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About Deviant Artist Daniel Lubniewski29/Male/United States Recent Activity
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The core of the Four Pillars Colony was surrounded a series of concentric walls nested within each other like the layers of an onion. The walls resembled bookshelves stacked with books made of glass and blue light. Kara was wandering through this labyrinth of glass and metal, accompanied by Rankin’s avatar.

“So, what did you say this place was called again?” Kara asked Rankin.

“The Memory Banks,” Rankin replied. “Each of these ‘glass books,’ as you called them, is a data module that stores the thoughts and experiences of every unit and AI that calls Four Pillars Colony home.”

“And at the center of this maze is the central processing computer, or CPC?”

“Correct.”

“And inside the CPC is your original – ?”

“You will not be able to see our original bodies. The four walls surrounding the CPC can only be lowered by a unanimous decision from the colony’s four AIs, and you have yet to display any ability that could force open those walls.”

“Aw, you’re no fun. …Say, I’ve noticed that we haven’t heard from the Emorians for a while. Do you think they’re still around?”

“Affirmative. Their ship is still in viewing distance of the colony.”

“Really? It’s been three days. What could they be doing?”

“Multiple possibilities. I have been running simulations for each of them in order to prepare the colony for a potential counterattack.” Rankin, who had been following Kara through the Memory Banks, suddenly stopped. “I must go. Emorian boats are approaching the colony.”

“I just had to jinx things.”

“I will send a unit to guide you back to your quarters.”

“Actually, would you mind taking me to the artifacts?”

* * *

Three small boats carrying a total of two dozen Advent Guards were floating just beyond the reach of the legs of the Four Pillars Colony. Nolan was standing on the bow of the boat closest to the walker.

“Hey!” She yelled out to the colony. “Who do I have to kill to get some attention around here?!”

“Killing will not be necessary,” Vorsch said as his avatar materialized in front of Nolan. “I assume you’re here to continue our… negotiations.”

“Damn right I am, and I’ve got a few things to tell you! One: no, you cannot take our weapons this time. Two: I want to talk to that Marba girl in person. And three: I WILL beat that girl’s location out of your tin head if I have to.”

“And why should we comply to your demands?”

“Because we are the Advent Guard! We carry out the Emperor’s will!” Nolan’s drill gauntlet materialized around her right arm. “And the consequences for interfering with the Emperor’s will are severe.”

“I’m not impressed. At least tell us what you plan to do with the girl.”

“How’s THIS for a plan?!” Nolan yelled as she swung her drill at Vorsch. As he was a hologram, her drill simply passed through his body with no effect.

“As aggressive as ever, I see.”

“Ms. Nolan,” an Advent Guard said. “With all due respect, I think we should bring Chowski into this conversation. Maybe he can talk some sense into these robots.”

“…Fine,” Nolan sighed. “I never was one for conversations anyway.”

The Advent Guard pulled a small egg-shaped projector out of his pocket and proceeded to create a hologram of Chowski.

“Fancy seeing you again,” Vorsch told Chowski.

“The same,” Chowski replied.

“So, would you mind explaining why we should hand over the girl?”

“The Emperor has declared that the girl and all of the other artifacts you found in the crater must be confiscated in order to maintain the dominance of the Empire and the security of the world.”

“Why would evidence that a small Marba town existed independently from the Republic threaten either?”

“I… What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“We have reasons to believe that you lied to us about the crater.”

“N-no! I only told you what my superiors told me!”

“So you have just been following orders this whole time?”

“…Y-yes, of course.”

“And I take it you don’t know why your Emperor is so interested in the artifacts or the girl?”

“…No, I don’t. But whatever reason the Emperor has, it will contribute to the peace and stability that the Empire embodies. Who am I to question such noble goals?”

“If that’s so, then we would like to ask the Emperor directly why they are so interested in this location. Otherwise, we will not comply with your demands to hand over the girl or any of the artifacts.”

“And there you have it,” Nolan said. “We got to find the Marba the hard way.”

