Redoubtable Downtown Space Abbey - You Say You Want a Resolution

“The offer is non-negotiable, scale head. Given what you’ve told us so far, we can easily adjust our strategy to minimize our own casualties. If only the same could be said for your poor Hussars on the planet’s surface. We have gunnery enough to deal with you and your precious Dragoons crawling like molasses out of Weatherby’s gravity well. Ten seconds remain to comply.”

[The communication channel is abruptly terminated. It is clear no additional exchanges will be allowed. The time is now or never.]


[putting kids to bed, please stand by]


Honeyvenom sets the prescribed course for Docking Bay 12, following instructions to the letter.

He is unused to acting chastened.

He hopes it’s a convincing look.


Aaaakzeee had been caught in a church basement when the bombing started, and, as yet, there has been no declaration that the streets are safe again.

Thankfully, a Space Moose, who must have been a Resistance member, disappeared for a few minutes and returned with supplies for those stranded inside.

With nothing else useful for him to do right now, and nowhere to go, St-Patrick-Hartbrooke starts a prayer circle in the basement. He doesn’t put his desires into words; instead, with the rest of the group, he recites the old classics, achieving a meditative effect through the repetition. After all, God knows what he wants quite well, and it’s His Will alone that decides if it will happen.

Nevertheless, his desire ends up being expressed and repeated, over and over:

…And deliver us from Evil…


On the short flight over, the Ambassador records her final sentiments and sends them planetside in a tight nanowave burst. Karekin’s agents will know how to distribute them.

On a whim, Carsssy keeps the camcorder transmitting as she shoves it as far up her left nostril as it will go. Lens-side pointing outward, of course, though that took a couple of tries.

Deities willing, Weatherby will have a chance to witness its fate firsthand.

Might just be a big burst of static. But you never know.

Finally, she arranges her finest diplomatic skirts, unworn since that long-ago ball, in their most fetching ankle-revealing manner, and awaits the boarding party.

“Hope it was a long enough voyage,” she thinks grimly.


[As the automated systems of Bay 12 complete the decontamination cycle of the Weatherbean shuttle, the signal is given for all passengers to disembark to the HRF Thetis. At least three squads of New Prussian space marines are visible, laser carbines at the ready and eager for anything resembling an excuse to use them. A decorated Space Eagle approaches Amb. Honeyvenom.]

“You are tolerated here on board the HRF Thetis. I am Flottillenadmiral Elpis. You will surrender at once your intelligence materials into my possession. Should they contain the information you claim to provide, the bombardment of Weatherby will cease at once. In the event that they show the least sign of subterfuge, you will be promptly spaced via the nearest airlock. If, however, they demonstrate the intention you are so willing to declare, you shall be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.”

“Now is the time you make good on your claims, Ambassador Honeyvenom. Please surrender your documents immediately. Should you begin to complain about the fact that your briefcase is handcuffed to your wrist, we will sever the limb immediately and take possession of the materials. As your compatriot has an efficacious remedy at hand, you will certainly not complain very much at all, yes?”

“Now then, Ambassador. The documents if you please.”

[The Space Eagle makes a confident gesture. You have one chance to get this right.]


“What, this old arm? I could simply swear it’s my third or… no, fourth, I kept getting them caught in the scullery’s disposal back at Madame Scallopini’s Finishing School… have you heard of it? La, that was ever so many seasons ago. I graduated top of my class in Femme Fataleage by the end, but I was there on a work-study contract and had to toil in the dishwashery every night after lectures in Bed-rhythms and before the lab practice in Advanced Seduction…”

Honeyvenom rises ever so gingerly and approaches the Space Eagle slowly, with a hypnotic sway to what would appear to avian eyes as her hips. (That’s partly by design and partly by force; the payload makes it impossible to walk any other way than in a Jessica Rabbit sashay.) The Ambassador smiles prettily, and offers the handcuff’s key along with the briefcase.

“But I’ve grown… well, attached to this arm lately, of course!” She giggles disarmingly. “So there’s no need for violence. I am sure you’ll find the contents in order. And I do hope you’ll convey to the Admiral my sincere admiration, and my hope that he sees fit to collaborate with this little stratagem of mine. I can’t hide the fact that I’ve made a few enemies back there on Weatherby. And I’d certainly love to see them get the licking that’s coming to them!”

Ambassador Carcinogennifer Honeyvenom licks her lips with a long, wet, forked tongue.

