Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dramatic Readings: IKEA Porn Anita Blake

My greatest axe to throw to the heavens: Anita Blake. 

Wherein I go through some samples. Try not to dwell on the fact that this series used to be entertaining popcorn fun.


Honestly, if you even are morbidly curious, just flip through  these books at a dead tree store. Or from the library. They aren't worth buying, UF Worth a Buy:


Friday, September 25, 2020

The Level of Detail

With this audio adventure: 

How detailed should one go with a bad guy's actions. As far as depraved acts go.

My limit as a writer is PG-13. Its why the Keepers disintegrate upon death. At most, with romance, it will be hugs and kisses onscreen. With bedroom antics as fade to black. 

This is only my opinion into my own limits as a reader and writer. 

  • having children characters go through adult situations, like war and sex, disturb me. Esp when its in things that should be escapism or entertainment fiction. I am quite well aware of what goes on in the real world. Its why I want to escape. 

 The threads:  

 


The Uplift Protocol: MFE B1 Issue 5

 

Issue 5: The Stars Above. The Sky Below.

 

            Things have changed in interesting ways. Guess I'll have to get used to sticking around for a while. Prolong even for someone at my age? In a way, I am glad I didn’t have any immediate family to worry about. Turns out I know things about the old Accord Wars that some have forgotten. That thing that wore my face got rid of a fair amount of intel but he didn’t get to my safety deposit box. As old as that is to most nowadays, it's proving vital for this Project Osiris I was recruited into. Imagine that, we have something that goes into actively battling those Gray Bastards.—Micheal Brookes, a Man Outside of Time.

            It looks like Thoth participated in the Accord Wars. Providing bodies for the Iron Hammer to use in his exploits and battles. Bodies animated by monstrous tech and no will of their own. I remember that mural from our trip to the museum that fateful day. We will have to take the battle to Atlantis’ self stylized madman of a “King” before we can take up arms against Chronos and his Ilk. We must finish the battle Ta’mathon started so long ago.—General Thomas Murphy.

            Ahh, my friend the Duck. It was tricky giving him a name at first but an idea formed as I got to know him. A fellow traveler across the stars. As for the rest, my mother had a talk with Eddie, which in the end, he didn’t know if he wanted to shake my hand or strangle me from keeping this from him. I had to explain my swiss cheese situation. He still makes jokes to this day about it.—Sleeping In Starlight, A memoir of the 22nd Century.

Downtown Ashbury, Eliza’s Studio Apartment

USA (Texas)  

November 2nd, 2103

            Eddie stared.

His face was unreadable.

Mother was in the kitchen, bringing out more drinks for everyone, which included me, Doc, my father, and Zach. For some conversations, it was best to keep the meeting small. He rubbed his chin. “So your mom is space royalty. But you have to be an Atlantian because they can't know she’s your mom while they also can't know that your brother has a human father.”

My mother’s very human-looking gray-green eyes narrowed dangerously, “I am not royalty by choice Jonas Olsten.” I winced. It was very recent but I found that my mother had a berserk button and that was the issue of her House’s position. I dared not ask because momma was scary when I did.

Eddie took a quick sip of his beer, “Sorry ma’am. Its just…this whole time my best friend was literally out of this world and mixed with another!”

            Dad got up and took one of the trays. Running a hand along the small of her back. She leaned in his touch for a moment. It was a common enough gesture for Typherians. A way to calm them down if agitated. I felt a twinge of regret. Would I ever be able to hear them properly? After I had fully healed again, which took a few hours within the sun, literally. My mother had given me a briefing about certain kinds of protocols when Diamonds would arrive. It would be a big event next month. The Queen Consort wanted to see what Christmas was all about here at home. Lorain grabbed both of my hands. Examining them carefully. Working each digit back and forth to test my musculature and reflex response.

I found that my eyes warmed slightly.

I must have looked foolish.

Everything, including the people and objects, had a slight golden hue to it. I shook my head to clear it away. Lorain had a distant expression. Her deep green eyes glued on my palms. She seemed satisfied with whatever she saw in them. She caught me staring down at our interlinked hands. She put a smile on her face, “What’s going on up there in that mind of yours Cornfed.” My mind flashed back to the docking bay. What if that thing had managed to get all the way through? What if the Keepers had more? I found myself shivering. Zach summoned a metal ball and knocked it upside my head. Not to hurt but to distract. Suddenly he was reforming the chair around me, making it float. He took a seat and made that one float too. His face was serious but his eyes spoke of mischief.

He pitched his voice to mimic X’mil, “Obviously the primitives within Atlantis and Earth must bow to the true rear end of the Multiverse! ME!”

I smiled, “I’ll go get you some lockpicks then!”

That gilded cage wouldn’t hold them forever.

He grinned, shaking me from my pensive mood.

Mom gave Zach a warning glance but there was no fire behind it.

I decided to change tracks, “So what about the actual Micheal Brookes?”

Dad raised his glass in my direction, “That you will find out tomorrow. You’ve been cleared for low-level work with my project. Arthon and the others will be joining you. For now, let's eat!” At that, all the A51 Bardaxians and Cooper appeared from the joined sleeping area we had set aside for them. Cooper and the others sat at the table in specialized chairs. I laughed as Gulliver, the duck from the Keeper Null ship, landed neatly in my lap. Like he belonged there. He was taking his duties seriously. Especially after I had given him a name. My senses reached out. No alerts or cries for now. The Earth was all quiet.

Stoneward Correctional Center

Location Unknown

Date Redacted

 

            Snake Charmer stared out across the exercise yard. The sea of red-suited inmates parted as he strode across. His eyes were fixated on a tattooed man, built like a brick house, who was talking to a slip of a man with a black forked tongue. They turned when they saw him approaching. “What you want Cold One?” The bigger man grunted. His tattoos glowing purple under the false lights of the roofing. The only thing he knew was that they were underground somewhere. Lucky demi castoffs got sent to Burnside. This place? It was a special kind of hell. Hard places created good clay for the war ahead. Earth Magics resided in these dangerous men. If his mad king needed an army, this was as good as a place to recruit them. He needed to find the one called the Hanged Man. It was rumored he could talk to the dead and other things.

