good, i’ll see if I can find some living quarters for you three. Welcome to South Sandleford Station.”


June, 2076.


Existence on South Sandleford station was fleeting. Kolt and Theo found themselves usually fixing the many technical problems the station had, mainly contributing to the station dating back to the mid 2020s and having little to no modernized systems. Velent spent her time synthesizing medicine from whatever she could find and talking with Tectin, and the trio would regularly retire to their rooms to watch television or read in Kolt’s case after a long day of making sure no lagomorphs killed themselves, but Kolt found the general lack of books on station troubling. One day, he found a history book about a Gap-born lagomorph general in one of the many secessionist wars, and read the entire book in only a few hours. He chewed the leather glove’s pinky finger into a wrinkly mess in that time, before promptly returning the book to the trash where it belonged because the general turned out to be a race supremacist, and Kolt despised supremacists, although he had been lucky to avoid racism for the most part; no one really cares if you’re an Aldearian nowadays. It’s 2076, racism shouldn’t even exist!

However, on one particularly bland day, the TV in Theo’s room shorted out in the middle of his soap opera, ‘Não é Fácil Ser Portuguêsy’. And right as Radburn was going to confess his love for Ubon in front of Ubon’s racist mother was well! As Radburn’s face was mere moments from being hit by Ubon’s mother’s fist, the screen had fizzled out, and Theo knew why. Theo grumbled and crawled out of his bed and up to the TV, which sat on his empty dresser. He tried to adjust the antennae, but the screen stayed as static. Odd. He grabbed his jumpsuit from the top of the dresser next to the TV and slid it on, having been sitting in bed wearing only his long underwear and a black t-shirt, the same clothes he arrived in under his trenchcoat. The jumpsuit was one meant for the lagomorphs, and although it was slightly tight in places, but had quite the good amount of ball-room in comparison, not that the space would be of any use to Theo.

Theo waltzed into the bridge and rapped on the wall, and Tectin turned to greet him. “The TV signal is out.” Theo said as Tectin was opening his mouth to greet the Marbelian.

“Well hello to you too. Yes, that’s already been reported by a couple other people, it seems everyone’s signal went out at the same time. I WOULD send out a lagomorph to fix it but, it’s late, and I don’t think any of them are willing to go out and rejigger the main antennae just because the TV signal we-”

I will do it, just tell me where the space suits are. I kind of want to get this fixed as soon as possible, as I was in the middle of watching probably the only important TV show in existence.”

“‘It’s Not Easy Being Portuguesey?”

“‘It’s Not Easy Being Portuguesey.’”

Tectin nodded, before looking down and hissing, “Damn it, I didn’t realize that there was a new episode tonight… did Radbu-”

“I would rather fix the damn antennae first instead of wasting time.” Theo snapped, very much wanting to get this problem resolved.

Tectin nodded. “Of course, my apologies, there are space suits in the hangar the shuttle you and your friends arrived on is landed in.”

Theo gave a thumbs up, before jogging out of the room. Tectin then kicked himself for not remembering to record that new episode.


It was hard finding somewhere alone to suit up. The station had over 100 occupants now, 103 to be exact, but was only designed for at most 80. Theo found himself cramming himself into the only empty public shower he could find and closing the curtain, and even then he saw large-eared silhouettes crowding around behind the curtain, grumbling about how he was hogging the shower. But by the time he got the ancient space suit on, the shadows had dispersed, and he was able to waddle back to the hanger untouched.

The lagomorphs really didn’t like the trio’s presence on the station; the LRG was supposed to be a lagomorph ethnostate secessionist group. Although the mass majority of the members of the LRG were very much just dumb teens who didn’t even get through high school, the newest group of recruits were… odd. They were all ex-military, with docked tails and scars covering their bodies, most of them very blank-faced and scowly and in their 30s. Kolt’s guess was that they were ex-GSS militiamen, while Theo thought they might be ex-Privateers or guerilla fighters from previous failed secessionist wars. Velent just thought they were more stupid rabbits. Whenever Kolt or Theo passed by, the new lagomorphs would stare intensely at them, although Hoji’s glaring at Kolt trumped all, while Velent was entirely ignored. But thankfully, in the month that they had been on the station, there hadn’t been any incidents between the guests and any of the other inhabitants of South Sandleford station. Yet, at least.

Theo stomped back into the hanger, and he made his way to where a small group of mechanics were sitting about, fiddling with old hovercrafts and rolling dice in one of their helmets as they played one of their locally-developed games, trading bolts back and forth in exchange for nuts as they had no actual pieces. One sat on a crate with a portable TV in their lap, watching the 3-inch wide screen intensely, and as Theo walked past he reached out and snatched it. “H-Hey!” The lagomorph protested, hopping off the crate, and the rabbits playing their dice game turned and watched the space-suited Marbelian stomp into a nearby airlock, turn, and pull the door closed.

The station dated back to the 2030s, so the airlock cycling procedure wasn’t as simple as just pushing a button. Theo had to manually lock the doors by pulling two large levers on either side of them, before manually unlocking the door leading into space by doing the same thing on the other side. After a few minutes of pre-breathing (the bends weren’t a worry for him, he could burn some energy to fix that if need be), he rotated a lever attached to the wall, and held onto a large metal bar for dear life. The airlock, which was attached to the station, entirely detached and slowed to a halt on the tracked ring it was attached to, as the rest of the station rotated like a spinning top, giving the inhabitants gravity. Theo let go of the bar and began to float, drifting towards the button that controlled the cycling process, poking it and listening as the sound drained away. Soon, the only sounds he heard were his breathing, and his thinking, which was solely about wanting to watch some damn television.


Kolt Saudwell found his radio play disturbed by sudden static as he laid in a bathroom tub reading a book. Sitting up, he reached over and fiddled with the knobs of the radio, which sat on the toilet, but all the other stations had disappeared. He crawled out of the bathtub and set his book next to the radio, yawning and stretching out his arm. He emerged from the bathroom rotating his left arm in a windmill-like fashion, and when he felt his arm satisfyingly pop he let it slump to his side, but took a second to stare at his hand. The odd number of fingers still puzzled him.

Unlike Velent and Theo, Kolt had actually personalized his living quarters a little; he traded some cartridge cases he found for a pin-up poster of quite a curvy white rabbit that he promptly taped to the backside of his door. He also found a lava lamp in one of the small break rooms and promptly stole it, and previously he had entertained himself by staring at it for hours doing literally nothing else until he practically fell over a book sitting on the floor in one of the halls one of the few days he actually left his room, that day being today; he had gone out to go steal some snacks from a vending machine.

It was another book in the same series as the one about the lagomorph general he had found a few weeks ago, however, this one could double as a door stop, being a little under half a foot thick. Kolt dragged it back to his room and feverishly read it until his radio went on the fritz, as the subject enamored him; it was about Kay Kaliburr, the alien who changed the universe, and a religious figure in a way to the Aldearians.

He was a second generation Aldearian, born on the ships flying from wherever the first generation had escaped from into the abyss of space circa 1812, and the ship he was born on, like all the others, had no real location in sight. They were just flying, far far away from where they came from, attempting to find a new home. No written description of the first generation Aldearians exist, and most were dead when the first second-generation Aldearians were born, the ones that survived having heavily mutated themselves in order to live in the ships. The ships the Aldearians traveled on were very much cobbled together hulks that shouldn’t have worked but did, lacking basic lighting and living arrangements, and survival on them was nearly impossible. No food. No water. No society, at least at first. The second generations were forced to grow up on their own, with little to no guidance from the surviving first generations, but, after hundreds of years of conflict, the Aldearians who lived on the ships managed to finally put away their differences, and attempt to find a new home.

And they found one in Earth.

The second generations, having evolved to survive in the confines of the ships, found Earth and decided to circle it for a few decades, giving time for the people on board to mutate and evolve so they could live on the surface. Aldearians were meant to adapt and survive in any conditions, having been theorized to be an evolved ‘slave species’ by some second generation scholars, but a slave species for whom? Anyways, Kay Kaliburr was one of the few Aldearians that initiated first contact with humanity and the anthromorphs in 1912, but only weeks after the ships landed on Earth, he left his people to go fight in the Balkan Wars.

There, he experienced the horrors of human-led wars. On the ships he was an experienced fighter, having learned how to use a handmade staff with deadly efficiency in order to defend himself from the purists who wanted him dead for having discolored prosthetic eyes, the result of a chemical imbalance issue of his, but here, he experienced rifles, artillery, sabres, weaponry he could have only dreamed of before. And he adapted. He became an adept with the sabre, a marksmen with the rifle, a quickshooter with the revolver and semi-automatic pistol, and when the war ended, he lusted for more. He sat around in Serbia for a year after the Balkan Wars ended, and in 1914, the world was changed forever. A fox anarchist ambushed the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, as his convoy of cars stalled. He was shot in the chest and neck, the first shot being barely absorbed by his silk bullet resistant vest he wore that day, the second hitting him in the trachea and blowing out his throat, and his wife was shot in the head. Both died within seconds. The assassin, Gavrilo Princip, was arrested and interrogated, and soon the world exploded into the First Great War. Kay Kaliburr, stuck in Serbia, was thrust into the middle of it, however as he was a stateless individual, and a literal alien at that, he was allowed to travel where he pleased, avoiding battlefields. He headed to France, taking a boat to the United States, where he purchased himself a self-loading rifle, ammunition, and turned right back around, taking another boat back to France. By the time he was trained and prepared to fight, it was 1916, and tanks were rolling across the battlefield.

Kay fought for the Allies until the end of the year. In a battle in Eastern France, he was knocked out during a failed charge, and captured by a German raiding party. However, he didn’t fret, as the Germans held the utmost respect for the ‘leather-skinned outsider’, who had proven himself to be a tactical genius with literally inhuman abilities and ideas decades ahead of everyone else. He gladly joined the side of the Central Powers, as they literally offered him as many medals as possible, and Kay, being a very object-minded person, was enamored with the idea of being able to show off and be respect for pieces of metal pinned to his breast. However, by late 1917, he was growing displeased with the war. He had formed his own unit, the Black Adrians, a group comprised of misfits and Allied prisoners who found it an honor to fight under him, named after their captured M15 Adrian helmets they painted black, but one soldier in the group stood out; the wreck named Adolf Hitler, who survived the war to become a monster humanity had never seen before, but that’s a story for another history book.

