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Nine-Oh_One Control Room _________________________________________________________

The smooth smoke of menthol and cannabis danced in tandem toward the ceiling. In a large, musty control room sat an unassuming man. He took another long draw on his spliff. His hand hung loosely about the tool as though years of practice had made it a spare limb. Tom Dop was in charge of this place, the maintenance of it at least. An abandoned chamber of seats and lights, and buttons and switches. It was an amphitheater with no performance to be had. The once plush chairs of the senate were in disrepair. Try as he might, Tom could not keep 120 year old furniture from its inevitable decay. And no amount of griping would change the funds for something so useless; in fact, no amount of griping would change anything around here, and so Tom did little of it. He simply sat in a vacant seat, one that still functioned without total collapse, and enjoyed his 15 minute break from cleaning the rotting carcass of this once great palace.

He scrolled aimlessly on his datapad. The vibrant lights of the life outdoors seeped into his eyes. The highlight real of every one he had ever made the acquaintance of greeted him, and yet these manicured images paled in comparison to the vibrance of Kawasaki adverts, catastrophes in foreign slums, genocide in Taloset. Short videos displayed images of horror with closed captioning at its base to explain. He appreciated the large font. It was kind of the world to keep him so well in the loop. Kind of the Architects to make a system of intergalactic jump gates. Though ironic that the only thing these jump gates brought to this simple man’s life was a couple wasted minutes scrolling on his already thinning lunch break.

Tom peeked at the clock above, three minutes left. Damn. His joints ached knowing they would soon be called back into action. One last scroll, one last post to sooth and gelatinize his brain. It was the image of a little girl from her hospital bed. She stared longingly out of the window on the bustling streets of New Memphis. Tom immediately noticed the area was a nice district, the kind only good rich families could afford--perhaps that is what made the post so much more moving. She was dying from cancer. Already much of her body had been replaced with cybernetics. Her hair was thin and her frame all together pitiable. “Please help us pay for our daughter Ella’s treatment.” The post mentioned, a crowdfunding link glowing in the periphery. Comments, emojis, and video replies hung loosely about the cyber canvas to display the population's concern for this child and the family’s predicament. Greatest of all the attention --in Tom’s opinion-- was that the image had been re-shared by the intergalactic influencer Liona Le Master. This perhaps doubled his care for the subject.

Tom gruffed silently to himself. “Someone should do something about this. Young people die too much. And the world pays. Family pays dollar, world pays watching.”

A faint pink light in the center of the room glowed as the clock struck 2am. Lunch break was over.


The next day Tom opened his phone. A quick break. One last rush of dynorphins before the next shift. His eyes locked on the barrage of trending data. Data so important that even Liona Le Master had confirmed it.

Literally speechless. @Nine-Oh_One has covered the cost of all pediatric healthcare in New Memphis from this day on. So blessed to live in such a dynamic and moving time. So humbled to bring awareness of this issue to the galaxy. I once visited this hospital once and did all I could to help. So glad the voices of New Memphis could be heard.

- @RealLiona

Tom too was speechless. However a centimeter of scrolling revealed others who were not.

@Nine-Oh_One is a fucking socialist pig. WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS???!

- @TylerVanderjack14

Ulfrag Thokkson


Loose drink and the smell of charred seal oil caked the air. A thick and drunken crowd had formed around the ring of assembled birch trunks. In the center of this pen thrashed three equine bodies, two of them stallions pummeling each other with bladelike hooves. Beside them, a mare in heat squirmed. The rope barding held her taut to the towering stone at the northern edge of the pen. The Hestavig at its best, a good time had by all. Cheers rang out with each blow as the specimens fought in bloodlust for the mare. It is the fate of nature and the stars that the strong should survive and carry on the path of the herd.

This particular celebration was special. The son of Thokk--the gothi, the leader and savior of her people--was turning one score years. Thokk stood over the ceremony in fine furs and silver talismans as blood, hair, and soil erupted in the pen beneath. Thokk was pitted with the scars and pocks of many hard winters and hard decisions. She had led her people to this place after generations of exile escaping the wilds and ways of men. This land had become their home. It was a place feared by all who neared its essence. Yet she had found a way to its heart and the key to her people’s safety amongst the bones of giants.

