Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo


… But what if all board games spark joy?! 😀


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A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Jan 20, 2019 at 7:06am PST

We’ve purged our collection a little last year and gave away some games we knew we would really not play again. But I will be honest that I have a hard time letting go of most games, even if we haven’t played them for over two years. Now, we do have the luxury that we have space for a lot of board games, so there’s no dire need to be very selective. But the whole Marie Kondo hype did get me thinking about it.

I’ve been a little under the weather last week, so we’ve played not too many board games. We did play one hysterical game of Gloomhaven in which our strategy was to RUN. I think we only took out maybe 5 of the 18 enemies on the board, but we all made it!

We also played our first Exit game! To be more precise, The Sinister Mansion. It was a fun experience and had some creative puzzles in there. At this point, I still prefer the Unlock series – but I really need to play more of the Exit games to form a fair opinion.


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Do all the games in your collection spark joy? 😉

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 15

In My Daydreams

The Guard members’ shields popped as my weapons found a frequency that resonated and poured on the power.

Kamia’s didn’t go down. It probably wasn’t exactly the same technology, but I knew it could go down. Earlier, my killbot had gone partway through as had Cassie’s sword. 

As the other Guard members’ shields fell, the colonists’ blasts seemed to hit them in almost the same moment. Several hit the ground, but not all of them. Their armor both absorbed and reflected the beams. 

They dropped behind soldiers with working shields even as those soldiers stepped forward to stand in front of them.

Of course they did. For them, shields went down every day. They were experienced veterans. They had to have a plan for that.

Part of that plan must have included targeting the attacker because they did.

That wasn’t a shock to me, but I hadn’t been thinking about it in exactly those words. And anyway, in that moment I wasn’t thinking about much other than the hiss as beams hit my armor and the heat I felt inside.

I upped the power sent to the sonics and fired, initially attacking the shields and then changing to attacking technology as the shields went down.

I had mixed results. In the crowd of Ascendant Guard soldiers, shields went down wherever I aimed my sonics and the barrels of guns went dark or sections of armor froze, causing the soldiers to fall, their legs or sometimes all of their limbs unmoving.

The mixed part of the results came from my armor. The latest version’s materials used some inspiration from alien tech which meant it was doing better than any previous version at dealing with the lasers, plasma blasts, particle accelerators, or whatever. At the same time, it wasn’t invulnerable.

The repair systems were getting a workout and eventually they’d run out of material to work with. I had more, but it was on the ship.

Aside from that, fighting an entire Ascendant Guard unit wasn’t the point of flying over the wall. The point was to stop Kamia and she wasn’t staying with everyone else.

She’d slipped past as I traded shots with the Guard. Using my helmet’s near 360 degree view, I saw her nearing the shields and knowing that she’d take them down once she got near enough, I leaned sideways and shot myself at her, the rocket pack blazing.

Not wanting to throw her in the direction of the shields, I hit her in the side, the sphere-shaped Abominator shield allowing me to send her sideways like a billiard ball.

Except, this wasn’t a pool table. Everything outside the inside ring had once been forest or part of the clearing. That meant we stood in an apocalyptic landscape created after Jaclyn knocked down almost all the trees and then Hal burned everything but Jaclyn with the ship’s main gun.

It reminded me of nothing more than the ashes in the cave underneath the old Hardwick mansion in Grand Lake.

Just like in the cave, the ground was covered with ashes and sometimes shattered human bones. Unlike the cave, we stood in bright sunlight and in addition to the ashes on the ground, there were entire tree trunks that had burned black and were ready to fall apart at the slightest touch.

Kamia’s sphere rolled across the hellscape, throwing ashes into the air in a line, hitting a fallen tree and making it explode into ash confetti.

At the same time, the constant barrage of Ascendancy soldiers firing on the outer ring stopped wherever she rolled. I had no idea at first if it was because they were well trained or because the Ascendancy’s technology had a, “don’t fire on the Ascendant Guard,” feature.

The implant assured me that it was the latter as the thought passed through my head.

I didn’t have much time to reflect on it at the time, though, because I was following her.

The Ascendancy’s tech didn’t have a feature for keeping me safe, but I flew close behind her, trying to get close enough to knock her away from the shield ring.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds for two reasons. First, because the ground wasn’t in the slightest bit flat, causing the sphere to roll in unpredictable directions or shoot up into the air at any moment.

Second, because Kamia was far from a passive, predictable target. 

Once she’d blasted through the fallen tree, she shrunk her shield into a form-fitting shape. Showing no sign of dizziness from rolling across several hundred feet of ash covered ground, she landed on her feet, pulling a gun that could have been a close relative of Cassie’s, sparkles glowing around its barrel.

Thanks to my helmet’s view of the surrounding landscape, I could note one other detail. The entire force that been following Kamia with the intention of rushing through any section of shield she destroyed? Well, they were still following her—which meant that the entire army thundered after me and now that she’d stopped, they were gaining.

As I neared her, she fired.

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 14

In My Daydreams

Answering my unvoiced question, Kamia, her own force field glowing, led a group of Ascendancy soldiers, all of them bigger and more muscular than average. Neves, larger than any of the others, ran next to her.

All the rest of them wore form-fitting, red, reflective armor that showed the symbol of the Ascendant Guard on their chests—a clawed, feathered beast that reminded me of a gryphon.

Not all of them were running either. Four of them were flying, but not far off the ground. Instead of flying far above the group, they flew with them.

My implant supplied me with the information that they threw bolts of plasma, much like Solar Flare back on Earth, but less powerful. On the other hand, superheated plasma was still superheated plasma and there were four of them.

Plus, all of the Guard members had force shields. Even if they weren’t as powerful as Kamia’s, they still wouldn’t make this any easier.

And it wasn’t. The resistance fighters were firing at them the moment the Ascendant Guard appeared. Blasts of energy weapons exploding or bouncing off the Guard’s shields.

Sometimes in stories, I’ve read scenes like this described as strangely beautiful.

It wasn’t.

The blasts of light against the shields weren’t pretty. They meant that people on our side were going to be dying soon.

It also meant that these people were our problem. I didn’t know if we could take them, but no one else could—well, except for Tikki. And she had more to think about than our survival. If using her powers—even the weaker form of them she’d given Tikki—meant that she called attention to herself far worse things could happen than having a challenging fight with Kamia.

It wouldn’t just be Kamia either. Right behind the Ascendant Guard ran all the troops that the Ascendancy forces could spare from battering our shields. The implant estimated the currently viewable number at one hundred, but it felt like thousands.

Some twenty feet behind the Guard, the regular Ascendancy forces didn’t seem to be any hurry to face us. That or the Guard didn’t want them to be close.

Whatever the reason, the plan was obvious—have Kamia take down the shields and then everyone else would rush in. It was obvious enough that we’d even come up with a counter earlier, though a far from perfect one.

I looked over at Jaclyn, “Do you want to do this?”

Her answer was only to tighten her jaw, let her helmet enclose her face and leap upward at an angle that allowed her to land outside the outer ring. I activated the rocket pack and flew upward with her—sort of. Jaclyn took off more quickly than I did, but I passed her near the top of the arc.

She reached the ground before I did, landing in the middle of the Ascendant Guard and beginning to punch and move, knocking them back before they could respond.

As for myself, I slowed before I landed, aiming the sonics at them, setting them to find the frequencies that made the shields become unstable.

More than one shield popped, but I couldn’t stay there and keep it up because hovering in one place would make me a target for every Ascendancy soldier with an energy rifle and all the plasma throwing flyers as well.

And anyway, Kamia had to be the real target if we were to prevent them from taking down the shields.

So that’s why I twisted sideways and aimed myself toward the ground, landing in front of her.

As I landed, my suit took a blast of kinetic force from Neves, throwing me backward. I didn’t know what he did to prepare for battle, but I suspected it involved punching Neves until he’d built up enough of a charge that he had all of his powers available.

It hurt and I almost fell over, seeing him stop flinging bolts of force in my direction and run toward me.

Neves might have been able to kill me then, but he spasmed as arcs of electricity crossed his shoulders and upper chest.

Rachel faded into view, floating above Neves, her hand touching his shoulder. His eyes widened as he realized the source of his pain and possibly recognized her as being similar to the Cosmic Ghosts. He swung at her, his fist traveling through her body at a speed that would have hurt me, Rocket suit or not.

Then he blurred, moving away from Rachel, and aiming himself at me. From what I’d seen of him, he was on par with the Cabal’s reserves except more disciplined as a soldier. He would have hit me and I couldn’t guess how much damage he might have done, but he never got the chance.

Jaclyn rushed in from the right, hitting him in the side with her shoulder, knocking him sideways and out of my reach. From what I’d seen of his abilities, she’d also powered him up, but I didn’t have time to think about that. Kamia had pulled out a gun, but oddly she didn’t fire it.

Her eyes narrowed and for a moment I felt something almost like telepathy. My implant reported, “Communication attempt. Probably hostile.”

I’d turned off its ability to communicate with the outside world and wasn’t sure how it would know, but I didn’t have time to think about it as I aimed my sonics at Kamia and all the other Guard members as they rushed me.

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Until Distraction Do Us Part


Browsing Instagram, looking at #boardgames, for example, can be very nice and inspiring but also slightly addicting – so it’s important to keep in mind that it’s also fun to actually play games. Don’t fall for the infinite scrolling trap! 😉


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A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:00pm PST

Last week, we finally revealed what we’ve made and send to our $10 patrons – and it was… a pocket dice tower! Most dice towers we see are quite large and we liked the idea of making a Semi Co-op dice tower, so Heinze put on his inventor’s hat and designed a dice tower that fits in a deck box, it weighs only 40 grams and can it can also be used to transport/store up to fourteen dice! We engraved them with some fun illustrations and personalized them with the patron’s names.
Everybody we’ve sent it to really liked it and we really enjoyed getting creative so we’re already brainstorming about what to make for the December surprise of 2019!