Kay was personally involved with the rapid modernization of the German and Austro-Hungarian militaries, sneaking into Rome to steal a prototype Cei-Rigotti self-loading rifle for the Germans to reverse engineer and personally designing a semi-automatic conversion for the Austrian Steyr M95 rifle (which are still in use to this very day with GSS militia units), while simultaneously devising new tactics based less around masses of troops and more around small squads that infuriated the officers of the Central Powers, coming from his own experiences with the Black Adrians, whose numbers never rose above 20, and not based on the old days of the Napoleonic Wars. The man defined the Aldearians for decades to come; resourceful, robust, rebellious, and raving mad if you got on their bad sides. He was the global ambassador for the Aldearians, whether he or they liked it or not. {A}

Kolt had just gotten to the section about Kay’s experiences in 1918 when the radio he had on for white noise sputtered out, so he hadn’t read any farther then that. But the history book didn’t just interest him for Kay’s story. Kolt had a personal reason for reading it, and he wanted to continue to read it, but without the white noise he was left to his thoughts, which were disruptive and depressive to say the least. So, Kolt left his room with the book under his armpit, flipping up his hood after he closed his door in order to aid with the ignoring of the lagomorphs who tended to crowd around the gangly alien man, and he went searching for somewhere that had pleasant-but-not-annoying sounds.

But what he found himself drawn to was the sound of soft piano music ricocheting through the halls. Kolt followed it, hearing the slow music get louder with each corner turned, and he found himself in a small concert hall, standing in the middle of two rows of empty benches, ahead of him a raised stage where the piano he heard throughout the halls was placed. The room was illuminated by orange lights on the floor near the walls, a strip running between the benches as well, basking Kolt with an orange underglow. He heard the keys of the piano tap as musical thumps came forth from it, saddening and chilling, and Kolt walked up to the stage. Under the piano he saw a pair of jackbooted legs hanging off the piano player’s bench, slightly swinging as the person they were attached to played the piano, and he slowly walked along the stage to the left, leaning a bit so he could see the pianist.


Sitting at the bench was an almost ghostly-looking lagomorph, with pale white fur that absorbed the orange lighting well, and the gray jumpsuit pattern that was shared by the LRG members was loose on their limbs, although not much. Their eyes were shut, and their fingers slowly drifted over each key, the piano letting out another haunting tone whenever they pressed down, and their nose twitched when Kolt stopped. Their ears hung limply from their head, drifting slowly as they played their sad tone, and Kolt sat down on one of the benches, silently watching the rabbit play. Their head bobbed to the right, and they quickened their pace slightly, and Kolt began to read. The pianist played on.

But he soon stopped. He had heard the Aldearian enter, but kept his eyes closed; through the music, he heard Kolt walk up to the stage and stand there, before walking to a bench and sitting down. He heard the flap of a page in Kolt’s book being turned, and finally, he opened his eyes, and turned to look at the Aldearian, who was engrossed in his book. Kolt, noticing that HE was now the one being stared at, looked up at the rabbit, muttered, “Hello.”

“Hullo.” Responded the rabbit in a tired, breathy voice. “I assume you came here because of the music?”

“Yes, it’s calming, and my radio malfunctioned, so I went looking for some white noise.” The Aldearian bluntly responded, wishing the rabbit kept playing instead of trying to converse with him.

The rabbit chuckled. “Well, i’m white, and i’m causing noise. Is that good enough for you?”

“Yes.” Kolt went back to reading, and the rabbit went back to playing, closing his eyes again and playing as slow a tune as possible for his new audience, who had zoned out and was focused entirely on the book, the words seemingly jumping from the paper into Kolt’s fractured brain as he absorbed them. The rabbit enjoyed the company, as the other lagomorphs were busy doing other more important things, like seeing who could chug the most rotgut, or who could eat the most cigarettes, or who would win who’s virginity in a dice game. Kolt turned another page, and the rabbit sighed.

“You’re Kolt Saudwell, correct?”

“Who else would I be.” Kolt turned another page, having read through that one surprisingly fast.

“Good question. You’re you, and, i’m me, nobody else, just us.” He closed his eyes for a second, letting himself be absorbed in his own music, before opening them and beginning to speak again. “The people here just can’t seem to calm down, can they? Always running around, breaking things, breaking each other, to be honest, it gets annoying after awhile.” Kolt didn’t respond, being too engrossed in his book but still listening, so the rabbit continued. “I came here to play after my own radio shorted out, you know? It gives me something to do, and,” He found his eyes closing again, letting his work take ahold of him, before he shook his head, “I don’t really care if no one comes here to listen. You didn’t, you came here to do the opposite of listening, just to hear the sound, but not the music.”

“It’s a very pretty melody.” Kolt suddenly spoke up, glancing from his pages at the rabbit, having actually been watching him since he started talking, his lack of pupils making it seem like he was just staring at his book the whole time. “But, I don’t recognize it. Is it something you wrote?”

“I’m just freestyling it, making it up as I go. It’s not that hard. You’re familiar with freestyling, aren’t you, Saudwell? I’ve heard about you, the things you’ve done, the ways you’ve done them. I’m a little envious to be honest. Wanted to be a Privateer myself, but, I didn’t think i’d have what it takes.”

Kolt folded the corner of the page he was on and closed his book, dust puffing out and onto his hands. “No one does, you only know when you’re halfway through training, after you’ve done all the conditioning.”

“I’ve heard similar things to that. I mainly was, heh, worried about my tail. Didn’t want to lose it.” The rabbit wiped his nose with a finger

“That is a worry, yes. What’s your name?”

“What’s in a name?”


The rabbit stopped playing, and looked down at Kolt from the stage. “Most know me as ‘the Lieutenant’. Some, Hazel, after my favorite nut.” Who the hell’s favorite nut is the hazelnut, thought Kolt incredulously. “Although, that’s a lie, i’m actually allergic, they call me Hazel because they found me fondling my ‘hazelnuts’ in the shower one time.” Oh, hmm. “To be honest though, I prefer it over ‘the Lieutenant.’ It’s much more memorable.”

“Are you a pianist, Hazel? Well, WERE you a pianist?”

“Nice save there, and yes, I was a pianist, although I was an amateur. Come up on the stage, I want to show you something.”

Kolt obliged, hoping it wasn’t the previously mentioned hazelnuts but listening anyways, walking up the small stairway to the left of the stage and behind the rabbit, and he noticed the steel helmet sitting by his side on the bench. The rabbit patted the area to his right, and Kolt sat down. “Now, playing the piano is all about memory.”

“I have memory issues.”

“Then it’s about muscle memory. You don’t have to know the songs if your muscles do. I’m just freestyling, but, if I were to actually play a song,” He played part the first few notes of Chopsticks with his right hand, “I can just remember it through feeling, although, heh, i’ve remembered Chopsticks mostly through the few hundred times i’ve played it. Now, watch.” He played through part of Chopsticks, before stopping. “Now you try.”

Kolt tentatively set his gloved left hand on the keys of the piano and tried to copy the rhythm the rabbit did but somehow failed horribly, his fingers slipping from key to key and sounding more like he was smashing his whole hand against the keys because, well, he was. Kolt looked at the rabbit, completely lost, and the rabbit just stared at Kolt’s hands with his eyebrows raised.

“Wow, you’re more far gone than I thought. Just, try to copy me, please? It’s not complicated, really.” He did Chopsticks again, before adding in the parts that the left hand did and turning the song back into The Celebrated Chop Waltz, and Kolt made some mental notes of what rhythm and key presses he made. “Now, try again, this time with less hand-smashing please? This is an old piano.”

Kolt promptly smashed his hand against the keys and looked back at the rabbit, a look of complete shock on his face as he somehow messed up AGAIN. The rabbit slowly put a paw to his face, pinching the bridge of his snout and groaning, “Weeeee’re gonna be here a while, aren’t we?”


Theo drifted towards the tethered asteroid in the distance, activating his suit’s RCS thrusters every few seconds to re-adjust himself, and he hugged the portable TV against his body; he didn’t want to lose that, as it was his way of confirming if his repair was successful or not. {A} He fired off his RCS thrusters once again, reaching out with his free hand, and he softened his impact significantly with it. He grabbed onto a small crater in the asteroid and hoisted himself upwards, letting go and floating past, before blasting his thrusters once more to stop himself and to scoot towards the large antennae sitting on top of the asteroid.

He let go of the television, which floated idly, and he searched the toolbelt attached to his space suit for the appropriate tools. He floated in front of a control panel for the radio array, which was their only way of getting radio signals and TV access all the way out here in The Gap, and without that, they were stuck in the dark. He pulled a screwdriver from the belt, the long retractable hook holding onto it so if he dropped the tool it would snap back to his belt, and he began to unscrew the screws holding the control panel in place. He left the screws floating to the right of the panel and popped it off, and Theo immediately squinted at the frayed wiring he saw inside. There was a visible gash through the wiring, as if someone had stuck a knife in it and pulled it down at an angle, and when Theo realized that his stomach dropped. Unless someone was doing a really shitty practically joke, this was bad, bad news. But he still had a job to do. Radburn and Tectin were counting on him!

He watched his oxygen slowly dwindle on the counter attached to his wrist as he fixed the wiring, having to resolder a bunch of them and just jury-rig something together for the time being. Sadly, it’d probably work much better than before, as he found that some of the electronics were secured not by glue, but by chewing gum. How someone got chewing gum out into the vacuum was a question for another time. Theo re-orientated the portable TV towards his face and turned it on, greeted by static. “This better work.” He said to himself as he turned a small knob inside the control panel. The TV instantly fizzled back to life, showing Radburn standing victoriously over Ubon’s unconscious mom after an epic slap-fight ensued between them that lasted for two episodes, and Theo sighed in relief.

