Monthly Archives: October 2015

3-8: Here Be Dragons

“I’d rather get out of here,” Laurie said. “These little buggers are getting on my nerves.” She worked her way through them, out of their makeshift arena, them still chattering behind her.

“Where should we go, then?” The Bartender broke free of the small, chattering bunch. “It’s getting dark and we have no idea where Scorch is. There’s too much metal and static to be able to perform any kind of scan.”

She sighed, scanning the horizon at the descending sun and fading shadows. She took a few steps, then yelled in frustration, sending a piece of metal flying with a kick.

The ground rumbled, or rather, the rusted metal decking they stood upon did, and something like a low growl came from the distance.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” the Bartender said.

The Scrappers appeared, running in a panic past them, back in the direction of their cave. The Bartender drew his weapon, spinning in a slow circle and looking for the source of the noise. Laurie did the same, tapping a button on her patch, turning the world around to shades of green in the low light.

“You’re going to like the look of it even less,” she said as she found the source of the noise, a giant reptilian figure, crawling over the top of one of the scrap piles on short legs. It raised its head and growled, shaking the metal again, creating small slides on the larger piles. Its massive tongue flicked out, testing the air, and it turned to watch the running Scrappers.

“Maybe if we hold still…” the Bartender said.

“What about them?” She nodded in the direction the Scrappers had gone.

“They live here. I’m guessing they know how to survive.”

She nodded slowly, gaze not leaving the monster, which had began to crawl down the near side of the metal mountain, leaving a wake of sliding metal.

“Maybe we should find some cover?”

“From that thing? Where?”

“The canyon we came through?”

She nodded. “Let’s move cautiously.” She walked sideways, keeping her body facing the lizard. The boxy canyon was visible, if only just, several hundred meters away yet. They covered the ground as swiftly as they dared, working to remain silent and not disturb the garbage and make noise.

The reached the entrance of the canyon even as the lizard came to the bottom of the pile, tongue still gathering scents, tracking potential prey. From the canyon entrance, she could see its head turn to them.

“I think our time is up,” she said apprehensively. The Bartender flicked the safety off his rifle.

“Ready when you are.”

She looked around, trying to find another cave, or place to hide.

“Back to the ship?”

“If we would make it. We can hide, or fight.”

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3-7: Language Barriers

“I don’t think they want to eat us,” the Bartender said as he surveyed the little aliens, who continued to chatter excitedly and gesture to the cave.

“Are you kidding? Look around. What else is there for them to eat? We probably look like a nice cut of Becha to them.”

The Bartender chuckled slightly, then whistled shrilly. The chatter stopped, and they all turned their wide eyes to the reptilian.

“Well, go on. Talk to them,” Lauire said, making a sweeping gesture towards the expectant creatures.

“I don’t speak scrapworld chatter,” he replied. He sighed, and attempted to pantomime Scorch’s robotic movements. The scrappers tittered, a high noise that might have been laughter. They turned to one another, talking in hushed tones.

Laurie shrugged at the Bartender, who simply shrugged back.

A more distinct noise emerged from the crowd, something like “Oo-ah”. They turned back to the two offworlders, and repeated it.

“Oo-ah.” They pointed to the distance, between two pile of scrap. “Oo-ah!”

“Might as well follow them,” Laurie said as they scampered off in that direction. The scrappers moved swiftly over piles of constantly-shifting metal, the occasional puddle of ooze and other assorted junk, alternating between simply running and hopping, to nearly crawling, using their over-long arms to steady themselves.

Laurie 1Laurie and the Bartender did their best to keep up, and the creatures would occasionally pause to shout something unintelligible back at them.

They passed through canyons of garbage, paths the little creatures had clearly used often, weaving through hundreds of years of discarded spaceships. It smelled of rust and oil, a scent that seemed to constantly linger in the air. The sky and the broken pieces of ships seemed blend together, one drab color giving way to another, with only the occasional swatch of color where paint had not yet peeled away.