Also last week, we finally, finally started our Charterstone campaign! Hurray! Our BGG Secret Santa gifted us Charterstone more than a year ago, but at that time we were playing three or four other campaign games. We’ve finished two of those now, andnow felt like we were ready for Charterstone! The first game took a little long, but that was due to the tutorial, the actual player turns were really quick and we all excited to play it again. We’re playing the game with four players and probably won’t add any automas.

Last week we received a copy of Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth from Osprey Games! We’ve played it once so far and noticed that we find it way harder than The Lost Expedition, the game on which this game is based. We’ll certainly play it some more to form a good opinion about it, maybe we did something wrong or maybe it really just is that hard! 😀

To prevent us from endlessy scrolling on Instagram, what game should we definitely play?

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 13

In My Daydreams

It turned out that I wasn’t wrong about that either, but not quite in the way that I would have imagined it. I’d been imagining that the ongoing attack would take them down, but the shields held up to that at first.

Crawls-Through-Desert called a retreat as the outside ring of shields began to flicker and the soldiers ran towards the first ring of shields.

A roar of excitement came as the shields fell and we watched as the reinforcements we’d received all ran toward the inside ring of shields, unable to get through all at once, most of them turning around in front of the shields, aiming their weapons outward as Ascendancy soldiers ran in.

In that moment the shields came back on, but not as flat panes of blue light. Instead, the shield poles generated long, thin lines that whirled around the poles reminding me of strange Christmas trees in the first second, but then of blenders.

The thin blue lines cut through the Ascendancy troops armor and bodies, leaving the ground soaked in blood, covered with slashed bodies and severed limbs.

Then the shields turned back on as if they’d never been off, leaving a few Ascendancy soldiers who’d somehow made it past the lines alone, trapped between the inside and outside rings.

They didn’t last long. The colonists in front of the inside shields fired, hitting them with beams of light that turned half their bodies to ash.

It was a moment best appreciated by people with strong stomachs. My own felt queasy.

That didn’t stop people from cheering, but the cheer could have been louder. On the other hand, if the colony had assembled its most experienced veterans for this fight, they might have an all too realistic sense of how far this was from the end of the battle.

As they cheered, the colonists ran back toward the outer ring, taking their positions again and firing at the withdrawing Ascendancy troops.

“Wow,” Cassie watched the retreat as she talked. “I don’t envy those guys. They’re going to have to stand in that stuff for the rest of the battle. It was kind of awesome though. I didn’t see that coming.”

I took a breath, trying to ignore my stomach while thinking of the fastest way to make my suit absorb my helmet. “I should have seen it. Crawls-Through-Desert and Captain Tolker were talking and I knew they could do this. That’s how they made the Ascendancy’s smaller ships inoperable earlier. They just weren’t this obvious about it.”

Jaclyn stared at the bloody battlefield for a moment and then turned back to us. “There’s no reason to hide it now.”

Katuk said, “I concur, but it’s not a technique they’ll be able to use again in quite the same way during this battle. The Ascendancy will work around it now. In fact, I’m sure that we’ll be seeing Kamia soon.”

“Whoa,” Marcus said, “if she can take over the shields and make them do it again, she’ll take out everyone near the shields—” he snapped his fingers, “—like that!”

I thought about it, using the Xiniti implant to supply details about the shields. “It’s not an easy thing to do. I don’t know exactly how her power works, but unless they made that an easily accessible function in the shields, it would be hard. My impression is that the technique’s a fairly complicated hack and hard to reproduce just form seeing it.”

Katuk turned to look at Marcus with his dark, too wide eyes. “Kamia has limits. She exploits her connection to Abominator technology to control related technologies and AIs. Her connection to unrelated technologies and objects of less intelligent computers is less effective. Though she can disrupt the standard functioning of our implants, she can’t control them. She should have a difficult time producing complex actions on the computers used in shield generators.”

“Huh,” Marcus said, looking toward the outer ring of shields. “I wonder what she’s going to do now then?”

“No idea,” I said, checking my implant again, “but she’s brought down shields when she’s gotten close to them. My bet would be something like that.”

As I said that, the hum of energy weapons firing and the hiss as they hit the shields began again, but not everywhere.

One section of the shield was left untouched, but the sections on either side of were getting hammered with fire. A quick look showed that there was another untouched section of shield on the other side of the ring while every other section was under attack.

The first thought that came into my mind was whether they were going to attack only one of the two untouched sections or both?

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 12

In My Daydreams

Nick, Hideaway Surface

Kals walked up to us at about the same time as Katuk joined us.

As we backed up to let them into the group, Kals asked, “What’s your plan?”

“We don’t really have one,” I said. “We’re kind of working on backup plans in case the shields go down. Also, we missed the rest of what she said. Given that everyone’s looking tense, I’m guessing they’re just about to start?”

“Close,” Kals glanced back toward the shelter. “She made a big appeal to Mom and the Council to surrender and save the lives of all the people fighting today. It wasn’t much different than what they’ve said before.”

Cassie laughed. “It’s almost like they’re afraid to fight you.”

Kals gave a half-smile. “I think they are, but mostly because if Mom dies they’ll have a hard time finding a unifying figure like her to reprogram. That’s why Kamia talked about how easy it will be to take the shields down.”

Tikki eyed her, frowning. “She’s not the only potential unifying figure. If she were to die, you would also be an effective choice.”

Kals raised an eyebrow. “Me?” Then she let out a breath. “You’re right. Both my dad and mom would be heroes of the resistance and they’d be dead. It’s inevitable.”

She glanced down to a pouch on her belt. Other resistance members kept suicide pills there.

Jaclyn noticed too. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

Katuk cocked his head to look at Jaclyn’s face. “Suicide is an honorable response when your death protects what your life cannot.”

Jaclyn’s mouth tightened. “I suppose, but I don’t want anyone to have to go that far.”

Kals looked out past the shields. Kamia’s troops still weren’t visible. “I’m not in any hurry to make the ultimate sacrifice for the resistance, but I don’t  want to be used to destroy it.”

Marcus nodded. “I think we all get that. I’m not in a hurry either, but knowing what they can do to us makes me think that we should have packed suicide pills.”

Katuk looked over at him, the silver of his armor gleaming in the daylight, “There’s no need. Your implant can do it if necessary.”

I’d never considered that we might have a way to kill ourselves built in to the implant, but in that moment I knew all I had to do to activate it. Looking at everybody’s faces, we all did—well, except for Rachel.

Next to me she said, “That’s not a good look on any of you.”

“No kidding,” Cassie shook her head. “That’s the last thing I wanted to know. Maybe we should be probing our implants for things it can do to help us win.”

“I think we should be thinking about how to win in general,” Jaclyn looked the group of us over. “Kamia said she had more of the Ascendant Guard with her now. My implant tells me that they’ve got a variety of soldiers, all of them Abominator designed for different types of warfare. I guess if we have any fliers, Katuk, Nick or I will have to handle them.”

Tikki raised a hand slowly. “I can help with that.”

Not showing any surprise, Jaclyn nodded.

“Me too,” Cassie glanced over at the shields. “I’m not assigned to the front this time around. I think they must be assuming we’ll work together.”

Jaclyn nodded, “Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Then we talked about ways we could do that for a few minutes. We weren’t done when Kamia’s voice again sounded around us.

“Jadzen, come out. It’s time to do the only thing that will save your people here. Come out and lead the rest of your “Council” through the shields. Remember I can take them down with a thought. I don’t need you to cooperate. If you don’t, I’ll just kill you and everyone else.

“So it’s your choice. Cooperate or watch all your people die.”

Kamia stopped speaking (wherever she was) and waited for a response. She didn’t get one immediately. I’d like to say that silence hung in the air, but that doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense. How would an absence of sound hang anywhere?

The door opened with a creak and Jadzen stepped out of the shelter, followed by  Iolan and a couple other council members.

Silence hung in the air, broken only by the sound of their footsteps on the forest floor.

They didn’t walk toward the shields. They stopped close to us and Jadzen cleared her throat. She took a breath and looked over at Kals giving her a smile.

Then she spoke, her voice resonant with the queer tone that motivators had when using their power. She wasn’t commanding anyone to do anything though. She seemed to be using it to be heard.

“Kamia,” she said, staring out past the shields at the forest, “I’ve heard of you and your deeds. Your ability to cause destruction is well known. I say this so that you understand that I’ve made my decision with full knowledge of the consequences.

“I will never let myself be captured and personality bent to the will of people with no respect for human dignity or freedom. I will die first—either by your hand or my own.”

Jadzen opened her mouth to say more, but she’d already given an answer enough for Kamia.

Beams of light hit the shields, creating the sound of a hissing white noise. For the moment, they held. We had to do something before they fell. I doubted it would be long.

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The Golden Standees 2018, Part 2


And we present part two of the Golden Standees!

It’s very handy to be able to think of your own awards and we used this power to also award Root with a Golden Standee for its meeples! Not the best, but the cutest meeples! 😀 Potatoes, potatoes, we just wanted to award both games. 😉
Cerebus turns out to be a little more under the radar than we thought and isn’t for sale yet. It’s a game we picked up at Essen and we think it’s a really fun semi co-operative game. Granted, none of the people we play games with, hold a grudge when you push them in front of Cerberus in the last moments of the game as you’re running towards the boat. In the end, it’s a game and nothing personal.
Heinze is always looking forward to being creative with laser cutters or 3D printers, so it’s perfect you can just buy & play the single Keyforge decks – a perfect excuse for him to get crafty!
And then there’s the final award for Martin Wallace. A name we’ve been seeing a lot on big titles lately. We think that’s an achievement that certainly deserves a reward.