He turned to start drifting back to the station, but stared at the spacesuit he saw in the distance, the same kind as his. Someone hung off of the airlock that he had detached, and although he couldn’t see their face from this distance, he saw a white face, and swore that he saw fuzzy ears compressed inside the helmet. They opened the airlock and clambered inside, and in horror he watched the airlock re-attach itself and begin to rotate along with the rest of the station, and Theo yelled in his helmet, “What the hell!”

He blasted his RCS and zoomed over to the rotating ring the airlock was supposed to be sitting still on, and watched as it made revolution after revolution, attached to the station. There was no way he could get in from out here. His only hope was to signal someone to stop an airlock for him, but with how fast the station was rotating, that would be tough as hell. He looked down on the TV he held under his armpit, then at his oxygen meter. He had a little over four hours left. “Well, whatever.” He reached down and flicked on a toggle on his portable TV, and subtitles appeared on the screen. Theo thought, I got four hours of oxygen, so maybe i’ll just, spend one or two watching some TV!


Velent wished Kobold was here. Having to do things on her own without a manservant to order around was absolutely DREADFUL. Plus, the equipment on the station, ugh, it was all ancient and useless! She could do no research here! All she could do was sit about fiddling with things in order to pass the time and teach the lagomorphs how to use alcohol to clean wounds instead of drinking all of it. This existence is terrible. Her laboratory wasn’t even really a laboratory, it was just a room filled with dangerous chemicals, a few random bits and bobs of scientific usage, and an acid-stained laminated wood table. I mean, she shouldn’t have expected much from a janitor’s closet Tectin had some lagomorphs convert for her into a laboratory but, she expected something better than THIS.

After getting bored with trying to light a cigarette using a magnifying glass and a lamp, Velent decided to take one of her rare expeditions into the outside world and go see if she could harass Tectin for test subjects to tortu-I mean, ethically experiment on. Maybe she could tell him that she was trying to synthesize a drug that would stop lagomorph heart attacks, which are scarily common by the way, and needs some lagomorphs to GIVE heart attacks so she can test drugs on them? Maybe that could work… although she already knew how to stop heart attacks through some simple remedies, if her, umm, ‘experiments’ actually bore fruit, she could begin her public re-appreciation campaign! That Nobel peace prize was almost within her grasp…

Velent walked to the bridge, Tectin’s stomping grounds, and walked in on him speaking to several of his lieutenants, who displayed the diversity of the LRG; a brown hare stood over all of his compatriots by almost half a foot, wearing a frayed straw hat and a too-small jumpsuit with the arms and legs rolled up to hide how poor fitting it was. Next to Tectin, who was currently pointing to the holograms on the map, was a pitch black rabbit with bright blue eyes and a pair of coke-bottle glasses, pointing to different parts of the map before looking back to Tectin, who would explain whatever the rabbit was pointing at. On the other side of the map was a tan-and-white rabbit with a nose that just wouldn’t stop twitching and a glazed-over eye, and this rabbit was the first to notice Velent’s presence.

“Tectin.” Tectin looked up from the map and saw the rabbit motioning behind him, and the older rabbit turned and smiled at Velent.

“Ah, Miss Velent, it’s good to see you out of your room, although, for a second there I thought you were my missing lieutenant… where IS that man?”

“I need test subjects for experiments.”

Tectin was taken aback, chuckling awkwardly. “Heh, what?”

“I think I may have an idea how to develop medicine to stop heart attacks, which I know are prevalent with your kind.” The hare glared at her, arms crossed, and Velent cleared her throat. “Ahem, and i’d like to have a lab assistant in general.”

Tectin rubbed his chin. “Heart attacks ARE an issue, but, I think some of my lieutenants might take issue to you ‘playing with god’.”

Velent raised an eyebrow. “What?”

The hare on the other side of the table spoke up. “If it’s god’s time for someone to die, he will take them.” Velent rolled her eyes so hard it felt like her eyesockets were about to burst, and the hare grumbled.

“So you just leave someone to die when they inevitably have a heart attack?” The hare nodded and Velent put a hand on her head. “Oh god i’m surrounded by idiots.”

Tectin shook his head. “Well for now, Miss Velent, I don’t think any of the soldiers would, willingly join you for your experiments.”

“Oh that’s not a problem. Not a problem at all.” She glared at the hare and turned around, walking out of the bridge.

Tectin rubbed his brow before closing his eyes and groaning. “All of you, leave, I have a migraine and I don’t think we even got anywhere with this meeting.”

The black rabbit shouted, “But we didn’t even discuss our next plan of actio-!”


The lieutenants whispered among themselves as they left the room, and Tectin leaned against the holographic map, grimacing as he held his head.

“Long meeting?” A man’s voice asked, and Tectin opened his eyes. Kolt and his missing lieutenant stood in the doorway, Kolt with his arms crossed and absolutely towering over the white rabbit.

“Ah, Hazel, you finally showed up, and just after I adjourned the meeting as well.”

“The others didn’t look happy when they left and I think Kolt and I witnessed Meyer get kidnapped by Doctor Velent.” Meyer was the brown hare who gave Velent multiple rude looks, something that she considered punishable by death or at least minor flogging, so she had, um, ‘spirited’ him away by grabbing him by the neck, lifting him off the ground, and carrying him to her shitty laboratory.

“I expected that to happen. Hello Kolt.”

“Hello Mister Tectin. I found Hazel here playing a piano on an empty stage.”

Tectin looked over at Hazel and raised his eyebrow. “Again?”

“I do it every week Tectin, of course I did it again.”

“Well I WOULD’VE preferred you not do it the day of one of our exceedingly rare meetings.”

“Well I would prefer that we never have these dumb little mee-” Kolt walked between the pair.

“Shut up, both of you. Tectin, where’s Theo.”

Hazel stretched out his neck as Tectin tapped his chin. “He… went out to check the antennae that gives us TV signals, out on the asteroid tethered to the station.”


“Of course.”

“How long ago was this?”

Tectin rolled up one of the sagging sleeves of his shirt, reading his watch. “About, maybe twenty minutes ago? The TV signal returned so I assumed that he fixed it and returned, as the airlock ring outside the station had recoupled.”


“The big ring around the station that the airlocks are attached to reattached to the station, meaning someone had entered through it. I, do find it a bit odd that he hasn’t returned here…”

Kolt swiveled on his heel and began to walk out, stating, “I need to get a space suit.”

Hazel followed him into the hall, jogging alongside Kolt, who could cover much more ground in each step than the short lagomorph next to him. “Most of the space suits on this station only fit other rabbits, but I DO know where a few normal ones are.”

Kolt stopped and looked down on Hazel with his bright amber eyes. “Show me.” Hazel nodded and jogged off, Kolt easily following him just by fast-walking. Hazel led him to a small room with a few sealed tubes in it, pulling a lever on the side of one. The tube separated down the middle and slid open, revealing not a generic space-suit as Kolt had expected, but a GSS-licensed coil suit, commonly only seen on GSS-purchased Cuirassier clones {A}. The differences to the normal Privateer coil suit were minor, the GSS version being slightly thicker to stop punctures from knives or jutting edges on the outside of space stations and the exterior texture being much more dull and less ‘leathery’ than the Privateer coil suits. It also didn’t increase the muscle mass of the wearer very much, as the chemicals the suits secrete are extremely expensive, so all the suit does is slather the wearer’s upper body with them, leaving their legs unenhanced.

Next to it in the capsule was a green polymer chestplate separated into two pieces and hanging off of two matching hooks, a life support system that doubled as some decent bullet-resistant chest armor; the GSS obviously don’t have the signature Species helmets that the Privateers do, the triangular helmets designed to hold life support equipment above the wearer’s head so they DON’T have to wear a life support vest. “It’s old Gilded State stuff,” Hazel said as Kolt pulled out the coil suit and straightened it out, having gotten stiff over the years sitting it its storage capsule, “Probably not as good as the stuff you’re used to, Privateer, but I hope it works.” He set it on the floor and pulled out the two halves of the life support vest, which had a series of dials and a small LED bar on top of it so that if the wearer looked down while wearing a basic space suit helmet they could see an estimate of their remaining oxygen supply.

“EX-Privateer, and leave. Now.” Kolt ordered Hazel, and the lagomorph tipped the edge of his helmet before leaving the room. Kolt pulled a generic bubble helmet off a nearby shelf and sat it on the ground. I wonder if I can beat my record, he thought.

He did. Twenty-nine seconds, WITH the helmet and the life support vest, which he connected to the helmet with a flexible tube that he pulled out of a hole on the top of the vest. Walking out of the room, he found Hazel leaning against the doorway, and the rabbit backed up when he saw Kolt’s new outfit. Kolt put his hands on the form-fitting hips of his new coil suit and heroically said, “Let’s get going, Lieutenant. I have a blue midget to save!”

A rabbit militiaman approached the pair from their left. “U-Uh, sirs? Mister Kolt? Yer friend, uh, Mister Theo, is trying to get back on the station.”

Kolt flipped down the dimmed visor of his bubble helmet and internally screamed, which manifested as him simply screaming with his mouth closed, as he had wanted to do a whole action movie-style rescue with him flying out of an airlock and grabbing Theo before jetting back with the RCS thrusters on the backplate of the life support vest. When he finished internally-externally screaming he tried to rub his face, but his hand collided with the bubble helmet, and he just leaned against the wall instead. “Where is he trying to get in from?” Hazel asked the other rabbit, who was still staring at Kolt quite worried. The shook their head and turned to Hazel.

“Umm, an emergency airlock, Lieutenant.”

“On the station?”

“W-Where else?”

“But, the station is still rotating?”


“AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” Theo screamed as he held on for dear life, just barely managing to hold onto an extruding edge of the space station near an airlock with the fat fingers of his space suit, having blindly flown towards it in hope that if the station smashing against him didn’t instantly end his life, he would manage to grab ahold of something, and he did. “I HAAAAATE THIIIIIIIIIIIS!!!” He yelled as everything spun in his eyesight, fighting back the urge to vomit as much as he could. The stars were just streaks of varying brightnesses, and his eye had began to unfocus as he couldn’t stare at the station for very long, his whole body being plastered against a short platform he had by pure chance alone managed to splatter himself onto face-first. Holding onto the edge, he wrenched his arm from the platform, looking at his oxygen counter; less than fifteen minutes left. No more dilly dallying, he thought, as Kolt would say, it’s not the time for thinking, it’s the time for action!

He hugged his portable television to his chest with his other arm and managed to slide one of his knees under his chest and sit up, fighting against the extreme amount of g-forces. Crawling on all fours (well, threes, as he was holding onto his TV as well), Theo slowly inched towards the emergency airlock, trying to reach for the lever that opened it. Through a security camera stationed above the airlock, Kolt, Tectin, and Hazel watched Theo struggle to open the airlock, Kolt almost pressing his face to the grainy camera feed as he watched his best friend struggle to get back inside.

“Open the airlock.”

“Kolt, we can’t.” Tectin replied, trying to nudge Kolt out of the way so he could see as well.

“Why not?” Answered the Aldearian, unmoving. “Also, push me again and i’ll knock your ass to the ground.”

“Duly noted, and it’s because of the age of the station. Not many things are remotely controlled, that airlock included.” Kolt stepped back and put his helmet back on, allowing the two lagomorphs to actually see the screen, and Tectin added, “And it seems your friend is about to open the airlock anyways.”

“Where is it.”


“The airlock, I want to meet him, he might get the bends and i’ll have to carry him to a decompression chamber. You DO have those, right?”

“Yes, we do. The airlock is two floors down, east side of the station, it’s the farthest point so just keep going east until you find i-” Tectin watched as Kolt sprinted from the room, almost slamming into one of the automatic doors before it could fully open. Tectin scoffed, “He must really like his friend.”

“From what he’s told me, he considers Theo’s life worth more than his own.” Hazel shifted his helmet on his head and walked over to another set of screens, watching Kolt run through the halls, ramming into a pair of militiamen and knocking them both to the floor as he went without stopping for even a moment, much to Hazel’s amusement. Hazel and Kolt had talked for a few minutes after Hazel’s failure of a piano lesson, and Kolt rambled about how he had been feeling this last month, about South Sandleford, about the LRG, about Winter, but mostly about Theo.


“I’m scared for him.” Kolt had said after the pair decided to not molest the piano any further. “When Winter died he, changed a bit. He teared up, but he didn’t cry. I mean neither did I but that was because I was focused on the task at hand, which was getting the fuck out of Trepin, but he, looked distant from then until we got here. Once we got here he seemed, back to normal, but, he’s not.”

“He’s lucky to have someone as caring as you around, Kolt,” Hazel had responded, putting a paw on Kolt’s shoulder as Kolt stared at the piano keys, “I’m sure if he needs anything, he’ll come to you.”

“But he HASN’T in the last MONTH. It actually looks as if he’s AVOIDING me! And I have no idea why!” Kolt threw his hands into the air and stood off of the bench, cursing, “It feels as if the Theo I know died with Winter!”

“I doubt that’s true. He’s probably still just grieving in his own odd way, just give him time. You’re an odd one, Kolt.”

Kolt turned, putting his hands on his sides. “How?”

“Aren’t Privateers meant to be emotionally dull? To not care about one another?”

“Well, at FIRST. That’s just how we’re trained, but we forget most of what we’re trained in the first few years of work. I uh, have problems socializing, so, I made an extra large effort to try and forget my training. For the first two years I was almost entirely silent actually! I’m not a Privateer anymore, anyways.”

“I can only imagine the situations that might’ve gotten you in.” Hazel yawned before closing the key cover of the piano and standing off of the piano bench, looking up at Kolt. “Good lord you’re taller than you look!”

Kolt shrugged. “I’m just six feet tall. Without boots. Not my fault all lagomorphs are short!”

The pair chuckled.


Back in the present, Kolt stood in front of the airlock Theo was trying to get inside, tapping his foot with his arms crossed. “Come on, Theo…” The airlock thumped, and Kolt could hear the air hissing away inside; Theo had managed to start the cycling procedure. Kolt walked up to the airlock and stared through the window as Theo crawled under the still-opening door, which swung upwards and out, portable television still stuck under his arm. “Good work Theo. Hazel, i’d suggest you stand ba-Hazel?”

Kolt turned to look at the rabbit, but they were gone. “Hazel?” He called out, turning and looking down the hallway behind him. “Where the hell did…” When he turned back, he noticed the barrel of a gun pointing up at his face, and looked down at the figure to his left. A lagomorph he had never seen before pointed a pistol at Kolt’s face, and through his limited viewport on the helmet, Kolt saw that they weren’t happy with him, a pronounced scowl on their face, nothing like Hoji’s however. “And you are?” He asked.

The rabbit hissed something in a language Kolt had never heard before, rolling their tongue and sneering as they spoke. “I’d prefer if you told me in something like Hungarian or German but alright. Why do you have a gun in my face?” They didn’t answer. “Fine then. Let it be.” Kolt suddenly ducked and grabbed the arm of the lagomorph, their gun firing off to the left of Kolt’s head and blinding him with the muzzle flash. Kolt punched them in the face and smashed his fist down on the top of their helmet, denting it, and the rabbit fell to the ground while groaning and holding their head. Kolt kicked them in the arm and pulled their pistol from it, pulling out the magazine and racking the slide to eject the chambered round before nonchalantly tossing it underhand at the wall behind him. “Now then, i’d like an explanation as to why you-what the hell are you doing.”

The rabbit stuck a hand in their mouth and grabbed one of their teeth, grimacing as they wrenched it out to Kolt’s disgust. They flipped it over and pushed their thumb against the bloody root, and the lower half of it popped off and fell onto the floor. Kolt tried to grab the rabbit and stop whatever they were doing, but the rabbit popped a pill hidden in his tooth into his mouth and smiled at Kolt as they began to burp up foam. Kolt got on his knees and wrenched open the rabbit’s mouth, sticking a few fingers in and trying to induce vomiting, but he was too late. The rabbit’s eyes rolled back, and their body spasms ceased.

Kolt stood up and wiped his hand off on the leg of his coil suit. He scratched the back of his helmet, sighed, and then shrugged, “Well, it’s not every day people who try to kill me kill themselves! Least they saved me the effort…!” He turned back to the airlock that Theo was inside, but as soon as his eyes drifted onto the window, the lights went off. Kolt was shrouded in darkness. A few seconds later red emergency lights on the ceiling flashed on, strobing as a deep alarm began to boom. “Oh great,” Kolt scoffed, “It’s gonna be one of THOSE days!” He looked back at the airlock, but decided that, for now, learning what was going on was better than helping Theo, so he ran off.

Theo meanwhile had just finished cycling the airlock as Kolt left, and barely managed to shove open the door, yanking off his helmet and flinging it on the floor as he collapsed to his knees. His joints ached fiercely; the bends were affecting him, and it didn’t help that he was exhausted just trying to get INSIDE the airlock. When he finally caught his breath, he noticed the flashing red lights, and the blaring alarm, and also the dead rabbit. “What kinda party happened here?” He wheezed as he got to his feet, limping out of the airlock and nudging the corpse with his foot. Still looked fresh. Extremely fresh. Like, still edible-fresh. Theo might be a little hungry after being stuck in a cramped space suit that smelled like rabbit for the last few hours. Still cookable-fresh. Probably didn’t taste bad-fresh. Theo looked away before he began to salivate.

As he started to walk down the hallway, the sprinklers activated, and he was coated with water. Okay, something was DEFINITELY going on. Usually a corpse is a sign of something bad, but the sprinklers going off? That’s a sign of something really bad. Mostly because the last time he was soaked by emergency sprinklers one of his friends died less than half an hour later and he and his best friend (who had just came out of a coma) were now fugitives from the biggest government entity known to society. So yeah he was a little weary when he felt water start to seep through his frizzy ‘fro.

With the sprinklers came a dense fog, something Theo didn’t expect. Steam maybe? Why is steam venting into the halls? But when he walked through a cloud of the water vapor, it felt cold. Not steam, but the atmospheric systems must be flipping out if they’re dispensing mist through the emergency spri-


Theo’s arm whipped back as pain suddenly emanated from his shoulder, dropping the portable TV on the floor; he finally registered the deafening noise of a gunshot after he looked at his now-bleeding arm, mouth agape as he watched the hole in his space suit begin to seep red liquid. Down the hall, enshrouded by the mist, was the wispy outline of a lagomorph, complete with two tall ears. Another explosion sounded off and Theo felt a bullet whizz past the side of his head and ruffle his hair as his body was frozen by fear and confusion. Gotta move, now! He clutched his wounded arm and ducked into a nearby open doorway, beginning to run but slowing to a limp as his body reminded him he still had the bends.

He ran through the hangar, which was now devoid of life, red emergency lights coating the inactive shuttles. Theo had a feeling they’d be using those soon, ‘they’ referring to him, Kolt, and Velent; as far as he knew, the LRG had finally turned on them, something that actually didn’t surprise Theo. The rabbits didn’t like them, ESPECIALLY the new ones. Not one bit. Theo limped to the public bathrooms, leaving a trail of blood marking his path, and he grabbed a tire iron as he passed by a toolbox on a metal table. Stumbling into the washroom he staggered into the same shower that he earlier had dressed himself in, hiding behind the rubber flaps and pressing his back up against the porcelain wall. He looked down on his arm; it hurt a LOT and now that the adrenaline was beginning to wear off started to affect him mentally. He slid down the wall and onto his butt, legs outstretched, and he stared at the wound.

