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Join the last Royal Vampire, Lilo.I, and her companion Ron in their quest to save their loved ones from the Holyland in this new role playing card game that combines party-based combat, character customization and deep PvE, PvP, and GvG (Guild vs Guild) gameplay into one extraordinary package! Assemble your squad of adventurers, tailor them to your liking, and embark on an epic journey that will put your strategic abilities to the ultimate test!
Been long hauling since 2020. I’ve been relatively ok except for the crushing headaches, fatigue and overall poisoned feeling in the body( difficult to explain) I need a sympathetic ear and se advice. I am a nurse and I have been able to go back to full time work this, while it’s hard and I am often behind in paperwork I manage to do the bare minimum. I am definitely not as mentally sharp, organized and efficient as I once was and it shows. So I have been feeling lead to move the last two years hopefully living in a beautiful place surrounded by nature, trees and natural body of water and a slower paced environment as i believe it would be healing to my overtaxed neurological system. Currently I live and work in Vegas and let me say, in general this is not a place you want to be when you don’t feel well. Not only does the healthcare system suck if is very disorganized, it’s too crowed and fast paced for me now. So I have been working on moving to Reno/ Lake Tahoe area. I was in luck when I found a contract position that was going to pay enough money for me to only work limited hours. I submitted my job application, called the next day interviewed and was hired. They just had nurses leave and the are in dire need. Basically I would be doing wound care in rural areas. I am advanced practice nurse so I would be making the shots, ordering Home health debriding the wounds, and prescribing the treatment plan and do wound grafts. Now I do have experience with wound care except the grafting part which they told me they would train me on. When I spoke with the owner of the company I told her my situation I was in that I still needed to find a place up north, move and tie loose ends at my current job. We just had a several workers leave and I told her I wanted to give them ample time to found coverage. So this company has been asking me to see patients up there at least once a week in addition to remote work on Wednesday I originally agreed but it has become to taxing on my body especially with still working full time in Vegas. I had a major relapse of my fatigue this week, was supposed to fly out Saturday morning see patients and fly back. This morning I woke with fatigue, sore throat and headache and generalized feeling of malaise. No Fever. I thought to myself, there is no way I can manage the travel and drive to these rural areas far away and see patients( two which were new) at the time I agreed because I was feeling ok and they bought my ticket but it’s obvious I still can’t push my body that much. I sent them an email telling them I wasn’t well and let’s just say it was not accepted well. They were in a state of panic( understandably) because they have no provider for these patients. I know my body needed the rest but I feel so incredibly guilty. This is also the second time I called off but first time I was just doing remote visits. Another concerning thing is when I flew down there there first time I barely had the right equipment to do my job. I was told there was wound care supplies in the office but there was not enough to do a good job. I did did the best which what I had and sent her an email regarding the supplies I needed. When they asked me to work this weekend I asked them if they ordered the right supplies to which she responded I needed to ask someone else( one of her partners) when I asked him he said that everything I needed was there that I just had ‘to Dig’ through the Boxes and look for it. To which I told him Last time I was there I looked thoroughly and did not find what I needed to provide the right care. He just seemed to shrug it off like it was no big deal, gave me my office key and swore up and down the supplies were in there which they weren’t . Also another concerning thing is when I flew out there last time I had to get my own rental car( it was very expensive) and when I emailed my manager about reimbursement they ignored my email. So far this company seems very unorganized and not interested in my well being not only as human being, but as clinician. I just don’t know what to do. This is my only position and I will moving there in less than a month so I need the income but to me they seem extremely unreasonable. How would handle this situation? I feel terrible And guilty because they patients are abandoned today and one really needed to be seen but I just couldn’t do it. I am Feeling better this evening after sleeping 😴 her 12 hours but clearly this isn’t sustainable. Anyone a similar situation? Also any other health care workers that can shed some light? I am needing some guidance on what my next step should be? I am terrible at communicating my needs mainly because people look At me and think I am perfectly healthy. Another side effect of COVID too timid to speak my mind because I am afraid of being gas lit as I have been in the past from another employer who fired me.
Was at a lake canal and noticed loads of pumpkinseed near the shores and i had to free a couple that somehow got stuck in the shallow edges, i threw about every fly i had and they didnt care except for one that bit a leech and promptly came off. Now maybe im overthinking this but are they as picky as bigger shellcrackers? If so any patterns that you usually catch them on?