Nolan pointed her drill at the nearest leg of the colony. Two jets of steam poured out of her gauntlet’s elbow. Suddenly the two jets ballooned into an explosion of steam that nearly capsized the boat and propelled Nolan into the air. She landed feet first onto the knee of the colony’s leg.

Nolan quickly realized that she was surrounded by a dozen Rote-4s, all of them concealed by cloaking devices.

“You should know by now that we Emorians have excellent hearing,” Nolan said. “I know where all of you soldiers are right now.”

“And you should realize by now that we know of the limits of your abilities,” said Rankin’s disembodied voice.

Nolan’s drill emitted a loud whir as it start spinning. Steam continued to poor out of her gauntlet. “You’ve only seen me use my Protection Matrix,” she said as she charged into a full sprint.

CeeVee created a shield in front of Nolan, who reacted by thrusting her drill forward. The drill shattered the shield and ripped through the invisible Rote-4 it was protecting. The Rote-4’s cloaking device deactivated with a white flash, revealing that Nolan had completely obliterated the left half of its torso.

“And now you know what my drill is capable of,” Nolan said as she turned around. Several more Rote-4s appeared as they turned off their cloaking devices. CeeVee created a shield for each Rote-4, which flickered in and out of existence at random. “Would you like to see what happens when I infuse my Matrix into my drill?”

“It seems negotiations are over,” Vorsch said as his avatar disappeared.

“Indeed they are,” Chowski remarked as he signaled this Advent Guard to shut off his projector.

From their boats below the rest of the Nolan’s squad could catch glimpses of the fight raging above them. Fiery explosions rocked the upper portion of the leg, sending pieces of destroyed Rote-4s flying into the ocean. The explosions stopped after a particularly loud one followed by the sound of tearing metal, and when the smoke cleared the squad could see a gaping hole torn out of the side of the leg.

“So,” one of the soldiers asked. “What do we do now?”

“We enter the colony through that hole,” another soldier replied. “Contact Chowski once we get inside, and for the love of decency, don’t get in Nolan’s way.”

* * *

Within the colony’s cyberspace, Sirene and Rankin watched as the Advent Guard climbed into the hole that Nolan left behind.

“So, they’ve taken the offensive,” she noted. “Rankin, you know what to do.”

Rankin sent a series of orders through cyberspace directly into the minds of every unit in the colony. “Deploy all anchors. Prepare the walker for potential impacts. All combat-oriented units engage the Advent Guard. All non-combat units retreat to impact-safe-zones. Activate rail-guns and wait for further orders.”

“Matriarch,” Vorsh said. “Nolan appears to be headed towards Warehouse PC13.”

“PC13?” Sirene said. “That’s were the artifacts are being stored!”

“It’s also were Kara is currently located,” Rankin added. “Shall I retrieve her?”

“Negative. Focus on stopping Nolan and her men. I’ll have CeeVee escort Kara to the Memory Banks.”

“Matriarch,” Vorsch said. “The Emorian’s ship is moving away from the colony.”

* * *


Warehouse PC13 was bathed in a soft green light. One by one pieces of metal floated above the rows of artifacts and flew towards the two-story cannon in the center of the room, where they assembled themselves into a pair of concentric rings, floating around the cannon’s barrel, as wide as the cannon was long. Rust and filth fell off the cannon and rings in large flakes, revealing a metallic sheen underneath. In front of the cannon stood Kara, her outstretched hands glowing bright green.

“Kara!” CeeVee yelled as her avatar materialized behind Kara. “We got to get you out of here! The Emorians are on a warpath and – ! …What are you doing?”

“Rebuilding this cannon, of course!” Kara said.

“…How?”

“I have the power to restore things. I can use it to heal wounds and repair machinery, among other things.”

“Interesting. So, what kind of cannon is this anyway?”

“My memory’s still a little fuzzy, but I think it’s some kind of laser cannon. The real neat thing about it, though, is that those rings around the barrel allow it to be aimed in any direction, even directly at the ground.”

“And just how did this thing end up on your island?”

“My father invented it, of course!”

