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Literature
Repeat Customers
A few dozen shoppers of varying species milled around Station Zeta’s main plaza.  Whoever said space was serene obviously never set foot on an orbital trading post.  While Zeta was far from the most popular market in ungoverned space, it sure felt like it to anyone caught in the dinner rush.  If a patron wasn’t careful, it was easy to spill their meal as they jostled through the crowds.  Without a doubt, elbow room was hard to come by for everyone.  Well, hard for anyone who wasn’t a Gurk.
Venka leaned against a recessed wall so her back and bushy tail pressed against the cool metal.  The plaza’s simulated sky was set to night, draping the female Gurk in a soft shadow.  Her blue fur and muted clothing blended into the darkness, leaving her nearly invisible except for one detail.  Venka’s luminous, golden eyes betrayed her position, but she preferred it this way.
Two hungry Vilo engineers approached Venka’s spot
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Literature
Fight Another Day: Part 2 of 2
Part 2
Hours before daylight, the team awoke and made their final preparations.  Dex and Koval helped themselves to fresh Commonwealth combat vests, armor, and batteries.  Tib and Rav grabbed batteries too, along with upgraded com systems.  The Gurks donned goggles that hid their eyes’ bioluminescence, yet didn’t hamper their night vision abilities.  Venka added a few elbow and knee pads to her attire, and loaded her belt and bag with remote plasmex charges.  Feliks checked his rifle, and the scattergun he carried on his back.  Before he was finished, he slipped a few extra plasma cells into loops on his armor.
“Everyone ready?” Scuff said.  He and Spark wore Rygol combat uniforms complete with matching helmets, thermal goggles, and a few modifications of their own.  The most conspicuous were a few extra pouches on their tail covers.  Their RAR-37s were polished and charged for battle.
Koval grabbed a compact Gurk roc
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Literature
Fight Another Day: Part 1 of 2
Synopsis: A ruthless armada will stop at nothing to purge the galaxy for their mysterious leader.  Although their efforts were thwarted before, they have spent the years since the last war preparing to unleash an unspeakable onslaught on all worlds that stand before them.  On a planet in the neutral zone, eight warriors of four different species find themselves stranded in a city lost to the invaders.  Alone and left for dead, their only chance for survival lies in working together in the face of impossible odds.
Story start:
“We’ve hit the upper atmo, Captain!”
Far below the climbing frigate, Captain Dex smiled.  “Fire your engines and don’t look back, kid.”  As his gunship’s shielding finally failed, he rushed to finish his farewell.
“Cap, there’s still time!” the young voice on the coms said.
Energy weapon bursts sizzled through the air around Dex’s ship. Eventually, an emerald-green bolt woul
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Literature
The Geek Shall Inherit
“Video paused.  Deactivating holographic theater display.”
Eva Velas blinked as the holograms around her faded, revealing the bright infirmary.  She rubbed her brown eyes but was careful not to disturb the needle in her arm.
“Done already, Doc?” she said to the other woman in the room. “I just got to the best part.”
Dr. Jennifer Naloo approached the table and smiled.  “Sorry, you’ll have to finish your movie later.  Besides, I’d better get that needle out before it drains you.  Don’t wanna be too weak for today.”
With the needle gone, Eva quickly healed.  She readjusted herself on the table until her legs dangled over the edge, suddenly aware of how cold the infirmary felt, especially in her black tank top and bare feet.
“Thanks for the donation,” Dr. Naloo said. “I should be able to make plenty of Alopex, so you can make yourself comfortable.”
“Finally!”
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Fox Blade and Sheath by WanderingGoose Fox Blade and Sheath :iconwanderinggoose:WanderingGoose 2 4
Literature
Homecoming (Wolf's Gift Story Challenge)
With every mile put between her and the city, Wind felt more and more peaceful.  If her stress were a wool sweater, it was as if a thread was stuck somewhere in the city and the further she traveled, the more the sweater came undone.  Of course cities had their benefits, but the bustling holiday season could be taxing for most people, let alone a werewolf.  Needless to say, a break from the commotion was definitely needed.
 
Dressed snuggly, Wind stared out the passenger’s side window and idly sipped a can of Dr. Pepper.  Pure snow blanketed the hills, trees, and mountains for miles in all directions as she smiled to herself.  She shared her warm grin with her husband, Dart, who gently guided the car around a short bend in the road.  He returned the smile before returning his eyes to the road.  Without a doubt, there was no place they’d rather be than wherever they were together; except for their destination, of course.
 
The cou
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Literature
Wayward Souls
“They’re coming!”
“I know, it sounds like they’re on the stairs.  Keep an eye on them.”
“You got it!”
As Collin left the room, I shoved the old spell book into my backpack and threw it over my shoulder.  I tucked my blonde ponytail into my crimson jacket and patted myself down.  Phone, wallet, keys?  Oh, right.  Stupid apocalypse. Even a month into the nightmare and I still found myself holding onto old habits.  Guns, flashlight, machete?  Check, check, and checkmate! That’s more like it.
I drew my .22 pistol and flicked on the flashlight under its barrel.  Collin phased through the door effortlessly, but his face was tense.  From the volume of the moans creeping up the stairwell, I could tell my barricades had failed.  “How many are we dealing with?” I asked.
“Only five or so,” Collin replied. “But there are more where they came from.
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Literature
The Fox and the Traveler
When the hour grows late and the light leaves your side, I will take its place.
As Shadows surround you and hide the path ahead, I will be your guide.
Darkness and uncertainty cloud your vision, but mine is still clear.
Let me be your eyes when you cannot see, your ears when you cannot hear, and your warmth when you are cold.
Hold onto your voice but share it with me.  I hear more than most, but listen best of all.
If the answer lies in your own words, I will find it for you.
If an answer lies within mine, I will give it to you.
While I don’t speak often, each friendly word holds more worth to you than a hundred empty nods.
The path ahead is rough and fraught with obstacles made worse by the night.
Follow me over, under, around, or even in ways you’ve never dreamed.
Shift and be swift with me, flowing as wind and just as soft.
For we are not alone and the Shadows are not as still as we thought.
Our adversaries are devious, but they don’t know who’s at your
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Literature
Adventures in Pupsitting
Chris cleaned his sneakers off on the Brewtons’ doormat as he waited to be let inside.  He wondered if all werewolf families had the same “Wipe Your Paws!” doormat at their homes or just the ones he knew.  Soon enough, the door opened and Mr. Brewton waved him inside.
“Hey there!  You’re just in time,” Mr. Brewton said. “We were worried it’d take you a bit longer to get here.”
“No worries Mr. B!” Chris replied as he set his duffle bag down in the foyer and kicked off his shoes. “I took the Yamaha so I wouldn’t have to pedal all the way over.”
Mrs. Brewton greeted Chris as she wheeled a suitcase to the door.  “Hello Chris, how’s your summer been?”
“Pretty normal so far, I can’t complain.  Got some books to get through before the school year starts,” Chris said. “I’m just glad I could help you out.”
The couple chuckled and gave
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Cascadia Rifle Concept by WanderingGoose Cascadia Rifle Concept :iconwanderinggoose:WanderingGoose 1 0 CUSP Desert Paint by WanderingGoose CUSP Desert Paint :iconwanderinggoose:WanderingGoose 0 0 AK47 Wolverine by WanderingGoose AK47 Wolverine :iconwanderinggoose:WanderingGoose 2 0
Literature
The Next Phase Story World Glossary
Factions/Groups
Blackfield- Born from the chaos and fear of the witch hunts, Blackfield grew to become a force for promoting harmony between the natural and supernatural world.  With untold innocent lives lost to the fear, ignorance, and hatred of those suspected of possessing supernatural powers, the predecessors of the organization vowed to research, protect, and communicate with humans and creatures of all kinds.  They believe that knowledge and understanding can bring all creatures on Earth to their full potential in peaceful coexistence.  As a secretive, non-governmental organization, Blackfield operates around the world, handling supernatural cases while trying to leave “normal” affairs and politics to their respective governments.  They employ humans and supernatural creatures alike, the most common being werewolves.  Wolves work with normal human agents called Ravens to form small teams ready to handle anything the weird, wonderful, and ofte
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Literature
The Sins of the Waterfall
Synopsis: The Cascadia Arms Corporation has spent years preparing for humanity’s conflict with the supernatural.  While maintaining their façade as a conventional weapons manufacturer, they have been secretly working to ensure that humanity will have the upper hand.  They assemble their army piece by piece and it won’t be long before they are ready to make their struggle public.  For three werewolf families on a weekend getaway, the evening is about to become a nightmare as the company sets their sights on them.
Richmond, Virginia
May 2015
Ariano Sandoval entered his host’s office with his briefcase in hand; its formal appearance in stark opposition to his casual clothing.  Lieutenant General Carlisle was similarly dressed in a blue, buttoned shirt and dark slacks.  The general closed the door to his study and engaged the lock.  Even though he didn’t expect any more visitors, Mr. Sandoval subtlety suggested that their meeting n
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Literature
N is for Neutral
Dawn came for Commander Martinez the same way it did for as long as he could remember; peacefully. After all, dead planets aren’t known for their rude awakenings. The officer rolled out of his bunk and shambled over to the bathroom in his compact living quarters. Although there were thousands of derelict homes to choose from, Commander Martinez had grown attached to his Battlefield Control Vehicle and could never dream of living anywhere else. Anywhere, except his home on Earth, that is.
Following his morning laser-bath and oral hygiene routine, the commander found himself donning his combat uniform and brushing his pepper-grey hair in front of a mirror. Suddenly, the mirror’s underlying display screen alerted Martinez to an incoming transmission. He ordered the mirror to answer the message and activate its camera as well.
“Are you dead yet?” asked the man on the screen wearing a similar uniform.
Commander Martinez chuckled. “If I was, how would I answer t
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Literature
No-Man's Land
Synopsis: You don’t need super powers to change the world. Serving as a brief introduction into my alternate timeline for “The Next Phase”, this werewolf’s monologue explains the general essence of the resistance and both its human and supernatural members.
No-Man's Land
No-man’s land? I thought it was all “no-man’s land”, the sprawling wilderness between our nation’s cities. No one man could stake a claim to all beneath the American sky; it was for everyone to cherish, respect, and care for. I thought it was a free country, but that was before Cascadia carved into it and drove walls between us. I know they seek to reclaim every inch not contained by their walls, but not even they have infinite power. So they take what they can and fight for what they want, but the lands between their cities continue to belong to no man because they belong to the wolves.
There was a time when we lived everywhere, just another part of your world, yet
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Panthera teagris - the tea tiger by EosFoxx Panthera teagris - the tea tiger :iconeosfoxx:EosFoxx 20 1 Jenna - Flat Color Commission by CasDwelis Jenna - Flat Color Commission :iconcasdwelis:CasDwelis 1 0 Space Gryphon Armored Wings by AlexVanArsdale Space Gryphon Armored Wings :iconalexvanarsdale:AlexVanArsdale 25 37 Drifting by WindWo1f Drifting :iconwindwo1f:WindWo1f 108 15 Chimera Multi-purpose Corvette by Dehzinn Chimera Multi-purpose Corvette :icondehzinn:Dehzinn 78 14 Head Shot sketches 2 by Skeleion Head Shot sketches 2 :iconskeleion:Skeleion 317 9 The fox and the tiger by FigoFox The fox and the tiger :iconfigofox:FigoFox 64 25 -Commission- Casualties of Indifferance by RussellTuller -Commission- Casualties of Indifferance :iconrusselltuller:RussellTuller 84 5 Eva Commission 2 by AlexVanArsdale Eva Commission 2 :iconalexvanarsdale:AlexVanArsdale 5 17 Commission Eva wolf by AlexVanArsdale Commission Eva wolf :iconalexvanarsdale:AlexVanArsdale 10 16 Noming ornaments by AnnaKitsun3 Noming ornaments :iconannakitsun3:AnnaKitsun3 6 2 Eva Velas Sketch by WindWo1f Eva Velas Sketch :iconwindwo1f:WindWo1f 152 12 Silent No More Cover by WindWo1f Silent No More Cover :iconwindwo1f:WindWo1f 98 29 Smoothie Fox  by WindWo1f Smoothie Fox :iconwindwo1f:WindWo1f 130 10 [Commission] Werewolf VS. by GasMaskFox [Commission] Werewolf VS. :icongasmaskfox:GasMaskFox 19 2 Werewolf Target Sheet by GasMaskFox Werewolf Target Sheet :icongasmaskfox:GasMaskFox 20 4

Activity


A few dozen shoppers of varying species milled around Station Zeta’s main plaza.  Whoever said space was serene obviously never set foot on an orbital trading post.  While Zeta was far from the most popular market in ungoverned space, it sure felt like it to anyone caught in the dinner rush.  If a patron wasn’t careful, it was easy to spill their meal as they jostled through the crowds.  Without a doubt, elbow room was hard to come by for everyone.  Well, hard for anyone who wasn’t a Gurk.

Venka leaned against a recessed wall so her back and bushy tail pressed against the cool metal.  The plaza’s simulated sky was set to night, draping the female Gurk in a soft shadow.  Her blue fur and muted clothing blended into the darkness, leaving her nearly invisible except for one detail.  Venka’s luminous, golden eyes betrayed her position, but she preferred it this way.

Two hungry Vilo engineers approached Venka’s spot, unaware of her presence at first.  However, as soon as they noticed her glowing eyes watching them from the dark, their antennas twitched and they quickly found somewhere else to eat.  A small grin crossed Venka’s muzzle, but she quickly returned to her stoic yet vaguely fierce expression.  After all, she was still on the clock and had appearances to keep.

Scanning the crowd was no easy task for the eyes, even a Gurk’s.  It was no wonder station security cameras needed complex computers to track potentially dangerous beings.  Between humans, Vilos, Ziverites, the occasional Gryphon, and other species, finding someone took either advanced AI, or incredible patience.  Venka’s long, pointed ears wouldn’t do her much good either, not that even she could tell one voice from another in the plaza’s clamor.  That left her with her nose, and it rarely failed her.  Although the combined scents and odors from hundreds of sources battled for attention, Venka was able to detect her crewmate before he reached her.

