Part Three – Flayed Fingers


Kolt and Theo entered the ward alone. {A} It looked almost exactly like they had left it, with the clean white walls and closed doors adorned with red crosses, but it was much quieter. Drops of blood traveled around the corner ahead of the due, leading to where the two stood with their handguns at the ready, Kolt correctly guessing that it was probably from the doctor who limped out. The pair suspected the clones were nearby, but when Kolt and Theo looked around, they saw no one, no bodies, and no more blood other than the small streak.

“I’ll take point, stand behind me,” Kolt commanded, and Theo nodded; he was the only one wearing armor. The coil suit could maybe stop a .32 at point blank while giving the wearer a bruise, emphasis on maybe, but it sliced like butter when introduced to a semi-dull combat knife. The two started to creep forward, silently walking as they held their PHP’s up, aimed at chest level. Before they entered, a few doctors told them that there would be nobody left in the entire ward; almost everyone made it out, but judging by the gunshots and screams, some didn’t.

The duo rounded a corner before stopping in their tracks. Down the hall was a dead rat, slumped against the wall. Their shirt was torn from large-caliber bullets, lab coat ripped into bloody rags, and large red spots covered their chest. They were staring directly down at the ground, frozen in place. The corpse waded in it’s own pool of blood, and as the two walked down the hallway, they simultaneously smelt something horrible.

Iron. Lots, and lots, of iron.

Now, Marbelians don’t have ‘noses’ per say, and neither do Aldearians, but they both have nostrils. Very tiny, out of the way ones. But even with their weak noses, Theo and Kolt could smell the familiar smell of iron, a ton of it too. At the end of the hall, where the rat was slumped, two hallways branched off, one to the left, and one to the right. A bloody hand stuck out from behind the left corner, and the Privateers slowly turned to look down the hallway, but both were almost completely overwhelmed by the stench.

“Oh, god!” Theo gasped as his hand flew to his mouth and his eye promptly shut. Kolt burped, stomach grumbling in all the wrong ways, and a second later a pool of vomit at his feet started to mingle with the sea of blood. Wiping off his mouth, Kolt covered it with his gloved hand, trying to mask the smell of bodily fluids. Now they knew where the missing patients and doctors went.

Bodies covered the floor of the reception area, at least a dozen. Most were morphs, but a scorch mark in the shape of a curled-up person a few feet away from the mass of corpses signified that at least one Marbelian met their end in the room. Theo’s eye locked onto the spot, and he felt ice drip down his spine, vertebrae by vertebrae.

Treading lightly over the corpses, the two forced themselves to not look down at the limp bodies, torn to pieces by a hailstorm of bullets. It looked like a battleground. Tables were overturned, bodies strewn over them, and shell casings floated in the puddles of blood. Theo was absolutely disgusted, but Kolt was focused on the mission at hand.

“Clones, they’re programmed to kill quickly and efficiently.” Kolt commented as he surveyed the carnage, “This was quick, but definitely not efficient, note the amount of shell casings. They must’ve walked in while people were lined up at the counter. Shit…” The corpses were multicolored, most wearing GSS jumpsuits, some wearing lab coats and t-shirts, visitors coming to see their injured loved ones.

“Kolt, do you hear that?” Theo asked, raising a hand up to one of his ears.


“It sound’s like, splashing?”

“Wait, I hear it too,” Kolt held his breath, and over the sound of dripping blood he could hear very faintly the noise of boots slapping on wet floors from down one of the many halls of the labyrinthian deck, “Quick! Stand on a corpse!” He ordered Theo, his voice just a whisper.


“Just do it!”

The two clambered onto some of the corpses and listened for the stomping jackboots, but as they did Theo heard a whimper.

“H-Help m-me…”

“Holy shit! Kolt, there’s someone alive in here!” He tried to step down from on top of a corpse, but a hand suddenly stuck into his hair and pulled him back up. “Ow!”

“Shh! They’ll hear us!” Kolt hissed.

“P-Please, h-help…” The voice groaned again, and Kolt realized it was coming from one of the corpses near them, but they didn’t know which one. The boots were getting closer, and Kolt could hear that it wasn’t one pair, but at least two, or three.

“Fuck, who’s wailing?”

“Over there!” Theo pointed to a face-down body. Kolt gingerly stepped down from his corpse, tip-toeing around the bodies and through the dark red sludge and towards the whimpering. He quickly grabbed the shoulder of the limp body under him, and pulled it over.

“H-Help…” The man whimpered, a brown feline with his face caked with blood. He must’ve been in his twenties, and some of his whiskers were bobbing in the pool of blood under him; a huge gash tore across his right cheek, ripping off the front of his cheek and leaving a tear on the side of his face. “I-I’m… hurt…” Blood seeped out of his shuddering mouth and the hole next to it, and his shirt had two bloody holes torn in back of it. Full-metal jackets, thought Kolt, must’ve kept themselves together enough that they didn’t just eviscerate this sap’s organs, but he was still a lost cause.

“Shut up!” Kolt commanded, but the man kept murmuring.


“Shut the fuck up!”


“SHUT UP!” Kolt almost screamed, still trying to keep his noise to a minimum. Enraged, he started looking around the room, before hastily sneaking to the other side. A stretcher was pushed against the wall, and Kolt yanked off the pillow.

“Kolt? What the hell are you doing?”

“Trying to not get us killed!” Kolt stood over the moaning man, gripping the pillow with both hands. Crouching down, he placed the pillow on the man’s face, pressing hard on the middle.

“Kolt, you stupid fuck, no!” Theo frantically whispered, but the man had already stopped breathing. Kolt pressed the barrel of his handgun up to the pillow, and discharged a single, quieted shot into it, not caring if someone heard it or not.

“Had to. Let’s go.” Kolt stood up, and the two heard a crash down one of the halls, in the right corner of the room. Two clones, wearing Privateer jumpsuits and green vests along with painted face masks had accidentally knocked over a hospital bed, and one had fallen over it, groaning as they rubbed their bruised side with their hand.

“Uh, sorry,” One meekly whispered. “Noticed that you two were having a, uh, moment.”

Kolt was confused. “Wait, you’re not rogue?”

“Of course not! We have headaches from our chips burning out, and we lost contact with the other pair in the area, but we’re not rogue. Being able to think freely is pretty dang nice though! I like having an imagination. But, eh, guessing by,” They nudged a corpse with their foot, “All this, I think the rest are. I’m…” The clone looked distant for a second, raising a hand to their face mask and musing, “…I don’t, have a name?”

“Neither do I,” Said the other clone in a more dull tone of voice as they stepped forward, taking the hand they had on their bruised side and putting it on the shoulder of the other reassuringly, “But we can go name searching after all this.” They looked towards the Privateers, and simply said, “Hi.”

Theo breathed a sigh of relief, and Kolt shook hands with the two. He felt a little bad that his mercy-kill was pointless, but, eh, shit happens. Theo however was still quite disturbed, trying to avoid seeing the corpse in his peripheral vision as he looked around the room. “So, where are the two others?” Kolt asked, but the two clones solemnly shook their heads.

“They’re hiding in the maintenance tunnels, along with Doctor Velent. We have no idea where exactly, though.”

“Yeah,” The other one piped in, hand on its hip, “We saw them once, and they shot at us. THAT wasn’t very nice!”

