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About Deviant Artist Member Daniel Lubniewski28/Male/United States Recent Activity
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The smoke eventually cleared to the point that Nolan could see what kind of room she was in. It was a dimly lit warehouse, thirty feet wide and tall and so long she couldn’t see the other side. Still, there was enough light for Nolan to make out what was being stored: the artifacts from the crater.

Most of the artifacts were caked in rust and barnacles, but Nolan could tell that the colony had found a variety of objects. Trinkets, scraps, machine parts of all sizes, and even entire segments of buildings were arranged in tidy rows across the floor. Hard at work scraping way the oceanic filth were Cycle-4s, one-armed Susehpen units with their heads mounted beneath their solitary shoulder.

There were three objects that caught Nolan’s attention. First was a partially cleaned cannon near the back of the room, two stories tall, whose design Nolan had never seen in any Emorian base. The other two were about twenty feet away from her. There was a metallic box that seemed to be the source of all the white smoke and an open cylinder large enough to hold a person. Faint footprints led from these two objects to Kara, the Marba girl that was currently standing in front of Nolan.

“You know,” Chowski said to Nolan. “I think that just threatening violence would have been sufficient in coercing them to meet our demands.”

“Well, too late for that,” Nolan replied. “Also, what the hell should I do about this Marba in front of me?”

Kara leaned over until her face was inches away from Nolan’s. “Are you talking to someone?” she asked, still smiling.

“None of your damn business!” Nolan snarled.

“Oh. Okay then!” Kara darted around Nolan and headed towards the AI avatars.

“Sorry about all the smoke! The clothes maker blew up after I was done. Hope you don’t mind.” Kara said to Vorsch.

“Of course not. That was just a priceless artifact you just destroyed,” Vorsch said.

“Priceless? It’s just a clothes maker.  Well, at least I was able to get an outfit out of it. A marching band uniform, no less!” Kara posed in her uniform. It consisted of a long-sleeved, creamed-colored shirt with two rows of buttons running down the front, maroon briefs, and knee-length maroon boots. “So tell me, how do I look?”

“Um, lovely?” CeeVee said.

“Unable to answer,” Rankin said. “Our designated tasks to do not include aesthetic assessments of non-susehpen fashion”

“Meh, it was worth trying to ask,” Kara said to herself. “Say, you guys wouldn’t happen to have a mirror around, would you?”

A Mono-Blast, an octahedron-shaped unit with a chrome body and four limbs sprouting out of its top and bottom points, floated up to Kara. “Yeah, that’ll do,” said Kara as she tied up her hair. By the time she was done, her hair was in an elaborate hairstyle. Near the back of her head was a high-set red ponytail. Sprouting out of that ponytail was a smaller silver ponytail, and out of the silver ponytail sprouted an even smaller black one.

Nolan, who had been talking to Chowski while Kara was busy with her hair, approached Kara from behind. “You know, Kara,” she said.

“I’ve got two things to tell your. First, your outfit: it seriously needs pants.”

“Well, it is designed for acrobatics,” Kara said with a cheeky smile.

“Second,” Nolan said as placed her hand on Kara’s shoulder. With a swift motion, Nolan threw Kara to the floor face first. “I’ve got a few friends that would like know what a Marba like you was doing in an Emorian facility.” As she pinned Kara down with one knee, Nolan handcuffed Kara’s hands behind her back.

“Emorian facility?” Kara said with shock.

Nolan turned towards the AI avatars. “If you tin cans don’t mind, my squad and I will be taking our weapons back.”

A sudden flash of white light filled the room. When it faded, Nolan noticed there were two Susehpens in front of her. They were Rote-4s: headless units that rolled on a single wheeled foot and had mantis-like arms that ended in large blades. Nolan turned around and saw about a dozen more Rot-4s surrounding her squad, accompanied by a second TD-Grade. The AI avatars had disappeared.

“Request denied,” Rankin said sternly.

“Oh, you want to play rough?” Nolan asked. “Fine by me. Get ‘em, boys!”

“With all due respect, Miss,” protested one of Nolan’s squad mates. “These things did just steal our weapons.”

“JUST DO SOMETHING! We need to fight back!”

“We’re not upper guardsmen! The Emperor didn’t give us-!” The man was interrupted by a Rote-4 striking him in the arm, causing him to collapse in pain. The rest of the Susehpens closed in on the squad.

One of the Rote-4s next to Nolan swung its bladed hand down onto her head. It broke in half without even leaving a scratch on her.

“Seriously, do I have to do EVERYTHING by myself?!” she yelled as she sent the unit flying across the room with a single punch. She proceeded to do the same thing to the other unit.