The male Gurk strolled through the crowd with ease.  Few shoppers paid him much attention except to move out of his way.  No one wanted their pockets picked, not that Feliks would have tried anyway.  His hands were already occupied with his latest purchases.

“What’d you buy?” Venka asked once her partner was within earshot.

“Just a quick snack,” Feliks replied, holding up a fruit.  “You want one?”

Venka narrowed her eyes and sniffed.  “That thing’s almost as fuzzy as you are.”

“So?”  Feliks said.  “It’s good.”

“What even is it?”

“I think it’s called a ‘peach.’  The shop lady said they’re from an old human planet,” Feliks explained as he handed one of the fruits to Venka.  She drew a knife from her belt and cut out a wedge.

“That’s actually not bad,” Venka said, trying the peach, “but we aren’t here for snacks.  Are we clear, and have our customers arrived yet?”

Feliks tossed a peach pit into a nearby trash chute and wiped his hands on his dark blue pants.  “Yeah, everything looks good; just another normal night,” he said.  “No sign of them yet, but they should know where to find us.”

The Gurks waited for a few minutes until Venka caught sight of a pair working their way through the crowd.  “Look alive,” she said, tapping Feliks.  “That’s gotta be them.”

With some effort, Feliks focused until he spotted the duo within the throng of shoppers.  Sure enough, the pair matched the descriptions they’d sent him: one female Gurk, and one male Gryphon.  The Gurk wore a brown jacket over an olive shirt, and darker brown pants.  Her jacket ended at her belt, giving her easy access to her gear pouches and holster.  Like Venka, she sported kneepads, and also preferred minimalistic boots that left her paws uncovered.  An old comm system in her ear and a weathered hat on her head completed her outfit.

The Gryphon was easily a foot taller than his companion, and certainly the biggest of his species Venka and Feliks had ever seen.  His orange clothing and boots stood out against his brown fur and feathers, while his sharp, green eyes sized up the Gurk pair.
“Welcome,” Venka said.  “My name is Venka, and this is my partner, Feliks.”  Feliks nodded and smiled warmly.

The female Gurk smiled back.  “I am Kervak,” she said, “and vhis is Atlas.  It is pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Venka said.  “If you follow us, we can conduct our business somewhere more private.”

Kervak and Atlas exchanged a glance before agreeing.  They followed as Venka and Feliks led them away from the plaza.  The group walked into an older section of the station, and reached a decommissioned storage bay.  Feliks plugged a datapad into the door controls and punched in a code.  A service door slid open and everyone stepped inside.

Cargo containers loomed in haphazard towers around the storage bay wherever they had been left to rust.  Overhead, a few working lights struggled to keep the cavernous room from falling into complete darkness.  Not that the three Gurks would have minded too much.

Towards the center of the maze of containers was a female Gryphon sitting at a table.  She stood and waved politely when the group arrived.  “Hey Venka!” the Gryphon said.  “I see our guests made it here safely.”

“Yeah,” Venka replied.  “This is Kervak and Atlas, our newest customers.”  She turned to them.  “This is Tib, one of our product testers.”

“Well, well, well!  Step right up then!  You’ve come to the right place for all your bounty hunting needs,” Tib said.  “But before we get too far, let me introduce you to my brother.”  Tib looked around the dim bay.  “Rav?  Come down here and say hello!”

A ripple of light flickered on top of a crate stack.  Seconds later, a Gryphon with dark fur and feathers glided down from his perch and gently touched his black paws to the deck.  He folded his wings, revealing his body from under his camouflage cloak.

“A Gryphon on overwatch?” Atlas asked, taking note of Rav’s sniper rifle.  “Smart.”

“Hey, someone has to keep an eye on these little Gurks to keep them out of trouble,” Rav replied.

Atlas grinned.  “I completely know what you mean.  It’s nice to meet you,” he said, shaking Rav and Tib’s talons.

Kervak chuckled and flicked her tail in her partner’s direction.  “Oh Atlas dahling, it is not ‘trouble,’ it is ‘adventure!’  Vouldn’t you agree, Venka?”

“That’s absolutely true,” Venka said. “But in our line of work, adventure can be deadly, hence the need to pack accordingly.”  She directed Kervak to the table where Tib had arranged their featured merchandise.

Rav returned to his position above the others as his associates introduced what they had to offer.  Feliks picked a plasma pistol from the table and held it up.  “Every bounty hunter needs a dependable sidearm,” Feliks said.

“In fact,” Venka added, “that’s the same model auto-plasma pistol I always carry.  It’s lightweight, compact, and easy to shoot.  With advanced batteries, you can fire hundreds of lethal or non-lethal blasts in seconds.  Perfect for grand entrances, or great escapes.”  With that, Feliks fired a few stun bolts into the side of a cargo container.  

Kervak rubbed her chin.  “I don’t know,” she said, “Atlas, vhat you think?”

Atlas accepted the blaster from Feliks, and tried a few shots for himself.  There were several circular targets spray-painted onto the side of the container, and the Gryphon easily burned dozens of marks into the bullseyes.  He switched the blaster to its automatic setting and lit up the targets again.  Although beaks often make it hard to tell if a Gryphon is smiling, this time there was no doubt.

“I’ll take two,” Atlas said.

“Excellent!  Two auto-plasma pistols,” Tib said, keeping track of the items her customers wished to purchase with her datapad.

“We have a few other pistols, if you’re interested,” Venka said to Kervak.  “Plasma magnum, repeaters, long pistols, anything?”

“Vhat is kind of you, dahling,” Kervak replied as she drew a golden pistol from her holster.  She took aim and left a smoking blast mark in the center of a target.  “But I have vhis covered.”

“Well then, we can move onto primary weapons,” Venka said, secretly impressed with Kervak’s shot.

Feliks handed Kervak a red, black, and grey rifle that matched his armored vest’s coloration.  He handed a smaller, yet similarly decorated weapon to Atlas.  “Military grade plasma rifle and carbine,” Feliks said, nodding to each weapon.  “Semi-automatic, burst, and fully automatic fire modes in both stun and lethal settings.  We recovered them from bunkers on Gurkon, decontaminated them, and upgraded their cooling systems.  They’re my personal favorites, and you won’t easily find anything that beats the dependability and ruggedness of a Gurk blaster.”

“Some say our old tech is better left in the shadows of the past,” Venka chimed in, “Others call them relics…”  Kervak and Atlas fired a few test shots with each blaster and exchanged approving nods.  “I prefer to think of them as classics.”

“I like vhis one,” Kervak said.  She handed the carbine to Tib.  “I vill consider.”

Tib made another note, took the carbine aside, and brought attention to the other rifle options.  “We have both standard-issue Grakkon and Commonwealth rifles, along with a few other galactic favorites,” Tib said.  She turned to Atlas.  “Of course, you look like you appreciate the punch of Gryphon sniper rifles, am I right?”

Atlas nodded.  “I have one, actually.”

“Wonderful!” Tib said.  “Interested in any new accessories?”  She placed a padded carrying case on the table and popped it open.  “Omni-scope, backup reflex sights, cooling module, anything?”

“The backup sights look useful…” Atlas mused.  “Go ahead and add one.”

“Will do,” Tib said.  “We’ve also built a few accessories and attachments you can’t find anywhere else yet.  I think you’ll both get a kick out of this one.”  Tib unpacked another case and attached an electromagnetic grenade launcher module onto the Gurk carbine.  Venka took the modified weapon and a cylindrical grenade from the table.

Venka gave the grenade to Kervak.  “What you’re holding might become a bounty hunter’s new best friend,” Venka said.  “Packed into each grenade is an expanding electro-net perfect for those troublesome targets.”

“We ran into a Grakkon Elite on Centurion,” Feliks said, running a finger over the deep scratches on his armor.  “Nothing short of a collapsed tunnel stopped him, but we hope our invention will come in handy if we run into another.”

“Yes,” Venka said, “I should warn you we haven’t tested these on actual Grakkon Elites, but we do know they work on everyone else.”

“They’re enough to catch a Gryphon,” Tib said.  “Rav and I volunteered as test targets, and lemme tell ya, it’ll ruffle your feathers and make your fur stand on end for days!”

Kervak snickered at the thought.  “Vell then, I vould be interested to give vhem a try.”  She nudged Atlas.  “Vhey would have been good on our last job.  Vhat pirate vould not give up!”

Atlas nodded.  “I used up my supply of stun grenades trying to nab him,” he said.  “Speaking of which, do you have some?”

“Of course,” Venka said.  “Always a favorite of mine, too.  I personally modified this batch myself, giving them twice the knockout duration.  Tell you what, if you buy five, we’ll throw in a plasmex grenade at half the price.”

“Sounds like a good deal,” Atlas said.  “I think that should take care of my gear for now.  Kervak, do you need anything else?”

“I vill also take all med kits you have,” Kervak said.  “Ve tend to run through vhem.”

“Certainly,” Venka said.

“Better yet, I’d like any counter-toxin meds you have,” Atlas said.  “A certain dinner last week drained our stock.”  The Gryphon narrowed his eyes at Kervak.

“It vas only partial paralysis, dahling!” Kervak said.

“It was a Yamaran blowfish, and it nearly killed me,” Atlas countered.  “The end of my tail is still somewhat numb.”

“Vhat is because you ate fast,” Kervak said, “I told you to savor fish soup, but you did not listen.”

The dealers looked to each other quizzically before Atlas turned to them.  “Kervak fancies herself a bit of a cook.  She’s really good too, most of the time.  It’s when she tries to experiment that things get dicey.”

Feliks chuckled.  “See, Venka, there are worse things in the universe than fuzzy fruit.”

“Yeah, but peaches don’t strike me as the kinda food that puts people in comas,” Venka said.  “Either way, we do have a case of counter-toxins for you, Atlas.  And I’ll take five percent off its cost if you share that recipe, Kervak.”

The female Gurks exchanged smiles.  “You have a deal,” Kervak said.

Tib arranged the bounty hunters’ order on the table as her companions gathered.  She calculated the estimated total on her pad.  Even if Kervak and Atlas wanted to bargain or trade to alter the final cost, her crew would still take away a nice profit.  Not bad for a night’s work.

However, as Kervak was about to enter final cost negotiations, the cargo bay shook violently.  Everyone froze.  Somewhere in the bay, a stack of crates toppled with a frightening racket.

“Vhat vas noise?” Kervak asked.

“Did something just hit the station?” Feliks added.  A solid clunk reverberated through the storage area, making the mercenary’s fur bristle.

“It sounded like a ship docking,” Tib said, “but the rest of our crew’s not due for hours.”

“Who would be crazy enough to use that old dock?” Feliks asked.  “Besides us?”

“Pirates?” Atlas offered.

Venka furrowed her brow.  “Maybe…” she said.  “Rav?”

Above them, the Gryphon’s cloak shimmered.  “I’m on it,” Rav said as he crept to the opposite end of the bay to investigate.  He jumped from container to container, carefully approaching the source of the noise with his rifle at the ready.

Tib set her pad on the table, and activated its holographic projector.  The Gurks and Gryphons watched the holoscreen flicker to life and display a live feed from Rav’s scope.  Eventually, he settled into a position overlooking the massive airlock doors leading to the dock.  For a moment, nothing happened.  Rav waited with his weapon trained on the doors.

Suddenly, the hiss of the airlock broke the silence, and the doors slid open.  Although Rav was invisible to the naked eye, he still felt a spike of energy creep from head to his tail.  He was thankful his crew could see through his scope, because he didn’t dare to make a sound.

“It’s not pirates…” Feliks said, watching the dozens of figures in the airlock.

Venka sighed.  “No, it’s much worse.”

The figures in front were roughly as tall as Gurks, with similarly bushy tails and pointed ears.  Aside from elongated breathing masks over their muzzles and equipment packs, the creatures didn’t wear much clothing or armor.  Their eyes glowed green through their masks, and their clawed feet clicked on the deck as they advanced.  “Grakkons…” Kervak growled.

Behind the basic Grakkon warriors, Rav spotted a squad of assault troopers clad in heavy armor and full-face masks.  He marked every Grakkon he saw with his scope, only pausing when he saw two things that made his heart skip beats.  The first was a massive anti-ship bomb on a hoversled being pushed into the bay.  Alone, the bomb would have been enough trouble.  Unfortunately, the other thing Rav spied was a Grakkon Elite commanding the raiding party.

“We see them all,” Tib said to Rav via her comm system.  “Sit tight until we figure out what we’re gonna do.”  She looked to the others.  “What are we gonna do?”

Venka drew her autopistol and checked its charge.  “The way I see it, the Grakkons aren’t here for the shopping, our pickup isn’t due for hours, and I’ll bet the station doesn’t have that much time.”

Everyone nodded, but Kervak was the first to pick up a blaster.  “You are right,” she said, taking the Gurk carbine.  “I’m vith you.”  She turned to Atlas and gave him a cocky grin.

The Gryphon sighed loudly.  “We’re in.”

“Are you sure?” Feliks said, swapping the peaches in his pockets for stun grenades.

“Of course, dahling!” Kervak said.  “You need all help you can get.  Besides, it vill be an adventure!”

“And as much as it scares me to hear her use that word, she’s right,” Atlas said.  “You could use our help.”

Everyone chose their weapons and gear, knowing they’d need every advantage to stand a chance.  Kervak and Atlas set their comm systems to their new allies’ frequency.  After testing comms and grabbing a few stun grenades as well, they were ready to go.

Tib opened a tall crate and donned her wing shields and battle helmet.  “I hoped I wouldn’t need these, but leave it to the Grakkons to ruin even the most normal of nights!”  She was about to grab her quad-barreled minigun before she realized how fragile the old bay’s walls were, and decided against it.  “Oh yeah, we should probably keep everything in stun mode,” Tib said as she chose a Gurk rifle.

“Yeah,” Feliks said, “I don’t wanna risk burning too many holes in this place.  The Grakkons are gonna do enough of that when they see us.”

“Not if they don’t get a shot off,” Venka said.  “Let’s go.”



The Elite barked orders to his subordinates in their native language.  Each word was bitter and difficult to understand, but Rav imagined the Elite wanted his troops to find a faster way through the maze of empty cargo containers.  A grunt offered an excuse, but only received a fierce reprimand for his trouble.  None of the Grakkons expected any resistance.

