When the first ships landed, we fought mercilessly to push back what we thought was an invading force.

But we quickly realized that our weapons had no effect on them.

Bullets and missiles were seemingly absorbed into those ships’ hulls.

Nearby explosions did nothing to affect their steady downward descent.

All communication attempts were met with dead silence.

And so we gave up, and waited. The whole world held its breath as livestreams showed the massive ships finally touching down, almost silently. Then something, somewhere opened, and out streamed those strange beings.

Thin, stalky and of a colour we could scarcely described, they moved around in what appeared to be random fashion, and stopped here and there to make… observations?

And then, after less than ten minutes, they entered their ships and left.

That was it. No attack, no message, no nothing.

It left us with the most sickening feeling ever; that there were beings so utterly powerful beyond our imaginations, who could trespass at will, and there was nothing we could do about it.

Would they come back? Where did they go to once they left orbit?

Just questions, fears, doubts and worries… no answers.



When I wake up at night, I see you staring at me.

In the dark corners of my house, you quietly wait.

Who are you?



None of the signals had been active for a long while now, and so Decker sat back and sighed inwardly. It was unbecoming to place so much hope in what was supposed to be a small chance to begin with, but the optimist in him couldn’t resist.

To think that humanity had, in one fell swoop, expanded its conquest through the depths of the oceans and the furthest reaches of space, and then pressed on to search for more, was still an awe-inspiring notion to him.

After all, it was in his childhood that he learnt of the limitations of human exploration, and then barely ten years later that the Harvey-Womnig equations uncovered a dimension of energy and propulsion opportunities previously unreachable.

And now him, in his forties, at the furthest of the safe reaches of hyperspace. The last of the manned signal stations, awaiting a message from the void beyond.

The void.

Of all the puzzling things he had no choice but to accept as realities of life, the void was the strangest of all. It was a region of space that behaved strangely and what lay beyond was still a mystery.

The void, as black as the rest of space but somehow more… Sinister.

He shuddered as he kicked off his seat to get another cup of coffee.



Every day he stalked the scorched and smoldering lands, heading west. His pace was slow not from fatigue, but through distraction. Every little glint, each oddly-shaped fragment on the ground, he would stop to examine.

Searching, perhaps pointlessly, but searching nonetheless for someone or something.

His unexpected mutation had left him free from the need to eat or drink. He could photosynthesise; not with chlorophyll, as plants did, but through other chemical routes. Just as his previously human body had several energy systems, now was no different.

He didn’t even need sleep, but he did anyway, because it was only in his dreams that he could relive and replay memories of what seemed now like a past life.

His body was bent and twisted, but by no means weak or sick.

And so he stalked on.

Why am i alive? What is my purpose?



WARP-BENDING: “Just as how a layer of rock is impenetrable, and access to what is below is only achieved through an incredible or sustained application of sufficient force, so does the fabric of time affect magic.

For ages, a reliable method of breaking a time barrier eluded magicians the world over. But recently, the genius of one Aleksandr Brojenfeldt…”



“So… It says here you’re depressed. Not clinically diagnosed, right? No records here…”

“No, no clinical diagnosis. That was just the result of the routine workplace health assessment.”

She closed the folder on her lap and places her hands neatly on it. “I see. So how are you coping?”

“Fine, I guess.”

“What do you do to help yourself?” and there was the barest hint of a smile at the edges of her lips.

Shrugging, he said “I work out, sleep early, eat well and read a lot.”

“Because good habits keep your mind occupied?”

He doesn’t hesitate. “Not at all. I still feel horrible. But it’s easier to bear with it when I know I’m sexy, smart and don’t feel sleep-deprived.”



He lay on the bed, the supposed conclusion of a short and what honestly wasn’t a very productive day. These days he didn’t feel like doing much.

But as he stared at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to come, his mind was awash with the colours and noises of reflection and imagination. And it the flurry of it all his brain got to work cooking up ideas and firing up his nerves. His palms began to get just a little damp and his heartbeat sped up; the ideas were getting more numerous and coming fast.

More than once he had to fight the urge to get up and do something. The irony wasn’t lost on him, though. When awake he would idle away his hours, but when it was time to sleep he was suddenly eager to be active.

But it wouldn’t happen. It was a trap. Deep down, he wanted to be busily productive.

For what, though? And why, when it wouldn’t really make a difference?

He spent another hour like that before he slipped into a restless sleep.



I never was a big fan of cats, but i never hated them either. In my world, they just existed… somewhere.