Nolan turned around just in time to see the other Rote-4s push her squad into the shell of the second TD-Grade. She ran over to try and rescue them, but unexpectedly found her punch being blocked by a pink hexagon made out of light.

“Oh, so you’re trying to stop me, eh?” she said with barely contained frustration. “IT’S USELESS!!” She threw another punch, shattering the hexagon like glass. As the shards of light faded away, Nolan realized that the Rote-4s and TD-Grades had all vanished, leaving her alone with the Cycle-4s in the warehouse.

“What the…? Where the hell are you cowards?! SHOW YOURSELF!” Nolan yelled out. As if on cue, Rankin and CeeVee’s avatars reappeared. “THERE you are! Give me back my squadron or else!!”

“Or else what?” Chowski said. “You’re alone in hostile territory. You’re in no position to make demands.”

Nolan ripper her earpiece off her ear and held it directly in front of her face. “I don’t need your stupid advice!!” she yelled.

“Very well, I suppose there’s no changing the fact that this peaceful mission has just turned into hostage crisis.”

“It never was peaceful! In case you forgot, these things stole our weapons the moment we set foot in this scrap yard! No, they were stealing our stuff before then!!”

“Still, you didn’t have to stoop to their level of aggression. In fact, I feel that you were also excessively rough with the Marba girl.”

“Excessively rough? She is a Marba! You do not play nice with Marba!!”

“Um,” CeeVee interrupted. “Didn’t you want to talk with us?”

“YES!” Nolan shouted back. “I still want my crew and weapons back!”

“We have no obligation to obey your request,” Rankin said. “I will tell you that your squadron is still alive and that they and their weapons will be returned to your ship.”

“Oh, playing hard to get, eh?” Nolan chuckled. “Fine, I’ll play. I’ll rip this place apart piece by piece until I find my men and then I’ll-!”

Nolan was interrupted when Kara, who was still handcuffed, planted a diving kick squarely into the side of her head. It knocked Nolan off her feet and into a nearby door. She crashed headfirst into the door with a loud clanging sound before collapsing.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” CeeVee asked Rankin.

“Affirmative,” Rankin answered. “It does not compute. That girl’s kick should not have affected Nolan the way it did.”

Kara walked up to Nolan. “Wow,” she said to herself. “I didn’t think my cheerleading training would translate so well into fighting.”

“You. Got. Lucky.” Nolan growled as she stumbled back onto her feet. She turned her head to reveal that the tip of her left horn had been broken off and embedded into her cheek, golden blood dripping out of the wound. “Really, REALLY lucky!!”

Nolan swung with all her might at Kara’s face, but Kara was quick to duck and return with a knee to Nolan’s stomach. This time Nolan didn’t even flinch. Kara stumbled backwards in pain, feeling like she had just kneed a brick wall.

“Don’t get cocky, bitch!!” Nolan yelled as she swung down with both fists. Kara rolled out of the way, causing Nolan to strike down on the floor. Surprisingly, she didn’t even scratch the metal plating.

“This makes no sense,” CeeVee said as she watched the fight. “One moment Nolan’s a juggernaut, the next she’s no stronger than Kara.”

“STAND STILL DAMMIT!!!” Nolan screamed as she continued to throw punches at Kara. Even with her knee hurt, Kara continued to dodge Nolan’s attacks with ease. Eventually one of Nolan’s punches struck a pipe in the wall, leaving only as small dent. Nolan’s stumbled backwards, clutching her hand in pain, giving Kara time to run away towards Rankin and CeeVee.

“Hey, would it be too much to ask you two for help?” Kara said to the AIs.

“Sure! Though I don’t what I could do, seeing how I’m a hologram right now,” CeeVee responded.

“Start by bringing more of your shield units to this location,” Rankin said.

“What? You saw how she smashed through my first shield!”

“I have a plan. Both of you follow me.” Rankin said as her avatar flew down the hallway. CeeVee’s avatar followed suit.

“I’m not done with you!!” Nolan shouted as she stomped the floor, causing it to ripple and knock Kara down. She then ripped another door out of its frame and threw the twenty-foot disk at Kara. Kara rolled out of the way, jumped back onto her feet, and continued following the AIs down the hall. “GET BACK HERE!!!” Nolan yelled.

* * *

On the bridge of his ship, Chowski reflected on how the situation was getting out of control. He always knew that Nolan had a bad temper, but normally her aggressiveness was useful in making sure negotiations worked in favor of the Empire. Yet as he could clearly see, it was useless against an opponent that seemingly had no fear. It baffled him that there were sentient life forms on this world didn’t realize the Emorian Empire was a force to be feared, something to be submitted to.

