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.”
“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.”