The Gurks and Gryphons laid flat on the containers with their stun grenades primed.  When their enemy walked into range, they tossed the stunners at the same time.  Light ripped through the pooling shadows and a thunderous boom echoed through the storage bay.  Most of the Grakkon troopers were caught in the blasts and slumped to the deck, unconscious.

Rav aimed at an assault trooper the stunners missed, and knocked him out with a single blast to the chest.  At the same time, Kervak and Atlas peeked from behind their cover and picked off a few more stragglers.  When the Grakkons returned fire, Venka and Feliks emerged from their positions and caught the troopers from behind.

The ambush scattered the surviving Grakkons, and forced them to retreat with their bomb.  A pair of assault troopers tried to climb the containers and flank Atlas.  Unfortunately for them, Kervak was waiting at the edge with a smirk and a few stun bolts.  “Ve have vhem!” she shouted.

“Push up!” Venka called.

“That’s my cue,” Tib said, wrapping herself in her armored wings.  She dropped down and landed on a Grakkon too slow to avoid her.  The trooper was out cold.

Searing hot plasma bolts smacked into Tib’s shields as the Grakkons tried in vain to stop her.  Above them, Tib’s friends easily blasted the distracted troopers.  Those still conscious were pushed back even further as the Gryphon juggernaut advanced down the narrow pathways.

Seconds later, the Grakkon Elite and his last remaining assault troopers dug in around their bomb.  The Elite worked to arm the explosive under his comrades’ covering fire.  Rav reported the situation while he tried blasting the leader.  To his dread, his Gryphon rifle had little effect.

“They’re setting the bomb!” Tib shouted.  “I’m going in!”  With a piercing screech, the Gryphon charged the Grakkon position with her friends close on her tail.  At full running speed, Tib slammed into an armored trooper and threw him against a crate.  She unfurled her wings and smacked two grunts behind her, knocking them out simultaneously.

After seeing this, the last Grakkon grunt tried to run away.  He immediately wished he hadn’t when Atlas caught him with a wing strike to the chest.  Kervak zapped the downed Grakkon for extra measure before she aimed at the Elite.

By now, every Grakkon except for the Elite lay stunned on the deck.  Even with everyone firing stun bolts into his back, he didn’t even flinch.  He stayed focused on his bomb, until Tib swiped him aside with her wing.  “Any chance you’ll surrender now and save us the trouble?” Tib asked, aiming her blaster at his chest.

Fiery, emerald eyes glared at the Gurks and Gryphons through the gloom.  The Elite looked from his enemies to the bomb, knowing he only needed one more code symbol to start the countdown.  He made a desperate dash for the bomb.  Tib braced for impact but thankfully it never came.  Just before the Elite reached Tib, Kervak pulled her grenade launcher’s trigger.

Kervak’s grenade popped open and threw the electrified net over the running Grakkon.  He was instantly wrapped and tripped by the shocking mesh, and skidded to the floor.  For a moment, the net’s energy was enough to overwhelm the Elite’s motor functions, and it kept him crumpled on the deck.

“Ha!” Kervak cheered, raising her weapon.  “Vhat vas not—”  Before she finished her sentence, the Grakkon locked his glowing eyes with Kervak’s, and slowly started to fight the shocks.

Everyone concentrated their fire on the Elite, but it didn’t stop him from slashing and tearing at the net with his claws.  “Back up!” Feliks said, knowing all too well what an Elite’s natural weapons were capable of.

Despite the withering barrage, the Grakkon found his footing.  Tib stopped firing, and swung at the Elite with her rifle.  The Elite blocked her attack with one hand, not realizing it was only Tib’s diversion.  She followed up by slashing with each wing, before wrapping herself in them to withstand the Grakkon’s counterstrikes.  While the Elite focused on Tib, Atlas approached from behind and dug his talons into the warrior’s shoulders.

Atlas didn’t feel the flesh give way at all, but he knew he had a solid grip on the pale Grakkon’s fur.  He yanked on it, and pulled the Elite away from Tib.  The creature was quick to recover, and in the blink of an eye he regained his footing, leaped over Atlas, and landed on a nearby crate.  Atlas narrowed his gaze and brought his rifle to bear.  He switched the weapon to its lethal setting, only to watch the Elite bolt for the bomb again.  This time, he was successful.

The Grakkon managed to touch the last symbol, and the bomb emitted a pulsing, crimson glow.  Venka couldn’t be sure, but she thought the Elite almost sneered at her and her companions.  Then, just as quickly as he reached the bomb, he fled.

“Get after him!” Venka shouted.  “He’s going for the doors!”

“But vhat about bomb?” Kervak asked.

Tib stepped forward.  “I picked up a few things over the years,” she said, “Rav and I got this, you guys stop that Grakkon.”

With no time to argue, everyone just agreed that was the best plan.  It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was better than nothing.

“Yeah, we’ll see what we can do,” Rav said.  “Seal the airlock behind you, just in case.”

With that, Kervak, Venka, Atlas, and Feliks sprinted after the Elite.  They reloaded their weapons on the run, and tried to think of a way to stop their foe.  As they ran, they desperately discussed possible solutions.

“His hide’s too thick,” Atlas growled.  “I was going to try lethal fire before he jumped.”

“That won’t work on either,” Feliks said.  “Even a charged blast isn’t strong enough.”

“Besides, if he hits the plaza, there’s no way we can open up with deadly force,” Venka added.

“Ve must be smart about vhis,” Kervak said as the group reached the airlock.  The service doors leading to the rest of the station were forced open.  “Vhis Grakkon is faster, tougher, and stronger.  You see how he jump over Atlas?  It like he defy gravity.”

Venka paused as she momentarily lost herself in thought.  “Gravity, gravity, gravity…” she said to herself.  Suddenly she smiled at Kervak.  “Gravity!  That’s it!”

“Vhat is?” Kervak asked.

“It’s how we’ll stop the Elite!” Venka replied.  “Feliks, still got your datapad?”

“Yeah, right here,” Feliks said.

“Good.  I’ll need you to hack the artificial gravity settings in the plaza,” Venka said.  “We can use the grav-panels to drag down the Elite.”

“Okay, but the terminal is up on the command level,” Feliks said.  “How will I get to it in time?”

The Gurks looked to Atlas.  “I can give you a lift,” he said.

“Vhat verks,” Kervak said to Venka.  “Vhat about us?  Vhat can I do?”

“We’re gonna need some of your blowfish soup,” Venka said.  “I remember seeing a Yamaran restaurant in the plaza; think you could whip some up?”

A mischievous grin crossed Kervak’s face.  “Absolutely.  I vill need time though.  Not long.”

“I’ll keep him busy,” Venka replied.  “Okay, everyone knows what to do?”  No one spoke up.  “Good.  Then let’s get this done.”

The four mercenaries tracked the Elite through the station’s halls.  Crippled security drones sparked and sputtered against the walls, leaving an easy trail to follow.  Venka shuddered to think what the Elite would do to any living creature unfortunate enough to cross his path.  She soon caught a glimpse of his capabilities as the group approached a pair of wounded station personnel.  A human knelt over his Vilo coworker, but flinched when he saw the mercenaries.

“First Grakkons, and now pirates!” the man growled, balling his fists.

Venka flattened her ears.  “Do I look like a pirate to you?” She quickly realized she was baring her teeth at the frightened man.  “Second thought, don’t answer that.  The important thing is we’re on your side.”

The man relaxed, somewhat surprised.  He was even more surprised when Kervak and Venka handed him their med kits.  “Take these and help the injured,” Venka said.  To her relief, the human nodded and immediately applied a dab of healing gel on his friend’s forehead.  Her bioluminescent antenna tips glowed brighter after a few seconds.

“Thanks,” the man said as the group continued on.  “Good luck…”

Not long after, everyone reached one of the entrances to the plaza.  The majority of the shoppers had already fled, leaving discarded bags, food, and other debris scattered around the floor.  Stun blaster reports rang out as the last of the plaza’s security drones tried in vain to stop the Grakkon.

Atlas ducked as a shredded drone hull sailed over his head.  It smacked into the wall behind him and exploded with a shower of sparks.  “Looks like we found him,” he said.

Sure enough, the Elite stood in the center of the hastily abandoned shopping center.  The remains of the robotic security force lay in pieces around him, and his eyes flashed green with rage.  He whipped his head towards Atlas and the Gurks, and let out a low growl.

“I’ll let you know when I’m in the system,” Feliks said.  “I’m ready.”

Atlas grabbed Feliks by the shoulders, unfurled his wings, and took off with some effort.  The female Gurks watched their friends fly towards the control level for a moment before turning their attention back to the snarling Grakkon.

“I see fish shop,” Kervak whispered.

Venka smiled and readied her rifle.  “Alright then, let’s get cookin’!  Go now!”  Purple bolts of plasma sprayed from Venka’s weapon.  Kervak made her break for the Yamaran restaurant.  Just as she hoped, the Elite was too focused on her ally to bother with her.

The Elite barreled down on Venka, but the little Gurk was ready.  She stayed mobile, knowing survival wasn’t guaranteed if the Grakkon caught her.  He chased her relentlessly, but every time he came close to catching Venka, she slipped over, under, or around obstacles too big for her pursuer to follow through.  The occasional plasma burst to the torso also kept the infuriated warrior from looking elsewhere.  Still, Venka feared it was only a matter of time before the Grakkon figured out a way to trap her.

Kervak leapt over the Yamaran restaurant’s counter and set her Gurk carbine on top of it.  As Venka kept their enemy occupied, Kervak searched the kitchen for the ingredients she needed.  With a triumphant grin, Kervak found three blowfish in a refrigeration unit.  She grabbed them and set a pot of water to boil.  In the moments it took to get the pot steaming, Kervak rummaged through the pantry.

She knew the blowfish were potent on their own, but she didn’t want to leave anything to chance.  Just a hint of Yamaran seaweed could give the soup an unforgettable flavor, if measured exactly.  Even a few grams over the recommended amount sent the effects of the dish from tingly to paralyzing.  Of course, Kervak wasn’t aiming for flavor or safety, so when she found the shaker of seaweed, she dumped every flake into the pot.

Plasma flashed in the plaza ahead of Kervak.  Venka had to be getting tired leading the Grakkon around, she thought.  Kervak snatched a knife from the magnetic rack, and made short work of the blowfish.  She slid the fish chunks off the cutting board and into the bubbling pot.  Her eyes darted from the kitchen to Venka, then back to the kitchen.  She stirred her concoction briefly, and then filled a large cooking syringe with as much of the brew as it could hold.

“I am ready!” Kervak announced, grabbing her weapon and darting out of the restaurant.

“Perfect timing!” Venka replied.  She tapped her comm system.  “Feliks, do it!”

“You gotta hold him still for just a second, I can’t overload more than a few panels at a time!” Feliks said.

“In case you hadn’t noticed,” Venka shouted, “this guy isn’t big on standing still!”  The Gurk was nearly out of breath but her quarry was barely winded.

“Vhen I vill make him,” Kervak interjected.  “Lead him to me.”

Kervak pocketed the syringe and readied the electro-net launcher under her carbine.  Her ally slipped under a table and made a final break towards her.  The Elite overturned the table and scrambled after Venka. Both combatants raced towards the waiting Gurk.  It looked like it was going to be a close shave, but there was one benefit to the short distance: there was no way Kervak could miss.

At the last possible moment, Venka dropped into a slide and gave Kervak the perfect shot.  She fired, and once again, an electro-net enveloped the Elite and went to work.

The Elite’s snarls could chill blood.  Thankfully for Kervak and Venka, snarling was all the Grakkon could manage.  Before he pushed through the pain and shocks like before, Feliks locked onto his position and cranked the gravity panels well beyond their safe settings.  A metal beverage can lying next to the struggling Elite buckled and flattened from the extreme change in the artificial gravity.  At the same time, the Grakkon tried to raise a clawed hand towards Kervak, but the panels soon overpowered his muscles.

“I don’t think the system can handle this charge much longer!” Feliks reported.  The female Gurks exchanged a glance, and Kervak stepped forward.

Once she was sure the warrior was immobilized, Kervak cautiously approached.  Eyes as green and hot as Grakkon plasma bore into Kervak.  The Gurk mercenary only replied with a steely, luminous stare of her own.  As the Elite opened his mouth to threaten her, Kervak whipped the syringe from her pocket.

“Vhat is enough of vhat,” Kervak said before squirting the entire syringe of soup into the Elite’s vicious maw.  It only took a few seconds for the blowfish toxin to do its job, much to everyone’s relief.  The gravity panels hummed and returned to their normal setting, but by then the Grakkon was unable to lift even a finger by himself.  Kervak leaned in tentatively and saw that while the warrior was still alive, all he could do was blink and breathe.  Barely.

“Kervak?” squawked Atlas over the comm systems, “Venka?  You two alright down there?”

Venka took a second to catch her breath.  “Yeah, still alive here.  Thanks to your partner’s quick cooking.”

“Ve fine, dahling,” Kervak added.  “You can come down.”

In the few moments it took for Atlas and Feliks to glide back to the plaza floor, Venka prodded their enemy with her rifle barrel.  “You sure he’s down?” she asked Kervak.

The other Gurk nodded.  “Look at eyes,” Kervak said, pointing.  “He very angry.  If he could move, he vould try to kill us again.”

Atlas dropped Feliks off a few feet from the ground and landed.  He eyed the Grakkon with a hint of suspicion before placing a talon on Kervak’s shoulder.  Kervak smiled at the Gryphon and thought she saw a flash of happiness behind his green eyes.

Feliks instinctively gave Venka a quick hug before she gently nudged him off.  “Hey, what was that for?” Venka asked, trying to retain her air of toughness.

“You almost died!” Feliks replied.

Venka scoffed.  “It was only like the third time this month,” she said.  “But who’s counting anyway?”  She maintained a professional grin, but the faintest flick of her tail betrayed her relief.

“Well, unless your friends took care of that bomb,” Atlas said, “I’d say it’s too early to celebrate.”

“I nearly forgot about them!” Venka exclaimed.  She tapped her earpiece.  “Tib?  Rav?  How’s it coming?”  There was only silence.