“Chowski, there are two objects approaching our ship,” one of the bridge operators said. Chowski could clearly see through the windows that it was a pair of TD-Grades approaching them. “Shall we shoot them down sir?”

“Not yet,” Chowski said. “They might be the units that captured our squadron. Send them a transmission to meet me on the main deck, but be prepared to attack.”
“Will do sir.”

* * *

A few minutes after receiving Chowski’s message, the TD-Grades descended onto the main deck of the ship, where he was waiting.

“I assume that you have the… goods that were stolen from Nolan,” Chowski said. “I hope it’s not too much to request their return.”

The TD-Grades opened up their shells and unloaded their contents; one was carrying Nolan’s squad mates, all dazed and confused from their ordeal, and the other had their weaponry, still stored in cards.

“Do not return,” one of the TD-Grades said in deep voice as the two of them flew back to the colony.

Chowsky radioed the bridge crew. “Get these men down to the infirmary ASAP.” He then sorted through the cards and picked up the one that contained Nolan’s drill. “Also, prepare a life boat. I’m going into the colony.”

“With all due respect sir,” a bridge operator said. “That second request is crazy.”

“Nolan’s still in there. I have to make sure she’s safe.”

* * *

For a while Nolan chased Kara and the AIs down the halls of the colony. As they progressed further into the core of the colony, the warehouse doors disappeared and the halls grew narrow and twisted. Eventually the hall opened up onto a platform on the edge of a vast chasm, a hundred feet wide and so tall one could only see darkness near the top and a pale light near the bottom. Kara was able to stop herself before she ran over the edge, only to turn around and see that Nolan was about to plant a foot in Kara’s face.

A pink hexagon of light stopped Nolan’s kick, sending her tumbling across the floor. CeeVee’s voice spoke to Kara through the octagonal shield. “Rankin and I will handle her. Just stay away from the ledge.”

“Ri-right!” Kara said as she made her way back to the hallway. CeeVee’s shield followed her, ready to protect her from Nolan.

“You things never learn, do you?” Nolan said as she got back up. “I’ll break that shield like the last one!” She charged at Kara, ready to punch.

“Get down!” CeeVee told Kara. Kara did so.

Moments before Nolan’s punch could touch with CeeVee’s shield, the shield vanished. Nolan tripped over Kara, and as she tumbled across the floor, an invisible force ripped through the front of her jacket and cut into her chest. A Rote-4 appeared in a white flash, Nolan’s blood on the tip of its blades.

“You cowards. You’re all cowards!” Nolan snarled, trying to keep her balance and composure. “What’s wrong, too scared to fight fairly against me, hiding behind shields and cloaking devices? You machines are pathetic!!”

CeeVee’s shield and the Rote-4 both vanished in a flash. “I hope you things know I can still HEAR you!!” Nolan said as she threw a punch. CeeVee blocked it with her shield, but Nolan was able to dodge the Rote-4’s counterattack.

“IT’S OVER!!” Nolan yelled as she charged at the Rote-4’s location, fully expecting to run into CeeVee’s shield. Yet CeeVee shield didn’t reappear, and Nolan ended up impaled through the shoulder by the Rote-4’s blade.

“It is indeed over,” Rankin said through the Rote-4. “We have figured out the limits of your abilities and how to –“

Nolan broke the blade and ripped it out of her shoulder. She then swung at the Rote-4 with a punch that it was easily able to avoid. Nolan tried to throw another only for CeeVee to trip her with a shield. As Nolan fell to the ground, the Rote-4 took an underhanded swipe at her. The blade failed to cut her but succeeded in knocking her to the edge of the platform.

“We know how to counter your abilities,” Rankin continued. “Surrender now before we resort to lethal force.”

Nolan got back on to her feet. “Surrender? Never! I will be leaving this place on my own terms and I will taking that Marba girl with me!”

“Fine,” said Kara as she planted a diving kick square in Nolan’s chest, knocking both of them off the platform. Kara’s fall was stopped by one of CeeVee’s shields, but Nolan wasn’t as lucky.

Kara watched as Nolan fell down the chasm. “What’s down there?” she asked.

“This is the main ventilation shaft of the colony,” Rankin answered as her avatar appeared next to Kara. “She will be falling directly into the ocean.”

“Yeesh. Is she going to be alright?”

“Possible.”

CeeVee’s shield floated back up to the platform. “Say, how did you manage to hurt her?” Kara said as she jumped back onto solid ground.

“Nolan’s ability can be only focused on a single object or person at any given time. While she possesses heightened strength and invulnerability when interacting with the subject of her focus, everything else will interact with her as though she has normal strength and durability.”