The holiday season is definitely over and that’s a shame. Although I had hardly any time off due to work, between the family visits, Heinze and I tried to play a lot of board games and we did! We even played Great Western Trail, twice! This game has been sitting on our shelve for a very long time and we even called it our Great Western Fail. With us being the fail-factor because the game truly is really great and not even as complicated as I thought.

Last week, we also played Rhino Hero: Super Battle, Dragon Castle, Mysterium, Unlock: The Elite (a mini-scenario), Nemeton, Lost Cities, Gloomhaven and we finished our Near and Far campaign! Great times and so many different games – I love it!

ICYMI: The latest extra comics, sponsored by
#010 – Christmas Spirit
#011 – Shared Joy
#012 – New Year’s Resolutions

What Golden standee should we award in 2019?

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 11

In My Daydreams

Admiral Makri Tzin, Human Ascendancy Flagship, Hideaway System

Admiral Tzin knew that he’d won when he saw who’d taken control of the ground forces.

The report told him that Kamia of the Thuroni Defenders, an elite company within the Ascendant Guard, had assumed command as soon as the marines landed. Ordinarily Admiral Tzin wasn’t fond of the ability of the lowest member of the Guard to assume command of any Ascendancy force not commanded by a Guard member, but in this case he knew Kamia’s record.

Any Guard member with her success against Xiniti could use his forces as necessary—so long as she didn’t take over his.

If she did, he had some plans she wouldn’t appreciate.

And in any case, she appeared to be one of the polite ones. The smarter Guard members often were. She’d send him a message saying what she intended to use the troops for and that she didn’t intend to keep using them any longer than was necessary to capture the council. She’d even asked him if he had any use for the human Xiniti trainees.

He didn’t and his return message had told her that she could do anything she wished with them. Reprogramming them for espionage against the Xiniti never worked out no matter how often they’d tried it. Better to kill the human traitors than to give the Xiniti more practice in deprogramming.

They were getting too good at it already.

As for the Xiniti themselves, he looked forward to finding out exactly what Kamia would do to them. He had enough of them up here. He could use some ideas. Laughing at that thought, he decided to check on the progress of the battle. Using his implant, he connected to the ship’s tactical computer and the ship’s sensors.

The tactical computer wasn’t sentient, of course. That was too much of a risk, but it did calculate the probability of success for the overall battle based on current actions, predicted the best way to reach specific objectives, and made predictions of enemy responses to specific actions.

Admiral Tzin opted to get back to the current situation, but with notations as to probable outcomes of his choices.

It did not go well.

Early on in the battle, he’d found that the fleet’s larger ships couldn’t maneuver quickly enough to be effective against the smaller Xiniti ships. Following fleet doctrine, he’d used smaller ships and personal fighters against Xiniti ships.

The standard fleet tactics against Xiniti needed some revision and the people he’d assigned to come up with effective tactics weren’t yet successful.

By a series of actions he’d only just begun to understand, the Xiniti had managed to separate the fleet’s different groups to a point that they couldn’t assist each other effectively.

While they still outnumbered the Xiniti, the tactical program showed that though the smaller craft were keeping the Xiniti busy for now, the Xiniti were destroying his fighters more quickly than his forces were destroying Xiniti ships.

Once they passed a certain point in numbers, the Xiniti would begin to target the battleships and cruisers. That would be the beginning of the end. The war on the ground might go well, but up here, he needed a game changer and he wasn’t finding one.

He tested the probable results of making the Xiniti aware of what was going on on the ground, forcing their ships back in the direction of the planet. The simulations didn’t go as he hoped. Instead of clustering as they tried to help the people on the ground, most simulations showed them beginning to cluster and then destroying his fleet as it began to get into formation for attack.

He tried other options including gathering the largest ships to bombard the planet. Even that didn’t work out as planned since the Xiniti in the simulation (or the ship on the planet) were watching for it.

The damned little ship had taken out a half a squadron before the commanding officer had the sense to withdraw. They still didn’t know where it had gone.

He screamed and would have punched something if he’d been outside of his own head.

Controlling himself, he commanded that Four Hands be found and given access to the tactical computer in case he could see anything the admiral had missed. The man’s people weren’t much use in a fight, but he’d heard Four Hands was a capable commander. It’d be a waste not to use him.

Even as that command went out, the tactical computer made him aware of a change. Ships were coming out of jump in the outer system, an Ascendancy fleet the size of his own.

He grinned as tactical predictions began to shift. If final calculations were anything like what he was beginning to see, the combined fleet would destroy the Xiniti fleet. He hoped the new admiral didn’t outrank him.

Then, before he got the new fleet’s identification, more jump points opened, at least as many as before. As soon as he saw their shapes, he could tell they weren’t from the Ascendancy. Most of these ships he’d only seen in his implant’s catalog. He never thought they’d enter the Human Quarantine.

This new fleet, a combination Alliance and Xiniti fleet, had followed the Ascendancy fleet through jump. If Admiral Tzin guessed right, they’d probably been fighting before the jump.

Dammit, the admiral thought.

Even worse, the tactical computer kicked him out as it recalculated probabilities for the entire battle.

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 10

In My Daydreams

“Well, crap,” I muttered. Kamia had Abominator devices or a talent that might allow her to take the shields down from a distance. She also had an Abominator designed shield that both Cassie’s sword and my sonics had a chance to get through.

In her place, I’d take down the shields remotely and send in enough people that the battle would be over before Cassie and I found her.

That’s not what she was doing at that moment, though. She was trying to give us every reason to surrender without a fight—which might mean that she didn’t want to waste soldiers’ lives, but it also might mean that we’d scared her.

I hoped that we were that lucky.

Meanwhile, Kamia continued, “You’ve fought well so far, but you can’t survive what’s coming. We have hundreds of fresh troops to help us, but we have more than that. More members of the Ascendant Guard came on board that ship. Four Hands is no longer on the planet, but Neves and I have more than enough help to handle even your strongest fighters. We’ve slain four Xiniti already today.

“Don’t think they’ll be able to save you.”

On the ground below, Katuk stood, staring in the direction of Kamia’s voice, probably scanning the area. One thing she could be confident of is that he’d go after her if she showed up. Bearing in mind her record of killing Xiniti, she might appear so that she could kill him and then disappear.

It might be worth the risk for the damage to our morale.

At the same time, she’d already done that a little bit with regards to me. If Four Hands was off the planet, he wasn’t going to be much help.

As Kamia addressed Jadzen directly, I jumped off the roof of the shelter and walked over to Tikki, Marcus, Cassie, and Jaclyn. They were standing in a circle near Katuk. Tiger lay on the ground behind Jaclyn.

Rachel appeared as I joined the group.

Looking over at Jaclyn as they stopped talking to include us in the circle, I asked, “How are you doing today?”

“Better,” Jaclyn said. “Much better. I heal a little more quickly than all of you, but today, I’m completely healed. I’m more tired than I should be, but it’s better than being burned all over like I was—”

Then she stopped, looking over at Tikki, saying what I’d begun to think, “How much did I age when you accelerated time for us yesterday?”

Tikki blushed. “Not much. Nothing at all, I hope. I accelerated when you were with me, but when we were done, I made you younger again. You should be the same age as when we started.”

“That’s not how it worked with me,” Marcus cocked his head to look at her.

Tikki bit her lip. “No—I… With you I changed the past so you didn’t get hurt, something I can’t normally do, but I can make people older or younger. Jaclyn could heal herself by growing older, but once she was healed I could make her younger without bringing her back to where she was before she healed.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “I get it, but I don’t know why it works that way.”

Tikki held up her hands. “Me neither.”

I started talking before anyone else take the conversation further afield. “You’ve been listening to Kamia, right?”

Cassie nodded, touching her sword. “Yeah, that and waiting for the attack.”

“I’m thinking that Kamia can take down shields and that we ought to have a plan in case she takes down one or all of them.”

“All of them?” Cassie shook her head. “If that happens, we’re screwed—well, unless we’ve got the ability to attack all of them on the way in. I could use the gun to burn down a lot of people, but I’m not going to take out all of them—just a lot.”

I turned toward Tikki. “I don’t know if you’ve been holding out on us, but if you can do more than what you’ve mentioned so far, you might want to think about the largest radius you can fire off a blast of aging at. Without your help, we’re probably all going to die—though with Jaclyn feeling good, it might be slower.”

Tikki frowned. “I’ll do what I can. I have a stake in this too.”

To me, that didn’t quite sound like her even if it didn’t sound off enough to Marcus who told me, “You know she’ll do everything she can. She’s been doing more than we ever thought possible lately.”

“I know,” I said, “but knowing exactly what she can do would help. Right now, I’m feeling like she can do anything.”

Tikki looked from Marcus to me, “Not anything, but I might be able to handle half of the ring without straining myself.”

Then she frowned, waiting for my response.

“Half of the ring? That’s more than I expected, but that’s great.” I didn’t know how much power would get the attention of her and Lee’s people, but I wouldn’t have thought she’d be willing to risk that much.

Next to me, Rachel’s eyes narrowed and she watched me. She might want me to explain this later, but we probably wouldn’t have time.

Around us, Kamia’s voice faded away and everyone looked out past the force fields while our soldiers crouched, pointing their weapons through the shields, ready for action.

We’d missed something.

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The Golden Standees 2018


Another year has passed, and thus it’s time for part one of the Golden Standees! Our silly awards for cool board games! Next week we’ll award another four awards to some lucky winners. 😉

2018 has passed by incredibly fast and it has been an amazing year for Semi Co-op! Not only did we publish 52 comics (+ 2 sponsored comics) on our website, but we also made 11 extra comics for the newsletter, which we also published on our social media channels. Crazy! We also launched our merchandise store and our Patreon page this last year! We’ve visited three board gaming conventions meeting all sorts of amazing people and made unforgettable memories.  We also logged 327 board game plays! We’ve been investing more time in our Instagram account, publishing 286 updates and we’ve gained over 3000 followers in a single year!