Feliks tried his earpiece as well.  “Guys?!  Anyone there?  Come in!”

To everyone’s horror, the station vibrated and shook with a violent shudder.  The mercenaries braced for the hull breach alarms and general mayhem that was sure to follow, but nothing more happened.

“Whoa!” said Tib through the comm channel.  “Sorry for that, everyone!  But as you might have just felt, we had a close one on our end, too!”

Rav’s voice joined his sister’s.  “Yeah, we couldn’t quite disarm the bomb, but the grunts were nice enough to leave it on that hoversled.”

“We loaded it onto the Grakkons’ stealth ship, and then flew out to jettison the bomb away from the station,” Tib said.

“So now we’re down one deadly bomb, and up one Grakkon infiltrator ship,” Rav said.  “How’re things with you?”

Everyone in the plaza exchanged looks of relief.  Atlas replied, “We paralyzed that Elite with a bit of crazy Gurk cooking, and everyone’s still in one piece.”

“That’s great to hear!” Tib said.  “We’d hate to lose ya, especially after we just met!  We’re re-docking now, and we’ll see you in a few.”

“Copy that,” Venka said.  “See you soon.”

Kervak beamed.  “Vell, ve certainly did good job!”  The others nodded and looked down at the paralyzed Grakkon again.  Before they could talk about what to do with him, the Station Zeta security forces arrived.

Squads of armored humans and Vilos surrounded the mercenaries.  Venka’s muscles tensed and she sighed with frustration.  However, before she started a shouting match with the head of security, a female Vilo stepped forward.  She was obviously still healing from her wounds, judging by the med-gel on her head, and walked with a slight limp.  Venka recognized her as the injured Vilo from the hallway, and relaxed somewhat.

“I am the leader of this station, and my friend told me what you did,” the Vilo said.  “I hardly believed him, but the truth spoke for itself.”  She glanced at the Grakkon and took a step away from him without realizing it.  “Then I saw what you all did on the security cameras,” she said.  “Without a doubt, we all owe you our lives.”  The Vilo closed her eyes and bowed her head.

Venka blinked and tried to keep her jaw from dropping.  She found her only defense against looking ridiculous was to embrace the moment.  “It’s uh, it’s all in a day’s work,” Venka said.  “Uh, a night’s work, really.”

The Vilo looked up at her and the other mercenaries.  “I don’t know if we can ever repay you,” she said.

The Gurks and the Gryphon shrugged at each other, unsure of what to say.  Finally, Feliks spoke up.  “You can start by waiving the cost of any supplies and fuel our friends need for their ship,” he said, gesturing to Kervak and Atlas.  They liked the sound of that.

“But most importantly,” Venka said, “you can hold back any questions you have about me and my associates’ activities.  Just let us take our things, and you’ll never have to worry about us again.”  She knew trading laws were lax outside of Commonwealth space, but she didn’t think the station would take too kindly to her grey market weapon dealing without a little guarantee.

The Vilo considered the request.  Venka offered a weak smile that seemed to say, “You’d be space dust without us.  You’re welcome.”

“Very well,” the Vilo agreed after a moment.  “You will be free to go.”

Venka breathed a sigh of relief.  “Well then, with that settled, you should probably take care of him,” Venka said, pointing to the Grakkon Elite.  “Yamaran blowfish toxin seems to be strong enough to keep him sedated, and you’ll find my associate’s toxin soup in that restaurant.”

The Vilo gave a few orders, sending a security squad off to secure more of the paralyzing agent.  Another squad arrived with a stretcher and electrified restraints.  “We’ll take care of this one,” the Vilo said.  “I’m sure the Commonwealth will appreciate the chance to take a Grakkon warrior into custody.”

Feliks chortled.  “If you like him, then you’d better make some room in the brig.  We stunned a lot more where he came from.”  The Vilo turned her attention to him.  Sensing the question in her eyes, Feliks tapped his comms system.  “Hey, Tib?  You guys docked yet?”

“Yeah, we’re back in the cargo bay, tying up the Grakkons,” Tib replied.

“Copy that,” Feliks said.  “How’re they doing?”

Feliks heard a snarl and a Grakkon curse in the background.  “Hold on, one’s coming around, I’ll ask him,” Tib answered.  There was the brief noise of claws scuffling on armor, followed by a single metallic thud.  “Yeah, uh, they’re all still sleepin’.  Why?”

Feliks grinned mischievously.  “Stick a bow on the lot, and keep an eye on them.  Security will be around to pick them up soon.”

“You got it!” Tib said.

Feliks nodded to the Vilo.  “The rest of the Grakkon prisoners will be ready for you soon.”

“I shudder to think what they might have done,” the Vilo said.

“If you had seen size of bomb,” Kervak said, “you vould do more than shudder.”

A slight smile crossed the Vilo’s face as she turned to Kervak.  “Then we’re all fortunate to have heroes like you,” she said.  “Thank you.”

Although the moment only lasted a few seconds, Kervak saw past the differences between her and the Vilo.  Her face only showed mild satisfaction and a polite smile, but inside she felt warm.  Venka and Feliks shared the feeling, although they weren’t likely to talk about it either.  Each Gurk tucked the feeling away, putting it somewhere special inside themselves.  They didn’t kid themselves, thinking all beings would see their character behind their species now, but the memory would help whenever life got hard in the galaxy.  It was a rare moment for the Gurks to hear someone think of them as more than pirates and criminals, but as heroes.



A few hours later, the Grakkon infiltrators were secured, their gear confiscated, and their weapons turned over to the Station Zeta security forces.  Venka considered selling everything at first, but decided against testing her luck with the station commander.  Besides, the equipment and blasters would come in handy in case the Grakkons attacked again.

True to her promise, the Vilo commander left the mercenaries to their business after arranging fuel and supplies for Kervak’s ship.  The Gryphons and Gurks were given their privacy around one of the station’s docking ports as they finalized their affairs.

Kervak and Atlas payed a fraction of the price they normally would have for the merchandise they received, and Tib and Rav helped them replace any items they used battling the invaders.  While the weapon and equipment sales didn’t bring in the kind of money Venka hoped for, the Grakkon’s shuttle was a much better net gain.

“Thanks again for helping out,” Rav said to Atlas.  “With all the ‘adventures’ these crazy Gurks get us into, it’s comforting to know there are good Gryphons out there to save their tails.”

Smiles were shared all around.  “It was our pleasure,” Atlas said.  “I don’t know if or when we’ll see you again, but you all keep your heads down, and be safe out there.”

“Oh, we’ll be around,” Venka said.  “Just give us a call if you need anything else.  This galaxy is getting crazier by the day, and properly prepared customers are repeat customers.”

“Ve vill keep this in mind!” Kervak said.  “It vas vonderful to meet you all.  If you ever need help again, let us know!”

“We will,” Feliks said.  “Safe travels. But, if you run into any more Grakkons, give ‘em an extra zap, courtesy of us!”

With a confident nod, Kervak bid farewell to her new friends, and Atlas closed the docking hatch.  In another few moments, they were be back aboard their ship, Trafalgar, and off towards another adventure.

Venka, Tib, Rav, and Feliks walked back through the station to the decommissioned storage bay and the dock beyond it.  The displaced shoppers had returned to the main plaza so the station personnel could treat any injuries and answer their questions.  As the mercenaries passed the recovering civilians, they only heard hushed whispers about their victory over the invaders.  No one else stepped forward to thank them, but Venka was sure she caught more than a dozen nods of appreciation.

All around the station, mechanics and maintenance techs were busy checking for structural damage and tending to the destroyed security drones.  Despite whatever damage the Grakkons or the mercenaries had caused, everyone knew it could have been much worse.  The mechanics finished examining the decommissioned storage bay not long after the group arrived.  With the clanging of the far door, the team had the room to themselves.

Before anyone spoke, Tib’s datapad chirped.  She fiddled with the device for a moment before letting everyone know what the incoming message said.  “It’s Spark,” Tib said.  “She and Scuff are docking now.”

Clunky, thunderous impacts reverberated through the walls around the dock as the team’s captain made contact with the station.  Within another few moments, the airlock opened to reveal Scuff and his daughter, Spark.  The Rygols looked up at their crew with warm smiles.

“Whose ship is that in the next dock over?” Scuff asked with a flick of his grey tail.

“What ship?” Venka mused with a sly grin.  “The prototype Grakkon infiltration shuttle?”

Spark’s eyes brightened metaphorically, while Venka’s eyes simply brightened.

“Yes!” Spark squeaked.  “That’s the one!”

Venka tousled the young Rygol’s hair.  “Well, according to space pirate laws and codes and whatnot,” she said, “that ship is ours now.”

“Do I even want to know how we came to possess it?” Scuff asked, rubbing his temples.

“We’ll tell you the whole story once we get underway,” Feliks said.

Scuff shook his head wearily.  “I leave you four to make a simple sale, and you come back with a Grakkon ship.  I honestly don’t know whether to be impressed with you, or worried for the galaxy.”

“It wasn’t just us,” Tib added.  “We had some help from the customers, but don’t worry, they’re both still alive!”

“Well I should hope so,” Scuff replied.  “It’d be hard to make repeat customers out of them if they weren’t.”

“They also got a kick out of some of the new gear,” Rav said.  “I have video footage of the action, if you want to review it later.”

The Rygol cracked a small smile.  As worried as he sometimes felt for his crew, he was glad to hear that whatever happened, they were still together.  “Between the lot of you and your story, it sounds like I’ll have plenty of entertainment for the trip.”

“Where is our next stop?” Feliks inquired as everyone but Tib and Spark headed for the Rygol’s ship.

“Yeah, Cap’n,” Tib said as she headed for the dock to the Grakkon ship.  “Where to next?  Just let me know and I’ll bring our new toy.”

“We’re scheduled to meet a crew of privateers patrolling around Cyprice 7,” Scuff answered, “but after that, I’m open to suggestions.”  He turned to Venka.  “Where do you think we should go?  What should we do with that new ship?”

Thoughts of mischief and mayhem flashed through Venka’s mind, and her eyes seemed to glow even brighter at the ideas.  After a moment, she sighed loudly.  “I guess the right thing would be to turn it over to the Commonwealth; the smart thing would be to sell it to ‘em,” she said.  “But… who says we can’t have a little fun with it first?”

The crew looked to each other before turning back to Venka with approving nods.

“I hear a few planets in Grakkon territory are just lovely this time of year,” Venka said.  “And I think it’s time we showed them a little adventure.”
Repeat Customers

Set in :iconalexvanarsdale:’s Super Strike 10 universe, this story follows up with the characters I created for his fan contest.  Not long after the events of Fight Another Day, the mercenaries are meeting with two of Alex’s characters for a simple weapons and gear sale.  Unfortunately, a group of hostile intruders interrupt the meeting and threaten the safety of the space station, forcing everyone to band together to save the day.

This was a ton of fun to write, and it was great to explore the Super Strike setting again!  If you want to know more about Alex’s comics, characters, and galaxy check out his gallery or these links!  Enjoy!

Kervak and Atlas: fav.me/da0r636

Map of the galaxy: fav.me/d8eluy0

Character sizes: fav.me/da290hq and fav.me/da2ge32

(These illustrations are of his characters, although the characters in my story use similar clothing, armor, and weapons.)

Grakkon: fav.me/daa4dx4

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Work, school, and other projects have kept me busy. Updates via journal should be coming soon!
Part 2

Hours before daylight, the team awoke and made their final preparations.  Dex and Koval helped themselves to fresh Commonwealth combat vests, armor, and batteries.  Tib and Rav grabbed batteries too, along with upgraded com systems.  The Gurks donned goggles that hid their eyes’ bioluminescence, yet didn’t hamper their night vision abilities.  Venka added a few elbow and knee pads to her attire, and loaded her belt and bag with remote plasmex charges.  Feliks checked his rifle, and the scattergun he carried on his back.  Before he was finished, he slipped a few extra plasma cells into loops on his armor.

“Everyone ready?” Scuff said.  He and Spark wore Rygol combat uniforms complete with matching helmets, thermal goggles, and a few modifications of their own.  The most conspicuous were a few extra pouches on their tail covers.  Their RAR-37s were polished and charged for battle.

Koval grabbed a compact Gurk rocket launcher and tied it to his looted Grakkon pack.  “That should be everything,” he said.

“Good,” Scuff said, “because the next time we’re here, we may not get to stop long.”

Under the cover of night, the group split into two smaller teams.  Spark, Venka, Koval, and Rav headed to the park to deal with the airfield.  Scuff, Feliks, Tib, and Dex set their sights on the disabled tank.  Although they were linked by their com systems, stealth would be the key to their success.  They were eight against an army, but the Grakkons had no idea what awaited them as morning approached.



A pair of Grakkon guards leaned against a tree in the park.  Rav kept an eye on them through his scope, and even heard them grumble about their assignment.  His talon rested on the trigger, but he held his fire as long as they stayed put.

Some distance away, Koval scanned the airfield with a pair of binoculars.  He was thankful the Grakkons appeared to be so confident in their victory they hardly posted any guards.  Additionally, the few guards they had weren’t wearing the goggles most Grakkons used to cover their glowing eyes at night.

Venka and Spark were equally grateful of their enemies’ overconfidence.  Using their sharp senses, they infiltrated the clearing.  A destroyer presided over rows of Grakkon fighters and assorted crates and maintenance equipment.  However, with no sentry turrets or sensors, Venka and Spark easily slipped from ship to ship, hiding bombs as they went.  Sometimes they hid the charges on the underside of the interceptors, while others got a bomb shoved far inside an engine.

The pair had a few close calls, but the Grakkons never suspected anything as Venka and Spark slipped out of the field again.  Once reunited, Venka’s bag was emptied of explosives, but held a few Grakkon rifle batteries for Koval.

“Oh, nice,” Koval whispered.  “You swiped these too?!”

Venka smirked.  “You could use ‘em for your rifle, since we didn’t have many in the bunker.”

“Thanks,” Koval said, turning his attention back to the airfield.

As the first light of day trickled over the horizon, the Grakkons loaded the fighters into the destroyer.  “Oh this just got sweeter,” Venka said.  Two by two, interceptors hovered inside.   When enough were stored, a few remained outside the larger ship to serve as escorts as it took off.  Dawn’s light fell over the rising destroyer.