            The complex was gargantuan though. Many of those who could wield higher level magics were sealed away in even more specialized wings. He fudged his abilities and strengths to get categorized into a lower-tier area. At first, he had been placed at Burnside. But that hadn’t lasted long. A week or so. He still remembered the nameplate of the detective that recommended he be put here instead: Paxton. Somehow that man had known for certain he had lied about his abilities. So the humans had put him here instead.

            He didn’t expect any help from the Cabal. After being here for a while he decided he wanted a change of career. To make those first steps happen, he would need to build a competent crew. A man should be able to control his own destiny. His smile turned even colder as he stared at the two men, “I require a noose.” The code for finding the Hanged Man. Most of the guards expected the inmates to try for suicide at this facility. So he played into that angle. It would at least give him a decent padded cell to sleep in.

 

*****

            I looked over at  Jupiter’s displays. Currently, we were housed in one of NASA’s Jumpstart hangers. Over the last few years NASA had really grown. I turned my head as Doc entered the main command deck. Gulliver’s webbed feet pattered along after her. He ruffled his feathers and planted himself in my lap. His black eyes were all wide and innocent. Lorain wagged a finger at him, “Manners!” I grinned.

            “It's ok. He’s a good fellow. Right, Gulliver?” He quacked softly. Buring his head under one wing. Lorain quirked an eyebrow. Her voice sounded dubious but she stated, “Well its that time again. More spinal checks. Have to make sure you are in top condition.” She said this with a mix of professionalism and cheer. I stretched. Picked up Gulliver and followed her to Med Bay 01. My home away from home. When we got there I smiled politely. Mom wasn’t cloaked whatsoever. So I assumed this was an official visit. She just shook her head.

            “Half right kiddo!” J’ino said this audibly for everyone’s benefit. She poked Gulliver in the ribs. “What’s your game huh?” I gave a mock gasp.

            “He’s innocent. As good as Cooper around bacon.” The duck’s head lifted and he gave my mother a very concerned look. His bill clicking as he wiggled out of my arms and sat on one of the observation chairs. I would be going to Project Osiris first. Then we would be taking a trip to Atlantis itself. Fun and exciting things for today. Arthon was practically hopping on one foot. Currently, he was in the bowels of the Jupiter. Setting up some sort of Muthra central hub. Eddie poked his head in for a moment, “After this, I need to talk to you guys. Especially you ma’am.” He was utterly serious. Something had been eating at him since we extricated everyone out of the Keeper Null ship. He wouldn’t stop looking at my mother. His face lined with worry.

            She considered Eddie for a moment. Her eyes narrowed with thought. “Alright.” She walked over and said a few words to him. His relief was palpable. He waved and exited. Mom turned back and laid down on med pod surface. Doc poked me in the ribs and commanded, “Go on over. I have to do a comparison.”

            I complied. While laying down next to mom, we were of even eye level. She grinned and crossed her legs, “Your brother has been watching too many of those old comedies you love. He accidentally merged X’mils data cubes to his desk unit.” I pursed my lips. Looking at her straight on, “I might have pointed out some fun moments when super glue is involved. Hope he has his gear secured.” I whistled innocently as Mother glowered at me. But the wicked glimmer lighting her face belied her anger.

            I sighed, “Pranks are one thing but what is his beef with you specifically?” Mother let out an inelegant snort. Wrapped an arm around my shoulders as if to convey a special secret, “He tried to win a marriage contract to my sister. That duck over there helped me nullify it.” My eyes became wide and unblinking. “So Gulliver is local fair?”

Mom’s eyes took on a steely glint. “Yes, but we couldn’t find him for a while. He still won't tell me how he ended up on that ship.”

            Contented quacking.

            I lifted an index finger, “Like a certain kind of Dimond, I suppose some things need to remain on the down-low for a while.” Mom ran a hand alongside my temple for a moment. Mouth open slightly as she picked up on my actual meeting with the grandma of the many stars. “Eliza Elizabeth Murphy, what compelled you to go through the Scholar Gate at that stage?” Even before I debuted as the Banner I would zip around ever so often, the only constant being the stars and stripes on my back, to the point that there had been Bigfoot-type legends of me before the fact.

            I glanced over at the dapper gentleman who currently materialized within another observation chair. Gulliver quacked with a quiet greeting. Eyeing Mr. Apple like the most fascinating experiment in the room. The Scholar smiled politely at the duck. Tipping his hat.

Ahh, so nice to see you again.

No one else saw this exchange and he winked at me. Putting a finger to his lips.

The story of my life.

Mom cupped my chin, bringing my eyes back to her, still waiting for a response.

“The gate called to me, started glowing all weird and suddenly I was at Typha. Well closer to your homeworld’s Dyson sphere.” She nodded. Her eyes shadowed by thoughts I wish I could hear. But she was talking to someone. Probably her mother. Mom rested her chin on my shoulder. Doc finally came over, her face was as professional as always but something was gnawing at her. She let out a breath, “Well, good news first: If I can rejuvenate enough of Eliza’s Typerian nodes, I might be able to jury rig a comparable telepathic link.” She paused. Letting this sink in.

Mom’s face held a tinge of worry.”Now for the other news.”

Doc continued, “I can’t use any of your spinal nodes as a donator. I’m sorry. Your species has such a complex system that the only thing I could do would be to copy your own nodes and replace them with the material to the original host.”

She tapped her tablet, “As I did with replacing Eliza’s damaged hand with healthy tissue and nerves from the other.”

Mr. Apple features suddenly twitched.

His eyes were ridden with guilt and hope in equal measure.

He gave me a salute as he passed.

I pray your mother forgives me. I know he will not. Perhaps never. I understand.

The duck quacked excitedly. My voice was not my own. It was masculine. My brother’s.

More memory flooded into me. I remembered it all. In every way it mattered.

All those nighttime dreams and conversations.

I found myself grinning from ear to ear.

I stood up from the pod. Holding mom at arm's length so he could get a good look at her.