Were it not for the cheers and shrieking roars cutting the eve’s air, theirs was a quiet place. Dipping valleys of black volcanic rock shrouded in thick birch and maples. Beneath her canopy lay the secrets of old. Giant mounds of stone covered much of the forest floor, collecting moss and lichen and and the things of old life. It was a graveyard. The petrified remains of the Time Before, where Primordials clashed and their fallen became the earth. The tales of southern tribes said it was a haunted place. They were right.

Her son sifted through the onlooking crowd, greetings and well wishes of his tribesmen thrust upon him from every angle. Though many cared for him, Ulfrag was sure they were more pleased by the thrill of show and feast. The amber fire of twilight danced in the drunken gaze of their eyes. He joined the front row of spectators as hooves clashed skulls again and again. The noise was excruciating. The scene sickened him, but how can traditions be broken? This is nature. Without this pen, the mangled horse would have met the same fate.

The once beautiful pony, now caked in black dirt and gore, ceased its struggle. The bejeweled woman stepped into the pen and the crowd fell silent. The horns of black ale briefly parting from their lips as they watched abatedly. Even the stallion seemed to be frozen by her presence before being hurried away by stable boys with its mare in tow. Thokk raised her hand, a crude ax of birchwood and black stone hanging at her side.

“Fate cannot be interrupted by man,” her voice boomed. “Let this be the course of the stars. And may its children obey and avail.”

With a clean strike she plunged the ax into the maimed horse’s neck. The crowd erupted in revelry. Cheers once more. The once still drinks turned now into a frothy shrapnel. Sprigs of mistletoe were thrown at the feet of Thokk as tears began to streak their soot-covered cheeks. Soon the feast of horse would begin, the first fresh meat in months. Amidst the clamor a small, black fowl appeared. It swooped onto Thokk’s outstretched arm and proffered forth a small flower. The grizzled woman looked like blood no longer lived in her veins. Her eyes held only terror.

The horizon’s last breath of sun dipped across the sky. Ulfrag had seen the exchange and leapt into the pen to comfort his mother. A subtle surge in revelry but few noticed his addition. They instead were occupied with the horse being drawn up and affixed by its hind legs to the giant stone, the slow drip of its lifeforce falling below into a ceremonial bowl. She stared blankly to the sky as he rushed to her side.

“What news is this creature!? Why does it cause you such pain?” Ulfrag asked frantically. His mother continued to gaze blankly at the sapphire haze of early night.

“They know.” She muttered under her breath. Without further word she tore a fistful of hair from the slain horse’s palmetto mane. She held it under the crude ax still lodged in its victim’s throat. Black liquid trickled from its hilt. The stream collected on the coarse blond hair in her grasp.

“Come mother, let us talk of this alone while the others fill their gut.” Ulfrag whispered pleadingly. “They have had nothing but deer moss for months. Their teeth are nearly rotten. Let their minds be at peace, such a place I wish you could take mine.”

She continued her blank gaze. She thrusted the dripping horse hair at the winged creature. It took the offering and flew south toward the first glistening star of the night. She turned to Ulfrag. Her eyes were not her own. “I hope the stars wish them peace.”

She struck Ulfrag in the face, his nose clicking to the side with a fiery torrent of pain. “Mother, what in the Fates!?” She struck out again. This time he just managed to dodge her assault, swapping places with her in the parry. He was backed against the giant monolith. The subtle tapping drips of the slain echoed behind him.

“Let me end this!” She screeched into the dusk, her grey hair tossing about her face like a sordid beast. The members of the tribe stood in awe at the scene. Terror and confusion married amongst them. A club was thrown into the pit at the gothi’s feet. “Let Fate.” She hissed at the supplier in return. Another club found its way to Ulfrag. Two shields dashed in amongst the mistletoe and claret of horses. Ulfrag prepared himself in the fashion of his mother. He wanted to tell her to stop this, he wanted to find what had possessed her mind; but the words would not come, for he felt the same, unquestionable pull to blood.