“Okay Theo, bullet wound, not that hard, just breath in, breath out,” He coached himself, trying to lower his heart rate as he stared at his gushing gunshot wound, “In and out.” He pulled open the gash in the space suit a bit more so he could look at the wound, and he furrowed his brow. The ends of his hair began to fizzle and burn away, beginning to shorten itself, and the wound started to close back up in front of his eye. But while he expended his precious energy to regenerate, he heard someone enter the bathroom. Their shoes squeaked on the wet floor, and Theo held out the tire iron as he scooted into the corner of the shower. {A} Maybe he could throw it at them? He wished he had a gun. He wished he had his gun. The gun Winter gave him. Winter.

She’s dead, isn’t she? No of course she’s dead, she was split in two. Landed on a stop sign. And the other fox, Yehudi… he had landed feet first. I think, he was still alive. Was he? I don’t know. If he was I should’ve finished him off. Shot him again. Again and again.

As Theo’s mind rambled, the footsteps rounded the washroom, probably checking the lockers first before focusing on the showers. When he heard curtains begin to be pulled open, Theo let out a small whimper, and the sounds of movement all stopped. He was heard. The shoes were getting closer now, he could see a shadow in the red light beaming through the curtain. He knew what to do; he would throw himself on them and detonate their cells. But was he even able to stand back up again? Regeneration was an extremely tiring task, he was coming off an adrenaline high, his joints ached, and he was HUNGRY. But he’d still try.

The shoes stopped in front of the curtain. Theo could hear their owners grab the curtain, and see the formless shape on the other side. What are you waiting for? Me to come to you? Fine. I’m coming for you. With his remaining strength he got to his feet and ran at the shape.

The curtain fell aside.

Kolt caught Theo in his arms as he collapsed.

“There you are.” He said in his trademark deadpan voice. “I’ve been looking for you all over the floor. You alright, pal?” Theo didn’t respond; he just pressed his face against Kolt’s life support vest as his little legs gave out. “Theo.” Said Kolt as the Marbelian’s body drifted into unconsciousness. “Theo!” All he got in response was the beginning of a sob. Kolt held onto his friend as he fell to the floor, wrapping his arms around Theo’s bulky space suit. “I got you pal. I got you.” Theo just mumbled as tears intermingled with the water dripping down his head from the sprinklers. “What’s the crying for? Are you hurt?”

“N-Not anymore. It doesn’t matter. My l-legs hurt.”

“Well the bends isn’t a very pleasant condition.” Before Theo could formulate a response, Kolt scooped him up into his arms. “Let’s blow this popsicle joint.” Only now did Theo notice Kolt’s new duds and slightly muffled voice.

“N-Nice suit. And helmet.”

“Thanks. Nice space suit.”

“Thank you, I c-customized it with my own blood.”




Hoji was in the barracks when the alarm went off. The LRG militiamen funneled out after grabbing their helmets and weapons, but he stayed, staring at his broken sword. When the sprinklers activated he finally rose from the bed he was sitting on and stretched out his limbs, sheathing the broken sword and leaving the barracks. The halls were filled with a steamy haze, and he could only see a few feet ahead of himself, so he squinted and began to walk in the direction of the bridge. He walked around a corner and into the back of a LRG militiaman. As they spun around Hoji pulled his uchigatana from its sheathe and held it at the ready. The LRG soldier spat something in an extremely rare language to hear out in space; Mandarin. They raised their rifle and pointed it at Hoji, who tightened his grip on his sword. Unfortunately, Hoji didn’t know Mandarin, but he did know one thing.

He held out his hand, saying in Hungarian, “The sun sets twice out here.”

The soldier’s face relaxed and they lowered their rifle. “My apologies, it’s hard to see in this damn mist. Come, the others are surrounding the bridge.”

Hoji lowered his sword and spun it around in his hand, flinging off some of the water vapour that had collected on it through inertia. “No, you go, I still have a contract to fulfill.”

The soldier laughed. “You think you can take on Kolt Saudwell one-to-one? I don’t think you know who you’re dealing with.”

Hoji pointed at the sprinklers with the blade of his sword. “The mist conceals all. He’ll feel my blade before he sees it.”

“If you say so…” The soldier turned and left Hoji, disappearing into the mist. He noticed that they were lacking a tail.

Hoji rolled his eyes, muttering to himself, “Goddamn GSS…”


Kolt examined the gash on Theo’s arm; other than the blood around the cut on the space suit, his hairless blue flesh was untouched. Having already noticed Theo’s slightly shorter ‘fro and smelled burnt hair when he found Theo in the shower, he already knew that Theo had healed himself, but he was still worried. He had laid the Marbelian on the holographic map in the middle of the bridge, not even shutting it off, and as a result Theo was now sitting in the middle of an array of slightly-vibrating floating circles.

“Is he alright?” Asked Hazel, who was looking at the camera feeds on a nearby console before walking up to Kolt. He had seen an odd lagomorph watching the two and went off to confront them right before Kolt was attacked, but lost track of them, so when the alarm sounded and the sprinklers activated he ran to the bridge.

“He’s fine, just unconscious. He fell asleep while I carried him here.” Kolt turned towards Hazel. “So do we have any way to positively identify our enemies and allies?”

“Well it seems the guys who frown a lot and lack tails are the bad guys.”

“That clears thing up.” It doesn’t. “I need a gun.”

Hazel put a hand on the sling of his own rifle, a sporterized Springfield 1903 with a shortened barrel. “Before you ask, you’re not getting mine.”


“No Kolt.”

“Pretty please with carrot bits on top?”

“I don’t even like carrots. And still, no.”

“Then tell me where you guys are keeping our weapons, I want my stuff back anyways and I think now is as good of a time as ever.”

Hazel rubbed his shoulder. “That requires going outside of this room, which, without a weapon, reeeeaally isn’t smart.”

“I’m a big boy, I can fend for myself.”

Hazel looked Kolt up and down. “Well you definitely ARE a big boy wearing that freakin’ coil suit, but still, don’t. We need to wait here for Tectin, he should have a plan. Hopefully. I don’t know.”

“I can pick up Velent on the way.”

“But do you really want to?”

“No but she’s still useful, maybe, hopefully.”

Hazel groaned. “Fine, go, your guns are in a storage room near where Velent’s ‘laboratory’ is, you’ll recognize it when you see it, door code is three-five-two,” When he saw Kolt eyeing his rifle again, the rabbit added, “You’re still not getting my rifle.”

Kolt pouted, before flipping down the dimmed visor on his bulb-like helmet and opening a door out of the bridge, disappearing into the wall of mist. Through the visor, all Kolt would see was his own breath fogging up his vision and water vapour particles covering his vision, so he decided to ditch the helmet, pulling it off and tossing it on the floor. He hoped he didn’t have to spacewalk anytime soon, and pulled his hood through the open collar of the GSS coil suit, in comparison to the turtleneck-style neck sleeve on the Privateer coil suits. Although it definitely limited his peripheral vision, it looked cool, and that was all that mattered.

Kolt groped his way through the mist to the closet that had been converted into Velent’s laboratory, throwing open the door. Velent jumped and spun around on her wheeled chair. “Good GOD don’t do that!”

“We need to go. Now.”

“More running? I thought we were done running…” Velent sighed and stood up, revealing behind her a half-naked hare with quite a few oozing cuts roped to a pipe, their mouth covered with duct tape. They stared at Kolt with pleading eyes and mumbled pathetically to him, but Kolt didn’t care. Velent grabbed some bits and bobs and stuffed them all into a sack, before turning to Kolt and saying, “Well i’m ready, are you?”

“No, I need to get our weapons back and visit my room. What about… that guy?” Kolt pointed at the hare.

“Oh just leave him, he’s an asshole.”


Meyers screamed through the duct tape on his mouth as the light in the closet was turned off and the door shut. Kolt found a room guarded by a keypad nearby and punched in the code Hazel gave him, and the door slid open moments after he hit the ‘enter’ key. Inside were a few wooden crates with loose lids, along with a pile of gear sitting in one of the corners, HIS gear, along with Theo’s stuff. Leaning against one of the walls was the Carcano carbine he had stolen in his initial breakout, and Kolt grabbed that, pulled a loaded en-bloc clip off a small shelf against the wall, and stuffed it in. He picked up his utility belt and clipped it on, pulling an old holster off of the same shelf that had a few Carcano clips on it, attaching it to his belt and sliding in his PHP MV 17, the weird Croatian franken pistol just barely fitting in the holster. Velent meanwhile had found her FN 1903 and the extra magazines provided for it, popping out the magazine with two less rounds from executing two GSS death squaddies over a month ago and popping in a fresh one.

After grabbing some more gear and stuffing Theo’s stuff into a duffel bag, the pair left the storage room and Kolt led the way to the bridge, or at least he did until he heard some strange voices speaking that unknown language again. He and Velent pressed against one of the walls and made themselves as flat as possible as they saw a pair of shapes move past them, somehow not noticing Kolt’s bright amber eyes as they passed by. When they had passed, Kolt turned on the safety of his Carcano.

“Keep moving.” He said to Velent, and they, as he said, kept moving, stopping whenever they heard any other voices. They passed by Kolt’s room, him knowing that due to the ‘FUCK OFF’ written on a piece of paper taped to the door. “Wait here, I have to grab a few things.” He opened the door and shut it behind himself, before starting to stuff things into his duffel bag, starting with his lava lamp after he unplugged it, but he did stop for a second to stare at the pretty wax globs floating around in it before throwing it in. He also grabbed the doorstopper book about Kay’s adventures and threw that in as well, although he swore the bag gained ten pounds after doing that. He finally went to pull off the pin-up poster on his door, but stopped for a second. He wanted it specifically because the rabbit women on it who was showing off her bosom had, quite wide hips. Kolt liked hips. And butts. And those things together…

Kolt felt a longing in his loins. He had to do something reeeeaaaal quick. He looked at the door, then back at the poster, then back at the door. “I shouldn’t.” He looked back at the rabbit ass in his hands. “I will.” He then zoomed into the bathroom, slamming the door and locking it.

“Took you long enough,” Scoffed Velent as Kolt finally left his room a few minutes later, not noticing that Kolt was out of breath, “Were you taking a shit or something?”