“Well then Doctor Lanis, would you perhaps need her twin brother’s nodes. My sister decided: along with myself of course, that we should no longer keep this part a secret. At least the one you mostly know as Mr. Apple gave me this much.”

Doc exclaimed, “YOU’RE THE GHOST BEAT!”

I nodded. Mom lifted her eyes to mine.

Her hands holding each side of my face.

“My boy is alive?” She whispered.

We both spoke, “Eternally tied.”

Still using my body, my brother finally got to hug his mother as well. “My sister dubbed me Dexter. Since she considered herself a dunce of sorts. Saying I was the smart one. But she is the shield. I am the spear. To go unnoticed by our enemies I live in the Weave thread of my sister’s shadow. The Slumbering One. But I am not the only thing that sleeps. That dreams.”

Mom’s knees gave out and we caught her immediately. Doc ran her hands along my back. Her eyes twinkling, “Yes!” She made copious notes. “It might take some time but this is the foundation I need. His nodes are also far too complex and have mutated.”

She sounded equal parts pleased and terrified.

“I can’t completely duplicate those matter manipulation nodes to Eliza but the communication nodes, that I can re-link because they are twins! And of all the nodes, those are the most straightforward!”

Mom’s tears drenched the collar of my shirt but we didn’t care. Gulliver came over and wiggled his way into the huddle. Even Doc had us all in a bearhug. Today was the best of days. Our voices were merged again, “So what was my earth name to be anyway?”

Mom laughed until she couldn’t even breathe properly.

Her voice was nearly incredulous when she replied, “Alexander Dexter Murphy.”

My brother within the Weavescape smiled. I could dream freely within the Jupiter. Here we could all be a family. Until the day he would truly awaken. Emris sent out an update: ///The White and Black united. May the Wall Endure.///

*****

            J’ino was beside herself. “Can we tell your father?” Eliza nodded. “He has the nanites of Emris. That will shield these specific thoughts. But we still must be cautious. Chronos must not know what will pass.”

            Her daughter was speaking now but she could make out a faint outline of her son. He was just as tall. A neatly trimmed beard. Same brown hair and grey eyes as his sister. Along with the black of Typherian heritage.Wider in the shoulders of course. A black and silver Defender belt swirling around them both. Her daughter’s white, silver, and now gold inlays twisted to wrap itself around her brother’s belt. Two defenders. Twins. She felt herself go a bit giddy. Lightheaded wasn’t even the beginning of it. She saw those golden threads swirl around the Black. Both are forever linked. Like the twin suns of her homeworld. One always in the shadow of the other. Balance of the Stars and the Heavens.

            The Twin Rulers of the Sky.

            She covered her mouth. Biting the inside of her cheek. “My parents knew.” Her twins nodded. Eliza gave Doc a rather jovial look, “Wonder how a certain Muthra area will react now.” J’ino gave her daughter a light punch on the chest. “Behave.” She giggled.

            J’ino hated it when she giggled.

            Dexter smirked, “Well at least I'll be able to talk to my dear sister openly now. Instead of as a mere ghost in her dreams. Even with waking dreams. Lovely!” He shot Doc a very significant look.

“Do not worry, very private matters do not cross over to my dreamscape, but I have all the regular memories of my sister.”

Lorain rubbed the back of her neck, “You mean things like my healing sessions here on the ship?”

Eliza was staring at both of them, a quizzical expression on her face until J’ino wrapped an arm around her daughter. “Do you remember your first visit to A51, going to the park with us, carnivals? Birthdays? That sort of thing?”

Dexter nodded, “General events, I remember them. Sensitive things were beyond the purview of my sight. Even connected in the Weave as we are.”

He bestowed a brotherly pat on Eliza’s shoulder, “Follow my advice for once in some departments dear sister. They will bear fruit in time. I should know, we have grown as twins should. Equal and opposite. Day and Night. The world will make note of us one day.”

Eliza replied, “It went both ways. I learned a whole lot from you as well brother.”

A whole storehouse of memories flashed before J’ino. She would sort it out later. Her children wanted her to know what they had talked about all those years while Dexter was hidden. What brought her the most joy was seeing images of them roughhousing and flying around. Seeing what their powers could do without hurting anyone else. Eliza had been timid until her brother had pointed out something very important, “Evil will not hold back.”

Sometimes additional force would be required.

One could do so without endangering innocents.

He had thrown her across the landscape then. Showcasing excellent control of overall physicality. “You can’t hurt me, sister. Test your limits here with me. A spear requires restraint in certain situations.”

She had been so terrified of breaking things. The world had been akin to glass. J’ino saw her twins as they had been. Twelve with the whole world before them. Dexter yelled, “NOW HIT ME!” The image cleared. She gave her son another probing stare. “Keep each other safe. That’s all I ask.”

He grinned wolfishly, “Always!”

*****

            I knew of the things my brother spoke about. Beyond the Ouro. The Calamity that was coming. But more than that, all those conversations we had, the dreams we shared. I felt my eyes sting and itch as I glanced at Doc momentarily. She had turned back to her data feeds. A stylus in her mouth like an errant cigar. My heart did a slight double skip. This would take some time to get used to. The knowledge of my waking self colliding with the numerous memories of my shared time with Dexter. Mom noticed me looking too. Even Gulliver winked. I didn’t know ducks could do that.

            Then again, he wasn’t exactly a duck. Something told me when he finally got out of his shell, the universe would be a rather excitable place, even more so for a demi family from Texas and Typha.

            Doc finally looked up from her readouts, “Alright, let's go see what Eddie was all bothered about. That is if you are comfortable with that ma’am?” Mother gave a slight incline of her head. “Yes, that young man gets into many troubles. Must be his gift. For my sake, my son, don’t show yourself around him, he has a knack for finding the best and worst in life.”

            Dexter tugged at my empathetic senses and winked out of sight. His voice echoing within.

            Never let Chronos near mother. We are not ready.

