Go Time

MT-01’s distress beacon was leading them closer to Volkria than they liked but the MTs stayed the course; they were eager to close the gap between their shuttle and the MT Transport. Soon after leaving Rilleco, the troopers discovered that the transport was moving away from them in an irregular flight pattern. They were unaware that the ship’s internal protection mechanism had detected their signal lock and was intentionally evading their shuttle, classifying it as non-MT and therefore a threat.

As they approached the planet’s outer atmosphere, the communication system abruptly came to life. “This is Task Force Volkriun, and you are in restricted space,” a monotone voice droned. “Identify yourself at once. Repeat: identify yourself at once.”

“Sounds like a Glyan,” MT-27 said angrily. “What are they doing on Volkria?”

“Don’t know and don’t care,” MT-48 replied. “Unless they try to delay our mission. That would end badly for them...I guarantee it.”

MT-106 turned away from the instrument panel. “Looks like we are going to find out - patrol ship incoming!”

Answering the Volkriuns with his synthetic speech would only make matters worse, so MT-09 ignored the hail. “We say and do nothing. When their scanners detect no life forms they will have to board the shuttle to investigate. Then we make our move.”

The veteran warriors instinctively took their posts with arms at the ready. MT-106 brought the outboard phase cannon online, hands hovering above the controls, eyes on the outer hatchway. The pulse drive of the patrol ship shook the hull as it made its approach and docked with the shuttle.

As the hatch slid open, MT-106 disabled the patrol ship’s external communication array with a blast of the cannon. The troopers raised their weapons, took aim, and-

“Hold your fire!” MT-09 shouted. It took him a beat to comprehend that the OD green troops rushing toward him were not MTs. “What the...?”

That was all the time the Glyans needed to get the jump on the troopers. MT-09 was blown off his feet as a barrage of fire erupted inside the shuttle. The three other MTs scrambled for cover as the Task Force Volkriun patrol overran their positions.

The skirmish shifted to hand-to-hand combat in the tight space. The MTs were unrivaled at close quarters fighting, and used the organic make-up of the Glyans to their advantage. Noses exploded and bones shattered; blood painted the bulkheads a deep red. Despite sustaining heavy damage during the initial assault, the troopers finally managed to overcome their foes. The last Glyan, neck bent at an impossibly grotesque angle, fell to the deck in a heap.

MT-09 surveyed the carnage. “I don’t know why these soldiers wear our green. What I do know is they haven’t earned the right to. We will get some answers soon enough, but right now we need to clean up this mess and get moving. It won’t be long before they come looking for the missing patrol.”

The troopers dragged the dead Glyans into the patrol ship, set it adrift, and resumed the search for their missing leader.

Lost Wave

Artwork by Matt Doughty, Onell Design
He was grateful to be excused from his regular duty of working with the liberated gendrones of the Build Station. Progress had slowed to a crawl and with no word from Argen, the end of the mission was nowhere in sight. MT-106 spent his time either monitoring the portable receiver or improving its range.

The tenacious MT was determined to discover the whereabouts of his fellow troopers. So far, he was unable to pick up even the slightest signal from his unit, but did manage to gather bits of intelligence about something disturbing called Zorennor. From what MT-106 could piece together, a rift in space had appeared somewhere in Glyos. It was believed to be extremely dangerous, and reports of missing ships had-

The realization hit him hard. The MTs are lost...in Zorennor! He cursed his sentience as thought after thought bombarded his synthetic mind, eliciting feelings of sadness, dread, anger. Why am I on this cursed planet instead of with my unit? Maybe I could have saved them!

MT-106 got his emotions in check before contacting MT-09. There is a chance the MTs are still alive, and getting mad won’t help them. He told his leader what he had learned from the intercepted transmissions and MT-09 agreed that chances were high their unit’s lack of communication had to do with the ominous Zorennor. An emergency meeting was called to share the facts with MT-27 and MT-48.

Rushing to meet the troopers, MT-106 almost missed the faint but steady beeping that began to emanate from the portable receiver. The signal analyzer, automatically comparing the tone to the countless samples in its database, quickly identified a match: the homing beacon of the MT Transport.


MT-09, MT-27, MT-48, and MT-106 were in agreement; they would disobey a direct order and depart before Argen’s return. Blatant disregard of a command went against every fiber of their being, but what was the alternative? Leave their commander and fellow troopers in peril? That was not an option.

“OK, listen up,” MT-09 barked. “The MT Transport’s signal has been analyzed and confirmed. I have secured and armed a small shuttle for us. We leave immediately.”