“So, where are the maintenance tunnels?” Theo asked.

Pointing down the hall behind them, the bruised one sniffled, “There’s a door down there, but it needs a card from an engineer to open.”

“You mean like this?” Theo held up a bloody identification card. “Found it on a body.”

“Theo, I love you.” Kolt didn’t notice Theo’s sudden blush due to the lighting. “Now, let’s move.” As the four ran down the hall to the maintenance access, Kolt called Winter on his PDA. “Winter, only two of the clones are rogue, the other pair is one our side, and we-”

“Some FUCKWAD turned on the combat android.”

“What? An android? Like, a combat android?”

Winter audibly scoffed through the static-filled speakers.

“Yes, that’s LITERALLY what I just said. And it’s most definitely on the fritz. People reported it stomping down the street in one of the residential sectors, firing at people, but not hitting them thankfully because it must’ve been programmed by brain-dead monkeys. I’m not a racist toward monkeys by the way.”

“Well, that’s great. You not being racist towards monkeys. It’s not great that it’s shooting at random civili-“

“Yes Kolt I get it.”

Kolt cleared his throat. “Anyways, we’re about to enter the maintenance tunnels to look for Velent and the clones. The android is your problem. Over and out.” Theo swiped a keycard he had found near one of the corpses on the scanner next to an industrial-looking door, very out of place compared to the glass sliding doors everywhere else. It opened to a dark, cramped hallway, lit with interspersed blue light bulbs dangling from above. “Well, I guess you’re first, Theo.” Kolt quipped, and Theo rolled his eye as he squeezed in sideways, just enough room for him to slide through. Kolt followed, having to suck in his gut, and the two clones held up the rear of the troupe.

Steam hissed from pipes, machines groaned like ancient beasts, and thin layers of grime and oil covered almost everything. The group made their way to a crossroads, and Kolt peered down each of the dim tunnels. Pipes ran across every wall, snaking around corners before turning into the walls, connecting to sinks and valves on the other sides. He couldn’t see very far, as the lights were sparse and far between, one above his head, and one at the end, illuminating a wall. The other tunnels were the same.

“I have an idea.” One of the clones piped up.

“Say it then!” Kolt hissed over his shoulder.

“We split up. Us two take the left tunnel, you two take the right tunnel, and we loop around until we meet, IF we meet at all. This place is a labryinth, we’ll cover more ground that way. I just hope Ms. Velent hasn’t made it to the escape pods yet.”

“There are escape pods in here?” Asked Theo, and the clone nodded, causing him to grimace and whisper, “Fuck.”

“Just one, should be straight north from here, if, uh, the end of the tunnel points north.

“What about identification? You two look like any other clones around here, and there’s also the pair with Velent we have to worry about.”

“Watch.” The clone pulled down their hood, and so did the other. One ran a hand through their bushy black hair. “Clones aren’t supposed to put their hoods down on duty.”

“Huh.” Kolt put a hand on his chin. “That’s actually pretty smart. Good job clone.” The clone blushed, Kolt and Theo slid out of the way as the two clones sneaked into into the thin tunnel to their left. The two Privateers followed each other into the one on the right, Kolt standing in front this time. This tunnel was wide enough for them to shimmy through facing forwards, although they couldn’t walk any faster than a snail due to the mess of pipes covering the ground. Kolt held his handgun up near his shoulder, pointing it at the ceiling with his finger off the trigger.

“I’m so glad I don’t have claustrophobia,” Theo commented behind him, “This place gives me the heeby-jeebies. It’s dark, smelly, and moist.”

Kolt suddenly stopped before turning sideways and staring at Theo. “Don’t you, don’t you ever say that again.” He stuttered.

“What? Dark, smelly, and moist?”  Theo teased, and Kolt growled as he turned back around.

Pointing at Theo’s face he sneered, “At times, I fucking hate you.” He winked.

“Same.” Theo didn’t wink.

After round the corner, Kolt raised his handgun at the shadows down the tunnels, between them another blue bulb, before lowering his gun when the green hood was illuminated by the light. After meeting at the middle, the front clone and Kolt peered down the hall to Kolt’s right. More pipes, steam, and grease. “This is going to take a while. Maybe we should split up as well?”

“Maybe, but i’d prefer being able to watch each other’s backs instead of going alone.”

“And i’d prefer submitting my foot into her face as soon as possible.”

“True, true.”

Kolt pressed his body against the ‘wall’ and allowed Theo to slide past. “We’ll find her soon enough.” Sighed Theo as he raised his gun in a low-ready position, and Kolt nodded. The eeriness of the maintenance halls was starting to get to him; too low lighting, extremely cramped

er box, “And the escape pods are here,” He then pointed to the end of the leftmost box. “If there are tunnels through the middle of each of these boxes, we can make it to the escape pods before she can, and-”


“Holy shit! There they are!” The leading clone yelled, before zooming down the tunnel to their right. The other one shrugged before following suit, and the Privateers watched them disappear into the darkness.

“Did they just run off?”

“I think they did.”

Peeking out from the end of the tunnel, Theo surveyed the break room in the middle of the maintenance tunnels: A metal beam strutted out from the middle of the room, connecting to the ceiling. Two blue light bulbs, slowly swinging as they hung, illuminated the room just enough to see most of the details. A microwave sat on top of a large machine, probably a small generator, and a table sat in to the left of Theo, four chairs pushed into it. A small fridge was placed to his right, and a long black cord snaked over to the generator.

“Food.” Kolt blurted, pushing past Theo.

“Wait! It could be a trap!”

“Oh, shut up, Admiral Ackbar.” Kolt jeered as he pulled open the fridge, placing his handgun on top of it as he perused through it. After swimming through it’s contents, he closed it, and when he turned to Theo he had an sealed sandwich in his hand. “Ah, packaged food,” he sighed as he pulled open the plastic casing. Turning back to the fridge, Kolt retrieved his handgun from the top of it, but froze when his fingers touched the trigger guard.

Spinning around, he fired wildly at the hallway behind him, and Theo quickly joined in once he saw the raised pistol sticking out, and the arm it was attached to. thirty-caliber rounds punched the wall behind Kolt, and he dived towards Theo, landing on his side before firing until the slide locked back on his gun, and he wheezed as he cradled his side. After swapping his gun to his left hand, Theo leaned forward as the clones blindly fired at them, grabbing the zipped-up neck of Kolt’s suit and pulling him back into the tunnel as Kolt pressed his gun’s magazine release with his thumb, pulling a new magazine from one of his pouches, pressing it into the grip and slingshotting the slide back into battery.

As Theo helped Kolt back to his feet, the friendly clones ran up behind them. “Are those the rogues?” One asked.

“Isn’t it fucking obvious?!?” Kolt screamed at him, barely able to hear anything from all the high-caliber gunfire in an enclosed space messing with his eardrums, which he forgot to adjust for the gunfire.

The clones nodded, readying their handguns. “You two, go and find Velent! We’ll deal with these dudes!” Yelled one of the clones, sticking their gun around the corner and firing wildly. “Come on, go!”

“If you want to be chewed up by bullets, sure, fight them, but there really doesn’t seem to be a way towards them without being just that!”

“There’s always a way.” Kolt answered, squeezing past the clones, who began to blindfire around the corner at the rogues. “Theo, go a*BAM*round the other way! We’ll bo*BAM*x them in.”

