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Tales From the Bunker is a collection of short stories and encounters revolving around the special operators of the Galactic Senate Special Operations Corps.

Extreme Cultural DifferencesEdit

Before the first mission

As the GSSOC was exploring the Bunker, Ahrganot eyed a rather strange piece of furniture. It had a smooth, sleek surface extending horizontally from one end of the room to the other with many chairs situated at its sides.

"So...what is that supposed to be?" Ahrganot asked Etah.

"That my good friend, is the dinner table," Etah replied. "On special occasions, we go here to celebrate with a feast."

"Er...with who?"

"Why everyone in the Bunker of course. It's a special occasion after all." Ahrganot raised an eyebrow just as Etah finished that sentence. Dirty images flooded his mind of some rather taboo topics. The fact that everyone in the room was a different species made it worse. An Eteno, Dhragolon, Karnasaur, Delson and Human engaging in this taboo thing.

"...Yeah...I'll keep in mind to stay out of this room while the rest of you are...you know...doing your stuff. Not sure about your cultures, but I'm not fond of participating," His face crinkled in disgust, he speedily walked away.

Everyone else's face shriveled in puzzlement. Knowing the reason why Ahrganot walked away, Tholker covered his mouth, trying not to laugh at what awkward subject Etah brought up.

"I don't understand," Galiana inquired. "Why doesn't he like to have dinner with us?"

"Well," Etah began. "I got so carried away with this tour, that I forgot about Dhragolon traditions of consuming food. They view group dinners like this as...something else."

"And what's that?" Galiana asked.

"Well, in Dhragolon tradition, offering someone a large meal is considered-"

"-a breeding request," Tholker abruptly cut into.

Galiana raised her own eyebrows and widened her eyes. "So, what we just told Ahrganot was-"

"Yeah..." Etah uttered.

Awkward silence immediately followed.

GunsEdit

“Mhmm… Yes, this is nice. Oh yeah.”

Etah paused in front of Tholker’s door. His mutterings were just audible beyond the wooden door, and curious ones at that. The Immortal Colonel listened for the suggestive-sounding speech to continue. Perhaps Etah had stumbled upon one of Tholker and Karla’s intimate moments again, and that would mean blackmail material, a commodity valuable for so many different reasons.

“Look at that… Yes, nice fit. Just let me polish this up a bit.”

The Karnasaur fought back a snicker. Whatever was going on behind that door, it was something the Eteno and someone else (Etah thought that the identity of the other participant was easy to guess) was a enjoying. Ahrganot and Pyro were absorbed yet again in a sort of Chess-like game, both in deep, silent contemplation. Sol I Dor and Galiana were off in the training rooms, exploring some sort of ancient Delson form of combat. Etah continued to listen to the incriminating speech. If it got too good to keep to himself, he’d have to invite someone else over for a listen. Etah stealthily put his ear up against the door.

“And that just slides in there… That goes here… Oh my, look at this…”

Indeed, it was too good for the Karnasaur to keep just to himself. He tiptoed over to Ahrganot and Pyro’s game, and tapped the Dhragolon of the two on the shoulder.

“Listen to this.” Etah mouthed, beckoning them to follow.

Reluctantly, Ahrganot stood and followed, with Pyro eagerly in tow. Perhaps some cultural information was to be apprehended. Etah again put his ear up against Tholker’s door, with his two GSSOC comrades following suit.

“And just look how this all comes together… Mmm… Yes…”

Etah smiled, Ahrganot scowled, and Pyro grinned.

“I’m liking this… Just look at the… Oh, the power…”

“See?” The Karnasaur said.

Pyro replied, “Some things are quite universal.”

Ahrganot was less pleased, “If Tholker’s doing what I think he’s doing… Unbecoming!”

With narry a second thought, the Dhragolon burst into his supposedly-lewd comrade’s quarters, only to be reminded of just what kind of person Tholker was by the sight before him. Indeed, the Eteno had been up to something that he enjoyed. Gun parts were strewn out over a workbench, and hand-loaded cartridges found themselves neatly organised into a series of small boxes. A half-complete machine gun dominated the centre of the workbench, which seemed to have been the object of Tholker’s cooing.

“Need something, Ahrganot?”

Skizgo sighed, and resigned to his game.

“What’s his problem?”

“I think he just forgot who exactly you are, Tholker. Carry on, I suppose.” Etah replied, before leaving in a disappointed manner similar to Ahrganot’s. Pyro was the last eavesdropper remaining.

“What is it with you and firearms, Captain Zhevhyit?”

Damn, This Is Awkward...Edit

Etah was ticked off.

Once again, Tholker violated their pact and trashed all the training mechs, so Etah had to wait to do his practice. He had a good idea for a training sim, too; It involved a target with Titanic enhancements. Just a little something to have fun with. He was storming down the Bunker halls to Tholker's room to give him a piece of his mind.

Stopping in front of Tholker's door, he began pounding on it.

"Thoker! Open up!"

Etah was met with silence.

"Tholker! We agreed not to trash all the mechs at once!"

More silence.

"Damn it, open up!"

Still no response.

