I know, I know, by now you’re probably asking yourself just how much more of this RP nonsense can there be? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit actually . . .

Coincidentally Book IV is aptly named as it was written this time around by only four of the original members. This resulted in fewer tangents but just as much silliness . . .

The Trials and Tribulations of the QBR – Book IV

Posted by Forlath Grey on June 27, 2012 at 7:22pm in Steampunk RP – The QBR, et alia …

What daring and exciting escapades calling for enterprise and fortitude awaits our entrepid band now?

Reply by Forlath Grey on June 27, 2012 at 7:27pm

QBR Book IV

Chapter 1

The twin suns burned brightly overhead, scorching the already hard baked, red clay of the planet’s surface. The never ceasing wind blew from points east, occasionally whipping the surface dust up into swirling, red dust devils.

The monotony of this particular patch of red clay was broken by shale rock formations. The rocks, vaguely reminiscent of teeth, were pocked, pitted, and lightly covered in purple, heather like vegetation. They stuck up from the planet’s surface like a large warning to all and sundry of the consequences of bad oral hygiene.

But there were none to consider their cautionary admonishment, this particular patch of rock formation had stood on this very spot since time immemorial and in all that time, it had experienced nothing more exciting than the seasonal growth of its coating of vegetation.

Steady and enduring, except for the effects of erosion caused by the endless winds, the rock formation was a silent witness to the never changing landscape . . .

That is until now as crackling noises and the smell of ozone filled the air. A cyclone seemed to erupt straight up out of the clay and start to swirl and howl at one specific spot on the red desert floor. Flashes of lightning and roiling, black smoke, circled round and round in the cyclone, increasing in intensity and velocity. As the violence of the lightning increased, the howling took on an almost sentient quality, wailing the torturous cry of the damned. The air rending of that cry and the oppressiveness of the surrounding atmosphere reached an . . . unbearable . . . pitch . . . and stopped.

The cyclone vanished in a breath of despair and in its place stood a pair of gates, gates that instantly called to mind the very gates of hell . . .

But never mind the gates, much more intriguing than the twisted, nightmarish forms cast into the gates’ coldly gleaming surface were the forms flung through the slightly open gates.

The forms were tattered, battered and worn, as if they had just traveled halfway across the seven planes of existence. They managed to struggle to their feet just as the gates screeched shut with an unholy glee and a finality that left no doubt that their’s had been a one way trip.

The wayward souls stumbled away wearily, obviously intent on putting as much distance between them and the infernal gates as possible . . .

As the group disappeared from view, the rock formation thought to itself – ‘now there’s something you don’t see every day!’

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on June 27, 2012 at 7:45pm

Aboard the Queen Bran’s Revenge
At the “Rescue teams to their shuttles” announcement, Rugan Camizo, member of the Combined Security Force on the dimension hopping airship Queen Brans Revenge [affectionately known as The Cake Eater to the crew] leapt out of the chair in his cabin, bounded through the door and began sprinting down the hallway toward the Shuttle bay. As he rounded a corner he saw a small [both in stature and number] group of doughboys clustered in the hallway in his path of travel. With a leap and an added burst of speed, he ran up the wall [actually laying out fully horizontal for a few steps as if the gravity had switched to suit him] clearing the knot of little bread men without so much as brushing the little caps on their heads and continued down the hall and out onto the raised platform overlooking the hangar bay. Without even slowing down, he vaulted over the railing, launching himself into space, landed on all fours 15 feet below with a loud slap of his hands, and in the same fluid motion rolled forward in an impressive Parkour move that allowed him to come up on his feet and keep moving without noticeably slowing down. He reached the doorway to one of the Rescue shuttles just as the engines stuttered to life in their preflight warm up cycle.
The flight mechanic, who was just shrugging to unhook a fuel line at the rear of the craft, looked at him with mock irritation and said, “You know, Rugan, nobody likes a showoff. These birds won’t be lifting for another twenty minutes, at least. You could have not only walked, you could have used the stairs… ALL of the stairs.”
Grinning a bit sheepishly, he strolled back into easy earshot and said,“Where’s the fun in that, Clancy? Besides, I need to stay in practice, never know when it might save my life. I’m not exactly in a safe profession, after all. We lost so many Marines on that Peacekeeper planet that the Captain had to hire the Elves to help with security… Plus, it’s good exercise.”
Clancy rolled his eyes as he finished locking down the fuel port, then leaned in close and dropped his voice while he began to reel in the line.
“Well,” he said “the way I hear it, the Elves sort of hired themselves. Those guys may look all ‘One with nature’, but you ask me, there’s something a little… Corleone… about the whole crew of them, if you take my meaning. I’m just sayin’…” His voice trailed off as the commander of the Elven section of the security force, Guidolas “Tony Ears” Lllianaro, walked into the hangar bay. Clancy tapped the side of his nose with a grease stained index finger that he then pointed at Rugan; he gave a subtle, meaningful look toward the elf and said quietly, “Well…I ain’t sayin’ what I’m sayin’. We’ll talk later.” With that, Clancy finished stowing his gear on the cart and trundled it deeper into the gloom of the maintenance bay.
A melodious voice behind him spoke, causing him to snap to attention; it said, “Dat Clancy…always sticking his nose where it don’t belong. It would be a shame if youse was to listen too close to his wild and unfounded accu- zations… ‘If You Take My Meaning’… heh. But enough about him, Camizo, are youse about ready to head down and help find our people?”
“Yes, Sir.” Rugan replied, staring at a point on the wall just over the Elf’s left shoulder.
“Oh, Youse don’t have to be all formal like wit me, Camizo… Umm, Dat is, At Ease. And I’m glad youse is ready to save our crew. We don’t wanna be leavin’ anybodies behind, over here. We can’t give the impression that other gangs…that is Enemies, can just take our people and get away wit it.. it’s disrespectful to the Cake Eater, here, and it’s bad for business, capiche?  So go down there and really show them who’s territory what dis is… Oh, and bring back our people, of course.”
Thoroughly confused but unwilling to show it, Rugan simply snapped to attention and saluted then turned and boarded the craft.
As he sat down to strap in, he realized there was still 15 minutes till takeoff.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on June 28, 2012 at 8:20pm

At the ruined clock tower, with the QBR rescue efforts…
The effort to dig out the clock tower had been going on for hours, with no sign of their crew members. There were several monks and a nice lady doctor who had witnessed the group enter the “rathaus” just prior to its collapse who were now helping in the search. Rugan was about to call it off as hopeless when he heard a faint voice in the rubble. Calling over his shoulder, “Survivor over here!”, he levered up a piece of wallboard and found a rather large open space  under his feet.
With no thought to his own safety, he scrambled down the incline and discovered he was in the bottom of the central room, where the stairs had once started that led up the inside of now collapsed tower. There were ruined clockwork gears and springs scattered all about. In the corner, leaning at a steep angle against the wall behind the crushed and only half recognizable clock face there was what appeared to be a large pitted black iron set of double doors. A dark foreboding reddish mist was oozing out from under them and it was from there that the voice emanated.  The sound he had been hearing turned out to be a rather deep voice singing “99 Bottles of Beer…”, and it was down to 27. As he crept closer, the singing stopped and after the briefest pause, the voice spoke.
“Before you open the door, Mr. Camizo, be aware that what you see may startle and confuse you. I am currently speaking with the aid of Mo-Mo, a monkey bat who is also a close friend of your XO, Ezra Yesterday.”
There was a flash of light and a stronger sulfurous odor as a small crack appeared in the doorway near Rugan, spilling quite probably literally Hellish light onto the floor near his feet.
“Who are you?” Rugan replied, somewhat automatically, curious despite the decidedly odd and stressful circumstances.
“We don’t have time to answer that in any meaningful way, my boy.” There was a short but somehow considering silence. “But, since I recognize that personal identity and individuality are still highly prized by your species, call me Engineer. Now, time being scarce, let me tell you a few things….” There was a second crack slowly creeping across the door, spilling toxic fumes and more red light as it widened, which the Engineer apparently knew about, because there was a flash of golden light and a sudden burst of.. Understanding…  bloomed inside Rugan’s head.
He just suddenly knew, as if he had lived it, the adventures that his crew mates had endured on this planet.
He knew where the missing crew members were, and how to get there,
He knew there was a shadowy, chaotic and wholly evil opposing force, an adversary to the Engineer race, something known as the Asylum…
He knew that there was an emissary of that demented race hiding in plain sight on the Cake Eater…
He knew that he had to explain it all to the Captain, without tipping off said double agent…
And, as the crack neared the top of the doors,, causing the door frame to suddenly shift downward about a half a foot,  he suddenly knew that the roof was about to cave in on him.

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 2, 2012 at 2:36pm

The Padre stumbled, the wind that had blown since they found themselves on this gods forsaken rock had picked up, reducing visibility to about a meter. The group had linked themselves together with bits of cloth ripped from the bottom of the chaplain’s frock coat and whatever else they could scrounge up. They were exhausted, thirsty, hot and covered in red sand. The sand gathered at the corners of their squinted eyes, it collected on their eyelashes, it caked on the makeshift scarves they had wound around their heads to keep the sand out of their mouths and noses, and it obscured tripping hazards on the ground beneath their feet. The Padre had already pitched face forward into the red sand a handful of times since they had been unceremoniously dumped on this planet. Dignity had been one of the first things to go, now the Padre was more concerned that the next time he fell over, he wouldn’t be able to get back up again.
In what now seemed an eternity ago, the party members had agreed they needed to find shelter but as of yet, no shelter was to be had. There was a tug from further up the line, one of the remaining party members (the chaplain was so weary, he could no longer remember who was in front of him and the sand storm was too intense to see that far), had just pulled on the line. Heaven’s above, thought the Padre, let it be sanctuary . . .

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 2, 2012 at 7:54pm

As Rugan stood there, watching the door begin to disintegrate before his very eyes and hearing roof settle, the Hellish door opened slightly, and a small ferret like creature slithered out of the crack. It stood on its hind legs, shook out a pair of leathery Bat wings, pointed deeper into the rubble at a dimly lit archway just under the ruined stairwell. Then, with mischievous twitch of its white mustache, it said, “Yip-Yip!”, and launched itself into the air and flapped toward the doorway.
Without any more hesitation, Rugan began follow, for he recognized Mo-Mo from the memory dump he had just received from the Engineer. As he took his third step toward safety, however, he heard from above, “ Hey! Rug-Man, Is you’se down here? Wazzat you was sayin about a survivor, over here? I don’t hear nuttin… Yeow!!” And with that, one of the Elven security members, Vincent “Vinnie Two Braids” Bombadil fell through the hole Rugan had used to get down here, flipping into a layout and doing two and one half graceful spins in midair before landing perfectly and firmly on his feet. Rugan would have been mightily impressed, in fact he was about to say so, but the sinister door behind him gave a terrific grinding creak, and began to collapse in on itself, dislodging a stout, eight foot long roof timber from the rubble above, to swing like a pendulum and hit Vinnie in the back of the head, knocking the Elf completely senseless, a smug grin still on his face as he pitched forward onto it.
With that, more debris began to slowly slide loose, so Rugan sprang forward, grabbed the unconscious Elf and bounded toward the chattering Mo-Mo, who was now dancing in the doorway in agitation… Well agitation, or simple panic.
Without slowing, Rugan scooped the Monkey-bat up with his free hand and set it on the backside of the elf he carried slung over his left shoulder. As he continued down the sloped tunnel in front of him, brick, masonry and clock parts began crashing down all around them in earnest. The run was only about 20 feet, but seemed to take forever as the remains of the building, propped up by evil magic, or more likely simply the massive doors themselves, came down all around him. He saw light ahead as the tunnel came out near what looked to be a small river with banks of white snow.”Oh, Pretty!”, he thought as he put on a last burst of speed, the door came ever nearer.
He nearly made it too, but as he ducked under a falling support beam, one of Vinnie’s two braids [the one above his right ear, as a matter of fact]  whipped up and got tangled on a large protruding spike or nail and jerked Rugan and his helpless cargo to a dead stop…
And the walls.. They came tumbling down.

Reply by Sparrow on July 3, 2012 at 6:37am

Therese thought to herself, ‘what’s the difference between being covered in filth from the lower trenches of the castle and then dying in the collapse of the clock tower, or dying here, covered in yet more filth on this dust covered dust bowel bowl ball of a planet’.
All she wanted at that moment was a warm bath, a hot meal, a clean change of clothes (as she looked down at her tattered, and did I mention filthy, skirt) and a soft, downy bed in which to sle….she was brought back from thought to the current situation by the sound of a dull thud, followed by a groan.
“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” exclaimed the Padre as he thrashed about in the red dust like a tortoise trying to right itself.
This most recent fall and subsequent thrashing nearly threatened to pull everyone over, not unlike what happens to a row of dominoes.
Therese, steadying herself, was tethered next in line behind the Padre.
She reached out a hand to help him up, as he grumbled something about his dignity.
As if all this was not distressing enough, Therese sighed, ‘all we need next are Jawas or sandworms’.
And with that she began reciting under her breath in mantra-like fashion “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when my fear is gone I will turn and face fear’s path, and only I will remain.”
Onward they trudged.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 4, 2012 at 12:10pm

Onboard the QBR: Officer’s Medical Bay
[an indeterminate time later]
Rugan Camizo awoke surrounded by startling, painfully bright white light.
His first thought was,< Great, I’m dead… Not only am I dead, I’m already in The Light… I must have been sleep walking… Do the dead sleep walk? Asleep or not, if I was walking while I was dead.. Oh NO!… That would mean I’m a Zombie!> His stomach turned over in nausea, <What good is dying young if the good looking corpse you leave behind is just going to get up and shamble around until it falls apart…Or worse! Gets its brains blown out by some pistol packing human? >
The very thought of it set his head to pounding fiercely, spikes of pain shooting through his skull with each successive heartbeat, the nausea spiking in time with the pain. <Humans, oh, how I hate them! With their guns… and their breathing… and their ability to speak complex sentences… Smug, egotistical bastards, the lot of them. Why can’t they just leave us alone? If it weren’t for the fact that they had all the Brainzzz…>
As he was contemplating a sufficient demise for his newly acquired enemies, a dark blotch slowly swam into focus above him, <Huh, look at that, I’m lying down…> he thought.
The blotch resolved itself into a human <Brainzzz…> face wearing a top hat, with one Huge eye staring down at him… There was something familiar about the face, but there was something wrong, something nagging at him.
The huge eye slowly moved off the face, seeming to just slide to one side and orbit away, to reveal a normal set of eyes behind round, smoke tinted spectacles, and as the face spoke, recognition hit, and his scrambled thoughts began to realign.
“So, Mr Camizo,” said Professor Pendennis, tucking his magnifying glass back into a vest pocket, “I see you are awake. Nurse, let the…erm, Elf… know that the patient is awake, please. ” The Professor began to ease Rugan up into a sitting position, clucking soothingly as Rugan thrashed weakly on the bed, attempting to make his arms grab the human so he could chow down. He heard footsteps from the area off to the left and vaguely sensed movement, but dinner was right here, so he ignored it for the moment.
“Now, now, don’t upset yourself, my boy.” The professor said, “I’m just trying to help you. Here, See? I brought you a bucket.”
This stopped Rugan’s movements [and his homicidal thoughts] in confusion. “A … B..bu…bucket? What would I need with… A… Urp!!”
Rugan was suddenly and violently sick, which would have been messy for all concerned, save for the stalwart bucket.
“Well, my boy, most people experience nausea and extreme confusion when first waking with a concussion. As you can see, I was fully justified in having it handy.”
Rugan noticed that the surroundings were coming into better focus, the lights in the med bay were less harsh and his thoughts were clearing up as well. <Concussion? Then that means…>
“Wait, so I’m not a Z… that is, I’m not dead?”
The professor stopped in the process of turning back from thrusting the bucket to a mildly disgusted nurse and peered intently at him, then burst out laughing, “No my dear boy. Of course you aren’t dead! What a silly notion. Now, we will leave you to your… visitor.” He chuckled as he shooed the nurse, still holding the bucket at arm’s length, out the door ahead of him, then with a final “Dead.. HA-hahaha….” the door shut behind them, leaving him alone with his nominal boss, “Tony Ears”.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 4, 2012 at 4:00pm

As Rugan looked at the Elf at the foot of his bed, his head cleared just enough to remember the cave in that put him here. With sudden concern, he asked, “How is Mr. Bombadil?”
“Vinnie? Oh, he’s down in his room; he’s got a couple of broken legs, and he’s still a little loopy what with a goose egg the size of a fist on the back of his head,  but he’s going to be OK, tanks to youse. They found the two of youse about tree feet inside’a dat tunnel mouth. Lucky for da boff’a youse, that end wasn’t under too much dirt, seein’ as the land slopes down from da main building to the stream down behind it. Not as much weight as furder back, capiche? Annyways, the boys tell me youse called out dat youse had found a survivor, and headed down to get them. Dey also says dat Vinnie Two Braids followed youse down just before the whole thing came crashin down around youse. When we found youse two, Vinnie was shielded pretty good by your human bulk.”
As Rugan breathed a sigh of relief at this news, and the narrow escape, Tony pulled up a chair, sat down, glanced around as if looking to see if he was being watched and then leaned forward, speaking in a low voice, said, “Now the thing is, I know Two Braids, and he aint the sharpest shiv in the cell block, if you gets what I’m sayin’. So the way I figure it, youse saw the place was preparin’ to do a Walls of Jericho routine, so’s youse grabbed Vinnie and scrammed. That’s the onliest way youse couldda ended up all the way over dere where we found youse. We probably wouldn’t have even looked over dere, except there was dis crazed .. badger, I guess squakin’ up a storm. I guess the cave in filled in its hole. Anyways, when Notch-Ear Charlie walked over to see what the noise was about, he seen one a Two Braids feet sticking out from the dirt.”
The Elf looked uncomfortable for a minute, but as Rugan opened his mouth to reply, Tony held up a hand, then in a choked voice said, “Let me finish… Vinnie, he’s da youngest son of my Uncle Vito, gods rest his larcenous soul, and I promised his mother dat I would take care of him on dis trip; I woulda broke dat promise today, if not for youse. Family is a big thing wit us Elves. Thanks to youse, my family is still whole.. Tony hesitated for a moment, then seemed to come to a decision, because his back straightened as he said, “And now, counting youse, my Family is one stronger. Come on, let’s get outta here, I gots somethin’ to show youse.”
Rugan started to sit up…
Well, when I say started, I really mean he tensed his muscles as if he was going to attempt to sit up, but every muscle in his upper body went into a spasm, some in different directions it seemed, sending blinding, nauseating waves of pain surging through his head once more. He slumped back with a hiss of agony.
Tony Ears looked at him blankly, then slapped himself on the head, reached into the bag on his belt and pulled out a small, leather wrapped bottle, with some form of yellow glowing liquid inside, and said, “Jeez, I’m sorry…how could I be so stupid? Here, drink dis… its an Elven healing potion, powerful magic. Notch-Ear Charlie brews it down in a corner of da boiler room. It’ll fix whatever ails ya.  Not too much, now! We don’t want youse sprouting pointy ears over here, heh.”
He slowly poured a few drops into Rugan’s mouth.
If spring could be distilled, if the optimism of a world waking up and coming out from under the oppressive ice shroud of winter,  all the new growth, the new life, the crisp clean air and the hope of a new year ahead could be put in a bottle.. Well that would be the dollar store, made in Taiwan generic knock off of the Ambrosial fluid Rugan was given.
As the powerful elixir coursed through his body, his concussion was instantly healed, the scrapes, bruises and cuts he had sustained in the cave in were gone, his eyesight improved, a tooth he had broken off in a training accident years ago regrew, his crooked nose, product of a poorly set break after a barroom brawl straightened and smoothed out…and a tingling on his hand made him look just in time to see the scar from an old wart removal disappear and become smooth healthy skin…
[Good stuff, that Elven Healing potion.]
With the pain gone and his thoughts cleared, an earlier sense of wrongness intruded once more, and then as the memory fully returned, he sat up in the bed and exclaimed, “Fekajo!” Oddly, Rugan knew this meant ‘excrement’ in Elven, a language he had never studied, “We have to go see the Captain… We have a spy aboard!”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 5, 2012 at 12:09am