So, that’s about it. We’d like to thank all our readers for their precious time, their likes, shares, comments and overall kind words. We’d like to thank all the game designers and publishers for their generosity, every time somebody has sent us a game, we jump around the house a little. We’d like to thank the game designers who commissioned and trusted us to make a fun sponsored comic of their game. We’d like to thank other board game content creators for their creativity and for the awesome online community. And of course, we’d like to thank our Patrons for their awesome support! <3

We can’t wait what 2019 will bring, we’re excited and have many fun ideas in store for y’all if time allows us.

What’s your favorite game of 2018?

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 9

In My Daydreams

“Reinforcements? From where? Are they landing more ships?”

Rachel shook her head. “It’s just people they already had on the ground—people who landed today mixed with some survivors from the ship you fought before.”

So that meant we had a chance. I wondered if Four Hands was among them and if he would do anything.

I said, “The battle’s just continuing then and they aren’t coming back to the planet?”

Rachel closed her eyes, breathing. “They’re fighting the Xiniti all over the system right now. I don’t think they have any ground troops that they can spare and even if they did, they don’t have any ships near here.”

I nodded. “I guess that’s good news. All we have to do is survive until the Xiniti win, Alliance ships show up, or maybe the Cosmic Ghosts take out the Ascendancy fleet.”

I thought about it some more. “That’s not bad odds. I think we’ve got more people technically—even if the colonists are ex-terrorists and not professional soldiers.”

Rachel took my hand, gave it a squeeze and let go. “Provided more Ascendancy ships don’t show up and blow the Xiniti to Hell while dropping thousands of troops down here. Also, assuming the Ascendancy doesn’t give up and drop a rock on us.”

I looked over at her. “Was squeezing my hand supposed to take the edge off that?”

Rachel shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m just as much in the dark as you are. More Ghosts are on their way. I don’t know when they’ll get here, but I think we’ve got a good reason to hope.”

I looked out at the second ring of blue, glowing shields going up around the shelter as we talked. The plant floated next to Captain Tolker, coordinating the defense. In that moment, it wasn’t hard to be optimistic.

The flashes of light in the distance made it a little harder though. I knew it had to be the Xiniti and they were trying to be louder and more obvious than they had to be in order to give the new troops time to set up. If the Ascendancy killed  these Xiniti, I suspected it would hurt us more than we knew.

Their constant attacks meant that the Ascendancy couldn’t ever put it’s full force against those of us defending the shelter.

“That’s a long silence,” Rachel looked at me and then out toward the shield rings. “Look at it this way. We’ve made it this far. Despite the Cabal, The Thing That Eats, the Nine, and all the others, we’re still alive. If you think about it, we shouldn’t be. All of them are out of our league.”

She wasn’t wrong. I needed to calm down and not keep on seeing all the ways that this could go wrong tonight. Chances are, the next big problem would be something that I didn’t even have on my list.

Plus, if I managed to relax, I might be able to get back to solving problems instead of worrying about them. A fight was at core a series of technical problems. I could handle them the same way I did at home—backing off for a little while, assuming that the Ascendancy gave me the time.

I didn’t want to even think about what it would be like to go through an even longer fight like the last one. We’d been far too close to losing.

To be fair, we were in a better position now. The trees were down all around the outer ring, all of them turned to ash by the ship’s main gun. The Ascendancy’s troops could try to jump over the shields, but they weren’t going to jump 100 feet high.

I wondered how much of what I was feeling came from not sleeping much and running for half the night.

I kept that thought in mind as I watched our people put the Ascendancy dead into a pile next to our dead (no one I knew). Making a pile next to the shelter didn’t feel quite right, but you didn’t want the bodies underfoot either. A pile made sense. They could handle them appropriately later.

Captain Tolker looked up at me on the shelter and then around the camp. “Everyone in the first battle should rest if you can. We’ve got four times as many people as we did before. So you should sleep, eat, whatever… They’ve withdrawn. I’m sure they’ll be back, but you’ll do better if you’re not tired. Take a moment. We’ll wake you when we need you.”

“That means you,” Rachel said, yawning. “And me too.”

Falling asleep turned out to be easier than I’d have expected. Between the nervous energy from the fight and being overwhelmed by all the things that could possibly go wrong, you’d think it would be impossible. It seemed like it would be, but then sleep took over anyway.

When I woke, the sun was rising in a direction I’d arbitrarily decided was east. I was still on the roof in my armor. I didn’t see any troops around us, but I didn’t believe they’d gone. They could easily be hiding in the forest on either side of the shield ring.

Captain Tolker must have agreed with me because he had troops manning weapons next to the rings, waiting for an attack.

Even as I thought about it, they made contact—not as an attack, but by voice. A  calm, female voice said, “I am Kamia of the Ascendant’s Guard. Surrender or we’ll kill you where you stand.”

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 8

In My Daydreams

In the dark, the ship was practically invisible with the black shield that surrounded it. Plus, Hal hadn’t fired from just above the trees. Knowing the range of the main gun, he could have been miles away.

Given that the atmosphere interfered with the beam, he’d probably been within a mile though.

So all I could know was that the beams and explosions didn’t send pieces of the ship crashing down on us from above. It seemed reasonable to assume that he’d made it.

Deciding to assume the best for the ship didn’t help me with my other problem—the Ascendancy soldiers that had come over the top of the shields while the shield went down.

Blasting away with the sonics at frequencies that destroyed tech was not an option. I turned away from the downed shield, hoping that others would be able to handle whatever came from the front. Bearing mind that I saw only ash from that direction at the moment, it seemed likely.

It wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Our snipers had taken out quite a few on the way down. Plus, Jaclyn and Tikki had come back inside while I’d been conversing with the ship.

The dog had even taken one down, grabbing him by the neck, biting down and shaking until the soldier’s limbs stopped moving.

I’d seen Marcus fighting too. While he used guns too, flexible limbs let him pull off armor or grab soldiers and swing them into trees, sometimes while they were still in the air.

While I didn’t see Rachel directly, I saw evidence that she was in the fight. Beyond heads exploding from her bullets, soldiers’ bodies would sometimes spasm as she reached through their armor to touch them with the taser gloves I’d made her.

I’d been planning to watch for any soldiers aiming for the generator poles, but I didn’t have to. As one soldier made a break for the nearest pole, a purple blur appeared, knocking him backward to the ground, unconscious or dead.

In the end, I helped take down the ones that were jumping from tree to tree, trying to avoid getting shot and get closer to the generator poles. I also helped with the few that were still jumping in.

By the time they stopped, no Ascendancy soldiers were left alive within the circle. They weren’t even trying to rush the open spot in the shields.

I activated the rockets and flew to the top of the shelter, using it to look all the way around us.

I couldn’t see anyone.

The ship had burned down anything that Jaclyn hadn’t knocked over. The only things blocking my view were the trees next to and within the shields and the shields themselves. Otherwise, we had at least fifty feet of flat, ash-covered ground on all sides.

I could understand why the Ascendancy might back off in the face of the ship, but knowing that they were giving chase to it, I had no idea why they wouldn’t be pouring troops into here now that it was gone.

Adjusting the suit’s sensitivity to audio, I listened for hints of what might be going on.

I heard the sounds of fighting—a lot of it. My first thought was the Xiniti, but the Xiniti we’d seen weren’t a large enough group to do much more than hit the edges of a larger force—maybe even carve chunks out of that force. They weren’t large enough to force the Ascendancy to reassign their entire landing force when what they wanted was to capture Jadzen.

Beyond that, it was way too optimistic to hope we’d intimidated the Ascendancy into giving up.

Rachel appeared next to me on the roof. “Have you figured it out yet?”

I opened my eyes and looked at her. “Why they left?”

She smiled. “And who’s coming.”

Then I heard a gun fire. My implant identified it as a laser rifle commonly sold to mercenaries within the Human Quarantine but wasn’t commonly used among Human Ascendancy troops.

That narrowed it down. I knew who to expect before they appeared—hundreds of colonists, all of them dressed in the same light armor and carrying the same rifles as the people we already had. Crawls-Through-Desert floated along next to them, giving directions.

That wasn’t all. They arrived with more shield generators—many more, setting another circle around the one we had.

In the distance, I could see flashes of bright light and heard screams. My implant identified the lights as Xiniti weapons. They had to be distracting the  Ascendancy soldiers so we had time to set up defenses.

On the roof, I turned to Rachel. “How did you know?”

Her mouth twisted. “I pick up what the other Ghosts know sometimes. It’s not all good. The Ascendancy is getting reinforcements.”

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In My Daydreams

Updating One Day Late

In My Daydreams

Still doing Christmas stuff with family. I’ll be updating a day late.


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A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Dec 18, 2018 at 2:54pm PST

We present… a Semi Co-op version of “Dinosaur Comics”! If you don’t know Dinosaur Comics, then you’re in for a treat! The comic has been around since 2003 and the art hasn’t changed at all since the first comic. With the release of Dinosaur Island and Duelosaur Island, Heinze was screaming for me to draw this comic and I got to draw our characters in dinosaur suits, worth it! 😉

So we have only played Duelosaur Island, (disclaimer: which was gifted to us by Pandasaurus Games), and we really like the game. It looks really good, it plays fast and the outcome and score surprise us every time. If you are looking for a fun two-player game and you’d like to build your own dinosaur park, this is one we’d certainly recommend. We assume there is a lot of overlap with its big sister, Dinosaur Island, but we recommend you do look up some reviews first instead of taking our word for it.

It’s the Holiday season and that means there will be more time for games! Yay! We’ve got quite some gaming days planned with friends this coming week, so that’s going to be fun. 🙂 And hopefully, Heinze and I can tackle some games we still need to play from Spiel.