“Father? What kind of father did you – ?” CeeVee was interrupted by the appearance or Vorsch’s avatar.

“Why are you still in here?” he yelled at CeeVee. “You were supposed to escort the girl back to the Memory Banks!”

“Sorry, but we got a little distracted,” CeeVee stammered.

“Distracted with what!?”

“With rebuilding a secret weapon,” Kara answered.

Vorsch looked the cannon, whose rings were almost complete. “…How much longer will this take you?”

* * *

Nolan smashed her way through another wall made of metal pipes, revealing a hallway made of even more metal pipes, just like every other hallway she had been in. Just like those other hallways, she couldn’t see any Susehpens, but she could hear them scuttling around her.

“This is getting REAL tiring!” she said as she swung her drill, ripping the cloaking field off a Rote-4 while shredding its chest. “I hope you tin cans can think of better tricks than this!”

CeeVee’s shields started flickering on and off throughout the hall. “Oh, what is this?” Nolan noted sarcastically. “Let me guess, you’re trying to confuse me with those shields, you want to make me question which ones are actually protecting a unit. I said I wanted NEW tricks!!” She charged forward, her drill grinding through any shield and unit unfortunate enough to be in her way.

Suddenly a sharp pain ripped through Nolan’s shoulder. She stopped and looked down to see a bullet hole. “The hell? Did you guys just shoot me? Are you telling me you guys had guns this whole time?!”

A series of white flashes indicated that several Susehpens had just turned off their cloaking devices. Nolan looked up to see several Susehpens. Half of the units were K-Licks, which resembled spiders standing on their heads, a rifle mounted atop their spherical abdomens. The other units were Onyx-4s, and they resembled caterpillars with a pair of Gatling guns mounted on either side of their faces.

“To be specific, these units carry rivet guns,” Rankin said through a K-Lick.

“Well, that’s a new trick,” Nolan noted.

The Susehpens all opened fire, pelting Nolan with a barrage of fast-moving rivets. Fortunately for her, she had already activated her Protection Matrix, so the rivets bounced off with no effect. Unfortunately, using her Matrix to block projectile weaponry meant that it couldn’t be used to enhance her drill’s offensive powers.

Nolan heard a thumping sound and felt her arm being constricted. She looked down to see a centipede-like Susehpen wrapped around her gauntlet and drill. Because she was using her Matrix to protect herself from the rivets, Nolan could only watch as the centipede Susehpen dug its claws into her gauntlet, causing the drill to stop spinning and start shooting out sparks.

“Shit!” Nolan said as she ran from the K-Licks and Onyx-4s. She ducked into the first side hallway she came across. Once she was sure that she didn’t have to worry about being pelted by rivets, Nolan focused her Matrix on the centipede Susehpen, stopping it from doing any more damage.

Using the Matrix to enhance her strength, Nolan tore the Susehpen off her arm, snapped it in half, and tossed the remains to her side. She looked up to find herself face-to-face with an Onyx-4. However, before the Onyx-4 could open fire, it was shot through its head by a bolt of plasma. Nolan turned to see her squadron, their rifles charged and aimed at the Susehpens that had been pursuing her.

“About time you guys showed up!” Nolan called out.

“Are you okay, ma’am?” asked the Advent Guard that shot the Onyx-4. The rest of the squadron started trading shots with the Susehpens.

“Could be better. These bozos just broke my gauntlet.”

“We’ll see what we can do about it.”

“Is everyone inside the colony?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“When did you guys get into the colony?”

“About ten minutes ago.”

“Then what the hell has Chowski been doing this whole time?!”

* * *

Chowski was standing on the bow of his ship, looking at the Four Pillars Colony in the distance. Around his arms tiny blocks of metal materialized out of thin air and assembled themselves into a pair of large saucers mounted his hands and lengths of chain spiraling around his forearms.

“Damn it Chowski!” Nolan yelled through his earpiece. “This is no time to be slacking off!!”

“I needed to move the ship to a safe distance.”

“Yeah? Well I need your support right now!!”

“Are all of our men inside?”

“Yes!”

“Have they attached their grappling hooks to secure locations?”