The Jupiter Rising

Deck 5 (Engineering)

November 3rd, 2103

 

Eddie waited at the foot of the grav shaft as the elevator came down. Everyone filed out. Doc looked radiant. Beaming at everything and hanging on Eliza’s forearm, daring even a black hole to part her from her captain. Must have been some good medical results, he thought humorously. He still found himself wondering when the light bulb would finally hit Murphy between the eyes though. He took out the triangular data device that Gulliver had finagled from the electronic port on the Keeper Null ship. After Eliza had filled him in on more of what happened Earthside. The Uplift Protocol and all that came with it, Amazing Grace’s attitude and general terror had been much more apparent, so her absence from the debrief was also suspicious to the extreme in the young demi’s estimation.

Horus zipped next to him, encasing the data triangle within multiple protective fields,

 ((Commencing with quarantine. Keeper device must be purged of possible viruses before decoding!))

His red iris expanded, various white-hued probes converging on the metallic gray triangle.

J’ino exclaimed, “Eddie! Please tell me it….” Gulliver let out a series of quacks and general feather flapping. She paused and took it in like she understood the various levels of bird induced language. General Whitehouse poked the young Puzzler in the ribs, “What is the first law of data warfare?” Whitehouse glowered. Waiting for the TA reporter’s response. The General didn’t want to see any of his kids get hurt out of a false sense of complacency.

Eddie winced.

He straightened, coming to attention. “Containment.” The old Terran gave a clipped nod.

Whitehouse took the bark of command out of his voice. Knowing that Jonas would course correct. “I know you are more of a scout and reporter but in any kinda situation like that. Just mind your six. Got it?”

Jonas could see the worry within the old man’s eyes. By the set of his shoulders.

The underlining fatherly tone.

This didn’t come from a place of hostility.

The old warhorse genuinely cared.

Eliza was nodding rapidly, “Got it, General! I know I’ve had moments of Leaping before logic.” She twitched, like how people get when sending nano-encrypted messages out, then continued, “I could have Jacob and a few others put together a proper decon chamber. That way we won't have a Keeper AI infection on our hands.”

The ship already had biocontainment.

So it already made perfect sense to add more precautions as well.

J’ino glanced over at her daughter, “Include Tivus, Arthon’s grandfather in that. He’s pretty handy on certain kinds of Keeper tech nodes.” She found her heart swelling a bit. The fact that she mentioned Jacob meant that her relationship with them was unclouded by Anna’s continued vitriol.

Good.

*****

I shook Eddie on the shoulder with good-natured fun, “At least you didn’t end up on the other side of the universe.”

Doc shot me a sly glance. She smirked slightly, giving my hand a small pinch. Her voice was laced with caring laughter.

            “I need to get a locator installed on your uniforms then. All of them.”

Arthon exited the grav-lift. His back gave a small pop as he stretched. I glanced in his direction, “Heya boss!” I made sure to pitch my voice so everyone could hear.

He rolled his eyes, “Trainee!” But it was entertaining for us both. He found he liked instructing me with the various symbologies of his world. He noticed Horus and what was contained within. “Oh boy. Taking some keepsakes from the Void Walkers?” I nodded.

“Horus? Any idea what’s on that thing?”

The F.R.A.M whirled in place, ((Captain, I do believe it would be best if we used the conference room. And bring General Murphy and Captain Lanis up to date.))

The Jupiter Rising

Deck 2 (Conference Room 02)

November 3rd, 2103

 

            I watched the data scroll by again. My father was holding my mother. I spoke up, “What is a Brood Mother? Seed Mother? I heard one of the Muthra troopers reference something to that effect.”

            Seed Brood.

            Mom sagged within my father’s embrace, “The Litari, we failed to protect them in time. The Keepers made off with many mothers that day. To make the  Children of Chains. For them, it is dubbed the Night of 1000 Stars.” The connection between my twin sharpened for a moment. Within the Weave, I could see him.

Dexter growled sharply in my ear, his anger rolling off in waves, not at me but at what the Keepers did to people.

They wish to add our mother to that list. In her blood, because of us, she holds the power to grant her offspring demi qualities of note. Even magical. My belt tells me this but say nothing for now. They are already distressed enough.

I will wait a while to reveal myself to our father.

He should concentrate on protecting our mother for now.

            I let out a long slow breath. “At least they don’t know your full name. They have that photo but A51 has a whole tech set we aren’t privy to.” My eyes grew wide, “Is there anyone else that looks like you within the family line besides Diamonds?”

            Mother swayed a bit. Eyes glassy with concern, “Yes, there are two others that took after mother. My first cousin and my niece.” She gave father a quick peck on the cheek and dashed to the coms room. He frowned, firing away at the data on display before us. “Captain Lanis, can you decode the rest of this?” She nodded. Stating crisply, “You’ll have it all on your desk within the next two hours. Minimum.” She buried herself in the data, her eyes alight with a dark purple flame. Her powers would translate it all. Her golden hair gleamed near white under the artificial glow of Jupiter's various HUDs.

            The ship’s VI had been very quiet until now, ((Captain Murphy, permission to extend this knowledge to concerned parties?))

Now that most of my memories were intact, I remembered the mission that Y’lansa and my other grandparents had charged me with. “Of course! As soon as Rosetta Stone has it uncovered.” I looked to dad for permission, his expression lightened for a moment, “Of course space cadet. But thanks for asking! You are a member of Project Osiris. Even more so now.” He chuckled. Then his face morphed as a holo-call hit his nano implants. He was all business in the space of 2 seconds.

            Military bearing in place.

Along with that cool tactical knowhow at full operational speed.

A few heartbeats later, “It looks like there’s another job at the office for me. I'll get Mr. Brookes up to speed. Do you want to give him access to the Jupiter?” I nodded. “Not sensitive areas, since Chronos had borrowed his form. It’s highly possible he would still have some of Micheal’s DNA.

I waved a hand, “Jupiter!” She formed as a bright golden avatar of a 2050’s pinup girl. Her brown eyes sparkling, “Like this fit captain?” I gulped. Doc rolled her eyes.

Eddie whistled appreciatively. “I could get used to that!”