After a long off-screen explanation :
“…and That’s how I know there’s a spy. ” Rugan said in conclusion,  “NOW can we go see the Captain?”
“Hang on now, let me get dis straight,” said Tony Ears,  “Youse heard a voice coming from a ‘Magic Doorway’…”
“Yes.”
“…Dat claimed to be a super advanced extra dimensional being,”
“…Right.”
“Who told youse he was living inside a talking wombat…”
“Monkey- Bat.”
“Right, a Monkey bat… named Mo-Mo, who then put movies in your head telling youse, among other things, that there is a spy on dis ship, but not who it is?? And youse Only remember it now that your incapacitating head injury is healed?!?”
“Well,” Rugan replied quietly with an uncomfortable look, “when you say it like that, it sounds stupid.”
“Tell youse what,” Tony said as he sat down in the chair again, back straight and in an attentive pose, “why don’t youse try to say it so it Don’t sound stoopid… Go ahead, I’ll wait.”
[Thirty very quiet seconds later…]
“OK, I admit it, it’s outlandish… But then I am standing in an inter-dimensional Airship, fugitive from an outbreak of carnivorous bread on my own planet, talking to an Elf Security guard with ties to the… ‘Export business’.”
The elf in question acknowledged the point with an eloquent shrug and said, “Whaddaya gonna do?’
Then, “Look, kid. It’s not that I don’t believe youse are being straight with me… It’s that I don’t think youse really can trust memories gained while under a pile of masonry that collapsed on your head. If we go blabbing this story to the Captain, youse will end up back in here, but with nice rubber bracelets to keep youse in the bed. It would help if the Bager…”
“Monkey-Bat!”
“Right… Monkey-Bat. If it was here to speak for itself, youse would look a bit more, well… Sane. But it ain’t, In fact the only one who even saw an animal today was Notch Ear Charlie.”
Rugan had been pacing and concentrating, trying to remember something that the Engineer had said, something about convincing his “Boss”… What was it? Oh!
“Kanto something…No, Koto Edro.”
Elves are fast.
Rugan had seen them move so quickly on the combat mats in the gym that they seemed to almost teleport from one place to another. When they held competitons in piedo lukto [the Elven martial art], only other Elves could judge them, as human eyes simply could not follow the moves in real time.
When Rugan uttered those alien syllables, Tony Ears moved faster than anything the startled human had, well…never seen. For a split second, he could swear there were two Tony’s in the room, one still sitting in the chair, smiling…
And this new one, who had him shoved against the wall before he could blink.
“Where.Did.Youse.Hear.That.Name?” This was a terrifying, menacing creature in front of him, one that seemed on the edge of complete loss of control.
Rugan knew when he had proven his point, so with as little terror as possible in his voice, he replied, “I was told to say the phrase, with no explanation, in a movie in my head… Put there by a talking badger.”
There was a tense pause as Tony processed the implications of this statement; then his grip relaxed and he corrected Rugan absently, with a thoughtful expression, “… Monkey-Bat.”
Tony stepped back, smoothed the lapels of Rugan’s Marine jacket out where he had bunched it up in his fists, then with at flick to one of the decorative gold fasteners sewed in a row down the front of it said, “OK, Buttons. Fair enough, I believe youse now. Let’s go see the Captain.”

Reply by Sparrow on July 5, 2012 at 7:38am

She pushed her way through the crowded streets of the sordid underbelly on this backwater planet….this ’contaminated bilge-water of a planet, they defile and pollute everything they touch these egotistical ‘fleshers’ and their kind, of which I am now one’, she thought with contempt.
The thought caused an unpleasant feeling inside her ‘body’, as she continued to learn just how responsive it was to external, as well as internal, stimuli.
Just having erased the memory of what might have been a way off this rock, all Uffern broke loose.
And the fireworks began.
Photon blasts, the sound of pulse weapons being fired, debris spewed everywhere (along with a few arms, legs, various other ‘flesh’ parts mingled with scraps of metal), crying and screaming…..’male fleshers and their war balls…..yep, pretty much the same old same old’, Ysbryd thought to herself as another burst, this one having a strange golden glow, threw her up against a wall, temporarily rendering her both blind and deaf.
As her vision began to return, she saw she was no longer on planet.
She still could only ‘hear’ a loud ringing in her auditory system.
Damnedigaeth! she hated this organic containment unit she was forced to ‘wear’.
All she could rationalize, as she looked about the chamber she now found herself in, was that some anomaly had caused a glitch in amser/gofod (time/space for ‘fleshers’) and relocated her here.
But where, exactly, was ‘here’….”Where, in the name of the creators, am I now!?!” Ysbryd thought aloud.
While trying to assess her situation, a small, white, pudgy, not quite ‘flesh’ but in their image, approached her.
As this unknown life-form came nearer, Ysbryd first attempted to ‘read’, telepathically, whatever it was advancing towards her, but all she could gather was something to do with ‘revenge’ and a ‘queen’ then some random poetics concerning ‘ lovin’ and ‘somethin’ from the oven!’
Having learned not to trust the majority of ‘fleshers’ and most all their specie-types, Ysbryd’s next response was automatic.
As it toddled within arms reach, she thrust her slightly curled fist (in a technique she learned from a ‘friendly’ Alturian) into it’s mid-section, only instead of causing this abomination to crumble and fall writhing in pain, it merely let out a sound that seemed almost what the ‘fleshers’ called a ‘giggle’.
This perplexed her even more, and as she withdrew, backing away from this ‘ffieiddbeth’, a door across the room slid open with a ‘whoosh’ and her next adversary entered the room.
She immediately began ‘reading’ this arrogant Strider…‘a male of the species…he refers to himself as a Valinorian …his name, Elrondo ‘fats’ Ronzoni….and she got the distinct impression that he liked, no, had a passion for something called ‘pasta’. Perhaps it was his god?’
“ ‘ey, youse! Where’d youse come from?” he gesticulated.
Ysbryd did not respond. Not only had the cartliged ‘auditory equipment’ on the sides of her head not returned to normal, but before she could gather more information through telesthesia, a block went up as if he, or something, knew what she was doing and she was unable to penetrate it.
“Whatsa’ matta’ youse? No capiche?”
This went on for several minutes, his hands gyrating in the air as his lips moved a mile a minute.
‘That’s it’ Ysbryd thought ‘just a little closer now’…..
Elrondo was now what they called ‘all up in your face’, as she preformed the same tactical move on this bag of dung as she did on the smaller one, but this time it carried home the proper reaction.
On contact, this ‘Elrondo’ buckled to the floor, holding his stomach and groaning, Ysbryd dashed out the still open door and sped down a corridor.

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 5, 2012 at 2:07pm

Back on his feet, the Padre felt the line tug again and then go slack. He pulled on the line only to see the end lying in the red dust at his feet. The Padre picked up the end of the line (literally), and looked at it dumbfoundedly, it had been cut. Gronkit who had been last man, er, goblin on the line after Therese chose that moment to wander up, curious as to what the hold up was – “if we’re taking a break and there are snack packets on the go – don’t forget Gronkit . . .”
Before the chaplain could respond, XO Ezra Yesterday suddenly appeared, running towards them as fast as his legs could carry him, shouting one word – “RUN”!
Gronkit, true to his species, needed no further encouragement, he turned tail and was gone in a cloud of red dust. Before Therese and the Padre could react a bellowing roar erupted from the direction the party had been headed and a large six legged, lizard like creature with fangs the size of steak knives burst out of the gloom of the swirling dust storm, hot on the heels of the XO.
Therese tugged on the Padre’s arm and they ran after the goblinoid figure quickly disappearing into the obscuring, blowing sand. XO Yesterday caught up with Therese and Padre Grey, the three of them running abreast – “really Ezra? For the love of all that is holy – a giant freaking lizard? Was that entirely necessary!” the Padre managed to croak as the three of them ran for their lives.
Just as the Padre started to imagine he could feel sulfurous smelling, hot, giant lizard breath on the back of his neck, the sand beneath their running feet started to shift and move and then give way, revealing a deep crevice underneath them. Gronkit had disappeared from sight, presumably light enough to make it over before the sand gave way. Ezra, Therese and the Padre on the other hand were carried by the force of their momentum in a downward arc across the crevice slamming them into the opposite wall on the other side. As they scrabbled for purchase on the cliff face, the giant lizard quickly backpedaled attempting to stop itself before it reached the edge, but to no avail. It slid out and over the crevice and then plummeted down with a bellowing shriek.
The Padre held onto what little purchase he could before his strength finally gave out, and then in what seemed to him slow motion, his hands slipped loose and he toppled over backwards into the crevice in the direction the giant lizard had gone . . .

Reply by Ronin on July 5, 2012 at 6:19pm

*cough*    *gag*   *cough*
“sure doesnt taste like a clocktower” Ronin thought to himself, spitting and coughing out the gritty bits of…”sand? is this sand?” he said aloud, the dust choking his throat nearly closed, feeling more like large stones between his teeth.
“great gravy…what have they gotten me into now?” he wheezed still coughing great clouds of dust and debris from his lungs.
Ronin’s eyes creeped open against the blowing red sand he found himself laying face down in.  buried near completely from his nose to his boots, the dry, reddish sand, heavy against him fell away cleanly as he attempted to sit up.  the dry miniature shards of stone winding their way into every crack and crevice of his being.
rubbing his eyes and shaking like a soaked dog just in from a swim, he tossed his head back and was met with a loud ‘clank!’ as his head hit a set of large ornate metallic gates just behind him.
no walls.  no building.  no….anything.  just these…oddly demonic looking gates sitting in the middle of a landscape that was as uninviting as anything he’d ever laid eyes on, or had ever hoped to.
still holding his now pounding skull and digging the dirt from his ears, he turned and surveyed the horizon best he could through the blowing sand and billows of dust, odd rock faces and…great vast nothings.
“yeah…Im dead” he grunted.  “guess this is where folk like me end up.” he quipped aloud, finally finding his feet.
an odd sense of calm overtook him as he looked around his new eternal home  “strange.  I always pictured it…hotter”

Reply by Ronin on July 6, 2012 at 12:16am

Ronin pushed and pulled the door a bit, walked around the back of it, tapped here, tapped there.
“nothing” he grumbled.
he knocked hard on the outter shell of the front door.
“hello!” he bellowed, “I think theres been some sort of mistake!” now pounding with all his might until his fists were sore.  the doors might as well have been a stone monolith.  he pressed his ear hard against it to see if anything could be heard from the other side…wherever that might be.
“still nothing”
he signed deeply, resigning himself to being here for awhile.  peering out across the landscape, he could see what appeared to be rapidly fading tracks headed out from the door and quickly disappearing in the constant wind blowing the dust
pulling a kerchief from his coat pocket, he tied it around his face and headed quickly out after the tracks before the winds and blowing sand obliterated them completely, hoping to at least find something or someone besides himself in the desolation.
partched, tired, his head and hands throbbing from beating on the metal doors and as far as he thought…dead, he figured “what the hell…Im already dead.  whatever it is really cant hurt me now, can it?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 6, 2012 at 2:53pm

Therese only had time to gasp in shock as the Padre fell backwards off of the cliff wall before the line connecting her to the chaplain went taut and yanked her off her perch, pulling her shrieking into the depths after him.
“NOOOOOO!” yelled XO Ezra Yesterday, with his one good hand futilely stretched out in their direction, as his two erstwhile companions plunged from sight. His cry was cut short by the approaching sound of screeching from above as the long line attaching the little goblinoid Gronkit to the Lady Therese pulled Gronkit violently out of whatever hidey hole he had found, back to and over the edge of the crevice. Ezra looked up just in time to get a face full of flailing goblin which as chance would have it, knocked the XO off the cliff face as well.
As the four of them plunged to certain death, the chaplain found himself wondering ever so briefly why it was Ezra got to see his life flashing before his eyes under such circumstances, while all the chaplain seemed to get as the cliff walls sped by, was a crash course introduction to geological stratification.
Before the Padre could finish that thought, the four companions smacked in rapid succession into something warm and relatively springy, at least marginally more springy than the crevice floor.
The four of them dazed, groaning and slightly concussed, shakily climbed to their feet and checked for any permanent damage, thanking their lucky stars that they were still alive. Unfortunately, what was lucky for them wasn’t so lucky for the giant lizard, who only minutes before had been thinking he might just pull through despite the six story fall he had just experienced. That is, he thought he might pull through right up until the moment four humanoids used him as a giant lizard shaped, foam mattress, crushing his ribcage and bursting internal . . . well, you get the point.
The party staggered away from the recently deceased lizard and surveyed their surroundings. They found themselves sandwiched in between two sheer cliff walls on what appeared to be a sliver of flat ground, perhaps a stream bed or the like, running between them. The narrow gap was far enough below the surface to offer some relative protection from the sandstorm up above.
“Now what?” the Padre asked, “there’s no way we can climb back up those cliffs. Which, it must be remarked, display some really picturesque examples of igneous layering. Presuming of course you’re into that sort of thing.”
“Wait! There’s a tunnel entrance up ahead, maybe it’s a way back to the surface!” exclaimed Therese.
“No chance,” Ezra retorted, “73 actuaries threatening to read risk analysis tables from the last 50 years, couldn’t force me in there. I’ve had enough tunnels and caves to last me a lifetime. In my experience there’s usually something or other waiting to do something nasty to you in tunnels and caves. What? It’s true, stop staring at me like I’m unhinged. Because I’m not. At all.”
The Padre shook his head ever so slightly and said “right, then there’s nothing for it but to head off along the stream bed and hope it opens up further along.”
The others grudgingly agreed and the four of them headed down the path away from the remains of the giant lizard . . .

Reply by Ronin on July 7, 2012 at 2:34pm

the tracks in the sand had long since vanished in the windstorm, now increasing in its anger and aparrent determination to sand the entire landscape clean of anything taller than an inch.  the blowing sand that had been mercilessly stinging every square inch of his being was now a cascade of bullet sized stones beating his already raw skin and shredded clothing flying past in a horizontal rain.
the gusting blasts from the horizon, knocking Ronin from his feet, tossed him along the ground like a tumbleweed.  arms and legs flailing in an effort to find some sort of purchase to cease his flight along the ground.  the howling windsong now nearly operatic in its tone and tune, echoing in his ears, beckoning him to surrender himself to the inevitable.
as he bounced and bounded across the landscape the sudden feeling of weightlessness gripped him, the singsong of the windborn fury now falling away.
‘well, if I wasnt dead before, Im sure of it now’ flashed in his mind as the floating sensation became one of falling endlessly.  falling…falling…endlessly fall…
*Thud!*
‘ow….what the…’
laying flat on his back, Ronin realized he had come to an abrupt stop.  a foul smelling goo enveloped him as he lay staring up at a distant stripe of light beaming down.  clouds of reddish haze flashed in the distant light dancing to the tune of the now far away storm from well above him.
Ronin stuggled to extract himself from this vile soup he now found himself surrounded by, slipping and fighting to pull himself up, the choking stench filling his head with revulsion.
grasping what felt to be the thick branch of a tree, he leveraged himself up and out of the quicksand of putrid muck to find he’d landed on some sort of large reptile, bursting its innards across the ground on impact. the thick branch he found himself grasping, the fractured bone in one of its many legs.
Ronin felt ill at the thought and yet a feeling of ‘better you than me pal’ filled him as he staggered away from the beasts corpse, collapsing on the most comfortable rock he’d ever felt, passing out cold in its cool, welcome caress.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 7, 2012 at 2:39pm

Mo-Mo crept through the air ducts of the QBR silently.
His task on the planet below complete, he was now skulking around trying to find the human, Rugan, that he had been told to help. As he paused at a junction he caused a small pile up of other monkey-bats behind him. He spun and hissed quietly in irritation, causing the long column behind him to scatter in confusion.
The “BIG VOICE” had sent him on a vital mission, one partof which was to gather a large group of volunteers from his species to come and aid the “SKY HOUSE PEOPLE” fight the “CRAZY”.
[Mo-Mo, while very intelligent for his race, was rather limited in vocabulary, so I will take over the narrative from here. Suffice it to say, the flight to the deep woods home of his clan, the subsequent tribal council, ceremonial preparations for leave-taking and the less formal farewell party, as well as the trek back and successful infiltration of the last shuttle back to the QBR would become the stuff of legend among the monkey-bat community for generations to come, but since it would take hours to relate and has no real bearing on our main story, I’ll skip that bit… Maybe I’ll add it as an Appendix at the end of the book.]
The thing was, the volunteers in question being the strong, independent types that tended to volunteer for this sort of thing were rather bad at taking orders; so him telling them to stay in the nice, well hidden air shaft near the hangar bay was ignored with extreme prejudice.
On the other paw, since none of the recruits had ever been inside a human house, much less something as big and complex as the QBR, they were understandably out of their element, so they stayed as close as possible to their experienced guide, Mo-Mo… All of which he understood, in his own way, but whatever the reasons, having his tail stepped on still pissed him off.
Once the group behind him settled down, he turned and looked back through the grating at the corridor below him. He had stopped because something had his whiskers tingling, something besides the strange, white, delicious smelling  creature walking there, but he couldn’t quite…
His thought was interrupted by an extremely familiar golden flash…
[The same color and feel as what enveloped him at the start of his new “BIG VOICE” mission]
…And suddenly, as quickly as one mystery was solved, a new one appeared, in the form of a new figure, one that hadn’t been there a moment before, standing dazedly against the wall in the corridor.
It shook it’s head, stepped forward and punched the buttery smelling walking pastry in the midriff, which elicited an odd, happy sound from its recipient.
Mo-Mo blinked in confusion; He would never understand the dirt walkers and their bizarre and apparently random mating rituals.
As another suitor entered the corridor, Mo-Mo shrugged and turned from the grate; The Rugan was not here, time to move on.