Venka and Spark pulled out their remote detonators.  “Take anything not bolted down,” Venka whispered as she waited for the ships to get higher.  “Blow up whatever is.”



“What was that?!” one of the Grakkons fixing the tank asked.  A thunderous boom echoed through the city as the sky grew bright.

“We probably leveled another building,” another Grakkon said.  “Hopefully they blasted the miserable stragglers who did this!”  He slapped the tank’s peeled armor and caterpillar tread pod.

“I hope not,” the first Grakkon said.  “It’ll be impossible to pull anything edible from there.”

“All you think about is food!  Shut up and let’s get this done!”

Suddenly, a shock grenade landed at their feet, and detonated with a blinding flash.  The rest of the tank crew grabbed their weapons and rushed to investigate, but another hurled grenade was waiting to stun them too.

Scuff, Tib, and Dex dashed out of cover and converged on the tank.  They separated the unconscious crew from their weapons and tools, and turned to their prize.

“I was afraid of this,” Scuff said after looking at the tank.  “They already installed the new core.  It’s going to take me a few minutes to get it out again.”

Tib hefted her rotary cannon and scanned the street.  “Okay, make it quick.  I don’t want to…” her voice trailed off as her ears flicked instinctively.  Footsteps approached, and Dex shouldered his rifle.

Seconds later, a Grakkon scout came running around the corner of a nearby building.  “We lost a destroyer!” he shouted before realizing he wasn’t talking to the repair crew.  “All units have been ordered too…”  He snarled as he saw Dex, and started to raise his weapon.  A single red blast from Dex’s rifle ended the encounter.

“Does anyone else hear that?” Dex asked, personally dreading the scout’s mention of “all units.”

Scuff and Tib nodded as the rumbling noise grew louder.  Flakes of debris drifted down, and everyone felt the ground hum underfoot.  They knew what it was, so they tried to hurry their work.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have as much time as they thought.

“Guys?” Feliks said.  He was in an overwatch position in a building across the street with his rifle trained on the approaching threat.

“We know!” Scuff said.

Finally, Dex tugged on the Rygol’s armor.  “Time’s up!”

A fully operational Grakkon tank rounded the corner as the trio hid.  Since its heavy cannons and twin rocket pods stayed silent, they knew it hadn’t seen them.  Yet.  “We’ll have to take it down,” Scuff said.  An infantry squad jogged behind the tank.  The instant they saw their unconscious comrades however, they started scanning the street.

“We’ll have to deal with them too,” Tib said.  She contacted the other team and explained the situation.  “The others will be here soon.”

Scuff furrowed his brow.  “I hate to start this without them, but more tanks are probably on their way,” he said.  “Feliks, get their attention, and then get to cover.”

“You got it!” the Gurk said before he unleashed a burst of purple plasma bolts on the tank.  The infantry immediately returned fire, scorching the outer walls of Feliks’ hiding spot with green plasma.

With the squad distracted, Dex and Scuff tossed a pair of plasmex grenades.  The explosions took out most of the Grakkons, leaving only a few for Tib to blast.  Before Scuff climbed onto the tank’s smooth, green armor, its crew managed to fire once.  Feliks scurried deeper into the building, and escaped the worst of the damage.

Scuff clung to one of the anti-aircraft cannon barrels on the back of the tank.  Inside, a gunner watched the dusty Rygol scampering up to the hatch.  The gunner, hoping to catch a meal for himself, opened the hatch eagerly.  He soon wished he hadn’t, since Scuff’s rifle was there to meet him.  As the stunned Grakkon slumped back into the tank, Scuff held onto the hatch.  He flicked his tail sharply, which sent the stun grenade in his last pouch flying over his shoulder.  With his rifle slung, he caught the grenade in one hand, pulled the pin with his fangs, and dropped it inside.

The tank stopped when the flash neutralized the rest of the crew.  Dex climbed up and helped Scuff pull the Grakkons out of the cabin.  Feliks poked his head through a destroyed window and waved.  “Nice one, boss!”

“You okay?” Tib asked.

“My tail’s a little singed, but I’ll live!” Feliks replied.

“Good,” Dex said, lowering the last Grakkon to the ground, “because the coms in the tank are going crazy.”

“More company?” Tib asked.

“Yes,” Scuff said, “I’ll need you to buy me a few minutes at the most.  The tank should help.”

Feliks left the building and dashed up to the tank.  Since Tib couldn’t fit inside the cabin, she stayed outside while Dex and Feliks restarted the heavy vehicle.  “Weird,” Dex said. “These controls aren’t too different from Commonwealth tech…”  He pushed the thought from his mind as he figured out how to move the tank.

Scuff returned to work on the new core while Tib guarded him closely.  The group had a few minutes of peace before the ground started to rumble again.  “Here they come!” Tib said, spinning her cannon’s barrels.

Another Grakkon platoon stormed into view.  Tib engaged them with a battle cry that rivaled the ferocious noise of her weapon.  Feliks lowered the anti-aircraft cannons and fired.  His first shots missed the Grakkons, but demolished the walls of the building near them.  Debris rained on the fleeing survivors.

The Grakkon infantry scattered to make way for their tank support.  Dex knew it was coming, and rotated his own tank to face them.  The instant the first tank showed a big enough target, Dex hit it with a volley of rockets, stopping it dead in its tracks.  “Got one!” Dex said.

Grakkon plasma plinked and splashed off the captured tank as Dex sent another rocket their way.  The next tank crew knew what awaited them behind the smoking remains of their comrades, so they attempted to flank Dex and Feliks.  Similarly, the infantry dispersed into the buildings.  “Behind us!” Feliks shouted as he engaged a squad.

Tib ducked behind her wings as the Grakkons tried to blast her too.  The troopers in the open weren’t hard to miss, but those shooting from the windows were difficult to spot.  “How much longer!?” she asked Scuff.  The Rygol didn’t reply.

“They’re all around us!” Dex said when he saw the other tank emerge to his left.  He braced himself for the incoming barrage, but to his relief, the enemy tank exploded before it could fire.

“You can thank me later!” Koval said over the com system as he dumped the spent rocket launcher.  Dex breathed a sigh of relief before he finished the Grakkon tank off with a rocket of his own.

Tib’s HUD came to life and highlighted dozens of targets.  “Thanks Rav!” Tib said as she turned her attention to the nearest cluster.  Rav nodded from his rooftop perch, and went to work securing the area, one shot at a time.  Venka and Spark took care of any Grakkons they found indoors, until they had carved out more breathing room for everyone.

Unfortunately, with explosions and plasma blasts going off, every Grakkon in the area knew of the skirmish.  As everyone fought, they realized the enemy reinforcements would never stop.  Thankfully, Scuff finally yanked the core free.

“Tib!” Scuff shouted. “I need some help!”

Tib secured the core until Scuff was ready to carry it.  She informed the rest of the team, and everyone prepared to fall back to the shop.

“We’ll cover the rear!” Feliks said.  His cannons kept the majority of the Grakkons covered, and Rav blasted any who tried to outmaneuver the tank.

Within a few moments, Scuff and Tib were on the move along with Venka, Spark, Koval, and Rav.  They bounded between pieces of cover, stopping only to check their surroundings.  Behind them, the rumbling of the tank and its weapons’ reports spurred them on.

Soon, the group arrived at the shop.  Spark and Venka went ahead to open the tunnel as everyone took a moment to breathe before following them.  Feliks leaped out of the tank but Dex remained half-inside the hatch.  “If the Grakkon coms are to be believed,” Dex said, “then they know we have one of their tanks, and are sending an army after it.  They’ll be here any second.”

“I was afraid of that,” Scuff said.

“Get to everyone to the ship, and get out of here,” Dex said.  “If they’re tracking the tank, then I’ll lead them on a wild gorqua chase to buy you as much time as I can.”

“Are you crazy?” Scuff asked.  “There’s no way you’ll be able to escape!  Let me come with you, we can figure something out.”

Dex shook his head.  “Spark needs her father, and the team needs you.”  Before Scuff could object further, emerald bolts landed near them, leaving glassy craters in the street.  “It’s now or never!”  Dex said as he ducked back inside the tank.

Scuff flattened his ears and clenched his teeth.  He wished there was another way, but there wasn’t any time now.  With an exasperated sigh, he entered the shop and followed the others into the tunnel.  Once inside, he sealed the secret door to the bunker along with the tunnel hatch.

Back on the surface, Dex launched rockets at the forces sent to stop him.  He programmed the tank’s autopilot quickly, and manned the weapons as the computer drove.  “Come on!” he shouted as plasma splashed into the tank.  He answered the attack with a volley of his own, decimating anything in his way.



Dust drifted down onto the group as the crew crept through the smuggling tunnel.  At first, the explosions on the surface seemed to be fading into the distance, but suddenly one sounded closer.  Everyone suspected what the Grakkons were doing, so they picked up their pace.

“They saw me run into the shop,” Scuff said.  “It was only a matter of time before they figured out where we went.  It won’t be long before they find the tunnel.”

A moment after Scuff spoke, the stench of melting metal and stone wafted through the air.  Venka’s nose twitched, and she donned her goggles again, making her eyes disappear in the gloom.  Feliks did the same.  “Spark, use your night vision filter and guide everyone to the warehouse,” Venka said.

“Copy that!” Spark replied.

Koval knew what the Gurks were planning to do.  “Need any help?” he offered.

Feliks shook his head.  “Nah.  You and the griffs gotta protect the ship until that core’s in.”  He secured his plasma rifle to his back and pumped his scattergun’s fore-end.  A charged cell was chambered and a soft green light above the trigger winked on.  “We got this.”

Soon, the Gurks were alone in the darkness.  Venka checked her pistol and rifle’s batteries, and breathed deeply.  A series of explosions rocked the tunnel, and the Gurks saw where the Grakkons were digging.  The ceiling dissolved away as green plasma flashed through the hole.  It was more than enough light for Venka and Feliks however, and they trained their weapons on the entry point.

A pair of Grakkon soldiers dropped through the hole.  Their eyes glowed red as they adjusted to the tunnel’s gloom.  Unfortunately for the troopers, Venka and Feliks knew every nook, recess, and alcove in the passageway.  When the Grakkons signaled to the rest of their squad, several more troopers dropped down as well.

Feliks’ ears flicked as he counted the number of impacts.  Six, seven, eight…  That’s it.  Hmm, they should have brought more…  Without any sound, he and Venka presented their weapons and didn’t stop firing until the squad was defeated.  Caught in the ambush with nowhere to run, the Grakkons didn’t stand a chance.

“Recharging.  Cover me,” Feliks said.  He racked the scattergun’s fore-end again, and was ready to fire another half-dozen blasts.  Venka reloaded too; well aware their pursuers wouldn’t stop at one squad.

Sure enough, more explosions rocked the tunnel as the Grakkons created two more entry points.  They broke through several meters behind the first hole, and tried to fill the tunnel with as many soldiers as possible.  Again, the Gurks held their fire and stuck to cover as the Grakkons advanced into the bottleneck.  Venka suspected they were trying to defeat them with overwhelming numbers, but they only made her target zone tighter.

Searing hot purple bolts shot from the darkness again, downing several of the Grakkons before they could react.  The survivors returned fire and tried to advance.  Feliks fired scattering blasts back at them, covering the whole tunnel in plasma so Venka could fall back.  When she was in place, she called to her friend and he retreated too.

“After them!” a Grakkon commanded.  The troopers advanced, their red eyes bobbing in the dark as they ran.  They dug their clawed toes into the floor and sniffed the air.  All they could detect was the scent of plasma burns and glassy concrete.  Little did they know they were practically on top of their Gurk prey.  “Where are they?!”

A single scattergun blast from the wall was the only reply.  As soon as the Grakkon crumpled, his squad lit up the place they saw the bolt come from.  An automatic burst from behind them claimed another three troopers.  Again, they shot at the wall, but didn’t realize that the Gurk had already moved to another vantage point.  The surviving soldiers tried to run further into the tunnel but it was only a matter of time before Venka and Feliks picked them off from their secret spots.

“I think that’s the last of them,” Feliks said.

“Don’t jinx it,” Venka replied as she hit a button to cool her battle rifle.  “You know there’s more where they came from.”

Feliks scoffed.  “They just lost a platoon coming after us.  They’ll have to cram every one of their sorry tails down here if they wanna…”

The Gurk fell silent when he heard a single thump echo through the passageway.  He loaded more cells into his weapon and nodded to Venka.  They headed back down the tunnel; the dim curves and angles as bright as day to their eyes.  With their knowledge of the path, they saw their latest adversary before it saw them.  However, despite getting the first shots in the fight, they still weren’t on equal footing.

Just one or two bolts from the Gurks’ weapons should have been enough to stop the average Grakkon soldier.  Even an armored assault trooper would go down after enough well-placed shots.  To the Gurks’ dismay however, this Grakkon only flinched at their barrage.

Piercing green eyes cut through the blackness, shining as bright, hot, and angry as a raging fire.  Tusks like knives jutted out from the Grakkon Elite’s wicked grin, as bolt after bolt splashed against his grey armor and pale fur harmlessly.  The only thing destroyed in the Gurks’ attack was the Elite’s own rifle; not that he needed it anyway.

Feliks flipped a switch on his scattergun, setting it to fire single, powerful bolts instead of dispersed ones.  Still, the Elite merely walked through the blasts as if they were nothing but a stiff breeze.  Venka’s rifle depleted its battery, forcing her to draw her autopistol.  She squeezed the trigger and dumped hundreds of bolts into her target, but she found little success too.

The Elite closed the distance and swung at the Gurks with his claws.  He left deep scratches in Feliks’ armor before he kicked the Gurk against a wall with his powerful legs.  Venka dodged his next several attacks, using pistol fire to blind and distract the Elite.  She stamped on the Grakkon’s paw with her own, making sure to dig her claws in as much as she could.  While the stomp didn’t hurt much, she paired it with a shove that sent the Elite tumbling.

“Come on!” she said to Feliks as she helped him to his paws.  “We gotta go!”

“What about Ugly?”

“We pull Plan B,” Venka replied.  “Get to the red line, now!”