Lorain muttered, “Of course you would.” But her eyes were downcast. Something was eating at her. I tore my gaze away from the antics of Jupiter. She decided to have fun playing dress-up. Various swimsuits and party outfits. Nothing scandalous but I could tell the ship was having a field day with this. Eddie’s emotions weren’t hard to comprehend. Doc’s intentions, on the other hand, was akin to translating ancient greek. She was focusing hard on her tablet. “Lorain?” My voice came out with a questioning tint.    

Those piercing green eyes met my own.

I didn’t have to strain my hearing to pick up her accelerated heartbeat.

“Yes?” Her gaze never wavered.

“I have an idea.”

That smile was back in place.

I could feel my twin staring at me.

You know why that is.

A small part of my brain began to wonder. Speculating wouldn’t help at this time.

“Can you place some sort of medical marker within Mr. Brookes? That way if Chronos uses his form, we could have a scan that would tell the difference. In case I am not around to nose bleed on him?”

She gave this serious thought, “I’d have to get a baseline of him first. From there, with some time and effort, indeed!”

She bestowed upon me a particular grin, “Not just in the clouds all day! There’s some hope for you yet Cornfed!”

I made a polite bow.

“I’ll get there eventually. Besides some of that tactical training from dad rubbed off!”

She bit her lip, “Yes, it really did!”

Dexter was chuckling within. His eyes alight with merriment.

Capture the moment sister!

Lorain’s face was glowing again with that enhanced outline. I rubbed my eyes. She rested a palm over each socket. “Is that Atlantian cosmetic cover bothering you?” Sweet relief shot into each irritated orb. When not in Banner mode my eyes were human standard.

“I have no idea but whatever you are doing is working wonders.”

A pit formed inside my stomach.

Did I catch something from the Keeper Null vessel?

I proposed this question to Doctor Lanis.

She took an index finger and brushed it across the nape of my neck.

Her expression cleared, “No. I don’t sense any foreign contaminants.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. She leaned in and stated, “I suggest more protein though. You need more iron too!”

Cooper’s excited barking filled the hallway. “We are about to have company.”

Lorain tugged at my jacket for a moment. Taking time to fix it.

“One must be presentable!” Her amusement was evident.

Dexter’s voice continued to provide commentary. He was in high spirits.

One day you will come to your senses sister. I have faith!

He cocked his head to the side. His defender belt flowing around him like a living coil.

No, I think something else is going on with those eyes of yours. Be vigilant.

Atlantis                                                                                                   

Main Docking Ring

November 4th

            Tivus admired the sleek starship gracing the docking ring. It was of Terran origin as well as Typherian. From what the readouts indicated. His grandson had been exited to get back home for a while. Ambassador J’ino and the Director of Project Osirus exited first. The former head muthra grinned. If he was here that meant the dilemma started with breaching that Null ship wasn’t yet over.

            Excellent, he thought.

At least they could start bringing the Terran Alliance into the fold. It had taken long enough. He also spotted the rest of the  Golden Redeemers disembarking as well. Their heads on a swivel as they took in the initial sights and sounds of Atlantis.

A duck and one other brought up the rear. He had heard about the trials of Micheal Brookes. Sul had mentioned how the man had been used for over 150 years by the Void Walkers. He would make sure to put some extra scans on the man. For his nation’s safety and that of At’lan. The former FBI man looked careworn beyond his actual age. Even with some of the rejuvenation properties of Terran prolong. Tivus walked over to greet everyone, “Welcome to the outer docking rings. He saw the Star-Spangled Banner shoot skywards. Zipping all over the docking areas then she reappeared with a gust of wind behind her. The one called the Puzzler was admiring the bio-mechanical arm of Muthra science attached from that long-ago fight with Thoth.

Tivus held up his left arm. His fingers flexing. The obsidian metal bending to his will.

“You guys are more local than most think!”

He gave the young demi woman a very candid look, “Indeed. For now, keep those speculations to yourself.” Her green within green eyes screwed shut. She rubbed at her face. “Sure thing sir!” Doctor Impossible waved Star over, “Again?”

Tivus saw the feathered creature as it waddled up to the Banner, placing one webbed foot on her boot. Insistent quacking filled the air. He ran a scan over the bird. His eyes darted to J’ino. If one such as that was here. It spoke volumes.

*****

            I gritted my teeth. “Yeah, what the heck is wrong with me? Never had an allergic reaction before.” As quickly as the pain came it dissipated under the onslaught of Doc’s precise touch. I picked her up in a grateful hug. “I am giving you a pay raise!” She grinned. “How about we greet our host first?” I turned, held out a hand to the giant black-haired man before me. The Puzzler was still examining Tivus’ usual arm. As I gripped the artificial hand my senses picked up Muthra symbology and Markav nanites running throughout the limb. I linked with its central control core. A quick message flashed:  Muthra M.E.H unit 2290 currently at half capacity with neural integration with symbology and limb responses.

            ///Would the White wish to enhance this??///

Emris was quite curious as well.

            ///Proceed! If that will help give At’lan an edge.///

            ///Complying. Please stand by. Updating security protocols.///

Tivus’ brows shot upwards, “Now that’s some menu’s I’ve never seen before. What else do you have going on in that head of yours?” I rubbed my hands together, “According to my critics, not much.”

Dad couldn’t help but grin at this. “Shocking!” His tone was quite mellow.

Mother put her hand on her hip. “Oh? Considering your antics already, one should clone you and let you loose on A51.” She couldn’t maintain any form of neutrality at this. Zachary was with J’dax. It was why dad was here riding herd on us as security. Captain Lanis had decided to stay on the Jupiter. She had gotten all the information she could from the Keeper data. Now she was compiling a codex of sorts for other operatives.

She still warded us away from that creepy asteroid. The one filled with bones. I remembered all the lost souls contained within it. Various races from all across the Milky Way galaxy and beyond. The Keepers had been using us all as genetic stepping stools to serve their goal of bringing everyone sentient to Unity.

We were heading towards the main transport center. Gulliver decided that my head would be the perfect vantage point so he decided to make himself comfortable.  What was most curious: Tivus didn’t make one remark about our unusual companion. Cooper nudged my left hand, <<They know him. The Ambassador and Tivus.>> I was glad the German Shepherd was staying observant where mom was concerned. We still had no idea how closely anyone was watching. Even among the Muthra. I hoped we could find a way to ferret out all the compromised agents. Horus floated above my parents. He sent a quick burst message.