So my partner remembers this old horror movie they watched at some point as a child. We've been looking for it for it and we just cant figure it out. So here are some details they told me:
There's like a lake, and the protagonists relative (probably a guy) at some point runs over a girl with his boat and she died, she had long hair and there's a bunch of seaweed growing from where she died
The protagonist is staying with the relative at this at this lake, he has some sort of spiritual powers and does a Séance with some friends
Theres a bunch of wet bearfoot, footprints after
Hey y’all!! I’m currently trying to fix all of the holes in the genius lyrics of “the air again” and there’s a few places I can’t seem to crack. Also I’m not sure if someone mentioned it but in the parts where’s she’s whispering canary, for two of the times she isn’t saying canary! Thought that was kind of cool. Here is my revised version:
June of ‘78 Who are you so irate on the banks of the Lake Adaire [?] and like the moon in the lake, you are not there My poor canary
At uncertain behest Maggie'd blown to the west In a shimmering dust of gold With her pale yellow hair They would call her canary And I love my Maggie so And that is all you need to know
Women here ain't ever glad not even up in Nevada Come back to share her wedding cake Women here ain't ever free We never left, we never leave We never last, we never ask, we never stake A claim, or complain, or take
Not till I made a play for a parcel that lay On the end of the ol’ county line Had a notion that I'd find implored by and by At the lonesome willow of mine But they don't enlist my kind
In the meantime, set to prospecting where I was able And laying my Maggie a table And when it was warm, we would pan When it stormed, play the can
And when it was cold, they’d come sniffing What good we had On and on and again and on and again and you do what you can
Take an eighth of an ounce, an allowance For the penance, only a dance if you're alone And a bounty cast aside you know the pastor Tried in vain to ask her hand Leave him here, everybody did And they had a plan but they had to sign O’er the mine and the deed Left this fool to scrape and bleed And go to seed and never marry
Not canary, canary, canary, canary, canary Canary, canary, canary, canary, canary
In the spring of that year, when the tinker was here Gals would hire him to mend their tin I heard ‘em swarm from afar, like a storm in a jar Like a choir of cherubim Singing him, him, him
Whispering, Maggie had gone, must have skipped with someone Sounded wrong, though it did seem fair April turned into May, I looked every day for you, Maggie Till I heard they found a horn with the golden hair On the shores of the Lake Adair
On the slough, she was spread Loose and languid and dead From the kindness that she had shown Still she told me her tale Lifting veil after veil To expose a grin upon [?]
And now I longed to relieve as I muddied my sleeve And I studied the wicked hand And I longed to revive, she was never alive But by the grace and the will and the willing again And the wickedness of men
But what to do then? I hauled myself up from the shore and I called at the door of the foreman I told him and he laughed So alas there was savage revenge
Left a hole in his heart you could row in A cabbage, a cabbage, oh No, no, just a little one, Maggie, just a little one
On and on and again 'til you saw what they did but I am never done, I am never done
When you fight for the like of begging [?] a pan[?], Murdered again You s[?] for the rhymes Root for the strike through the alluvial tributaries Full of [?] to begin toward the deed For loose and alive, old dream had haunted us A long time, [?] it For me and Maggie
A rumor; wasn't him It couldn't a been him or anyone whould've done What I know so many men'd tell you when they came to it, so
arrogant, arrogant, arrogant, arrogant, arrogant arrogant, arrogant, arrogant, arrogant, arrogant
Held a cloth to my hands taking stock of my plans But there was something I had to make right I took his old buggy with and I lowered the skip In the glow of the sodium lights With a load of dynamite
Maggie said, “I am here and with a touch of [?] After 30 years down in the mines Help me lead out the mules Help me free the poor fools Let them see for the very first time They were blind, blind, blind"
Then we rode toward the [?] [?] And she opened her neck like a stream I saw the father appear, heard her sob in my ear Like a [?]
Howling "Him, him It was him, it was him"
So I threw a charge down the shaft In a cart with a pastor who spat and evangelized She was the last and the worst, canary always goes first To sing where the waters rise
Hear her sing, go on now, Maggie And then on and then on and then on and again On and on, on and on and again On and on and again
[?] and they all fall in and down and in and down and in we pass away [?] And so they return For the [?] and the [?] And they never learn They will never learn They will never lean And even of the children and the stamp mail and the [?] And the smell of the furnace all a burning Overturn and earning, she will never breathe
The air again, air again, air again, air again air again, air again, air again, air again, air
Like the screech of a [?], like they’re reaching for air Beneath the smothering eiderdown Veins of gold still outstretch, in a silent arrest For miles and miles around
And if I run aground Then let me toil in that line Then let me toil in that mine Let me find what is hiding there And let me dig where I burst Let me drink when I thirst And let me breathe [?] And breathe for my canary And breathe
Let me breathe Let me breathe for my canary Breathe for my canary, canary, canary Breathe for my canary Always calls first Breathe for my canary, canary, canary, canary Breathe for my canary Always calls first Breathe for my canary, canary, canary, canary, canary, canary Breathe for my canary Always calls first Breathe for my canary, canary, canary, canary, canary Canary, canary, canary, canary, canary
I just noticed the posts about my custom, thanks, happy to see y’all fw it. But I havnt worked on it in a minute and kinda hit a wall, need help in workshop and getting specific numbers and feels. If anyone who’s good at workshop/has a lot of old doom exp would wanna help reach out.