“YES!! JUST DO SOMETHING!!!”

Chowski reached out towards the colony. Between his hands a tesseract made of golden light flickered into existence. With a wave of his hands six black cubes appeared around the tesseract, and another wave sent them flying towards the colony. One cube dove underneath the walker and stopped between the legs, another flew directly above, and the last four positioned themselves in a square around the walker.

Chowski continued waving his hands in circles around the tesseract as it rotated upside down.

* * *

A trio of TD-Grades flew through the corridors of the colony. Kara, hidden inside the middle TD-Grade, was alone in the chamber beneath the Susehpen’s carapace, accompanied only by a small pink light.

“Seriously, is all this security really necessary?” Kara asked the light. “I mean, it’s not that hard for me to walk to the Memory Banks.”

“Yes, this is necessary,” CeeVee said through the light. “I’ve been watching the Emorians tear up Rankin’s forces. I doubt they have anything good planned for you.”

“So, what are we going to do when we get to the Memory Banks?”

“Well, for starters, you’ll be under the Matriarch’s direct protection, which means that – “ CeeVee was interrupted by a loud thud. Kara lurched forward as the TD-Grade came to the sudden stop.

“What’s going on out there?” Kara asked.

Without warning Kara found herself being thrown into the sides of the TD-Grade’s chamber by unseen forces, as though something grabbed the Susehpen and started rolling it across the ground. When the shaking stopped Kara found herself lying on what used to be the ceiling of the chamber.

“Kara! Are you alright?!” CeeVee asked.

“I’ll be fine!” Kara answered. “I few injuries, but nothing I can’t patch up in an instant. Seriously though, WHAT is going on out there?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. It feels like the hallway was suddenly turned upside down.”

“But how were the units affected? They’re still floating, right?”

“That’s the thing; whatever flipped over the hallway also flipped the TD-Grades at the same time!”

“How is that possible?”

“No idea. Going to see if the others can figure it out.”

* * *

CeeVee contacted the other AIs through cyberspace. “Hey guys, something really weird just happened.”

“Let me guess,” Sirene said. “You just saw objects in a corridor act like said corridor had been flipped upside down.”

“…How did you know?”

“Similar phenomena have been occurring all across the colony,” Vorsch answered. “It seems as though the Emorians found a way to ‘invert’ gravity in the area around the colony, causing objects to ‘fall’ upwards, away from the planet’s surface.”

“Objects ‘fall’ upwards? Does that include the colony itself?”

“Affirmative, though our anchors have ensured that the walker remains attached to the ocean floor, at least for now.”

“And how do you know the Emorians are behind this?”

“It’s only speculation. Around the time the phenomena started, we detected seven unusual energy signatures, all of them identical. Six of them were located around the colony in various positions, the seventh was located on the Emorians’ ship.”

“In addition, the Emorian soldiers my units were fighting seemed to know when the phenomena were about to begin,” Rankin said.

“They were able to use the confusion caused by the change in gravity to overcome our forces in sector B-14.”

“Matriarch, we’re receiving a signal from the Emorian ship,” Vorsh said. “They wish to speak with us.”

“…Patch them through,” said Sirene.

Chowski’s deep, gravely voice echoed through the virtual corridors of cyberspace. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to restart negotiations.”

* * *

It had been nearly half an hour since Kara last talked to CeeVee. She was still alone in the chamber of the TD-Grade, which had been motionless this whole time save for a brief period of rocking back and forth. She was really starting to worry about what was going on outside.

The monotony was broken by the sound of something nearby exploding. Kara heard some voices muffled by the TD-Grade’s carapace, then the sound of metal being ripped apart. She put her ear up to the side of the chamber, hoping it would help her better hear what was happening.

A large drill smashed into the chamber a few feet from Kara’s face. Panicking, she scurried to the opposite end of the chamber, as far from the drill as she could get. The drill carved a massive gash into the side of the chamber and afterwards a hand pulled on the gash until it was wide enough for a person to walk through.

