'Welcome to your nightmare,' said a voice.

Cass rolled her eyes “Really?”

She was sixteen again and stood in the hallway of her childhood home - the shit one they’d moved to after her dad had lost his job because of his drinking. She hated the place.

Raising her hands, Cass examined her chipped, black nail polish.

“You know, this is pretty accurate”

She was wearing the tasselly skirt that she had found in her mother's old things and her favourite frayed, baggy jumper. A satchel of college books hung from her shoulder.

“Where the fuck have you been you little bitch!?” her father's angry shout made her start.

He appeared from the lounge a second later. Unshaven and wild eyed, reeking of the cheap brandy he used to like drinking.

“Oh, please” Cass sneered “This doesn’t define me”

“Don’t give me any of your fucking lip” balling his fists, he took a step towards her.

Cass regarded him coolly. It had been a while since she’d been under psychic attack and had been forced to relive this shitty episode, but even so, the sight of him still make her skin crawl.

In this universe, both her parents were still alive - she’d spoken to them via vidlink; her father was an amiable, grey haired man with an easy smile - nothing like the derelict stood in front of her.

“You don’t scare me” Cass said. firmly.

At this, he lunged towards her in an attempt to grab a fistful of her long hair, but Cass simply dodged the attack and punched him hard in the face. His nose crunched satisfyingly beneath her fist.

Blood streaming, he reeled back in dazed shock. Cass kicked out at him before he could recover and swept his feet from beneath him, sending him crashing to the floor.
“Stay down” she booted him again, this time in the head

“I’ll kill you for this” he moaned, his words bubbling through the blood filling his mouth.

“No you won’t. You’re dead. I killed you.” Cass turned and let herself out of the house “Nightmare my arse”

The cold, dark street outside shimmered and twisted as she walked through the door, becoming humid, lush and verdant. Screams and the scent of blood filled the air.


She was sat on the floor amid a group of captive ssala, perspiring in the heat an wearing little more than exotic tribal underwear. A metal collar enclosed her neck.

Movement behind Cass made her turn to gaze up at a massive haruk striding through the ssala towards her, it’s grey skin covered in brightly coloured tattoos and adorned with bone jewellery.

Reaching her, the creature stooped to pick up the chain attached to the collar around her neck and rumbled something in it’s guttural language, jerking the chain as it did so.

“Oh, fuck off” Cass snapped.

The creature drew back it’s arm and slapped it’s clawed hand across her face. The stinging impact made her head ring. It jerked the chain again, hauling Cass to her feet. She spat blood and smiled.

“You’re not very good at this, are you?”

The haruk snarled and raised it’s hand again.

“Oh, don’t blame yourself” Cass said quickly “I’ve been subjected to psychic assaults before.
“I guess you’re struggling to make sense of us? - a new species with an entirely alien neural structure”

The haruk frowned, but didn’t lower it’s hand.

“I’m probably the worst” Cass continued, her words spilling out in a hurry “There are so many bad things for you to choose from, but it won't work. I survived everything - None of this can hurt me because I won.”

The surroundings blurred around Cass and the haruk again to show the medi-bay on the old Dwarf. Jay was in bed, critically ill with the nano-virus.

“Oh, now you’re just grasping at straws. We killed Brittany in the end. Or enabled her ascension through the final singularity... Or something
“Talk to me - What do you want?”

Scowling in an all too human way, the haruk finally lowered it's hand

“I hunger”

It seemed strange to hear one of these creatures speak English.

“For what? Pain? Negative emotions? Blood?”

The creature shook its head.

“We’ll get back to that” Cass said hurriedly “The point is that if you kill us, you’ll still be trapped on this ancient derelict. How many years will it be before you get to feed again?”

The haruk remained silent

“Maybe you’ll never get to feed again” Cass paused for a moment to let these words sink in “Why don’t you let us help you? - In exchange for not killing us, we can take you to a populated planet where there’ll be enough food for you forever. What do you think?”

The creature looked conflicted for a moment before it finally replied “That would be… preferable”

“Good boy” Cass smiled up at it “Now come on - Let’s go find the others and tell them the plan...”

Cass and the quitzail will be making an appearance in other people’s nightmares and helping to end them

I was tentatively thinking that once everyone had met up, we could find a way to kill the critter, but I’ll roll with whatever comes out

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