Next “The gorgeous pageant has passed — the roar of battle has ceased — the multitude has sunk in the dust — the empire is extinct."
– Thomas Cole Catalogue Description: Diary of Princess Elita sif Panya of the Lamfu Protectorate, Log 4 - English Translation Date: 0-Pacpuf-436 (Panyan Royal Calendar) November 20th, 2162 (Gregorian Calendar) Held by: The UK National Archives, Kew Legal status: Public Record(s)
Apparently, there were thousands of frozen primate embryos aboard Erebus 2.
The disease, famine, and conquest which the Senghavi had inflicted upon the Terran civilization—whether intentional or not—had been devastating. Their “United Nations” had worried that humanity might fall below a minimum viable population. In equipping Erebus 2
with frozen embryos and Senghavi habitat fabrication technology, they had hoped to restart their civilization away from the prying eyes of the Crown.
It was true that, like the carnivores, the Senghavi were a species for whom the Gods had modelled an exponentially-increasing evolution of resources and energy. But even they would have trouble spotting a single, cloaked spacecraft amid the infinitude of space. Erebus 2
was meant to deliver humanity out of the darkness by ferrying its frozen offspring into the vast black of the cosmos—hence the mission name, an ancient Terran deity which personified darkness itself.
“This ‘Wormhole Empire Theory’ is… consistent with the theories of the secularists and sapientists within our scientific community,” my father replied. “You would call us an ‘Isolate,’ and the carnivores, an ‘Empire.’ I assume you did not want to… offend our religious sensibilities, so publicly over the video feed.”
“Well, you people seem to really like ‘the order of nature.’ But the moment that a species becomes advanced enough to punch
through the fabric of space-time, then seize resources and planets at an exponential rate, seems a lot more like an unstable ‘equilibrium’ than a natural, stable one. I’m not sure if it’s compatible with what you… think of your Gods.”
“Do you have an understanding of how these wormholes are created?” my father asked. “You went through
one to get here. Did you create it with stolen technology, or did you use one that had already been made?”
“The latter, Your Majesty. We believe a species becomes an Empire when it is able to use quantum entanglement and negative energy to puncture vast distances of space with wormholes. That sort of thing is… far beyond the capabilities of mankind, even before we were colonised.
“The physical details behind it aren’t really my area of study. I can tell you it involves fields of negative energy density, and I think they somehow use threads of quantum information stretched between quarks and antiquarks. There’s something in there about an electric field and a fourth dimension… You’ll have to ask Doctor Kuznetsov when we all meet up at the Red Citadel. He’s one of the most brilliant physicists our species has to offer.”
The semi-arid plains seemed to flow like a river as our police-escorted motorcade sped along the expressway. Electric aircraft crawled lazily through the opaque atmosphere, while colossal harvesters extracted aluminium and gallium-rich minerals near the Denfalli surface. Apparently, relative to Denfall, Earth had a less-dense planetary crust and a more heterogeneous distribution of metals. In order to access their own resources, the native Terrans had needed to resort to bombs and drills, forcing deep pits and shafts into their planet.
That was, if one believed that they had once had a complex society at all, as I did.
“Half of our thirty-one year journey was spent verifying the existence of, and searching for, a wormhole we theorised was orbiting Neptune—the eighth planet from our sun. We’d detected its gravitational effects and its distortion of light, and we thought that an error in the Senghavi’s cloaking technology must have exposed the structure’s throat. We had no idea where it led, but… we went through anyway. Thought had to be life on the other side. Maybe someone that could help us.”
The realisation hit me like a sudden noise, making me jump in my seat, and my heart flared in my chest. “You found a real-life wormhole
in your solar system, and you went through without any idea of what was on the other side? That must have been terrifying! You could have ended up… in another galaxy, or at the edge of the universe, or something!”
Through his visor, I could see Doctor Moore’s face become sorrowful. Doctor Usman had the best grasp of Circpi, being the crew’s linguistic expert, but the other primates’ clumsier, more thickly-accented hold on our language was more interesting to listen to.
“That was not the hardest part,” said the dark-skinned biologist. “We were desperate. What made us more afraid... it was the situation of our species; the extinction of our culture and our sovereignty. And the distance away from our families... of my daughter. I want her to live in a better world, but it's not... easy, to be so far from my daughter, on a planet thousands of light-years away from Earth. It's not easy, being far away in space, when my daughter lives without her father for thirty-one years.
“When... We hear your conversations for the first time... Your communication that you have by neutrinos ... It was a sensation, an emotion, like no other. Finally, we had found extraterrestrial life! If I have to, I would travel a hundred times, again, through mysterious tunnels in space, just for this discovery. You are the greatest scientific discovery in the entire history of mankind.”
“Thirty-one years!” I exclaimed. “How long is your lifespan in the first place?”
“Most humans live to about seventy-two years on average,” Doctor Usman replied, suddenly seeming just as sullen as Doctor Moore. “Most of us left Earth in our early thirties. We’re over sixty now. Before our comms system failed, I kept in touch with the love of my life. Watched him age, as I did. My last message from him… I hold it close to my heart.”