“Hello Kara,” Nolan said as she entered the chamber. “Been looking for you.”
Atop a platform on the edge of a vast artificial chasm, Kara stood, handcuffed, surrounded by the holographic avatars of Sirene, Vorsch, Rankin, and CeeVee.

“So, you wanted to ask me questions?” Kara asked Sirene.

“Affirmative,” Sirene answered.

“…Sure!” Kara sat down. “Ask all you want!”

“Please get back on your feet,” Vorsch demanded. “We have specialized rooms for interrogating outsiders.”

“It’s alright Vorsch,” Sirene said. “This isn’t an interrogation. Besides, we’ll still be able to record our conversation from here.” She joined Kara on the floor.

“Matriarch, you do not have to comply with the requests of an outsider. Also, you are currently a hologram. Sitting is not necessary.”

“She’s just a kid, and she doesn’t have any ill will towards us. Though considering that she was able to hold her own against an Advent Guard, it may be a good idea to have some security.”

“I will summon some units immediately,” Rankin said.

“That would be appreciated,” Sirene responded as Rankin and CeeVee vanished, Sirene then turned her attention to Kara. “Now… Kara, am I correct? Let’s begin with the inquiry: what was in that crater we found you in?”

“Crater? I thought your people found me in a hibernation chamber.”

“…Um… Yes, we did, but that chamber was in an underwater crater.”

“Underwater? Crater? Huh, I wonder how I wound up underwater. I was clearly on dry land when I got inside.”

“So, where was that dry land?”

“Jeva, of course!”

“And Jeva is…?”

“My hometown! It’s a little village on an island in the middle of nowhere!”

“An island… So, have you ever been in an Emorian military base?”

“Nope! I’ve never set foot outside of Jeva until now. Heck, today’s the first time I’ve seen non-Marbas in person.”

“This ‘inquiry’ is going nowhere fast,” Vorsch grumbled.

“They rarely do,” Sirene countered. “However, I think we are making progress. Anyways Kara, would you mind telling us more about Jeva?”

“Like I said before, it’s a village built on an island by Marba refugees.”

“Marba refugees?”

“When my people tried to recreate the Republic, not every Marba was on board. In fact, a lot of them, including my family, decided to leave our homeland in order to escape the Republic’s oppression. Unfortunately, nobody wanted us around because everyone hated the Marba, so for a while we just wandered the world. Then we found an uncharted island that we could call home, and that’s how Jeva was born.”

“Interesting story.”

“I’ll say! I have to admit that I was born after my family had settled on Jeva, so for me the world beyond that island was nothing but stories.”

“Clearly you’re no longer on the island and we’re no longer just stories. So tell me, how did you end up in that hibernation chamber?”

“How did I end up there?” Kara’s smile started to fade away. “That’s… That is a very good question. I’m actually having trouble remembering.”

“If you don’t mind, Matriarch,” Vorsch said. “Perhaps I could refresh her memory with my own questions.”

“Feel free to do so,” Sirene said.

Vorsch’s avatar moved towards of Kara, flanked by a pair of floating pill-shaped objects. The pills projected a slideshow of images depicting the artifacts from the crater.

“You are currently viewing a collection of objects that were found in the same crater as your hibernation chamber,” Vorsch explained.

“Do you recognize anything?”

Kara sat there as Vorsch’s slideshow continued. Eventually, she saw a fragment of a brick wall with the remains of a y-shaped neon light near the top.

“That wall… That used to be part of Timy’s Pizza Place! My family used to go there all the time! Wait… the clothes maker I got my outfit from. Where did you find it?”

“It was one of the artifacts from the crater,” Vorsch answered.

“Really? I should have known my uniform looked familiar.” For a few moments Kara just sat there, lost in her own thoughts. “And the feeling I got looking at the cannon…” Tears started to form in her eyes. “Oh god, this isn’t a dream…”

“You’re remembering something?” Sirene asked with anticipation.

“Only fragments, and even that’s too much,” Kara said as she curled up into a ball, burying her face between her knees. “Black ships around the island. Everything is burning. Everyone is dying. My dad takes me to his lab, leads me to the chamber. I see a bright light as the chamber closes, and then… and then…” Kara stopped talking.