The realization of what they had decided silenced the battle-hardened gendrones. Never before had they defied authority, but they knew what had to be done. The MTs cared deeply for MT-01 and their unit, leaving no choice but to search for them. The transformation from obedient hunks of metal to free thinking beings was complete and emotions ran high.

“Do you remember how glorious we were in battle?” MT-48 asked wistfully. “Wave after wave of green death crashing down upon our enemies without mercy. I long for those days again. We have to rescue our brothers!” The MT raised his arm, fist tightly clenched. “We must find...the Lost Wave!”

Without another word, the troopers marched off toward the ship. Once on board, MT-106 docked the portable receiver and programmed the navigation system to follow the signal. The MTs lifted off and slid out of Rilleco’s atmosphere undetected. Their journey into the unknown had begun.

Skin vs. Tin

“What kind of question is that? Hey, you new around here or something? Yeah? Well, let me make it real simple for you then - being a Skin is good and being a Tin is bad. Why? That’s just the way it is, kid. There are lots of reasons. Probably how it will always be, too, unless the revolution takes off. Pretty small right now, but don’t all revolutions start that way? Don’t worry, I could tell you were a Skin a mile away, so you don’t have to sweat anything around here. That is, unless the Tins really do take over the show one day...

My job? I try to keep the peace between the two classes. That’s not easy in a big city like this. Oh, you come from the Farmlands? No wonder you’re so clueless! They even have Tins where you live? I didn’t think so. Here, read this. I have better things to do with my time than answer all your questions. Good luck, kid...you’ll need it.”



Skin: Slang term referring to a fully organic human. Through certain means (proper upbringing, healthy lifestyle, wealth, power, etc.), a Skin has managed to properly protect and care for his/her natural body, thus eliminating the need for a synthetic replacement (see Tin). Today’s environment is a harsh one, and this is no small feat. You will usually find Skins in positions of leadership within government agencies, private corporations, social clubs, and anywhere else requiring a high level of discipline, motivation, and intelligence.

Tin: Slang term referring to a human possessing his/her organic brain, with said brain being housed within a synthetic body, normally in the cranial chamber*. The vast majority of Tins are those who either abused their natural bodies (drinking, smoking, poor diet, improper environmental precautions, etc.) and/or did not have the money required to protect themselves from the ravages of time and disease. You will usually find Tins in positions considered undesirable (hazardous waste, environmental sterilization, high risk labor, etc.).

* It has recently been discovered that rebel Tins are relocating their brains into heavily reinforced torsos, using the cranial chamber to hold less essential hardware.

Dent: Slang term referring to an Indentured Servant. Dents are almost always Tins, as the financial hardship that precipitated the indenture also facilitated the failure of the natural body and subsequent need for a synthetic replacement. You will rarely find a Skin in servitude; they are generally Masters of at least one Dent. Synthetic bodies are costly and often purchased by a Master on behalf of a newly created Tin. In return, the Tin becomes an Indentured Servant until the debt (plus interest) is paid. This practice is seen as unfair by some Tins, and has led to the formation of rebel groups across a multitude of Urban Zones. The fact that they made a conscious choice (servitude over death) does not seem to matter to these rebels.


The young man reads through the definitions a second time, then a third, struggling to fully grasp their meaning. How can this be? Back home, no one ever spoke of Skins and Tins and Dents. Of course, the government is notorious for withholding information about the Urban Zones. Food produced by the Farmlands is essential for the well being of the entire Commonwealth, and they can’t risk any backlash from its residents. Technically, all regions are under the same harsh rule, but most necessary goods produced in the Urban Zones are done by robotic facilities and rely less on manual labor. Farming requires a human touch that no robot has ever been able to reproduce.

Tired of the endless work in the fields and quiet rural atmosphere, the young man jumped at the chance to be a Farmlands Liaison and live in an Urban Zone. Several friends had accepted the same sort of job, never returning to the dull agricultural life they left behind. He assumed it was because they were having such a great time in the big city but now he was not so sure. Where -or what- are they now?

A wave of panic hits him hard as he answers his own question. They are Tins...and Dents. Like him, his friends were born and raised in the Farmlands and left there eager for adventure but flat broke. Too broke by far to afford a synthetic body after the acrid air of the Urban Zone destroyed lungs used to breathing fresh country air. A lifetime of being kept in the dark about how things really were in the Urban Zones, and now the young man will learn the truth, whether he wants to or not.