“True Citizen loyalists and Citizen Pretender rabble alike, it was so… eye-opening to see them about to set to each other with torch and pitchfork and sternly-worded editorial. Do you know… they nearly completely forgot about the sandfish?”

Handcuff removed, Carsssy rubs her wrist gently. “Shall I await your return here? Or do you have quarters for me? I feel certain that questions will need to be asked of me soon, but I would absolutely adore a brief… lie-down in private before the occasion. If it’s not too much trouble. For when the time comes…”

Her eyelids at half-mast, the corner of her mouth curls upward coquettishly.

“I will have ever so much to say.”


Dearest @Tom_Ratchetcrank,

I snuck this letter into your space suit before we launched. I don’t know how this will go down, but we will kick the beans out of them. They’ll be sorry they crossed this lump!

…but like in the off chance that I die, you have to tell LSP how awesome I am, and like you know do that whole REVENGE bit. Like seriously, my ghost will haunt you otherwise. I’ll of course do the same for you love.

PS Thank you for the custom space carbine. It is sweeet.

PPS Look under your seat for a care package of beans. Just in case you get peckish.



In Weatherby fields the whipweed blows
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The dragoons, still bravely fighting, fly
Scarce heard amid the bombs below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Wheatherby fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though whipweed grows
In Weatherby fields


And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon mountains o’ Brittania Prime …


I find myself inserting a vial of explosive liquid into the cloaca of my partner in marriage. How did my life come to this?

Well, it seems that in fact the series of events is fairly straightforward. My head has been out of it these past few days but this all makes some kind of sense.

I thought perhaps I’d use my advanced cybernetic knowledge to imperceptibly hide the explosive liquid within the circulatory system. Or if a higher concentration is required, perhaps store it in the Jacobson’s organ or some other suitable cavity. Perhaps I should have been more helpful earlier on. Always daydreaming!

Interestingly, I’ve never seen this particular area of my partner in marriage’s body. It was highly suggested that I steer clear, so to speak.

I suppose this pause in the procedure will be perceived as me contemplating, with great skill, how to proceed.


Eudaemonia lifts a shaking hand to wipe more blood out of her eyes. She’s not sure how much of it is hers. At least some of it was that poor commander’s, the one who was standing next to her when he took a laser carbine bolt to the face.

She continues to crouch in the shelter of some rubble. Chaos surrounds her and floods her senses: laser flashes blind; explosions and screaming pound her eardrums. The air smells and tastes of smoke and blood. The ground beneath her shakes from repeated cannon barrages.

She has never been so terrified in all her life.

Over half the squad she left the barracks with is dead. The remainder is pinned down by that damned New Prussian cannon. So far, they’ve barely been able to hold position… but that won’t last. And once the enemy smashes through what meager Hussar defenses are left, they will be able to enter the city within hours-- to destroy it, and all the lives within.

Her husband. Her children. Her friends. Her world.

Yet how can the bastards be stopped now? What’s left of her troop are wounded, low on ammunition, profoundly demoralized. There’s no way they could take the Cuirassiers head-on–

Eudaemonia blinks.

If one were to use that burned-out tank as cover, then down into the trench that morning’s bombardment created, then crawl through the ruins of the factory, then… it just might be possible to sneak up on the cannon crew from behind-- take them out-- either destroy the cannon or use it as their own-- split what forces were left, half laying down covering fire as distraction, half to make the sneak assault–

–and almost certainly, a suicide run for everyone involved.

But their current course was assuredly fatal. Not just for themselves, but for all of Weatherby.

For just a moment, all the old self-doubts and fears rise, trying to hold her back. How can I, I’m not possibly capable–


I can. I will.

She takes a brief moment for herself, picturing her family-- Jasper, Euphrosynia, Jeremiah-- enfolding in them in her heart with all the love she held within her. She thinks of her friends-- Mr. Rounder, the Duchess, Jean-Rhys-- and wishes them well. And in that quiet moment, the fires of love and duty burn away for all time the doubts, the fear, the shackles of obligation and propriety she’d brought with her when she arrived in Weatherby. And with all restraint gone, she finally embraces all the courage, iron-willed resolve and cunning of the woman she has become.

Lifting her flamethrower high, she lets out a fierce and joyful cry. “Hussars! To me!”

“Let’s send them back to Hell!”



Eighth continues to monitor what is happening at the Governor’s Mansion. An easy job, as the only clear bit of information is that whoever is currently in the governor’s mansion doesn’t know what’s happening, either.