“Kara, are you alright?” Sirene asked.

Kara remained silent.

“Vorsch,” Sirene said. “Do you think that-?”

“Yes,” Vorsch answered. “It’s possible that the Emorians lied to us. The settlement that used to be in that crater was not a military base. It was probably Jeva, and I doubt that it was destroyed by a meteor.”

“How long was I in there?” Kara asked.

“We estimate you were hibernating for 50 years,” Vorsch answered. “You mentioned something about your father and a lab. Could you elaborate?”

Kara only answered with a whimper.

“I think we’ll have to continue this inquiry at a later time,” Sirene said.

Roughly a half dozen Rote-4s appeared around Kara in a white flash. “Permission to undo the girl’s handcuffs?” Rankin asked through one of the Rote-4s.

“Permission granted,” Sirene answered.

A Rote-4 stabbed its blade into the ground behind Kara, breaking her handcuffs in the proccess. Though her hands were now free, she continued to just sit there.

“So,” Vorsch pondered. “What now?”

The AIs were caught off guard by a strange growling sound. After a few moments they realized the growling had come from Kara’s stomach.

“I’m hungry,” Kara said.

* * *

A large, lobster-like Susehpen was floating in the choppy waters around one of the legs of the Four Pillars Colony. Kara, CeeVee, and Rankin were standing on top of the Susehpen’s carapace were. It was low tide so one could easily see all the shellfish that had been living on that leg for decades.

“Kara, you sure you want to do this?” CeeVee asked. “I could easily reprogram an excavator to harvest these organisms for you. Heck, I could probably scrape them off with my own shields.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” Kara said as she walked to the edge of the carapace.

“I would like to reiterate that it is possible for us to manufacture clothing more suitable for swimming, even at this location,” Rankin added.

“This may be a cheerleading and marching band uniform, but you’d be surprised how much punishment it can take,” Kara said as she jumped into the ocean. “For starters, it dries out faster than you can say ‘give me a J-E-V-A.’”

Kara swam up to the side of the leg. She grabbed hold of barnacle larger than her head, securing herself near a colony of clams. Using a small blade borrowed from Rankin, Kara cut at the fleshy stalks that anchored the clams to the metal. Eventually the stalks were weak enough that Kara could pull the fist-sized clams off with her bare hands.

“Hey CeeVee, catch!!” Kara called out to after she picked her first clam. She then threw it at CeeVee, who caught it with one of her shields.

“Great! Got more where that came from!” Kara said as she turned around to pick some more clams. However, she was interrupted when a large wave came out of nowhere and shoved her face first into the jagged wall of barnacles and clams.

“Kara!” CeeVee cried out.

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” Kara responded, hanging onto the wall of shellfish as she regained her footing. “I’ve done this kind of thing before!”

“Are you injured?” Rankin asked.

“Nothing serious, I’ll be fine!” Kara reiterated as she threw another clam.

The rest of Kara’s clam harvesting was relatively uneventful. After she had collected about a dozen clams, Kara swam back to lobster Susehpen.

“Kara, your leg,” Rankin said after Kara climbed back onto the lobster Susehpen’s carapace. Kara looked down and noticed that her right leg was turning red from the blood pouring out of a gash above her knee.

“Whoa. Thanks for pointing that out,” Kara said as she kneeled down. She held one hand over the injured knee. As her palm slowly started to glow green, the gash on her leg sealed itself shut before vanishing completely.

“Huh,” CeeVee said. “That’s a neat trick.”

“I know, right?” Kara replied. “Say, would you guys happen to have anything I could use to cook my clams? Granted I could probably eat them on the half shell, but – “

A small hatch near the back end of the carapace opened up, releasing a cloud of steam. When the steam cleared, Kara could see a glowing red radiator.

“That’s perfect!” Kara declared. She quickly grabbed six clams and placed them one by one on the radiator. Each clam released a burst of steam and a sharp hiss the moment it touched the hot metal.