The sheer isolation and loneliness of the Erebus 2
mission was difficult to wrap my mind around. Doctor Moore’s small, binocular eyes were moist and red. It seemed that crying was an emotional response in the primates, just like us!
I huddled next to Doctor Moore, putting my plastic-bound paw on his glove. I didn’t know what else I should do to comfort an extraterrestrial, so I resorted to physical affection, as is the habit of us Lamfu. To my surprise, the primate rubbed me behind the ears. Despite the barrier of polypropylene against synthetic fibres, his firm touch sent a tingly sensation down my skull and spine, and I leaned into it.
Through natural selection, us Lamfu evolved tall, sensitive ears to detect predators lurking in the wilderness, so that we might be more likely to survive and pass on our genes. Thus, we had a lot of nerve endings in those regions. Perhaps human fingers could stimulate them in a way our paws could not? It was all the more reason to sway our desperate extraterrestrial friends away from the far more impressive Imperium!
“We’d never be able to take on such a task,” the King said solemnly. “I can’t imagine many would. The carnivores and mantids must not be entirely right about you. We thought that, due to being palaeolithic hunter-gatherers, your species would have been barbaric and violent. But your lack of technology and connection with your primal nature has clearly made you more humble and honourable than us supposedly ‘civilised’ folk! You are, in a sense, noble savages
I knew he meant it as a complement, but it only seemed to anger Doctor Usman.
“We’re not… nevermind!” she snapped, blinking tears from her eyes. “We’ll talk about that part later. Now, the Senghavi have been mentioning this ‘Imperium of Orion’ since their boots first touched Terran soil. We theorised that this civilisation was another instance of an Empire—one potentially competing with the Senghavi. They take tribute from your planet, an Isolate, without sharing any of their science or technology with you.
“When we heard about the Prey-for-Protection system, we thought it was cruel… but your species doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, and we figured we couldn’t assume that human morality applied to extraterrestrials. Do you think the carnivores could help us?”
My father froze. Even our driver looked uncomfortable.
“N-No, no. It’s best to avoid them. Well—they help us, yes. They are vessels of the Gods. But… Well, you do not fit nicely into the faith of Krucuv Mishan. You violate the order of nature merely by attempting to resist being civilised by the Senghavi. Orion is no more likely to aid you than Parimth.”
I almost wanted to say “you are much safer with us,”
but I stopped myself. If the primates caught onto our selfishness, they might forsake us. We all feared they would, in the unlikely but nerve-wracking event that, come the day of tribute, the Imperium would want these newcomers to join their interstellar empire.
“The way that Empires brainwash Isolates,” Doctor Usman sighed, shaking her head. “It’s disgusting. You’re probably half-right, Your Majesty. I bet the Imperium wouldn’t want anything to do with a puny Isolate like humankind—and we are under the control of their rival, anyway. But you’re wrong if you think resisting an imperialist is against the ‘order of nature.’ You’re letting your own inferiority complex cloud your view of us. Don’t tell anyone I said this…. but the Imperium of Orion and the Parimthian Empire can go fuck themselves.”
Such vulgarity in the presence of the King! But I could feel the tension in the air relax. We’d swayed at least part of the crew of Erebus 2,
at least for now.
Still, the other five primates were still aboard their spacecraft, zipping around in Denfall’s orbit at [27,000 kilometres per hour]. How we were to prevent them
from falling into the fold of our carnivorous protectors, it was far less certain.
At last, we neared our destination. The Red Citadel is where my father crafts his royal decrees, consults with his justices and knights to enforce them, and holds royal courts to settle the disputes and pleas of nobles.
The lords of Parliament meet in Denfall Castle, which isn't far from the Red Citadel. Though they are vassals of the King, they've carefully manoeuvred over the years to force this “King’s Code” on my family. Nowadays, my father needs their consent to levy extraordinary taxes, and they can compel him to redress the grievances of other nobles.
The Red Citadel loomed in the distance as we approached in our luxury groundcar. Doctor Moore gave my paw a gentle squeeze in the glove of his environment suit. Through his visor, I could see his mouth falling open at the sight of the mighty Citadel. As of the time that I am writing this, I cannot think of a more memorable structure. It is protected on all sides with mighty walls of clay-red sandstone, ivy creeping along their sides, battlements lining their tops. And today, behind those battlements, snipers were posted to ensure the safety of our new diplomats.
Natural selection and evolution had pushed us herbivore Lamfu to run and hop away in fright from predatory threats, so that we might be more likely to survive and pass on our genes. That trait has forced us to become excellent at the art of the defensive fortification, from which we can snipe our enemies from afar! A rebellious noble attempting to lay siege to the Red Citadel wouldn't last a day.
