Rykani Short Stories #002: Radical

Here’s the second rykani short story, called “Radical”. This thing’s actually one of the oldest pieces of rykani writing I still have sitting on my hard drive, and while I did my best to fix up all the odd quirks of my previous literary style, I still feel as if its unrefined nature shines through here and there. Regardless, I hope you’ll still get a kick out of this one, as it introduces a couple of characters and concepts that’ll no doubt prove their relevance in the future to come.

So, without further ado, here’s Te’o and his star-bound shatil.




By now, it had been thirty ticks.

Thirty ticks of endless snickering, giggling and excited screeching. Thirty ticks in which Te’o had been unable to sleep, despite it being well past the shatil’s nominally agreed upon rest time. Thirty ticks of uninterrupted auditory torture. And Te’o would tolerate it all no longer.

His plan, therefore, had been straightforward: He would burst through the cabin door at the other side of the hallway with the rage of a thousand antimatter-spiked projectiles, and then he would enact poetic justice on the offenders in question.

In Te’o’s mind It had all seemed quite simple, really. All it should have taken was a routine shouting match that, given his own distinguished excellence in the field, would have shut the assailants up for good. And after that, he should have been able to simply retreat back into his cabin for a rest in the peaceful absence of outside disturbances.

However, as had been the case with far too many of Te’o’s most recent endeavors, his newest plan also all but crumbled upon being faced with the strange reality of his life, and when he finally entered the room next door, he suddenly found himself confronted with a surreal scene that instantaneously stole all momentum from his pursuit of supreme justice.

In the end, Te’o’s crusade was stopped only a half-step beyond the cabin’s doorsill where he now stood, forced to take in the scene ahead:



By the immediate look of things, it seemed as if Mykive and Tu’wea had, together, decided to turn their shared bedroom into some sort of development lab, with blankets, AR-sets and virtual windows randomly placed about in a slovenly disorder. A myriad of colorful data-crystals laid strewn about the floor, a mess of neural control interfaces covered the single shelf along the far side of the room, and what had once in the past been the comfortable bed-pile shared by both occupants was now used as a rack for snacks, drinks and (what could be assumed to be, given its thermally inconducive placement) overheating hardware of some sort.

And finally, placed in the dead-center of all the mayhem, were the two architects of chaos themselves:

Mykive, for one, was lying flat atop a pile of blankets, his face fully hidden from sight by an arrangement of virtual windows floating about his resting spot. The only metrics that gave reason for a belief that he had noticed the sudden intrusion of his boss in any way whatsoever were a set of stiffly perked-up ears, their tips barely clearing the wall of radiant information in front.

And sitting on top of him – for whatever inexplicable reason she might have for it – was Tu’wea. Of course, her involvement in this present situation was of little surprise to Te’o, given that the two kara-saikins were, by all modern definitions of these terms, both physically and spiritually inseparable.

But while Tu’wea’s existence and implicit ill-productive participation in the preceding disturbance itself was of little note to Te’o, there remained something strange about the kaeh, even aside from her curious choice of seating, that piqued his interest. More precisely, it was the thing she was wearing on her head.

Stretching across and around her face and fastened across both ears sat a gray headband, intricately patterned with surface details of a utilitarian beauty. The device’s deliberate visual composition, including a pattern built from contrasting stripes of pink upon violet which formed together at either end into a logo of galactic prestige, made both its origin and its sole function plain to everyone in visual range, including Te’o.

Indeed, the oddly shaped circlet adorning Tu’wea’s head was nothing less than a fully kitted out InTwine neural interfacing development kit, and not a cheap one, either. Built by none other than Zate’woe Kraj Naet, arguable leaders in modern neural interfacing and EP-communications tech, the piece of hardware in question was nothing short of pro-grade, typically reserved for developers or administrators of the InTwine; two prestigious titles that neither applied to Tu’wea or Mykive.

Of course, everyone within the shatil – and even more ryka outside of it – knew very well about the saikins’ common affinity for the InTwine and the infinite quantity of different video games that could be played through it. Still, handling development-grade AR-sets required both monetary and temporal investments that ordinarily fell far outside the scope of hobbyists and amateurs of the entertainment software world, and even further outside the range of two skip-pilots enjoying mediocre pay at best.

For a few snaps, Te’o found himself bound by the elaborate hardware insecurely fastened onto Tu’wea’s head. Far back when, before he even joined his first shatil, Te’o had once dreamed of becoming a developer – perhaps even a low-rank supervisor – for the InTwine, himself. Of course, interests altered themselves in tune with the seasons, and by the time his 12th birthcycle came around, he had instead decided on a career in structural star-slasher engineering. Still, a passing interest in the art of software engineering had stuck with him to this day, and he, therefore, couldn’t surpass his inner sense of awe at the pair’s unquestionably impressive collection of tools.

Tu’wea seemingly recognized her boss’s longing stare in an instant, and met Te’o’s eyes with a smirk. It was a smile of infinite smugness; an expression of someone that had clearly outspent her allowance, probably even burrowed money from all over the place, just to acquire a novelty item in an impulse purchase that had only seemed appropriate for precisely one single moment in time. And now, that ryka, however broke she might be, had just found someone with the same interest, the same hobby, the same appreciation for the object in front of him, but without a facsimile to call his own.

It was this exact condescending leer that brought Te’o back on track and finally allowed him to speak aloud of the mess he had run into:

“What, in the name of the gods, are you doing in here?” He asked, searching for Mykive’s face behind a barrier of digital information. Within an instant, the virtual windows across the room faded and as Mykive’s green-on-gray-on-blue face came into view, he excitedly burst out with an answer:

“We’re making a video game!” he exclaimed with a childish grin stretched from one fang to the other.