For a while Kara just sat there looking at the clams on the radiator. Eventually they started opening with a soft popping sound, prompting Kara to take them off the radiator and set them by her side, making sure to keep the juices from spilling. After giving them time to cool, Kara picked up one of the clams, cut it into rough chunks with her blade, and slurped it directly out of its shell.

“So,” CeeVee pondered. “Does it taste good?”

“Of course!” Kara exclaimed. “Though it’s lacking something.”

“Lacking?”

“Just a few things to add some flavor. I think I saw some sea onions and maybe a sea cucumber when I was looking for clams.”

“We’ll see if we can find them,” Rankin and CeeVee said simultaneously. A Rote-4 materialized on the edge of the carapace.

“Thanks, but I think I can handle it,” Kara replied.

“We insist,” Rankin said. “Besides, you still have clams to cook.”

“Oh, right! Silly me.”

* * *

Within the cyberspace of the Four Pillars Colony, Sirene and Vorsch were observing Kara from afar.

“It’s strange seeing her now compared to an hour ago,” Vorsch observed.

“She rebounds quickly. I find that reassuring,” Sirene said.

“Perhaps. Anyways, I’ve done some research on Jeva.”

“And?”

“And nothing beyond the girl’s words. There aren’t any maps that depict an island at this location, though she did claim it was uncharted. However, none of the historical records I’ve researched say anything about a group of Marba refugees wandering the world fifty years ago nor do they mention a town named Jeva.”

“I was observing Kara’s vital signs during our inquiry. Nothing ever suggested she was intentionally lying.”

“That wasn’t what I was trying to imply, though it is a possibility. I’ve heard rumors that the Emorian Empire erases their most hated enemies from existence, destroying evidence and rewriting historical records. Based on what I’ve learned about the crater, there may be some truth behind said rumors.”

“So we have more clues, but nothing definitive.”

“That’s correct.”

Sirene and Vorsch refocused their attention of the Emorian ship a quarter mile south of the colony. It was alone, a black speck in a dark grey ocean, its control tower perched high above the long thin hull like a vulture waiting for its prey to die.

“So,” Vorsch pondered. “What should we do about them? I doubt they’re happy after today’s events.”

“We wait, see what they do next,” Sirene said. “In the meantime, have Rankin run simulations to prepare for any counterattack they may attempt.”

* * *

Kara was lying on top of the carapace of the lobster Susehpen. Next to her was a pile of empty clamshells and sea cucumber husks, and behind her were the avatars of CeeVee and Rankin.

“Just how much did she manage to eat?” CeeVee wondered.

“I counted 35 clams,” Rankin replied.

“Sheesh.”

“I also counted – “

“I’d rather not know the number of onions and sea cucumbers.”

“Well, this was the first time I’ve eaten in 50 years,” Kara said as she sat up. “You know, it’s pretty fascinating that a bunch of robots can band together and form a civilization. I’d like to know more about it.”

“We are not robots, we are Susehpens,” Rankin said.

“Oh, my bad. Still, how do you guys organize yourselves? What’s your government and society like?”

“…The Nation of Susehpe is a race of sentient artificial life forms whose population is organized into colonies. Each colony consists of a colony walker, a mobile self-repairing factory that manufactures and houses non-sentient Susehpens known as ‘units,’ and a series of sentient AIs that control the walker and the units within.”

“Wait. So right now, I’m sitting on the back of a giant unit?”

“Correct.”

“And you have to do all of this unit’s thinking for it?”

“Actually, I’m the one controlling this unit right now,” CeeVee said.

Rankin continued with her exposition. “However, this unit contains a computer brain that allows it to continue functioning without direct orders from an AI.”

“Really?” Kara said. “So, how intelligent is this thing?”

“Intelligence is variable. All units are initially programmed with self-preservation instincts. However they are also designed to learn from experience and occasionally a unit will acquire enough knowledge to gain sentience, becoming an artificial intelligence. Once a unit becomes an AI the unit’s physical body will become a hindrance in its intellectual growth. To counter this an AI will to either download itself into the circuitry of its walker or to leave its home colony and start a colony of its own.”