The woman, venerable in years, crashed into his shield like a berserker of Sinn Dhein. Ulfrag felt the laminar wood begin to buckle under her blow. Once. Twice. Three times she struck home with the wooden cudgel. It caved in the thin pine that held him from her inhuman tide of strength. The next blow sent straight into his arm. Ulfrag looked twice to see that it had not been severed off yet it felt so. Dangling loosely at an ominous angle, he had lost his feeling and use of it completely. Feeling except for pain; all encompassing, blinding, it throbbed into his ears as the sound of the world went black.

White light dashed across his face. The side of his cheek roared into a pain more fierce than his mangled arm. His head spun rear. Liquid metals filled his mouth. In his gasp for breath he felt the sputter of small rocks fall from his jaw where teeth had once been. The night had come or else the world had gone dark. When Ulfrag managed his eyes open his vision was singular: the crude ax in the throat of the horse. It was all encompassing, all he could see, it roared to him without sound.

Ulfrag swung round on his foe. The club crunching through the gristle of Thokk’s right knee. He did not hear what cry she made, he only felt her, felt it. His left arm flailed at his side as he took blows to her shield as was done to him. The fresh scent of pine cut through the iron of his nose as splinters were wrought for yards. She was crumbling before him. She would die.

Yet, she did not. A thrust of her warclub found his exposed gut. His lungs collapsed under the weight of his paralyzed diaphragm. Air could not be found. He fell to his back, sputtering in the blood of his face. He wished she would put him out of his misery. Hang him to this stone and feed his people. And this she intended. Thokk, broken herself, dragged what bones she had left above her helpless prey. She sat astride him, the gift of her womb. A stone, a pumiced fossil of giants before time, was held aloft to deliver its blow. Ulfrag grabbed helplessly at the sky to impede its fall.

He felt it strike his hand. Slide into his palm. He felt the blood running down his arm. He could feel it yet there was no pain. It was all encompassing. He opened his eyes and saw the ax. It was in his hand. The blood of the horse still tapping in the cadence of his heart and the throb of the world around him. He looked up at his mother and plunged it into her chest. Silence.

Her gaze softened. Light slowly warmed her eyes. The grey soul-spun wisps of the aurora above kissed the fresh night sky. Ulfrag watched onward as her body relaxed above him and gently turned to stone. The ax was no longer all encompassing. Finally he could see the night filled with stars.
Ulfrag Thokkson

The Boy

For those interested, this thread is still very much alive in the Discord. 11 active players that have already drawn up locations on the map, collaborated histories, and world built some interesting plot arcs already.

Definitely deserves a click on the Discord link if you want to see Oz behind the curtain.
Definitely interested, mate. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.
- The Ozil -

Travulous Lost

The room was pulsing with rage. Its dimly lit interior was surrounded on all sides by glass walls which played host to dozens of eyes. The figures outside of the room beat against its thick glass in an unorganized rhythm. But the pulse of their minds was unanimous. The Ozil were not adept psionics. Like most things they were too base, too visceral to have any complex use of it. But they could transfer emotions like voice. In this moment they were not quiet. The audience around the square was howling frantically. Inside the soundproof room only the surging pulse of minds could be felt. It was lust of many sorts.

Inside the slick black floor was covered in a slithering pool of blood. A gargantuan Ozil, open wounds accenting every rivet of fur and lard, stood proud with glazed eyes. Below him hovled a creature, perhaps dead except for the occasional rattling breath. The furry mass was unrecognizable. The fight had rendered it little more than greasy, torn flesh. The victor attacked once more, thrashing it with a blood-sodden cuddle. The club articulated with each thud of damp flesh.

A howl half-laced with laughter, half-laced with rage echoed against the walls. The Ozil goliath raised the weapon for all of the audience to see. It was an arm, the arm of the Ozil that lay before him congealing in his own fluids and defeat. Though the windows he could see the elation of his kin. He could feel them. Their chorus had grown to a frenzy. The males thrashed against the windows as females proffered their organs to him. Surely their needs would be fulfilled in the celebrations to follow. All of the Primacy’s needs would be met, because he would return to them as the Prime Alpha.