Shadow Casters

A girl lies down in a sunny spot to study. Leaning on her elbows in the deep grass, she reads from a thick textbook. Fully engaged, it takes a minute to notice the shadow across the well-used pages. She turns her head expectantly, a half smile ready to greet the friend who is standing beside her. The girl finds herself alone. Puzzled, she brings her attention back to the book and recoils at the sight of the shadow remaining there. Huh...that's odd. The girl hastily gathers her things and leaves.

Unable to shake an increasing feeling of unease, she heads to the campus library and learns the following from a dictionary:

Shadow - the dark figure cast upon a surface by an interposed opaque body intercepting the rays from a source of light.

Opaque - blocking the passage of radiant energy and especially light.

Body - the organized physical substance of an animal or plant either living or dead.

Of course, the “dead” in the last definition refers to a corpse, but the anxious girl thinks only of “ghost”. More likely a person walking by or a passing cloud...

She tries to rationalize what just occurred but can’t; the sky was clear and she was lying by herself in the middle of an expanse of grass. Returning the dictionary to the shelf, the girl decides to dig a little more. She moves to an empty section of the library to research paranormal phenomena. In an old book entitled “The Ones Among Us”, she finds a passage within a chapter about reincarnation. It reads:

“Neither alive nor dead, Shadow Casters roam the earth unseen in search of their lost souls, feeding on the light they absorb. To fall under their shadow is to be marked for death, for they will not rest until they reclaim what was once theirs. When found by a Shadow Caster, a mortal man can do nothing but wait for his inevitable demise.”

A shiver runs through the girl’s body as she slams the book shut. This is crazy…just relax! I’m sure if I search the web I will find plenty of sites that say this is just urban legend. As she pushes her chair from the table and starts to rise, her foot becomes tangled in her backpack strap. The girl turns and steps away, only to trip into the next row of tables. Broken by the edge of the hard oak top, her nasal bones drive into her brain as her face slams down on the seat of a chair. She is dead before she hits the floor. If she were still alive, the girl would surely see the shadow darkening the worn carpet beside her.

More Than

Artwork by Matt Doughty, Onell Design
The dark figure is back. Hunched over a table, it is totally engrossed in its work. Buildman parts are scattered across the smooth surface. Blueprints, detailing what looks like an exploded view of a weaponized gendrone, lay close at hand. He can’t be sure, but MT-01 thinks that may be his own name scrawled across the top of the paper, along with another. What does that say? Volk...

The scene fades before he can finish and is replaced with another - the interior of a ship. Gobon gendrones in a multitude of configurations move freely about the sizable space. A silver Buildman walks beside a tall Gobon wearing a green cloak, the pair engaged in deep conversation. Argen? Again the image disappears before MT-01 can fully interpret it.

Absolute blackness returns, and with it a suffocating silence. MT-01 can do nothing but wait; time has no meaning in this place. Finally, a voice speaks to him from out of the gloom. “You are more than what you have become.” Simple words yet rife with meaning.

The MT Transport, rendered invisible by the cloaking device, continues its meandering course unobserved. MT-01 rests comatose inside, unaware of the events taking place across Glyos and within the rift called Zorennor: events that will forever alter his destiny.

Plan of Action

Artwork by Matt Doughty, Onell Design

After the MTs abrupt departure from Rilleco, Argen and the remaining four troopers resumed the task of bringing sentience to the gendrones wandering aimlessly about the Build Station. It was an arduous job, and Argen’s seemingly inexhaustible patience finally ran thin. He decided to take leave of the planet and head for Point Lannoc.

Now that Argen was gone, MT-09, MT-27, MT-48, and MT-106 wasted no time; they quickly made for the edge of the Black Ruins. Something had been weighing heavily on them, and the time to discuss it had come.

“This isn’t right,” MT-09 stated as soon as his squad had assembled. One of the first MTs to gain free thought, MT-09 was a natural leader and easily assumed the role. “We should have received word from MT-01 by now.”

“We all know what it’s like out there,” MT-48 replied. “Sometimes you barely have enough time to repair the damage you took during one battle before you’re moving out to fight the next one. They’re probably knee-deep in corpses right now and too busy to call.”

Grunted affirmations arose from the group, followed by an unsettled silence. Each trooper feared that the MTs had run into trouble and needed their help, but MT-01’s orders were clear: remain on Rilleco to support Argen. Should they stay and continue their duties until Argen’s return? Or disobey a direct order and leave to find their brothers?

“With a few modifications I should be able to boost the strength of our portable receiver,” MT-106 suggested. “The troops could be operating out of our range on the other side of Glyos. Give me some time to do the work, and if there is a signal out there from our unit, I’ll find it.”