A few weeks ago, I made a fun Semi Co-op art commission for Calvin, which I can now finally share now that he’s gifted it to his girlfriend! Tadaaa: It’s based on the Netrunner card AstroScript Pilot Program, his girlfriend’s favorite card. With our own history with Netrunner, drawing this was even more fun and I’m glad everybody seems to love it. <3

ICYMI: The extra comics, sponsored by of last week:
#009 – Great expectations
#010 – Christmas Spirit

Any suggestions for good human-related puns? 😉

The post Puntastic appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 7

In My Daydreams

Dalat turned to fire at the soldier who’d jumped over him, killing him in a shot while Geman shot the other.

The good news was that Geman had saved one half of the shield generator pair. The other pole, still lying on the grass, didn’t look too bad as it could. It hadn’t been broken in two, but it wasn’t working either.

I didn’t know as much as I wanted about these shields but fixing it didn’t seem impossible. Even better, if they had a spare, they might be able to swap it out.

Not that the Ascendancy’s forces planned on making that easy. When the shield went down, the nearest troops ran for the opening, running and firing.

Unsure of what else I could do, I ran for the opening, aiming the sonics above the heads of the people who’d been firing from behind the shield. It was easier than it might have been. They weren’t in complete retreat, but they were moving to stand behind the shields on either side of the downed shield.

I couldn’t blame them. They wore the same light armor Kals (and almost all the resistance) did. Little more than a jacket, pants, and a helmet, it could take a few shots, but after a couple in the same spot, it would go through.

This time I set both arms’ sonics to anti-tech frequencies and I pumped up the power to just short of damaging levels. I could feel a hint of warmth on my arms—which was unusual in a heavily armored suit even if it was normal for the stealth version of the Rocket suit.

That worried me a little because the last thing I needed was for the sonics to give out before this was over. Sure, the suit could repair them, but I might not have time for that.

In the first few seconds, I took more shots than I had time to count. My armor dutifully noted the damage and began repairs. I’d improved the Rocket suit’s materials a couple different times within the past few months before this trip. It felt good to know that the design could handle some punishment.

Ahead of me, two Ascendancy soldiers’ rifles shot gouts of flame out of their sides and then the rifles went dead—or so I assumed from the way they pulled the trigger without anything happening.

Then they stopped running. I couldn’t tell why, but they came to a stop, dropped to the ground, and pulled at their helmets. At about the same time, more soldiers ran past them only to stop and start pulling at their helmets as well.

As they did, resistance fire picked them off.

I’d discovered a real vulnerability, whatever it was, but not one I’d be able to keep up forever.

That was even more true when I checked my peripheral vision and got an overall picture of the situation. Ascendancy soldiers were still coming over the shield though not as many of them as before. The ones that had already made it over were the main worry right now.

Only quick action by our troops and luck had stopped them from taking out another section of shield.

If they did, I’d have to choose between protecting this section, moving to the other one, or aiming for ones still coming over.

I contacted Hal, “I need help. We need to make the Ascendancy troops back off. I don’t care how you do it except that you don’t hit Jaclyn and Tikki. They’re outside our shields. Also, that you don’t take out our shields or kill any of our people.”

Hal responded, “I can, but not without revealing my position. The Ascendancy troops are probably in possession of weapons capable of doing this ship real damage. Even if they do not possess them, there are small spacecraft on the planet and firing on the troops will reveal my position. I’ll have to attack and then hide again.”

“If you have to, go ahead. You have my permission.”

Hal manufacturers had built in protections against rebellion on the part of sentient machines. My permission had disarmed part of that for one purpose—my orders.

I checked the world around me. It wasn’t any better than it had been before I talked to him.

Through the firing weapons, shouts, and the strange tones of the motivators, I heard a hint of my ship’s engines. He wasn’t far away at all.

Then Hal fired the main gun, turning everything in front of me white and everything in the path of the beam to ashes.

Over my comm, Hal added commentary. “The anti-personnel lasers lack the necessary range to be useful in this situation. The main gun isn’t made for targeting individual humans. It is effective in targeting general areas.”

The beam circled around the forest, burning the entire way.

After a moment, Hal said, “Objective achieved. I must now evade the small craft and weapons targeting me.”

The sound of engines increased as explosions and energy beams appeared above us.

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 6

In My Daydreams

They poured over the shields, throwing themselves over by pushing off from the trees standing outside of the ring.

The only good thing that could be said is that this time they were all coming from the back half and left side of the shelter. That wasn’t good by itself, but it meant that Jaclyn and Tikki were cutting off routes past our defenses.

I aimed the sonics up at the Ascendancy soldiers. The smart ones were crawling down the trees in front of or between the ends of two shields. I didn’t dare aim the sonics there. They destabilized Kamia’s Abominator shields and I didn’t want to take down one of ours.

I aimed the sonics at the soldiers who were less smart or more confident—the ones who swung over the shields without aiming at a specific tree. Knowing Travis and Haley’s abilities, they probably planned to turn the downward momentum into forward momentum through acrobatics or use some kind of grapple to swing to the ground.

I used one arm to hit them with a piercing scream that would especially hurt beings with genetically modified hearing. I set my other arm to try frequencies that would damage their tech. I’d used my Xiniti implant to find out common materials for Ascendancy armor and device construction, narrowing the probable frequencies.

There are those who would regard my choice as half-measures that made the sonics less effective than committing to one or the other, but I’ve never liked putting all my eggs in one basket.

I can’t deny that my hypothetical critics might have a point, but the soldiers didn’t appear to be having an easy time of it. The soldiers who got hit with the sonic scream (which pulsed to help defeat their helmet filters) became distracted as the sound hit and it hurt them.

They pulled into themselves when the sound hit, missing the tree they must have been hoping to grab and hitting the ground or the roof of the shelter like very heavy raindrops. Some of them even hit trees.

If it had just been noise, they might have handled it, but their armor had stopped bending in one limb or their helmet might have begun to spark or smoke. Sometimes the clear material over their eyes went white. From the ones that tried to rip the helmet off, I guessed I might have triggered some kind of noise from filters that filtered out enemy motivators, but I didn’t know for sure.

The sonics didn’t hit all of them, but I wasn’t the only person aiming for the sky either. Many of the hand to hand fighters were also backup gunmen for those manning the shields. They fired upward with the enthusiasm of people who are finally in a position to do something instead of watch.

Dalat and Geman were among those firing upward and not, so far as I could tell, doing anything but help defend the shelter.

Next to me, Kals kept up a stream of commands that made the damage I’d caused to the soldiers’ helmets even more effective. The last thing a soldier falling through the air needed while trying to snare a passing branch was a motivator shouting, “Stop!”

It tended to make them miss the branch and hit the ground without even trying to stop themselves.

Now if all you paid attention to was our efforts to defend ourselves, you’d think that whoever had thrown soldiers against us had made a catastrophically stupid mistake.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple.

There were a lot of soldiers coming over the top and while we hit a lot of them with sonics, motivator commands, or lasers, we didn’t hit all of them. To put it another way, if you have a whole lot of people jumping over your shields and you shoot three-quarters of them, you’ve still got a whole lot of people coming over your shields.

Worse, when the ones that didn’t get shot hit the ground, you’re still firing at the ones in the air and if you don’t fire at the ones in the air, you’re letting more hit the ground.

That’s the point where you become grateful that Captain Tolker was actually good at his job. He’d placed people on the roof of the shelter before the fight even started. Even though some of them were busy killing whatever landed on the roof, the others were firing down at the soldiers on the ground.

He’d placed a few in trees as well. So even as the soldiers hit the ground, they’d sometimes have their heads explode.

Of course, that wasn’t always his snipers. Sometimes that was Rachel.

They couldn’t get everyone though. Two got over, landed and ran toward the nearest shield. I saw it in my HUD, but couldn’t move before one of them leaped over Dalat, landing next to a shield generator pole—which then smashed, opening ten feet of our front line to the world.

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Wardog y El Mundo

Más crisis

Wardog y El Mundo

Sigo publicando en mi otro blog:

Espero que os guste

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Santa’s Secret


I’m sure there are a lot of people that are ok with staring at pretty gift-wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree, patiently waiting until Christmas night to open them op. But I assume there also are a lot of people who find it quite a challenge trying not to somehow find out what’s in it. 😉


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A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Dec 15, 2018 at 1:12pm PST

The last two weeks of 2018 are a go! It’s such a weird idea that it’s almost 2019 already. Last week we’ve been busy rounding up the last things we needed to send out to our Patreon backers and we hope everything gets delivered swiftly. There was a little delay due to a semi-broken laser cutter at our local fablab, but in the end: all is well! And we can’t wait to hear what our patrons think of the surprise that we made for our $10 tier patrons. 😀 We’re really happy with the results and we’ll be sure to share them here once we know they have received it. 🙂

Speaking about Patreon. This coming Friday, it’s December 21th and that means it’s time for our Winter season raffle! If you support us on Patreon, you automatically have a chance of winning one of the following things:
– A cameo in one of our comics
– A winter themed sketch (and we encourage you to think along with how it should look like)
– A t-shirt or tote bag from our Threadless store

We’re really thankful for all the support we get and would like to give a little something back to you in this way. 🙂 If you can spare a buck a month to support our contribution to the board gaming community, we would be very grateful (and you might even win something cool!):

We’ve had little time to play games last week, so we only played another scenario of Gloomhaven (my character is now level 7, whoooh!) and we played Wildlands. Wildlands really is a game that keeps surprising us and we’re slowly learning the important strategic differences between the different factions.

ICYMI, these are the extra comics that we published on social media, sponsored by

Extra comic #007 – Surprise!
Extra comic #008 – Rookie Mistake

Do you secretly already know what’s laying under your Christmas tree?

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 5

In My Daydreams

“I think they’re going to send more over the shields—maybe to go straight for Jadzen and the council members here.”