The sun was setting, casting long shadows from wreckage, when they reached their apparent destination. A circular arena of sorts had been made, crude seats made from ship parts. In the center stood a rudimentary statue, about twice as tall as a human, but resembling the scrappers, who all bowed to it, chanting “oo-ah” as they did so.

“Oh, good. You’ve accepted their gospel,” Laurie said to the Bartender.

His thin mouth twisted into and expression she hadn’t seen before and his tongue flicked in and out of his mouth. “Perhaps it can forgive your sins where the Dead Corps could not.”

“Hey, now.” She turned to the devotees of the crude god, trying to explain that their god was not what they were seeking. She held her hand at head height to show Scorch was somewhat shorter than their statue. They looked at her with blank expressions, before turning back to their god.

“Looks like we’re on our own,” she said, turning to leave their theater. They stopped chanting again, and surrounded them, forcing them towards the statue.

“I take it back,” the Bartender said. “I think they do want to eat us.”

“Or maybe they really do want us to repent. I am kicking Scorch’s ass when we find him.”

“Maybe we should just stay here. It’s getting dark, and we are pretty far from the ship. They seem harmless enough so far.”

3-6: Scrap

Laurie rolled her eye- the effect was lessened somewhat with only the one. “I don’t really want to play the part of the damsel in distress, but I could use you around, Bartender.”

“That much seems apparent,’ he replied, his reptilian face split by a thin smile.

“Let’s go find our friend. Lay in the course.”

“Already done.”

“In that case, wake me up when we get there.” She leaned back, trying to block out the rancid stench of the Dead Corps ship, and closed her eyes.

* * *

“Welcome to Nuvaria, Captain.” The Bartender shook her awake. She sat up, rubbing futilely at the patch, as she did most days. There was the phantom itch there, and eyeball which did not exit anymore demanding to be scratched.

“Are we on the surface?”

“I’m not sure this planet even has a surface. If it does, it’s under miles of scrap. Scrapyard for the galaxy, this.”

“Been here before?”

“It’s a good place to hide.”

She stood as the Bartender opened the hatch, a thin ramp leading down from the chin of she spacecraft.

“Doesn’t smell much better out here, does it?” She stepped out onto a rusty steel deck. “Are you sure this will hold us?”

He probed forward gingerly with his three-toed foot and glanced over his shoulder at the ship. “Pretty sure.”

“So where the hell is Scorch?” She stepped away from the ship and looked around at the piles and piles of scrap, reaching up like perverse mountains. “I don’t supposed you grabbed his transponder?”

“I was sort of in a hurry.”

She sighed, wondering if it was possible to find him- or if it would be worth it. “Let’s see if we can get some height.” She gestured to one of the hills, and started walking towards it. There were small hills, piles of junk, some coming apart in her hands, rusted with age.

“There’s an opening over here.”

“An opening?” He gave her an incredulous look.

“Yeah, a cave or something.” She walked closer to it, the half-circle opening, trimmed with plates of metal, with a crude path leading up to it. She approached it tentatively, peering into it as best she could.

As she drew close, some chattering echoed from within and suddenly a bunch of small beings came running out. They had over-large heads and thin bodies. They were clad in nothing but loincloths, and encircled her, chattering excitedly. Their skin was a sickly brown color, and they appeared entirely too skinny to be healthy- though it seemed like any semblance of health would be hard on a world like Nuvaria.

“You sure do seem to make friends quickly.”

“You didn’t scan for life forms?”

“It’s a junkyard. I didn’t think there would be any.”

She attempted- vainly- to shoo them away from her. “This is not what we need. I don’t even know what they’re saying.”

He approached, trying to get them to leave off, but to no avail. They tugged on her, trying to lead them into the cave. “Oh, no. No, no, no.”

“Might be a good idea- maybe they can help us.”

“Maybe they want to eat us.”