“Somethin’ like that. Let’s go.” Thank god all coil suits have hidden unzippable crotch slits! The pair left Kolt’s room and disappeared back into the mist. Kolt knew they were near the bridge, but when he heard a flurry of voices speaking in that weird language, he stopped Velent at the edge of a hallway and peeked his head around the corner. He saw a trio of shapes standing in front of one of the doors through the mist, but one shape made him extremely annoyed. In the middle of the three vaguely-lagomorph forms, one stood taller than the others, with odd, digitigrade legs. One of their arms seemed to extend much longer than the others, and Kolt grit his teeth.

Hoji. This shithead again.

To add even more anger to Kolt’s attitude, the mist seemed to have started clearing, and Velent having noticed this, the lynx quickly shuffled across the hallway to the other side. Kolt saw the tall shape turn towards the noise caused by Velent’s incessant shuffling, and he saw Hoji’s sword bob slightly. Kolt pulled his head away from the corner and pressed his carbine against his chest, exhaling slowly. He began to speak to himself in his mind:

Three targets. Six rounds. Two rifles. One sword. But I got a bayonet. Shouldn’t be hard enough, right? Let’s hope that bayonet training dad showed me stuck…

He flicked out the attached bayonet of his carbine, before softly deactivating the button-style safety. {A} He looked across the hallway at Velent, and mouthed, ‘Go inside, get the others, go to the shuttles or something.’ Velent nodded, before escaping the mist through one of the doors to the bridge. Kolt exhaled slowly again, lowering his heart rate and steeling his nerves. He’d only have a few seconds to deal with the rifle-wielding lagomorphs, but Hoji would be a treat to spear; Kolt felt that breaking his sword hadn’t given him enough of a lesson. He craned his neck, which satisfying popped, and whispered to himself, “Let’s get funky.”

He spun around the corner, yelling, “HEY WARREN WANKER!” Hoji and the other two rabbits turned to glare at Kolt, who had his carbine raised and pointed at Hoji.

“Saudwell.” Growled the hare as he gripped the handle of his uchigatana with two hands, getting ready to pounce.

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out. How’re yah doin’, Hoji? Still mad that I broke your sword? Tell your pals to drop their guns and I won’t put a bullet through your broad, well-defined chest.”

“Well… defined?” This description confused Hoji.

Kolt adjusted his grip on his gun. “I won’t ask again.”

“Even if I wanted to, Saudwell, I couldn’t. Drop YOUR rifle, and i’ll make your death quick.”

“Compelling offer but i’d rather not die on some backwards space station in the middle of nowhere. The offer still stands, and I bet you a bullet is faster than your weird-ass legs so don’t even try to poke me with your sharp stick.” Calling Hoji’s uchigatana, a well-crafted extremely sharp blade, a ‘sharp stick’, only further infuriated the hare, but Hoji knew that if he moved, Kolt would shoot him down before he would get in reach.

Velent meanwhile had snuck into the bridge, which was more crowded than it was when Kolt had left. Tectin had arrived shortly after Kolt had left, guarded by his other lieutenants, and a few other militiamen had bumbled in as well. Velent walked up to Tectin. “Mister Tectin, we have to leave, now. There’s currently three not very friendly lagomorphs outside,” She pointed to one of the doors of the bridge, “That door, and i’m fairly certain that Kolt is currently in a Mexican Standoff with them.”

“Then i’ll just have Hazel flank them!”

“It’d be better to leave Kolt to deal with the situation himself. Believe me, he’s used to situations like this.” Velent had no idea if that was true; if Kolt was willing to kill himself then that’s fine, not her worry. “May I ask, what the hell is going on? Kolt wouldn’t explain to me why the alarms are going off or why we were hiding from some of your goons speaking in tongues.”

Tectin sighed, pinching the bridge of his small nose. “Well, Miss Velent, it appears some of my ‘goons’ as you rudely put it are actually working for some sort of unknown third party, most likely our mutual friends the GSS. I fear the mercenary Hoji might be in their ranks as well.”

“Considering that I saw him standing outside with two angry-looking rabbits I think you’re right with that.”

“Damn… he’s probably the most experienced fighter here, other than my lieutenants.” Tectin turned to his trusted men and announced, “Listen up, everyone. We are abandoning this station. We will not stop to pick up our things as that will put us in more danger than we are already in.”

“But wut about muh porno mags!” Yelled one militiaman.

“May they rest in peace. Hazel, check the cameras, which doors are undefended?”

Hazel went over to an array of screens and looked through the camera feeds; he saw Kolt standing in front of three lagomorphs, one pointing a sword at him as he pointed a carbine of some sort back, the other two pointing their own rifles back. The mist was almost entirely gone. Hazel turned back towards Tectin. “Sir it appears the door on my right is where Kolt is facing off against Hoji and two other attackers, but the other doors are clear. The mist is leaving as well.”

“That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Lieutenants!” Tectin’s lieutenants, minus Meyers of course, gave him their attention. “Take five soldiers each and head to, umm, excuse me Theo.” He nudged Theo’s body over, the Marbelian just starting to come to, and he pressed a button on the side of the holographic map. It turned into a diagram of the circular station, with each floor accurately modeled to scale, although about a fourth of it was missing due to Theo’s blue ass being sprawled out on the table. He pointed to a row of escape pods directly below the bridge on the floor below. The bridge really wasn’t even a bridge though, it was more of a small meeting room sitting in the middle of one of the ‘rings’ that made up the station. “And head to these escape pods. Grab anyone who isn’t speaking weirdly or missing a tail you come across, shoot anyone who has either of those traits. Shoot them twice if they have both. Understood?”

“YES SIR!” The lieutenants sounded off, fully awakening Theo, who shot upwards and glanced around the room.

“WHO WHAT WHERE oh i’m in the bridge. Hi.”

“Hello Theo.” Responded Tectin, and Velent just waved.

“Where’s Kolt?”

“Outside about to get shot and stabbed.”

“Ah. That’s typical. What’s going on?”

“Just follow Hazel, we’re leaving the station.”

“Without Kolt?”

“He should be able to find his way off the station on his ow-”

Theo hopped off the holographic map, the fourth of the station that was missing on the hologram now fizzling into existence. “Okay, stop, how the crap would Kolt know where to get if no one tells him everyone is abandoning ship! Who the heck is attacking us anyways?”

“A bunch of angry, scarred, tail-less bunnies, that’s what.” Answered Velent. She immediately gained the ire of most of the lagomorphs in the room, including Tectin, who gave her a stern look. “What?”

“You said the ‘B’ word.” Said Hazel.

“The what word?”

“Bunny. We don’t use that word around here. It’s childish, demeaning, and quite derogatory.” Said the bespectacled lieutenant, crossing their short arms.

“I didn’t know that so I apologize. Now what do we do?” Her half-hearted apology mostly worked, and the lagomorphs in the room started staring at her with slightly less anger.

“We run to the escape pods and escape. And now, we start the running part.” Tectin motioned for his lieutenants to follow him, and they started to round up the soldiers in the room, before piling out through a door on the other side, Velent begrudgingly following them. Hazel had stayed behind however, helping Theo off the table.

“You wanna save Kolt?”


“Then let’s go save Kolt.” He reached in a small holster on his side and pulled a teeny .32 ACP pistol, handing it to Theo, before unslinging his sporterized Springfield and operating the bolt. “This way.” He walked towards one of the doors opposite to where Kolt was having his standoff, planning to flank his attackers, but the door opened, and in walked… two clones?

“Clones? Why the hell are…” Said Hazel, but the clones mechanically turned their heads to stare at him, and Hazel realized that these were not friendly clones. Hazel and the clones raced to raise their rifles first, but thankfully Theo already had his gun held at the ready and popped the clones twice in the chest. While the bullets barely penetrated their Kevlotton shirts, the pair staggered and flinched, allowing Hazel time to raise his rifle and blast a hole in one of them and masterfully operate the bolt of his rifle to quickly shoot the other. They both went limp as soon as they were shot, and Theo and Hazel walked up to their corpses, looking them over.

“I’ve never seen clones like this before…” Said Theo as he looked down on the corpses worryingly. “They’re… blue?”

“But I have.”

The clones were indeed blue; their clothing had been dyed a light shade of blue, hood included, and they even had blue gloves. Even the puffer vests they wore were a shade of darker blue! “Either they’re Marbelian wannabes, or… I have no idea why they’re so freakin’ blue.”

“I do, and this just makes me even more worried.” Theo gave him a confused look, so Hazel elaborated. “For the past few months there have been reports of some new warlord wreaking havoc in the less-populated parts of The Gap. His signature color is blue, the reason for which some say is to make it look like INTERPOL is responsible for the attacks, but, INTERPOL usually doesn’t do anything outside of Earth.” He reached down and picked up one of the bolt-action rifles the clones were carrying and handed it to Theo. “They call him Sundowner.”


“Whoever manages to escape his soldiers. This is bad, Theo, this is REALLY bad. If Sundowner is after us…” Hazel grabbed one of his ears and held it to his face, coughing into it, before finishing, “Then we are fucked.”

“Oh joy. Can we go save Kolt now?”



Kolt and Hoji meanwhile were locked in a very-angry pissing contest, Kolt boasting about his assignments in the Privateers and how cool he was compared to Hoji in order to try and get the rabbit to attack him and give him the advantage, Hoji trying to do the same out of pride but failing entirely as all he had done was sliced a few random people’s necks open for small paychecks.

“Ever ramp a hovercraft over a three-story wall?”


“Well I have. Then I went and killed like eight guys. And that was after I had left the Privateers as well. Let me guess, the most people you’ve faced at once is, what, two, three maybe?”


“Did they have sharp sticks?”

“No, guns. It was during the Pointless War.”

“All the way back then? How old even are you?”

“Twenty-nine. You?”


“What’s your favorite food?”

“Uh, tapioca pudding.”

“What’s your favorite color?”


“Do you love me?”