“Got it!” Theo turned and ran down the opposite tunnel, and Kolt started to shimmy forwards. He turned the corner…

And slammed face first into a clone. Dropping his handgun as he was pushed back, Kolt wrapped his arms around the clone’s neck, pulling its face into his chest. It dropped its Automag and started to flail, and it tried to turn around in Kolt’s grasp. The clone backwards kicked Kolt in the crotch and tried to push him away, slamming his back into a few pipes. He felt the air in his lungs get pushed out of him, and as he wheezed he heard a metallic *shing!* as he tried to snap the clone’s neck.

Its arm snapped back at Kolt, and he felt something bite into his shoulder, tearing through the suit with ease and severing one of the straps of his body armor. The large plate swung forward on his chest before clattering to the ground, the other strap snapping from the weight, and the clone kicked him in the knee, causing Kolt to topple forward and past it, onto his back. A flash of steel, and Kolt felt something get buried into his side. The blade of a knife. The clone wrenched it sideways, and Kolt grunted as he punched it in the face, crawling backwards and away from it. He didn’t notice the extent of his injuries until he crawled under a light, and, staring down at his midsection, bit his tongue and looked away.

Pink intestine and a worrying amount of blood was spilling out of a huge, jagged gash in his lower torso, a foot or two of it already pulled out.{A} In regards to an alien having pink human-like intestine, Aldearian’s evolve phenomenally quickly, and as a result have mimicked other species in the universe’ body shape and general organ patterns, but that’s a discussion for another time. The clone groaned loudly, rubbing its bruised exposed face as the knuckle impression in their forehead instantly turned purple. 

This was no time to focus on being disemboweled. Kolt shambled to his feet, holding his guts in with his left arm, and trudged over to the keeled over clone. Breathing heavy, Kolt leaned back, and brought his fist into the Clone’s face with full force. He felt his knuckles collide with its pink forehead once again, and it reeled back. Kolt bit his lower lip hard as he glanced down at his insides again, before grabbing the clone by its neck. He stuck his other hand into the gaping wound in his midsection, and felt vomit bubble up in his throat as he pulled his intestines out even more, looping them around the dizzy clone’s throat. “H-Hope you like sausage links!” He yelled as he tightened the intestinal noose, and he slammed his body into the clone, knocking both of them over. Kolt clambered onto its chest, tightening his intestines around the clone’s neck, but making sure not to rip them because THAT would be bad. {A}

It squirmed and struggled, but he managed to keep it still enough for him to let go of his organs and grab both sides of its head, knocking off its hood. Grabbing onto its short, curly black hair on either side of its head, he pressed his thumbs against its eyes, growling and cursing as he squashed them like grapes, before slamming its head hard on the piping underneath it.

BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG! Kolt pulled its head forward, before slamming it down again on the floor, and again, and again. Brain matter splashed over the metal floor of the tunnel, and the clone finally went limp. “Guh… N-Never thought i’d use my INNARDS of all thing…”Kolt groaned in pain as he unlooped his intestines from the dead clone’s neck, the sound of gunfire still ricocheting off the walls. Shoving his innards back in, he felt his stomach churn and bubble again, and suddenly his mouth was full of disgusting, iron-tasting liquid. Bloody vomit dripped from his mouth as he pulled open one of the pouches on his belt, retrieving a spool of wire and slumping against the wall of the tunnel. With his legs buckled under him, he shakily looped the wire through the end of a pin. Pulling apart his torn suit, he stabbed it through his skin, not even noticing the little prick as his entire lower body burned fiercely, blood travelling down his pelvis in large gobs and coloring the entire front of his pelvis deep red.

After stitching back up his insides, he slowly pulled himself up, using the pipes on the walls as supports. The patter of feet sounded off down the hall to his left, somehow easier to hear than the muffled gunfire around him and when he turned to look for the source of the noise a white labcoat disappeared into the darkness at the end of the long tunnel. “Velent…” Kolt muttered before trying to stand up, but he sank to his knees. A little disembowelment hurt no one, right? He’d survive this; he’s an Aldearian, and Aldearian’s literally can’t go into shock, which has both good connotations and bad ones. Clutching onto his handgun, he crawled down the tunnel at a sluggish pace, pulling himself along by the pipes on the floor, weakly pushing with his feet.

A trail of red formed behind him as he crawled, and he wheezed and sputtered with every push of his legs. “Just a few meters more,” He said to himself. When he finally did make it to the end of the tunnel and lurched around the corner, he saw the entrance of a room in the very middle of the tunnel ahead, bright blue light beaming out. Grabbing onto a large pipe on the wall, he slowly pulled himself up, and with shaking feet, he shambled towards the doorway, holding his gun in his left hand and with a scowl on his face. Pulling himself through the doorway, he was blinded by the light. Raising his left arm to shield his eyes, he took a step forward into the light.

The small room was empty, a large airlock sitting in front of Kolt. He watched through the window as the egg-like escape pod puttered off, worried for a few seconds before remembering that the GSS would blow it out of the void as soon as one of the defensive turrets managed to target it, and, as Velent had the same thought, he watched it stop and slowly rotate to the right. Where the hell was she going?

Theo meanwhile was sneaking around in a nearby tunnel, crouched down and listening to the gunfire intently. He turned a corner, and saw the other rogue clone slapping a new magazine into their automag, the slide automatically releasing, before firing a few potshots around the corner. Theo put his handgun against his hip and whispered, “Holster.” It transformed back into a metal block, sliding onto his belt, but the clone heard him. Turning around, they saw Theo put an open palm on their face mask, and Theo squinted.


Theo wiped the gore off of his hand on his leg, looking down at the now-headless corpse as it’s liquid-filled hood settled on the ground. The ends of Theo’s hair began to sizzle, burning away and shortening his ‘fro by an inch of width; a small price to pay for being a being made of energy, whenever you exert some of your power, your form begins to wither away, hence the large hairstyles.

The two clones popped both of their heads out from behind their corner. “Huh.” Said one, looking at the body and the gray matter splattered all around the tunnel. “Well then.”

“You two secure the area,” Said Theo as he finished wiping off his glove on the clothing of the dead clone, “I’m going to go find Kolt and finish this.”

“Aye aye cap’n!” One of the two clones saluted Theo, and the other quickly followed suit. Theo went off on his own, redrawing his pistol and taking each corner apprehensively. It was a goddamn maze in here!

Soon, the two Privateers ran into each other again, and by ran into, I mean Theo stepped around a corner and tripped over Kolt’s crawling form. Rubbing the pipe-shaped impression in his forehead, Theo groaned, “Guh, Kolt?”

“I-In the chitin.”

Theo turned around and looked at his best friend, who had rolled onto his side, seeing the extent of his injuries. Theo just grimaced. “You okay?”

“Y-You’re the one with a medical license.”



“I mean the license may or may not have been revo-oh goddamnit whatever, what the hell happened to you?”

“Got gutted, think I got everything back inside through.” Almost on command, a stitch broke, and a bit of blood-soaked intestine flopped out. “N-Nevermind. Help. Nice haircut by the way.”

Theo just sighed.