Peeking above the walls are the spires and buttresses of the royal manor. Overlooking the manor is the abbey, its pinnacles reaching much further beyond the crenellated walls and towers. The abbey is decorated with stained glass windows and minarets, which overlook the glittering lakes and fruit orchards.
Like the surrounding walls, the abbey, manor, and other buildings are also built of red sandstone. In contrast, Denfall Castle, where the lords of Parliament invariably congress with one another, is beige like its namesake: this planet of ours itself, arid or semi-arid all over. Smaller than the Red Citadel, Denfall Castle is more of a singular fortification than a protected complex.
My tail and ears lifted with gentle happiness as I thought of the old Abbot Eli. He administers the affairs of the abbey—a monastery centred on the faith of Krucuv Mishan. One of the fondest memories from my childhood was Abbot Eli showing me the huge tapestry of Fenya the Brave, which hung in the great south hall of the abbey.
The legendary Lamfu woven into the tapestry was depicted with a sniper rifle slung over her shoulder, unfurling a scroll in her hands in order to reveal divine scripture. Before her was a horde of ignorant canids, serpents, and vulpines, not realising that a meagre herbivore was going to enlighten them as to the order of nature.
I could still feel Abbot Eli’s comforting paw on my shoulder as he described the legend, his aged voice echoing in my mind. In the face of certain death, Fenya the Brave wasn’t fearless—but in her passion to solve our overpopulation and the suffering it entailed, she had stood up against her fear.
The great iron portcullis of the Red Citadel was raised to permit entry of our luxury motorcade. My father was already talking excitedly about grand feasts and festivities. As my family and I disembarked, we escorted four Terrans through the courtyard: Doctor Usman, Doctor Moore, Doctor Kuznetsov, and Miss Malone.
“We’ve got plenty of plants and meats for you to enjoy!” my father declared. Sprinklers washed over the manicured grass, a subtle reminder of our semi-arid homeworld’s limited vegetation and water supply. “You are
an omnivorous species, correct?”
For a moment, it didn’t look like anyone was going to reply, as every Terran was struggling to process my father’s offer. Finally, Doctor Moore broke the silence.
“That is correct. We can eat many things, but… I'm going to have to examine some food you bring to determine what we can eat.”
“You sure, Moore?” Doctor Usman asked, raising an eyebrow. It must have been a courtesy to us that she spoke in Circpi to her fellow Terran. “Shouldn’t we wait a lot longer? I mean, this is the first truly alien ecosystem known to mankind. We’ve only been here a day.”
“We were in orbit for many months. I am done having fear. And they are not kind towards us? I am confident with the science and examination I can do to determine what we can eat. At a minimum, one person has to… examine what happens when they eat the food, correct?”
I was certain Brother Mopsi—the old, plump chef of the Cavern Hallow below the great red abbey—had outdone himself. During the moon-periods since we’d learned it was likely that the primates could ingest our food, he and his Kitchen fellows had toiled relentlessly. In preparation for the feast my father had wanted, they had undoubtedly prepared enough wines, seafood, and pastries to feed the entire Red Citadel for [~1 week].
“Forgive me,” Princess Ilyafi chimed in as we approached the abbey’s sculpted bronze doors. “You all seem… dazed? Or is it just the grandeur of the Red Citadel? Are you in shock?”
“Yes, I think,” Miss Malone said, rubbing her comparatively dainty shoulders. (Apparently, she was a skilled pilot and aerospace engineer). “All this is very… fast.”
“You are omnivores, so I’m guessing you evolved as both prey and predator. We evolved as just prey, and we’re quite familiar with the cardiovascular effects of fright and anxiety. Sustained stress can lead to hypovolemic shock and heart failure. Are you sure
you are okay?”
“We are very, of course okay,” Doctor Kuznetsov assured us. The pale-faced physicist chuckled faintly, brushing a bit of dust from his visor. “Us humans are stronger than that. But Erebus 2
went through space for thirty-one years. Half of that was a voyage to the entrance of a wormhole near the edge of our solar system. We searched for the life that the Senghavi do not reveal to us. I had a… mate, and a… litter of children. I leave and they are alone, without me.
“And then… we heard patterns in the neutrino detectors. Something that must be man-made. Alien-made. After, the months in orbit go fast. And now we are here. We did not yet remove our suits. Yet, we are walking into a big castle, and you already offer this big feast. It is just like a dream. I almost think I simply hallucinate in Erebus 2
, in some far place in the Milky Way, light-years far from any alien life.”
Another pang of sympathy sank into my heart. To witness the fall of their species, and then to be separated from their kits and their mates by thousands of light-years, must have pained the primates beyond my imagination.
Right as we reached the abbey’s entrance, a distant rush of air and the tapering purr of anti-grav generators resonated through the atmosphere.
My heart dropped with the weight of an anvil. Us Lamfu rose to crouch on our hind legs with upright posture, our ears high in the air for alertness, while the Terrans just looked blankly at the sky. A dark and massive shape swept down through Denfall’s opaque cloud cover. The Imperium of Orion is here.