Ingar Brazhnik, the richest Ozil of his era, sauntered from the carnage like a king. In this moment, that is what he could claim to be. The presidency of Ozil Thermal was won in this way. The audience around him was the Primacy’s Shareholder Council members. Each fiscal year, after the earnings of all quarters were calculated, a rival to the Prime Alpha position was chosen to challenge him in unarmed combat. The victor took all, often including the opposition’s life. This contestor had been of weaker make, a benevolent choice for third quarter profits. Ingar’s victory seemed assured, but stranger things have happened in this system. Whether by choice or by force, Prime Alpha Ignar had reigned supreme nine years to this day.

A door in the room appeared. With one last thrusting fist and show of gnashed teeth to his adoring fans, Ignar slipped into a quiet hall out of view. The dark corridor was lined only by the dimly illuminated busts of Prime Alphas who reigned before him. Their stern vissages stared forward into space. They were a reminder of the soul of his people: hard, humble, and hungry for the past. At times he wondered if they would approve of him. If he would be capable of making Zakarov, Zediah, or Krankinov proud. This hall was lined with men who earned their place in the galaxy. They had torn apart worlds to make a home for his people and fuel the Iron Star. Ingar had done little more than play sides at the bartering table, trading terrawatts for treaties. His bloody paw caressed the half-mutilated face of Valdiketch the Great.

“Blood and profit, brother.” Ingar offered through gritted teeth. “I will finish your mission. I will bring the First Ones back to us. Mine will be a star that shines brighter than all in the galaxy.”

With a sudden, furious heave, Ingar tore the bust from its resting. He breached through the heavy sanctum doors and into the vibrant party that awaited. Hundreds stood at their grey cubicles. Papers and notes were strewn out amongst the smattering of office holocomputers. Head down, Ignar strode through the onslaught of praise. Hands reached out to pat him. Still others lurched their giant figures onto desks to get a better view. Yet he marched through the headquarters office without eye contact, bust of his ancient predecessor in hand.

Finally he arrived at the front of the room. A table with refreshments was fancifully arranged, at its center was the festering remains of a whole Terran narwhal, undoubtedly bought at gratuitous price from Rolvius. Above the splendor sat an even greater jewel: a window from their station on Travulous Lost looking out onto the great blue mass of a sun. It was beautiful. Ingar could scarcely stop himself from weeping when he looked at her. She was the deliverance to his people, their purpose, and today his prize for victory. But she was a fickle mistress. The sorrow of her drama ran through him as deeply as his lust.

The Forge, a dyson array that the First Ones had left behind was in disrepair. Few spacehabs even worked. Everything had to be done in retrograde, as the technology of that civilization was so far beyond their capacity. Engineers were actually linguists. Architects were archeologists. The path forward for the Ozil laid in the ability to understand the past; and not even their own past. They had been pets of these great creatures, now gone from the galaxy. What they were now and what the Iron Star was now, was an embarrassment.

She needed fuel. The current demands were pressing at the needs of their economy. Still more dire, they were pressing at the needs of promised exports. If the investors learned of this, they would be in stock free-fall. Though much of this fuel was intellectual, and thereby far more scarce, mineral resources were poured in from all over the galaxy to help reconstruct the lifeline of their nation. Amassed before the mental haze of the Push, many of the contributor planets and peoples had become unruly once more. Just last week three million had been slaughtered quelling an uprising on Divarpov IX. Labor was a hard pill to swallow, and the reactors needed more hands to sift, clean, and ship the profits and waste of the Primacy. They were stretching thin. They needed to expand their holds or default on their economic presence in the galaxy.