"THOLKER! IF YOU VALUE YOUR TRAINING ROOM RIGHTS, OPEN UP!"

Still nothing.

"THOLKER. IF YOU DON'T OPEN THIS DOOR THIS INSTANT, I AM GOING TO PRY IT OPEN MYSELF."

Despite the threats, Tholker still didn't open the door.

"DAMN IT, THOLKER, I WARNED YOU!!!"

Etah proceeded to punch in the lockdown override codes to open the door manually. After he punched in the last digit, he gripped the door's edge and pulled it open with one swift motion.

And he felt nothing but swift regret immediately afterwards.

Tholker was on the couch with Karla, their faces interlocked in an intimate, passionate kiss. Karla looked up at the intruder, and gave a small scream. Tholker looked over at Etah (who would be blushing, if he had veins in his skin) and immediately felt a massive surge of the awkwardness. Especially since his shirt was off.

Etah didn't feel quite so ticked off anymore.

Silently stepping back from the room, Etah grabbed the door again and slowly pulled it shut, not breaking eye contact with Tholker for a second. After he shut the door, he turned around and stared into space, wide-eyed with awkwardness. Ahrganot came into the hallway and approached Etah.

"Oh, Etah, Tholker wanted me to tell you he'd make up those mechs for you later, just to leave him alone for a few hours. He said he had soundproofing installed into his door, too, but he didn't say why he did it or why it was important."

"Yeah, yeah, I think I know why... um... thanks... thanks for the, uh... warning, Ahrganot." Etah said, still not breaking his awkward trance."

Ahrganot, deciding it was best not to ask, retreated back into his quarters.

"...Damn... that was awkward..."

The Breakfast Thief from the ShadowsEdit

It was early morning and the GSSOC had just got back from Ucharpli after crossing the Frozen Wasteland. Ahrganot had just obtained the Shadow Ring and he got up extra early to practice in the simulator. Everyone else however went to get breakfast.

After losing track of time, Ahrganot realized that he partially skipped breakfast. He did not feel that hungry, but he figured he still needed energy. He made his way over to the cafeteria to grab a bite.

"Sorry, Ahrganot. We're out of food."

"You've got to be kidding me!" Ahrganot replied rather irritatingly. "What happened to it all?"

"Well, you see...uh...the rest of the team took a bit extra. They haven't finished yet though."

"Hmmm..." Well, having recently obtained the a powerful artifact that made him virtually undetectable, he figured he did not need to reason with the other team members to get some food. He had a different plan...


Tholker was sitting at the table enjoying some extra bacon. From the shadow of his drinking cup, a pair of chopsticks emerged. He did not even notice. The pair of chopsticks were aimed at one of the pieces of bacon on the plate and it snatched a fair bit like a kingfisher bird catching a fish and the bacon was pulled back into the shadow.

"What the-" Tholker said very mystified as to what just happened to his bacon. "Hmmm...maybe I'm just imagining things." Moments later, the same pair of chopsticks emerged from the shadow and snatched some more bacon. Tholker looked at his plate. "No, I'm sure got more food than this."

Curiously, Tholker asked Etah who was sitting elsewhere. "Hey, Etah? Is your food by chance...disappearing?"

Etah replied, "I haven't noticed..." Etah then checked his food plate again to find less on there than he rememberd. "Okay...maybe you're right. This is just...weird. Maybe something's wrong with my cybernetics. I didn't sleep too well last night."

It was not long until Pyro, Galiana and Sol I Dor began complaining about the same thing. Their food was vanishing from their plates. Ahrganot was watching from the shadows practically invisible to them as they stood their puzzled. He covered his mouth with his hand trying very hard not to laugh.

"Yours are disappearing, too?" Etah asked.

Sol I Dor replied, "Yes. It was right there one moment. Then when I looked down at my plate, it just disappeared."

Galiana said, "Wait a minute, where's Ahrganot?!"

Tholker said, "He said he was going to get up extra early to train a bit...or so I thought."

Sol I Dor replied, "He's up to something. I know it."

All of them marched their way to the training simulator and saw Ahrganot in combat against some polygon warriors. They all stood their watching him with crossed arms and irritated faces. They did not say a word and just waited for him to notice. Ahrganot was so entranced into his fighting that it took a while for him to notice them all standing their glaring at him. After finally becoming aware of their presence, he turned off the simulator and faced them.

Ahrganot casually turned around. "What?"

"Don't act like you don't know," Galiana said. "Our food disappeared."

"Oh that?" Ahrganot said. "Nah, I was just getting my share. I can't join you at the dinner table, remember?"

"*sigh," Etah said. "Those traditions really prevent you from understanding what meals are. One should eat what they are served."

"Oh c'mon, I was doing you all a favor!" Ahrganot said. "Otherwise, your weights would have raised above the standard variance." A slight awkward, yet infuriating pause occurred. Galiana in particular was offended. "Oh. Perhaps I shouldn't have said that."