“Huh, that would explain a lot,” said Kara before realizing she was still handcuffed. “Say, you wouldn’t mind untying me, would you?”

“That would depend on how you answer my questions,” an AI avatar said as it appeared behind Kara and Rankin. This one took the form of a slender woman with long blue hair. Her body was the same color as her hair and featureless save for her face.

“M-matriarch!” CeeVee exclaimed as her avatar appeared next to Rankin. “What are you doing here?”

Vorsch’s avatar appeared behind the blue woman. “Sirene insisted on meeting the Marba girl in person.”

“…Matriarch?” Kara said as she approached the blue woman.

“Yes,” the blue woman said. “I am Sirene, matriarch of the Four Pillars Colony. I coordinate the actions of my fellow AIs.”

“Sirene… My name’s Kara Weslam. Nice to meet you!” Since her hands were tied up, Kara decided to bow to her new acquaintance.

* * *

Chowski navigated his boat between the legs of the Susehpen walker. He was following a ping on a holographic radar display and eventually reached the source of the ping: a half submerged Nolan, clutching onto the side of a walker leg with one hand while letting her other hand float limply in the water.

“You dropped your earpiece,” Chowski said as he dragged Nolan into his boat. “You’re lucky that we have tracking devices installed in our skulls.”

Nolan slumped up against the side of the boat. “Take me back,” she said faintly.

“As you wish. You need to rest after what you’ve been through.”

“No, the colony! Take me back inside the colony!”

“They figured out how to injure you. You’ll be useless without your drill.”

“I’m not done with them yet!”

“I know you lost to a Marba, but we need to put the mission before our – “

“I’M NOT DONE YET! I DIDN’T LOSE TO THAT –!“ Nolan bent over in pain before she could finish her sentence.

“Look, we can’t go charging back into the colony without a plan, nor can we do so without the Emperor’s permission.”

“Permission?”

“The Emperor never told us what to do if we ever found a live Marba in the crater. I’ve had the girl’s image and name sent to the DM Commission, so by tomorrow we’ll know how much of a priority it is to capture or eradicate her.”

“…Fine, I’ll wait.”
“People of Nede, today marks the one-thousandth anniversary of the Emorian Empire’s foundation and the one-hundredth anniversary of my ascension to the throne. For one thousand years this planet have been united under the banner of justice, equality, and stability and for one hundred years I have held that banner with pride.

You have all heard the stories of the Empire came to be, of how the nations of Nede set aside their petty differences in the face of a common foe, the Marba Republic. For centuries the Marba lived lives of excessive decadence, forcing others to create extravagant luxuries that only they were ever allowed to enjoy, all while looking down on their subjects like lesser life forms. The people of Nede were right to ask the Marba for a share of their riches and then strike the Marba down when they refused.

Before I was an emperor I was a general in the Empire’s Advent Guard. Throughout this Empire’s millennium of existence, remnants of the Marba Republic crawled out from the shadows seeking vengeance, and it was my duty to stamp them out like the parasites that they were. Yet my time in the Guard taught me that Marba remnants were not the only threat to our empire, that some amongst the other races of Nede that seek to undo all that our empire has achieved.

These outsiders question whether we go “too far” in our mission to eradicate those who threaten us. I say that we do not go far enough! They complain that the Empire’s quest for peace and stability infringes on their personal freedom. I tell you that freedom is worthless when compared to tolerance and security! They claim to support diversity and equality. People from every race in Nede run our Empire and walk through our streets as equals! What more do these ungrateful louts want?

I implore you all stand as equals against those who oppose us, who spout their delusional drabble of freedom and diversity, ignorant of how much the world needs us. Never compromise with those who will not stand with us, for they stand against us, and never falter in your resolve. Persevere! Ensure that justice, equality, and stability reign for another thousand years!”

* * *

As the sound of applause overtook the Emperor’s speech, Chowski shut off his radio. The Emperor’s words were always a source comfort for him, and after a day of traveling in a ship on a choppy ocean, he needed all the comfort he could get.

Chowski was alone in the ship’s reading room, reflecting on the Emperor’s words about equality in the Empire. His bony, four-fingered hands, so long that they nearly touched the ground, were a reminder that he was not an Emorian, that he was not part of the species that founded the Empire. Yet here he was, a commanding officer in the Emperor’s personal army, the Advent Guard, clad in their uniform; a long grey coat, fastened together by black buckles, with armored sleeves, a high collar, and tassels hanging from a pair of metal-studded pouches on the hips.

"Yo Chowski, we finally reached our destination,” a young woman shouted through a speaker mounted to the ceiling.

“I’ll be right there,” Chowski responded. He wrapped his head in black straps until only his large orange teeth were exposed and made his way up to the ship’s bridge.

