Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Xenophobia - Chapter 30



    "Get out of that solar system." A'alan't 32 said with a mix of stern decisiveness and motherly concern. "Let events play out however they will. You're done there."
    "Ma'am?" Harris asked with a lit of surprise.
    "If the humans are gearing up, that's a third army that's mobilizing for battle in that same area. First the Tulgucks, then the Gorderians, and now them."
    Darrian and the other councilors quietly regarded her for a moment before she said.
    "It's not safe for you to stay there anymore."
    Harris seemed to consider this for a moment.
    "You're not wrong." He said after a thinking for a second. "But I'll have to decline."
    A'alan't 32 gave him a quizzical look.
    "Given your direction," Harris continued. "I'll offer those few individuals I have with me the opportunity to head home. But I, at the very least, will stay here until the conflict has resolved itself."
    "But why?" Cagool demanded, sounding quite confused.
    "Monstrous as the humans are in their design," he responded, "I've grown quite interested to see this played out until the end."
    "No matter the outcome." Harris finished with a glance back towards A'alan't 32.
    A'alan't gave him a small nod.
    "Thank you." she said softly.
    There were several other nods and murmured agreements from around the room.
    Harris regarded the room for a moment before saying, "I'll send you a quick report of anyone who is staying and anyone who is going. That way you know which of the survey team to expect back home."
    A'alan't 32 nodded once more before terminating the transmission. The holographic imager went dark and the room eerily quiet with it.

    Despite the fact that there was no real survey data to review and that they had no mediator, the councilors spent the majority of the cycle in the conference room.
    Some of it was spent reviewing the personnel list that Harris forwarded shortly after his transmission. However, the majority of it was spent discussing and pondering what this sudden preparation might spell for them and the impending armada.
    "Not to mention the galactic community." Darrian had offered stoically.
    The implication of what humans might infer from their first interactions with alien races being violent was not lost on any of the councilors. Given how war-like the humans tended to be, the thought of what might come from aliens being viewed as hostile was terrifying to consider. If these naturally violent creatures expected violence, they might enter the universe with the intent to do harm.
    The one thing they could all agree on, however, was that whatever happened on the next cycle would determine the future for the species. The Tulgucks would reach Mars and, three cycles later, Earth.

    "Do we know if the ships Harris mentioned will reach Mars by the next cycle?" Darrian asked.
    "Ships?" responded Ferris.
    "The ones that were en route to Mars."
    "I think so." Illiquina confirmed. "Based on the speed, they should actually reach there by early to mid cycle."
    "Just in time to meet the Tulgucks." A'alan't 32 said quietly.
    The four of them sat quietly, the implication weighing heavily on them. While the other councilors had left, they had stayed by Illiquina's request.
    "So you wanted us for something, Illiquina?" A'alan't 32 asked as she settled herself heavily at the conference table.
    "I did." she confirmed and drew out her datapad.
    It always bothered Darrian how she seemed to pull that thing from nowhere.
    "Did you find something new out?" he asked her.
    "I did actually." Illiquina repeated with a knowing smirk.
    She quickly tapped out a few commands on her datapad. To their surprise, the holographic imager powered up a moment later.
    "Oh wow." Ferris commented. "I didn't know you had access to the imager."
    "I don't..." she said, her voice drifting off.
    The imager hummed for a moment, glew, and, to the group's surprise, generated the image of a diminutive Gorderian.
    "Jin'thun!" they exclaimed with surprise.
    "I'm glad you're still in conference." he said growled out. "I was worried tha-"
    Jin'thun took a moment to regard the empty room.
    "It's just you?"
    A'alan't 32 nodded.
    "Correct. It's a long story."
    "You can tell me later." he said quickly. "Get the judge."
    "About that-" Ferris began.
    The group proceeded to fill Jin'thun in on the details that he'd missed: the Judge, the malfunction, the disappearance, and how they seemingly weren't being provided a mediator by the Merrenian government. They got the impression that Jin'thun was in a rush and tried to make the details short and to the point.
    "So who's mediating the meetings?" he demanded.
    "Officially...no one." Darrian offered. "However A'alan't 32 has stepped up to help try and lead us."
    "Good enough."
    "So what's the issue?" Ferris asked
    "We've arrived." he growled. "We're in orbit over Mars and waiting for the Tulgucks to arrive."