“And it’s AWFUL!” added Tu’wea, her smile only coming off as comparatively subdued thanks to its fierce competition from down below.

With the first answers provided to him, Te’o took another moment to figure things out. By the looks and sounds of things, his two best pilots had, just today, suddenly decided to leave their job by the wayside and engaged in the art of AI-assisted full-body software development. Not only that, but they had also bought hardware probably worth at least fifty Fast Transfer Tokens, completely disarranged their formerly clean bedroom for no particular reason, and decided that the best way to announce their new venture was to cause as much ruckus as physically possible. So much ruckus, in fact, that it had traversed two noise-dampened doors and the corridor in between without losing its capacity of annihilating Te’o’s chances for a restful sleep.

It was with all this information in mind that Te’o arrived at his conclusion on what to do next: He deemed the utterance of a traditional phrase expressing total despair in the face of an absurd universe, traditionally transcribed as a questioning “What?”, to be the only appropriate course of conversational continuation available to him.



“A V-I-D-E-O G-A-M-E” repeated Tu’wea in her misguided attempt to alleviate the other’s visible bewilderment. “You know, like the ones they sell in the market.”

“Well,” interjected Mykive before Te’o could even contemplate an appropriately offended-sounding response, “come to think of it, I’m not sure Te’o knows about video games, Tu. At least, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him talk about them. Maybe he just doesn’t care about this sort of stuff…?”

As soon as these words were spoken, Te’o felt himself forced to throw his head back at an almost painful velocity. Of course, he knew that this was the only possible conclusion the young ko could have sensibly arrived at, because, for however much he might or might not appreciate the cunning skill of his primary pilot, Mykive also had a habit of being – for a lack of a better term – unfathomably fucking stupid. Just the same as his kara-saikin, the secondary pilot Tu’wea, with whom he shared the only brain cell the gods had allotted between the two of them.

Driven by his disbelief in the words spoken, Te’o took a snap to give Mykive an angry glance that quite clearly bounced off of the nescient eyes that sat before his vacant brain. This petty display of disdain also quickly proved its fatality, however, as it allowed Tu’wea to continue the conversation in Te’o’s stead:

“WHAT?” she suddenly screamed. “That’s ridiculous! Everyone knows what a video game is, even Te’o. Right, Te’o?”

Tu’wea looked at him, her eyes large and full of expectation. A mere moment ago, she had been relishing in her own smugness and Te’o’s envy over the hardware that covered her body, and like half the surrounding cabin. It only took a single dumb thought from Mykive, however, for Tu’wea to convince herself into believing that her shatil-leader, the guy that had over a thousand cycles to his name, had never, in his entire existence, heard of a video game before. Te’o was now fully aware that this conversation would go down as another shatil classic.

“What do you mean by ‘even’?!” came the scornful reply from a furious Te’o. “Oh, and yes, I know what a video game is! I’m older than both of your ages combined, remember?! I was just asking what exactly the two of you are developing. And more importantly: Why?”

“Ohhhhh!” came Mykive’s relieved response. “Well, we just thought it’d be fun, you know. We’re developing a clone of Shipyard Wars. You heard of the game, right? The one were two-”

“No.” was the interruption that both answered Mykive’s question and stood as the last word spoken that day by Te’o, who, just as the sound had crossed his lips, turned himself around, left the room and closed the door behind him. This was one conversation he wasn’t going to have. No way. He was not going to fall for that one again! Ever!

No! By this point, Te’o was thoroughly and invariably convinced that any mention of “Shipyard Wars” was a bad omen. Never before and never since had Te’o been met by a game that could spread as much misery, cause as much controversy, or destroy as many relationship-states as Shipyard Wars had in his lifetime. He didn’t want as much as think about that travesty of a “communal game” ever again, and he felt even less like spending another batch of painful weeks patching his pack together after someone got punched or bitten or stabbed or shot for cheating two cycles into a shared session.

Nu-uh! If the gods had really decided that Te’o’s choice was between involving himself in another round of “Only-a-matter-of-time-before-everyone-ends-up-crying Wars” or spending the rest of his life overdosing on NeuRestores and biomechs, then so be it. What had sleep ever done for him, anyway?



With the door now firmly set, the two forsaken pilots were left behind in complete intellectual isolation. A single glance of shock and surprise exchanged itself before a sudden race of wit broke out that desperately sought to answer the actions just observed.

“You scared him away!” Tu’wea cried after a short moment of stunned silence had passed. The look on her face oscillated rapidly between sadness and amusement before settling itself on the latter.

“Uhm… Well… I-I think that was your swearing that scared him, actually.” responded Mykive in a weak and uncertain voice as he locked his eyes with those of Tu’wea. His previous smile found itself replaced by a frown of true concern for the emotional well-being of his boss.


Tu’wea gasped in true and utter panic. For a few snaps, she simply sat there – still atop of Mykive, for some reason – with eyes that had lost all focus and joy. Then, as she slowly turned her face toward the door who’s closing suddenly carried a whole new meaning, she accidentally let her mouth slip:


With the exclamation solemnly ringing around the lonely room, Mykive took another glance at Tu. This time, however, there was a deadly coldness to his eyes. He had never liked his kara-saikin’s propensity for vulgarity – not one bit – and now she had clearly hurt Te’o’s feelings through her negligent usage of these awful words.

As he watched a single tear roll down Tu’wea’s fluffy cheeks, Mykive felt a tinge of sympathy rolling through his stomach. Of course, this was only in her nature, he supposed, and someone born outside the Keirar-mindset would always struggle to understand why some ryka felt as uneasy about swearing as they did. There was simply no way to change that.

Still, Mykive thought, If Tu’wea hadn’t been born as cool as she was, he would have never ever thought himself capable of being best friends with such a radical.


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