The Gurks sprinted down the tunnel, not wasting any time looking over their shoulders.  They knew the Elite was on their tails, and they only had seconds to reach their destination.

“Got it!” Venka shouted when she reached the end of the tunnel and found the object she needed.  The hidden detonator was linked to several emergency explosives set to collapse the tunnel behind them.  She disabled the safeties and was about to trigger the bombs when the Elite barreled into her.

Venka crashed into Feliks, and struggled to aim her pistol.  The detonator was nowhere to be seen.  Not that it mattered now; the Grakkon was past the red safety line Scuff marked on the tunnel floor when they first installed the bombs.  The Elite kicked Venka’s pistol out of her hand and gently rested his paw on her chest.  She felt the tips of his claws poking through her shirt, but the Grakkon seemed patient.

“HEY!” Koval’s voice boomed through the tunnel.  The Elite looked up in time to see a green light start to grow in the dark.  A massive plasma bolt welled up inside Koval’s Grakkon rifle, containing all the energy of a full battery.  Staring straight down the barrel, the Elite got a perfect view of the process.  Koval fired.

The bolt illuminated the tunnel as it traveled the short distance between Koval and the Elite.  Despite the Grakkon’s reflexes, the plasma shot thwacked into his chest squarely.  He sailed backward, and over the red line.  Koval, wearing Spark’s tactical goggles, found the detonator and handed it to Venka.  Without wasting a second, she locked eyes with the stunned but smoking Grakkon, and detonated the charges.

Dozens of small, shaped charges along the tunnel exploded, including those near the red line, burying the Elite.  In an instant, the tunnel was filled with dirt, concrete, and other debris which sent a wave of dust over Koval and the Gurks.  They were thankful for their respective goggles as they made their way through the cloud and into the fresh air of the tunnel’s exit.

“I’m glad you came back,” Venka said.

“Yeah, thanks for that.  Not a lot of beings out there would risk their lives for a pair of Gurks” Feliks added.

Koval smiled.  “Someone had to save your tails.”

The Gurks chuckled.  “You know, Koval is a Gurk name,” Feliks said.

“A Gurk saved my mother once,” Koval said as they crossed the warehouse.  “It’s a long story, but she said not all Gurks were pirates and scoundrels.”

“Only the fun ones!” Venka said with a glowing wink.

Feliks and Koval laughed.  “Well, I don’t know about you,” Koval said, “but I’ve had about all the fun I can handle on this planet!”

They reached the old mining ship as its engines roared to life.  Scuff and Spark finished their work on the shield’s power source, and the elder Rygol had the ship airborne in no time.  It hovered in the abandoned warehouse for a moment until Spark hopped behind the controls of the forward mining lasers.

“Darling, would you please get the doors?” Scuff asked.

With a grin, Spark cut a massive hole in the warehouse wall and the ship easily knocked it free as it entered the city’s airspace.  In the distance, Scuff noticed columns of smoke rising into the sky, leading towards the Commonwealth Embassy.

“What about Dex?” Rav asked.

“We’re not leaving him behind,” Scuff said.  “It’s gonna be close, and I’ll need everyone’s help.  Here’s what we’re going to do…”



By the time Dex’s tank finally crawled to the Commonwealth Embassy, it was only held together by hope.  As soon as he was close enough, he ditched the failing vehicle and ran through the abandoned security gates.  He left his remaining grenades wedged against a few doors he passed so they would arm themselves if the door was opened.

Panting, Dex climbed the stairs of the building until he reached the roof and jammed the door.  Taller buildings cast shadows over the Commonwealth Embassy as the mid-morning sunlight rolled over the city.  Dex rested his rifle on the edge of the building and took aim at the Grakkon infantry charging across the courtyard.  He managed to pick off a few, but their numerous reinforcements were hot on their heels.

Using the tank for most of the battle meant Dex had plenty of rifle batteries to burn through as he made his last stand.  A grenade detonated below him every few minutes, and he knew it was only a matter of time before the Grakkons reached the roof.  Still, he fought on.  This is as good a place as any… he thought.

More Grakkons were inside now, and he heard tanks in the distance along with…  The ship!  Dex fired a burst of red bolts into the air when he saw Scuff’s ship cruise into view.

“There he is!” Venka announced.  She was now at the controls of the ship, and swung it in low towards the embassy.  Tib, Feliks, Koval, and Rav stood at the open cargo doors and fired down on the Grakkon forces with everything they had.  Incoming plasma plinked off the ship shield as Venka swooped in even lower.

Every Grakkon trooper aimed for the ship.  Their small arms didn’t have a chance of penetrating, but their tank support was another matter.  Heavy plasma blasts kept Venka from landing, and she informed Dex via his com system.  “We’re gonna try something!” Venka said.  “Get to the highest point and get ready to fly!”

The ship swerved, using the skyscrapers as shields to soak up the incoming missiles and tank fire.  Dex climbed to the tallest point of the embassy, where the flagpole stood.  Before the Grakkons picked the embassy clean and left, they raised their flag above it.  While Dex waited for the ship to return, he turned his weapon on the flagpole and reduced the base to molten slag.

Like a metal tree, the flagpole toppled and took the olive drab flag of the Grakkon Empire with it.  The pole clattered to the roof with a satisfying clang.  Dex took aim.  The Commonwealth flag may never fly over Centurion again, but neither will the Empire’s.  A few blasts were enough to ignite the Grakkon banner and it burned away in minutes.

“Get ready!” Venka said to everyone.

When Dex saw the ship again, there was a thin cargo cable dangling under it.  He squinted, and thought he saw a familiar optical ripple near the end of the line.  Dex smiled and braced himself as the vessel hovered closer.  Suddenly, the ship was above him, and the optical anomaly at the end of the cable thumped into him.

“Hurry, Dex!” Scuff said as he threw Rav’s cloak around his new friend.  The Rygol was tied to a rescue harness, and held out a second harness to Dex.  Hidden from the Grakkon forces, Dex secured himself to the cable.  “Hang on!”

Dex’s stomach dropped as Venka climbed and Spark reeled the cable in.  The Centurion city and the Grakkons shrank as the ship took off.  By the time Dex and Scuff were inside the ship, they were over the Centurion deserts and accelerating into the atmosphere.

“I think we’ve worked our way to trust,” Spark said, grinning at Dex.

The Commonwealth soldier slumped against the cockpit wall and chuckled.  “I’d say so!  There’s no way in the universe I would’ve done that if I didn’t trust you all!  Thanks for the rescue.”

He looked to the Gryphons, Gurks, Rygols, and Koval happily.  They might have been the strangest crew he’d ever fought with, but as they broke free of Centurion’s atmosphere, he knew they were something special.

“No one gets left behind,” Scuff said, holding his daughter proudly.

By the time the Grakkon battleships in orbit detected the escaping ship, Venka had already input jump coordinates.  Fighters launched to intercept, but they were too late.  The ship jumped and set off for safer space.



“You’re saying that wasn’t a full-force invasion?” Koval said.

The ship was on its way to a defensive line station in Commonwealth space.  While it wasn’t meant for such as large crew, Scuff’s ship was at least more accommodating than the Centurion battlefields and everyone finally got to rest.

“No,” Scuff said. “That’s probably why we were able to escape so easily.”

“Easily?!” Tib said.

The Rygol nodded.  “When they hit Rybiria, Bracus himself was there to oversee the invasion.  They turned our planetary defenses against us, scrambled our technology, and blasted the surface into rubble.  If there are more Rygols out there, it’s usually because they weren’t on the planet that day.”

“The Grakkons aren’t going to stop,” Rav said.  “Everyone in the galaxy has to know by now that the peace treaties with the Empire are broken.  If what happened to Centurion was just a taste of their wrath, what chance do we have?”

“We have to work together,” Koval said.  “The Commonwealth alone barely managed to defeat the Grakkons the first time.  We’ll need something stronger if we’re going to win.”

“I agree,” Venka said.  “I already sent a message to our contacts and best customers.  If we’re lucky, everyone from Ziveron to Station Rubix will be onboard.”

“And we’ll notify the Gryphon clans,” Tib said. “But for now, I think it’s best if we stick with you.”

“We’ll figure out our next course of action once we get to Defense Station 4,” Scuff said.  “We have a few weapon crates in the hold we can sell for supplies.  I have a feeling more beings will need them.”
In another moment, the ship arrived at Defense Station 4.  Everyone looked through the cockpit canopy and felt their hearts skip.  Two Grakkon battleships were engaged in a fierce battle with the station, and a distress call crackled over the ship’s coms.

“This is Galactic Commonwealth Defense Station 4!  We are under Grakkon attack!  Internal and external hostile contacts!  Requesting assistance from all friendly forces!”

Scuff searched the faces before him.  Everyone was exhausted of battle, and it would be so easy to set another set of jump coordinates.  However, they all knew the Grakkons would spread across the galaxy soon enough.  Eventually, there’d be nowhere to run.  No one spoke, but everyone nodded to Scuff.

“GCDS 4, this is the private mining vessel Galway, responding to your call.  We’ll try to help where we can.  Over.”

The Galway accelerated towards the Grakkons.  Half of the crew powered up the mining lasers’ controls, ready to make short work of any interceptors.  The other half prepared to board the station.

“Dad, look!” Spark shouted before the ship made contact.  Another ship, a Commonwealth Blockade Runner, entered the battle space.  It immediately launched two F-111 fighters, and set an intercept course as well.

“This is Captain Gar of the GCS Coalition, we’re here to help,” said a mature, confident voice.  “Civilian vessel, our fighters will clear the way for you.  Rita, Scout, take good care of them.  Good hunting, everyone.”

Spark peered through a window on the right of her ship, and caught a glimpse of one of the F-111 pilots as she pulled up to escort the Galway.  It was hard to be sure with the distance and the speed, but Spark thought she saw the face of a fellow Rygol through the canopy glass.

“Grakkon fighters, inbound!” Scuff said.  Between the old miner’s lasers and their escorts, the interceptors were outmatched.  The Commonwealth starfighters broke away to chase down any stragglers, but Spark and the others knew their allies had them covered.

Before Spark entered the space station to take the fight to the Grakkons once again, she hefted her Rygol rifle with pride.  Despite the long odds the conflict would throw at her and those she cared about, it was easier to fight knowing that she wasn’t fighting alone.

The End
Fight Another Day: Part 2 of 2

This is Part 2 of my entry for :iconalexvanarsdale:’s latest contest.  This story is set in his Super Strike 10 web comic universe.  The challenge was to imagine what will happen during, or what happened before the comic’s third chapter, Relic. I imagined this story takes place sometime after the second chapter, just as the Second Grakkon War begins and the galaxy descends into battle again.

If you’re a current fan and reader of the comic, I hope you enjoy the story!  If you’re a newcomer and want to check out more, head over to Alex VanArsdale’s page for the comic and awesome art!  Below are a few links that may help.

Map of the galaxy: fav.me/d8eluy0

Character sizes: fav.me/da290hq and fav.me/da2ge32

(These illustrations are of his characters, although the characters in my story use similar clothing, armor, and weapons.)

Grakkon: fav.me/daa4dx4

Comments are appreciated!  Thanks for reading!

Back to Part 1: fav.me/dbfta4e

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Synopsis: A ruthless armada will stop at nothing to purge the galaxy for their mysterious leader.  Although their efforts were thwarted before, they have spent the years since the last war preparing to unleash an unspeakable onslaught on all worlds that stand before them.  On a planet in the neutral zone, eight warriors of four different species find themselves stranded in a city lost to the invaders.  Alone and left for dead, their only chance for survival lies in working together in the face of impossible odds.

Story start:

“We’ve hit the upper atmo, Captain!”

Far below the climbing frigate, Captain Dex smiled.  “Fire your engines and don’t look back, kid.”  As his gunship’s shielding finally failed, he rushed to finish his farewell.

“Cap, there’s still time!” the young voice on the coms said.

Energy weapon bursts sizzled through the air around Dex’s ship. Eventually, an emerald-green bolt would get lucky.  “We both knew only one ship could make it,” Dex said.  “It’s better this way.”

There was a moment of silence from the other ship before the voice finally spoke.  “It’s been an honor, sir.”

“The honor was mine,” Dex replied seconds before the frigate flashed out of Centurion’s orbit.

“Did they make it?” Dex’s tail gunner asked.

“They’re safe, Koval,” Dex said. Well, as safe as they can be now.  But anywhere without Grakkon fighters on your six is paradise.

Brilliant, crimson plasma bolts erupted from the gunship’s tail cannon, catching one of the Grakkon interceptors in the nose.  “We’re gettin’ popular here, Dex!” Koval shouted over his shoulder.  The remaining trio of fighters regrouped as their wingman plummeted from the sky and into the city below.  Using whatever power he could coax from the engines, Dex tried his best to evade their pursuers.

Laser fire narrowly missed the ship, but the Commonwealth warriors’ luck was about to run out.  A blast rocked the cockpit.  “Tail gun’s down!  It’s all you now!” Koval reported.  Seconds later, another hit stalled out their left engine.  Under better circumstances, the Commonwealth gunship could handle such punishment, but it had already endured too much.

“I’m puttin’ her down while I still have control!  Hang onto something back there!” Dex said.  Despite sluggish controls, he managed to only take out one roof edge as he aimed the gunship for an empty street.  Both men were grateful for their seat harnesses as anything unsecured tumbled around the cabin.  The ship left a long, black scar in the road before it came to rest at the foot of a Centurion skyscraper.

“Anything broken?” Dex asked once the dust settled.

“Probably,” Koval said, grabbing his equipment.  “But this isn’t the best place to worry about that.  No one could’ve missed our landing.”

“Speak of the devils…” Dex whispered.  He peered through a window, and spied a pair of Grakkon scouts creeping towards the wreck.  Their ears were tucked flat against their heads, their bushy tails barely moved, and their lips were pulled back in wicked grins, revealing their teeth.  However, their teeth and claws were the least of Dex’s worries, since both scouts had their plasma rifles trained on the gunship hatch.

“It’s just the two,” Koval said after he checked the other sides of the wreck.  “I’m low on power.”  He held up his weapon, a captured Grakkon rifle he modified with a folding stock.  “Maybe one shot left.”