===

Next Chapter (Coming Soon!)
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Start at the Beginning

===  

(Hello Lovelies. So, I just wanted to apologize for the delay and let you know that it is related to our previous discussion. At the moment, I'm still undecided as to how we will proceed. However, no matter our direction, I need to return to regular updates. I deeply appreciate all the recommendations and will be considering many of them. Thank you. That said, I hope you enjoy!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thinking


Hello Lovelies,

So, recently I had someone point out to me something and begin a discussion about something I hadn't deeply thought about before: the overall traffic appeal of my site.

While, I certainly have never had any intent on building some 'click-bait' style website whose sole purpose is the acquisition of views and followers, there's a certain appeal to the idea of spreading to a wider audience. The discussion revolved around the idea that there might be a stronger drive to attract new followers and individuals if I opened up more on the site and provided a little bit more fun content. A few simpler posts, attractions, pictures, and such might do more to appeal to a wider audience versus my current style which is 'bludgeoning people with fiction'.

Now, my original idea with my blog revolved around the idea of having a slowly spreading site focused solely on works of fiction as a means of both increasing my own writing abilities as well as spreading the works of others. However, the discussion in question made me question if the approach is to heavy handed and unappealing.

While I've been chewing on this for the better half of a week, I realized that the question might be better suited to my current readers:

Would you find the site more overly enjoyable with the
addition of a few simpler posts and some sillier content,
outside of chapters, excerpts, and short stories?

I'm honestly torn on the idea. Overall, I feel like I could more easily post content with better consistency if I wasn't holding myself to producing new content at all times. On the other hand, I'm not sure if this notion appeals to my current readers.

Any input is welcome, both as blog authors and readers. I've been beating the question about in my skull and just can't decide on what would be the best course of action. Thank you for any advice you might offer.