As we watched dumbly from the courtyard, their ship dropped [100 kilometres] in a mere [60 seconds]. In contrast, the landing shuttle of Erebus 2
had taken [~25 minutes] to go from the boundary of the atmosphere all the way to its landing strip.
We soon could not see the ship beyond the battlements of the Red Citadel, but my father ordered the portcullis open in order to let our carnivorous protectors in. Doctor Moore’s eyebrows were pressed together, the Terran’s lipped mouth having gone somewhat limp.
The fright which this arrival inflicted upon me nearly put me into hypovolemic shock. I say such a thing for two reasons.
For one thing, it was unprecedented that the carnivores entered Denfall directly like this. They only took such an action on very special occasions. Usually, we sent the tribute to them
by flying the victims of Prey-for-Protection out to their space stations ourselves.
And for the other, even when they did enter Denfall, I’d never actually seen one in person. Well, except for my glimpse of the Kursef diplomat, that frightful night as a child.
Yet here I was, watching a delegation of two more extraterrestrial species and one Denfalli species march into the courtyard. They had disregarded personal protection gear entirely. With such great exposure to the universe and such advanced technology, they were confident enough not to care about alien diseases.
Beyond the opened portcullis, the ship perched upon the sands outside the Red Citadel was a fortress of black stone, fringed with defensive bastions, its gun turrets peering through battlements. A dark bird of prey, into whose predatory talons I would soon be swept into.
“Jesus Christ,” Doctor Moore murmured, so quiet as to verge on inaudible. He absently dropped his bag of scientific instruments, seeming completely awestruck. “Usman, what are we looking at?”
“Empire,” Doctor Usman replied, her voice glassy.
“And three more confirmed extraterrestrial species,” Doctor Kuznetsov added. “And… our crew!”
Among the delegation of soldiers and dignitaries were two species I had previously not seen more than once: the serpentine Kursef and five more primate Terrans. There were also two species I’d never seen in person at all: the hulking, canid Warcs and the delicate, vulpine Pondwir.
“Hawthorne!” Doctor Usman yelled, her voice carrying across the courtyard. “What… What is this?”
One of the five primates within the delegation broke away from them, jogging towards our
primates. He cut a curious figure in the grass, a slender biped in a moss-green EVA suit. He, too, was crying behind his visor. His eyes were red with tears. My gut felt a madness in those eyes.
The UN logo that was supposed to be on his shoulder looked like it had been painted over with the fang-on-star insignia of the Imperium of Orion.
“It is the culmination of these thirty-one years,” Hawthorne said to Doctor Usman, his voice breaking with emotion. He, too, spoke Circpi instead of English, but it was likely out of pressure from the carnivores, and not as a courtesy to us. “God has given it to us. We have braved the trials of space, and He has rewarded us. There really is another Empire, and it has taken our side!”
“What?” Doctor Usman asked. She glanced at my father, who shuffled uneasily. “What you’ve encountered is incredible, Hawthorne. What are these species?”
Hawthorne gestured at the delegation of soldier-protected dignitaries. “The Warcs are intelligent canid-like mammals. They evolved on this planet, adapting to hunt these Lamfu as their staple food source. It was by coevolution of predator and prey adaptations that both Warcs and Lamfu developed sapient intelligence.
“Then, there are the Kursef. They are serpent-like reptiles who swallow their prey whole—just like Earth snakes. It’s a remarkable example of convergent evolution! They are the ones who founded this Imperium.” Imperium.
The word seemed to stab Doctor Usman in the stomach. She looked at my father again, her eyes as hard as rock.
“I thought… you said they wouldn’t aid us?” she asked.
But my father, the King of us Lamfu, was silent in his shame.
“Then, the Pondwir,” Doctor Hawthorne went on. I assumed he should bear the title Doctor; the humans considered such a word to be a title, and he seemed to know as much about biology as Doctor Moore. “They are vulpine-like mammals who were nearly hunted to extinction by the colonisers. By the Senghavi. Their hides were coveted for the softness of their fur.”
“Hunting sapient beings?” Doctor Usman huffed. ”The Senghavi just keep getting better and better.”
As the rest of the delegation caught up, my ears perked up with that sort of stress and anxiety which is amplified through millions of years of coevolution at the near-bottom of the food web.
I did not mind the Pondwir, and might in fact have felt fascinated by them. They were far shorter and daintier than primates, despite their ecological role as carnivores.
The limbless, emotionless Kursef gave me chills, though that fright was more likely rooted in my childhood sighting of a Kursef than anything else. Indeed, they were animals who fed on prey, but they were too different from mammalian life to have imbued an innate fear within me. That my fear of them was somewhat of a learned, paranormal one, rather than a rational one, was comforting, in a way.