Jaclyn stared up at the top of the shields. “Of course they are. If they can do it once, they can do it again and with 20 times the people.”

A chill went through me as she said that. She was right and we wouldn’t be able to handle that many.

Jaclyn glanced over at the shields. They were spattered with energy blasts. If the Ascendancy sent people through at a time like this, they stood a good chance taking down the shields from within while we were distracted.

“I know what to do,” Jaclyn checked the top of the shields again and then turned back to us. “If I go out there and knock down the trees around us, they won’t be able to get high enough.”

“Good idea,” I said.

Marcus took a breath. “Are you okay? I mean, you got hit pretty bad earlier and this will be more of the same. Whatever they’re using takes more out of you than bullets.”

She frowned. “Look, I can take it for a little while. I’ve got one of Nick’s suits. Plus, if they get through we’re all going to die.”

Marcus’ face tightened. “You had the new suit on last time too. How damaged is it?”

Jaclyn shook her head. “We don’t have time for this. I’m going to be moving too quickly to take a lot of hits.”

Raising an eyebrow, Marcus looked her in the eyes. “While knocking down trees?”

From where she was firing her gun, Cassie shouted back at us, “She should do it.”

“Here’s an idea,” I said. “Tikki should go with her. That’ll keep the shots that do hit to a manageable level.”

“And I’m going to carry her around?” Jaclyn asked. “Because that’ll be slower.”

Tikki shook her head. “No. I’ll accelerate us to be faster than the time stream around us and I’ll freeze and redirect any shots that make it into the bubble.”

Marcus’ looked at her, meeting her eyes. “Are you sure? Do you think you can make it that long?”

Tikki reached out and held him. “I know it. Trust me.”

When she let go, Marcus watched her walk over to Jaclyn, who said, “Okay. Let’s try it.”

Holding his arms across his chest, he looked smaller than usual. As they walked closer to a gap between a tree and a shield, Marcus turned to me and said, “I hope they survive.”

I didn’t know whether he blamed me, but the fact that he didn’t seem to be mad about it made me feel worse. He just seemed scared for them and didn’t know what to do with it.

I wasn’t as scared. If Tikki had really just been Tikki, I would have been, but knowing that she was one of Lee’s people, I wished I hadn’t promised to keep it quiet.

Telling him wouldn’t make things better, though. It would have just introduced a little more chaos into a situation that already had enough.

With him, I watched as Tikki’s bubble surrounded both of them, distorting the air in a way that reminded me of ripples on a pond. As a resistance fighter stepped out of their way, allowing them through the gap, Kals stepped up beside us.

“What are they doing?”

I didn’t have time to explain before the first tree came down. Together in the Tikki’s bubble of time, they didn’t move as quickly as Jaclyn could alone, but they weren’t slow. With the accelerated time, Jaclyn moved faster than normal.

So, when the bubble surrounded a tree trunk, the tree fell in almost the same moment. Taking the whole exercise farther than I’d thought to suggest, Jaclyn made sure that each tree fell toward the attacking soldiers, sometimes throwing the tree trunks like gigantic lawn darts.

If she’d been trying to be disruptive to the attack, she wouldn’t have done it much differently.

The trees’ branches made harder to see the shields, and if Jaclyn threw the tree, it sailed into the crowd, hitting any soldiers that didn’t jump out of the way.

It wasn’t a bad plan. The side effects were nice anyway.

The only bad point was that there were a lot of trees around the shelter, so it wasn’t hard to figure out what Jaclyn was doing before she finished. Flying trees were a notable clue.

So somewhere out there, whoever had been planning to send people over the top of the shields decided that now was the last chance they’d have.

Even though Jaclyn and Tikki had removed more than half of the trees surrounding the shelter, Ascendancy soldiers jumped for the trees that were left, leaping from one to the other.

I don’t know how many it was, but a lot—more than last time, anyway.

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 4

In My Daydreams

Jaclyn blurred, punching five of them before anyone else had a chance to respond—at least that’s what I saw when I replayed the moment with my implant later.

In the moment, I was too busy to watch what she was doing. Two soldiers landed in front of me, the first grabbing for my arm before I could back up to avoid it and beginning to pull me in.

Knowing the strength of my armor, I’ve always been worried about facing people capable of ripping it straight off me. Travis was one of them and these soldiers had the same powers. With nothing else coming as an option, I did what Lee had taught me to do when that was a possibility—punch them hard.

Before the one my right could react, I punched the one that had grabbed me—the one on the left—directly in the front of his helmet. The Rocket suit generates tons of force and unlike at home, I didn’t hold back at all, punching deeply into the soldier’s face, denting the helmet.

He died. I didn’t need to scan him with the sonics to know that for sure and didn’t. The goo flowing out of his helmet was enough of a clue—that and how he fell backward and lay there unmoving.

I didn’t pay attention to that either because I still had the other one to deal with. Twisting to throw the first punch had already “loaded” the second punch and I threw it even as the first body fell.

The second soldier had seen what happened to the first and raised his arm either to block my punch or to grab. He had a problem though. He wasn’t anywhere near as fast or as strong as Travis would have been able to grab me and control my arm, guiding my body to the ground.

This guy’s arm, despite being encased in armor, shattered with the strength of my blow, hanging at an angle that an unbroken arm couldn’t.

Trained to follow through, I threw another punch as he stumbled backward, hitting him in the head. He went down.

I’d almost never used the Rocket suit’s full strength and in this moment, I understood why. I’d known it intellectually and my grandpa had told me about using it during World War 2, but some things you had to experience first hand to get them.

In that moment, I understood in my bones that the Rocket suit didn’t need any weapons on it at all.

I’d killed two men and they lay on the ground ahead of me, one of them still jerking and twitching.

Off to the side of me, Dalat shot one soldier and Geman finished it off as it lay on the ground. After a couple shots, it stopped moving.

On my other side, Marcus knocked one soldier and then another into Tikki’s field where she aged both of them into dust.

I took a breath and reminded myself that I’d killed before. I’d even killed this exact type of genetically modified human during the invasion of Earth where we’d killed Katuk’s father. That had been mostly with lasers and bots though. Punching them to death felt more personal somehow.

Turning their heads to goo felt more personal somehow.

My suit flashed “COLLISION ALERT” in my HUD, something it normally did only while flying and I looked up, pointing my laser in the air, and firing as I saw an Ascendancy soldier above me.

The laser could cut through a battleship’s armor. It cut through his chest as if he wasn’t wearing any armor at all.

He fell to the ground, making no attempt to land on its feet or to roll. It hit and lay there motionless.

I checked above to see if there were more and there weren’t. I called back some spigots and stationed them around the top of the shields so that we’d know if this happened again.

While the bots moved to their new positions, I took a quick look around us. All the Ascendancy soldiers were dead—the ones that made it over the shields anyway.

More interesting, there appeared to be a lull in the fighting around the shields. It wasn’t that no one was firing, but before the shields had been impossible to see through as they deflected blast after blast.

It was almost as if someone outside wanted to see how we handled the troops dropping in on us over the shields.

As I thought that, the Ascendancy forces started firing again. I had a bad feeling that we’d find out if my suspicions were correct all too soon. In the meantime, I decided to watch the top of the shields and tell everyone else.

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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 3

In My Daydreams

I flipped from screen to screen in my HUD. The Ascendancy had sent a lot of troops. My gut said it had to be hundreds. According to my implant (which had noted the distance between the bots, the number in the pictures, the probable distance between them and made guesses about areas the bots didn’t cover), the number was more like thousands. Specifically, it was than I thought had landed.

At any rate, that was the implant’s estimate. The number it had seen was 750—which was still an awful lot.

Around that time, beams of light appeared in the woods around us, accompanied by the screams of Human Ascendancy soldiers.

That would be the Xiniti that escorted Jadzen here. We’d been told that they’s retreated in the woods to reappear when they found it useful.

Here they were forcing a large force to divide in order to attack them as well as us. Not only that, but they’d just ruined the Ascendancy’s best chance to catch us unawares.

All in all, it had to drive the Ascendancy’s commander crazy. The Xiniti were mobile enough that even as I watched their beams would appear in one place, stop and reappear somewhere else.

For all that, the Ascendancy’s troops kept on coming. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to call it bravery. Even if it wasn’t the only reason they moved forward, they had motivators whispering in their ears through their communications systems.

Also, there were an awful lot of them. So a small number of roving Xiniti caused chaos, but the Ascendancy had enough people that they could devote a part of their  force to watching for the Xiniti and firing whenever they saw any hint that they were there.

It worked well enough for them, I guess, in that they could keep on moving forward, but because the Xiniti could run past the edges of a loose formation and start firing at the group from inside it, the Ascendancy had to change to a  tighter formation.

By the time they reached the clearing, they were marching in a long, rectangular shape. It didn’t mean that they were immune to the Xiniti’s attacks, but it did allow a lot of people to fire back at once.

It seemed like the entire right side of the group responded as we watched, blasting holes in trees, starting small fires, but not killing any Xiniti that we saw.

That might have been reassuring except that they only stopped firing for a moment before the whole formation charged us, splitting in half so that one side went to the right of our position and the other side went to the left.

We didn’t just let it happen. Captain Tolker ordered everyone to fire. Of course, we weren’t the only one firing. As the Ascendancy’s troops charged, they fired on us, blasts of energy hitting the shields and blazing with light.

Blasts hit trees and branches fell to the ground, sometimes hitting people. Tikki stopped a large one that threatened to hit the hand to hand fighters as well as knock over a shield generator pole. Her field slowed the branch enough that Marcus and I could throw it out and over the side.

The other defenders weren’t sitting still. Cassie’s gun killed any soldier it hit, burning holes through their armor and dividing the formation further back than they had at first, seemingly to avoid running headfirst into her fire. She divided the rest of her shots between the streams of troops going to the left and right.