* * *

On the bridge of the ship, a dozen men sat at the desks that lined the walls, each one covered in countless buttons, levers, and screens. Like Chowski, they were clad in Advant Guard uniforms. Above the desks was a window that wrapped around the entire room and provided Chowski with a clear view of his ship’s destination, a Susehpen colony walker that stood alone in a seemingly endless ocean.

The walker was a massive cone-shaped spire, taller than a skyscraper and nearly as wide, suspended above the ocean’s surface by a series of metal, crustacean-like legs, each of varying size and shape. The exterior of the colony was covered in an irregular jigsaw of metal panels, each one the size of a house and covered in algae, rust, and other kinds of filth. Blue lights shined from the dark spaces between each panel.

Chowski had only read about walkers in history files until now. They were created by a nomadic race of sentient machines called the Susehpens, and they served as the Susehpens’ homes as they traveled the oceans in search of resources.

“About time you showed up,” said the woman that had called Chowski up to the bridge. “The colony’s been trying to contact us for an hour.” She was an Emorian, as could be seen by her hoofed feet and the curved, segmented horns that grew from the sides of her head. Her eyebrows were made of the same material as her horns and her red hair stuck out behind her head in large spikes. She wore a variation of the Advent Guard uniform, with a jacket that went past her hips and a black mask that covered her mouth.

“Shall we patch them through, Nolan?” Chowski asked.

“Like you had to ask.”

A metallic circle in the middle of the room started glowing white, creating a golden holographic figure that consisted of a limbless torso made of six loudspeakers, and a head made from three more speakers. It was the avatar of one of the Susehpen AIs that controlled the walker that stood before Chowski’s ship.

“Greetings, I am Vorsch, vizier of the Four Pillars Colony. And you must be the Emorians interested in the results of our latest expedition.”

“That is correct,” Chowski responded.

“Fashionably late I see. So, I assume that you know why you’re here?”

“Indeed.”

“Actually,” Nolan interrupted. “I haven’t read the report yet.”

“Nolan, you know it is standard procedure to read the mission report before starting the actual mission,” Chowski groaned.

“I get seasick when I’m trying to read on a boat!” Nolan snapped.

“Perhaps we could refresh the young misses on what you and your ship are doing in Susehpen territory,” Vorsch said.

“Piss off tin man,” Nolan snapped. “I want to hear this from Chowski.”

Chowski started to explain the mission. “Approximately one week ago this Susehpen colony entered this area in search of iridium. That expedition was based on historical records of a meteor crash 50 years ago. They discovered an underwater formation that is believed to be the crater, but did not find any evidence of a meteor. Rather, they found traces of a non-Susehpen settlement.”

Vorsch continued the narration. “There is no record in any historical databank indicating that anyone has ever established a permanent settlement in this area”

“I told you I wanted to hear this from Chowski!” Nolan reiterated.

“Very well. So, Mr. Chowski, what did your superiors claim the settlement was?”

Chowski cleared his throat. “You were told that the settlement was a top-secret Emorian weapons testing facility, and that an Emorian battleship, namely us, would be there to confiscate the classified technology you had discovered in the crater.”

“Yes, that is indeed what your superiors told us. It seems that both sides of this exchange have been given consistent information.”

“So, do we have permission to enter your walker?”

“Indeed. We are sending your ship the location of a docking bay. The AI Rankin shall wait for your arrival there.”

Vorsch’s avatar vanished as the projector’s light faded away. The ship lurched forward as the motors restarted.

“What the hell did they mean by ‘consistent information?’” Nolan asked.

“I’m not sure, but it is possible that the Four Pillars Colony doesn’t trust us,” Chowski responded.

“Doesn’t trust us? But we’re not hiding anything from them!”

“Not necessarily. I for one had no knowledge of this base’s existence until its discovery last week.”

“Really, it was that much of a secret?”

“Indeed. Nevertheless, you have been ordered to accompany the squadron that we will send into the colony. Make sure to confiscate everything they found at the crater.”

“I have to go in that junk heap? I am really starting to regret going on this stupid mission,” Nolan remarked.

* * *

Deep inside the cyberspace contained within the walker’s circuitry, Vorsch conversed with two of his fellow AIs.

“Rankin, the Emorian ship will be docking at Bay 428. Make sure there are units there to greet them.”

“Understood,” Rankin replied.

“Sirene, just like the agents that contacted us two days ago, the Emorians on that ship claim that the crater was a site for weapons testing.”

“Interesting,” Sirene pondered. “Tell me Vorsh, based on the tests you’ve run on the artifacts found in the crater, do you think they are telling the truth?”