- RB

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Xenophobia - Chapter 29


    Darrian felt a welling sense of excitement deep inside him.
    The humans were preparing for a fight.
    But wait a second...
    "How do we know it's regarding the Tulgucks?" Darrian asked hesitantly. "Surely there must be some kind of a response to whatever is happening on Mars. How are you sure this isn't it?"
    "Well..." Harris began.
    "He's right." Ferris quickly added in. "Why would you presume that it was in response to the Tulgucks?"
    Ferris glanced around and a few nods of agreement confirmed they were wondering the same.
    "Actually, it's..."
    "What are they even doing?" Ugul asked absently.
    Harris gave them all a look of annoyance and they quieted.
    "You want answers or do you just want to hear each other prattle on?"
    "Answers, please." Ferris responded in an almost playful manner.
    "Our apologies, Harris. Please continue." A'alan't 32 added quickly.
    "To begin, with regards to Mars, the humans already responded while you all were on vacation."
    "We weren't..." Cagool started to protest.
    "The humans," Harris quickly emphasized, cutting Cagool off. "dispatched two ships en route to Mars. While we're no longer on the planet, imagery of their departure suggested that they were a touch more prepared this time."
    "Prepared?" Darrian asked.
    "For mounds of violence, I'd expect." Illiquina offered.
    "You'd be correct." Harris confirmed. "However, shortly after the ships departure, the humans seemed to have noticed something. I can only presume it was the Tulgucks."
    "You said that earlier." Cagool interjected. "Why do you think it was the Tulgucks?"
    "Because the humans stopped fighting." Harris said. "And they started building."
    The councilors all exchanged confused glances.
    "Look, what do you know about humans?" he asked when he realized he hadn't made himself understood.
    "They're scary." Ugul offered.
    "They breathe oxygen." Illiquina added.
    "They love to fight each other." A'alan't 32 said thoughtfully after a moment.
    Harris nodded his confirmation.
    "One of the primary consistencies, and the reason the Tulgucks were scared of them in the first place, was the humans' tendencies towards war and violence." Harris stated. "And about a cycle ago, intraplanetary violence, particularly extreme measures between geographic locations utilizing ground troops and heavy artillery, ceased by 96%."
    "W-wow." Stuttered Ferris.
    "Wow indeed." Harris confirmed. "Instead they have all suddenly dedicated themselves to construction."
    "Of what?" asked Illiquina.
    "Warcraft. Space-faring warcraft."
    The councilors fell silent once again.
    "How-" A'alan't 32 began.
    "We, of course, are unable to properly determine exactly what the humans are building, particularly those units behind closed doors." Harris said quickly, cutting off A'alan't 32. "But we've counted a minimum of eight hundred separate spacecraft of varying degrees of sophistication."
    "You're serious?" Cagool asked. "You expect us to believe that, in less than a cycle, the humans have mobilized enough to begun construction of nearly a thousand craft."
    "Minimum." Harris confirmed.
    Cagool stared hard at Harris, seemingly choosing his next words carefully.
    "It's not like it matters." he finally said. "The most powerful weapon they have are nuclear devices. They're crude...they might as well throw rocks."
    "Perhaps, but even with the single trip to Mars, they were able to vastly improve upon their own technologies for the second trip." Harris said. "With motivation, I'd say the humans might just be able to rustle up more than you give them credit for."
    "It won't make a difference." Cagool snapped to the councilors' surprise.
    "That said." Harris said turning to A'alan't 32. "My men and I will be leaving their immediate orbit and spacegrounds. I don't care to be used as target practice once those ships are mobile."
    "Understood." A'alan't 32 confirmed.
    "I'll remain within the solar system and use long range systems to keep an eye on them, but I think the Tulgucks might be in for more of a resistance than the planned for."
    "That's absurd!" Cagool exclaimed.
    "Absurd or not." Harris said coolly. "Believe me or not. I'm telling you that the humans are gearing up for a fight. And, for the first time in their existence, it's not going to be with each other."

 ===

Next Chapter (Coming Soon!)
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=== 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Of Piracy & Hunters - Guest Author: Samantha Shattles



___________________________________________
Guest Author: Samantha Shattles

(Author Note: Original piece from a larger novel, Is on my blog too, which is still under construction mostly)

Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
October 21, 1718

"It's a mockery," spat Charles Vane. "He's hunting us and you marry your favorite daughter to him. You should have stuck and bled him like a pig!"

"And given Lily to you," Blackbeard finished, eyeing his fellow captain. "I think not. Ben's been good to me for many years. And he will be good to Lily."

"Mark me, he will give you to the governor."

"I took the pardon. Governor Eden looks the other way and receives a large bounty for doing so."

Vane huffed and looked on at the wedding celebration going on. Benjamin Hornigold had lifted his bride into his arms and was spinning the giggling girl. Vane gave a mighty sigh and said, "She should have been mine."

"You would have been shit to her. You're nothing but a brute."

"What care have you? To your own wife you've been nothing but violent to. What care you for Lily's treatment when you are no better than that which you seek to shelter her from?"

"I'll not suffer my child to be beaten and ravaged by a dog of a man. She deserves better man then we are."

"And you think Hornigold is that man? Then you really have taken leave of your senses."

"Ben has always treated her kindly and he has protected her. He can give her what neither of us can. We are dying out, Charles. All of us will die by the sword or at the gallows. The British will see to that. But he has a way out and he'll not leave her a widow."

"Help me take back Nassau and we don't have to die."

"You have my answer. Take Jack and Anney. But I'll not be going on that folly."