Winter finished hanging up on Kolt, but then remembered a small detail she had forgotten; there were more clones that were rogue. Not only did two of the four meant to go arrest Velent go ‘offline’, three more in the residential district suddenly became trigger happy as well and also disappeared off of the station’s sensors. She tried to call him again, waiting as the painful ‘ringing’ sound effect stopped emitting from the tiny speakers on her PDA.

“This is Kolt,” A familiar voice buzzed from the speakers, “Leave me a message, and I’ll try to call you back when I care enough to look at my voicemail.”

Winter cursed as she ended the call. She tried again, waiting for it to beep, and spat out, “There are more clones that are rogue, watch out in case any get on your floor.” She finished the voice mail and she stuffed the PDA back into a pocket on her jacket, sprinting off towards the residential district from the elevator she stood in, deciding that would take too long.

Jogging, she ran up flight after flight of stairs. Judging by the reports from the non-rogue clones, the android had made its way into the public areas and was very, very angry. Probably meant as a distraction for the security officers as Velent escaped along with the clones, but she doubted the good doctor expected Kolt to arrive so early. Pushing through a door at the end of one of the flights of stairs, Winter ran through the lowest deck of residential, which was eerily quiet. It had already been evacuated, but she could feel a few curious, hidden eyes watching her as she sprinted around corners, the edges of her jacket fluttering through the recycled air.

Pulling her gun from her holster, she turned another corner, only for an invisible laser to ping off of the metal wall beside her. Diving behind a trashcan, Winter heard the loud buzzing, whining, and grinding of a combat android down the ‘street’. Combat androids, or ‘Corpsemen’ as people ‘lovingly’ referred to them, were ‘decommissioned’ (read: dead) clones refitted into frames for ‘killbots’, with metal welded to their skeleton, eyes gouged out (if they weren’t already) and filled with scanners and sensors, and their legs removed and replaced with digitigrade ‘raptor-like’ metal legs. I’m just using ‘parentheses’ at this point to ‘annoy’ you. Both of its arms were, from the forearm down, refitted with low-energy laser pistols, with four knife-like fingers surrounding them, which still packed a large enough punch that they had Winter suppressed. Their face mask was replaced with a much larger one, and a top portion was added on, bolted into their skull. They were unnerving to say the least, being literally weaponized corpses, but thankfully they were extremely rare. {A}

Winter too had a laser pistol, a prototype ‘just in case’ anti-Corpseman weapon she was supposed to test out at least once in order to make the eggheads happy, but unlike the ones mounted to the cyborg, it was truly handheld, and not hooked up to a heavy backpack comprised of batteries like most laser weapons. It looked like a generic pistol grip attached by a tiny bridge of metal to the front of the gun, which was shaped like a large arrowhead and had a yellow circle in the middle of it. On the bottom flange of the arrow was a small tube, the battery of the gun. Making sure that the battery was all the way in (the gun had a tendency to let it slip out), Winter leaned out from behind the trashcan, pulling the stiff trigger of the gun halfway, causing a laser pointer to beam out of the top of the handgun and painting on the stiff, unbreathing chest of the android, the only part of it that resembled what it used to be other than the shape of the head under all those electronics. The amalgamation of flesh and wire whirred as it mechanically lifted one of its legs, taking a heavy step forward, arms raised at Winter. They were definitely quite creepy, but Winter had seen worse.

Pulling the trigger the rest of the way, the end of her pistol fizzled and kicked back as vents rose out of the bottom, spewing hot steam and causing the gun to ‘recoil’ as it fired. The yellow orb of ball energy flew down the street, nailing the android in the chest and causing it to go completely limp. Running up to it, Winter reached behind its head, grabbing a hold on the ponytail of wiring it had, and giving it a harsh tug. The machine whirred back to life, and shoved both barrels into Winter’s sides. Thinking fast, she lifted up a leg and kicked off the machine, hoping to, I dunno, fall on her back and shoot it or something? She just did it out of instinct.

However, it snapped closed one of it’s hands, the sharp fingers slicing into Winter’s leg and holding her firmly in the place as it lifted her like a ragdoll. It chucked the Marshal over the rail that protected people from falling into the incinerator like a piece of garbage, and she didn’t have enough time to begin screaming before she landed on something back-first; a walkway, which just so happened to be under her.{A} Slamming her head against the platform, stars began to bounce around in her eyes, but she was still concious and she still had her gun in her hand, having made sure to slip on its arm strap (she had no idea why it needed one), but when she lifted the gun above herself to point at the Corpseman, she noticed the ever-so-common absence of the battery; it must’ve fell out when she was thrown. Perfect design work, eggheads! Sitting up and fumbling around in one of her pockets, she pulled out another battery and slid it into place as the Corpseman looked over the edge with its slick-sided face, watching her with the sensors on either side of its face mask. It put a heavy arm on the railing, which crumpled like tissue paper, and stepped off the edge, falling onto the walkway the floor above and almost separating it from the floor it was attached to. Winter raised the laser pistol and pulled the trigger again, firing another bolt of ball electricity, which hit the cyborg in the face and sizzled out on it’s non-conductive face mask.

“Fucking hell!” She yelled just because she had no idea what else to do, and she looked at the pistol as the Corpseman took another step towards her, raising its laser-equipped arms. She noticed a small bit of duct tape attached to the underside of the grip, something she didn’t notice when she pulled the gun from a dusty box in the station’s armory, and she read it:


Wumbo? Wumbo??? Next to the tiny bit of tape was a tiny switch, which she promptly flicked with a claw. She pointed it back at the Corpseman, aiming for it’s unarmored torso.

“Wumbo.” She pulled the heavy trigger with two fingers this time, and instead of a small, mostly-visible yellow circle, a barely-visible red streak zipped out the front of the weapon, striking the android in the chest and causing it to promptly light on fire. The android began to override its hacked commands, putting its ‘EXTINGUISH’ protocol first, and it pointed an arm at itself. A stubby nozzle next to the needle-like barrel of the blaster pistol mounted on that arm blasted out white foam, coating the body of the robot, but another bolt ignited the foam too. Winter rose to her feet, grimacing as she squeezed the staplegun-esque trigger as fast as she could, which wasn’t very fast, but the android was beginning to sizzle. The electronics began to combust and explode, sounding almost like firecrackers, and the android attempted to spray itself with more foam when it’s head was engulfed in flame. Winter advanced on the cyborg, gritting her teeth as her face was lit up with red a few milliseconds every time she pulled the trigger of her gun, until she was standing right in front of the Corpseman, discharging again and again into its roasted chest, which had collapsed inwards and revealed a complex array of electronics and crispy internal organs that were just left in because they weren’t worth anything on the black market.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” Winter adequately voiced her displeasure in the Corpseman when she shoved the front of her gun into its chest cavity and continued to fire, starting to burn her own hands. She realized this, and ended her fit of rage with a headbutt to the facemask of the android, which was broken beyond repair at this point. Her forehead split open on the center line of the monstrosity’s facemask and she fell back on her ass, but she was content.

“No one,” She breathed as blood ran down her face, “Touches my legs without permission.” {A}

Winter checked her gun. The battery slipped out, clattering against the floor. She had to stop herself from throwing it over the edge. When she looked down however, she noticed three corpses on the trash pile at the bottom of the tower. “Guess the Corpseman doesn’t like other clones.”