But the Warcs… Just as my anxiety was one swollen through millions of years’ worth of drawing adaptations from random mutations in a nightmarish evolutionary arms race, so, too, were their hunting adaptations. In muscle and body mass, the canid Warcs surpassed the primates threefold. The fright they caused me was neither learned nor fantastical. It was primal,
an unshakeable decree by the state of nature; a feeling as natural as hunger, thirst, mating, or self-preservation.
The Warcs and us Lamfu are what we are because of each other.
The blind watchmaker selected for us our sensitive ears and wide eyesight to detect the Warcs. The Warcs evolved razor-sharp smell and keen vision to track us down. We passed on genes for powerful, digitigrade hind legs to flee them. They evolved an athletic, durable body to pursue us. Those of us with camouflage to hide for our lives were then the ones to survive and reproduce. Yet the Warcs, too, evolved camouflage to hunt so they would not starve. We rose above our animalism into a sense of reason in order to better protect ourselves. They evolved their own sense of reason, so that they might create tools to hunt and live.
In that sense, we and the Warcs owe our lives to one another. It is basic primary-school knowledge that both species attempted coexistence for millennia. Both sides did their best, truly. And both sides screwed up. The Red Citadel is built in the very metropolis that once shone as the crowning jewel of coexistence, partnership, and peace between predator and prey.
Yet, in the end, we proved we were all merely animals. The Warcs’ exodus from Denfall, into the dark infinity of space, is among the most significant and complex chapters in Denfalli history.
Perhaps the primates were lucky, in that they did not share a homeworld with the Senghavi. Their civilization had suffered a fatal devastation, indeed, but they had the privilege of a black-and-white world.
After all, I could only imagine the confused moral state in which the humans would find themselves, had they suddenly needed to grapple with the idea that the Senghavi had originated from
I huddled closer to Doctor Moore, instinctively reaching to grab his tail for support—only to remember the primates had lost their tails millions of years ago. In an action I construed as protectiveness, he positioned himself in front of me.
“A single Pondwir hide was worth the equivalent of trillions of euros,” Doctor Hawthorne said solemnly. “When the Pondwir tried to resist their slaughter at the hands of the colonisers, their homeworld was glassed by the Parimthian Crown. But the Kursef and Warcs lifted them from the ashes. Together, they are the Imperium of Orion—and we can join, too!”
Doctor Usman looked uneasily at the towering Warc ambassador, shaking in her environment suit. She lifted a hand to gesture to the opaque sky. “S-slow down! If you’re all
here, then who the hell is operating Erebus 2?”
is meaningless now. Don’t you see? We are talking about a civilisation that produces [400 trillion terawatt-hours] of energy in one hour.
Their ships number in the hundreds of thousands, just like the Senghavi. Their reach spans thousands of light-years. We’re saved, Usman. All of us.”
Flanked by soldiers, the colossal Warc ambassador took a menacing step forward. My father might have perished of heart failure right then and there. The Warc’s dark fur accentuated his gleaming yellow eyes. “My Princess
is as beautiful as always, Your… Majesty.
Indeed, her devourment will so glorify the order of nature, she alone will earn Paradise for thousands of your people!” “My” Princess? As always?
I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Warcs knew so much more about us than we knew about them, but the focus on me
by a creature I’d never seen made me squirm in my personal protection suit.
“Yes, yes; it seems as such,” the Kursef diplomat hissed, its side-facing eyes like orbs of cold-blooded glass. “What a glorious day it has been! We are not only treated to royal flesh and bone, but we have finally seen a proper introduction to these fascinating primates.”
My father struggled to find his voice. “Y-You were not… Supposed to arrive, until… W-Why are you here so soon?”
“The human tribes of Earth may be snivelling, pagan things so far,” the Warc announced heartily, “but the Senghavi missed out on something big. Something big indeed! This species is full of fire, Your Majesty. We didn’t realise how brightly they burned with potential
At this point, all members of the Royal Security Service had scampered away. In my tense nerves, I had forgotten that they were even here. My siblings remained, however, and Ilyafi spoke up. She had always been the bravest of us.
“We will remember my sister as more than a sacrifice,” she said defiantly. “We will celebrate her devourment as the holy will of Nisma and Unatl, but we will celebrate her life and her memory in kind.”
“Hawthorne,” Doctor Usman said steadily. “These creatures constitute an Empire. They don’t care for Isolates. We are Astronaut-Ambassadors who represent the UN. They
practise expansionism, conquest, and murder on a galactic scale. The values of the Charter of the United Nations are incompatible with such a civilisation.”
Doctor Hawthorne’s gaze hardened. “We travelled for thirty-one years for the salvation of all mankind. I watched my children grow up from light-years away—and for what, if not this? This is a gift from God, Usman. The Senghavi were merely His wrath upon a godless, decadent humanity. This is His forgiveness. This is His Grace.”
“If you want to bring faith into this, Hawthorne… Doctor Moore considers himself ‘saved
,’ just like you. But he will back me.”