It reminded me of nothing more than the invasion by alternate universe dinosaurs—except that the Ascendancy’s troops had better armor and could dodge better.

At the same time, Katuk fired a white beam that incinerated whatever it hit. It didn’t penetrate as deeply, but it burned away armor and skin just as well.

By that time, I’d begun to feel useless, but I was okay with it. This was the kind of fight that could kill any of us, and surviving untested wasn’t bad.

This is the sort of thought a person someone probably shouldn’t have in combat as the world appears to go to extra work to make sure that you know that you’re  wrong.

The Ascendancy soldiers had broken into two groups, each going around either side of the shelter’s shields and meeting on the other side to surround us. Because of the trees and the colonists’ ability to return fire without getting shot, they couldn’t get too close.

That must have been the origin of their next plan. Just like Travis and Haley, the Ascendancy’s soldiers were effective climbers, able to swing and leap through a forest. It wasn’t a surprise that a group of them jumped into the trees, leaping from branch to branch in an attempt to leap over the shields.

I saw it through my bots and warned everyone, even firing up at them, but they still landed in the middle of us.

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Wanna play?!


I think this has happened multiple times in the last few years. 😉


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A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Dec 8, 2018 at 1:28pm PST

Last week, we received another package of our Secret Santa! It was Dinosaur Tea Party! Yeaaaah… I mean: “Oh jolly, I was anticipating on adding that fabulous looking game to our collection ever since I first laid eyes on it!” The game itself basically is a fancy version of Who is it?, only this is way more fun in my opinion. The game works best if everybody at the table wants to go along with the theme and speak with an accent and behave like posh dinosaurs. If you just want to play the game for what it is and don’t want to play along “in character”, the game might be a bit dull. But for most of our playing groups, this will work just fine as a nice opening or closure game on game nights.

So this year’s BGG Secret Santa was another success! Now we just have to give our target a good experience as well. Looking forward to that!

Last week we played fewer games than the week before, also due to a busy weekend. We played Ruthless, Cerberus and Dinosaur Tea Party. And that’s it! Hopefully, we’ll have a bit more time this coming week.

We also did a test run of the kids RPG system we’ve been working on since this Summer, it’s not finished yet, but if you’re interested, we’ve posted a small report on Twitter – click here to read it.

ICYMI, these are the extra comics that we published, sponsored by

Extra comic #005 – Werewolves
Extra comic #006 – Rainy Day


Are you participating in a board game Secret Santa this year?

The post Wanna play?! appeared first on Semi Co-op.

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In My Daydreams

Finishing Tomorrow

In My Daydreams

Hey folks,

Sorry to do this, but because I don’t want to fall asleep at work, I’ve recently decided that if I can’t finish before 3am, I’m going to have to finish the next day.

So, that’s what I’m doing. My apologies. I suspect this will happen sporadically until I manage to adjust my writing schedule to avoid it.


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In My Daydreams

Trees & Shields: Part 2

In My Daydreams

Nick, Shelter 454

We waited for the Ascendancy troops to arrive. Captain Tolker, the guy who led the briefing, turned out to be a mercenary who the resistance hired, but then became notorious enough that the Ascendancy decided that he was a resistance leader. In the end, he found himself here with everyone else.

I didn’t know where had he been before, but he spent the wait getting acquainted with those of us he didn’t know and encouraging those that he did. Though I’m no authority on leading troops, he seemed good at it.

I’d assigned myself to be behind the front line amid the melee fighter whose purpose was to jump in if a shield or tree went down and handle things until they could get a shield working again or have everyone fall back.

He stepped up to me, still larger even though I was in armor, and looked me up and down. “You’re one of the human Xiniti. I’m sure you’re very good, but tell me what you can do so that I know you’re in the right place.”

“My suit protects me, increases my strength, allows me to fly, and controls bots and weapons. My standard ammo doesn’t do much against Ascendancy armor except when using multiple rounds per soldier. My laser punches through, but it’s got limited shots. My sonics will stop big groups but only for as long as the sound continues.

“So,” I continued, “I decided I was best off as backup.”

He nodded. “That sounds right. I may have a mission for you later. Jump when I call you.”

“Sure,” I said, wondering if I should have said something that sounded more military.

Captain Tolker didn’t appear bothered, nodding and moving on to talk to Jaclyn. I didn’t hear much of what he said to her except that I did again hear, “… tell me what you can do, so I know you’re in the right place.”

As they talked, I checked my bots. I’d released the observation bots and the spybots, figuring that an early warning would be better than no warning.

I didn’t see anything special moving in the woods through a few of the bots had to dodge birds as well as small, raccoon-like predators.

So, nothing.

I hoped that I’d designed the pattern to be tight enough. It’d be sad and pointless to send out the bots and leave a hole open that an army could walk through.

Out in the night though, small animals chased each other, but so far nothing else.

“I’m still surprised that this is everyone,” Marcus stepped up and stood next to me. “Wasn’t Crawls-Through-Desert supposed to be here or something?”

“I know. I get the impression that he’s gathering more people and he’ll show up with them when he shows up.”

Marcus’ mouth twisted. “Yeah. I’m hoping that happens before we get attacked instead of after afterward. I mean, it’d be awesome and all to be saved by them  at the last minute, but we’d have to survive through whatever happens before that.”

I thought about that. “Almost dying that way would probably be less fun than it would be in the comics.”

“Yeah. Exactly. That or Lord or the Rings. Thing is, you read the books, right?  Tolkien made it clear that every battle in those books was hard won. People died even in the easy battles.”

I nodded. “Tolkien fought in World War I. I’m sure it was miserable every step of the way. I think he was in the Battle of the Somme and I don’t know much about it except that I guess it was particularly bad.”

Marcus nodded. “I think I read that somewhere. Hey… I’ve got a totally different question. What did Tikki do to me? I know she healed me, but I feel like it was more than that. She’s been a little different since then. I don’t know how.”

I glanced over at her. She stood next to Jaclyn, talking. Both of them stood behind Cassie next to one of the force shields.

“You’re right,” I said, “but it’s way too complicated to get into right now. She’s going to tell you later, probably after the battle when there’s time.”

Marcus looked at me without saying anything for a moment. “I hope it’s not anything bad. Anyway, you should take a look at this.”

He pointed to a force shield to the left of us. Standing next to it with guns were Dalat and Gemman. Standing next to each other in combat gear, Dalat still looked small next to Gemman’s bulk.

“They were going to do their best to remove anything from their heads whether it was implants or motivator suggestions…” I tried to sound optimistic.

“Yeah,” Marcus said, “Maru was—back when Alyssa could mess with his head. People have to know about them, right?”

“Jadzen does.” I glanced in their direction again.

Dalat appeared to be deliberately controlling his breathing, taking in a little breath and letting out a long one. Gemman stared at his gun, opening sections of it, inspecting them and closing them. Then he closed the last and stared out into the darkness, practicing how he planned to stand while firing out of the hole in the shield.

They weren’t the only ones doing things like that. We were all waiting for hell to be unleashed in our general direction.

I considered asking Jadzen or maybe asking Kals to ask Jadzen what was going on with those guys, but in that moment one of my bots caught sight of the Human Ascendancy soldiers crawling through the woods.

Hell was on its way.

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In My Daydreams

Trees and Shields: Part 1

In My Daydreams

Four Hands, Bridge of the Human Ascendancy Flagship: Glorious Victory

Four Hands could have followed the progress of the battle in full immersion through his implant, but didn’t need the distraction. The flaghip’s admiral had summoned him to the bridge even though full immersion could have handled that as well.

Knowing the Human Ascendancy, Four Hands knew that this could be because the admiral wanted to see him killed in person. They knew he’d met with the human Xiniti recruit. He’d included it in his report, if only because he knew the soldiers would.

On the other hand, the admiral might want to congratulate him personally. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d turned treason into a commendation.

He walked across the bridge, ignoring the crewmen, many of whom appeared to be sleeping at their consoles, but instead were managing the ship, remote drones, or parts of the fleet through their implants.

That was the long outer circle. The bridge’s inner circle held six, two person console rigs, all of them filled with staff, awake, and staring at holographic representations. There to communicate to the fleet as well as personally protect the admiral, the inner circle needed an awareness of the real world and the bridge at the same time.

As much the admiral’s bodyguards as bridge crew, they watched Four Hands walk in as one of their screens showed Xiniti ships dealing the final blow to a damaged battleship.

Admiral Makri Tzin sat in the middle at a command console that had the height and bulkiness of a throne. On top of it, the admiral wore the silver, pressurized, uniform of the navy, making the bulk of an Ascendancy soldier even more impressive.

As Four Hands came before the chair, the admiral shouted, “Abase yourself.”

Four Hands knelt with his head to the floor until the admiral grunted. Then he stood up.

Admiral Tzin looked down at him without saying anything, bushy eyebrows arched and arms across his chest.

“All have spoken well of your accomplishments and leadership on the surface, particularly on how you rescued the mission from the agent who killed our people and lead the mission to utter disaster. Now I know that you weren’t able to capture the colonists either, but you were able to drive them out of the caves and into the woods, and all of that with a force that had been mostly destroyed.

“It’s another brilliant addition to an already impressive resume. I only have questions about one small part of your actions. You spoke to a human Xiniti recruit and then allowed him to leave your presence alive. Why did you choose to make these decisions?”

Inside Four Hands’ head, his main implant reported that the admiral was using a motivator’s tones and that it had scrubbed them from his perception without alerting his official navy implant.

“Your Excellency,” Four Hands said, “the Xiniti recruit exhibited skills similar to my own as well as an impressive competence as a combatant. I thought I might try to recruit him to our side if I could.”

“And?” Admiral Tzin grunted.

“He’s loyal to the Xiniti and couldn’t be recruited.”