Still a Little Human...Edit

(Just Prior to Opertaion Titanic Discoveries: Ashadra)

Galiana faced down the training drone. Her blades whirled like a bladed whirlwind as she attacked it. Then, she decided to attempt to master a technique she never really got down: she began to continuously strike the drone. Without wasting a single movement, she continually struck everytime her blades passed the drone. After a few seconds of this, Galiana thought that she might finally have the technique down: that she'd finally be able to pull it off, when, suddenly, the problem that plagued her attempts at this showed up: too much accumulated momentum. Finally, when she swiped, she put too much strength into the attack, which sent her spinning to the ground.

Just then, Sol I Dor, Tholker, and Etah entered the room. "Galiana! Are you alright?" Sol I Dor asked, worried.

"Yes, I'm fine, dad," Galiana responded.

"What was that?" Etah asked, "What were you doing out there?"

"I told you not to try that move until you were ready," Sol I Dor said to Galiana, chastising her for her recklessness.

"I know, I know," Galiana said, disappointedly, as she left.

"What did she try to do?" Etah asked.

"Each of the 13 Delson Martial Arts has an ultimate move that relies on all that the user has learned to perform a supremely powerful attack. Galiana is skilled in the Martial Art <to be renamed>, which contains an attack called Soul Purge. This move consists of a series of slashes that, the way they're delivered, makes no wasted movement on the user's part, ensuring that every bodily move will result in a successful strike. However, Galiana usually builds up too much momentum, throwing herself to the ground."

"And, even after warning her, she still keeps trying?" Ahrganot asked.

"Yes. It's that human part of her: she's tenacious, but I fear that it may get her hurt. However, I'm uncertain how else to get her to listen. I guess she's still a little human...even after all this time..."


Galiana entered the game center. Inside was an old television set, not of Earth-make, but of Ashadran. She put in the device nearby a small disc, and, on the screen, a show she used to watch a lot when she was younger came on.

From the show, a Robot, whose voice sounded old, called out, "CYBER KEY POWER!" as a device slid into a slot in its lower torso. Then, another robot, this one with horn-like structures on its head, slammed into a shield that came out of nowhere in front of the older robot. She continued to watch the scene to when the old robot produced an energy beam and blasted the other robot. Suddenly, someone behind her said, "What's that?" It was Ahrganot.

"Umm...just a show I used to watch a lot," Galiana answered.

"No, no, I mean, what is that?" he said pointing at one of the robots. "I've never seen anything like it. Is it some kind of advanced Ashadran war machine? Is it reenacting something?"

Galiana replied trying to explain. "It's...um...."

Ahrganot interuptingly replied, "Well, I'm only familiar with Earth human history, not so much Ashadran. Did this ever actually happen to your kind?"

Puzzled, Galiana answered, "Uh...no..."

"Oh, wait. If such robots were fictional, then this show must be an allegory of sorts."

"A what?"

"An allegory," Ahrganot replied.

"Which is..."

"Don't you know what that is? A hidden meaning. Symbolism. A retelling of previous tales in new reimagined forms. All well-told stories no matter the medium have this deep within."

Just from hearing that, Galiana thought Ahrganot was starting sounding like Etah with his lectures. Usually blabbering about something quite complex and difficult to understand. She replied, "Well...I don't exactly know what this 'hidden meaning' is."

"Surely, you must have learned what it is by now if you actually watched this show like you say you do. I mean, I only saw a mere few seconds, and I already see some deep symbolisms and meanings. These massive robots must be the modern retelling of ancient human legends when gods fought among one another. There's more to this show than meets the eye, Galiana," Ahrganot said.

Galiana stared at him awkwardly, eyes widened in complete puzzlement and confusion. "Okay..." Even more confusing to her was that he somehow used the show's tagline in that sentence, without ever hearing it.

Ahrganot replied, "Well, I'm going to the training simulator to get ready for the next part of the mission. See you later." As he walked out, Galiana kept watching. She cracked a smile knowing that Ahrganot had changed for the better ever since the mission to Ucharpli. Despite his geekout, he had become much more outgoing and friendlier.

An Older Simulator - A Rare ArtifactEdit

"Hey Ahrganot, I think you might like this," Tholker replied. Sometime ago, he got his hands on an electronic artifact over 150 years old originating from Earth. It looked like a grey rectangular box. With it also was a grey cartridge with a sticker on it.

Ahrganot stared at, his eyes widening. "I know what this is. I've read about in Earth's history! This thing is just like the training simulator! I'd never thought I'd see one up close!" Ahrganot took hold of the cartridge examining the date: 1985. He turned it around to the back and read a warning. "CAUTION: Do not store in extreme temperatures. Do not immerse in water. Do not clean with benzene, thinner, alcohol or other such solvents."

Eagerly Ahrganot hooked it up to the training room's holovision screen. He inserted the cartridge into the grey box and pressed a button. The red power button flashed repeatedly and the screen flashed white.

Tholker replied, "Oh...guess it doesn't work anymore...it's a shame..."

"No wait. I read about different techniques to fix this problem. It happened a lot back in the day."