Reply by Sparrow on July 7, 2012 at 4:18pm

Ysbryd moved cautiously along the corridor, every now and again pausing and closing her organic ocular shields in an attempt to ‘sense’ anyone nearby or approaching, but it was to no avail.
All was silent.
There was, indeed, some form of energy blocking her abilities.
Even her telekinetic talents were made unavailable, thus the need for a more physical form of defense, as she carried no tactical weapons.
Aware that she was aboard some sort of archaic vessel, there were nonetheless signs it may be space worthy.
‘Should be a hangar bay with at least some sort of conveyance off this flying chum bucket excuse for a ship (and she used the term loosely)’ she thought.  She had to locate it.
Continuing along, the tension began to build and Ysbryd became even more alert, her breath catching at every audible sound causing her to momentarily freeze before moving forward again.
She could feel the cardiac muscle within her chest pumping ever faster.
If not for the irritating cloth ‘coverings’ certain cultural standards required her to wear (which she disliked immeasurably, both the standards and the cloth-ing), her stress would be clearly seen through the transparency of her upper torso’s skin.
This sack of carbon based organic matter was poorly designed, weak and leaky. She could never understand how the fleshers and their kind dealt with it!
‘Intruder Alert’ was being voiced over the intercom system as an alarm shrilly sounded throughout the ship,
They were on to her.
Moving faster now, she glanced back over her shoulder to assure no one was following and as she did, ran directly into yet another member of this ship’s crew.
Since all of her afore mentioned psionics were useless, she once again attempted to strike with her fist, this newcomer.
As she drew back and was about to make contact, he countered, grabbed her wrist, spun her round to face him as she tried to bolt away and held her in an incapacitating vice-like grip.
“If you struggle” he breathed softly but sternly into one of her auditory canals “I will be forced to hurt you”.
Ysbryd knew by the tone of his voice that he meant it.
“Now” he continued, his voice still commanding, “you have two choices, you can either come with me quietly under your own volition, or I will carry your unconscious body to the brig.”
“What’ll it be?”
Ysbryd narrowed her grey eyes in contempt as she visually took in all she could of what held her captive.
From what she could discern of his outer appearance, this was the most incredibly perfect example of a male human flesher that she had ever come in contact with, she thought to herself.  In fact, perhaps, a little too perfect.
Ysbryd stared at him defiantly as she quickly contemplated what would be her next move.
“I’ll come quietly” was all she said.

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 7, 2012 at 4:35pm

Meanwhile back on the QBR . . .
Captain Forlath Grey, of the “QBR Cake Eater”, sat at his desk massaging his temples with his eyes closed. Corporal Chemisesrouges had just been to the Captain’s office to report that no survivors had been found down in the wreckage of the Furchtenberg town hall and clock tower, and despite nearly 48 hours extensive search neither had any bodies been recovered.
Corporal Chemisesrouges asked permission to call off the search and the Captain had wearily granted it. The Corporal had started to offer his condolences but Captain Grey waved him off. The corporal saluted sharply, about faced and exited the Captain’s In-port Cabin, raising his eyebrows in a meaningful way at those present in the Operations Room.
The Captain dropped his hands, sighed deeply and stood up from his desk. As he began to pace the length of his office, he contemplated the ramifications of the last 72 hours. It was of course an almost absurd statement of the obvious to observe that strange happenings were afoot when one considered all the crew of the QBR had been through the last few months. In spite of that, something tickled in a tantalizing fashion just at the edge of the Captain’s consciousness, something just beyond his grasp, a thought, a notion that there were greater powers involved, greater stakes on the table, a vague suspicion that they were just pawns in somebody else’s game . . .
But further contemplation along those lines would have to wait. The fact that no bodies had been found was clear proof to Captain Forlath Grey that his crew mates were no longer on this planet or potentially even in this dimension. It was time to turn this air ship about and locate his crew. The Captain headed towards the door, hopefully 72 hours was sufficient prep time for another jump, but before the Captain reached the door, he stopped short and cocked an ear in direction of the ductwork overhead . . . the Captain continued on his way, shaking his head – great, as if all that was not enough it sounded like they had picked up an infestation of vermin in the venting as well . . .

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 7, 2012 at 9:55pm

Ezra Yesterday stumbled as his foot caught on a large rock hidden in a seemingly harmless pile of red dust. His wind-milling arms startled Chi-Chi off his shoulder and into flight as he desperately and futilely attempted to remain on his feet. As the rest of the tired band stumbled to a halt and stood watching, he tilted slowly backwards, managed to keep from falling back by a convulsive forward bend at the waist, which tilted him forward, where he finally overbalanced and pitched face first into the shallow, nearly dry stream bed with a muddy splat.
No one moved for several seconds. The bubbles that slowly formed in the mud on each side of his head spurred the Chaplain to exhausted action, convinced that something was actually wrong with the XO. He shambled forward and pulled Ezra’s head from the mud by his hair and asked, “Are you all right, my son?”
Ezra coughed, then mumbled around a mouthful of foul tasting red alien mud, getting louder as he progressed, “No, Padre, I am most definitely Not ‘all right’. I have been turned into a living mummy, chased off my home dimension by carnivorous bread, watched an acquaintance with a funny name torn apart by carnivorous cotton candy, blown up, dimensionally relocated… without my consent, mind you!… Then frozen to the top of a giant tree, had the tree cut down while I was still In IT!…Had my hand chopped off by a mad robot, been rebuilt by a being of nearly godlike technological power for its own unfathomable reasons, lost ½ my mustache and had it replaced by an experimental living ‘mustache like’ being. Not to mention dunked, doused and splashed at nearly every turn by/ into every imaginable sort of muck known to man. Then I was once more forcibly ejected from yet another dimension through some truly, Biblically horrible looking gates, only to land here, the Desert of the Giant Mutant Spider-Lizards… Just let me die. Let me die and carve me a tombstone that says something witty and sums up my life perfectly… I have it!
‘Here Lies Ezra, He died as only he could…Drowned in the middle of a desert’.”
He paused, as if contemplating his long angry rant, then rolled over onto his back and began wiping the mud from his eyes and face while in a calmer, more formal voice he said, “Chaplain Grey, please forgive my outburst, none of that frustration is aimed at you… And, before you ask: Now that I have that out of my system, No, I don’t really want to die.”
He sat up and a sudden grin split his face, “But you know, hearing it out loud and listed out like that just now, you have to admit…  and, Padre, you should excuse the expression…. it really has been one HELL of a week.”

Reply by Sparrow on July 8, 2012 at 9:30am

After he released his grip on her, Ysbryd took a step back, considered running again, realized it would be futile, so just awaited the next move of whatever fates had brought her here.
As if from out of nowhere, two of the same species as ‘Elrondo’, appeared standing beside her, one grasped her left wrist, the other her right.
She cast a beleaguered look at her original captor as she tried to jerk her arms free.
He held up his hand in a halting gesture “that will not be necessary” he ordered, and she was again released.
“She said she would come quietly” he added, scanning Ysbryd’s face as he arched the hairs above his left orbital socket in an expected affirmation.
Ysbryd nodded “you have my word” she replied.
At that moment a rather round, short, humanoid flesher came trotting up.
It was obvious he had been trying to keep pace with the two that stood beside her.
He saluted her captor.
“Bosun Higgs, sir. I am here to escort the prisoner to the brig to await further questioning” he panted, short of not only stature but breath.
“Captain’s orders, Rugan” he added as an afterthought.
“Very well” Rugan said. She now had her captors name. It made her ‘readings’ so much easier when she did, that is if she ever regained use of them.
Rugan leaned in, his head now next to hers and whispered “you would do well to stand by your word. These beings are not as gentle as I” and as he slowly withdrew and they were now face to face, he smiled.
For the briefest of moments Ysbryd saw a less perfect translucent mask of the same face form, covering his own. This one with a slightly crooked nose and as the undersmile became a tooth-bared grin, a broken off incisor.
It quickly vanished and the handsome, at least by ‘their’ standards, face returned.
“Take her away” he said.
As Ysbryd kept pace with the two guards, although moving quite slowly behind Bosun Higgs, she glanced back over her shoulder to see Rugan still standing where they had left him, intently watching them leave.

Reply by Sparrow on July 8, 2012 at 3:15pm

A most vile smell came wafting along the chasm as they all watched XO Ezra flailing, then falling on his face and airing his grief. And by that I mean complaining.
Not that he did not have reason.
He seemed always to incur the worst of whatever was thrown at their motley crew.
Therese walked over to him and wiped some more mud and sand onto his face, when actually trying to remove it with what was left of the hem of her skirt.
Not the section with Gronkit snot, she made sure of that.
“It’s not so bad” she cooed, “at least we are all together now”, then repeated quietly, in almost a whisper “all together now” and even more softly “almost.”
Then lookng down at the still seated XO, “I’m glad you changed your mind about dying, Ezra” she said earnestly, followed by “and I don’t ever want to hear you say that again!” she scolded “for what would we ever do without you.”
Brought back to the present situation….
“What is that ungodly pong?” she gagged as she pulled her collar up over her nose, followed by
“I wonder what happened to the others?” her voice being muffled through the cloth that now covered it, as well. (Her mind had a tendency to wander from one subject to the next and then back .)
No one was responding so she posed the question again.
“I said (emphasizing the ‘said’), I wonder what happened to the others” then adding “you dddon’t sssuppose” she stuttered, her eyes widening at the thought “that thing (POINTING towards from whence they had come) got them, do you?” tears beginning to well.
“What in heaven’s name are your babbling about now” the Chaplain sighed, weary with the weight of the last several days.
“Pfft” Therese thought “at least he had showered recently”.
And with that she made a face and stuck out her tongue at him, her collar thankfully obscuring it.
Wiping a sandy sleeve across her sand encrusted eyes and squinting towards their previous landing pad, the collar slipped down off her nose and mouth, exposing her still outstretched tongue.
The Chaplain, having taken notice said “You best pull that back in before you bite it off” then chuckled to himself and thought ‘that might not be such a bad idea’.
Therese ignored him and turned to XO Ezra “duh yo thee”, then realizing her tongue was still out, retracted it and restated the obvious. She seemed to be a master at that, stating the obvious.
“Do you see that?” speaking clearly now, while still pointing.
“There, by the tyrannosaurus wreck?”
Sure enough, something was moving towards them.
As it neared, Therese clapped her hands and gleefully jumped up and down.
“We’re almost all back together” she said as the now recognized Ronin grew nearer.
Then touching the flask in her pocket, a dark cloud passed over her dirty, sun-burned face.
But, having a rather short attention span, she immediately focused her attention on Ronin.
“Ewww, Ronin” she blurted out, “you smell of guts and poo!”
“What?” he replied “you never smelled sun-bloated roasted lizard innards before?” then laughed.
“So, where do we go from here?” was his next question.
“Well, we need to find some clean water, food and some place safe to rest until evening. That is, if this accursed planet even has an evening or is just one continuous sunny day” Chaplain Grey said with disdain.
“Can’t we rest here in the shade of the cliffs for just a little?” Therese now pleaded, looking at her companions with the saddest, most soulful eyes she could muster.
“Oh, very well then” the Chaplain conceded.
Therese went over and plopped herself down next to Gronkit, who was busying himself digging in a dry section of the sandy streambed with a stick.
Therese picked up one as well, and started doing the same.
As she did so, she turned to Gronkit and asked “What are we doing?”
All he said was “clean water” as a small amount of clear liquid trickled up then grew into a gushing geyser.

Reply by Ronin on July 9, 2012 at 1:30am

Ronin saw the water rising up from the ground and dashed over to it, crouching next to the flow, scrubbing the muck from his face as quickly as he could splash it against himself, his skin still stinging deeply from the thousands of small cuts from the blowing sand, dirt and the numerous cuts and scrapes from being bounced across the desert floor like a straw hat in a hurricane.  he gasped and cheered as the cool liquid ran a half dozen shades of green and brown across the ground as the lizard remains began to fall away.  he couldnt get this beastly slime off himself fast enough to suit him, peeling layers of the thick sickening paste from himself like a snake shedding its skin.
“that….was vile” he puffed, flopping down on his backside in the mud as he watched the last of the sludge wash away, his head hanging between his knees, breathing as if he’d been running for miles.
finally raising his head, he looked around at the rest of the group who were now standing, staring at him as if they were seeing a ghost, the Chaplains mouth hanging slightly open, his eyes wide.

“what?” Ronin sputtered between his heaving breaths, as he noticed Ezra biting his lip in what appeared to be a barely surpressed laugh.
cutting his eyes over to Therese, whose hands were cupped over her open mouth aghast, her eyes wide as saucers, she pointed back to him, straining to speak, when the slightest sound managed past her lips…
“youre……green!”

Reply by Ronin on July 9, 2012 at 3:41pm

green…
seriously? green?

I look terrible in green.   but this wasnt just green.  this wasnt a nice forest or well kept lawn green or a grand noble royal uniform green.  it wasnt even that awful olive green the yanks were using in their uniforms now.  this was…nearly glowing, bright, offensive, deafening green.  a green that could be seen in the darkest night from a mile away. a green that shouts out loud like a drunken bar patron and stings the retina on contact.
greeeeeeeen!

the ‘thud’ of Ronins mouth dropping to the ground could be heard yards away as he looked down at himself in momentary stunned silence.

“wh….wha……whu…I…whe.” came stuttering from his panicked, breathless lips, his eyes flying from one part of himself to another, his hands scrubbing hard against his skin trying to remove his newly found shamrock hued exterior.

he lept back to the still flowing water, splashing and scrubbing frantically, tearing the remants from his torn shirt and trying desperately from head to toe to at least wipe and sand a small bit of the stain from his skin.  scrubbing handfuls of mud against himself, then rinsing away to see that not a single bit of the dyed flesh surrendered to his efforts.

suddenly stopping, a terrified look gripping his face..Ronin pulled the waistband of his tattered trousers forward and peeked down at its contents.   his arms dropped to his side as if he’d been shot dead.  defeated.  utterly
‘noo….no…  not that too….it cant be’ could be heard wimpering from him as he slumped over, face first into the mud.
Ezra’s control finally slipped from his tightly bitten lip at the sight of Ronin’s sudden surrendering posture.   any thought of compassion or decorum was gone.  “its alright lad.  its actually a nice …green” was the best he could muster between bouts of outright laughter.

Therese slapped Ezra on the arm, cutting him a daggers look causing Ez to go back to biting his lip and turning away.  Stepping to Ronins side, she knelt down and whispered “um…does it..hurt?”

swallowing deeply and sitting up.  Ronin did his best to gather his composure.  with a deep breath he looked over to Therese and grumbled “only my eyes”.

Reply by Sparrow on July 9, 2012 at 6:09pm

‘Maybe it’s a good omen!” Therese chirped, trying to make this appear a positive attribute just in case it proved permanent, “and besides,” she took Ronin’s hand in hers and started to sing softly “green’s the colour of Spring, and green can be cool and friendly-like, and green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree….”
She finished by humming the rest, the ending stanza perhaps sounding less positive, when an idea popped into her head.
“Why not try lying down over there” as she pointed “on that patch of red sand (as if they were not surrounded by enough of it.)
“Maybe you’ll change to a different colour, you know, like a chamaeleon and you will be able to blend in with your surroundings?”
A large grin spread across her face as she beamed with satisfaction at her brilliant thought…..at least she thought it brilliant.
They all just looked at her and shook their heads.
“You are all a bunch of negative nancy pants” she grumbled “it’s possible!”
“Something good will come of this, I am certain of it! You just wait and see!”
she stated most affirmatively with an over gestured nod.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 9, 2012 at 7:10pm

Ezra, seeing that this was not having the desired effect, said”Ok, Ronin, please stop scowling like that, it makes the wrinkles in your head a.. deeper… green and…’
His eyes narrowed as his voice trailed off, then sprung open in sudden amazement.”Jumping Jehoshaphat, I just realized who you remind me of,.. Yoda!!” He turned to the rest, transported for a moment in genuine, boyish Geekiness, “See? Am I right Padre?.. I mean, of Course he would need some makeup to lighten the horrid green-ness, and some fake ears to complete the costume, but with those deep frown lines,…Look! They’re getting even deeper!… and… and he….” At last seeing and understanding the vigorous head shaking the Cleric, Therese and even Gronkit had been sending his way for the last several sentences, his enthusiastic babble came to an uncomfortable and uneven halt.
He grinned sheepishly, then said in a more controlled voice, “Sorry, man. Look, what I MEANT to say was, I think Therese really is trying to help, and she could be right, this could work to our advantage… somehow. But, cheer up man! If it turns out we’re wrong,’ He is interrupted by low muttering, that sounds suspiciously like “What are the odds”, followed by “Oof!” coming from Gronkit  as the Padre “accidentally” knees him in the stomach to shut him up.
“Ahem!,” Ezra said, trying to finish his thought “I say, IF it turns out she’s wrong, I promise.. the next chance we get, I’ll find you a nice Polar Bear to dive into, that should bleach you out nicely.”

Reply by Ronin on July 9, 2012 at 7:51pm

Ronin sat back on his heels and placed his hand on Therese’s hand, still sitting on his shoulder in a comforting gesture.
raising a brow a bit and looking over at Ezra and the Chaplain he muttered “yoda huh….” he chuckled a bit and gathered himself to standing.
“it could be worse…right?” he said with a deep, resigned sigh
“sure” and “yeah” and various somewhat unconvincing nods came from the group as he stood, wiping the mud from his face and hands, washing the rest from himself and straightening the tattered remains of his clothing.
standing as dignified and erect as he could, and clearing his throat after leaning down to drink a bit of the water, he noticed that the water spout was flowing even faster than before and that the water was beginning to pool along the ground where they were standing.  most or all of the group was now standing in an inch or two of water with Gronkit happily splashing and stomping about in the mud, giggling like a child.
“um.  we should probably not remain here for long.  I have a feeling theres no shutoff for this faucet and Im frankly not all that strong a swimmer.”  he said, gesturing towards one end of the ravine.
“had you folks an idea of a direction to head in?  we seem a bit limited in our choices” he said, peering up the sheer rock face above them.
no sooner had the sentence cleared the air, without so much as a grunt or ‘follow me chaps’ Gronkit took off towards one end of the ravine at a full run.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 10, 2012 at 9:02am

Main Corridor, Level A, Outside the Officers medical bay, Onboard the QBR
Rugan stood looking down the corridor after the intruder, wondering at this newest twist in an already really weird day. How a complete stranger had managed to penetrate this deeply into the ship was yet another mystery… but one that could wait, for now.
He heard a soft footfall and turned to see ”Tony Ears” gliding up behind him, a fact that surprised him nearly as much as the translucent skinned intruder. The elves had a disquieting habit of appearing as if transported from another realm. They found the effect of this on unaware humans frankly hilarious, and did so at every opportunity; Guidolas had been attempting to do so just now, as evidenced by the slight, disappointed droop of his shoulders as Rugan turned to face him.
Masking his disappointment fairly well, the Elf gestured up the corridor behind himself and said, “Da Captain is headed to da Engineering deck, he should be here momentarily,” he paused, and with a slight sideways tilt of his head but without turning added, “Here he comes now.”
Captain Forlath Grey rounded the corner of the passage to see his Elven security consultant, Guidolas “Tony Ears” Lllianaro and Rugan Camizo, the marine wounded early in the rescue mission on the planet, standing as if waiting for him. This tableau disturbed him for several reasons:
He had told no one that he was leaving his In-port cabin off of Operations, nor had he said where he was going. While the Captain in him appreciated a strong, capable and resourceful security team, the man in him was, understandably, creeped out to find the two of them so obviously waiting for him.
Camizo, at last report from their fill-in medic, Professor Pendennis, was suffering from contusions, a nasty laceration, possible internal bleeding and a very serious head injury. The Professor had been frankly gloomy as to the marine’s chances of survival as recently as half an hour ago. So to see him standing in the corridor, not only alive but unharmed and glowing with health was, while welcome, decidedly off-putting.
And finally, Camizo not only looked healthy, he looked better than he had when he left the ship this morning… was the man wearing makeup?
“Gentleme… Er.. beings, Gentlebeings!, How can I help you? And let me say, its good to see you up and about, Camizo… umm.  Have you done something with your hair?”
“Tony Ears” said, “Captain, “Buttons” here has something very important youse should hear, could we step over into dis room for a moment?”
There was a slight commotion in the air ducts, a rattling followed by what sounded very much like a snippet from the Rush Limbaugh show, indistinguishable except for the timber and tone of voice that was cut off after only a few words.
“Buttons” Camizo spoke up, “Actually, Captain, could we go in here?” Gesturing to the Officers Medical Bay, “It has access to the air ducts, and I suddenly feel like that may be important to what I have to tell you.”
Still perplexed, the Captain followed them into the Med bay, thinking, <Well, I’m not sure what’s going on, but at least it’s not a mutiny, or one of them would have walked in behind me. Man, talk about paranoid, Forlath. Do you know how crazy that sounds?
One long, off screen explanation later…
[Yes your narrator is not too proud to admit it, he’s a lazy storyteller. If you have read this far, you should already know what Rugan is about to relate. If you just picked up the story now, for heaven’s sake, go back and read from the beginning, its only 2 pages. I mean I’m lazy, but really! There are limits.]
Forlath looked at the two security crew-members and said, “Do you know how crazy this sounds?!?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 10, 2012 at 2:46pm