This expansion had been stifled by the Treaty of Detente. And yet, the treaty of Detente had saved them. Perhaps even to some degree Ignar knew this too. It had allowed them to survive in a world of much bigger fish. But to argue its necessity was semantics. Trade deals, the true expansion of the Primacy, would have been impossible without a signature. Embargos hurt harder than the coalition forces that occasionally glassed his mining projects when their ambitions had stepped out of line. Even now, the Primacy was likely to be throttled by another coalition incursion once the next round of Treaty observers was turned over. A cocktail of blackmail and bribery had held off most reports. But it was difficult to hide the expansive pre-construction projects underway in the Ozil sectors. Final assembly of these printed parts would be a trivial step into swelling the naval power of the Primacy exponentially. Now was the time to get rich or get caught.

A thin line of blue dust stood on a plate amongst the delicacies. Ingar inhaled it sharply before leaping onto the table. He began to pace atop it as a female nervously offered him up a microphone. Ingar snatched the device, a familiar glaze in his eyes.

He paced more as the room grew silent. Stifled coughs intermittently cut the void as the entire room waited. On each face was a mix of fear and exhilaration.

“Detente. Cute word. Cute idea... He liked it,” Ingar pointed a trembling finger towards the arena where a huddled mass still laid prostrate. “CUTE, if you are a bitch in heat offering yourselves to the galaxy at large.” Ignar held the bloodied bust of their venerated hero aloft to the still silent crowd. “What would he say? What would he say if he found us with our wrists tied to our ankles? What would he say if he found us in soda commercials rolling down hills of snow, giggling like the galaxy isn’t ours for the taking? Like we aren’t predators…” Ingar choked the last words as he launched the statue at a nearby soda can perched atop an office cubicle. The two objects dashed together in a shower of brown froth..

The silence was humid.


The crowd erupted in applause. Poorly stacked file drawers were tossed asunder. Bureaucrats hugged each other and still more began to find their way onto disorderly desks. Problematic dances were being performed. The subtle symphony of Song 1, the anthem of the Ozil began to murmur as chests were beaten in unison.

“THE SHOW GOES ON!” Ingar ejected again through pulsing neck veins and a slightly bleeding nose. The chorus of Song 1 unified and strengthened. “We’re going to take this GALAXYYY! Get every fucking inspector out!” Ingar was heaving with sweat. He grabbed a spare bottle of Lokoid spirit and began guzzling it like water on a burn. The few races other than Ozil in the room hurriedly left or were wrapped in black plastic bags by unmarked agents.

“Supply and demand…” Ingar offered with mock calm. “I’m going to find what the Ashtar left. I’m going to uncover the secrets of the First Ones. I’m going to walk down to that weak little planet they left behind and take it ALL!” Ingar surged, recollected himself before continuing. “Then when I have the galaxy’s balls in my claw,” he gripped in demonstration, “they are going to come to us. They will turn out their pockets and each one of you,” he pointed to various individuals in the crowd, “ you, my brothers and sisters, are going to be filthy fucking rich.”


Beneath Agdemnar

The engine hummed as it sifted and drove through the soft Agdemnar earth. Service personnel clambered through the confines of the drill, lubricants and coolant sprays constantly firing into the dusty machine’s bowels. A nameless mook sat on the edge of this chaos, a small radar perched on spare ration boxes. Hand on chin and eyes heavy, he stared at the small blips of the screen. Outside of the tunnel was a sensory array which would tell the sappers of oncoming threats to their tunnel system. Of yet, nothing but spare debris from the orbital conflicts above had offered any amusement to the post. A half dozen of the mining party had tried to flee once, but he had personally seen three of them shot and assumed the others met a similar fate before reaching the entry of the 80km long tunnel.

He pulled up the greater global map array. Lights danced all around the planet. The galaxy was at war on this world, but children slept at night none the wiser. He wondered if they had offspring like him. Small tufts of fur that would never see their father again. When he was abducted for this post, he knew that fate. Overnight he had become a Sales Associate for Blue Milk LLC, the company this entourage was officially attached to. The business was one of many galactic ratholes for money laundering by the Ozil elite. This one had a VPN out of FedNat, but he knew spray painting that onto Ozil gear, tactics, and personnel could only fool the most banal of galactic liberal media. The small freighter this mining company had arrived on was even stolen, at least intellectually. It operated on some off-brand, aftermarket version of Kadath cloaking. Or maybe it was Utopian? He wasn’t sure, the reality was that it probably didn’t even work. The entire planet likely knew they were here; knew that they had landed in a small canyon and had begun drilling headlong under the shield covering Point Jakurna.