The remaining crew members of Erebus 2
stood securely among the delegation of carnivores. As Doctor Usman and Doctor Hawthorne stared each other down, I found myself hugging the leg of Doctor Moore’s environment suit.
Now, I truly understood my species’ galacto-political selfishness. Doctor Moore wouldn’t leave me for the Imperium… Would he?
“And what of the embryos, Hawthorne? We can’t take any risks, and we know next to nothing about extraterrestrial society and psychology. I am the commander of Erebus 2,
and I won’t
allow their seizure at the hands of these… these imperialists!”
“We cannot make a… rash choice,” Doctor Moore added, his emotions only highlighting his poor proficiency in Circpi. “Seeing the… way, the character of the Imperium is easy, just through seeing their actions and their manners. We cannot… insult their evils, if we do those evils to… other Isolates. And Usman is right. We are still the UN.”
“Half, then,” Doctor Hawthorne breathed. “You might still fancy yourselves as UN employees, but we
don’t. The number of embryos is intentionally redundant. You take 10,000. We’ll take the other half. Just—please—don’t try to stop us.”
Then, to everyone’s shock, Doctor Hawthorne drew steady, confident hands towards the neckline of his helmet. He manipulated its various clips and devices with those dexterous primate fingers the humans had. His grey-irised eyes were closed as he undid the final latches, and the helmet jerked upward slightly, jets of oxygen puffing out from the neckline.
At that moment, those grey-irised eyes snapped open, their gaze suddenly bleeding with fear. His legs and gloved fingers were trembling, devoid of the bravery that seemed to have once been coursing through his veins just seconds ago. He looked uneasily at his crewmates while lifting the helmet, its various lights and indicators blinking out as the wires were disconnected from the suit.
He took a deep, sighing breath, letting our planet’s warm, dry air pour into his respiratory system. His eyes never left his crewmates, who still seemed on-edge, despite the ease with which he breathed.
“Okay, Hawthorne,” Doctor Usman replied softly. “Half. Let’s start there. And let’s talk about this in the abbey.”
“If it is your wish to bless the unblessed sands of this simpering pit that is Denfall with 10,000 more of you,” the Kursef ambassador purred, “that is your call. But as our vulpine companions can attest, the galaxy is an undulating, unruly tide. It can be hard to predict the steady future into which the Gods have offered for you to settle.
“Your rightful place, humanity,
is at the top. But don’t
consider it a fate unto which you will tend regardless of where you start. Only our Imperium can provide you with the proper conditions such that you can endure your hardship with faith in your deliverance. Such is the order of nature.”
“Krucuv Mishan,” Doctor Kuznetsov murmured. As he was a physicist, I wasn’t surprised he could recognize the maths-infused patterns of our religious faith within the Kursef’s spiel. “You used it to have dominance over the Lamfu. Now, you want to have dominance over us,
“Don’t shirk this opportunity, primates,” the Pondwir ambassador said softly. “My people understand your quiet rage.”
Everyone looked at the Pondwir, even my family and I. He seemed full of sympathy. Only a little taller than us, it was the first time the short little creature had spoken since the delegation entered the courtyard of the Red Citadel.
The Warc diplomat froze me in his gaze. Hunger—both as the physiological adaptation of an apex predator, and as the lust for dominance over others that exists in all
sapient beings—burned with the heat of molten gold in his yellow eyes. “We have someone to take before you go through those doors… Doctor Moore.
The beauteous and maidenly Princess Elita is mine, not
Defiant, my primate companion stood between the Warc and I, while my father whimpered.
“Look towards this, Hawthorne,” Doctor Moore cried. “We are part of the UN. We promote rights of humans. This is not rights of humans! This is not life or liberty, or the idea that God creates all equal! This is a second-class citizen and murder that the law allows!”
“‘Equality,’ ‘liberty,’ ‘sapient rights,’
are mere colonialist ideals imposed upon your species by the decadent Senghavi colonists,” the Kursef ambassador hissed. “You already know they manipulated and perverted your history. Don’t bend your knee to your oppressors.”
The manicured grass left my polyethylene boots as Doctor Moore lifted me from the ground, backing away from the massive Warc. The Warc snarled, hackles raising.
A hairless mammal with hardly any natural weapons at all was stealing the prey—me—of a carnivore that had evolved specifically to kill and feast upon organisms like us. The tears in my eyes blurred my surroundings.
Doctor Moore didn’t stand a chance—and given the chilling words of these diplomats from the Imperium of Orion, neither, I thought, did Doctor Usman’s side of Erebus 2.
During the confrontation in the cabin between Shauna and Jackie (S1,E7), Shauna wears a shirt with six butterflies printed center chest, with the text "Lueur d'espoir" printed above them. Lueur d'espoir is french for "A glimmer of hope". The butterflies are all different, diverse, and ... alive.
During the scene at the lake between Jackie and Travis (S1, E8), Jackie wears a shirt with Three butterflies that are all the same.