“It’s doubtful,” Vorsch said. “I would like to single out two specific artifacts. The first is the box-shaped object, which I have identified as a portable clothes maker. Its design does not match any maker the Emorian military has ever used, and the motherboard, while heavily damaged and corrupted, contains no programs of any kind for Emorian military uniforms. In fact, the clothing programs I have salvaged have more in common with uniforms found in Marba high schools.”

“Marba? You’re saying there were Marba living there?”

“A possibility.”

“Then you’re right to doubt the military base claims.” Sirene went silent for a few moments as she processed the information Vorsch had given her. “So, what is the second artifact of interest?”

“The cylinder. I’ve been able to determine that it’s some kind of hibernation chamber, and it’s from the same time period as the other artifacts we recovered, including the box. More importantly, whoever or whatever is hibernating in it is still alive.”

“Then figure out how to awaken it. It might help us figure out what used to be inside that crater and if we can trust the Emorians with what we found.”

“As you wish, my matriarch.”

* * *

The Susehpen walker had dozens of legs arranged in two concentric circles surrounding the base of the structure. Bay 428 was located on a leg in the inner circle and could only be accessed by a rope ladder. Chowski’s ship was too long to properly navigate in between the walker’s legs, so Nolan had to approach the walker with a lifeboat accompanied by five other guardsmen while Chowski stayed behind.

“Chowski, Can you hear me?”

Chowski’s voice rang through Nolan’s earpiece. “Affirmative.”

“I’ve made it inside. The rest of the squad will be coming soon.” Nolan looked up. The interior of the walker was a dark, claustrophobic labyrinth of pipes, wiring, and other assorted bits of machinery arranged in narrow, vertical shafts. “I’m not sure you would’ve been much use in here. We’ll be doing a lot of climbing.”

“As a Sidrasian, I am adapted for life on the side of a cliff.”

“Really? But you’ve got like a stomach-foot-thingy instead of legs.”

“We should focus on the mission.”

“Yeah, fine.”

“That AI said that they were going to send someone down there to greet you.”

“It’s just me and the boys.” A soft rattling sound rang through the pipes. “Wait, scratch that. Someone’s finally showing up.”
From the shadows emerged the inhabitants of the Four Pillar Colonies. Susehpens, mechanical life forms resembling every invertebrate one could imagine, crawled down the metal piping on metallic claws, tentacles, and wheels, navigating their surroundings through glowing blue eyes. They surrounded the increasingly nervous Nolan and her squad mates, but stopped beyond arm’s reach.

A small flying ball left the crowd of Susehpens and positioned itself in front of Nolan. It activated a bright light that created the hologram of an AI avatar. This avatar took the form of a young woman in a white kimono. Her silver bell-shaped hair blended seamlessly into her pale-skinned head, which had no facial features other than three eyes, one red, one green, and one blue. “I am Rankin, Guard of the Four Pillars colony. I have been informed that your mission is a strictly diplomatic one, so I will have to confiscate all of your weapons for security reasons.”

“I hate welcome wagons,” Nolan noted dryly. “Look, we’re not here on vacation, we’re here for business.”

“Regardless of intent, you will still have to go through customs and security,” Rankin reiterated. “Please hand over any weapons you might possess.”

“Oh, you mean this weapon?” Nolan said as she raised her right hand. Cubes of light and metal materialized out of thin air and rapidly assembled themselves into a heavy gauntlet that covered her forearm. In place of a hand was a thick drill that tapered to a point. “Come and take it tin head!”

“That language is unnecessary.”

Nolan started to charge towards Rankin, but two of her squad mates grabbed her by her arms to hold her back.

“Nolan.” Chowski said. “Our mission is supposed to be peaceful.”

“The hell it is! We don’t have time to deal with a bunch of stupid machines and their bureaucracy! We’re here to recover imperial secrets!”

“I know that, but we do not have to resort to bloodshed for such goals.”

“They don’t even have blood!”

“Perhaps I can offer a compromise,” Rankin said. A huge, pill-bug-like Susehpen with two stubby arms floated up to Rankin’s side, propelled by a pair of rockets. The rear segments of its armor opened up like a lid, revealing that it was mostly hollow inside. “Your weapons will be stored within this TD-Grade unit during your stay in this colony. I will ensure that this unit remains within 3 meters of you and your squadron at all times.”

“I think we should do as they say for now,” Chowski said.

Nolan wrestled her way out of her squad mates’ hands. Her drill gauntlet disintegrated into cubes of light, which converged into a small metal card in her hand. “Fine, you can have our weapons. But we will be taking them back when we’re done.”