Ahrganot shook his head, then pulled the cartridge out. He blew into the connector ports then tried to reinsert it into the grey box. The same thing happened. Flashing white screen. Ahrganot pulled the cartridge out and blew on it even harder. He reinserted again and the flashing white screen happened. Ahrganot tried one more time blowing as hard as he can. Ahrganot gasped for breath - his eyes were about to fall out.

Tholker replied, "Easy there, Ahrganot..."

Then an idea hit Ahrganot. "Wait, I got it! I need a Q-tip...and some cleaning solution."

"What's that gonna do?"

"I read about it. The cleaning equipment that came with this thing was relatively unreliable. But I know of another trick."

Tholker quickly made his way to the cupboard to grab a Q-tip and brought it to Ahrganot. He dipped the Q-tip in the solution then dabbed it over the cartridge's connector pins. Then, he reinserted it into the grey box and pressed the power button. The screen turned black and some large letters appeared on screen. A synthesized melody came buzzing out of the TV's speaker. The colors on the screen suggested that it was relatively primitive. There were no 3D models, simply 2D sprites. Two muscular soldiers, one with a cigar, appeared back to back on the title screen. A message appeared that read "Press Start".

It did not impress Tholker that much. But Ahrganot eagerly picked up a smaller grey apparatus with several shiny buttons and attached it to the grey box. He pressed a button labelled "start" and was already drawn into the simulation.

Tholker was watching. The simulation involved a soldier with a gun running through a gauntlet of enemies on an unknown island. It was intensely difficult. One shot would defeat the soldier, or in the simulation's terms - lose a life. Three deaths would result in the simulation ending. At first, Tholker wasn't too tempted to join since he preferred training mechs over simulators, but upon seeing the hardcore soldiers running around with Eteno-like firearms, that immediately piqued his curiousity. He had trouble resisting. "Hmmm...I'll just go after you," he replied.

It was not long until Ahrganot's character had died three times. "Wow, this simulation is tough. Only three shots and its over?" Ahrganot remarked.

"Wait a minute...we're missing something. Give me that controller." Ahrganot handed the old grey apparatus to Tholker. Moments later, Tholker pressed an unusual combination of buttons. Then, when he pressed start, the game showed that he had 30 lives.

Ahrganot did not quite understand what happened. "What the- How'd you do that?!"

"Not telling..." he replied. Tholker said as he played away on the simulation.

"By the way," Ahrganot said. "there's two controller ports. We can get two people in this simulator."

"Well, I only found one controller. We'll have to make another one. These things are probably worth a fortune nowadays. Only a handful of them made it aboard the ship that rescued 30,000 or so humans from Earth."

Ahrganot added, "I've even heard that this device actually supported a handheld gun of sorts that you could use in these simulations. Amazing what humans were able to achieve back then." That only made Tholker just as eager about the device as Ahrganot.

As Ahrganot was watching Tholker, an alien monster appeared on the screen for him to battle. Throughout the simulation, the character would have to confront powerful enemies. However, Ahrganot realized that the monster was behaving strangely. It was not attacking back and it was completely immobile.

"Tholker..." Ahrganot said rather frustratingly.

"What?" he replied.

"Why isn't that alien attacking you?"

"Probably just a glitch."

"Give me that!" Ahrganot said as he snatched the controller away taking his try at the boss. As soon as he gave it a go, the monster started moving again and pummeled him completely. Ahrganot had lost all of his lives almost at once.

Tholker remarked, "Oh, I guess it's my turn again."

"Eletar droppings. I know what you're doing..." Ahrganot replied. "You're messing with the simulation's code using your mind."

"Wha-" Tholker replied.

"I knew it! You got that alien to kill me!"

Tholker's face slightly blushed. "Oh, uh..."

Ahrganot replied shifting to a nonchalant tone, "Ah, oh well. I'll take it as payback for stealing your breakfast."

Tholker smirked at Ahrganot. "Oh by the way, you know starting the simulation with 30 lives, that was not me messing with the code. It's actually in the game. I only read the simulation's code with mind to figure out what it was. A certain combination of buttons you must press at the starting screen."

"What's the combination?"

"It's a secret to everybody..." Tholker replied, chuckling afterwards.

An Older Simulator - A New ToyEdit

It was not long until Tholker had gotten a hold of more games. However, he had some trouble getting a hold of the gun that Ahrganot mentioned earlier - it was a light gun used for certain games, one in particular simulated the human sport of bird hunting. The games were relatively more common as cartridges were reproduced much later, but the light gun itself was a rare commodity.

"Hey, uh...Etah? Can I um...borrow some Nras?"

"What for, Tholker? Going to buy more guns?" Etah replied.

"...sort of..." Tholker said.

"How much?"

The auction prices for light guns were outrageous nowadays. Very few still work among those that survived the Harbinger invasion on Earth. Tholker hesitantly answered, "...um...10,000 Nras..."

"You're joking, right? We could buy another ship with that kind of money."

"No, this type of gun is...well...exceptionally rare...and um...awesome..."

Etah snarled irritatingly. "Alright, well you better pay me back."


About a day later, Tholker retrieved a package. It contained a duck hunting cartridge as well as the fabled light gun itself. It was orange. Tholker twirled it around. Etah stood behind him staring furiously at it.