Kolt was unconcious by the time Theo had handed him off to actual genuinely-licensed doctors, not that he wasn’t a genuinely-licensed doctor that is, and he went and retrieved his helmet from his ship along with another nondescript rectangle, clasping the helmet closed as he sat in a elevator, the block leaned against the wall. He picked up the block and held it out, ordering, “Madsen M50.”


The block transformed into a loaded Madsen M50 submachine gun, along with a small belt with two magazine pouches appearing on top of it. Strapping on the belt, Theo held his submachine gun against his chest as the elevator descended; Velent’s escape pod had redocked on the lowest floor of the tower, the recovery ward for the hospital, which was comprised of recovery rooms, gyms, pools and a small artificial forest meant for people to take relaxing walks in while recovering from a vasectomy or something. If anywhere, Velent headed for the fake forest, as another escape pod was located on the other side of it outside of the range of the station’s defensive guns. Quite poor placement if you ask me, but the design of the station was contracted out to the lowest bidder.

He exited the elevator and commanded, “Map, current floor.” A wirelessly-downloaded technical drawing of the floor was overlaid to his right inside the helmet, made up of bright orange lines and devoid of much information but still giving him a good sense of direction, and he ran off to where he suspected the forest to be. Walking through a pair of sliding doors, he found himself in a dense, green forest, the only tell that it was fake being the large circular wall that wrapped around it and the big metal door behind him. Theo apprehensively walked down the footpath, raising his submachine gun to hip-level; there could still be more rogue clones out there, and he had no idea if Velent herself was armed.


Velent was nearby, hiding behind a tree, violently pressing the buttons of a massive amalgamation of a device she held and cursing as she did so. “Work damn you! If only I could just TALK to them!” Three clones stood around her, giving her 360 degrees coverage as she fiddled with the device, which was what controlled the clones; she was attempting to mash in some more orders, as the clones simply stopped in the middle of their trek and took up defensive positions, unsure what to do next. Velent made a mental note to never buy things on the black market ever again as she finally finished entering the commands to the clones, reading them out on the tiny display attached to the device, but relented hitting the big red button underneath the tacked-on keyboard. Instead, her wonder at why she couldn’t just talk to the clones spun off into a dirty thought, and she walked over to one of the clones, who was leaning against a tree and clutching their Gerat 05. She stared at it, but the clone seemed to pay her no mind; the GSS made sure to buy the partially-lobotomized ones, they made better soldiers than the ones with emotion although sometimes their emotion dampeners fizzled out, leaving them simply sentient morons, quite the paradox if you ask me.

She leaned over, hooked a claw on the edge of the edge of its pants, and pulled it open. Her eyes widened.

“So THAT’S what it looks like!”

Shaking herself out of her stupor, she let go of the clone’s pants and rubbed her forehead, before pressed the small ‘enter’ key on the device. The clones began to tactically move east, one advancing backwards and covering their flank as the two others covered 30 degree angles left and right, and Velent let out a sigh of relief before tossing the device over her shoulder; once she got to the pod, the clones would be of no use to her

She picked up the shotgun she had stolen from a security checkpoint she made a clone open, and followed her escort. After this, she would be safe and sound in a nice laboratory far, far away from GSS-controlled space, and with a fat paycheck too! That is, if her plea for asylum was granted, but she knew it would be; she had friends in the system. She made sure to destroy her research before she left; of what she knew, only she knew it. There was nothing written down about what she had discovered, the mix she had injected into Kolt Saudwell, the results of which she’d have to rely on a third-party to see but, eh, she was excited about this combination!

Her other project, the failed clone of Gene, was put on hold however. Her progress had been massive, an entire creature built from simply a small patch of skin taken from the girl in an examination she thought was routine, but, it was sickly and frail, and the whole birthing process of the thing was disgusting. It had started life as a clump of cells in a petri dish, but grew so fast it had to be placed into a tupperware box, then a cardboard box, before being thrown in some back room to gestate. It looked like a sack for the first few weeks, with movement visible through the fluid inside, and after two months it finally burst open, with Velent being lucky to be there when it happened. What confused her the most however, is that the clone had Gene’s memories from the outset! She did have to hypnotize in the monster story however. The genetic slurry she had managed to create was just a wild guess, and it worked, but it didn’t work well enough.

“With a good lab, i’ll be able to do good work.” She assured herself; the fact that they kept their memories somehow from when the tissue sample was taken was astonishing; proof of genetic memory? The amount of lives this research could save…

She checked her shotgun, making sure the safety was off. The research would do nothing if she couldn’t get off the station. And she was fairly certain the authorities and her Privateer ex-lackeys were still bumbling about trying to figure out that she had flown the other pod down to this floor.


Theo was unknowingly only a few dozen feet away from Velent and her escorts, but the thick vegetation and loud fake atmospheric noises concealed both parties. His helmet was big and fancy, but it had no sort of thermal vision or anything special, it was meant more for being used as a space helmet with a large internal air supply if need be, and also protecting his head from any sort of small arms fire up to anti-material rifles. He held onto his Madsen as he wandered through the brush, going only east as he knew the escape pod was on the east wall, but getting mixed up a few times as the minimap overlaid to his right displayed him in a blank circle and didn’t have a compass. While he looked for Velent however, he couldn’t stop thinking about one thing:


That was the worst he had personally seen Kolt wounded, other than the time he got his jaw completely blown off and had to have a new one reconstructed. That was pretty gnarly, but it was nothing like seeing him with his body ripped open horizontally, blood gushing out as his intestine wiggled and pulsed. If he wasn’t so used to seeing corpses, he would’ve vomited like earlier, but that was just because of the smell and the amount, gunshot victims didn’t phase him. Kolt had a good chance of survival considering how fast the medical personnel got to him, but, Theo still worried. You would worry too if your best friend for the last seven years got his guts pulled out in front of you. Maybe less so if you knew that he was an alien species that was incapable of going into shock or getting infections due to their unique immune systems, but nonetheless.

Theo was also fearing that he was having feelings for Kolt. Those feelings. The kind where the ‘friendly platonic destressing fuck-out’ suddenly becomes the ‘repressed feelings bang-bang’, not that that happens between these two, they’re too busy taking each other’s advice and going and fucking themselves, Kolt in particular. You give that man a nudie mag and he’ll be in the bathroom for the next hour. And he won’t flush, too. Eww.

Theo hid behind a tree and scanned the horizon. The trees rustled in the artificial wind, and it was hard determining what sticks snapping were real or fake; this situation made him paranoid. Holding his submachine gun with one hand, he leaned out to the right, looking around one more time, before crouch-walking away from the tree and towards the other side of the forest. More sticks snapped, but this time he was able to determine they were fake as he almost stepped on a small speaker in the dirt, the top of it concealed with a few sticks in order to make it extra realistic. It all looked so real until you looked close enough. That clone wearing GSS clothing looks real too. Wait a minute.

Theo brought his submachine gun to his shoulder and immediately opened fire on the clones, who promptly scattered to cover, Velent crouching behind a giant hollow rock and cursing under her breath. Fine then, i’ll just go on my own, she thought, so she got down on her belly and began to crawl through the underbrush, away from the clones and Theo, and towards her escape. One clone leaned out from behind a tree and fired thrice at Theo, and a nearby tree had some bark explode off of it in fragments. Theo quickly shuffled to an indent in the ground, between the roots of two trees, and fired as he went. He didn’t hit anyone, but the clones stayed in their cover.