“Same,” Dex whispered, checking his own weapon.  “Cyprice Gambit?”

“Do we have a choice?”

“Not really.”

Moments later, the Grakkons forced their way inside.  They sniffed the air and searched the gloomy cabin, their eyes faintly glowing red.  “Any leftovers?” one asked.

Koval groaned from behind his gunner’s seat while Dex remained slumped over the ship controls, motionless.  “Yes,” the second Grakkon said, “and this one’s still kicking.”  He raised his weapon, but the other scout stopped him.

“You know they taste better fresh,” he said, “and unburnt…”

They both approached Koval, who wriggled and attempted to crawl away.  The Grakkons never knew what hit them as Dex blasted the first, and Koval downed the second when he whirled around to react.

“Next time, you be the bait,” Koval said, looting the Grakkons.  He removed the batteries from their weapons, and handed one to Dex before he reloaded.  Koval’s plasma rifle hummed for a moment, a small relief despite the circumstances.  He didn’t bother with his plasma pistol as it, like Dex’s own sidearm, was already drained from days of battle.

Dex removed the scouts’ backpacks and pulled spare batteries from their gear pouches.  He ejected the depleted battery from his Commonwealth rifle and slapped the Grakkon battery into a special port.  As his weapon tingled with energy, Dex was thankful he modified it to also accept Grakkon power supplies in a pinch.  With two blasted Grakkons at his feet and countless more on their way, he felt this definitely was a pinch.

“Where to?” Koval asked as he shouldered his new backpack.

Dex finished equipping himself before replying, “Anywhere but here.”

The Commonwealth soldiers crept from the wrecked ship and scampered into the safety of the abandoned skyscrapers.  In the days before, sporadic plasma fire echoed through the embattled streets, but now it felt as if the city’s breath was snatched away.  Dex and Koval progressed through the buildings, neither certain of where they were going.  All Commonwealth forces were gone, along with local defense units.  Frankly, Dex never expected to survive the last mission, so he hadn’t thought much farther ahead.

Suddenly, faint footsteps broke the silence.  The building’s interior was only lit by whatever light poked its way inside.  Without their combat helmets and their night vision capabilities, Dex and Koval relied on their trained senses.  Unfortunately, nearly every other species in the galaxy had better senses than humans; especially Grakkons.

Whatever moved in the darkness sounded too large to be a Grakkon, at least, too large to be a regular trooper.  That didn’t leave Dex and Koval with many pleasant options.  Still, they ventured forth and stalked the building’s other visitor, moving from shadow to shadow as they did.  It didn’t take long to catch up with whatever it was, and they prepared to attack.

Dex activated his rifle flashlight for just long enough to identify his target while Koval covered him.  The light fell on a creature as large as Dex, but it carried strange, metal, shield-like objects on its back.  As soon as it was illuminated however, it spun around and leveled a quad-barreled plasma weapon at Dex.

He ducked into a room as dozens of blue bolts whipped through the hallway, scorching the walls.  “I’m not a Grakkon!” he tried to shout, but the blasts drowned out his voice.

Not a second too soon, Koval managed to flank the creature and forced it to stop firing at gunpoint.  “He said we’re not Grakkons.”

Dex approached the creature and shined his light on it again.  Through its eclectic pieces of armor, he saw grey feathers and a thick, furred tail with black rosettes and a tufted tip.  Behind the helmet’s face shield, the beak of a Gryphon was unmistakable.  However, just before Dex got any closer, he felt a hard poke on the back of his head.

“No sudden moves,” a voice said. “Tell your friend to lower his weapon.”

“Sir?” Koval asked, uneasily.  He tried to catch a better glimpse of Dex’s assailant, but he couldn’t make him out.

“What do you see?” Dex asked.

“The business end of a Gryphon sniper rifle aimed at your head,” Koval said.

“I had a feeling that’s what is was…” Dex sighed. “Well, who can argue with a point like that?  Lower your weapon,” he said to Koval.  Koval complied, but kept his finger close to the trigger.

“Good choice,” the voice said.

“Now, we’ve clearly started on the wrong foot,” Dex said, slowly turning to face the voice. “Or should I say, wrong paw?  Gryphon Rangers, right?  Or are you freelance?”  Once fully turned, Dex found himself staring down the rifle barrel, but he now understood why that was all Koval described.  In the gloom of the hallway, it was the only object that protruded from a hazy cloud of darkness.  The cloud rippled gently, before it peeled away to reveal a Gryphon with feathers and fur as dark as space itself.  “Judging by your gear, it could be either.”

The Gryphon folded his wings, which were draped in optical cloaking fabric, and lowered his rifle.  “Rangers,” the Gryphon said. “Judging by your gear, I’d say you too were a pair of Grakkons.”  He chuckled slightly.

Koval spoke up.  “Well, when you’ve had the kind of day we did, you take what you can get.  Besides, the Grakkons didn’t need it anymore.”

The black Gryphon turned to Koval.  “That’s the spirit,” he said. “Just don’t aim at my sister anymore, and we’ll get along just fine.  The name’s Rav.”

Koval looked at the armored Gryphon beside him and gave her a sheepish grin.  “Sorry about that,” he said, “I thought you were a Grakkon Elite.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, actually!” she said, raising her face shield with one talon before shaking Koval’s hand.  “I’m Tib.  And no hard feelings, I did almost blast your friend after all.”

“So, what are a couple of Gryphon Rangers doing here?” Dex asked.

“We were investigating a weapon smuggling operation,” Rav said, “But that was before the invasion.  Now, we’re just trying to get off this rock.  How about you?  This seems like a bit much for Commonwealth Embassy Guards.  I thought the Embassy was evacuated days ago.”

“It was,” Koval said, “But our squad skipped the last ship out to help evac civilians.”

“I’d say you did a good job,” Tib said, “We’ve haven’t seen any civilians all day, only Grakkons.”

“We just got the last transport through the air defenses,” Dex said, “and lost the last gunship for our trouble.  I didn’t think we’d make it further than that, so our plan is open to suggestions.”

Rav pulled out a holographic map of the city for Dex.  “We’re going to check on the smuggler’s den,” the Gryphon said. “We can pick through any scraps for gear, and then see about stealing a Grakkon ship.”

Koval and Dex exchanged glances before Dex spoke.  “That’s better than sitting around waiting for their scouts to find us.  Lead the way.”

The Gryphon siblings guided Dex and Koval through the city, using the bombed-out buildings for cover.  Although they didn’t tell them, the soldiers were grateful to have the Rangers’ keen senses on their side.  They avoided Grakkon patrols more than once thanks to Tib’s hearing or Rav’s eyesight.  Within the hour, the group was within a block of their destination.

Towering skyscrapers gave way to buildings that rarely exceeded four stories, forming a quaint housing and shopping district.  “Is that it down there?” Koval asked, pointing over the edge.  “The repair shop?”

“Yeah, that’s it,” Tib said, “Scuff’s Engineering.”

“Everyone wait here,” Rav said as he unfolded his wings.  “I’ll scout ahead and radio if it’s clear.”  He draped himself with his wings and disappeared behind the optical camouflage.  Even alert Grakkon scouts would have needed to focus to spot the nimble Gryphon as he padded across the rooftops.  Unlike his sister, Rav wasn’t wearing boots, so his panther-like paws never disturbed the empty silence.

Rav scanned the street, but before he could call the others, he spotted movement at the repair shop’s door.  Instinctively, he brought his scope to bear on the motion.  To his relief, it wasn’t a Grakkon.  The being that crept from the doorway was about half Rav’s size, and covered in a light, sandy coat of fur under its clothing.  With long, triangular ears, a pointed muzzle, and a tufted tail, Rav couldn’t deny he was looking at an actual Rygol.

How has she survived this long? Rav wondered as he watched the Rygol scurry between pieces of rubble and the husks of cars.  When she found a vehicle that was still intact, she rummaged around inside before leaving with handfuls of parts.  In no time at all, she had ducked back inside the repair shop.

Rav informed the others, and they prepared to cross the street.  Under Rav’s watchful eyes, Dex, Tib, and Koval stacked up at the door.  They waited until Rav rejoined them before Dex cautiously opened the door.  He quietly called out to the young Rygol, but no reply came from the empty shop.  “We’re not Grakkons, we just want to help.”

The group closed the door behind them and searched the shop.  Parts and tools littered the table, workbenches, and even the floor, but there wasn’t any sign of the Rygol.  However, before they intensified their search, a young voice piped up from a hidden wall intercom.

“I know you’re not Grakkons,” the Rygol said, “I’ve been watching you with the city’s security cameras.  Well, those still online, that is.  What I don’t know is why you came here.”

“We’re looking for a ship,” Rav said.

“What made you think you’d find one here, Ranger?” the Rygol asked.

Her tone ruffled the Gryphons’ feathers and they looked to each other uncertainly.  Koval was quick to offer an excuse, sensing the sudden tension.  “Or parts for one, at least,” he said.  “We crashed our gunship, but we might get it airborne again.  If you come out, maybe you can help us.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” the Rygol said, “Not until I know I can trust…”  There was a pause as the Rygol’s voice trailed off.  “Oh no!” she exclaimed.

“What?  What is it?” Dex asked.

“I just spotted my family on the cameras!  They’re pinned down by a Grakkon patrol in the Old Market Square!”  A hidden hatch in the floor slid open and the sandy Rygol stepped out moments later.  She was dressed in a vest with improvised armor pieces, and had a shock grenade belt slung over her shoulder. In her right hand was an RAR-37, while her left hand grasped another grenade belt.  “I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here, take these,” she said, offering the explosives to Dex.

“I thought you didn’t trust us,” Dex said as he took the grenades.

“We’ll work our way up to trust,” the young Rygol said, “But for now, I need your help, and you have stronger arms than me.”

She’s a sharp one, I’ll give her that. Dex thought.  “Thanks,” he said.  “I’m Captain Dex, by the way.  That’s Tib, Rav, and my squadmate, Lieutenant Koval.  I don’t think we caught your name.”

The Rygol’s nose twitched and her eyes narrowed for a second.  “Oh, what the heck.  Either way this goes down, it won’t matter if I tell you,” she said, “I’m Spark.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Spark,” Dex said.  “Now, if you lead us to the Old Market Square, we can take it from there.”

Spark charged her plasma rifle with a soft click and grinned.  “I’ll take you to the Square,” she said, “but if you think I’m hanging back then you don’t know Rygols, and you definitely don’t know me.”



“I’m in position,” Rav whispered.  He established his nest on the roof of a building behind the Grakkon patrol.  Under his camo cloak, the Gryphon sharpshooter didn’t have to worry about creating a silhouette for the invaders to spot.  “If we’re gonna do this, we gotta go quick.  I heard them calling for another squad.”

At one end of the Square, a dozen Grakkon soldiers huddled behind the barricades they had hastily constructed.  Not far from them, near the center of the Square, was Spark’s family.  Occasionally, someone from each side traded a plasma bolt or two.  Green Grakkon weapon fire went one way, while the telltale yellow bolts of another RAR-37 went the other way.  None of the Grakkons dared to break cover as they’d already lost too many of their group.  As Rav said, they were waiting for reinforcements, and set up automatic sentry turrets to keep their prey from escaping.

Everyone else checked in on their newly-harmonized com systems.  Koval was in place in another ruined building, also overlooking the Grakkons, but opposite from Rav’s nest.  Spark, Tib, and Dex waited on the ground, ready to run into action.  “Alright Koval,” Dex said, “Get their attention.”

Koval rested his weapon on the windowsill, targeted a Grakkon, and opened fire.  He blasted two before the others started shooting at him.  As Koval retreated from the withering barrage, Rav destroyed the sentry turrets with a pair of expertly placed shots.

“Turrets down, and infantry distracted!” Rav reported before setting his sights on the Grakkons.

“Go time!” Tib shouted.  She unfolded her armored wings, spreading the shields for Dex and Spark to move behind.  Thankfully, the Grakkons were too busy with the others to notice the trio cross the Square, and Tib didn’t have to return fire.

“Friendlies coming in!” Spark called to her family.  “I brought help!”

An adult Rygol poked his head around the side of the barricade.  “That’s my girl!” he said proudly, his grey ears twitching excitedly.  “We were just about to call you!”

Dex and Tib were relieved to see the other Rygol was unhurt, but their relief turned to surprise when they saw the other two members of Spark’s family.  In the waning daylight, they immediately noticed their luminous, yellow eyes.  It didn’t take a professional spacefarer to take one look at the creatures, one female and one male, and know they certainly weren’t Rygols.

To start, they were nearly as tall as Dex, even when they relaxed their digitigrade paws and flattened their long ears.  Although the pair had muzzles and short fur similar to Rygols, their faces were more canine-like, and their coats were light blue.  Finally, as if any further differentiators were needed, their dark, blue tails were bushy and unkempt instead of slender.  Without a doubt, Spark’s other two family members weren’t Rygols, they were Gurks.

The male was outfitted with crimson combat armor, and carried a matching Gurk battle rifle along with another weapon secured to his back.  Conversely, the other Gurk was lightly armored in her simple, faded red shirt and olive pants.  Instead of full boots, she preferred minimalist paw covers, likely for the same reasons Rav did.  She also sported a black and red battle rifle, but she kept an automatic plasma pistol holstered on her leg too, and a scavenger’s bag slung over her shoulder.

“They’re Gurks!” Tib exclaimed.

“Woah!” the female Gurk said, “The griff’s got good eyes!  Imagine that.”

“Easy, Venka,” Spark said, “they’re with me, and this isn’t the time.”

“She’s right,” Dex said.  “Reinforcements are on their way.”  In the distance, the plasma exchanges finally died down.  Unfortunately, the peace was short-lived.

“Uh, Cap?” Koval said into his com system.  “We’ve got more than a squad incoming!”  The others heard the Grakkon platoon from across Old Market Square and wished they hadn’t wasted their moment of safety.

Tib flicked her tail, dropped her face shield, and stood at the edge of the barricade with her rotary cannon primed.  “Get back to the shop, Koval!  Rav, you know what to do!” she said as she covered he body with her left wing but extended the right wing.  “Everyone else, get behind me!”