Captain Forlath Grey of the airship ‘the QBR Cake Eater’ stared for a full five minutes at the two members of the security detail without saying a word. Guidolas was just considering whether they should have sprung this on the Captain in the officer’s mess instead, with a stiff drink to hand when the Captain replied “do you know how crazy this sounds?”
Rugan Camizo started to reply but Captain Grey cut him off “Second Lieutenant Camizo, you reportedly suffered severe head trauma, do you really believe this is the proper time to be swearing out affidavits purporting far fetched flights of fancy?”
Rugan’s mouth dropped open and Guidolas started “now hold on Captain, it may sound . . .” “absolutely insane?” the Captain finished the sentence.
The Captain put his hands behind his back and strolled strategically to the other side of a surgical gurney so that it was between him and the elf. “. . . and you Guidolas, how do you justify your complicity in allowing this young officer to make claims that could call his professional judgment AND his sanity into question and ultimately damage his military career?”
Guidolas started to splutter but then fell silent as a cruel mask descended over his features. The Captain held up both hands in a placating fashion before the situation escalated out of control, “gentlemen, deep breaths all around please. The Engineer, the Asylum, a traitor on board, talking monkey bats, you must admit it’s a lot to digest. But, and it’s a big but (ahem), if you truly have the coordinates of the location of our crew, you can tell me our crew mates have all been turned into a bunch of little green leprechauns and I would be inclined to credit it.”
“So Camizo, you’re with me, let’s get down to engineering. Mr. Lllianaro, as you were” and with that the Captain exited the room . . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 10, 2012 at 3:13pm

The Captain stuck his head back in the door “Mr. Lllianaro, I understand a stowaway has been discovered on board, be a good chap and look into it, if you would. Cheers. Are you coming Lt. Camizo?” and with that the Captain left the Sick Bay . . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 10, 2012 at 4:24pm

Meanwhile, on a distant planet . . .
The Padre smiled faintly at the sight of Gronkit running away down the ravine as fast as his short legs could carry him. The image for some reason reminded him of a garden gnome, a garden gnome in a hurry. The smile quickly left his face however when he noticed his feet getting damp and looked down to see what had been an inch or two had now become half a foot of water.
“In the name of all that is holy . . . um, Lady and Gentlemen, perhaps we should follow our diminutive friend post-haste?“
The party quickly reached consensus and splashed after the goblinoid.
It was awkward going, the rising water slowing their progress. Therese was yanked forward off her feet with a splash. Ronin helped her back up.
“It would appear Gronkit has reached the end of the line again” Therese said ruefully. Wet hair hanging in her face, she indicated the now taught line still connecting her to the goblin.
Ronin set his feet in the knee deep water, grabbed the line with both hands and tugged. From somewhere up ahead a squeal was heard and the line went slack. Ronin gave a slight chuckle and held out a hand to Therese who was finding the going ever more difficult, her long skirts tangling around her legs. “Perhaps it’s time to shed a layer or two, Lady Therese?” Ronin offered.
“Perhaps it’s best she dispensed with modesty and shed her skirts altogether . . .” XO Ezra Yesterday interjected from the back of the group. Something in the XO’s voice made the party look back in his direction. A massive wall of water filled their collective field of vision, gushing down the ravine tumbling and crashing quickly towards them. The group of castaways only had time to gasp in shock before they were engulfed and thrown about in the torrent . . .

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 10, 2012 at 8:41pm

Inside the QBR Med Bay:
Moments after “Tony Ears” left to question the “stowaway”, inside the now seemingly empty med bay, something stirred and out popped a small hidden doorway cleverly disguised as the maintenance cover for some sort of medical instrument [Michael Palin’s favorite, actually… the one that goes “BING!”], and out crawled a much shaken and jittery creature, The Asylum Hidden Agent.
[We will simply refer to him simply as “The Spy”, for now, so as not to spoil the surprise… Yes, you clever thing, I said it’s a “Him”… but that’s the last clue you will get for a while… No, don’t ask, I’m not answering another question on the subject, and that’s final! ]
This was one of the several clever places that the Spy hid in it’s off hours… when not hiding in plain sight, that is, much as Rugan had just explained to Captain Grey in this very room. In fact, the reason for the quite obvious case of nerves currently displayed was that The Spy had overheard the entire conversation, and knew that the Engineers, or at least these, their newest agents, were on to him.
Wringing his hands, The Spy slunk over to the doorway and made sure it was locked, then began to pace and talk to itself in a most disturbing manner [The Spy was, as Freud would have put it,  ‘Nuttier than squirrel poo.’.. But, you know, Freud would have used that accent everyone but me seems to be able to do so well.] …
The Spy began to rant, somewhat quietly to itself, but out loud, “I don’t understand! Why is that cursed marine still alive? I spiked his medicine just like the Master told me too; He should be a decaying heap by now!” Pacing back and forth, waving his arms, he continued, “It has to be that cursed Scorned Lord. He must have sensed something and used their hollow magic to cure him. Blast them And their miserable trees! I need to find a scapegoat.. and it just so happens, I know Just the guy.”
There followed the sound of insane, evil maniacal laughter, receding as the secret panel closed, at last cut off with a with a cheery:
“BING!”.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 10, 2012 at 8:49pm

Still in the Med bay, mere seconds later:
In the shadows behind the air grate in the ceiling, a deep, boisterous, somewhat condescending and Very Conservative voice said, ”Find Rugan…”
Followed by an impeccable imitation of Evil, maniacal laughter, receding as if a secret panel closed, at last cut off with a with a second, perfectly reproduced and cheery:
“BING!”.
This sequence of sound was repeated several times, sometimes overlapping, back up the air duct and into the middle distance, until cut off with a much closer and very irritated monkey-bat:
“Hiss!!”

Reply by Sparrow on July 11, 2012 at 6:04pm

The ‘easy listening’ muzak which played continually over the ships intercom system was briefly interrupted.
“Attention Bosun Higgs” a smooth, female electronic voice purred, “the Captain requests you take the stowaway directly to the interrogation chamber rather than the brig for questioning, and have a good day.” The musak resumed.
Bosun Higgs and the two nondescript Elves escorted Ysbryd to the commanded location.
The door slid open to the interrogation room, Bosun Higgs looked at Ysbryd and extended his arm and hand in a ‘right this way’ sort of fashion towards the opening and said “after you, miss, if you please?”
Ysbryd knew it was an order and not a question, as the two Elven guards took fixed positions on either side of the outer door.
“Please take a seat” he motioned towards the only chair in the room “and someone will be with you momentarily” the Bosun said in a very rehearsed, monotone voice.
Ysbryd did so and sincerely hoped this was not going to be one of those medical examiner type of ‘momentarilies’.
She was forced to deal with one on a planet called Ddaear- one among 9, or more recently 8, other planets in a singular Sol-ar system. Needless to say, it was an unpleasant affair. This frail ‘body’ she was forced to endure had inexplicably become achy. Convulsive air was forcibly and uncontrollably expelled from her internal pulmonary organs, while the protrusion (fleshers call it a nose) on her face started leaking a gooey, sticky yellow-green substance along with throbbing pain.
She remembered asking the physician, with actual pleasure even under these circumstances, if her ‘body’ was about to terminate, at which the doctor chuckled and said “No, no, it is merely a cold, my dear, take this” as he handed her a vial of liquid, “every 4 hours, get some rest and you should be as good as new in a few days.”
‘Cold?’ Ysbryd thought. She didn’t feel cold, in fact she felt quite the opposite, but she took the infernal tasting liquid as prescribed and after a few days returned to her normal flesher state, with much disappointment.
She shook that from her thoughts and began her observation of the room.
It was stark, with only the chair she presently sat upon, a table before her and glancing up, saw what she assumed were two security cameras suspended from the ceiling. There appeared to be no other visible doors save the entrance, and other than a mirror across the far wall in front of where she sat, there was only an air vent located too high up for her to reach even if standing upon the chair or table, to use as means of escape.
With that discouraging thought, the door opened and in strode another of the pointy-eared race she had been encountering.
Ysbryd had been through numerous interrogations in her own dimension where she was falsely accused of the crime which sentenced her to this organic prison. Her ‘race’ was pure sentient energy and had no longer need of solid form.
This was her punishment, to be encased in this cell until she was able to find proof of her innocence and so to return ‘home’ once more.
Her interrogator wasted no time.
“Whatsa you name?” he demanded as he placed both hands, palms down on the table in front of her and leaned in, looking her straight in the eyes.
He spoke with a distinctive ‘accent’ in a dialect she could not place.
Ysbryd stared directly back at him, but revealed very little emotion as she pulled her jumper tighter about her throat to hide any outer sign of anger and stress.
“I axsk you again” he said more forcefully “whatsa you name?”
Again Ysbryd refused a response.
“Now we can do dis da easy way, or we can do dis da painful way” Guidolas “Tony Ears” Lllianaro said matter-of-factly as he leaned in closer.
Again, it was not really a question.
“So whatsit gonna be, doll?”
“Ysbryd” she said contemptuously. What could it hurt to divulge her name. Anything to get this baboon out of her face.
“Okay, dats a start” he responded “whats da rest?”
“That’s it, just Ysbryd” she said with defiance.
‘No last name’, Tony Ears thought to himself ‘not of a family…huh’ pulling his lips downward, he made a nod and shrugged.
“So where did youse come from and what are youse doin aboard dis ship” he continued.
“I come from Nef. I’ve no idea how I came to be aboard this ship.” she answered, thinking damn, how nice it would be if her telekinetic powers returned and she could throw this insignificant goon of a flesher up against the wall and….her thought was interrupted by
“Hmm, never heard of da place.”.
He moved swiftly, in a most fluid motion, to stand behind her chair so she could only see his reflection in the mirror across the wall in front of her.
Taking notice of himself in it, Tony Ears took the time to adjust his velour robe by pulling up on it’s collar, rearranging the many decorative chains he wore around his neck and the large glitzy rings upon both pinky fingers.
Using both hands, he slicked back his hair, rolled his shoulders, then smile in approval with apparent vanity.
Placing his thumbs and forefingers just inside Ysbryds collar bones he began to squeeze slowly until the pain shot through her entire being in one sharp throe, yet she bit down on her lip refusing to scream.
It was the dreaded ‘Elven Excruciatingly Painful But Not Quite Death Grip’.
He released the pressure.
“Again I will proceed to axsk youse once again, what is youse poipus and how did youse get aboard dis ship?” he smiled a demonic grin at the mirror and began squeezing again ever so lightly and building, just as the door opened and in came…..

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 16, 2012 at 10:38am

Ezra Yesterday tumbled, fully out of control, through the maelstrom that had scooped up the small party of refugees, trying desperately to hold his breath. The pleasantly cool, sparkling clear water kept flipping him arse over tea kettle, spinning him this way and that until he had absolutely no concept of where he was, where any of his companions were, or even which way was up. Although he was a confirmed grouch and had gotten sick of constant dousing over the previous 3 books in the series, he could admit [if only inside the deepest parts of his own, oxygen starved mind],  that but for the threat of imminent drowning, this ride could have almost been classified as “fun”.
His lungs burning and eyesight dimming quickly reminded him or that one rather fatal caveat… you know, the whole drowning thing.
<How long> he thought to himself, as consciousness slipped away, along with the determination to not take a breath,<does this blasted wave continue? It seems like several days since we were swept up in it. It’s as if the whole world has paused, while the all powerful beings that hold our fates in their very fingers sit, debating what our fate will be… and we simply float here caught in a hellish, near drowning limbo in the meanwhile…>
With this , his will failed him and he took a deep, involuntary breath, filling his lungs with the cool swirling liquid around them.

***********
An interesting fact about the planet upon which our intrepid heroes are currently careening in the midst of … Really, just Tons of water…is that it is an ancient world, in the twilight of its existence, with many highly advanced races in its long and storied history. At some point in the more recent past, one of these declining races saw that it’s world  was doomed toeventually turn into a dying, desert planet, with waning resources and nearly no vegetation to replenish it’s atmosphere. One of the measures which was instituted was the invention of several deep aquifers of “aerowater’, water altered at the molecular level, to trap and hold breathable air that would escape when exposed to heat and light sufficient to promote the simple process of evaporation. This is the liquid that surrounds our heroes, so have no fear for their safety on  those grounds…

[Oh dear, I suppose I should have said that “Don’t Fear” bit first, as it likely would have saved considerable stress.. Terribly sorry.]

***********

As it rushed down his throat and filled his lungs, the hyper aerated water revived Ezra instantly, even leaving a pleasant, tingling sensation and sweet, slightly minty flavor as it passed. He began to relax and enjoy the ride.

Let the powers that be debate his fate as long as they wish, this actually Was fun.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 16, 2012 at 11:25am

Somewhere in the superstructure of the QBR:
The Spy slunk through the secret ways built into the Airship Queen Bran’s Revenge.He had a specific purpose in mind, a target to find and frame, in order to evade the minions of the Engineers, those hated agents known in the Asylum spy language as Kyd.
[A Kyd was a willing helper, a heroic [gag] character from any race who would ruthlessly hunt down and destroy the Spies of the Asylum, thwarting as much of the Great Plan as possible along the way.]
Only the happiest chance had allowed him to overhear the conversation between Rugan and the cursed Elf that warned him of the possibility of a Kyd in their midst; had he not done so, he would surely have been quickly found out and captured. As it was, he had to move fast in order to shift the blame from himself. Luckily, he already had several pieces of his escape plan in place and waiting to be activated, for just this eventuality… it only lacked this last crucial part:
The Patsy.

Turning a last corner, he looked out a spyhole and saw who he sought sitting at the bar of the Enlisted lounge.. now to wait, follow and get the poor schmuck alone, in order to complete his nefarious mission.

Reply by Ronin on July 18, 2012 at 12:41am

as the party tumbled and churned at the will of the liquid onslaught, the occasional image of a familiar foot or spinning body flew past Ronin as he himself flowed along with the rush of water.  his head popped briefly above the torrent and he gasped in what air could be had before the flow once again pulled him under, his arms and legs struggling against the massive strength of the gushing tide.
they were moving at an astonishing rate.  on the occasion he could make anything out along the cliffside, it flew past like a train under full steam leaving no chance for gathering a foothold or to cease the flight down the ravine.  a flashing image of Ezra as he was pulled under was the last Ronin had seen of him.  Therese too, had flown past Ronin as he ricocheted off the cliffside mud, his hand nearly reaching her as she too vanished beneathe the thrashing waves.
the Chaplain and Gronkit were nowhere in sight, as he’d lost sight of them a thousand yards back now.
if it wasnt the end before, it was sure to be now.  what little strength he’d had, was now long since spent fighting for air and to stay on top of the wave of water as it and he rocketed along the ravine, blasting ever forward between the cliffs above.  he could feel himself blacking out at the effort and lack of air, grappling to the last to keep himself afloat.
he was done.
he couldnt hold his breath another second as it burst from his lungs in a gasping final scream, barely audible as the fluid rushing into his lungs behind his final gasp muffled it to but a whisper.  the cold fluid in his lungs was oddly soothing as Ronin surrendered to what he thought would surely be his last thought in any mortal realm.
‘I cant believe Im going to die, dyed green like some sort of easter egg.  I hope whoever finds my body has a good laugh…but at least I wont be able to hear it.  stupid green lizard thing covers me in poo!  then that idiot digs a hole that turns into some sort of ridiculous tidal wave… for Pete sake!  how could so much water come fr….’
Ronin paused as he raged.
‘wait….how can I still be mad? Ive drowned havent I?  I must be dead by now” spun in his head…
forcing open his eyes, Ronin realized that yes, he was indeed well under the surface.  the currents that had flowed so mercilessly above were but a quiet flow at this depth.  the echo of the crashing waves a strange song of muted and distant drumbeats.  he also realized he was, albeit quite strangely…still breathing.  his lungs pushed and pulled at the fluid mass with effort, but its rewards were as clean and clear a breath as he’d had since he reached this world.  to say it was an odd sensation was surely an understatement.  with each breath, he could feel his strength return,  his stamina restored and even the pain from his fall was nearly completely gone.  he didnt understand it, but welcomed it none the less.
it was then he could see the rest of the party ahead in the dim light filtering down from overhead…all still alive, all looking at each other with the same puzzled confusion Ronin was felt in himself.

Reply by Sparrow on July 18, 2012 at 2:31pm

Therese had just taken a deep breath between notes while singing ‘we dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig the whole day through’ and was blissfully unaware that the consistency of the air she had been breathing suddenly changed as she was swept off her feet and carried along on the ultimate wave.
She passed Ronin as he ricocheted off the cliff wall, arms outstretched, impressing her with his awesome surfing moves.
Up ahead she saw XO Ezra hanging ten, as the Padre wiped-out.
Therese had no idea if she had hit her head on a rock and this was all just a hallucination, or if it were something to do with the strange ‘air’ she was breathing or if it was all really happening.
As she looked about for Gronkit, he sped by, a fish in his mouth, gurgling an eerily familiar tune that ended in ‘…So juicy-sweet!’
‘I wonder how long this ride lasts’ she thought to herself…

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 18, 2012 at 8:14pm

Back on the QBR

The door clicked opened to reveal a short, broad shouldered, older looking man, in a janitor’s uniform, pushing a mop and bucket. He wore a cap pulled down low and had a long grey beard, the tip of which was tucked in his belt.

Guidolas looked up in surprise at the interruption, “oi, this here’s an official interrogation!”

The janitor startled to find the room occupied, raised both hands, “right you are, your Honor, right you are. My mistake, first day on the job and all that, must have gotten turned around.”

Guidolas’ eyes narrowed to suspicious slits as he asked, “ere, don’t I know yous from somewheres?”

“Highly unlikely, your Worship, highly unlikely, as I said, I just started today.” From under his cap, the janitor looked sidelong at Ysbryd and closed the eyelids of his left optical orb together in what appeared to be an intentional fashion. She was sure she had seen such a display before, what did these creatures call it? A wink?

Guidolas looked unconvinced, but before he could question the maintenance man further, another member of the elven security detail stuck his head in the open door, “Don Llianaro, the Captain has requested your presence in Engineering.”

“Tell the good Captain I’ll be along shortly, my attention is currently required here”

“But Don Llianaro, Sir, he’s quoting section and paragraph numbers from our service contract!”

“He can wait!”

“But he he’s gotten to the section on financial penalties for non-adherence!”

Guidolas growled and headed for the door. “You wait here, I’m not done with you,” Guidolas snapped at the stocky janitor, as he strode out the door, pulling it shut after him.

The janitor took his hat off, smiled, pulled a ring of keys out of his pocket and whistling tunelessly to himself, walked around the interrogation table to Ysbryd.

Ysbryd recoiled at his approach but the man bared his mandible outgrowths in what Ysbryd presumed was supposed to be a reassuring way, and indicated in the direction of the manacle currently shackling her to the interrogation table.