The bolt of his Madsen slammed forward and stayed forward, so he pulled back the charging nob, pulled out the magazine, and yanked one out of the small mag carrier attached to his belt. He kept firing, trying to keep the clone’s heads down as he figured out what to do, but as he shot at them, the elevator to the floor opened again, and out stumbled…

Kolt Saudwell, a syringe stuck in his neck from a doctor trying to give him some anesthetic before they took him into immediate surgery. That attempt was greeted by a palm to the nose, and Kolt zoomed out of the surgery room, feeling better due to the tons of painkillers Theo shoveled into his mouth and fueled by his determination to kick Velent’s ass. He stumbled out of the elevator, bracing himself against the wall as he clutched his sewn-up gut, and his attention was drawn to the gunfire in the distance. Slow chattering gunfire, interspersed with much louder ‘booms’. He had heard enough; he knew Theo liked his Madsen, which had a slow cyclic rate, so he yanked the syringe out of his neck and sprinted off in that direction. Much to his displeasure he had accidentally left his PHP behind, so he stole an Automag from a clone who tried to stop him from leaving the emergency room, who Kolt had promptly kicked in the groin before relieving him of his weapon.

He limped out into the forest, towards the direction of the gunfire. He stood out like a bleeding thumb, his blood-splattered coil suit and bright amber eyes contrasting against the green foliage, but he knew to at least walk cautiously through the forest. As he neared the gunfire, he realized that Theo was most likely in front of him, and engaged with people in front of HIM, so, Kolt broke off to the left, holding his Automag in an outstretched arm as he walked in a half-moon around Theo and the clones, spotting the gunfight as he got closer. Hiding behind a tree, he squinted at the clones, who were turned to his right, shooting at Theo, who Kolt spotted hiding in a ditch between two trees, fumbling to stick his last magazine into his Madsen. None of the clones were wounded, and Theo was in a bit of a mess, so Kolt decided to tactically walk up to the clones and tactically blast them in the back of their hoods, tactically. That worked for the first one. The other two however noticed the unsuppressed gunfire behind them quite quickly.

Theo stood up and leaned out of the ditch to shoot at the clones again, but dropped his jaw when he saw Kolt (Kolt????) shoulder-bashing one of the clones into a tree, before grabbing them and using their body as a shield against the gunfire of the last clone, who Kolt shot twice in the chest and once in the head before pressing the barrel of his Automag against the head of the dying meat shield and blasting their brains all over his shoulder. Theo got up to greet his friend, but was instead greeted by a shotgun barrel pressed up against his spine.

“Helmet off.” Growled Velent. “Now. And drop your gun.” Theo obliged, dropping his gun and raising his hands in defeat, before pressing a button located above the nape of his neck on his helmet, holding it, then pulling the helmet off his head. He placed it on the dirt, before turning his head and glaring back at Velent, who relocated the barrel of her shotgun to behind his head. “Now get up.”

Kolt dropped the corpse of his former-meat shield and wiped off his shoulder, before spinning around with his gun raised when he heard not one but two pairs of footsteps approaching him from behind. Velent chuckled before relocating herself behind Theo, quite hard to do as he was like a foot shorter than her, before remarking, “Those helmets are quite limiting on the field of vision, aren’t they? I stood behind your friend here for a few seconds before making myself known. Drop your gun, Kolt.”

“No.” Kolt tried to sight in Velent’s head, but the Automag lacked ironsights, and he wasn’t trusting of the welded seam over the top of it; he might hit Theo, or put a hole through his marvelous hair, either option being bad. But, to his confusion, Velent walked out from behind Theo, keeping her shotgun on his head as she did so. “Give up, doctor, you have nowhere to run.”

“But that’s where you’re wrong, dear boy, I have many places to run. Like, for example, to the escape pod behind you. Drop your weapon, or we both see what a Marbelian fizzling away into pure energy looks like.” Theo, whose hands were still in the air, realized something: if he touched the barrel of Velent’s gun and ‘exhumed’ enough energy, he might be able to make the gun explode, but it was risky. Velent’s finger was touching the trigger, and the barrel of her gun was far enough away from his head that he would have to reach for it. Kolt meanwhile kept pointing his Automag at Velent, completely unwavering. {A}

“Drop the gun, Velent.”

“You know I can’t do that, Kolt.” Theo tried to reach for the barrel.

But Velent saw.

“You little…!” She hit him over the head with the barrel of the gun, knocking him out cold, and Kolt ran at her. She swung the gun over at Kolt, raising it to her shoulder, but he grabbed it by the barrel and wrenched it to the side as he smacked her in the face with the front of his Automag.

*BOOM* The shotgun discharged, and the concussion from the muzzle blast hit Kolt in the face like a light slap, but he just blinked and pointed the Automag at Velent’s face. {A} Velent, who was leaning over after getting pistol-whipped, stood back up ash she cradled her jaw. {A} She gave Kolt a look of pure hatred, before it changed to one of complete confusion. Kolt cocked his head to the side. His arm felt wet. He looked down at his hand. It wasn’t there. There was bone and blood instead. Some arterial spray hit Kolt in the face, and he slowly looked up at Velent. {A}

Kolt fainted.



“What the fuck?”

Kolt opened his eyes. Everything he saw was black. But, his eyes were open? He looked down; sure enough, there was his body, in his explorer’s gear, green vest and all, and with no injuries of any sort, other than his massive amount of scars. He stood up, sticking a hand out into the darkness encapsulating him. He just felt a cold breeze flow over him.


A voice boomed into his mind, hurting as it spoke. Kolt grimaced, and tried to speak. “Who-”

He was cut off by the pain of reality.

He was alive, but just barely. His head bumped against the ground, and his legs were being pulled with delicate, unwavering hands. He felt his left hand squirming and scratching, while his right hand twitched slightly. His mouth was agape, and all he saw was blue light above him. Blood ran down his thighs and trailed off onto the metal flooring, but he couldn’t see this. Whoever was dragging him let go off his feet, and he felt them drop to the floor, his boots clattering against metal tile.

“Pathetic,” A familiar voice mocked, “Absolutely pathetic. They should’ve sent actual soldiers, not wannabees.” They scoffed. Kolt felt his leg twitch, and the voice crowed, “Still alive are we?”

Another shotgun blast sounded off, and Kolt spat up more blood as his head lolled back, staring at the wall behind him blankly as his mind danced. “That just means I can, heh, blow off some steam.” Kolt weakly rolled his head forward. Through the blurriness, all he saw in place of his chest was a bloody mess.

The lynx stepped out of the corner of the room, holding some sort of black, elongated object, presumably her shotgun. Leaning said object against the wall, she walked over to Kolt, adjusting her blood-specked glasses. “Good, that saves me a lot of cutting,” She commented as she looked over his viscera. Kolt spat blood at her as she began to straddle him, drawing out something shiny and metallic from one of her coat pockets.