Highlighted targets filled Tib’s heads-up display as soon as Rav spotted them.  Once he marked the whole platoon, he fired a few blasts before he moved.  His shots gave the Grakkons pause, but they soon charged across the open square with fangs bared and rifles ready.  They realized too late that Tib was ready too.

Cyan bolts blasted from Tib’s cannon by the hundreds.  The Gryphon let out a piercing screech as she held down the trigger.  Plasma thwacked into her shields as she slowly led her new allies to safety.  “If anyone wants to get in on this, you’re welcome to it!” she said.  Spark and Venka took Tib’s offer and fired back at the Grakkons when they could.  As soon as solid cover was within reach, the others fanned out and helped Tib blast the rest of the charging platoon.

Smoke wafted from Tib’s cannon as the barrels stopped spinning.  Her HUD reported all 30 Grakkons were down, and everyone finally caught their breath.

“That was quite impressive,” the male Gurk said.  “I’ve never had a griff watchin’ my back before.  I kinda like it!”  He held out a hand and shook with Tib.  “The name’s Feliks.”

“We could have handled it ourselves,” Venka interrupted, narrowing her glowing eyes at the Gryphon.  “But, I’ll give credit where it’s due.  Thank you.”  Her face softened and she introduced herself to Tib and Dex.

The grey Rygol also stepped forward to introduce himself.  “Yes, you arrived just in time, and you have my thanks.  You can call me Scuff,” he said.  “I see you’ve already met my daughter, and since she trusted you with our last plasmex grenades, I’m assuming you made a good first impression.”

Dex smiled and looked down at Spark.  “We’re working our way up to trust.”

“You’re team is doing a mighty fine job of it,” Scuff replied.  “Please, let me repay you.”

He didn’t need to tell Tib twice.  “We’re low on supplies, and need to get off-world fast.  Charged batteries and a ship would be great,” she said.

Scuff started to walk back towards the repair shop and motioned for the others to follow.  “Oh, I think we can scrounge up something for you.”



“Rav?” Tib said.

“Yeah?”

“I think we found our weapon smugglers.”

“I’m inclined to agree,” Rav replied as he and the others stood in the bunker beneath Scuff’s shop.  Slanted shelves and racks were bedecked with hundreds of small arms from across the galaxy.  A few shelves were bare, but there were still plenty of weapons to choose from.  Scuff had stockpiled everything from standard Commonwealth armaments to Gryphon sniper rifles.  He even had a few Arvgrath Saber Bows, which concerned the Gryphons.

“So, I imagine you were the beaks I saw take an interest in my shop last week, hmm?” Scuff asked Rav and Tib.  “I don’t imagine you’ll arrest me now, given our circumstances.”

The Gryphons ran their talons over racks of batteries for their respective weapons.  “With the peace treaty broken, I think the Gryphon clans have bigger problems,” Rav said.  “If you help us escape, you won’t get any trouble from us.”

Venka interrupted again as Rav eyed a Gurk military crate.  “I’m sorry, are there any more Gryphons we should know about?  Because I was fine with her, but now it’s getting a bit crowded around here.”

Feliks tried to calm his crewmate.  “Venka, relax,” he said. “We could use their help.  In fact, I’d say we need it, with the way our plans are going.”

“Hey, if you have a plan, we’d love to hear it,” Koval said, sliding a new battery into his pistol.

Everyone gathered around Scuff and his hologram projector.  A map of the city appeared with four points of interest marked in red.  “Our ship is hidden here,” he said, zooming in on a warehouse.  “By some miracle, the Grakkons missed it.  Anyway, the ship’s an old asteroid miner, so it can take beating, but the Grakkons own the sky and their tanks will shred us without a working shield.”

The map centered itself around another dot.  “They established a small airfield in the park.  There are at least a dozen interceptors there at any one time,” Scuff said.  “If we destroy the fighters on the ground, the odds will tip in our favor.”  The humans and Gryphons nodded as the Venka took over.

“For extra insurance, we rigged the ship with a Grakkon shield generator,” Venka said, moving the map to the third point.  “The only problem is we need a power core to run it.”

“How’re we gonna get one of those?” Koval asked.

Venka grinned.  “We crippled one of their tanks yesterday,” she said.  “It’s what we were doing before you found us.  They’ll have to replace the core, which means it’ll be easier to swipe.  We have a remote camera watching the tank, plus the transmissions we intercepted suggest the repair crew won’t arrive until morning.”

“After we take the core, we’ll fall back to the shop,” Scuff said.  The last point glowed brighter and extended a jagged path towards the warehouse.  “Then we’ll take the cargo tunnel to the warehouse, install the core, and get out of here.  What do you think?”

Dex sensed the others felt the same thing he did.  There’s a lot that can go wrong, but it’s our only hope.  “I can’t say it’s not a longshot,” he said as he looked to his new companions.  Koval and the Gryphons nodded again.  “But no one in the galaxy ever got anywhere without taking risks.  We’re in.”

“Excellent,” Scuff said, smiling.  “Then let’s get some food and rest.  Tomorrow’s going to be a long day.”



“So, you’re saying Rygols aren’t marsupials?” Koval said to Spark between bites of nutri-rations.

“It’s a common misconception!” Spark said before taking another bite of food too.  “But actually…”

Across the bunker’s dining table, Tib and Rav spoke with Venka and Feliks.

“For what it’s worth, Scuff doesn’t supply criminals,” Feliks said.  “We mostly deal with civilian defense militias in neutral or ungoverned space.  There are plenty of Gurk crews who aren’t happy with us, but we have enough contacts in the black market to keep things flowing smoothly.”

“Still, there are some things we have to do ourselves, if we want them done right,” Venka added, “like recovering hardware from Gurkon.”

Rav cocked his head, and Tib looked back at the crate her brother examined earlier.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Feliks said.  “We decontaminate everything before we use or sell it.  It’s not polite to irradiate your customers.”

“That’s pretty thoughtful for a couple of mercenaries,” Rav said. “No offense.”

The Gurks chuckled.  “We prefer the term ‘adventure capitalists,’ actually,” Venka said.

“Yeah, although I like the sound of ‘Gurk mercs,’ personally,” Feliks added, winking at Tib.

Not far from the table, Dex sat beside Scuff on a stack of crates.  The Rygol admired Dex’s custom weapon as he inspected it, cleaned it, and ensured it was ready for action.  Scuff provided enough Commonwealth batteries to fully reequip the rifle, but he still admired its compatibility with Grakkon power sources.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Dex said.  “I don’t think we would survive long without you.”

“You’re welcome,” Scuff said.  “It’s safe to say we’ve overstayed on welcome on Centurion, and I’m glad you came along to help us escape too.”

“You know, that brings up a question,” Dex said.  “Why didn’t you leave when the invasion first started?”

Scuff flattened his ears.  “You might have noticed that the straggling civilians were armed when they evacuated,” he said.  Dex nodded.  “I was one of those left behind when Rybiria was attacked, and I’ve spoken to others lucky enough to have survived similar invasions.  The brutal truth is anyone left behind is easy prey.  Like you, we stayed to give people a fighting chance.”

Scuff and Dex turned their gazes to the table, and listened.  “The Grakkons destroyed countless families on Rybiria,” Scuff said after a moment, “and they left a lot of broken ones too.”  He looked to his daughter, and to the Gurks laughing with the Gryphons.  “We have to stick together now, more than ever.  In this chaotic galaxy, sometimes our unusual little family is the only thing that makes sense.”

“You’re doing the best you can,” Dex said.  “Spark didn’t waste a second when you were in danger.  She may be young, but she’s a kid who knows what it takes.  You should be proud.”

Scuff smiled.  “I am.  She’s so much like her mother…” He grew quiet.  “I just wish she’d known the beauty of our homeworld, and the peace of a normal childhood.  Instead, all she knows is this.”  He gestured to the bunker.

Dex looked to his weapon and his battle-worn uniform.  “I can understand that,” he said.  “And maybe her generation won’t grow up with peace.  But if we work together, then maybe the next generation will.”  Scuff’s ears perked slightly as he imagined the idea.  “And, even if they don’t, they’ll have Spark to teach them what’s worth fighting for, and to never give up.  Because although you’re the first Rygols I’ve ever met, I get the feeling you folks don’t quit easily.”

At this, Scuff grinned proudly and hefted his RAR-37.  “The Grakkons’ first mistake was attacking Rybiria,” he said.  “Their second mistake was not getting all of us.”

End of Part 1
Fight Another Day: Part 1 of 2

Part 2 is here: fav.me/dbftbeh

This is Part 1 of my entry for :iconalexvanarsdale:’s latest contest.  This story is set in his Super Strike 10 web comic universe.  The challenge was to imagine what will happen during, or what happened before the comic’s third chapter, Relic. I imagined this story takes place sometime after the second chapter, just as the Second Grakkon War begins and the galaxy descends into battle again.

If you’re a current fan and reader of the comic, I hope you enjoy the story!  If you’re a newcomer and want to check out more, head over to Alex VanArsdale’s page for the comic and awesome art!  Below are a few links that may help.

Map of the galaxy: fav.me/d8eluy0

Character sizes: fav.me/da290hq and fav.me/da2ge32

(These illustrations are of his characters, although the characters in my story use similar clothing, armor, and weapons.)

Grakkon: fav.me/daa4dx4

Comments are appreciated!  Thanks for reading!

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After months of work, Werewolves Versus Music is available for download!  You can get it for any price you want, even $0! Here’s the link:  werewolvesversus.com/

 

From the official description page:

Werewolves Versus: Music

In the light of the dashboard or the strobes of an outdoor concert, from the humid alleys of New Orleans to the streets of a dystopian city caught in an uprising, werewolves are completely werewolfing out to music. This 150+ page collection features short stories, comics, paintings, essays and even a downloadable song.

Featuring: Laura “OC” B, Jennifer Cooksey, Lew “Viergacht” Delport, Byron Dunn, Fringecrow, Colin Janz, JD Laclede, Joey Liverwurst, Juan C. Moreno, nothere, Chris Pearce, Quebecoiswolf, Paul Quinton, Andrew Scott, Tah the Trickster

 

(That dystopian city is where I come in, by the way!)

With all these committed artists, there’s practically something to love for any fan of creature features!  This issue can go from horror to humor, defeat to victory, high to low, and everything in between.  I can’t give away too many details about everyone else’s contributions, but I can tell you about mine.

 

In the near future, the Cascadia Arms Corporation has the majority of humanity under its protection and control.  Cascadia’s greatest successes are their fortress cities, surrounded by walls, and kept safe from the werewolves believed to be a danger to humanity.  Between the miraculous Apex health serum and the vigilant Citizen Guard forces, cities like Fairplains, Colorado enjoy peace and prosperity.  However, such security comes at a terrible cost, and for those unwilling to bow to Cascadia, rebellion is the only answer.

 

For a city without a voice, everything is about to change.

 

To promote the issue, I commissioned a couple of artists to create posters from each side of the conflict.  :icongasmaskfox:’s art is a recruitment poster for the authoritarian “peacekeepers” while :iconwindwo1f:’s art has a more hopeful message to those struggling for freedom.  Both artists and their creations are awesome and you should check them out below!

 

[Commission] Werewolf VS. by GasMaskFox  Silent No More Cover by WindWo1f

 

That wraps it up for this journal.  Be sure to check out the sweet promotional art and all the content featured in Werewolves Versus Music.  I hope you enjoy what everyone created!

 

  • Listening to: Whatever's on the radio
  • Reading: The next WV content rules
  • Watching: Stranger Things
  • Playing: The Last of Us Factions
  • Eating: Bagel
  • Drinking: Water

deviantID

WanderingGoose
Juan, John, Jan, Ivan
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
Officially: I’m just a college-age guy who enjoys a variety of genres and styles that will usually end up being blended into my writings. After being a deviant for just a little over a year now, I’ve met some pretty great people and made a few new friends. I’m always willing meet new deviants so feel free to stop and say “Hi!” or introduce yourself. I’m mostly into posting literature, mainly short stories or multi-chaptered collections which I’ve tried to organize in my gallery. Any visual art I post is usually done by another deviant and posted with their permission or a cover image for a story.

Unofficially: I’m Fate, creator of the worlds of my imagination. Inspired by countless books, movies, games, shows, people and events in my life, I wrote several worlds into existence and filled them with characters. However, despite the name, I don’t really have as much control over everything as you would imagine. If you’ve ever written or drawn a character to life, you may have watched them take on a life of their own. It’s pretty fascinating, isn’t it?

For this reason, I see myself as both a writer and observer. I simultaneously watch and create the stories you see here, amazed by how they can twist and turn as if completely unbound by my will. So in the end, though I’m just a writer, I take on many roles, watching the worlds I created and the people who live in them. I’m a bird in the sky, following three friends across the verdant beauty of their post-apocalyptic world; the new guy in the office, learning how to work in supernatural defense; the frightened kid, given hope by the sight of the older ones defeating an alien machine; the mechanic in the airship hangar, keeping each Pegasus craft ready for another mission. Whoever I am, I’m never far from the next adventure that is about to unfold.
Interests

Journal History

Comments


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:iconstangwolf:
StangWolf Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for the watch! :thanks:
Reply
:iconwanderinggoose:
WanderingGoose Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2017  Student Writer
No problem!
Reply
:icono-ruff:
O-ruff Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2017
Thanks alot for watch! *3*
Reply
:iconwanderinggoose:
WanderingGoose Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2017  Student Writer
No problem! You're welcome!
Reply
:iconjohnithan-walters:
Johnithan-Walters Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2017
Many apologies but I wish you a happy belated birthday and congratulate you on surviving another 1000+ mph trip around the sun! Have your cake and eat it too The Cake Is A Lie 
Reply
:iconwanderinggoose:
WanderingGoose Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2017  Student Writer
No worries! Thank you!
Reply
:iconethanredotter:
EthanRedOtter Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2017  Student Writer
Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3D Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3D 
Reply
:iconwanderinggoose:
WanderingGoose Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2017  Student Writer
Thanks!
Reply
:iconquebecoiswolf:
QuebecoisWolf Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2017
Happy Birthday!

:cake:
Reply
:iconwanderinggoose:
WanderingGoose Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2017  Student Writer
Thank you!
Reply
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