"You paid 10,000 Nras...for that?!" Etah replied. He snatched the light gun out of his hands. "This is not even a real gun, you lying little-"

"Hey, careful! That's a human artifact! Surely, you don't want those 10,000 Nras to go to waste. Anyway, the gun is supposed to be used with the simulator Ahrganot has been using a lot lately."

"Oh, in that case, this is somewhat impressive then. Let's give it a try."

Etah and Tholker walked and saw Ahrganot practicing at that soldier game. He paused it and turned his eyes gleaming at the fabled light gun itself. He took it from Etah and examined it.

"This is...incredible. How'd you get a hold of this, Tholker?"

"It's a...um...long story..."

"He practically stole some of MY money!" Etah replied.

"Well then, Etah, since you technically paid for it," Ahrganot said, "you shall have the honor of being the first to use it."

"I kind of prefer actual training mechs rather than this simulation stuff, but oh well. How do we hook this thing up?"

Moments later, Ahrganot plugged the light gun into the second controller port and swapped the game cartridge for the duck hunting one. He pressed the power button then handed the gun to Etah.

Ahrganot explained, "Pretty simple, right? Just shoot the ducks."

A melody buzzed out showing a dog sniffing the ground then leaping behind some tall grass. Moments later, ducks began flying across the screen. Etah aimed the gun and clicked the trigger. The screen flashed, but he missed. Moments later, the dog emerged from the grass and laughed at him. He was puzzled.

"Maybe I'm not doing something right..." he replied.

"Here, give me that," Tholker said taking the light gun from him. The next round started and ducks began flying across the screen. Tholker managed to hit each one with pinpoint accuracy. "Just aim and shoot. That's all."

"Okay..." Etah replied taking the gun back. The next round of ducks appeared. Even though he aimed it properly, for some reason, he still missed. The dog peered out of the grass and laughed at him. "I think this thing is broken. Here, Ahrganot. You try."

"I'm not that good with guns you know, but okay." Ahrganot took the light gun and still managed to hit each of the ducks that flew across the screen. "Hmph. It's not that hard Etah."

"How are you doing it?" Etah asked.

"I'm doing what Tholker did. Aiming and shooting."

Etah became more frustrated as to why the gun wasn't working for him. If the not-so-much-of-a-gunnut Ahrganot could do this, certainly he could. Etah still aimed at the ducks properly but it was simply followed by a chuckling dog. He furiously kept trying over and over again for about ten minutes yet still couldn't hit any ducks. He clenched the gun almost to the point where it nearly started cracking. The dog's laugh echoed in his head over and over again. He almost felt his kill gland starting to activate.

"That STUPID DOG!!!" Etah pointed the gun at the dog and repeatedly clicked the trigger knowing in vain that it would do nothing. Then out of frustration, he raised the gun and slammed it towards the ground. The light gun cracked open as Ahrganot and Tholker watched in horror as such a rare object shattered before their eyes.

Tholker nonchalantly replied, "Well Etah, guess I don't have to pay you back now..."

Etah felt a brief wave of regret. "Oh...yeah...sorry about that. It wasn't the frustration of not being able to hit the ducks. It was that dog! That laughing...it just pierced my ears!"

Tholker picked up the pieces. "Hmm...maybe we can rebuild this. It's rather primitive so it should be quite easy to fix." Despite that, Etah still felt bad for breaking the gun.

The Galactic PictureEdit

"From Herit to Ucharpli, Gormorinsk to Aestes, the Eteno soldier fights for his Fatherland, backed up by the best in equipment, support, vehicles, and training..."

Ahrganot picked up the sound of some sort of documentary from Tholker's room as he passed by the cracked-open door. On account of an unsavory situation several days before, Tholker always left his door open when it was alright to enter. The Dhragolon operative, always open to new knowledge, stuck his head inside the room to watch.

"Hello. I'm Sergeant Sturven Schmidt, and this is the Galactic Picture. Today, we will give a nod to the Navy, without whom the exploits of the Imperial rifleman would be nonexistant. Let us have a brief overview of the thousand-year history of our Imperial Navy, first. Here with me now is Rear Admiral I Leon Okrobosky. Admiral, how long exctly has our great fleet been around?"

Ahrganot had studied many subjects over the decades, but one he studied with much less intensity was the Eteno Imperial Navy. He'd always maintained a peripheral interest in it, mostly because of its incredible rate of growth. In a week, the Imperial Navy's primary ship manufacturers could churn out the entirety of the Dhragolon fleet when working at full capacity.

Ahrganot looked around inside his comrade's quarters, but there was no sign of the cyborg to be found. Skizgo had no particularly pressing matters at hand, so he slipped inside and sat cross-legged before the colour holovision.

"...so only six years younger than our Army? What did our riflemen do before we had armed ships to support them?" Sturven asked with feigned curiosity. He probably had known the answer before he'd even read the script.

"As you probably know, the Army's main job for the first few years was maintaining the peace on a newly-unified Malisk II. After the establishment of the Navy, they were able to move out and protect colonial possessions, as well as use aggressive action to acquire territory. In many early wars, the Navy was the main deciding factor, as isolation of enemy colonies from supply convoys did much to demoralise their defenders."