Understanding his intent, she cautiously allowed him closer. He leaned over, his head just clearing the top of the table, and unlocked the restraining device. “Now my dear, follow me quickly, there’s no time to lose . . .”

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 18, 2012 at 8:57pm

Meanwhile, planet side,

The aerated water rushed down the gorge. The two opposing walls of the gorge had been running nearly parallel the entire length of the stream bed, but now, by the will of ancient geological forces, the two sides of the gorge seemed destined to meet. The space between the cliff faces narrowed more and more until only a couple of feet remained between the two sheer sides.

The narrower the gorge became, the faster the water coursed, until the party were being swept along like holiday makers on a particularly vicious water slide, the kind not recommended for pregnant women or those with heart conditions.

The light from the two suns overhead was as good as nonexistent in the increasingly narrow crevice, the only light at this point came from what appeared to be the end of the gorge up ahead, in a long vertical slit.

The Padre, seeing what was in store for them just managed to think ‘you have got to be kidding me’ before the party were shot out the end of the gorge, one after the other, like spit balls out the end of a straw, sailing through the air, to land in a wet, bedraggled, heap. Fortunately the landing was cushioned by the large, swampy, mud hole, they landed in.

The party struggled to catch their breath and get their bearings, their limbs weak and their vision swimming from the turbulent ride they had just experienced. The Padre, opened his tightly clenched eyes to see a figure standing upside down over him. Well, actually it was the Padre who was upside down, but he still blinked his eyes a couple times in an attempt to clear the apparition from his vision.

It was no mirage, standing at the Padre’s head, looking down on the group of errant, dimension hoppers, with what was an unmistakeable look of bemusement, was a extremely tall, four armed, green humanoid, wearing four gun belts around its waist and what could only be described as a cowboy hat on its head.

“Well I’ll be . . .” clicked the creature in clipped, certainly alien but inexplicably understandable speech . . .

Reply by Ronin on July 21, 2012 at 6:13pm

Ronin, laying once again, face down in the mud pressed himself up out of the muck, a loud sucking ‘squish’ sound resonating as he extracted himself from the thick paste of water (for lack of a better term) and red clay-like mud.  scraping handfulls of mud from his eyes, he squinted hard against the twin setting suns to see who was speaking.
the flood of rushing water was still spilling from the opening they’d just found themselves launched from like so many cannon balls, now cascading down like a waterfall, running into a nearby streambed and flowing downhill into a pond that looked to have not seen any new water in many a day.  the thunderous sound of it flowing by nearly drowning out the multi- and heavily armed fellow standing before them.
two of his arms rested on his hips while the other two, folded in front of him gave him a calm, but impatient look as he waited for the group to gather themselves from their roller coaster ride down the ravine.
Therese twisted the muddy water from the remains of her skirt as the padre made his way to the waterfall to rinse the red mud from his once well kept frock, boots and hair.   Ezra, still watching the green gunslinger slowly pulled himself from the reddish puddle, still studying the green onlooker carefully.
Ronin dragged himself over to the waterfall and rinsed himself as clean as he could, trying once again to scrub the green from his skin…and again to no avail.  his skin tingled and itched, feeling very much like he’d been sunburned, the thousands of micro-cuts in what felt like every inch of his skin from the sandstorm raw and annoyingly sensitive.
reaching down, Ronin found what felt like a large splinter sticking out from his thigh, the painful point of it buried deeply under the surface of his skin.    he tugged at it, shooting a sharp razor like pain into his leg.
“ow!” involuntarily slipped from between his lips as he pulled hard at the flat, stoney splinter finally gripping it hard and yanking it from his leg.  it popped loose from its binding, blood dripping from the open wound and running down his leg.  a nearly electric shock pulsed through him as it broke free.  swearing and whining a bit he was just happy to have it out, rubbing his leg and complaining under his breath at the cascade of tragedies that had already befallen the group, but himself especially in the few short (hours?) since his arrival.
rubbing the now sore wound and rinsing it clean Ronin looked at the splinter.  it was flat and sharply edged like a piece of flint but not so much stone or wood as he thought.  rubbing it clean in the water he squinted hard, studying it in the waning light.
it looked like one of the scales from the behemoth he’d landed on that had dyed him green.   he felt sick at the thought and began to wonder about things like blood poisoning, tentanus and a myriad of other miseries that might befall him because of it.
‘well, this just gets better and better’ he muttered tossing the splinter into the stream as he tried to stand.  the bleeding had stopped and the soreness was already beginning to fade.  he looked to the new visitor and smiled.  he was nearly as green as himself.  a fact that surprisingly gave him a litttle comfort to see.  perhaps his new found hue could work to his benefit..  if anything, perhaps he wasnt now the oddity that he initially thought.

Reply by Sparrow on July 21, 2012 at 11:25pm

Aboard the QBR-
By reasons unknown, for the first time since the tribunal that condemned, ‘imprisoned’ and exiled her, Ysbryd felt she could trust this strange hoary little Eiddilig Gor.
At least this is what he appeared to be.
She had encountered, on her search to find a way home to her own dimension, many organisms which had the ability to shift into various shapes and forms.
Perhaps he was one, but it mattered not.
Never before being encased inside this terminal embodiment had she felt the loss of control as she did now.
Normally, her ‘skills’ served her well. Along with her complete disregard for most corporeal beings, including herself, nothing had been out of her ‘influence’.
She rubbed the reddened, tender dermal covering where the constraints had secured her to the table, then arose and followed this would-be savior.
Her fate lay uncomfortably in his hands.
‘Better his’ she thought “than that greasy, inflated, overbearing, egotistical, swaggering pointed eared brute that had just left the room’.
At least so she hoped.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 22, 2012 at 2:35pm

Elsewhere on the QBR:
After a good hour of lurking, the Spy’s waiting at last paid off. The Patsy was at last leaving the lounge and heading toward one of the pubic heads down the corridor, there to offload some of the many tankards of ale he had been consuming all evening. The spy moved to his hidden entrance to the public parts of this level, a short distance in the opposite direction. He checked both ways, then slipped out and began moving normally.
This was the most perilous time, since if the thrice cursed Kyd had managed to convince the security forces of the possibility of a spy, there would soon be questions, and searches, and eventual capture for the Spy. The danger was in being caught now,  just shy of his nefarious objective, for once this last task was completed, any pursuers should be thrown off the trail… for the short time remaining to them.
The only thing for it, then, was to walk with confidence, acting as if nothing was wrong. A furtive move, a nervous glance, the slightest hesitation at this juncture could spell disaster. So the spy calmly closed the “closet” door behind him, turned and strode at a normal pace past the opening to the Lounge and on to the lavatories beyond. As he rounded the corner, his prey was just opening his stall door, a smiling look of recognition on his face and a greeting forming on his lips. The spy stiffened his fingers and thrust them, hard and swiftly, puncturing the skin and cartilage, crushing..  ruining, really… his victim’s throat so quickly that the smile never fully faded. Moving quickly, the Spy propelled the twitching form back into the stall and pulled the door closed behind them
From the outside, nothing happened for several seconds, then as if an afterthought,  the small, curved sign over the doorknob flipped from “FREE” to “OCCUPIED”.
*************
Several minutes later Boson Higgs came walking down the corridor, just as the lavatory door came open and Zombie Zack stepped out. The boson stopped and asked, “Have you seen Professor Pendennis? He is most likely going to be needed down in the Interrogation room, once Tony ears gets done with our intruder. The bartender said they saw him heading this way a little while ago.”
The zombie leaned against the still open doorjamb, subtly blocking the bosons line of site into the room behind him, a fact that Higgs completely missed, sadly, and said in a deep, oddly wet and gravelly voice, “He was headed to his quarters, I think. It looked like he had had quite a bit to drink… He was mumbling about ‘Elven Magic’ and something about ‘being put out of a job’, last I saw.”
The boson rolled his eyes and said, “Thanks, Zack, I’ll go see if I can sober him up.”
The Spy watched the little boson bustle away and said quietly, in a more normal, human voice, dripping with equal parts menace and sarcasm “No problem, Higgs… Glad to help.”
Then, looking both ways to make sure no one was looking, he reached back into the stall behind him, pulled out a bundle consisting of a black formal jacket with long tails, a bow tie, a set of smoke tinted sunglasses, and a top hat and tucked them under his arm.
Then, pulling the door shut, [the the sign had been rigged so it still read “OCCUPIED”], he repeated in a hissing, insane whisper ,“Glad to Help!”
Then he strode off toward his “closet” entrance into the superstructure, stifling maniacal giggles as he went.

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 24, 2012 at 2:07pm

The humanoid creature Ysbryd now thought of as “the Janitor” (janitor – a pattern of vocalized hums, tongue rolls, and facial muscle contractions combined with exhaled air to create a sound that meant ‘cleaning’ or ‘maintenance individual’ to others of his species), peered around the corner, watching the chortling individual (chortle – chest based, rhythmic, coughing like sound meant to indicate mirth), touch the panel in front of it in a quickly repeated sequence, three times. After the last sequence was completed, a portion of the bulkhead clicked open with a slight whoosh of equalizing air pressure, and then slide to one side, revealing an opening into the superstructure. The passageway beyond the opening was darkened except for a series of running lights along the floor on the right hand side (hand – look, this is getting a bit tedious, the precedent has been set, she ain’t human, alright? Surely you can fill in the rest from here on out).
The shadowy figure disappeared from view into the passageway, it was unclear if it had been male, female or even human, Ysbryd wondered if even the Janitor knew who or what they had just seen.
The Janitor, waited a moment then repeated the wink gesture at Ysbryd from earlier, and rushed over to the closing panel just in time to obstruct its closing with his lower appendage, er foot, I mean foot. The panel seemed determined to complete its closing action regardless of any obstructions and the Janitor’s mouth opened in surprise at the increasing pressure being inflicted on his foot. The Janitor grabbed the edge of the panel with one hand and the edge of the opening with the other and grunted with the effort as his stocky figure exerted itself, forcing the panel back open again.
“Come on, quickly!” The Janitor hissed and Ysbryd ran to his side and slipped into the slight opening. The Janitor squeezed though and then pulled his hands free as the panel snapped shut with a snipping noise. “AAHHHH, MY FINGER!” the Janitor cried only to then smile and hold up all ten fingers, “just joshing, come on . . .”
Ysbryd followed the Janitor into the gloom, her previous anxiety exchanged for her current growing sense of trepidation . . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 24, 2012 at 2:38pm

Back on the planet’s surface, the Jak’wa’sar watched the short humanoid creatures complete their ablution rituals with puzzlement. He had no desire to interrupt what appeared to be a religious ceremony (or was it a courtship dance?), but this area was no longer safe and he was desperate to get back to town before the half-night fall. He was tempted to just leave them to their own devices, but they were obviously like children, and wouldn’t last the night out here away from their den. Jak’wa’sar considered himself to be anything but a cruel natured being, the green one in particular struck a paternal cord with the Jak’wa’sar. Sure it was horribly disfigured and really quite ugly but it was obvious it and its albino siblings needed the Jak’wa’sar.
Finally his impatience got the better of him and he went back to his conveyance and took out a long shepherd’s crook, set the electric on mild and slowly approached the diminutive humanoids with his arms opened wide, and with what he thought was a comforting tone of voice started herding them towards the back of his conveyance “along now little ones, along now . . .”

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 24, 2012 at 3:23pm

Back aboard the QBR Cake Eater, Captain Forlath Grey with 2nd Lieutenant Camizo at his side entered the main engineering section: “. . . and that’s why Lt. Camizio, it’s important to always have a high quality fire extinguisher right there, in the kitchen,” the Captain concluded. Lt. Camizo chuckled appreciatively.
The Captain stopped on the elevated landing overlooking the ships engines, took a deep breath and smiled at the magnificence that was the engines of the QBR, “isn’t she a beaut, Camizio . . . ?”
“Actually sir, it’s, um, it’s Camizo . . .”
“Come Lt. Camizio, have you had the pleasure of meeting our new Chief engineer?”
With that the Captain headed down the next metal spiral staircase. . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 26, 2012 at 1:33pm

2nd Lieutenant Rugan Camizo of the dimension hopping airship the QBR Cake Eater, took a look out over the engine room, sighed and then hurried down the stairs to catch up with the Captain.
When Rugan approached, the Captain appeared to be engaged in an argument with a bulky metal filing cabinet, in front of a large table lit from underneath covered with blueprints and wiring schematics.
“Ah, Camizio, let me introduce you to our new Chief Engineer, Thunkbot version 15.”
Rugan bemusedly looked from the filing cabinet to the Captain’s beaming face and back again. “Apologies Captain, but I don’t quite . . .”
“Of course you don’t, one second. Chief, I say Chief, greet the 2nd Lieutenant” the Captain said to the filing cabinet in a loud overly annunciated voice. When nothing happened, the Captain said “sorry about this Camizio, it was fine a minute ago,” reached over and picked up a big wrench off the table, and without warning smacked the side of the huge filing cabinet with it, resulting in a large gonging sound.
Rugan was beginning to become concerned about the Captain, when unexpectedly the filing cabinet sprouted articulated metal legs and arms, stood, turned around and after briefly scanning Rugan, replied in a booming monotone, “greetings 2nd lieutenant Rugan Camizo.”
Rugan’s jaw dropped in surprise. The Captain chuckled at the Lieutenant’s reaction and said “yes, he does take a little bit of getting used to, a reliable chap though and very capable too. The boys and girls in the Engineering section put him together a couple of dimensions ago, based on old schematics the doughboys led them to. It was really intended as a kind of recreational off duty project sort of thing, but once constructed they discovered it had an amazing grasp of engineering concepts. Just for a laugh they snuck him into the engineering exams disguised as a filing cabinet apparently, and much to their chagrin, it outscored them all.”
“Well,” the Captain continued “when I got wind of its test results, it seemed only logical to promote it to Chief Engineer. Besides, what could possibly go wrong with giving an inanimate object built from ancient plans of dubious origin, full responsibility for our ships’ engines?”
Before Rugan could decide whether the Captain was being serious or not, the Captain leaned over and said in a stage whisper “and he’s non-union, I’m making a killing in op-ex savings.”
Rugan looked back over at the new Chief Engineer, the only thing he could manage was, “is its head . . . an espresso machine?”
“They had to use what parts were available I’m afraid. Now, one of the things Thunkbot version 15 (it took a few tries to create a version with all the homicidal tendencies worked out apparently), has been able to bring to the table is the calculating know-how needed to use the dimension hopping capability of the ships engines. A capability we didn’t realize we had or could control until the unfortunate episode with the Mechanoid mother ship. So if you would be so good as to provide the Chief with the coordinates you have um, been given we’ll be able to search out our missing crew mates. No one left behind and all that.”
With that the Captain smiled again and the Chief boomed “it is a pleasure to be working with you, 2nd lieutenant Rugan Camizo.”
Before Rugan could respond, the sound of approaching elves caused the Lieutenant to turn around. “Captain,” Guidolas started “could I have a brief word with youse . . .”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 26, 2012 at 4:53pm

On the QBR Engineering Deck:

As Guidolas walked up and stopped facing the Captain,the other elves in the group all fanned out and gathered around him, a little too close inside his personal space for comfort, without actually touching.
“Captain,” he said, “youse and I have some matters that we need to discuss… in private. Capice?… Well, actually,” rubbing his hand wearily over his face and eyes as he continued, thus missing the wary look that passed between Rugan and his Captain, ” Buttons needs to hear this, as well.”
“..What Matter..” Captain Grey croaked.. squeaked really… and in an unusually high, loud tone. He stopped and cleared his throat. ” Ahem, sorry. Really must see to some better ventilation down here, the dust is murder on my sinuses.”
With that said, he smoothed his sleeves down, shot his cuffs, and looking visibly more calm, said in his normal tone, “Now then, My good man, what “Matters” do you feel need discussing?”

The Elf leader stood looking at the Captain with an utterly still, dead eyed expression for an uncomfortably long time, then burst into loud raucous laughter; he was quickly joined by the rest of the elves around him.
This went on for several minutes, until at last Guidolas [“Tony Ears” to his Family] said, still gasping and wiping his eyes, “Youse guys see what I mean? Didn’t I tell youse? He’s a funny guy, our Captain.” The other Elves backed off, and headed to the back of the engineering deck and began to remove a panel as Tony threw a friendly arm around the Captain’s shoulders. “Captain Funny Guy,” he said, “I have some secrets to tell youse and young Buttons back there. The Boys are opening the way to the Clubhouse so’s we can go and talk somewhere more.. Private, like.”
As they strolled forward into the low lighting of the short passageway beyond, Rugan heard the opening behind them seal shut with a clang.
<Well,> he thought as they walked toward the well lit area beyond,< I guess we are about to see if the Captain’s trust in them is well founded. If not, no one will ever find us. The last one to see even us was Cappuccino the Wonder Cabinet, I’m not even sure his testimony would be admissible…>
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud, startled and suddenly cut off exclamation from the Captain from several yards further down the tunnel.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 26, 2012 at 6:33pm

After his initial shock passed, Rugan took off down the tunnel to see what was wrong. He came out of the tunnel and stopped dead, gazing onto a most confusing scene.
At the opening of the tunnel stood Captain Forlath Grey; he staring at Guidolas in slack jawed surprise, one arm stretched out and finger pointing at the spectacle in front of him. There was a large gathering of Elves sitting in bleachers around a large expanse of Ice. some of the elves stood on the ice, and some sat on benches to each side. Every single one of them in the vast hall stood stock still, looking up at the Captain and the small group that had just entered with him. As Rugan’s eyes adjusted to the light he realized waht he was seeing, it wasn’t just ice, it was…
“A Hockey Rink?!?” The Captain had apparently found his voice as Rugan had been working it out.”Mr Lilliarno, Why in the Clearest the most Azure of the Blue Blazes is there a Hockey RINK In my AIRSHIP?”
Guidolas, surprisingly, did not seem to take this badly. In fact he seemed to make an effort to speak calmly as he raised his hands in a placating gesture and replied, “Please Captain. This is one of the many things I brought youse here to discuss. Please let me calm the tribe, let them get back to their game, then we can go to the Club and get down to business.” At a tight nod from Captain Grey, the Elven Leader raised his voice and shouted, ” Continue wit the game. We all knew dis day would come. I will be back shortly, my Family, I promise.”
Then, as the game resumed, he led the way down the center aisle, past the concession stand and skirting around the wall surrounding the edge of the rink, then headed toward a private box overlooking the Rink. As the group was just starting up the steps on the other side there was a gasp from the crowd as a slap-shot went sailing just over the wall, careened off a post and made a beeline toward the back of the Captain’s head.
Several things happened at once as time seemed to slow down to a near standstill.
Guidolas somehow sensed from the change in the noise level that something bad was about to happen and began to turn, in hopes of intercepting the rogue puck before it hurtled into the Captain, possibly smashing his skull. As fast as elves were, he really had no hope whatsoever, and his face was beginning to show that he knew it even as he continued his valiant, yet vain, attempt.
The captain turned to look and see what the noise was about, unwittingly aligning his temple with the trajectory of said puck.
The two nearest Elves, the ones right behind the Captain didn’t see what was happening, but went into bodyguard mode when their leader jumped so quickly, assuming someone was attacking him. They both pivoted to opposite sides, scanning the crowd for danger.. and the puck sailed between their backs and straight on toward it’s rendezvous with disaster.