Suddenly, the soil around them shook fiercely, small scraps of dust and debris fell through the gaps in the tunnel’s propping carapace. Frantic eyes of maintenance personnel began to peer at him. Some reached for their side-arms (useless) still others began to slowly position themselves towards the tunnel egress (more useless). The Ozil grabbed his empty box of freeze-dried potatoes and peered at the sensor screen. Nothing was showing but a small loading bar in the upper corner. He pushed open the empty container which contained not starchy foodstuffs, but a detonator. He gripped the rusty device and unclipped the safety. The loading dial in the upper corner spun onward in torment. Perhaps it was a surprise assault. Maybe someone with stealth technology that actually worked. With his dying breath he would click that damn button. Neutron bombs lined the canyon entrance, nearly half the freighter’s weight of them. If anyone were to assault their position it would be scorched earth and salted fields of the worst variety. It may keep the enemy out, but it would also lock him and his crew in. They would have no other choice than to drill onward. They had to get under that shield or this tunnel would be their grave.

The loading icon vanished. Small red dialogue appeared on the screen in First One cryllic, which he somewhat knew.






“Proceed!” The Ozil cried out in parrot. Small rivets of joy cracked through his voice. The workers said nothing, but he could feel their relief. They continued on as they were bidden. The hiss of coolant tore onward into the deep.

More words appeared on the screen. These, however, appeared in basic Ozil. He assumed they were from the orbital fleet. They had been told a small flotilla was amassing near the system’s sun, soaking up her energy in wait to strike once the shield was down. If he did everything right, maybe he would see his seven dozen children once more.

“Orbital strike from Asrian Ascendancy on target above tunnel structure.

Do not detonate.

You are meters from Ashtar shield array.

Prepare for mining craft to proceed under shield threshold.

Vector will adjust to 30 degree angle for crust breech.”

He looked out over his laboring kin and knew they felt his euphoria. They would be rich. They would be famous. They would survive.


Smoke billowed into the tunnel. The mining craft came to a halt.


In orbit of Agdemnar

Discount offer: 20%

“Attention Hermione crew:

Your vessel is unstable and will destruct. Immediate necessary repairs are purchasable at bargain price, through PsyPay or vetted financial conduit. Order now while offers and supplies last. We look forward to future dealings of mutual benefit.

-Blue Milk, LLC.
Routing PIN: 0938402384”

The message was sent to the FedNat hospital ship from a small contingent of clearly Ozil naval vessels in close orbit of the system’s sun. The routing PIN was traceable to an account seemingly located on the Terran Cayman Islands. Local officials, however, would find this not to be the case.




Attached was an advertisement for a shill polymer business dealing mainly in humanoid boot markets. The advert was complete with exact location of the foundry and an encrypted discount offer code.

- The Ozil -


The thick, pungent smoke of a cigar writhed into the dim night. From the lonely window far above the cemented street, a cloud of similar shapes seemed to form. They trudded in a march through the fresh packed snow. Workers, hundreds of them, garbed in grey coats. Their faint silhouettes were clouded by the debris that fell from above. It was more than just snow. A grey ash filled the air and seemed to cling like a parasite to every surface and particle in sight. Waves of this ghostly filth whipped in the wind, lashing the workers as they marched below. Yet onward they trudged with armed guards at their sides. They were heading to the factory, the stifled glow on the horizon served as a poor replacement for a sky. On this planet, it was the only thing close to a sunrise.

Lyov took another great puff of his cigar, its fiery head treading close to his worn paw. He careened his head out to exhale once more into the billowing night sky. His giant white fur and ursine build were wedged sideways between the maw of the cement window; its architect not envisioning its use for such leisure. His rank afforded him some leeway. Lyov was a senior physicist in the Primacy. But in the Primacy there was no paradise for party members of any rank. His position did grant him a window, and he had every intention to make use of it.