With little else to do, Eighth’s attention wanders. The Prussian military channels are quite secure, but the private contractors the Prussians rely on for logistics and back-office personnel are all “low bid.” Eighth hadn’t realized what everyone else already seemed to know: Admiral Pandora has not been promoted in the 10 years since the New Ajax debacle. Pandora was supposed to capture the Ajax System economically intact so that the “war would pay for itself.” Unfortunately for Pandora’s career, the Generalissimo of New Konigsburg is like that other white uniform-loving Fascist, Francisco Franco: he has the heart of an accountant.

The “supply clerks” are even more interesting. A flood of emergency requisitions is crashing the backend databases. Few commanders pre-positioned enough supplies because “everyone knew” Weatherby would be a cakewalk. In particular there is a shortage of power packs; many units are desperate for laser carbine recharges.

Weatherby’s capital was supposed to fall rapidly to a classic “pincher” movement from three columns of fast-traveling curraissers. The first column didn’t request enough silage and their lagoderms are sick from eating blighted whipweed. The second column was ordered to cross marshes favored by sandfish and is still miles from the city, requesting nets, scuba tanks, spear guns, and … fishing trawlers?

Even the one column that has reached Weatherby is having frantic supply problems. The Quartermaster is desperate for fresh lorry drivers and more brake fluid because someone convinced the sub-minimum wage contractors that Brake Fluid was a great drunk.

I wonder who that could be? @ghoti



[ On the battlefield, Rounder, exhausted, takes a moment to gather his wits. He pushes aside a tentacle or two, reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out his lucky dice. He closes his eyes for a few moments and drops them on the ground. ]


My mind is clearer now –
     at last,
       all too well…

I can see
     where we all
        soon will be…


[Elpis’ eyes begin to pin at the implication.]

“Thank you, Madam Ambassador. I shall have the materials reviewed with all due haste and will convey your sentiments to the Admiral when I see him next. I’ll be back as soon as possible and, if warranted, will look forward to continuing our conversation in a more comfortable environment, yes?”

“Gentlebirds? See to it that our special guest is made comfortable here while she waits.”

[As Flottillenadmiral Elpis leaves, you notice that the docking bay has been converted to use in active operations - containers of chemical propellant, rare elements, and other volatile compounds have been secured and placed at the ready in the bay to prepare shuttles and other vessels for launch.]


[Against all odds, Eudaemonia manages to not only rally the nearby Hussars but to also lead a successful assault on the New Prussian artillery. In the moments that follow, the Weatherbean forces are able to capture and turn the cannonade against the advancing Cuirassiers. How much time she has dearly purchased and how many lives spent in the process remains to be seen. For the moment, the tide has briefly turned on eastern front. One can only hope that the orbital battle will soon turn as well lest all be lost.]


“Hmm,” thinks the Ambassador. “I wish I understood New Prussian body language better. Is it a good thing when an eagle’s eyes begin to ‘pin,’ under these circumstances?”

The data analysis has taken all day, and though the guards are polite, they remain firmly uninterested in engaging further with the Ambassador. “Gods damned eunuchs,” thinks the Ssskipper. “They don’t know what they’re missing.”

Still, it’s the only card left to play. The Space Eagles and the Space Lizards possess a common ancestor, after all:

That common ancestor might actually have been too far in the distant past to be helpful, but it is well understood throughout the Herpeton system that its passions ran deep and hot, and so after a playful request to lower the thermostat was dutifully ignored, as expected…

“Well, then, I’m sure you won’t mind if I just shed a layer or two to make myself more comfortable. You may not realize that Herpeton VI has a quite variable climate, and we Space Lizards who hail from thereabouts are… quite, quite warm-blooded.”


“Oh, that’s ever so much better. Yes… yesssss… mmmmm…”

Does the Ambassador detect a marked increase of the blinking rate of the guards? Damn, if only they knew how to sweat. Honeyvenom holds the deadman switch tight.

“Could you jussst let the Admiral know… I’m ssso, ssso very exxxcited to tell him of the plansss I have to share with him… ssssssso very exxxcited… I do declare, whoever next ssstepsss through that door is sure to make me sssimply go off like a rocket…”

Eyelids hooded, but nasal camcorder still broadcasting to an increasingly weirded-out audience of unknown number, Captain Ssskipper, formerly known as Ssskidwish, currently in the guise of Carcinogennifer Honeyvenom, Ambasssssssador of Weatherby, dedicated cynic and truest of True Citizens watches the door, repeating six names under his breath.

“Melisande… Moose… Mechaootakage… Jane… Gilligan… Walleye…”

The door eventually opens.