"As the years went on, how did our ships and sailors fare against larger foes with their own good fleets?"

"Our officers and sailors had better training, and had unshakeable devotion to Imperial ideals. Even when outnumbered and outgunned, our fleets would outmaneuver enemy ships, and destroy or capture them. Interestingly enough, enemy crews so enamoured by our victories and culture would occasionally turn themselves and their ships over to the Imperial Navy. Fleets of these turncoats, known as the Loyal Fleets, formed the core of our Navy for many decades. They integrated flawlessly and optimistically, ensuring their place in the annals of Navy history forever. From their ships, we acquired many different technologies, giving our fleets great advantages on the field of battle."

"Aside from being a colonial protection and attack force, the Navy was a powerful tool of diplomacy. How exactly did that work?"

By this point, Ahrganot was enthralled by the program. It was a curious mix of propaganda and education. While the facts conveyed were fascinating, it was additionally intriguing to see how the Eteno told those facts. Surely, things were not as simple as the show would make them out to be.

One hour later...

"...and this is the battleship Großreich. She carries over ten thousand men, and in 982 ATGW, fought at Symin Greisch against forces of the Pi'Sskara to assist the 521st Army Group."

If shows were women, Ahrganot would be smitten. An entire hour had passed, but it felt like five minutes to Ahrganot. He'd learned a great variety of things, ranging from trivial power production on old corvettes to the strategies of great Eteno admirals during their solo conflict with the Harbingers. By the end of the program, the Dhragolon had completely forgotten its propagandic nature. Just as a short credit sequence began to roll, Tholker walked in.

"Tholker, you never told me you watched documentaries! Why, that was absolutely fascinating." Rarely did Ahrganot emote with intensity outside of an educational experience.

"What, the Galactic Picture? I guess it's fun..." Tholker shrugged, setting down a box of exotic ammunition on his bed.

"Oh! Another one's comng on! Would you mind if I stayed, just for one more?" Ahrganot pleaded.

Zhevhyit looked back at his comrade, puzzled.

"Sure... Go ahead..."

A Moment of RespiteEdit

A/N: Takes place before Tholker is made robotic again, but after Karla is given an organic body.

As with any cityworld, the seat of the Galactic Senate was as stunning as it was dense. Millions of skyscrapers flaunted their value as they peered down at the teeming masses of middle and lower class homes and businesses below. Between the monuments of the planet's wealth and greatness, hovercrafts flowed like great, untamed rivers. Police craft seamlessly integrated into traffic, occasionally breaking their cover to give reckless fliers an expensive reminder to be more responsible in the skyways. From Tholker and Karla's new personal warehouse roof, those hovercrafts crowding the sky appeared as little black dots imposed over the soaring buildings and setting sun. Some could spend hours just staring at the planet-spanning metropolis, and Karla was one of those people. If she ever went up to the warehouse's rooftop to do that very thing, Tholker would tag along. The commando regularly said that he accompanied her for the other view.

"Is the view still not old?" Tholker settled next to his fiance on the edge of the roof.

Karla only afforded a brief glance at the newcomer before returning her gaze to the cityscape, "I've never seen anything like it, and I may never again."

Tholker found this slightly amusing, "I'll hazard a guess and say that's a good no."

"Good guess. But now I have to know if your view has gone stale yet." Another short look at Tholker, who subsequently laughed and placed a small, wet kiss on her neck.

"Not in the least, my dear. The difference between my view and yours is that mine gets progressively better." Tholker put exceptional effort in making his voice as annoyingly sweet and sappy as possible.

"Come on..." Karla immediately dismissed the man's compliment.

"No, really," Tholker began, putting on a humoured expression, "With each passing second, you seem to become more and more physically attractive," Zhevhyit's face changed to one of curiousity, "I can't find the slightest explanation for it... A closer examination might help."

Tholker flashed a mischievous grin before digging his face into Karla's neck. While his tongue conducted an independent survey of the geography of the woman's skin, the male of the two placed his left hand on Karla's right shoulder. A light push tested for any resistance. The lack of any whatsoever was a signal to Tholker to slowly push her back on the rooftop, and change his position as to be sitting on his hands and knees over her.

"I was enjoying the view..." Karla weakly protested as the examination went into full swing, complete with a complimentary shoulder massage.

"And this isn't preferable? My dear, I'm simply devastated." Tholker broke off his tongue's expedition and feigned an expression of hurt.

"I never said that..." Karla purred as she wrapped her arms around Tholker's neck and pulled him down once more.

Tholker reasoned that the first exploratory mission had gone well enough, and that his tongue was prepared for another. This time, the destination was the woman's mouth, a location that had been only lightly explored before. A deeper exploration was conducted, running along every nook and cranny. This time, however, there was native resistance. Another tongue fought back, initiating some intimate conflict for dominance. Tholker brought this small-scale war to more fronts, and pressed down on Karla with his own body, leaving no question as to who was in command of the moment. Total war was declared when arms and hands were introduced to the conflict, slowly and deliberately running up and down the bodies of the two belligerents.