And then my wife went and got a cat.

It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing? But i remember looking at that little ball of brown fur and thinking… what now?

And since i couldn’t figure that out, i pretty much kept my distance from Hako. I didn’t even ask why ‘Hako’.

Despite being a pretty un-cat person, something did feel quite off about Hako. Did he look weird? Was i expecting something else?

“Honey do you think there’s something wrong with Hako? He looks… i dunno, off? I dunno…”

“No? He’s fine, pretty sure he’s healthy and all. You’re just not used to being around a cat, i suppose. Doesn’t it weird you out how he has so much hair on his face?”

She laughed at my obvious discomfort. It WAS weird he had that much hair.

Then one night, as my wife lay asleep and i was up reading, i caught Haku staring at me from his spot on the bed, between us. I tried ignoring him. Then i closed my book and leaned close to him.

“What… are you?”

And then, i kid you not, i SWEAR TO GOD, he spoke: “I’m a cat.”

I yelped and jumped back, somehow falling off the bed and my wife woke with a jolt.

“Honey! What?!”

“HAKU SPOKE. HE SPOKE TO ME!” And there I was half backing away, half reaching towards her. I wanted to escape whatever horror it was that disguised itself as a cat, yet i didn’t really want to leave my wife so close to it.

Needless to say after some raving on my part and her trying to calm me down, i grudgingly accepted that Haku was just a cat and that i must have imagined it.

As i lay again on the bed, this time to try to go to sleep, i kept my eyes on Haku. He never broke eye contact. Then, just as my eyelids grew too heavy to stay open, he smiled.


“Honey, i’ve got to say, you’ve changed. I’m really glad you’ve tried to get more involved with Haku. At this point it’s almost as if you speak cat! You always know what he wants!”

She gave me a kiss on my forehead and as she turned to leave, i caught Haku staring at me from under the sofa, and he smiled at me.



Pale and fair are two different things.


The gear doesn’t make the expert.


I can’t go yet. My cat kneads me.


I couldn’t be great so I chose instead to become a monster.


He lived up to his name but then again his name was ‘Okeh Oni’.


Every time I do it and conclude that it isn’t a good idea but then the next day I go ahead and do it again anyway, thinking it could somehow work.


These days as I do my reality check I find it easier to believe that I might be dreaming, and then that leaves me feeling overwhelmingly disappointed when I find out I’m not.


You spend the week working and the weekend preparing for the next work week.


Time doesn’t always wash away the pain, but makes it a part of you. The scars spread from your heart and become the wrinkles on your face.

But you won’t always be sad; your understanding of happiness merely changes.


I dedicate this book to Failure, my most strange and misunderstood friend.



“Second Lieutenant Hans reporting in, Sir!” Hans Angori saluted sharply, his face impassive and body rigid. The commanding officer returned the salute and waved him to the facing chair.

“Lieutenant, you have been summoned here to undertake a mission of great importance and of the utmost secrecy. It is for that reason that you received no briefing whatsoever prior to this. Given the nature though, i can only offer you two options moving forward. The first, that you trust us implicitly in having assigned you to a mission that is both suited to your abilities and capabilities. Doing so will mean auto-acceptance of the mission.

“Deferring or expressing second thoughts past that point will, unfortunately, lead to your treatment to a Psyche Reset, which, undoubtedly, can have disastrous effects.”

He paused, looking into Hans’ cold and apparently dead eyes.

“The second option, though offering a tad more flexibility, is nonetheless uncomfortable, to say the least. It entails injecting you with a 250cc dose of Hydrolucil, which, once its effects kick in, will put you in something of a stupor. You will retain full mental functions, but for the duration of thirty to forty minutes that the compound is active, no memories will be made. It is during that time that you will be briefed and asked to decide on whether or not you accept the mission. Simple enough, but as you know, Hydrolucil leaves you with painful stomach cramps and debilitating headaches for at least a week.”

Commander Zeth twiddled his pencil, shifted in his seat and bore down on Hans. “Please make your choice now.”

Hans, unflinchingly “The first, Sir. I have confidence in the Forces. I pledged my life to it and the Flag, and give every fiber of my being to serving its cause.”

Zeth allowed the corner of his lips to turn up in a near-imperceptible smile. As predicted, and as hoped. Hans was the man and the plan could proceed.

“Very well. On behalf of the Forces and the Flag, I thank you for your loyalty and utmost dedication. To proceed: you will be given a new identity and shipped of to Second Terra. There you will attempt to infiltrate the Galaxy Gang by joining it and working your way up the ranks. Intel suggests they have a second base of operations where phase weapons are being developed. We have been unsuccessful at digging up anymore information, and need an inside man.