///I will stay with the head of Osiris and the Lady of Typha. As extra security.///

My anxiety faded.

I didn’t want any kind of Void Walker treachery close to mom. My twin’s warning echoing in my head. From what I could tell, this ship was spherical. Plus where it was hiding caused me to have more fits of giggling.

*****

            J’ino poked Star in the back. “Thinking of where At’lan is aren’t you?” She nodded. Her eyes alight with good humor and a rare sense of wonder. The Typherian woman moved to walk next to her kid, she continued, “You never really had much of a chance.” She shook her head with teasing sadness. Star snorted, “With  my power set, I’m surprised I didn’t go off on more space adventures.”

            J’ino put on airs of innocence, “Well I may have had a hand or three keeping tabs.”

            The group came to the main lift. It was a bright white bullet-shaped conveyance. On energy rails that could change in multiple directions. An ear-piercing wail echoed throughout the vessel.

            <<Attention: Bardaxian Transport in Distress! Dark Matter Pirates. Location Sector 190. All Muthra to stations!>>

            Tivus loaded everyone up. His voice like iron, “Star, take Emerald  K-9, Doctor Impossible, Gulliver, and Gen. Whitehouse  with you. I need the rest for another job.” Thomas Murphy gave Whitehouse a clipped salute, “Good Hunting.”

*****

            Everything became a multi-scope of color as the deck and Atlantis withdrew from view. My eyes were burning again but after a momentary burst of throbbing, I opened them to see 6 bardaxians before me. The ship around us was rocking. Outside crimson beams ricocheted off the shielding. The captain trotted forward, a golden retriever, barking out <<Muthra! Glad to see you please assist yes?>> Our nanites were translating. Cooper lifted his black head and his ears twitched as he relayed more orders to the other 4 footed personnel.

B.S.L Finds- Good-Water

Utasa Sector 190

November 4th, 2103

 

            I floated towards the nearest airlock. The ship was a bit of a tight fit but that didn’t matter. Within the black of space, various pirate vessels were chasing the beleaguered Bardaxian transport. I scanned the database: Multiple families were aboard because it was a terraforming vessel. Its sister ships had been drawn off with false readings.

As I reached the intersection for the airlock rooms, Doc tugged at my cape, pointing at the readouts. The capital pirate ship was flagged in At’lan’s system as a High Priority Target. One of the flagships of the notorious Dark Matter pirates faction. The Errant Dagger. Its commanding officer looked quite familiar. Those green eyestalks. Seedy black eyes. The scruff on his chin was a wild dark gray beard now.

            Striker Nix.

            Y’lansa would be very happy if I managed to catch him. He was a nuisance but sometimes a very dangerous one. At least I had the element of surprise. I nodded at her. Cycled the lock. I looked at Cooper and Gulliver. The duck had a faint orange outline of energy around him. Even Cooper gave him a wide berth. Doctor Impossible also sported an energy outline. One similar to those the muthra soldiers had on the Null Ship. The vacuum of space was before us. Doc wrapped her arms around my neck and I hurled myself into the void.

            The icy chill surrounding me was another welcome relief. The black and red hull of the flagship was in sight. A very faint shield popped up as we touched down near the rear of the vessel. General Whitehouse took out a small sphere. Placing it on the edge. The shield winked out. He made an “after you” gesture to the metallic covering. I grinned and pulled back my fist.

The Errant Dagger

Main Bridge

 

            Striker Nix glanced at the reports from the scouts distracting the main Bardiaxian defense screening. They had done their best but the barking brigade was making a hard turn to hit his fleet from the rear. Like any infuriating do-gooding protectors. The 4 footed mutts were known for biting back. He grimaced at his lame attempt at humor. He was far from the most joyous of men. One of his 4 armed goons approached.

“SIR! We have a breach in the engine room. The men are going crazy. It's all garbled!”

            He brought up the feed from the engine room.

His eyes stalks curled in on themselves. “Not her again.”

A white bird, a swan from the earth, he thought was flapping wildly. It’s yellow beak pecking away at any who got close. He saw that hulking red white and blue menace to legitimate business endeavors throwing men around, right into the awaiting emerald cage generated by a familiar-looking black Bardaxian. He slammed his fist on the console, his gravelly tone even more pronounced, “ALL HANDS! REPEL BOARDERS! PLAN XGON!”

*****

            I saw Gulliver deliver a kick worthy of a holo action star to a squat man in an encounter suit. Gray mist spewed everywhere as the combatant cartwheeled away, muttering various curses that would make my grandma blush. Both of them in fact. In Diamond's Are Forever’s case, she would add them to her arsenal. The Queen Consort was always looking for ways to shock people. Now that I remembered what Y’lansa had said of her. I pulled back my fist, aiming it at a conduit above my head, letting the hyperdrive fluid burn through a few decks. I had checked first, no living people in the way, just a good barrier for delaying the response teams.

            Bonus? This flag vessel was essentially dead in the water.

I spotted some of the pirates firing away at Emerald’s shield. Doc was on the catwalk above, peppering them with various intoxicating darts from her wrists, using her demi ability to target their nervous systems with the right dosage. Whithouse was as calm as ever: Using the borrowed Muthra tech to overcome the ship's systems. I bounded over the makeshift barrier. The beams were bouncing pointlessly off my chest. I smiled, “Hello! If you surrender now, I’ll be sure that Bardaxians give you a fair trial.” The incredulous levels prickled along my spine. One even pipped up with, “What are you supposed to be? Our mothers?”

They all withdrew multiple knives. Very impressive and wicked. One even had blue etch marks that lit up the corridor. The lead pirate even attempted to stab me. The milky white metal chipped and cracked as he tried to bury it deep in my chest. “Wha-?” I sent a haymaker into the side of the wall. The fire system or its equivalent drenched all of them in foam. It hardened quickly. All of them frozen in place.