"I will go," Vane said, his tone turning dark. "I'll win back Nassau. And then I'll cut Hornigold's throat and take his bride for my own when the governor sends him after me."

Blackbeard gave Vane a scathing look. "You claim to love her while you talk of widowing her."

"I do love her," snapped Vane. "I've loved that lass. T'was I that had her first kiss and I that would have had her maidenhead had your damned Claw not taken her from me!"

"And you're damn lucky that I didn't have your cock for it!"

Vane glared at Blackbeard and then turned his eyes back to the party. He watched Benjamin kiss Lily, pulling her close. Blackbeard was watching him closely though, gauging whether or not he'd have to slit this man's throat where they stood.

"For Lily's sake, I will leave him in peace," growled Vane. "But if he tries to take Jack, I will forget that I loved her and I will cut him from stem to stern."

Blackbeard watched as Vane stalked away back to the party and sat himself down next to Jack Rackam and Anne Bonny. He sighed, watching his daughter dance around fire with her husband. He knew he had made the right decision, planned everything so prudently. Not even the devil himself could deny it.

___________________________________________

(Hello Lovelies. Today, you got to enjoy an excerpt from our wonderful Guest Author, Samantha Shattles, who has posted with us before with her short excerpt called "Railyard Ghost". I hope you enjoyed it. It's part of a larger story that is in production so, if you're a fan of the style and the subject matter, I'd encourage you to check her out at her site by clicking here. If you ever want to partner with RBPublishing, please let us know. Otherwise, see you soon for Chapter 29 of Xenophobia!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 28


    The next cycle past without word from Illiquina or the Merrenian council.
    The cycle after that passed with equal silence.
    Darrian felt his nerves beginning to fray at the thought that time would simply pass endless while he wasted away in his office. Illiquina would accomplish nothing and the humans would die in a blaze of hellfire without any help from the outside.
    It was on the dawn of the third cycle, roughly one cycle from the supposed arrival of the Tulgucks at Mars, that he finally received a summons.
    And he was surprised to find that it was from A'alan't 32.
    "Report to the council chambers." was all the message said.
  