“As soon as you get the coordinates or location, relay the information to us as soon as possible. We have already assembled a strike team and have warships on the ready. Affirmative action cannot be delayed, as I’m sure you’re aware, given the current… delicate political situation between us and them. That’s all from me. Sergeant Roi outside will escort you to the secondary briefing chamber where you will also receive the necessary equipment. Good luck soldier, and Godspeed.”

At that the hologram of the Commander blinked out, and just for a moment Hans’ eyes widened. He had not seen a holographic projector of such high fidelity. All of a sudden, he had been pulled into the deep world of military secrets and top-of-the-line tech. Exciting times lay ahead.


In the year following his deployment and start of mission, Hans had the fortuitousness of being caught in a nasty firefight with high stakes. That unplanned incident quickly bought him the trust of the Galaxy Gang watchman who had been keeping tabs on him.

The recruitment happened quickly and earlier than planned, and Hans lost no chance to prove to his superiors that he was every bit the man they needed on their side. It worked. Hans Angori, now Rigland May Sinfeld, was exceedingly good at what he did.

“Sinfeld! Come here, sit, please. You… have been with us for some time. Not officially, but somewhat a member. How are you, friend?”

Lino Deltori, the mysterious Gang agent who coordinated Hans’ sector, was a thickset man with slits for eyes and an unpleasant aura. He leaned heavily into the plush sofa, studying Hans with beady eyes.

“I am well. It has been an honour. As you well know, the greater honour is mine. Since my father’s death, I have been thirsting for something… real. Something that could get us all to a better place. I have not looked back.”

“Yes, indeed. If only your father were here, eh? But come, let us not dally. You have proven yourself. You are a friend. It’s time… to make you a brother. We will have the ceremony this weekend, after dinner, at the Meglari Side. We will see you there, eh? Dress well.” Deltori smiled a humorless smile, and crossed his right leg. From a hidden corner, a runner brought in his hookah, and Hans knew the meeting was over.

“Very well. Again, the honour is mine. I will take my leave.” He rose, kissed his signet ring, and walked backwards three steps before turning and leaving the dingy room.


The raucousness and merriment gave way to pindrop silence the moment His High Excellence Gravis Manrin stood up, signet-hand raised.

“Our cause has come a long way. We have grown from strength to strength. Today we have feasted, for we have in our midst three friends, who will soon be brothers.”

The assembled crowd boomed “Brothers!” once, crisply, and was silent again.

“Gentlemen, bring out the Goltori.”

From the ends of the room, men emerged silently with bronze pitchers and silver cups. The cups were handed, each to a man, and from the pitcher poured forth a thick, shiny liquid. Each man then spat into their cup and swirled it around.

The three new initiates had been briefed, and did so. As they swirled their cups, Gravis Manrin spoke once more.

“We have fought together, bled together, and proven our alliance to the Gang and one another. So tonight, we will all drink Goltori together. Friends to brothers. Brothers, to remember who you are. This is us, this is unity, this is for the greater good of the Gang and all its work. We drink.”

Every man in the room brought his cup to his lips and tilted it back, the black liquid first viscous and slow, then rapidly sliding in once it touched their lips. It was hardly necessary to swallow, for despite its appearance and heavy scent, there was no taste and it left little sensation on their mouths. Cups drained, spirits raised, the men raised their signet hands and cheered.

The merriment continued, and everyone was rapturous, maybe even insanely so.


Some indeterminate time later, through the fog of work, battling, covert operations and everything else imaginable, Hans found himself in a meeting discussing the very thing he set out to find: the location of the covert base. The weapons factory, the Gang’s newest and deadliest addition.

“Gentlemen, the agenda of today’s…”

The agent spoke on, but Hans’ attention was not with him. Silently, he studied the star chart on the screen, which displayed intercepted shipping routes and travel paths to the new base. He triangulated the locations in his head, heart thumping but face always impassive, as he slowly worked out its location.

Geth. Hidden in the gas cloud of the third planet orbiting its double-star. He checked his calculations, going slowly this time. He was right the first time.

He listened to the briefing then, soaking in all the information he could, and contributing when called upon. Just awhile more, and he’d be back to his room…


The door closed, he double-checked its lock. He proceeded to his pack and removed the still-new shoes inside. Peeling back the sole, he removed the concealer chip from one shoe, then the long-range transmitter from the second.