This rapidly-escalating expeditionary conflict would've ballooned right there if not for the untimely intervention of a third party negotiator. A Karnasaur emerged from the roof's sole stairwell, mildly angered by his comrade's absence.

"Tholker!' Etah yelled, "What are you doing? We have a briefing to be at, and here you are-"

"One moment, please." Tholker calmly requested, raising his head to meet the eyes of the intruder, before looking back down, "My dear, do you want to?"

"I'd be happy to. I've been practicing." Karla's right hand ran along Tholker's belt, feeling around for and eventually finding a short throwing blade. Tholker let off the pressure he put on the woman's body, letting her move out from under him to come to a kneel. With honed precision, she sent the blade into the Karnasaur's unarmoured chest with a flick of the wrist.

Etah looked down at the weapon harmlessly stuck in his torso, sighing as he plucked it out and threw it aside.

"I get it, you're having side effects from the procedure again... Have fun, because you know those generals won't."

Tholker and Karla waited until Etah vacated the premises, before returning to their previous position.

"Shall we continue?" Karla sultrily inquired.

Tholker's reply was primal; natural and expected, "Of course." He growled.

Clash of CulturesEdit

Ahrganot and Tholker watched from the observation area, as Galiana sparred with the new-comer from Ashadra, Enrico Placidi. Enrico was just using punching and kicking in no real form of Martial Arts. Galiana, on the other hand, was fighting with what she knew of the Delson Martial Art of Belias. Both knew that she was much better with <to be renamed>, the Delson Martial Art involving blades, but knew she was also proficient with Belias as well.

Galiana caught a couple of Enrico's punches, when, suddenly, Enrico quickly then performed a maneuver where he grabbed Galiana's shoulder and, using Galiana's shoulder as leverage, quickly vaulted over her. While Galiana was off-balance, Enrico unleashed a strike to her back. She fell to the ground, only to be back on her feet in an instant. Ahrganot and Tholker continued to watch, motionless as statues as the spar raged on.

"Well executed. He seems to have potential." Tholker curtly observed, turning to the taller of the pair.

"By human standards at least," Ahrganot replied. "But is he really GSSOC material if this is all the training he has?"

Meanwhile, the sparring match down below began to flare up into a full-on duel. The, just after Galiana finally countered the previously mentioned maneuver (after falling for it 2 more times), Enrico responded, "Well, looks like you're adapting. How's about we, say, kick it up a notch?" He nodded towards one of Galiana's sword.

Galiana smirked. Apparently, he doesn't know I'm better with a blade than my fists, she thought. "Let's give it a go," she responded drawing her swords, "What's you're weapon?"

Enrico just smirked. With a flick of a wrist, a blade came out of the bracer he wore on his left arm.

(Ok, SupComm and Kray, need Tholker's and Ahrganot's verbal responces to this turn of events. Whoever does it first, just leave this message for the other.)

Military PrideEdit

Etah walked into the room seeing Ahrganot and Tholker engaged in a casual yet heated debate. Normally, he would join in, but instead, he just watched it as if it were a game.

"Okay, have you ever tried running through enemy fire without a bullet ever hitting you? That's hard!" Tholker said.

"Nope. We just send in a mech to do it for us," Ahrganot replied.

"You and your mechs. You really are missing out, you know, by hiding all the time."

"I'm an assassin. I don't need to go out into enemy fire. I just need to sneak up on the enemy and cut off their head."

"Guns are the highest form of weaponry, my friend. Why cut off the enemy's head when you can blow it up at a distance?"

Ahrganot said, "One, it's more fun. And two, bullets can be blocked with a forcefield, while a melee weapon can hit right through it."

"Not unless you got a really big bullet," Tholker said.

"True, but still. Dhragolon are powerhouses. We can survive a shot to the chest easily, and shake it off like nothing. We're just that awesome," Ahrganot said.

"Awesome? You retreat all the time. Real soldiers go in and get their hands dirty."

"Retreat? No, we're just advancing in the opposite direction."

"Right..." Tholker replied sarcastically.

"It's our way to flank the enemy. Our tactics are top notch. How do you think we built our empire to what it is?"

"Well, who's got the best technology?" Tholker said. "And who's got the bigger empire?"

"Me," Etah said unable to resist answering that question.

"Oh c'mon..." Ahrganot said. "That's not fair at all."

"It's true, though," Etah said. "We've been around the longest."

"But look at us," Tholker said. "We are fast growing with a wide sphere of influence."

"Alright, then. Tell me this. In a three way battle, who would win between our empires?" Etah said.

"Dhragolon, obviously," Ahrganot said. "We'd beat you all before you even knew you were under attack because of our tactics."

"Yeah," Tholker said. "By retreating."

"Like I said," Ahrganot said. "It's advancing in the opposite direction."

"Anyway, the Eteno would win because for one, we don't retreat all the time, and two we've got the best weaponry and the most militarized structure. We were engineered for conquest," Tholker said.