“Hmmn,” Admiral Tzin leaned forward, “And why didn’t you have him killed when you had him?”

“As I’m sure you’re aware, fleet policy is to respect flags of truce if there’s any possibility that not doing so would come back to hurt us. I judged that we might wish to meet with them later and there was no reason to end that potential now.”

Admiral Tzin nodded. “Understood. Your caution is appreciated. Our current plans are to capture and suborn the human ‘Xiniti’ recruits along with the colony’s leadership. If that proves impossible, we plan to cleanse the colony from the planet.”

Giving a nod, Four Hands said, “Yes, sir.”

“Good,” Admiral Tzin said. “We are now in battle with the Xiniti fleet or I might send you back to the planet to assist in finishing what you started. Instead, I’m assigning you to guide your own people in coming up with ideas for breaking into and subverting the unusual technology that the Xiniti recruits appear to possess. Kamia expresses difficulty with it and that’s an impressive statement on its own.”

Then the man dismissed him with a wave of his claw.

On the way out, Four Hands thanked the universe for the machines that saved him from influence as well as the admiral’s stereotypical assumptions about his skills that sent him to his own people. It wasn’t inaccurate in his case,  but little of his military record showed it.

It was time to plan his next move.

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In My Daydreams

Planet in the Middle: Part 20

In My Daydreams

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that seeing people there ready to fight gave me some hope. My mind noted that hope or not, the Ascendancy troops almost had to outnumber them.

We crossed the clearing, walking instead of running, giving them time to recognize us even though it was still dark. A few of them pointed at the dog, but no one shot at us.

Outside along with them stood Jadzen Akri, some members of the Council and more  colonists I didn’t recognize, all of them watching us as we came closer.

As we came near, Kals said, “Mom, I didn’t know you were coming here.”

Jadzen nodded. “We weren’t, but then we met a runner from Crawls-Through-Desert. The runner said that he’d been told to get people to gather there. The plant wanted to set up a big target, one that would draw the Ascendancy in because it was too big to pass up.”

Kals frowned. “Mom, you don’t have to be here.”

Unblinking, Jadzen said, “I do. That’s the one thing I most have to do. I’m good at inspiring people and encouraging them to come up with their own ideas about how to resist the Ascendancy. I’m not good at running a war. But I know that the plant’s better at it. Somehow, he found out about our last contingency plan, the one where the best fighters take their chance, and he decided to use it early—when there’s still a chance to save something. Those who can’t fight are hidden and most of the Council with them.

“I’m here because if I’m here, they’ll come for me. We have many more people coming, I hope, but if it turns out not to be enough, I have my backup plan.”

Kals expression flattened. At that Jadzen held her hand to Kals’ cheek.

“I’d like you to go with the Council if you can find it in yourself that you can. They’ll need a replacement for me. You won’t have to lead—just be there, remind them of me, and give them hope. The Council will do the work.”

Kals shook her head. “I’m staying.”

Nodding, Jadzen said, “I wish you weren’t, but I’m glad you’re here.”

Then she pulled Kals in and hugged her. They held each other for a moment. As they pulled away, I noticed a glistening  under their eyes.

I couldn’t blame them. They were facing death or being re-educated into a puppet. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t feel the same, but I supposed I might feel differently if I were staring my mom in the eye right now.

I glanced over at Rachel. She had a good chance to live even if I didn’t.

Catching my look, Rachel said, “Don’t worry. We’ll survive.”

“I know,” I said. “We’ll do our best.”

Behind me, Marcus grinned. “Exactly. Remember the team motto, ‘Try not to die’.”

Kals whipped around to stare at him, “Is that really your team motto?”

Glaring at Marcus, Jaclyn said, “It’s not.”

Tikki bit her lip as Katuk turned his head toward Marcus. “While a sensible sentiment, it sounds defeatist.”

Cassie folded her arms across her chest. “He ripped it off from a comic book team.”

Marcus sighed. “It was a joke.”

Shrugging, Cassie said, “Yeah, well, use it back home and Marvel’s going to sue.”

With a hint of a smile, Jadzen gestured toward the soldiers and a few council members. “Come and join us as we plan our defense.”

A big, scarred man in form-fitting armor explained their plans. “We know they’re coming from the other side of the clearing, but it’s not impossible they’ll come around behind us. It’s the smart choice. We’re going to watch from all directions, and station people with guns behind trees. Those of you who can beat Ascendancy soldiers hand to hand should initially stay behind the people with guns until there’s a hole in the line. When they try to break through, fill the hole, but don’t get too far out. You don’t want to be surrounded on their side of the line.

“Be aware, everyone, that their motivators will likely try to overwhelm our voice countermeasures. We’ve done what we can to amplify your defenses and our own motivators will be doing what they can to keep you safe. In the end, some may get through anyway. Remember your training and you should be able to resist.”

That was training we didn’t have. I hoped that our suits’ defenses worked. While I thought about that, the man continued.

“The Xiniti that escorted Jadzen here are hiding in the forest, waiting for the right moment to attack as will more of our troops and the Xiniti main force. So all we have to do is survive until they arrive and we’ll have help and a real chance to live. Watch for them and try not to shoot them. Remember, we’re not here to be heroes. We’re here to last. We’ll have force fields too. Our people are setting them up now.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them put up the poles, followed by the creation of a blue shimmer than spanned the distance between them. They had holes for guns. Also, they didn’t go all the way around. There were gaps, but there were trees in the gaps and soldiers standing behind them.

It made me feel a little better. The meeting went on longer than that, but that was the gist of it. When it was over, we got into position and waited.

I hoped the shields lasted. Without them, it would be harder.

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In My Daydreams

It’s In Process

In My Daydreams

I spent much of the last two days sleeping (though I did work from home today) due to feeling sick.  Actually, I didn’t feel that sick but my body made it clear that I definitely was.

So I’m writing now, but I make no promises regarding updating tonight. The story will most likely update tomorrow–though I’m still unsure as to whether I’ll be at work or working from home tomorrow.

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In My Daydreams

Planet in the Middle: Part 19

In My Daydreams

“So in your opinion,” I asked Hal, “where would the best place for us to go?”

Hal responded without any hesitation. “That depends on your purpose. I’ve simulated multiple versions of the upcoming battle. Judging from the Ascendancy’s soldiers movements, their goal appears to be first of all to capture or kill the leadership and then to move on to destroying the rest of the colonists.

“I don’t know where Jadzen Akri and the Council will be with certainty, but I know where the battle between the Xiniti and Ascendancy forces will be. The probability is that the battle will be fought at a clearing roughly one mile west of here. I believe there to be a shelter there, but since their shelter are designed to be hard to detect by Alliance and Ascendancy technology, I can’t be sure. Were you to go there, you’d be in an excellent position to defend the colony’s leadership.

“In many of my simulations, the colony’s leadership is destroyed or captured because Kamia is singularly effective against them. Your group is effective against her as well as her compatriots. However, that will not help very much in protecting the rest of the colony. The Ascendancy forces are searching for the colony’s shelters and destroying them as they find them. Should it be impossible to capture the leadership and the spaceship battle returns to the area of space around the planet, they will simply bombard anywhere they suspect colonists might be hiding.”

Kals made a small noise somewhere between a grunt and a moan and looked me in the eye, talking into my helmet. “You’re saying that even if we save my mom, they still might destroy the colony? Is there any way we can prevent that?”

Hal responded in the same calm voice he’d been using. “There is a small chance that by sending a small number of people into space with me, I could direct the Xiniti into a more efficient way of destroying the fleet. Alternately, the capabilities of this ship in combat might swing the battle towards the Ascendancy’s defeat or distract them from attacking this planet.”

“What kind of chance?” I asked. “When you say a small chance, is it small, but worth pursuing or small in the sense of don’t waste your time?”

“The probable futures do not include decision points that lead to this ship becoming essential to the survival of the colony. Intervention by the Cosmic Ghosts or additional Xiniti or Alliance ships is the most probable salvation for the colony.”

“Okay,” Jaclyn said. “We don’t go up in the ship then.”

Keeping her voice low, Rachel asked, “What are the chances the Ghosts arrive soon?”

“I don’t have enough data on the Ghosts to predict their actions. The Ghosts act without being observed. In many cases, it’s not even clear that they’ve been in a place except that some action has been stopped.”

A thought struck me. “Would it help if you regarded Rachel’s abilities as examples of a young Ghost?”

“Nick,” Rachel met my eyes, frowning. “I’m pretty sure they like being a mystery.”

Hal said, “It would give me more data, but not the kind that I need to predict where they will or won’t appear. It is useful information.”

Jaclyn looked around and the group of us and then said, “Alright Hal, how long do we have until we lose our chance to protect the leadership?”

“It varies, but the sooner you arrive, the better your chances of success.”

Jaclyn nodded. “That’s the way it always works. We’ll need directions. Can you send us a map?”

“I can direct you with the GPS.”

Jaclyn looked over at me. “We didn’t put any satellites in orbit, did we?”

I shook my head. “No.”

Hal said, “The planet has the standard Alliance system set up. I can translate between it and your systems.”

Thinking about that, I said, “I wish I’d known that earlier. I was pretty sure we didn’t have access to GPS at all… That said, we probably ought to go.”

The map appeared in everyone’s HUD. It wasn’t far away—which was good because Tiger wasn’t as fast as the rest of us. Going slow enough that he could keep up wasn’t a problem, but it did make me feel a little weird about bringing a puppy into a big fight.

I hadn’t come up with a better alternative by the time we reached the clearing.  As we reached it, it wasn’t much. On the one side of the open, grassy area, there were trees. On the other side, there were more trees. Even I could tell they were a different type.

A shelter stood on the far side, but this was different from any other I’d seen in that there were more than one hundred colonists around it, all of them armed with guns and wearing armor that adjusted to match the scenery around to the point that they were almost invisible.

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