His fingers moved swiftly and accurately and outer appearances would indicate a calm and relaxed person doing some routing task. But inside, Hans was hyper-aware that he was now in the most critical moment of his mission. He was close to achieving something big.

The chip and transmitter were hooked to his computer, and he began typing the access codes and transmission address. The screen flashed and the connection status became ACTIVE. The road was open, an invisible thread from his computer to the receiving one, through blockers and bafflers, to some remote listening device in a hidden location. Once he hit ‘send’, the data packets would should through that thread, like a silver bullet piercing through time and space, to reach its target and begin a cascade of events which would knock the Gang to its knees.

Only… the moment he put his fingers to his keyboard to start typing, his hands froze, and he felt a painful cramp in his arms. He drew a sharp breath and grunted as a wave of pressure built up in him. He sat there, nearly motionless and in pain, for ten agonizing minutes.

Then he heard the override warning; someone was outside. The door beeped, and hissed open. Hans could only move his eyes towards the direction of the door, as a figure stepped slowly in, heavy boots thudding crisply with every step.

It was Enedi, the medic. He looked at Hans with questioning eyes, then lowered his head and shook it.

“Brother… i felt your pull. You… tried to do something.”

He looked up at Hans again, disappointment plain on his face.

“But why? You’re one of us!” And he looked down again.

“Of course you couldn’t. We drank Goltori together. You became one of us. Bound to our mission. Now you know what Goltori does…”

A few more men had appeared at the door, and they exchanged words. With a look of disgust, Enedi left, and the others came in and roughly removed Hans from his room.


Three years ago, in the Galaxy Gang’s infancy.

The exploration ship Ulra II was dispatched to enter the Oort cloud in search of a long-gone research vessel. It had been shut down and quarantined for some reason, but the records held no information.

Now, in the Gang’s approaching phase of rapid expansion, they needed that vessel again. Whether or not there was valuable resources onboard was secondary; of prime importance was the first-edition nucleic mold, which, despite its many flaws and quirks, could handle phase bombardments much more readily than the flashier, fancier, but cheaply made new models.

Ulra II was docked, and in their suits, Meyer and Fito left the ship’s airlock to the sealed-off one of The Niriti Sun. Peeling back the yellow-blue quarantine tape, Meyer looked at Fito.

“This is the part i hate the most. It feels… wrong.”

Fito kept at his work and did not reply.

“You know, like opening Pandora’s box or something? Or… trespassing. Yeah more of that. They sealed it off for a reason, right? I don’t know. I mean…” Meyer trailed off.

With the tape out of the way, the two engaged the manual overrides and opened the hatch. It opened silently, and the two left the vacuum of the tube to enter the vacuum of the entry sectional. The closed the hatch behind them and opened the next, leading into the ship proper.

It was dark, save for some glowing lights on certain equipment and panels. Fito stopped. For the first time, he spoke.

“Meyer. Stop. I don’t get it. This ship’s been out for years. Why are there still some lights? Where’s the power source?”

“Huh. Well. I suppose you’re right, but aren’t these old ships nuclear-powered or something? And given the low-consumption of the equipment and possibly an improper shutdown of the core, i suppose-“

Fito hit on his headlamp and pulled out his blaster simultaneously, aiming it at the far table where things had been suddenly knocked off and floating away.

“Shit! What the hell?!” and Meyer’s blaster was out too.

Please! Don’t shoot!

The two men froze, as they heard that whisper of a voice in their heads.

“BENETH, Fito, you hear that?!”

Fito held up a finger to silence his friend, as he strained to make something out.

I’ll approach slowly. Please, don’t shoot. I am weak and defenseless. Please.

And from the next table, a strand of black slime stretched and latched on to the next table, and in that fashion, webbed its way across to within deadshot range of their blasters.

Help. I am here as a refuge. Do not harm me, I beg of you.

“What the hell are you?!” demanded Fito.

Xalgan parasite. From far beyond. Stranded in space, landed here. I’m dying.

“No, wait, how come you speak our language? I mean, you- It… Answer!”

I don’t speak, merely interfacing with your psyches. Your minds make meaning of my communication.

“So why shouldn’t we finish you off right this instant?”

I want to live! Just like you. And… I can be of use. I am an adaptive parasite, able to mesh with nearly any lifeform. Once i am integrated, infected lifeforms are then connected to a primitive hive mind. But what you want me to do with that… is your wish.

Use me, and you can control others. Please, that is the truth.