    Arriving at the conference room, Darrian approached A'alan't 32 and Illiquina stand at the far end of the table. However they quickly waved him away.
    "Not now." A'alan't 32 quickly said. "After."
    He looked around to realize that it wasn't just them. The other council members were slowly filtering into the room. Not only Ferris, but also Cagool, Cherryl, and Ugul.
    "What's this about?" Cagool demanded.
    "Oh, don't complain, Cagool." Ferris snipped at him as he settled at the table.
    "I'll complain if I want to." Cagool started in defense. "We don't even know where the old judge is or if he'll be joining us."
    Darrian had been wondering the same thing.
    So far, they'd requested the Merrenian council to provide a second middle-man for their council, but their requests had since been ignored. He'd considered it might be that someone behind the scenes might think it useless to assign a middle-man of the entire species would be dead in a matter of cycles, but Darrian tried to ignore that paling thought.
    Instead, he took his spot and looked expectantly at A'alan't 32.
    "At this point, it doesn't matter if the old judge is here." A'alan't 32 said to Cagool. "We have work to do."
    "Does it really matter? They're going to be dead in a couple of cycles. Then we find a new council."
    "Don't talk like that." said Ugul with a hint of sadness to his voice.
    "It matters." A'alan't 32 declared firmly.
    "Why?" Cagool asked again.
    "Because Harris and his team are still doing their jobs." she responded coolly. "The least we can do is return the favor."
    Darrian nodded and there were murmurs of agreement. Harris and his team were still out in a hostile, unforgiving solar system where they had to steer clear of toxic oxygen gasses, mutant plant monsters, and an incoming armada. The least they could do was review the information and send back responses.
    Or tell them to come home.
    "Just bring them back." Cagool snapped sharply, as if reading Darrian's thoughts.
    "No." Darrian said firmly. "If the old judge was right about anything, it's that we need to gather as much info as we can."
    "About those Guillae things?" Ugul asked.
    "About anything."
    There were a few sidelong glances, but it was clear that they were simply tired of the bickering and arguments.
    "Fine." Cagool said with resignation. "Anything's better than just sitting in my damn office all day."
    A'alan't 32 gave an approving nod and a smile and went about working the datapad. While she was not nearly as quick as the old judge with it and she needed to ask Illiquina for help a couple of times, she soon had the holographic imager running hot. A moment later, they were flipping through the messages from Harris.
    Many of them were so drull that Darrian regretted agreeing with A'alant 32.
    For all of the terrifying images that they had seen from Mars of Human-Guillae hybrids and the implications there-in, the data being sent in was almost non-existent. No video, no audio, and almost exclusively sampling and satellite imagery. Miles worth of long-range scans and data but nothing substantial. It was only after the hundredth orbital survey that someone finally said it.
    "They're not on the planet anymore."
    "You're right." agreed A'alan't 32.
    "But why?"
    Tense glances were exchanged, followed by a few unhelpful suggestions as to why the survey team might have retreated to orbit, but it was quickly agreed upon.
    "We have to contact them. Figure out what's going on."
    It took another few minutes of fiddling with the datapad before they got anywhere. Illiquina was talented and A'alan't 32 had watched the old judge, but neither of them really knew half of what he did up there at the front of the table. It wasn't until someone had the bright idea to reverse trasmit an old message that they got anywhere.
    A moment later, they were greeted with the steel-faced grimace of Harris.
    "Well isn't this a surprise." he commented. "Where's the old judge?"
    "We don't actually know." responded Ferris.
    The councilors took time relaying the incidents that occurred several cycles back; of the odd behavior and the sudden disappearance. Harris listened intently, but Darrian couldn't help but notice a twisting look of concern.
    "So that's it then? He just went crazy and ran off? No one's seen him since?" he asked in summation.
    There were a few murmured agreements.
    "Well damn." he groaned. "I'm not sure how I'm supposed to proceed from here then. I'll have to try to reach out to the Merrenian council directly."
    "Good luck with that." mumbled Ferris.
    "Don't bother." Cagool said. "Just come home. No point in being out there."
    "I can't." Harris responded.
    A'alan't 32 gave him a sidelong glance.
    "Why not?"
    "It's the humans." he said, returning her gaze.
    "What? There are still survivors after that catastrophe on Mars?"
    "No. Mars is a wasteland...if you can call it that. Technically, there's already vegetation regrowing around the bases but the humans themselves have all been...converted."
    "Then why stay?" asked Darrian.
    "You might have noticed that we've returned to orbit?" Harris responded.
    "I was wondering about that." commented Ferris.
    "It's so we can keep a better eye on Earth and Mars." he said thoughtfully.
    "Why?" asked Illiquina bluntly.
    "Because I only have so many people." he responded in exasperation. "I can't send recon teams to both locations. I have to use long range imaging."
    "I think what Illiquina means," offered Darrian, "is why are you so focused on watching both."
    Harris remained quiet for a second before responding.
    "It's the humans. I think they've noticed the incoming Tulgucks. The humans on Earth are mobilizing some sort of counter offensive unit. They're preparing for the attack."

 ===

Next Chapter (Coming Soon!)
Previous Chapter
Start at the Beginning

=== 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays



Hello Lovelies,

So, today there isn't much to say except:

Happy Holidays!

Also accepted phrases include Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Yule, Joyous Festivous, and more! All in all, I'm one of those dirty heathens that celebrates Christmas and enjoys the time spent with family and friends.

That said, I hope you all have a wonderful time and enjoy what you can with those you love. We'll see you back here bright and early in a couple days!