*****

            Nix muttered more curses. The Errant Dagger was disabled. His people were blind. He jacked his nano-relays into his personal escape cruiser. Hidden in the starboard side of the Dagger. It fired up. Relaying the following Alerts:

            ///Typherian patrol vessel Y’than in route. Bounty currently at 250,000 units (MGS-Muliverse Galactic Standard)///

            ///Would you like to prep for an emergency jump?//

            He sent the code. He could always build a new crew and ship.

He still had numerous identities to burn through. He went to his captain’s quarters, grabbed his essentials bag, his stocky legs pumping as the adrenaline rush took him. The advantage of his physical makeup: 360 vision. His lips pulled back in a grimace as one of his lackeys turned the corner, training his weapon on him, “No honor among thieves Captain Nix?”

The Bounty Hunter Association, MuliSec.

Nix’s upper right arm twitched.

He threw the only remaining silver disk left to him by the Void Walker maniac.

Still shocked that the emaciated freak had given him one more even with the failure at Trinity City.

His second’s head disappeared in a spray of mist. He quickly pillaged what he could. Just some basic cred cards and a standard blaster. Damn. Smart of him. Nix wouldn’t be able to use any additional IDs or even MuliSec contacts. He continued his mad race to his escape vessel. Hoping that a certain demi freak wouldn’t find him. Sweat trickled down his back as he ran. His eyestalks quivering as he neared his destination.

*****

            A Typherian patrol was hailing General Whitehouse as the remaining systems flared out. The Muthra hacking program doing its absolute best to copy all relevant data while crippling the vessel. He grinned as the virus spread throughout other corsair ships. More the merrier he thought dryly. He clicked his HUD on. A rather severe Typherian scout peered back at him. “Have you detained the main bulk?” The scout sounded bored. Whitehouse nodded, pitching his voice so that the rest of his team would be included on this call, “Indeed. The Bardaxian Navy sends its warmest regards to Earth and the Muthra. The Star-Spangled Banner is a known quantity to them.”

            The Typherian man’s eyes widened. “Of course.”  His eyes darted to someone behind him. A firm hand clasped the scout’s shoulder, “This is Command Leader C’varis. Thank you Terran Alliance. By the will of the Rulers, Typha aids you.”

            Whitehouse snorted to himself. Even within the Uplifted Community, many had grown complacent because of their overall tech level. Thinking that the only threats were the All-Father and Void Walkers. Pirates were still a legitimate threat. He sent out a burst signal to Star. The “captain” of this Dagger was abandoning the ship. She winked, “On it! Thanks, Mountain Man!”

            He sighed.

            She still had way too much fun saying that.

            The paternal part of his brain made him glad this group was his kids though.

*****

            Gulliver landed on my shoulder, digging his webbed feet in, a calm expression within those black eyes of his. After I had left the pirates glued in place, I carried Doc across the divide by punching another hole in the wall. Now she was nestled safely within my arms as we barreled through multiple levels of floor plating. Whitehouse was still on the corner of my HUD. His eyes lit up with humor, <<I locked him out of his escape cruiser. Have fun!>>

            I landed with another thump before a half-open hatchway. I set Doc down and pried it open gently. Cooper sneaked in behind us. Gulliver was quivering. His beak mere inches from my left ear. Before us, Striker Nix was running around like a dying man in a desert. “OPEN DAMN YOU!” He hurled some more profanities at the unresponsive boarding iris. I made a note to add more to the Jar later. It was a good investment for the Murphy schooling fund. One set of Nix’s arms flailed about angrily. The other set had a pair of blasters.

            Gulliver lifted from my shoulder. A faint orange glow about him. He was right above Nix.

            Orange light burst forth and smothered Nix. The pirate let out a terrified howl and tried to fire away at Gulliver. The Duck chucked. Doc and I paused. Gulliver had a voice that could curdle milk. Cooper reinforced the orange energy with his green Defender shielding. His tail was curled slightly. Gulliver cackled, “Heya Stick Eyes! I hereby claim you for MuliSec Bounty 132-8. For crimes against life baring entities everywhere.”

            He looked at me, various levels of fear and hope in his eyes, “Don’t let the Orange one take me. Royal Ummatosh Birds are the worst!” Gulliver formed a bag around Nix’s head.

Gulliver formed a bag around Nix’s head. “Quack quack goes the not duck! I’ve been in a certain family for generations. Idiots.” He lifted his head and summoned a leash. Pulling Nix and his rather elaborate fancy escape vessel behind him. I commed Whitehouse, “So how do we get this home?” Gulliver sneezed. “No worries Hot Sause. I got this.”

            A strange bag appeared in front of Gulliver. He shoved Nix and the ship inside. I could see other objects floating within. Then it phased out. He ruffled his feathers. His head tilted upwards, “Doc, let's get you and Hot Sause home.” I cocked my head in wonderment. He noticed my confusion, “Its something that happened at your apartment a while back. A certain party mentioned hot sauce. You quacking like a duck. So you are said commodity. We Orange Defenders take our collections seriously.” He tapped at the deck with his bill. Bringing up additional data cubes hidden under the paneling. He handed them to Lorain, “Keep an eye on those for me. Might have something useful in them for you as well.”  

            He continued, “Plus that person said you liked Ducks so here I am. A regular water foul. Quuuuaaaaaaack!” He seemed rather amused by his own self-worth.

He waddled over and sat on my head once more. “TO THE TRANSPORTER!” His contented quacking continued unabated. Cooper gave off dejected whimpers for a moment until I grabbed him one-handed. Putting him on one shoulder. His tail thudded excitedly against my cape. Lorain managed to hook one hand into my belt.

“Let’s get back to Whitehouse." Lorain suggested. "Maybe he found something interesting. Besides a cosmically powered bird of many talents.” Gulliver chortled once more.

“Dear Delicious Dame, you ain't see nothing yet. I’ll give this Big Blue girly some ideas!”

Lorain blushed. Pulling on my forearm, “Is it that obvious?”

Gulliver eyed me then Lorain, “To me and everyone else with common sense? Yeah. But the lady asked me to be nice so I’m just in a running bet with Puzzler, Whitehouse, Granny Star, Grandma Other Star, Star’s Parents….” He cut himself short. Dipping his head, while perched on mine, to quack at eye-level, “Seriously kid? Even after a rather significant party pointed it out? Hello? This is me being blunt yet polite!”