I said time slowed down, but fortunately for Captain Forlath Grey, that wasn’t true for everyone in the arena.
Rugan Camizo, expert in the discipline of parkour and recent recipient of a rather large dose of Elven Healing potion saw the situation, recognized the danger, and sprang into action.
He dove forward between the set of bodyguards standing just in front of him and several steps down from the cluster containing the Captain just before their backs slammed together in classic “Well trained warriors watching each other’s back” fashion.

The dive turned into a forward roll that brought him back to his feet in time to take two steps and grab a nearly empty plastic nacho basket from a spectator just before vaulting over the pair between himself and the captain.
With a last lunge he stuck out his hand, neatly scooped the puck out of the air in the basket scant inches from the Captains temple like a Jai-alai player, did a tuck roll and landed lightly on his feet beside an astounded but obviously relieved Guidolas.
Captain Grey, hearing the light footfall behind him turned and jumped in shocked reaction. He blinked, did a classic double take between the back of the group where Rugan had been and where he stood now, then exclaimed, “Camizio, where the devil did you come from?”
Guidolas shook his head and said in a cryptic tone, “Yeah, dat’s one of the Other things we need’s to discuss.”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 26, 2012 at 11:42pm

The QBR,Inside the Elven council chamber, known as the Club:
Once they were all seated, Guidolas got the meeting under way,” Captain Grey, please bear with us, over here. We have lots of sacred information that we has got to reveal to youse, but trust me, it will clear up all a’ youse questions. First off, I want to start this off by saying I forgive youse for your earlier rudeness when youse seemed to call me a liar, or maybe it was a fool youse was thinking. Either way, when youse scolded me for bringing Buttons.. Mr Camizo… to youse office earlier today. Also for the unfortunate yelling at me in front of the entire family a few minutes ago, I forgives youse for this as well…. No apologies are needed from youse, as I know youse was under a bit of strain and all. So consider it forgotten.”
There followed a long pause, as Every Elf at the table simply stopped moving, as if made of statues… Mildly annoyed statues that were apparently waiting for something.
Rugan subtly nudged Captain Grey after 30 pregnant seconds of this treatment, which prompted him to start, look around more closely at the dozen masklike faces, then clear his throat and say, “Nonesense, Guidolas, my good friend. I will not rest until you have accepted my humblest apologies for the disrespect which I showed you earlier today… Both times. What can I say, I simply wasn’t myself.”
At this, all the Elves resumed movement, and without acknowledging the captains somewhat tardy speech beyond a casual, “fuhgeddaboudit” wave of one hand, Guidolas continued as if nothing had happened.
“Youse see, I was just as skeptical as youse was when Buttons here brought his story to me. I would have sent him on his way, except for one thing he said.. something he simply could not have known. It is a phrase that we simply Never say out loud, except in the most sacred and secure places. The phrase was…”
From the back of the room, a new voice interrupted, “…Koto Edro.”
A hush fell over the elves, as the two human guests craned their heads to see who had spoken. A stooped, wizened little frame came tottering forward, aided by a cane. It had much more refined features than the other Elves, and larger, more delicate ears, but Elven it seemed to be.
“I am the Rakonto Parolisto for this family, the scribe of history…the keeper of the secrets, if you will. I am here to tell the tale, in what I trust is an easier accent to both read and to write. I’m sure whatever rakonto parolisto ends up telling the tale will be most grateful for the break.
[Too true.]
“Understand, gentlemen, this tale is ancient, passed down from rakonto parolisto to rakonto parolisto. It fills entire caverns full of noting but scrolls [in Times New Roman, single spaced, mind you] …detailing a mighty odyssey and spanning millennia.”
The wizened little Elf started chuckling at the looks on all the faces arrayed before it, and not just the humans but the Elves as well. They were all quite obviously thinking the same thing, <Oh boy, someone yanked Grandpas chain, he’s going to be on for hours about “Ten cent gasoline” and “back in my day we didn’t have Band-Aids ™” [we used leeches, and we Loved it!].>
“Not to worry, children.” he said once his chuckles subsided , “I intend to keep this short and sweet. After all, Matlock is on in 15 minutes, and I still need to pour some prune juice and find my ‘special pillow’.” He grinned, seeing he had put the whippersnappers firmly in place, then continued, “Tony, roll out that scroll on the table in front of you and hold it up.”
The little oldster waited as his wishes were followed, the scroll revealing a ugly little green skinned, huge eared potbellied ugly creature.
“That,” he said as everyone looked at it with distaste, “is a Goblin, an evil artificial race created by a much more terrible, all-encompassing evil known as the Asylum. Goblins are ugly vile creatures…their only saving grace is that they are so stupid as to be virtually harmless, even when ruled by a smarter, stronger evil overlord.”
[Half a universe away on a desert planet, Gronkit staggered, grabbed the back of his head and yelled “OW!”, then spun to look behind himself.. but there was no one there. Ezra Yesterday, who happened to be walking by, stopped and asked, “What?” To which Gronkit replied, “It felt like someone just punched me in the back of the head.”  Ezra replied, “Yeah, I get that sometimes, not sure what it is… Walk it off, lizard boy.” Then, medic duties dispatched, the XO shrugged and walked away.]
“We were once a tribe of those horrible creatures, or our ancestors were; they were the Koto Edro, or Dirt Faces…the most warlike of the Goblin tribes. Luckily for us, they were found by a vastly advanced race known as Engineers, who slowly tamed our horrible looks, habits and tempers, over thousands of years until we are the civilized beings you see before you today. There, kids, that wasn’t so bad, now was it? OOPS!!, nearly Matlock time,…Tony take over.” And with that, the little man left as quickly as he could hobble.
“Youse see, Captain Grey,” said Guidolas, taking up where the little elf had left off, “the Sacred Game, Hockey, was a means to dis end, channeling our natural anger to better ends than mayhem. Another way was the potion I gave Buttons, it attacked the corrupted bits inside us that had made us Goblins, and changed us to look like this. The potion has a stronger effect the more corruption it has to heal, so something very bad was happening to Buttons when I saved him, for him to have changed dis much. I talked it over with our doctors, and they think he was poisoned, radioactive, or more likely infected with zombie blood.”
“Zombie Blood?,” said Captain Grey, bolting upright in his seat, the startling revelations of the past several minutes drowned out by this latest bit of news, “Camizio, you say we have a spy on this ship, ‘Hiding in plain sight”, you said…There has been a ‘Tame’ zombie on this ship since we first set sail…That means the spy must be…” the Captain and Rugan jumped to their feet and said in unison:
“Zombie Zack!”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on July 31, 2012 at 10:03am

Still in the “Club” meeting room:

As the Captain and Rugan stood looking at each other following their shared Epiphany, Rugan realized he had no idea how to proceed. Not so, the Captain.
“Mr Lilliarno,: he said, “please be so kind as to form search parties, the purpose of which is to apprehend Zombie Zack.. Discretely, mind you. and in one piece.. I hesitate to say alive, as someone will think me feeble for suggesting a zombie is alive, not to mention the possible legal ramifications of a Naval Officer “making policy” as regards the status under the law of the ambulatory dead.”
He paused, to let the readers mull that over for a few seconds, then continued, “My point is, we need to question him, so don’t break the sneaky bugger until I’m done with him.”
Guidolas nodded and moved off to huddle with his Capos, while Captain Grey turned to Rugan and said, “Mr Camizio, before we get too far afield, I want you to go back up and give the coordinates for our missing crew to the Chief Engineer. We’ve delayed our rescue mission quite long enough, and I see no reason why we need to stall it any longer for something as trivial as a traitorous walking corpse. I feel confident that the Elves will be able to find him en route.”

Rugan gave a weak smile and tugged his jacket collar, then said in a somewhat abashed tone, ” Well, you see sir… I’m afraid I may have given the wrong impression about that. I know where they are, and have the directions to get there… But they aren’t exactly coordinates.” He seemed to slowly get more irritated with what he was saying as he continued,  “In fact, sir, I’m not sure What they are. It’s all nonsense phrases to me… things like “Left at the slithy toves”, ” until the ‘Hour of Scampering'” and ‘gyre and gimble until you pass the second movement of Bolero’.”
He waved his arms in agitation, as if he were trying to remember his own suddenly and inexplicably forgotten name, then grated out between gritted teeth, ” I can only assume if we see the Yeti, we’ve gone too far.” He gave a frustrated sigh, then said “There was also a vision of a “Warder” fellow linked to the directions.. I can only assume he is meant to either act as, or provide us with, some sort of an interpreter. Sorry, sir, but all I can say is I feel like the answer will provide itself when the time is right.”

Reply by Forlath Grey on July 31, 2012 at 12:30pm

Ysbryd followed the Janitor through the gloomy maintenance tunnels, her trepidation slowly giving way to impatience and frustration. Was this the universe’s grand plan? Imprison ‘her’ in this form and then condemn her to wander the bowels of this craft until this corporeal body’s life force gave out? What was the point, she might as well have just stayed in the interrogation cell and let herself be tortured to death, at least then it would be over with and she would be spared this tedium.
Lost in her dark thoughts, Ysbryd didn’t notice that the Janitor had come to a stop in front of her and walked right into him. Gasping in surprise, Ysbryd felt the muscular organ, responsible for pumping blood through her circulatory system briefly contract, causing discomfort. The Janitor held up a hand and put a finger to his lips. Ysbryd stared in confusion, unclear as to the meaning of the gesture.
The Janitor smiled and said “this is your stop. I would go with you but I’m afraid that would cause even more pandemonium.” The Janitor’s gaze softened, “these are good people my child, with a bit of luck, good might yet prevail.” And with those cryptic words the Janitor swung open a maintenance hatch, grabbed her forearm and with surprising force sent Ysbryd tumbling into a room full of elves and humans, closing the maintenance hatch behind her . . .

Reply by Sparrow on July 31, 2012 at 4:18pm

Ysbryd’s dark thoughts and recollection, as they followed along the pale lighting which wound it’s way through a seemingly endless labyrinth of maintenance passageways, likened it to traveling through the blood vessels of a ‘living’ ship.
She had heard of, but had never encountered, such things.
Organic transports, conscious crafts, sentient conveyances allowing the parasitic fleshers
to live within. ‘Undigested, sadly’, she thought.
She supposed they held benefits for these large interstellar behemoths.
Perhaps merely to avoid being alone while wandering from galaxy to galaxy.
Maybe these leviathan even viewed them with compassion (unlike she), as naive
children just wanting to progress and learn.
Her thoughts were interrupted by an abrupt stop as she nearly tumbled over
her now stationary wizened little guide.
Thankfully, Ysbryd’s natural sense of ‘personal space’ in this carcass she was
made to endure, caused her to stop just in time.
“Shhh!” he expelled air from his lips (at least it was not from the opposite end as these
fleshers seemed prone to do, she recalled with absolute olfactory disgust.)
He had placed one of his claw-like appendages to his food/vocalization hole, continued to pause for a few moments, then waved her onward.
Whatever it was that caught his attention had apparently moved beyond them.
There were numerous doorways lining the sides of the ‘artery’, and turning to her with the same quick dermal closure and release over his left orb, he opened the one they now stood before, and found themselves in the middle of a hockey match.
A shudder ran through Ysbryd, not because of finding herself in the center of a hoard of those
anwybodus mwngrel bastardiaid, but due to her thin external dermal layer (which was just that, in more ways than one) she could not tolerate the cold. ‘Oh where was a Tauntaun when you needed one!’, she reflected.
As quickly as they entered, they vacated, the Warder grabbing her by the wrist and tugging her back through the door. He was quite strong, she thought, for such a diminutive whatever he was.
“Wrong door” was all he said as he continued hobbling along, still holding her by the wrist, and approaching the next door, he followed with “this is where you and I part company, my child” or something of that nature, then unceremoniously pushed her into a room full of despicable, obnoxiously odoriferous fleshers, to which there was no escape as the entrance closed behind her.
Thrown off balance she landed at the feet of a well-dressed, sophisticated and noble looking male, who made some sputtering sounds, then offered his hand to her, “ah, you must be our little stow-away” he chuckled with a smile.
Ysbryd saw nothing amusing about it.

Reply by Ronin on August 3, 2012 at 2:02am

the electric sheppards crook crackled and sparked a bit as the large green fellow approached the group.
“c’mon now, lets git along.  we’re burning a ton of daylight while you folk sort yourselves out.  we can take care of all that back at the homestead” he said in a monotone.
“you there..” he grunted, motioning to Ronin  “you sit up front with me.  the rest of you, lets get you loaded up and out of here before suncrash. ”
he motioned slowly to the group urging them on towards the large conveyance parked in a gully not far down the path.
Ronins face twisted in confusion a bit.  “suncrash?  whats is that exactly?”
The large green fellows face contorted a bit, an eyebrow ridge raising at the question.  “how about we get clear of this place and I’ll explain it to you on the way.  Im not real sure where you folk are from but trust me, none of us want to be out here in the middle of the nothing when it comes” he said in an almost condescending manner.
the party all looked at each other, obviously wondering at what could be worse than what had already beset them.  Ezra shrugged a bit and nodded to the group.  considering what the choices were, being left there to personally discover this ‘suncrash’ thing or follow along with the one person who seemed to have an idea as to what and where this place was. (not to mention having a vehicle capable of transporting them to what could be assumed to be this places version of civilization)
the group followed along behind their new benefactor (for lack of a better term) and headed to the conveyance.
it was obviously meant more for cargo than personal transport.  weather beaten and nearly devoid of paint or comfort affording additions, the group piled into the rear section of the transport, Ronin twisting the handle on what appeared to be the non-driver side door.  it squeaked and felt almost as if it would break off in his hand as he yanked hard to unstick the door.   Ronin stepped high into the compartment and flopped down in the seat pulling the hatch shut.
the cargo section was layered with the remnants of a thousand trips to and fro.  bags of…some form of plant life, boards, sand and rocks littered the floor.  some crates along the front side made a comfortable makeshift bench as the large four armed fellow leaped in, twisted a large switch on the front panel of the vehicle, sparking it to life.  with a loud whining groan and a belch of greyish smoke from underneath, the craft lurched forward slowly, deftly propelling it forward across the landscape.
“liable to be a rough ride for a bit.  no roads out in this direction.” quipped the large green fellow as the transport bounded and bounced along over the rocky terrain.
Ronin eyed the stranger a bit, then turned his attention to the twin suns settling towards the horizon.  the orange and reddish sky in the distance seemed almost alive with the dance of color they created.  looking out the rear portal, he could see his friends settling in for a long bumpy ride.
wherever they were going, they were well on their way

Reply by Ronin on August 3, 2012 at 1:02pm

“Estin”
the oddity of the word broke Ronin from his hypnotic sunset gaze.  “Im sorry…what?”
“Estin.  the names Estin.” the driver replied
“oh.  Im called Ronin” he said, now watching the driver as he skillfully grabbed and pulled a couple of levers with his lower arms, bringing the machine into a higher gearing.
Estin nodded.  the transport was now flying along in a straight line across a vast sandy patch of open desert.  they were well away from the spot they had landed and seemed to be making good time heading to…somewhere.
“so, are those yours?” he asked, motioning with one of his arms to the folk being carried along in the cargo section of their ride.
“mine?  I dont know what you mean.  theyre my companions.” Ronin said, a quizzical look overtaking his face.
“oh…theyre pets then.  yeah, Ive a couple of critters I keep around for company as well.  not quite so scrawny as those, but they sure help keep the lonelies away out here, eh?”
Ronin grew more confused with every word he spoke.  “pets?  no no, we arrived here together not far from where you found us.  although Im not entirely sure how we got here or even where ‘here’ is.”
Estin furrowed his brow, looking over at Ronin questioningly.  “you dont…know how you got here?  I figured your wagonship must have broken down out there in the nothing somewhere, although I still cant imagine what possessed you to wander into that ravine.  youre lucky you made it out in one chunk.  folk ’round here wouldnt dare set foot in there without one zippin good reason” he said, smiling, but still obviously only half believing what he was hearing.
Estin turned to him as the transport bounded through a dune on to what could roughly be described as a road.  “so, what happened to you boy?  did one of those factory machines tear your lowers off or something?  I knew a fella a few years back that only had his left side pair after getting caught in one of those assembly whatsis things”
Ronin realized suddenly that Estin was asking why he only had two arms.  deciding he really wasnt going to garner any favor by telling him that he was just like his ‘pets’ (regardless of his glowing green skin) and that this was normal for them, he thought maybe changing the subject would be good idea.
“Im a little worried about the suncrash.  what were you talking about?” turning his gaze back to the setting suns and gathering clouds in the distance.
“oh that.  you havent seen a suncrash in person have you?  you must be from one of the offworlds.  ok, that makes sense.” Estin answered.    it absolutely didnt make any sense to Ronin, but figuring it satisfied Estins seemingly endless curiosity, he decided to go with it.
“yes.  we’re from offworld. (which in fact, wasnt a complete lie…just not wholely accurate)  what is suncrash?” Ronin asked, satisfied that he’d diverted the drivers attention from his lack of additional limbs.
“you know, when those two suns align just before sunset today, they’ll send a wave of intense sunlight and energy across this whole section of the planet.  its only once or twice every few years, but whoooo…wee!  when that comes flying through here it pretty much fries anything not in a cave or some sort of cover to a crisp.  I was just out scouting for livestock that might get caught in it when I stumbled across you and your crowd.  youre durn lucky I did too.  wont be fit for any living thing out there in a few hours.”
looking back at his friends riding along in the cargo hold, he realized Therese had been peering in through the back porthole listening in on the conversation, her eyes wide in fright now at hearing this.  Ezra and the Padre had also awakened and were staring at each other in fearful wonderment at this revelation.
about then, through the front window of the transport could be seen a large opening in the cliffside.  a gigantic gaping hole obviously very puposefully cut into the weathered red stone,  the road they now traveled on leading directly to the front entrance.
Estin slowed the transport and brought it to an abrupt halt just outside the maw of the cave before them.
“we’re home!”  he blurted out in a near sing-song tone as he lept from the driver side, landing with a thud on the ground along side the craft.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 3, 2012 at 5:26pm

Ezra Yesterday, recently recovered gill man and currently bruised hitchhiker, climbed off the wagon and looked around at their destination with distrust.
<Yes,> he thought to himself and sighed, <Just as I suspected…yet Another cave. I thought I had managed to steer us away from caves for awhile back in ‘Mermaid Gulch’, but here we are again… headed underground.>
Estin, the helpful large green man with the extra arms was busy talking to Ronin and not paying any attention to the rest of the party. Since the small group of green giants around the cave opening seemed to think the non green crew members were puppies of some kind, Ezra decided to nose around a bit and see what there was to see. The first thing he saw once his eyes adjusted to the gloom made him stop in confusion.
The entire cave was crammed full of what at first glance appeared to be the buildings from a movie set. It looked as if the entire town from Silverado and some of the buildings from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. had been shoved into the place at random. Bank buildings sat with walls touching the front door of a saloon, and the jail was stacked neatly under the overhanging upper balcony of the Hotel. There was seemingly no easy way into most of the structures, and there was not a path between them at all. It was as if a giant child had been playing old west Lego and just shoved it under the bed instead of cleaning it up after.
As Ezra stood goggling at this riot of jumbled ghost town architecture, another of the green aliens [this one about his own size and dressed in a pair of overalls with one strap undone no shirt no shoes and a straw hat] wandered up, did a double take and then just stood staring at him with large, owlish eyes.
After the pause had drawn out to the point that it had started to get uncomfortable, Ezra said,”Ummm.. Hi there.”
This conversational gambit earned him a slow blink of the eyes, but no other movement.
“My name is Ezra, what’s yours?”
Another Blink.
“Not much of a talker, I see. That’s all right, I’ll just call you Huck, that OK with you?”
Blink.
“OK Huck, riddle me this: how come you have a huge pile of buildings all stuffed together in this cave, but no ladders or doors set where you can get into them?”
This, at last, caused a reaction. The owl eyes grew even wider, then squinched tight, and an odd, rubbery squeaking sound, rather like an indestructible rubber duck being repeatedly trod on by an elephant, issued from the mouth, and all four arms wrapped around the creature’s body and hugged tight.
After a startled and guilty look around showed Ezra that the nearer tall aliens seemed to give only a passing, amused glance to the smaller one, he realized it wasn’t an allergic reaction, a breathing problem or some form of epileptic fit…
But rather, it was a fit of laughter.
At last the little one spoke, his words broken up with childlike giggles, ” You’re weird! Of course we don’t get in them, we just sang them in here so the suncrash don’t burn them all up” A, sudden, childish look of realization came over his face and he exclaimed, “OH,  they’ll be singing the crash block any moment! I don’t wanna miss it!” and with that, the young green scampered off.
Intrigued, Ezra followed.
Outside the cave, a large gathering of green children stood watching as  group of about 15 adult males stood in a ring around a huge boulder that was very near the base of the towering cliff. One by one, all but three of them put their hands [all 4 of them] up to their mouths, creating a square trumpet around their mouths and began to emit a low, subsonic hum that was more felt than heard from this distance.
They tilted their heads so that the trumpets were aimed squarely at the sand at the base of the huge rock, the volume increasing with each new voice, until the very sand under the rock began to writhe and foam like the surface of a lake in a heavy rainstorm.
Ezra imagined this is what it would sound like should Apollo suddenly take up the Didgeridoo.
Once the pitch had reached a level where actual waveforms began emanating from the base of the boulder, the three who had done nothing to this point raised their hands and made a smaller, three sided trumpet, capped by their fourth hand. A different higher pitched hum came from them and as one they removed the cap, and a piercing blast of sound issued forth, cutting its own wake into the sand waves and hitting the boulder squarely at the base.
The huge slab of stone rocked, shuddered… and then slowly began to move, like a great ocean liner leaving port.