- RB

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Xenophobia - Chapter 27


    The others glanced around at each other, not sure what to say. Illiquina watched them with an excited look that quickly dwindled.
    A moment of silence later, she buried her face back in her datapad and started pounding away.
    "I'm not sure I understand." Darrian said thoughtfully, the first one to speak again."So whoever it was that changed the info in the archives...they forgot to remove the information on the old judge's brothers?"
    "In essence." Illiquina responded with a mischievous smile, still typing furiously.
    "Wow." Ferris said stupidly.
    "Yep!" she said gleefully.
    "That seems like a huge oversight." Ferris continued.
    "Yes and no." Illiquina remarked.
    Ferris and Darrian traded confused glances.
    "What do you mean by that?" Darrian asked.
    Illiquina didn't respond.
    The silence grew louder, intensified by the incessant tapping.
    "Illiquina?" A'alan't 32 finally interjected.
    "Mmm?"
    "What do you mean?" A'alan't 32 repeated.
    "Well..." she said looking up. "whoever came through and changed the information on the judge did alter the information on the judge's brothers."
    Ferris let out a sharp, annoyed groan.
    "Then how is it any better than the judge's entry?" Ferris demanded.
    "Because they only deleted the info." she responded with a joyous grin.
    Again, they found themselves just staring at the little Cadrax.
    "How is that any different?" Ferris asked. "Or useful?"
    Illiquina's face darkened.
    "Actually, it's very useful." She quickly spat. "The judge's article was deleted and altered. His brothers only had specific segments removed and nothing else."
    "Or redacted, if you will." she added as an after thought.
    "How is that-" Ferris began.
    "Oh for the love of-! You really don't understand how your archive servers store information, do you?" she spat.
    "Illiquina." A'alan't 32 interjected once more with a warning in her tone.
    "Oh fine!"
    "Treat us as if we know nothing." Ferris quipped.
    "Like that would be hard." she snapped.
    Illiquina straightened herself up and took a deep breath, setting the datapad to the side for a moment.
    "Look: the archives are meant to store information." Illiquina started. "Meaning that, unless it has a good reason to, it doesn't simply purge information."
    "Information like 'old records', perhaps?" A'alan't 32 offered.
    "Precisely."
    "So you're saying that deleting something isn't a good enough reason to purge it from the archives?" Darrian asked, sounding utterly confused.
    "No! With multi-thread archiving, deleting something is just the beginning!" she said more excited than annoyed now. "If anything it's really just a hindrance."
    "I don't get it." Darrian said.
    "Me either." added Ferris.
    Illiquina stared at them with a look of complete derision.
    "Like I said: me know nothing." Ferris quickly shot out.
    Illiquina groaned under her breath.
    "Deleting is just the first level of the multi-thread purge in these systems. It removes the information from being readily displayed but it doesn't actually get rid of it. Unless the actual articles were altered...changed to reflect new information...none of the information in the stored backups is going to change."
    "In short," she continued. "If I can dig into the backup servers, I can pull out all of the information about our judge's dear old brothers."
    Darrian stared at the little Cadrax in awe. She was small and unassuming but she very well might be the most impressive one of the group.
    "Tha-that's incredible." stammered Darrian.
    "Damn straight."
    "What do you need from us?" asked A'alan't 32.
    "Absolutely nothing." she retorted. "Unless you know how to manually bypass 768 bit encryption or know how to plant a worm that will bypass security and draw out their database backups without triggering something?"
    "Do what now?"
    "That's what I thought." she said, scooping up her datapad.
    "How long should it take?" asked Darrian.
    "A while." Illiquina offered. "It might be worth heading home at this point. I'm going to keep working and let you know when I've made some headway. Very well might be a cycle."
    "Good luck." Ferris offered.
    Illiquina snorted and disappeared out into the hall.
        And with nothing better to do, the group said their goodbyes and made their way to their respective homes. That night, for the first time in a while, Darrian wasn't thinking of the humans or what was going on in their Sol system. His thoughts were racing with the possibilities with what Illiquina might find.

 ===

Next Chapter (Coming Soon!)
Previous Chapter
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===