“Ye-What no!” Hoji grimaced with the slight hint of a blush, and Kolt giggled. This dick-comparing contest had turned into a very stilted personal conversation apparently, and the two rabbits who accompanied Hoji had lowered their rifles long ago and just looked at each other in confusion. Hoji grimaced slightly, hissing, “Enough. If you are going to shoot me, then do it, but my companions will shoot you in return. There is no way for you to get out of here, bugbreath.”

“Bugbreath? Oh boy, out come the childish insults!” Kolt WANTED to just shoot Hoji, but, he was so pathetic! Bringing a sword to a gunfight, pffft. “You know I feel like I can just turn and leave in this situatio-wait what the hell.” The sprinklers began to emit mist once again, and Hoji’s grimace transformed into a grin with ill-intent.

“And there’s the fog.” His form began to disappear into the mist, the two other rabbits already concealed, and Hoji chuckled, “The mist conceals me, Aldearian, and I think you’ve already noticed the effect it’s having on your eyes. This part of the plan I concocted, just for you.” Kolt did indeed notice how his eyes were fogging up when Hoji mentioned it, something he didn’t notice when he was escorting Velent to the bridge, and he began to blink rapidly and wipe off his eyes with his sleeves every few moments. He turned in place, watching for any sort of movement, and he saw faint dark shapes in the mist. {A}

Okay this isn’t fun anymore. Time to skedaddle!

“Biyah, carrot cock!” Said Kolt as he turned and got ready to sprint down where he hoped the hallway was and away from Hoji, but he ended up face to face with the bayonet of a rifle. Said bayonet skimmed the side of his hood, so Kolt responded by jamming his own bayonet on his short carbine into the sternum of the rabbit and pulling the trigger, blasting a cloud of red mist into the air and meat chunks onto the unseen wall behind the rabbit. Yanking his bayonet out of their gut as the rabbit fell into the mist, Kolt spun around and jammed his bayonet into the neck of the rabbit who was sneaking up behind him, the spike coming out the other side of their neck and also causing them to fire their rifle.

“I’ll make you eat those words!” Growled Hoji from behind Kolt, and he yanked the bayonet from the neck of the rabbit in front of him, twirling around and operating the bolt of his carbine. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for the past month, Saudwell!”

“You know, i’m sure you have. You seem like the obsessive ty-” Kolt deflected an uchigatana blade with the bayonet of his carbine, the owner of which quickly sliding back into the mist. “Like the obsessive type! You’re mad at me just because I broke your fuckin’ SWORD? Jeez!”

“Also because of the nice check i’ll get when I remove your head from your body!” Hoji slashed at Kolt again, and Kolt raised his carbine to protect himself. The blade planted itself about an inch into the stock of the carbine, and Kolt used that to wrench the sword out of Hoji’s hands before kicking him in the chest armor. The blade fell loose, and Kolt accidentally kicked it back into the fog. A hand reached out and touched Kolt on the shoulder, and he turned around and pointed the bayonet at the barrel of the owner.

“Jeez Kolt, a bit under pressure?” Scoffed Theo, but Kolt didn’t ease up, instead scanning the mist with his carbine in one hand.

“Well i’m currently being attacked by an angry wannabe samurai rabbit-”

“HARE!” Yelled Hoji from the fog.

“Sorry, hare, who wants me dead because of a contract he has AND because I broke one of his swords. Can we go home? I kind of want to go home.”

“Same, let’s move.”

Hoji, clutching his stinging chest, watched from the mist as a space suit-wearing Marbelian pulled Kolt out of sight, and grumbled, “I’ll get you some day, Kolt Saudwell…”


Kolt, Theo, and Hazel literally ran into Velent as they slid around a corner, unable to see her through the mist, which had began to clear. The lynx was wandering around alone, and as the four picked themselves off of the slightly-curved floor of the space station, Theo asked, “Velent? Why aren’t you with the others?”

“I saw something, more precisely, someone. We’re being followed.” She helped Kolt to his feet.

“Yeah, no shit,” Groaned the Aldearian while stretching his back, “Hoji and friends kind of want us dead.”

“Hoji and friends being Sundowner and cohorts!” Gasped Hazel.

“Sundowner?” Said Kolt and Velent in unison.

“Some warlord dude, has a bunch of clones under his command. And also rabbits apparently.”

“Cool, can we go now?”

“Of course, the elevator is this way.” Velent led them to an elevator, next to which was the corpse of another dead clone. Velent pressed the button and leaned against the wall, while Kolt gave Theo his Beretta and Walther P88 back. The Marbelian stuffed both guns into the large pockets of his space suit while also giving back Hazel his .32 pistol, and the rabbit turned and intently watched the hallway they had came from.

He adjusted the chin strap of his helmet, and listened.

Foot steps. A lot of foot steps. Coming their way.

Kolt heard them too, and he had his carbine at the ready. He and Hazel exchanged looks, and Hazel asked Velent, “Did the others go down the elevator already?”

“Like five minutes ago, why?”

“We’re about to have company over for biscuits and gravy. Got anymore weapons in that bag, Kolt?”

“No, just ammo.” Kolt pressed his body to the wall and hid as much as he could behind an extruded metal ‘box’ on the wall. Hazel picked up the rifle the dead clone had and checked if it was loaded by pulling open the bolt slightly; it was. The elevator doors opened, and Kolt walked inside backwards, still pointing his gun down the hall. “Everybody in.” Everybody piled in, except Hazel. He had turned to walk inside, but froze when he saw something on the wall. “Lieutenant.” Said Kolt sternly, holding the door open with his foot.

“Go. All of you.”


“There’s an emergency elevator stop button here, on the wall. If that gets hit, anyone can wrench open the doors and dump a few grenades down on top of our heads.” He pointed to the belt of grenades on the clone’s body. “And I may not be that knowledgeable about explosives, but those are some pretty fucking big grenades.” And he was right; the clone had three large club-like anti-tank grenades on his body, and when Theo recalled the two clones he and Hazel had taken out earlier, he saw large lumps under their puffer vests. Hazel had guessed that ALL the clones had those grenades. “Someone has to stay behind. If Tectin and the others are already safe, that just leaves us. And us, means you.” He stepped forward and kicked Kolt’s foot out of the door. “Get out of here. Now. I can hear them getting closer.”

Theo and Velent were speechless, but Kolt moved his whole body into the doorway to jam it from closing. “Are you sure about this?”

“Absolutely. Besides, you by yourself are worth six of me. You know, with your experience. I’m just a pianist.” Hazel stood on his toes and reached up to Kolt’s shoulder, patting it. “You need to live. Go.”

Kolt stepped out of the doorway. “At least tell me your name. Your real name.”

“It’s Pedersen. Pedersen Lee.” The doors started to close.

“I’ll never forget you, Pedersen Lee.” The doors closed.

Pedersen turned around. He could hear the feet coming closer. He grabbed the rifle the clone had, a straight-pull Steyr M95, pulling open some of the clip pouches on the clone’s utility belt and stuffing the clips inside into his pockets. He leaned the rifle against the wall and unslung his own sporterized Springfield, pulling open the bolt but holding has hand over it so he could push the ejected round back into the internal magazine. He calmly pulled out a stripper clip from one of the pockets on his jumpsuit and pressed it into the guides on the receiver of his rifle, feeding in two rounds and topping off the internal magazine of his Springfield before returning it to his pocket. He looked down the hallway, and all he saw was a horde of blue bodies. Clones. Unblinking, emotionless, robotic clones. Five of them marched down the hallway, but they didn’t shoot him as they had been programmed to only shoot after identifying if the rabbit’s they encountered had tails or not.

He lifted up both rifles, one in each hand, not an easy task. He’d have to drop one and operate the other after shooting, but he wasn’t going down without a fight. “Come on then.” He spat through grit teeth, and he swung the barrels of the rifles over at the clones, who by now had noticed Pedersen’s tail. “Let’s dance!”

And he danced off into the sunset.


Kolt felt nothing. He still felt nothing. He just watched a man sacrifice himself for his life, for his friend’s (if you can count Velent as a friend) lives, and, he wasn’t even sad? Theo was still shocked, and Velent was leaning against the wall of the elevator with her hand on her mouth and her eyes closed, but he, he was just standing there staring at the door!

He slowly slipped the sling of his carcano back on his shoulder. “Why don’t I feel anything?” He muttered.

Theo looked at him. “W-What?”

“Haze-… Pedersen just sacrificed himself to make sure our elevator isn’t ambushed, and, he, I-” Kolt was cut off once again, but this time by the muffled gunfire from outside the elevator’s doors, seeping through the slit, and as they began to descend, the explosion-like noises seemed to slide up the slit, before disappearing almost entirely, only muffled thumps remaining. Kolt just looked at the elevator doors with a quivering lower lip. “I don’t, feel anything!” Why did he feel no sadness at the situation? His confusion grew into anger, and he felt himself begin to burn up. He didn’t feel anything! A man gave him his life and he didn’t even care! What the hell was wrong with him? Everything seemed to blur as his heart raced, and emotion gained a hold on his thoughts and actions.

He punched the wall. “I don’t feel anything!” He punched it again, this time much harder. “I don’t FEEL ANYTHING!” He began to pummel the wall of the elevator with as much force as he could, leaving dents with each strike, his knuckles beginning to pop and snap with every hit. “I FEEL NOTHING!!! FUUUUUUCK!!!!!” He didn’t feel emotion. He didn’t feel pain. He was dull in the head. Why couldn’t he feel?

Theo grabbed onto his friend and proceeded to shake the shit out of him. “Kolt! Stop, for fuck’s sake, stop it!” Kolt’s anger began to subside when he finally noticed Theo clinging to him, but he shoved the cyclops away, leaning down and pointing in his face.

“Theo, make me a promise.” He said sternly.

“Only if I won’t regret it. Which I probably will. Maybe.”

“Will you help me find this Sundowner fucker, and you help me break him in half and stuff his head up his own asshole. Can you do that for me?”

“That sounds pretty doable, so alright. I don’t fancy him myself.”