She pressed the scalpel against his leathery suit, pushing down hard as she scoffed and started to monologue. “You are pathetic. A simple mercenary, sent to help me, yet you disobey your direct orders and try to become a hero. Well, hero, you’re the villain. The things I’ve been doing here could mean a revolution in science; the Renaissance of cloning! You are a disgrace to your family name.” She cut through Kolt’s torn suit like butter, and he gasped and writhed, raising his left arm and feeling his knuckles lock as his fist curled. He swung wildly, trying to hit her in the side of the neck. {A}

A bloody stump slapped against her neck, comprised of flapping tendons and shattered fragments of bone. Velent simply patted it away. Kolt tried to punch with his right hand, but couldn’t move it as she had pinned it down with her own free hand as she sat on his pelvis. Kolt felt his non-existent left hand twitch, and he turned and watched it squirt crimson liquid from torn-open veins, naked bone glistening under the blue light. But the pain wasn’t as bad as when he felt the scalpel digging around in his chest cavity.

Velent jerked the scalpel to the side, blood spilling out of the holes in his suit as she stripped it off. “You don’t even know what I was trying to do, don’t you? I was trying to create the perfect mixture, the perfect theory. I wanted to find out how to clone for years, and to find the perfect sequence, the best way to copy and paste the information. I wanted to bypass having to whine to the Privateers for access to their machine, something that was done ONCE. I started with that Marshal’s sister. Did you know that she is adopted? The Marshal, not her sister. All I had to do was figure out how to keep her from coming back. Some plastic explosives and props did that. I got the gun and the ammo a few systems over from a museum, didn’t take long. The outfit, well, I stitched that up myself, in order to portray some sort of ‘ancient alien’ storyline for you to unravel, if there ever was one. As for, Gene, ironic name…” She pushed up on the bridge of her spectacles, “I took a tissue sample from her, but the clone was imperfect, motley, and sick. I passed it off as her, implanting fake memories of some tentacle monster brutalizing her, inspired by many animations on the internet, but I digress.” She stuck the scalpel into Kolt’s skin, and a red-hot line of pain followed it as it sliced down his chest. Behind her was a sealed airlock, a red light bar across the top of it, signifying that it was locked.

Theo, he thought, Theo, I need you. I need anyone.

I need help.

And also a new hand.

Someone please get me a new hand.


Theo’s eye shot open, and he rubbed the top of his head. “Ow.” He stood up, scratching his head as he looked around. “Kolt? Velent?” The only company he had were the corpses of the clones. As he looked around, his foot brushed something squishy. He looked down, and immediately squeaked, “SHIT!” It was a gloved finger, sitting next to a small amount of fleshy bits splattered over the dirt, all covered with leathery material; parts of a coil suit. Kolt had lost a hand. “FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!” Theo yelled as he ran towards the east, where the hallway to the escape pod was. He sprinted through the open hallway, towards the door at the end. He pressed the big red button next to it, labeled ‘FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY’, but, it didn’t open. Why didn’t it open? Theo smashed the button with a curled fist. Nothing. He kept pressing it, over and over and over. Nothing. Frantic, he looked around for any way into the room; who designs an escape hallway with a lockable door at the end???

To his left was an emergency locker, which he flung open. Inside was a heavy turnout coat, what firefighters wear, along with an emergency fire extinguisher and a fire axe on a hook. Theo grabbed the fire axe, which he used the spike on the end to pry open the panel the big red button was attached to. A bunch of wires flopped out, and he pulled out his multitool, trying to see that, maybe, he would get lucky and somehow manage to open the door. Kolt depended on him. He depended on him all the time actually, but this time, he REALLY depended on him.


“You were hired to help me. But now you’ve tried to stop me. That violates your contract, doesn’t it, mercenary?”

Kolt shakily looked up at Velent, a shuddering scowl forced onto his face. “No,” He wheezed, “I didn’t s-sign a contract.”

“Oh? You came here for free?”


Velent just cackled in response. “HAH, taking a contract for no money, you really are a retard!”

“Did you just call me a r-retard.”

“Why yes, heh, yes I did, you stupid little insect! I wonder if i’m eligible for a refund?” Velent prepared to stand up, putting a hand on Kolt’s lower chest and pushing off of him. He pulled his remaining hand from her grip when she weakened it for a moment and grabbed her by the collar, to her confusion. He smiled, quite an unnerving thing as he was currently re-gutted, missing a hand, and splattered with blood. {A}

He whispered,”W-Well, here’s your damn refund.”

He pulled his stump to his mouth, ripping off a chunk of muscle and revealing a sharp, fractured bone. Velent’s eyes went wide, and she gasped when Kolt stabbed it through her lab coat, into her chest and between her ribs. {A} He slid his legs out from under her and curled them against his chest, kicking her off the spike. She fell backwards, catching herself by grabbing onto the now-open doorway to the tunnel, and Kolt inched backwards. Organs twitched and spasmed in his dissected chest, and a grate of white bone stared up from the giant gash: his ribcage. It looked quite nice actually, his ribcage, not his exposed organs; nice bright shiny white, good confirmation that he got his daily calcium in. Kolt felt slightly proud, but then he realized he was feeling proud for having a shiny ribcage, but then went back to feeling proud because his ribcage was shiny.

“You, ugh, stupid little, *wheeze, bug!” She breathed as she pulled herself up with the doorway, grasping her labcoat as a familiar crimson started to spread over it, a look of seething hatred on her face. Kolt grimaced as he backed up to the doors of the escape pod, and he reached out for the discarded shotgun as Velent began to shamble toward him, scalpel shiny with blood. Kolt’s fingers wrapped around the polymer grip of the shotgun and he pulled it towards himself.

CHIK. He gave the pump handle a sharp tug with his remaining hand, sending an empty green shotshell into the wall and onto the floor to his right at high speed.

Velent took a step forward.


Kolt pushed the foregrip forwards and swiftly brought the gun into battery, holding it with one hand. Velent’s face had gone blank, and she stood there, staring at Kolt, her mouth slightly agape. A single bead of blood, mixed with salty sweat, ran down her neck from under her manes, and Kolt cocked his head. She slightly turned her head slightly, looking behind herself, and Kolt noticed a familiar blue tuft of hair had appeared behind Velent. He also noticed something painted bright red sticking out of the front of Velent’s neck, having been hidden under a mane, and she gurgled as her eyes slowly drifted down towards Kolt.

“W-What, choking on your words? C-Choke on this.”

The spike was yanked out of her neck, and Kolt pulled the trigger.

She stumbled backwards into the hall as the pellets punched into her chest and ripped her organs up, her labcoat fluttering as she burped up foam while falling to the ground, and her eyes rolled upwards, a mixture of saliva and blood drooling from her hole in the front of her neck as the collar of her coat started to turn red, the burgundy shirt she wore underneath semi-concealing the massive amount of blood Velent was now coated with. Theo gripped the axe, teeth still gritted, and the point on the opposite side of the blade was a darker shade of red than usual. As his anger subsided, his eye drifted over to Kolt, and he immediately dropped the axe and rushed to the side of his potentially-mortally-wounded friend. {A} “Kolt, oh my god, oh my god oh my god oh my goooooOOOoood!” He squeaked in a fractured voice, dropping to his knees next to Kolt.

Kolt just stared at Theo. “D-Did you get another haircut?”

“STOP JOKING AROUND IN A TIME LIKE THIS!!!” Theo yanked open one of Kolt’s pouches and began to rummage around for medical supplies, but Kolt kept talking.

“Yah knowwww…” He drawled,the bloodloss finally getting to him and causing his limbs to be covered in invisible molasses and his sight to go blurry, “I think I might, retire after this. Wasn’t she our, our, employer?”