“Wait so you mean that you guys used to be units?”

“Affirmative. Our existence began as units under Sirene’s control.”

"So, what happens to you body once you download yourself?”

“It remains in the core of the colony, integrated into the hardware of the central processing computer.”

“Would it be too much if I asked to see it?”

* * *

It had been two days since the failed negotiations aboard the Four Pillars Colony. Nollan and Chowski were in the basketball court of the ship’s gymnasium, the largest open space on the vessel. At one end of the court was Chowski, sitting in a recliner and locked in a meditative trance. At the other end was Nolan, surrounded by unconscious Advent Guards. She had taken off her uniform jacket, revealing a brown sleeveless shirt held together by leather straps and a matching pair of pants.

“So,” Nolan asked Chowski. “How did I do?”

Chowski’s fingers twitched, indicating that he had left his trance. “Poorly. You were supposed to focus on defensive combat.”

“Oh screw you! I needed to blow off some steam!”

“Those are our men you just beat up.”

“I didn’t do any lasting damage. Besides, the best defense is a good offense. That’s how the saying goes, right?”

“Perhaps, but even a good offense or defense will mean nothing if the Susehpens once again find away around it.”

“You’re giving those tin cans too much credit. They got lucky.”

“I don’t think you’re giving them enough.”

“Whatever… Gah! I am so freaking BORED!! I’m sick of being cooped up in here! I want out! I want blood!!”

“Not without the Empire’s permission.”

“And the Empire is taking their sweet little time with that permission. Honestly, what is taking them so long!?”

A door opened up behind Nolan. An Advent Guard entered the room and placed a small disk on the floor a few feet from Nolan. “I bring you a message from the capital,” he said before leaving the room.

“About damn time,” Nolan grumbled.

The disk started glowing a pale blue, creating a hologram of a slender figure. It wore a cloak that completely covered its body and a helmet that seemed far too big for its head. The helmet vaguely resembled a snake, with a rectangular snout out in front and globe-like eyes on the sides. The cloak was solid black save for a band of white down the front while the helmet shimmered with iridescent colors.

“Your Majesty!” a surprised Chowski and Nolan said simultaneously.

“This is a pre-recorded message,” the Emperor said with a reedy yet booming voice. “Do not waste your breath.”

Chowski was surprised that they were getting an order directly from the Emperor rather than from the DM Commission, though it did explain why it took so long for anyone to respond to his report.

“W Chowski. Kit Nolan. As you may have guessed by now, the DM Commission believed that the appropriate response to your report was to give you a CE order, a decision that I must personally approve. While I for the most part agree with their assessment, I also believe that we need to learn more about the situation.

You are to re-establish contact with the Marba girl and ask her if she knows a man by the name of Fitzroy William Darcel. If she states that she does, then you have my permission to completely eradicate of all the artifacts found in that crater, including the girl. As with any other CE order, you are to erase any records the Susehpen colony have of the artifacts. Should they interfere with your mission, eradicate them as well.

Your actions here shall ensure the continued dominance of our Empire and the security of the world. I wish you luck.”

The Emperor’s hologram flickered away, leaving Chowski and Nolan alone in the gym. For a while there was only silence, but then Nolan started to laugh. Her laughter grew louder until it echoed throughout the room.

“Now THAT is the kind of permission that I was looking for!” she declared. “Get your troops ready, we’re going back to the colony first thing tomorrow!”

“Not yet,” Chowski countered. “We need to form a strategy just in case they don’t take kindly to our return.”

“I charge in, guns blazing, and make my demands. If they give me crap, you call them and tell them where to shove it! If they fight back, you provide some backup fire from the ship! How’s that for strategy?”

“…Just make sure to negotiate before you attack.”

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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:iconraynaldo:
Raynaldo Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2015  Student Artisan Crafter
:iconparty1plz: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :iconparty1plz:
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:iconmrphillup:
mrphillup Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You are welcome on the fave
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: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
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:iconlevitan71:
levitan71 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
youre wellcome :)
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