As Ezra and his companions stood watching in stunned, open mouthed silence while green children cheered and cavorted around them, the mammoth stone was skillfully maneuvered and placed a short distance away. It ended up directly in front of the opening to the cave while still  leaving plenty of room to enter and exit, effectively blocking the rays of the slowly setting suns from shining into the clustered structures of the town within.
<Sun block, indeed!> thought Ezra with an awed smile.

Reply by Ronin on August 8, 2012 at 12:50pm

Ronin stood in silent amazement at what he’d just seen, his mouth hanging open in disbelief.
‘no way theyre going to think I’m one of them’ he whispered to himself, cupping his hands to his mouth trying to imagine being able to recreate the sound softly, hoping no one would notice.
as he looked around the expanse of the cavern interior, the many four armed folk seemed as impressed with the event as himself.  patting each other on the back, congratulating the singers at a job well done.
Huck ran frantically around the caves interior like a canary caught in a closed room shouting “its coming! its coming!”, stirring the comotion up to a fevered pitch.   it was then that Estin reappeared and gathered the group together.
“Ronin, since you and yours havent seen this before, you need to get up top.  it doesnt happen often enough for you to miss this one” he said, sounding almost like he was inviting them to christmas dinner.  the smile and sparkle in his eye when said seemed oddly comforting considering the feeling that overtook them when they were first told of ‘suncrash’ and how deathly dangerous it was.
Estin pointed to a stone stairway carved into the inside of the caverns wall.  “go to the first level.  the view is best there” he said with a smile and headed off to join the rest of his clan.
a smile grew wide on Thereses lips as she rushed to the staircase and quickly climbed to the first level like an excited child, the rest of the party in tow.    the group arrived at the top of the climb and could see nothing.    no portal or window, no holes no scopes.     nothing but a smoothe black wall on one side and what seemed like a two story drop to the cave floor.
“we wont be able to see anything from up here!” Therese complained.  she’d been so excited to see something wonderous and new, only now to be unable to see anything at all so far from the cave opening.  “Im going back down” she grumbled…
the chaplain reached out his hand and rested it on her shoulder.  ‘have faith for a moment.  these folk dont seem the kind to deceive us…”  as the Padre ran his hand along the smoothe black wall.  it was polished.  nearly perfectly so, like glass in its texture, but ice cold and the color of pitch.
“obsidian” the chaplain muttered under his breath.  “its a giant obsidian”
as the sound of his whisper died, the entire cave fell as quiet as the stone it’d been carved from.  nothing moved, no sound.   no activity.  even Huck had come to an abrupt, silent halt, staring towards the front entrance in the now grave silence that seemed to smother the very life from the room.

the silence was like a heavy blanket being thrown over you.  almost smothering in the enormity of its impact.  the kind of silence that pulls the very breath from your body and makes you conscious of your own heartbeat.  the normal sounds outside even fell away.  the wind, a near constant singing whine since their first arrival vanished like a ghostly vapor.  it was if suddenly all time and tide has ceased in its entirety.
Therese nudged Ezra, pointing to the pitch black wall.  he in turn urged the rest of the party, still standing stunned in the silence that enveloped them to look.
Ronin could see the sunlight begin to fade from the openings around the stone door that had been placed, but it was then the sound began. quite softly at first, but increasing slowly, and growing louder with the passing seconds.
“rain?  here?”  he thought.
a sound he’d not heard in awhile but always loved, but it sounded strange..not soothing like he was used it.  “Padre, its raining!”
‘no my friend…its not” the chaplain replied in a low, nearly frightened hushed tone, pointing Ronin to the stone wall.
the opaque stone was not so opaque as it seemed.  whatever it was that was happening outside, it had caused the stone to grow more pale and clear.  a dark purple hue that was lightening a bit at a time, allowing it to become a window to what was happening outside the cave.
Ronin stared at the sight, his heart pounding in excitement and fear.
what sounded to be rain, was the landscape outside being bombarded with some silent, unseen force, boiling the ground in an instant, causing it to become near molten, flowing now like water.
the sound that Ronin thought was rain, was the world frying like an egg.

Reply by Sparrow on August 10, 2012 at 2:28pm

Aboard the QBR-
Refusing the offered hand, Ysbryd quickly rose to her feet, facing once again her captors.
‘Why had that antediluvian corrach freed her, only to allow her to be seized again? It made no sense to her, but none of what happened thus far, had’ she thought.
She stood defiantly, trying with difficulty to mask her growing anxiety towards this current situation.
Relieved to no longer be on that cultural wasteland of a planet from which she had been seeking transport off of, this at least was several steps above what she had been ‘hitchhiking’ with.
It’s crew were much cleaner, but not so much different in their methods of questioning her reasons for being aboard and what her motives were.
Standing as straight and stiff as possible, she cleared her voice canal.
“Whatever it is you plan to do with me” she said belligerently “get on with it”.
She stared unblinkingly in the eyes of what she assumed was the Captain of the vessel.
With her peripheral vision she was able to discern both the male that had originally apprehended her, as well as the bwystfil that had done the interrogating, also in the room.
As she awaited a response, she wondered what the verdict would be…this time.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 13, 2012 at 9:01am

Rugan Camizo, security officer of the QBR and newly minted “superhero”, was momentarily frozen in shock as a form tumbled out of a hidden door and then stood, bristling in anger at the head of the table and revealing itself to be the Translucent skinned Intruder he had captured several posts back.
He turned to Guidolas, who had a stunned and slightly guilty look on his face, intending to ask what had gone wrong with the interrogation plan.
It was Rugan’s turn to be “Good Cop”, the role he traditionally preferred. Since neither he nor Guidolas were actually comfortable inflicting harm on prisoners, they took turns being the sinister, angry “Bad Cop”.
[They pulled this ancient, tried and true bluff off with a combination of acting and a few (relatively) harmless Elven massage techniques which, while soothing to stressed or overworked Elven muscles, were found to be excruciating to every other race upon which it was tried.
The Bad Cop would talk low and menacingly while applying a few of the lesser massage grips, which would cause great, but short term, pain. Then the session would be “Interrupted” on some pretense, usually making it look as if there was a brewing rift in the ships hierarchy. This would give the prisoner the false hope of playing factions against each other, as well as priming them to think that the Bad cop would be in an even worse mood upon their returne. Rugan liked playing Good cop, because that was who usually got the results, and when he played it, the results came sooner.
Quite frankly, Guidolas simply wasn’t that sympathetic or believable in the “Good” role.]

Rugan’s internal plot exposition was interrupted by the prisoner in question, as she spoke in an oddly accented, but nonetheless angry tone, “Whatever it is you plan to do with me” she said belligerently “get on with it”.
At the sound of her voice, Rugan blinked in reaction to a sudden and overwhelming sense of deja vu, and behind his eyelids there was a flash of golden light accompanied by a brief, hugely arrogant presence in Rugan’s mind. Suddenly, the oddball coordinates filled his head once more.

It seemed that the Interpreter had arrived.

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 13, 2012 at 3:13pm

“Whatever it is you plan to do with me” the new arrival declared belligerently “get on with it.”
Rugan chuckled, approached the intruder and offered her his hand, “ah, you must be our little stowaway . . .” Inexplicably, Rugan stopped midsentence, went pale, jerked upright, blinked his eyes a couple times and then looked at the surprise arrival with renewed interest.
The Captain took this in, his mind racing all the while. The recent turn of events had the Captain struggling to maintain his composure, he had no idea the Elvin security contractors were so entrenched in the ship, nor any notion of how complete their hold on the QBR was. Did they have a presence in the Control Gondola, the Armory, Engineering? He took a deep breath, no need to panic just yet, he thought to himself, he was potentially blowing this entirely out of proportion. But regardless, he would have a quiet word with a couple key members of the command staff as soon as soon as the moment presented itself, just to be on the safe side. In the meantime . . .
“So Lieutenant Cam-i-zo, stowaway you say? That’s a serious charge; perhaps it would be best if you introduced our guest . . .”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 13, 2012 at 7:43pm

Rugan snapped out of his trance like state to the sound of the Captain’s voice, [Already in Progress]:
“… rious charge; perhaps it would be best if you introduced our guest . . .”
He turned to see the Captain looking expectantly at him, shook his head as if to clear it, then said, “Captain, I don’t know her name, but we did meet briefly in the upper hall a short time ago… when Mr Lilliarno and I were on our way to see you, as a matter of fact. She was in the process of assaulting a couple of crew members, but I got the distinct impression she was defending herself. I subdued her and turned her ofer to a security squad. Last I knew she was being sent to the brig for questioning. However, that vision in my head,” he paused, grinned ruefully and then continued, “…the one that even I am beginning to doubt, is telling me she is our Interpreter, the one who can take that nonsense I spouted a bit ago and tell the Navi-Cabinet™ where to take us. I do feel certain that she isn’t the one who poisoned me, if that helps.”
At this point, the person in question gave what could only be a snort of derision and rolled her eyes.
“Hold where you are, guys.” Rugan said, motioning back the elves that were slowly trying to sneak up on her, “Instead of forcing the issue, perhaps we should see if the Lady would do us the honor of introducing herself, and tell us how she got here?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 14, 2012 at 1:46pm

The Chaplain stood dumbfounded, riveted to the obsidian portal until the boiling planet surface on the other side of the barrier slowly ceased its bubbling. Finally remembering to breath, the Chaplain filled his lungs with the oxygen rich air. It had more oxygen content than he was used to, making his head spin slightly and causing the Chaplain to feel aglow with a slight sense of well being. With a smile on his face, Chaplain Grey turned back to survey the cavern. The tall, green, multi-limbed creatures were using their plethora of appendages, long reach and lithe forms to great advantage as they scrambled up and down the sides of the jumbled buildings, going about their business like some kind of crazier than normal Escher drawing.
The Chaplain did a double take, that figure there towards the back of the cavern, too short to be one of the adult Jak’wa’sar and too stocky to be one of the young. Who was that? The figure had looked almost human. The Chaplain intrigued, excused himself from his compatriots and headed back to where he had seen the figure, a puzzled look upon his face . . .

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 14, 2012 at 3:42pm

As XO Ezra Yesterday stood watching the Obsidian window fade back to darkness, there was a movement in the makeshift pouch hanging from his belt, and a moment later Chi-Chi’s small, orange head popped out and blinked her big eyes, her mane quite amusingly sticking up in several divergent directions, obviously still waking up from a deep sleep.
She was an arboreal creature from an ice covered mountainous region on the last planet they had been on, and had been not only miserable but woefully ill prepared for dealing with the blowing dust they had been trudging through. Her lips had chapped and her eyes were so caked with muddy dust that she could hardly blink them. After a time, but before they began running for their lives, she had gotten so weak she could no longer even perch on his shoulder, huddling close for a slight measure of protection from the blowing, ever present dust. Ezra had needed to fashion his spare undertunic into a container to hold and protect her once the poor creature had finally passed out.
In the rush of events, he had completely forgotten her, but from the looks of it, she had been fully restored and healed, most likely when they were all submerged in the cool aerated waters of ‘Mermaid Gulch’.
” Well, good morning sleepyhead,” Ezra said as she looked around the cavern owlishly, ” And welcome back. You’ve missed quite a bit while you were out, including a great lightshow just now.”
Chi-Chi, never much of a tourist, blinked , smacked her dry mouth a few times, and then said, in a perfect imitation of Gronkit, “Wheres da food?”
Ezra’s laughter at first startled and confused the surrounding giants, but they quickly caught on that it was a sound of happiness and not some strange  alien dysfunction.
Wiping his eyes, Ezra said, “That is the most intelligent thing anyone has said since we landed on this dustball, Lets go find out, shall we?”

Reply by Sparrow on August 14, 2012 at 5:42pm

Ysbryd was a bit confused at what had just ‘replayed’ in a completely different scenario than she
recalled. There must have been a glitch in the space/time continuum.
This was followed by a flash of golden light transferring data and reassuring her that she could trust these beings, as had the little gnome who only a few moments earlier, freed then abandoned her to them, which was still a puzzlement.
Before fading entirely, she felt the golden light return her psionic abilities complete.
During all of this, her optical observation orbs never wavered from whom she assumed were the Captain’s.
It was then, she spoke.
“I explained it all to him,” motioning with an upward nod of her chin (take note, she did not POINT. Ysbryd never pointed unless it was to use her ‘talents’ to disembowel an enemy as a last resort. Oh how she would have loved to have pointed at the one called Guidolas. She relished the thought, although knowing it would have proven her undoing) “your interrogator” she hissed with contempt.
She was reluctant to give any further information, but repeated what had been given previously.
“I am called Ysbryd” then adding what would be considered by fleshers a surname as an afterthought, “Tragwyddol.”
“Ysbryd Tragwyddol” she repeated “from the dimension Nef, to which I am seeking a return. All else is of my own concern.”
She continued-
“I’ve only an inkling of why I have been brought here, and let me add, it was not of my own accord..”
She resumed “The one there (this time motioning towards Rugan) is aware.”
The brilliant golden light that had entered her thoughts, had simultaneously entered his as well, giving them both the same revelation.
“You are in need of an interpreter for navigational purposes?” she inquired, already assured in the knowledge of this.
“I harbour abilities that may prove beneficial to you and am willing to assist, in exchange for food and lodging until I am able to return home.”
“Is this acceptable to you?” (she spoke it more like an already completed agreement, rather than a question).
In truth, she knew she needed them as much as they needed her.
In fact, her need was even far greater, she just had not realized it yet.

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 16, 2012 at 3:07pm

CHAPTER 2s~xL7

Gronkit released the undercarriage of the alien conveyance, landing on the cavern floor with a muffled whufmp, small billows of red dust wafting away from him in perfect concentric circles. He stifled a sneeze by holding his eyes wide open till the tears streamed down his face (because everybody knows it’s impossible to sneeze without closing your eyes). Once the urge to sneeze had passed, Gronkit turned over and waited for a break in the long green legs walking past, before scuttling like a crab away from the vehicles into a narrow gap between the jumble of buildings, equipment and what he assumed to be livestock, hanging in the air at all kinds of unlikely angles.
Gronkit almost had a fit when rounding a corner he came face to upside down face with something that could only be described as a cow lizard. As Gronkit stood there doubled over, catching his breath and waiting for his two hearts to beat in unison again, the upside down, levitating cow lizard just hung there about three feet off the ground, slowly chewing its cud, watching Gronkit nonplussed with dinner plate sized eyes, occasionally blinking with it’s nictitating eyelids. Gronkit caught his breath and murmuring ‘there’s a good fella’ in what he hoped were reassuring tones to the giant lizard cow thing, slowly eased his way around it and then took off again furtively, deeper into the cavern.
It had been one hell of a morning. First this new planet, stumbling through a dust storm, running for his life from a giant monster lizard, being pulled over the edge of a ravine, the wild river ride, then being shot out of the ravine like a canon only to land in a muddy bog . . . Actually the bog hadn’t been so bad but then to top it all off he just manages to surreptitiously chew his way through the strap tying him to Therese, only to have his so-called friends jump in the back of the alien’s vehicle leaving him behind, his legs tangled in the strap he was trying to free himself from. Did anybody even acknowledge his cries for help as the vehicle took off across the barren landscape? Well Gronkit knew the answer to that one. He’d still be back where they had left him if not for the strap inexplicably tangling up in the undercarriage of the alien conveyance.
Yep, it could be said Gronkit now had firsthand, intimate knowledge of this planet, one mouthful of red dust at a time. Gronkit, not the wittiest of beings at the best of times, would even go so far as to say he hated this planet so much he could taste it.
Only by hauling himself hand over hand up the long strap to the undercarriage of the vehicle was Gronkit able to save himself from being dragged into goblinoid jerky. Then it was just a matter of hanging onto the undercarriage until the coast was clear and then slipping away to find somewhere deep, dark and safe, and most importantly, far away from the rest of the group because if one thing was now clear to Gronkit, it was that Therese, Ronin, Ezra and the Chaplin were bad for Gronkit’s health . . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 17, 2012 at 12:14pm

An awkward silence descended upon the room following the stowaway’s offer. Captain Grey seized upon the opportunity afforded by the lengthy pause and rounded the table “so, you’re proposing a simple exchange of services for passage upon this vessel, do I understand you correctly? I for one,” continued the Captain “have no problem with that in theory, provided you can be trusted not to steer us into the nearest inter-dimensional equivalent of a large mountain top. Your trustworthiness considering your current status is, as I’m sure you can appreciate, still very much open to debate.”
The Captain took Ysbryd by the elbow and gently steered her back towards the engine room, noticing her flinch at the physical contact. “Remain calm madam,” the Captain murmured surreptitiously out of the corner of his mouth into Ysbryd’s ear “I assure you, your cooperation at this juncture however distasteful is essential.” To the room at large the Captain said “Lieutenant Camizo, you’re with me. Presumably I’ll need your assistance in resolving this. Guidolas, we can address the nature and severity of her numerous infractions at a later time, navigation of this vessel takes precedence. Please continue with the fine work you and your men are doing. We will reconvene again, once this navigation business has been rectified. Thank you gentlemen, that is all.” and with that the Captain steered Ysbryd out of the room, followed closely by Lieutenant Camizo . . .