“Mine Kolt she was mine, you never officially came with me, where’s the fucking twine, so I don’t think they’ll throw you under the bus for this.”

“Ohhh they will, theeeyyyy will… Hey Theo?”

Theo looked up from the pouch he was rummaging through, extremely worried. “Yes, what?”

“I’ve never seen you w-worried before.”

Theo had no answer.


And now for something completely different.



Back On Centim.

It took a while to find her.

Zerr held her head low as Goldenbeak scoffed. “You let the Privateer scumbag LEAVE? Just like that? Do you know, that if you had some sense of thought, we could have used them for ransom, or information? Instead, you tell them how to leave? It was Kolt Saudwell! THE Kolt Saudwell! Ugh!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t remember being one of your lackeys!” Zerr snapped back, looking up the stairs to the throne. “AND he saved my life from a sandworm anyhow! I thought showing him the way to get off the planet was the least I could do.”

“Well, maybe if you weren’t such a weakling, you would’ve been able to stand up for yourself.”

Zerr was taken aback; how fucking dense WAS her brother? He’s cursing her out, and he says that she’s too weak to stand up for herself?

“How fucking DUMB are you, Cordell?” Zerr cawed, “You’re cursing at me to, to, stand up for myself more, but yet here you are yelling at me and expecting me to take it! You don’t control me, and you definitely don’t own me! And stand up to a sandworm? You don’t even allow your subjects to have GUNS, how can I stand up to a fucking sandworm without a gun!”

“Hmmph” Cordell crossed his arms in his chair. “Touché. Sister, leave.”

“Gladly!” Zerr turned and stomped out of the hall, fuming. Her brother was such an asshole to everyone since he got the throne. She liked him better when he was muted from his hideous injury. Now, he gnashed with a golden prosthetic, leading to his renaming as ‘Goldbeak’. And everyone hated him. He didn’t follow through on his promise to re-invigorate the economy! What kinda horrible person doesn’t keep his campaign promises?

GB sighed when his sister left the hall, and his guards shifted uncomfortably. Zerr may be the elder sibling, but she only was by a year or two, and she was physically frail and had a wallet filled with only a few bits of scrap to live off of. GB had an entire mansion to himself, with emphasis on himself. Sure, the concubines from Flagdyn helped, but he sorta wished for an actual relationship. Doesn’t help that he’s horribly maimed. And this, ‘Kolt’ fellow, his sister seemed to talk of him in high praise. Disgusting. He HAD offered her monetary help, but she denied it, wanting to be like their parents and live off the land. What land? The desert?

He glanced around him, at the visible beams of light staring through the glass windows between the pillars, which were inlaid with golden etchings. The beauty of Centin always surprised him. Most people hated it, because it was almost entirely a desert, with most of the water being under the ground and nowhere to grow crops, but something about staring over the vast dunes by yourself, sitting there alone, made him feel empty, but with a friend, maybe lover, that would be ideal to him. Also the gold. He rubbed against the crown in his other hand with his thumb, feeling the smooth-yet-fragile golden material.

Gold, weak and frangible, yet bright and beautiful, to him at least. It was also worth a lot, so it helped that his fief was situated onto a gigantic vein of the stuff. Anyone with hands could dig in the quarry and find a few pebbles of the stuff in every few centimeters. Thankfully it was well enough enforced that the economy didn’t commit suicide, but as mentioned earlier, it sucked. GB’s beak was, well, made of gold, which made it weak, but still very flashy. He could still bite people, which was a plus, along with blinding them in sunlight (and himself), so he usually wore sunglasses that clashed heavily with ninety-nine percent of what he wore. Thankfully, his benefactors helped supply the planet with modern-enough goods and supplies. He delicately placed the crown on his head, and closed his eyes, leaning his head against his hand.

It was good to be an elected king.

A Hundred Meters Away…

And it wasn’t good to be the elected king’s prisoner. Helmin gazed dreamily out the window across the cell block, in the opposite cell. All he saw was sand and the roofs of huts, but whatever was out there was much better than in here. He adjusted his armor, pulling on the iron collar that chained him to the wall; he was pulled from one of the groups and chosen to be the species ‘champion’ in the Proving Grounds, Goldbeaks’ name for his arena. All of Helmin’s people had been shipped to the planet, as a gift to Goldbeak, but a gift from who? Helmin himself didn’t get a good look at their original captors, having been napping in his post when the raid occurred, but some of the others did, but they were still in shock, stiff as a corpse, barely breathing when they were thrown into their cells, and he had been segregated from them anyhow.

Two of Goldbeaks’ honor guards walked past Helmin’s cell, their gold-studded armor shining in the light from the window behind them. Helmin covered his eyes as they unlocked the cell, and they prodded him through the cell bars with the ends of their spears. Groaning, he stood up, and one of the much taller creatures came in, unlocking the collar before giving Helmin a push towards the cell door, and he grunted again, staring at them with hatred in his reptilian eyes as he was escorted out.


The kobold licked the edges of his mouth with a dehydrated tongueas he stood at the ready, staring down Goldbeak as he lazily laid in his seat across the arena, a good three stories up, crown reflecting sunlight almost as much as his namesake. {A} The trumpets sounded around him, and a spear was flung into the air, landing in the sand at Helmin’s feet, who promptly picked it up, holding on like death. It was the best example of ‘simple’, being nothing more than a point, probably of iron, screwed into a long wooden pole. The point towered over him as the large, golden gate under Goldbeak’s podium split down the middle, the doors flinging outwards as ungodly screams sounded from the darkness inside.

A Sark Beast, rearing its skeletal head, galloped out, sneezing loudly before whinnying at Helmin, who simply lowered the point of the spear, pointing it directly at the creature. It let out a loud roar, causing Helmin to flinch as it began to start to sprint at him, all four legs tearing through the sand. He collected himself and continued to point the spear at the creature, dropping to a knee as his foot slid through the sand. He had faced charging Sark Beast’s before, and he was fairly certain this tactic would work. Goldbeak watched with curiosity from above, and so did the few hundred spectators surrounding the arena in the ring of seats.

The beast was only meters away now. Helming slowed his breathing, closing his eyes. He hoped his spear aimed true. More screeching, and the kobold felt something much larger than him slam directly into the spear. Helmin opened his eyes, and subsequently noticed the red liquid dripping onto his snout.

His plan worked. The dead Sark Beast twitched as it bled from both the entry wound, and the exit. The end of the spear disappeared into its breast, and the bloodied point stuck out of it’s back. Placing a hand against its chest, Helmin strained and pulled, and the point slid back into the creature’s lower back. With a sharp tug, he pulled it out the front, and it fell to the ground, limp and deader than dead. Looking at the crowds around him, all watching in silence as he grabbed both ends of the spear, lifting it into the air and staring at Goldbeak.

“Yark yark!” He yipped.

And then the crowd exploded with applause. GB beakpalmed so hard that he immediately gained a gigantic migraine.

Later, Helmin sat in his cell, content with himself and gnawing on a bloody slab of raw meat in his lap. His mind was full of self congratulations. Judging by the reactions he got, he did good, and a small smile started to form at the edges of his mouth. This might not be so bad after all!

He preferred his meat cooked, though.