Etah said, "So how does that hold up to the most technologically advanced race in the galaxy? We are defined as such on our Database page."

"Who needs all that technology? Can your species do this?" Ahrganot said raising his hand. He cooled the air forming a floating sphere of ice.

"Yep," Etah said. "But we don't use Maj to do that. We use technology."

"Touche," Ahrganot said.

Eteno sci-fiEdit

Ahrganot stared intensely into his datapad as he was drawn into the book of Eteno origin he was reading.

"My name is Kagan Sagar, and I am a speculative scientist.  One question that we Eteno have been trying to asnwer: Could life exist outside our own planet?  On this other alien world I am about to describe, life would be nothing like we see here:

"Our own homeworld of Malisk II: Covered almost entirely in ocean - bigger than the other terrestrial planets, but less dense.  Except for the poles which are generaly inhospitable, it has never stopped raining here.  Scientists believe that only these vast oceans are what allows life to exist in the first place.  But we are about to explore something totally alien.  Let us say the first planet in the system, Malisk I, was actually in the habitable zone of its star.  Oceans would cover only 75% of it, and there would be large swaths of land.  You could not see the oceans for miles and in middle of these continents, it would rarely ever rain leaving the sun itself exposed.  These middle areas are called deserts.

"Scientists believe that deserts even in the habitable zone are just barren wastelands.  They claim that the sunlight would be far too intense, temperatures too variable and the water too scarce.  But even on the poles of our own world, microbes exist below the surface.  Could it be possible that multicellular extraterrestrial life could exist...in a desert?  Let us try to imagine what it would look like:

"As scientists assume, water is necessary for life.  Here in this desert, water would be scarce and not readily available.  This would pose a problem to certainly all life on Malisk II, but not for this alien world.  The plant life would look like thick, tough stalks covered in spines.  They would soak up nutrients and groundwater with its massive roots.  This plant would have to be covered in spines to protect itself from herbivores as water is a precious resource.  I will call this plant a "cactus".

"Even mammals would be able to survive in a desert.  They would need large ears which act as a way to get rid of excess heat.  The fur would help them keep warm at night, because in a desert, temperatures can go from extremely hot to extremely cold.

"Now, the most unusual life of all is something we've never seen on Malisk II.  A type of creature covered in hard, tiny plates.  I will call them "reptiles".  I hypothesize reptiles to be cold-blooded as they would have to stay in the sun to maintain their metabolism, hunting during the day.  They would be carnivores as well, preying on the planet's herbivores which try to find ways around the cactus's defenses.

Ahrganot was still engrossed when Tholker casually passed by. "Hey, Ahrganot, what are you reading?".

"Oh, I just picked up this old science fiction novel written 2,000 years ago.  It's by an Eteno, describing a totally alien world," Ahrganot replied.

"Ah, that one.  People assumed he was crazy back then, but what do you know?"

"I can see why.  He just described a world unlike anything ever imagined.  I can see the reactions: 'A world with deserts?  That's impossible!'  It's amazing how much science changes over the years." 

ColorblindnessEdit

"Hey, Tholker, I have a question," Ahrganot asked.

"Yes?"

"I heard about a few species that can apparently see the color red.  What exactly does that look like? "

"I've been wondering something similar myself actually," Tholker said.  "I heard that Dhragolon can see this color called purple.  It's on the opposite spectrum from what we see."

"Well, purple, you see.  It's well...think the color of the sky."

"Green?" Tholker asked.

"Well, not exactly.  It's well...darker than that."

"So...dark green?"

"Geez, this is harder to explain than I thought," Ahrganot said.

"Well, if you are curious about red, it's a very rich color, very bright like our K class star," Tholker said.  "Or bright and rich like a red dwarf star."

"You mean green dwarf?"

Tholker sighed, "Yeah, I can see your point about this being very hard to explain.  Trying to imagine a color that you can't see.  It blows your mind, doesn't it?"

"Oh you guys are talking about colors?" Galiana intervened overhearing the conversation, "They are so marvelous especially in nature.  The blues, the greens, the reds, the purples.  So beautiful!"

"Wait, is it true?" Ahrganot asked.  "You can see both red and purple?  That's astonishing.  But wouldn't it be all weird though?  Everything would be all flashy when you can see into both sides of the spectrum."

"You're colorblind?" Galiana asked.

"Well, to human standards, we are," Ahrganot said.

"Sure, I can't see purple, but infrared is awesome," Tholker proclaimed.  "Back on Zerevst, there were a lot of lightshows that used infrared lights.  They were brilliant.  Too bad you guys would never be able to see it."

"I can see infrared," Sol I Dor added.  "And EMF.  But I don't know what colors look like."

"Sol I Dor," Ahrganot said.  "I think you are missing out."

"Really, then?" Sol I Dor inquired.  "Since I'm blind, I've never been able to see color.  What exactly does it look like?"

Galiana replied, "Colors are...well...colorful."

"I have no idea what that's supposed to mean," Sol I Dor said.

"Trust me, Sol," Tholker said.  "If you ever are able to get those eyes of yours fixed, you'll see that colors are very bright and vivid."


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