“Good.” Kolt stood up and leaned backwards, groaning and easing up. Theo however didn’t ease up at all; he felt nothing too. Winter was dead. He felt only a slight sadness at that. Hazel, no, Pedersen sacrificed himself to keep them from getting slaughtered in the elevator. He felt no reaction to that at all. What had happened to them? Had they lost their ability to feel compassion? Was it because of their employment in the Privateers? For Theo, that was most likely the reason, but Kolt… Kolt had his own reasons.

The doors opened, and the trio ran out, rushing to the escape pods. When they entered the hallway, they noticed that three were left out of the ten originally placed there, so Theo ran up to the door of one and pulled the lever, the door quickly sliding open. Theo and Velent clambered into the enclosed capsule, which was little more than an oval-shaped ‘egg’ with two rows of five seats inside along with a pilot’s chair in front of a small viewport. But as Kolt started to climb inside, the sprinklers once again began to emit mist, and he froze up, unslinging his carcano and holding it by his head as he looked over his shoulder. He heard something. {A}

A rabbit leaped from the shadows, yelling wildly and brandishing a knife in an overhand stabbing position. Kolt simply laid the barrel of the carcano over his shoulder and fired. The rabbit’s face exploded into red mist, and their helmet fell off their head. Kolt turned and lowered his head, walking into the escape pod. “Sorry, just making sure we weren’t being followed.”

The trio strapped themselves in, and Kolt worked the bolt of his Carcano. Theo hopped into the pilot’s seat and started up the escape pod, running through a quick diagnostics check before leaning back and asking, “Everyone secure?”


“As much as I ever could be.”

“Good, now hold onto your pantyhose ladies!” Theo reached down and grabbed the pull lever sticking out of the floor, throwing it down with as much force as he could. He was promptly pressed into the seat as the escape pod shot off of the station, before his head was thrown into his crotch, revealing that he did indeed have the flexibility to self service himself and also making his back start to ache horribly as the escape pod corrected its trajectory, allowing Theo to pull his face from the smelly pleather seat. Kolt meanwhile had severed the tip of his tongue during the initial takeoff, and Velent pressed a hand to her head to keep her glasses from flying off. As the shuttle slowed itself to a stop to allow Theo to fly it wherever he wanted, Kolt spat out the little bit of his tongue he severed and stuck out his tongue; a long pink ‘tentacle’ slid out of his mouth, reaching down to his collar, the tip of it raw and bleeding.

“Well, shtith. Thah hurt.” Kolt lamented, while Velent just stared in horror, before shaking her head. Aldearians… oddities, that’s what they are. Kolt reeled his tongue back into his mouth before pressing his head into the rest of his seat, exhaling loudly. “So, we’re safe now, right?”

“Kolt I don’t think i’m EVER safe around you.” Theo joked as he stuffed a headset into his afro, which really was an afro at this time due to him having to burn it down in order to heal himself.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Spat Kolt, blood dribbling from his mouth in bubbles that floated away in the microgravity.

“You somehow made a can of deodorant explode with your bare hands back in boot camp and peppered BOTH of us with shrapnel! Well, mostly yourself.” And Kolt had the scars to prove it; he scarred excessively, a rare skin condition only three other Aldearians are known to have, which just meant that he stood out in a crowd.

“That is… indeed true. But I learned from it, and I don’t squeeze deodorant cans as hard, because I don’t even wear deodorant! Can’t blow things up if you don’t touch them, right?”

“That’s true.”

Velent looked back and forth at Theo and Kolt in horror. Jesus christ she was trapped in an escape pod with a pair of disgusting loons! Where’s Kobold when you need him? She, actually wondered what he WAS doing. The last time any of the three had seen him was in the sewers of Trepin, walking back to the laboratory after helping Kolt, Theo, her, and Winter escape GSS death squads. Come to think of it, his cryptic mention of ‘beauty in the forest’ directly led them to encountering the LRG militiamen and Kolt coming face to face with Hoji again…

Theo tried to scan for other escape pods in the radio, and actually managed to get the signal of a nearby escape pod, but he was contacted first, a screen folding out of the wall in front of his face and fizzling to life.

Theo was face-to-face with a lagomorph piloting another escape pod, a brown one wearing a scarf, and the pilot turned and said, “Tectin, sir!”

Santan Tectin floated up to the pilot’s seat and looked at the screen, giving a weak bucktoothed smile. “Good, you’re alive. Is Kolt there too?”

“And Velent. Glad to see you’ve all escaped. What now, Mister Tectin?”

“We’re going to North Sandleford, the sister station of South Sandleford. It’s not directly controlled by us, but we have people there who were paid to be on our side, and promptly thrown under the bus alongside us when the GSS grew bored with our lack of hostile intent. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lagomorph infiltrators on South Sandleford start messing about in an attempt to muck up our reputation, what little reputation remains. Is Hazel there?”

Theo looked down for a second, before swallowing. “No, he’s not, he stayed behind to give us time to escape.”

Tectin’s face grew sullen, and he exchanged looks with the pilot, before asking, “Did you see him die?”

“No, but, we heard it.” And Kolt heard him. Another death on his conscious. Did he even have a conscious?

“Damnit, we’ve already lost about half of our forces. We’ve contacted the other escape pods already, apparently we have at least forty men who’ve escaped. I know that twenty of them were those infiltrators, so that gives us forty casualties. Even numbers all around.”

“Crap… We’ll follow you to North Sandleford then.” Tectin nodded and gave a small salute, which Theo learned, and Theo disconnected the radio. Kolt just stared at the floor of the shuttle. His feet floated a few inches in the stale air, and he looked around at his surroundings. It was small. Too small. He needed to be somewhere open, soon. Small spaces are comforting at times, like the bathtub when he was reading, but now, no, this wasn’t comforting at all. Kolt began to zone out, trying to relax and let his mind calm down, but that didn’t last long as Theo started to talk.

“Hey Kolt?”

Kolt looked up at the pilot chair, and Theo was leaning over to look at him with his big blue eye.

“Did you know that, even with safety harnesses, people die in escape pod launches all the time? I thought that was interesting.”

Velent was in pain, and slumped as much as she could in her safety harness.

Kolt was also in intense pain, and he looked at Theo with a face that expressed at least a tenth of how much emotional pain Kolt was in. He shook his head and pleaded in a squeak, “No.”

Theo was content.

What he wasn’t content with was what he saw when he turned back around.

“THAT’S A FREAKIN’ INTERCEPTOR!” He screamed as he started EVASIVE MANEUVERS (in all capitals as he was freaking the crap out) in order to dodge a titanium rod flying through space at the escape pod. In front of them, a GSS-marked interceptor had just zoomed out of the void, slowing to a halt before beginning to fire at the escape pod. The Coil Gun underneath the ship sprayed compressed air out of vents on its receiver as it fired another rod at the escape pod, and Theo had NO FREAKIN’ CLUE WHAT TO DO. The escape pod was no hot rod, and as such it was just barely dodging the rods by the skin of Theo’s teeth, which also meant rattling the hell out of Kolt and Velent. He was kinda scared, and his thought process showed that.


A titanium rod flew from out of Theo’s view and slammed into the interceptor, which promptly broke into a few dozen pieces, some of those pieces being bloody. A foot, ankle still attached, bounced off the window with a few globs of blood dripping out of it, and Theo swung the escape pod around to see their saviours. An interceptor, the same model as the one that attacked them, but with dark blue accents and a globe with a sword stabbed through it painted underneath the cockpit. Three more identical interceptors were floating behind it in a V-formation. The panel on the wall of the shuttle in the cockpit folded out again, and the screen buzzed to life to reveal the semi-concealed face of a feline INTERPOL enforcer, their black visor showing Theo’s confused blue face in the reflection.

“Theo Fionn Yanni?”

“That’s uh, me?”

Kolt, rubbing his head, which had been thrown about from Theo’s EVASIVE MANEUVERS, asked, “Who is it? Is it the pizza delivery guy? I called him three days ago!”

“You and your cohorts are needed by INTERPOL.” Oh boy, more suspicious stuff.

“Why? And what if we don’t want to go.”

“Believe me, you want to go. We need your help. All of your help. Even Velent’s.”

Velent’s ear flicked when the enforcer mentioned her by name. “Wait, why?”

“You acted as an agent for us before the incident at Cerberus Station, and as such you are to be placed in protective custody.”

Agent… of INTERPOL? She was working for Generalmajor Johannes, not INTERPOL! …wait. Velent stared at her legs. “Johannes… was working with INTERPOL? Why?” Now she knew how Kolt and Theo felt ever since the Trepin episode; beyond confused.

“It’d be best for you to follow us out of here as soon as possible, it’s extremely dangerous out here in the Gap, and we have a ship you three can rest on while we shuttle you back to Earth.”

Now Kolt was the one who spoke up. “Woah woah woah, Earth? Why are we going back to Earth? We just escaped from there, like, a month ago!”

“Your presence has been requested at INTERPOL headquarters, in Lyon, France. I am not legally obligated to say anything else unless, as I don’t know anything else. To be blunt, our boss needs you for something.”

Kolt looked at Theo. “Should we?”

The cyclops shrugged. “Doesn’t look like we have a choice. Velent?”

Velent had returned to slumping in her seat. “I’m sick of running.”

Theo sighed, before turning back to the screen. “Let’s go.”

Kolt yawned as the escape pod flew off with the interceptors. “Ain’t no rest for the wicked.”

Money don’t grow on trees. I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, ain’t nothin’ in this world for free.

Kolt reached into his holster and yanked out his PHP MV17. He pulled out a small tactical knife he looted from the storage room, and began to carve into the plastic grip, being gentle enough to not crack it.

He carved, ‘Existence is Pain, and Existence is to bring Pain’. These were the words he lived by. And he was sure gonna do a hell of a lot of living soon enough. He looked at his handiwork, and nodded. Could do better, but good for a first time. {A}

He put the gun back in his holster, the knife back in the bag, and he crossed his arms and began to think.

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Arc Two of Three, Episode Three of Five:

Pale Moonlight

By Red McCloud