Again that queasy sensation in my stomach.

My eyes burned suddenly and Gulliver flapped, “Incoming!” He sounded joyful.

Dark beams crisscrossed the hallway. Creating new holes in the ship. Most of the pirates had been evacuated already to a prison barge that traveled with the Typherian patrol fleets. I blinked with amazement. My senses didn’t lie. Dark Matter and not even as much as I had fired at that Seed abomination either. HeroNet binged in the background.

///Accessing Muthra Encoded HeroNet databases: Concealed Power revealment to authorized personnel, Dark Matter Sight.///

I always wondered why HeroNet was so on the ball with things. At least it had K4 Civ encryption. Whew!

A new message flashed.

///Taleer to Star: Go to the Last Stand of the Hightower. Ask the other Mountain Man about it. You will know who.///

I pondered this for a short while.

Then the light-bulb clicked. Dad was also an Army man.

Doc ran a hand over my eyes. Her brow furrowed. Then she stared at me, “You owe me a date damnit. No more hiding. “ Other various things started to click together in rapid succession. I felt like the biggest idiot within the Multiverse.

I picked Lorain up with my other hand and held her close to me as we flew through the various levels and corridors of the ship.

Minutes stretched by. I was at a loss for words. It had been years. A small part of me had known how she felt but I had not wanted to burden her. Because of all the work on my spine and other things she did for me and the crew. Could we still be friends? Gulliver smacked me in the face with a wing, >> Of course, you doofus! That’s the whole point of Typherian bonding. Yeesh. Didn’t the lady show you anything about it? Most romantic bonds happen after the age of majority…wait a moment. How old are you Terran standard?<<

His mindvoice flowed over me. Through me really. It was just as boisterous and loud as his speaking voice. Very noticeable in and of itself.

I responded, “I’m 29 years old. By earth rotations!”

Gulliver did some calculations. “Carry the…” His wings flapped and he bonked me on the forehead with his beak, “Yep, taking in Earth time, about 3 or 4 months ago you should have started feeling a pull. Of some sort of desire.” He targeted me with a multitude of blatant winks.

Lorain glowered at Gulliver but she wasn’t angry.

A gentle sense of relief was cascading off of her.

I was the world's most dense empath ever.

He said this along that same mind wave, >>Ahh, that’s why. Jeez. Thought that Scholar would have a bit more tact. Leave you more of the Typherian bonding synapses but it looks like your doctor lady will have that fixed soon enough. Hello Nurse Doctor: We gotta 12 in the making! ZING!<<

            A wayward stowaway kicked a panel open in front of us. He didn’t look very old. Maybe 20. Unlike the pirates, he had one eye, his body covered in green hair, with a bundle on his back. A baby. Cooper sprang forward and surrounded them with Defender energies.  <<Declare yourself!>> He didn’t snarl. He didn’t have to. The man raised his arms. 3 fingered hands empty. “Please. Home? Stalk Eye took my ship. Wife aboard.” Gulliver bobbed his head.

            Cooper unshielded them and they were gone in a flash of orange light.

Ummatosh Bird Extraordinaire lifted a webbed foot. Quacking victoriously.

“Ahhh, nice to get that treasure stealer on my list too! That wasn’t a baby Hot Sause. It just was cloaked as one. Our belts can spot a whole lot of things but I am older than most. One of MuliSec’s rising Bounty Hunters.”

This day was just getting stranger. “So what does a Ummatosh bird look like?” He rapped me again with his bill. “Not just an Ummatosh bird. A ROYAL Ummatosh bird. Get it right Hot Sauce!” Lorain sighed and showed me a holo picture.

Said bird had a sharp beak. Deep cobalt in color. White feathers everywhere. A blue fringe at the top of the head. Like a cross between a flamingo, duck, and a bit of a swan or Cockatoo.

Plus it was the size of a St. Bernard. Oh boy.

Gulliver preened.

“Aww, they still have my baby picture on file. I’m actually the size of Hot Sauce now.”

*****

            Whitehouse decided he didn’t want to say anything. Star’s HUD had been open the entire time. Between himself and Gulliver they would win 2/3rd of the pot. The rest of the adult Murphy clan would get the rest. Besides Star’s mother. She had declined to take in any kinda monetary gains from her daughter’s potential dating life. The Puzzler would be disappointed. He had believed that it would have taken another two decades for Star to realize the facts. The rest of the Bardaxian fleet had come back around to round up the rest of the disabled pirate ships. The Typherians had decided to let the 4 footed locals take whatever they found aboard. Since they were the aggrieved party.

            The golden retriever captain trotted over in his spacesuit. Whitehouse suppressed a grin. It was far too adorable but the human kept a serious professional demeanor and saluted the head captain. “Ships are all secure! What else can the Golden Redeemers of Earth and Atlantis do for you, fine people?”

            He tilted his head back and forth, responding, “For your service to the people of Bardax this day, we award Earth the primacy of the spoils.”

            Internally the Terran officer was doing a jig.

Half the stuff here was decades or even 100+ years in advance of what his people currently had as a tech base. The Bardaxian captain winked. “May Earth’s pray run long and tire!” He held out his hand to the dog, “Good hunting to you sir!”


He tilted his head back and forth, responding, “For your service to the people of Bardax this day, we award Earth the primacy of the spoils.”

            Internally Whithouse was doing a jig.

Half the stuff here was decades or even 100+ years in advance of what his people currently had as a tech base. The Bardaxian captain winked. “May Earth’s pray run long and tire!” He held out his hand to the dog, “Good hunting to you sir!” He saw Star and the others enter the makeshift command room. "Looks like we got ourselves a bounty fleet." Star smiled.

“Excellent!” was her reply.

He remained professional. Not giving away anything. A response came back from Thomas over a secured Typherian feed.

///Its like a force of nature. Somehow my wife ends up being right far too often. Check in with us later. We also have news!///

Issue 4: Here

Issue 6:

 

 

 

Hightlights of the Pew Pew!