Rankin’s avatar disappeared and Nolan and her men placed their collection of metal cards into the body of the TD-Grade. “I will guide you to the storage sector,” Rankin’s voice said through the TD-Grade. “One more thing; we are Susehpens, not machines. Do not confuse the two again.”

* * *

Guided by Rankin through the TD-Grade, Nolan’s squad made their way through the inner workings of the walker. Eventually the pipes, wires, and gears stopped forming tight vertical shafts and rearranged themselves into wide rooms with low ceilings, a sign that Nolan’s squad had moved out of the leg and into the main body of the walker. Around them Susehpens crawled in and out of the nooks and crannies in the walls the pipes formed, focused only on the tasks the AIs had given them.

Eventually Rankin led Nolan’s squad to a corridor lined with circular, twenty-foot tall doors. Rankin prepared to insert one of the TD-Grade’s arms into a control panel next to one of the doors, but was interrupted by the appearance of an AI avatar. This avatar consisted of series of seven pink disks, five arranged in a circle to form a body and the last two on either side of a cartoony face.

“Hello Hello Hello!!” The avatar declared in the voice of a little girl. “My name is CeeVee and I’m the colony’s miner! Welcome to the storage sector!”

“What are you doing here, CeeVee?” Rankin asked.

“I know, I know. I’m supposed to be out in the ocean looking for resources, but I was just so curious about those artifacts that I just had to help Vorsch examine them. I mean I am the one that found them after all.”

“Speaking of examining artifacts,” Vorsch said from the other side of the door. “Would you mind keeping our guests outside for a little longer? We’re in the middle of a very important test at the moment.”

“What? This is bullshit!!” Nolan blurted out. “Are you hearing this, Chowski?!”

“Affirmative,” Chowski said.

Back on the ship Chowski, who had been observing Nolan’s journey inside the walker through her earpiece, pondered the implications of Vorsch’s latest statement. What kind of experiments could the colony be doing on the crater artifacts? Were they trying to reverse engineer something, or did they find evidence of something that the Empire was trying to keep a secret?

“You know what? I’m done playing nice,” Nolan said. “I am going in there and I am taking those artifacts whether they like it or not.”

“Very well,” Chowski sighed. “Just try not to get too carried away.”

Nolan walked up to door.

“Um, what are you doing?” CeeVee asked.

Nolan threw a punch. The door was a disk of solid metal over a foot thick, yet it buckled beneath her fist like cardboard. CeeVee yelped as the sound of the crunching metal rang through the hall.

“Your current actions constitute breaking and entering. This is a violation of Susehpen law,” Rankin protested.

“Yeah? Well you robots are trying to steal imperial technology!” Nolan retorted as she effortlessly ripped the door out of its frame and threw it down the hallway.

White smoke billowed out of the entryway, engulfing Nolan, her squadron, and the AIs. “What the hell where you doing in here?” Nolan yelled between coughs.

“We have recently and successfully awakened someone from hibernation,” Vorsch answered.

“Wait,” CeeVee asked. “Didn’t you say to keep that a secret?”

“Given our current situation, keeping that a secret is no longer possible.”

The smoke started to clear, and Nolan could now see a girl, roughly her height, standing in front of her. The girl had tanned skin, dark red hair, and bright blue eyes. Her ears were long and pointed and on each cheek was a pair of dark triangular markings.

“Those ears… the cheeks… Chowski, is she what I think she is?”

“Yes, I believe that girl is a Marba.”

The girl walked up to Nolan. “Pleased to meet you! My name’s Kara,” she said with a friendly smile.
First Chapter of Thirdborn is up! Unfortunately, computer problems mean I won't be able to add an illustration to it yet.
But I did get a chapter of Thirdborn done! I just have to get around to making an illustration and I should have it uploaded by the end of the this week.

So, how does a chapter with an illustration every other Friday sound?

Also, I have been able to do work on my friend's project.
  • Mood: Lazy
  • Watching: Science Channel
  • Playing: SimCity BuildIt
  • Eating: Pad Thai

Why? I’ve been lost for nearly a year. I’ve been looking for a steady job to support my career as an artist, and it feels like every attempt I’ve made has wound up leading to a dead end. First I visited Seattle to find a job as a video game illustrator, only to discover that I am woefully under qualified to do anything remotely game related. Then I tried to find a job in St. Louis with a graphic design firm, only to learn that they were mainly interested in, well, graphic designers and not just any old artist. Finally, I tried to take a step towards becoming an art teacher. I managed to get a job as a studio assistant for St. Louis ArtWorks [link] over the summer, but my subsequent attempts to find a job as a high school substitute teacher were unsuccessful, even when I applied to my own high school.