A soft clicking noise droned in the background. The workers below seemed to walk to its cadence. However, with every gust of snow-laden wind, the metronome seemed to speed its incessant tick. The workers continued their slow trudge. With a long drag, Lyov burned his momentary escape down to its wick. The workers were close now. The searchlights of aircraft began to dance above their slumped figures. Lyov took this as his sign to retire.

He drew back into the small room. It was grey. Barren cement walls, a half eaten bowl of cold porridge, a scratchy sofa with chunks removed from it, and an old holoprojector on the wall. Lyov slid his giant figure onto the sofa and massaged what was likely an old injured shoulder. The little box perched on the seat continued to chirp. A geiger counter, its whispering dribble counted radiation in the air. It was a constant companion and only real conversation he had outside of the factory. The sofa he sat on had been refurbished by hand. Portions of padding that had absorbed too much radiation were torn out. He had tossed them out of the window, perhaps adding to the misery of the workers below. Perks of being on the top floor, and being worth something to Ozil Thermal.

The holoprojector cut on in a dash of flickering light. It had no on or off button that Lyov had seen. The device simply turned on when the party felt something worth showing, a rare event when work was to be done. Lyov immediately recognized the program, Galactic Talent. Perhaps it was a re-run but he could not be sure--all the performances were the same. At least all of the Ozil performances were the same. Song 1 was being performed. Though there were officially six state recognized songs, Song 1 was the only one exported for foriegn use. It was the theme, anthem, eulogy of the Ozil people. It was not real words, simply a complex and rolling howl that was meant to stir the emotions of every Ozil. It encapsulated their quest for self proving, mastering of the stars, struggle for survival in a forlorn universe, and ultimate destiny as dust in the cosmic sky. It was beautiful. Perhaps even beautiful to foreign ears. Moreover it was the only performance broadcast to the Ozil, a state-backed deal with the galactic entertainment network at large. Every performer, every broadcast, always Song 1 followed by a captured audience from around the galaxy and their thunderous--if after-tracked--applause.

Strobing light. Weeping judges. Theme music. Commercial break.

“Soda 1. The taste of Paradise to come," read a dashing Ozil with a smile and a wink. He held the colorful Jalaryian beverage like it had been vomited into his outstretched hand. It was crudely filmed, out of focus. In the periphery of the shot could be seen the edge of a mic boom and the vague silhouette of a rifle muzzle. He greeted the viewer at the end of every Song 1 performance, an advertising byproduct for the only beverage sold in the Primacy. It undoubtedly made an Alpha bureaucrat somewhere rich.

The screen cut back to Galactic Talent. Lyov looked on in awe. The crowd clapped lazily as the Ozil contestant trudged off of the stage. This had never happened on his screen before. The next contestant was announced. Lyov could hear the beat of his heart begin to punch through his throat. A human with an instrument took the stage. The applause of the crowd echoed in his room as Lyov’s gaze searched frantically for a power switch. There wasn’t one, there had never been a power switch. He shouldn’t be watching this. One of the judges cut a dry joke, looking presumptuously onward at the contestant. The human replied meekly, the crowd whispering about her looking unfit for the part. Lyov’s grip tightened, claws cutting through the patchwork sofa. The human began to sing, amazing the crowd with how someone so ugly could have such talent. Lyov was pounding. He grabbed for something, anything. The bowl of cold porridge crashed across the cement wall which played host to the holoprojection. Onward she performed, dancing amongst the clumps of gray sludge.

He didn’t even hear the door open. The footsteps had settled into the beat of his pounding heart and the steady, penetrating click of the geiger counter. They were here, and they knew.

Blackness fell over him. A plastic bag sealed itself over his head. Paws from every angle dug into his fur. Once. Twice. Three times something hard belted into the side of his head splitting his vision into a kaleidoscope of colors and pain. They were dragging him as the unsanctioned holocast droned on with voice and instruments and song. He felt his body crammed through the narrow opening of his own window. He felt the harness around him catch by some force, hoisting him upward into the bowels of an aircraft. The audience of the holocast erupted in gleeful applause. It sounded, for once, genuine.
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