My parents try to tell me otherwise, but every turned down job application has felt like a failure, and it’s eaten away at my will to apply for more jobs or to even do more art. The only comfort I have is that I still have my part time job at the St. Louis College of Health Careers. 

I’ve made two New Year’s Resolutions. The first is to make some substantial steps towards getting a job. To that end, I’ve signed up for the College of Health Career’s Pharmacy Technician Training Program. I was good at math and science in high school, and my parents are both doctors, so I figured that I might have potential in the field of medicine. Besides, I’ve known artists who had day jobs completely unrelated to art.

My second resolution is to start working on Thirdborn and art in general again. This time I’m going to make Thirdborn a light novel. I’ve already set myself a goal of writing a page each day, drawing one of the characters over the course of a week, and then posting the resulting image and text every Wednesday. In term of other art, there are some family friends that are interested in having me create a comic based off some stories they wrote. 

Maybe I’ll be able to find a steady job and move into my own home by the end of this year. Mayebe not. But one thing’s for sure is that I have to try no matter how much I don’t want to.

  • Mood: Depressed
  • Watching: Cutthroat Kitchen, Mythbusters
  • Playing: SimCity BuildIt
  • Eating: Sushi
  • Drinking: Limoncello

deviantID

dalubnie
Daniel Lubniewski
Artist
United States
-

Current Residence: Midwest United States
Favourite style of art: Surrealism, Science Fiction Illustration
Operating System: Machintosh
Interests
But I did get a chapter of Thirdborn done! I just have to get around to making an illustration and I should have it uploaded by the end of the this week.

So, how does a chapter with an illustration every other Friday sound?

Also, I have been able to do work on my friend's project.
  • Mood: Lazy
  • Watching: Science Channel
  • Playing: SimCity BuildIt
  • Eating: Pad Thai

Commissions

Portrait, Black and White
Thirdborn Bust Sketches BW by dalubnie
Mass Effect Portraits BW by dalubnie
AmiKuma B+W by dalubnie
4 x 4 inches, 300 DPI. Can be head only or bust shot.

Your commission can be of your characters or my characters. Fanart is free, but I'll only do a maximum of 4 per month. You can also do an art trade in lieu of paying for a commission.

Please provide some images for reference. If you want, you can also make requests regarding the character's pose and/or actions. Please keep your requests around a PG-13 level (so nothing overly violent, sexual, or fetishistic). 

Expect commissions to take about a week to complete. Send me a note with your email so I can send you a full-resolution PNG copy of the image when I'm done.

Portrait, Colored
Thirdborn Bust Sketches COLOR by dalubnie
Mass Effect Portraits COLOR by dalubnie
AmiKuma by dalubnie
4 x 4 inches, 300 DPI. Can be head only or bust shot.
Half Body, Black and White
Kara WIP 2 by dalubnie
Gabriel Half Body BW by dalubnie

4 by 6 inches, 300 DPI. Your choice of waist up or hips up.

Half Body, Color
Kara MFA Thesis Portrait by dalubnie
Gabriel Half Body COLOR by dalubnie

4 by 6 inches, 300 DPI. Your choice of waist up or hips up.

Full Body, Black and White
CIA B+W by dalubnie
Kay B+W by dalubnie
JMAart B+W by dalubnie

6 by 9 inches, 300 DPI. Will add a simple background upon request.

Full body, Colored
Agent is Go by dalubnie
Kay by dalubnie
JMAAart by dalubnie

6 by 9 inches, 300 DPI. Will add a simple background upon request.

Add a Character
Chaos Corp Sample by dalubnie
After you've selected one of the above options, you can press this button if you want second character in your commission. The resulting picture will be larger to accomodate said character. You can only add up to 2 characters to a commission this way.

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:iconmrphillup:
mrphillup Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You are welcome on the fave
Reply
:iconraynaldo:
Raynaldo Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Student Artisan Crafter
:iconparty1plz: HAAAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAY!!! :iconparty1plz:
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:iconvilss5:
vilss5 Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Hobbyist
Happy birthday ! :cake:
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:iconsuesanne:
Suesanne Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Happy B-day!
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:iconxiaorobear:
xiaorobear Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014
Hey, thanks for favoriting my Starcraft chart!
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:icon3dogz:
3Dogz Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Student General Artist
Thanks For The Watch! :D
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:iconholderoftruth:
HolderofTruth Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Your commission is done! :D
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:iconfusiondax:
fusiondax Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Nice icon. Lurker was awesome XD And nice ID as well... gosh, been a while I haven't checked the nerf guns
Reply
:iconlevitan71:
levitan71 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
youre wellcome :)
Reply
:iconsuperkiel:
superkiel Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hey i just want your art.
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