Reply by Sparrow on August 18, 2012 at 10:45am

Her telekinesis returned, Ysbryd could have easily thrown this hu-man across the room as he placed his hand upon her elbow.
It would normally have been an autonomous response when her powers were not interrupted by any outside interference.
But this vessel was different. Something about or within it seemed almost sentient, knew of her presence aboard and seemed to be able to control the electromagnetic fields and vibrational frequencies which would normally nullify her abilities, as had occurred on some other transports and vicinities she had been exposed to.
She was learning, by observation of others, that not all physical contact need be painful. Most of what she had come in contact with in this ‘flesh suit’ had not been gently dealt out, as opposed to the hand that now set lightly at her elbow.
She had experiences, the memory of which scarred her essence.
She wondered if her ‘people’ were aware of this and was a further form of continual punishment even if she ever found a means of release from the cell they had constructed and interred her in. All the painful memories bound to her eternally.
She allowed this flesher to guide her because she had the overwhelming sense of being completely lost, both in time and space.
The golden flash of light she experienced gave her a means to parlay with these people, but that was all.
Becoming completely overwhelmed by the entire situation, she made a decision.
Halting dead in her tracks, she turned to the one she now knew was positively the Captain of this vessel, and it all came spilling out.
How she had been falsely accused of a crime she did not commit, nor had any knowledge of.
She was merely a pawn used in a nefarious scheme perpetrated and carried out by a single, manipulative insane leader of her ‘race’.
She was innocent of the charges brought against her, but he was too powerful and controlled the council of elders, thus she was sentenced to this, referencing her form with a gesture of her opposable digit appendages.
At this point, she felt the coronary muscle in her chest drumming more rapidly than ever before, and her ocular orbs began leaking so profusely she thought she would dehydrate and dry up right there on the spot.
She was proud that she had learned to control most of this type of bodily function, but all of her encounters finally had culminated to such a fevered internal struggle since her sentence began, she simply broke.
Realizing this outburst could be interpreted as a weakness, she tried and successfully composed herself once again.

Reply by Sparrow on August 18, 2012 at 11:22am

Therese caught a small blur of movement from the corner of her eye, then glancing down
noticed the gnawed remains of the tether still about her wrist.
The proverbial light-bulb came on, and she immediately knew exactly what, or should I say whom, it was.
She looked around to see the others still in awe of what had just occurred beyond
the protective wall of obsidian, which had now gone dark again.
Not that she wasn’t completely in wonderment by the spectacle she had just witnessed, her curiosity as to where and what her little friend was up to, won out.
Not to mention she had a rather short attention span.
She, unobserved, took off after him venturing further into the cavern.
As she skipped along following what appeared to be a more yellow, brick-like formation in the cavern floor, she noticed paintings, pictographs all along the walls.
She imagined they were either petroglyphs pertaining to the history of these green giants, or some sort of religious or governmental codex documented in stone.
Although it seemed it should be relevant somehow, she hadn’t time to pause and interpret what they could mean.
Anyway, she had learned she wasn’t very good at doing interpretations in the first place.
Shaking her head at the thought, she moved on in pursuit of that at times annoying but endearing little goblinoid, Gronkit.

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 21, 2012 at 2:41pm

Not knowing what else to do, Captain Forlath Grey and 2nd Lieutenant Rugan Camizo stood patiently while Ysbryd poured out her heart and soul. When she finally finished her rather heart rending tale of woe, the Captain mustered his superior skills of tact and empathy, awkwardly patted Ysbryd on the back and said “there, there, I’m sure everything will, ah, work out in the end.” Ysbryd shot the Captain a withering glance and stomped off in the direction they were originally headed. The Captain turned to Rugan, shrugged his shoulders and hurried to catch up . . .
Ysbryd, Rugan and the Captain re-entered the Engineering Department. The Captain spotted the Chief engaged in some sort of maintenance work on the backup engines, and headed over that way with his two companions in tow.
“Chief, apologies for the interruption, I know you are a busy, um, Chief, but I have someone else I would like you to meet. Ysbryd, this is our Chief Engineer Thunkbot 15. Chief, this is Ysbryd Tragwyddol, a new crew member and hopefully, if what I’ve been told is correct – our new Navigator.”
The Chief stopped mid-task, withdrew a mechanical arm with a whirring attachment from the interior of one of the engines, and ponderously turned around with the sound of well oiled machinery, to ‘face’ the Captain. The Chief briefly scanned each of the three individuals in sequence and replied “greetings Captain Forlath Grey and 2nd Lieutenant Rugan Camizo, it is pleasing to this unit to perceive you again. Greetings Ysbryd Tragwyddol, I anticipate our working together.”
Captain Grey scanned the engine room, noting two uniformed security elves on the metal catwalks above the engines, “Chief, don’t read too much into this, but activate Defense Protocol Alpha Amber.”
“Is there a problem Captain?” the Chief asked.
“No, no, it’s purely precautionary at this time,” returned the Captain “but never mind that, why don’t you crazy kids get to know each other while I see whether our remaining passengers have boarded.” To the Lieutenant the Captain said “Lt. Camizo, I would be appreciative if you would make all necessary preparations for jump, but wait for my word before we leave this benighted little burg.” With that the Captain cast another glance at the security elves and headed towards the Command Gondola . . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 21, 2012 at 3:50pm

Gronkit hurried down the rough hewn, rock passage, occasionally glancing back anxiously over his shoulder in the direction of the main cavern. As such he didn’t see the stocky figure step out into the tunnel in front of him before it was too late. Gronkit ran smack dab into the figure, bounced off like he had just hit a brick wall and sprawled face first onto the stone floor. Gronkit, lifted his head, spat out a mouth full of dirt and said “gods, how I hate dis planet.”
The stocky figure exclaimed in surprise and said “sorry about that, lad-o me boy. Completely my fault, didn’t see you coming, here, let me help you up.” With that the figure reached down and helped Gronkit to his feet with one hand while brushing him off with the other.
Gronkit once on his feet, disentangled himself from the figure and looked at the old man suspiciously, “yeah, yeah, Gronkit is fine . . . here, who are you anyway? You don’t look like dem green guys, you don’t have enough arms.”
The dwarfish figure chuckled through his long grey beard and pushed his cap back on his head, “I’m here purely in an advisory role, my clever little friend, and I would greatly appreciate a few moments of your time?” With that the dwarf pushed on a section of what had appeared to be a solid stone wall two seconds earlier, opening up a passageway off of the tunnel where they currently stood.
Gronkit backed nervously away, “No way is Gronkit going into any secret doors, Gronkit does not do secret doors!”
The old dwarf smiled disarmingly, “easy there little pardner, this is merely the maintenance break room. I think you’ll find the selection of well stocked vending machines to be worth your while?”
Gronkit considered briefly, clearly torn, before throwing caution to the wind and walking through the secret door. The dwarf followed after him, the door closing firmly behind him . . .

Reply by Sparrow on August 23, 2012 at 8:24am

Therese had nearly caught up with Gronkit, when through the dim light she saw him just disappear.
Going to the spot where she had just momentarily ago saw him, she spun in circles a few times in confusion (which was not uncommon to her…confusion, that is) then commenced in running her hands across the stone wall to see if there was some sort of hidden opening, as there had been in the bowels of the Castle Sheutzenstein, but she could find nothing.
She beat her fists against the stone, then placing her back against it (as Ronin had done using his shoulder at said Castle) tried pushing, but to no avail.
It was solid bedrock.
At this, Therese slid down the wall to a slumped, seated position and began to (what else?) cry.
At that precise moment she had a déjà vu vision of someone weeping ‘somespace’ else but in a different scenario. It quickly vanished.
Pulling herself together, Therese wiped her eyes on the remains of her skirt. “Thank heaven for the invention of pantaloons” she spoke aloud, considering how in tatters her skirt now was,
and it was then she proceeded to ‘think’.
Not the easiest of tasks for her.

Reply by Sparrow on August 23, 2012 at 8:30am

Before he left the Engineering Department, Ysbryd held out her left digitaled appendage to the Captain (even though such flesher interaction was distasteful to her) in what she knew to be not only a gesture of friendship and solidarity, but also one that sealed a negotiated commitment.
Faltering for a moment, the Captain of the Queen Brans Revenge accepted her outstretched hand.
“I will do my best to serve as navigational interpreter aboard this vessel under your command, sir,” Ysbryd chose her words carefully, adding “you have my word.”
And at that the Captain smiled and said “I will hold you to that” then pivoted on his heal and left the cabin.
Ysbryd turned to face Rugan and forced the edges of her vocal/food hole to form what fleshers called ‘a smile’.
“You also received communication from the golden light?” she asked, already knowing the answer.
Rugan nodded.
“Then you know I was brought here for the specific purpose of interpreting and relaying coordinates to this…..” she looked at it quizzically, not really knowing what to call ‘it’.
“Chief Engine…er…” Rugan paused, also at a loss of how to explain what this mechanical monstrosity actually was.
At that moment ‘Chief Engineer Thunkbot 15′ spoke up “Cappuccino, anyone?”
Rugan and Ysbryd merely looked at one another with the simultaneous thought of ‘what the frak have we gotten into?’

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 23, 2012 at 10:59am

Rugan Camizo stood in the engine room, looking at the newest member of the crew and sipping a really quite excellent cappuccino that had been dispensed from the …Head?… of the new Chief Engineer-bot.
“Listen,” he said, “I’m not sure if I properly introduced myself after our corridor melee earlier, but my name is Rugan. Sorry about the whole ‘Capture and Interrogation’ thing, my vision didn’t identify you until you showed up in the conference room. Welcome to the crew.” She inclined her head in what he took to be a nod of thanks, but kept sipping without saying a word, apparently quite taken with her drink. ” You know, Guidolas is really going to give me grief over you… It was technically my turn to be the Bad Cop.” He saw the puzzlement in her eyes, so he explained, ” You know, Good Cop/ Bad Cop? Don’t they do that where you come from? It is a psychological game that security teams have used for centuries, at least they do where I come from. One person acts all angry and abusive, as if they could do real harm at any minute. The object is to frighten the suspect. Then the other one comes in and pretends to be friendly. It fools the suspect into thinking there are two possible outcomes.. Painful, or easy. Most choose easy.” She nodded her understanding, a look of… anger, or wariness, it was hard to judge… in her eyes.
“Yes, well Guidolas, the big softy, he really prefers the Good cop, it really upsets him to have to hurt anyone, even if it is just a nerve pinch. Truth be told, I don’t like it either, but it is effective, and we never really torture anyone, so we take turns. Since I was the one that captured you we had to change the schedule, so not only did he have to be bad cop twice in a row, but now it turns out it wasn’t needed at all. As it is, he always has someone come in really quick to interrupt, with some made up situation that just has to be handled by him.”There was a short pause, then he continued, “You have to admit though, squeamish as he is about the physical side, he’s really good at the Intimidation part.”
He paused again to finish his drink, and added, “Word of advice, if you feel like hearing it. Now that we know you were both sent and willing to help, and not the Spy my other vision warned me about, he will likely come and apologize, in his own time, and his unique way. He will mean what he says, but don’t be too quick to accept his apology, assuming you see your way clear to do so, or he will feel like you are either not really forgiving, or are still scared of him. if you do, he will likely pester you for months, trying to win true forgiveness.” She finished her drink as well, set the cup back on the Chief Engineer [his shoulders were made of a serving tray, after all] and stood, still not speaking.
“OK. Well, gossip time over then. I guess we had better get on with it. I’m going to just say the nonsense out loud, you try and see if it makes any sort of sense to you. Sound good?” Once more, she nodded, so he cleared his throat and began to speak in a deep, serene voice, his eyes taking on a far off look and a slight tinge of gold.

” In the morning fog, the wanderers stand.
The call of lonely pickles, suddenly stifled.
The moon weeps, afraid of the coming day.
Forward the bunnies, left at the slithy toves, and continue Up-Westerly till the Hour of Scampering.
The Gilded Moose is not your friend, but neither is he an enemy, not today.
Gyre and gimble until you pass the second movement of Bolero, but take away two Kadaams, in honor of the Lords of Ancient, Lost Feldercarb.
It weeps, dremble- want.
Eskimo.”
He blinked his eyes a few times and they returned to normal, then asked, “Did you get any of that? Because I have to say, even saying it out loud, it still made absolutely no sense to me.”
To his mingled astonishment and relief, Ysbryd replied in a matter of fact tone, “Yes. You wish to go to.. the best translation I have for it in your language is Red and Boiling Sand Desert . But if my time sense has not been distorted by my recent dislocation, the Suncrash is already completed for this cycle, sand as far as I know, there is simply no other reason for flesh… that is, for corporeal beings to to go there, it is pretty much a sandy waste the rest of the….” Her voice trailed off as she realized he was no longer listening.
Indeed, he was staring past her in stunned amazement; she turned and followed his gaze, and then stood still, looking as perplexed as he felt to see a long procession of small, furry winged creatures coming out of an air grating in the wall, walking in line, for all the world seeming to march like a file of miniature army recruits.
They continued across the engine room, and proceeded down the tunnel leading to the Elven hockey rink. The leader of this odd procession, a larger black furred specimen with a large white mustache had stopped and turned when he reached the doorway, watching his furry battalion march on their way. Rugan recognized the little creature as Mo-Mo, the monkey-bat he had met on the planet’s surface. Mo-Mo snapped a smart salute, cocked his head and gave a humorous smile, then did a sharp, precise about face and followed the last of his “troops” down the passage.
Rugan shook his head as if to wake himself, turned to Ysbryd and said, “Please, tell me you saw that as well.”

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 24, 2012 at 1:48pm

Therese’s thinking was interrupted by the sound of munching next to her ear. Startled, she looked to her left to find Gronkit standing there with his hand inside a packet of crisps, looking at her and munching thoughtfully away.
He took his greasy little paw out of the snack packet and proffered it to Therese, “Wanna crisp?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 25, 2012 at 12:21am

Theresa, surprised, reached out and helped herself to a crispy, baked, potato based savory treat. “Wherf wherf you, I was worriefd!” Gronkit stared at her blankly. Therese swallowed and tried again, “where were you, I was worried!”

Gronkit looked off into space, seemed to go off into a kind of trance and replied in a monotone voice, “the Asylum are coming, they are attempting to awaken the ancient Doomslayers, you are all in great danger . . .”

Therese gaped in anstonishment, Gronkit appeared to come out of his trance and said “Oi! I said you could have one, don’t eat them all!”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 25, 2012 at 8:34pm

Ezra Yesterday turned to speak to the rest of his small group of displaced fellow travelers to find that he was, with the exception of a hungry Ch-Chi, very much alone in a large group of slowly dispersing natives.<What,> he thought to himself,<has Ronin been giving disappear lessons while I wasn’t looking?> With a sigh, he decided to go try and find someone he knew and then, hopefully, some food.
As he was turning to head for the ladder, a mission firmly in mind, he accidentally stepped on the foot of one of the natives that was passing close behind him. Before he could even open his mouth to apologize, the fellow recoiled with a snarl and went to shove Ezra. Never one to take a shove lightly, Ezra promptly ducked, pulled the attacker forward and off balance using the arm that had reached for him, and pivoted out of the way in order to let the rude customer fall on his face.
This always worked in a tavern brawl, but sadly for Ezra, he had never fought a four armed opponent before. IN mid spin, the forgotten other right arm snagged the back of his collar in an attempt to steady its owner.. which pulled him down, uttering an indignant and surprised squawk into a tangled heap with the falling native.
After a few amusing moments of struggling, they managed to right themselves, backing away and looking each other over. Ezra was vaguely aware of a familiar form trying to make its way through the growing crowd of onlookers, but most of his attention was focused on the hostile being opposite him. He was not as tall as most of the other people around them, and he wore a very fancy crossed pair of gleaming black lizard skin belts, with 4 of those hand cannons everyone here was wearing holstered for quick draw. He also wore a black cowboy hat… <Great, the local bully thinks he’s a gunslinger>, Ezra thought sarcastically.
The gunslinger in question made to draw one of his weapons and suddenly a hand was there, holding his wrist so he couldn’t draw. “Now, Arno. What seems ts be the trouble? Can’t a traveler be here 10 ticks before you pick a fight? He ain’t even had his breakfast yet.” Estin, the man who had saved them all in the desert, slowly released the grip he had on Arno’s hand and turned to Ezra. “Now,” he said. ” what seems to be the problem here?”
“Actually, sir, I’m afraid it was my clumsiness that started the problem. I was looking more for my friends than where I was going, and I stepped on his foot. Before I could apologize, he swung on me and we sort of ended up wrestling. Now that you have slowed things down, I can say the sorry I had meant to say earlier.” He turned and nodded at Arno, and said “Please forgive my clumsiness, I meant no offense, big guy.”
There was a startled intake of breath all around as Arno’s face suddenly went a much darker green. Then, he threw all four arms out in a huge X pattern, with his fists balled up and bellowed something that must have had meaning to the assembled, but sounded like 3 bars of a Do Wop song from the 50’s to Ezra’s ear.
Beside him, Estin slumped and said in a subdued voice, ” Very well. As the Challenged is new here, I shall stand as his representation, and request that he be given 3 days to learn our ways. We shall meet you in the town square at High Moon, that your grievance may be addressed.”
With a dark, angry nod, Arno stalked away.
“Wow, Estin, I didn’t know you were a Lawyer. Thanks for taking my case against that bully… Umm, what is all this about again?.. And what’s High Moon, a saloon?”
Estin shook his head sadly, and said, “First of all, I’m not a lawyer, I’m just a farmer; second, that isn’t a bully, he’s a gunman. He picks fights in order to shoot people, has 81 wins on his belts..  Third, he’s real, Real sensitive about his height, and you just called him “Big Guy” in front of half the town.Real bad luck, that turn of phrase, if you don’t mind me sayin’.
He thought a moment, then continued, “Oh, and High Moon isn’t a place, it’s when all three Moons are full and straight up in the sky, next one is three nights from now.”
Estin shook his head sadly, “It isn’t a trial we just set up.. it’s a duel.”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 25, 2012 at 9:16pm

Therese stood pondering this newest oddness from Gronkit.
Who were the Asylum?
What was a Doomslayer?
And where had he gotten those delicious crisps?
Her thoughts were cut off by a group of screaming green four armed children, running toward them from deeper in the caverns, screaming at the top of their lungs, “Awake…They’re Awake! They’re coming.. They”re COMING!!!”
********
Ezra stood looking at Estin in shock.
“A Duel?” he said, incredulously, “You want me to fight a duel with a gunslinger over a lousy stubbed toe? Are you mad?!?”
Estin shook his head and said, ” No, not me, Arno. I tried to head this off, but you had to go and call him a midget… which he is, no question. But still, hardly fair pointing it out in front of his mother… and the rest of the Church chior. He really had no choice at that point.”
“I don’t believe this!” Ezra exclaimed, ” I’m going to be shot for being friendly. “Big Guy” is a form of familiar address where I come from. I was trying to make nice with the hot headed little twerp!”
“Well, it didn’t work. Now you just have to face him and be done.”
“How do I face him?” Ezra said gesturing at one of the large guns riding on Estin’s hip, “I’m not sure I can even lift one of those things, much less fire one. I’m doomed.”
“I don’t understand your worry. You fight, he shoots you, you fall down. Then you patch up any holes, clean up all the red and move on, honor satisfied. It’s not as if..”
At that moment , a large group of children came barreling out of a side passage, screaming at the top of their lungs. Ezra, momentarily distracted from a future where he had holes in himself, asked in alarm, “Who’s awake.. What’s coming?”
“Oh.” said Estin, “Don’t be concerned, it’s nothing.. just the Sandmakers coming up to play. The kids Love it, you should come and see.”
And with that, he turned and headed for the front opening of the cave.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on August 26, 2012 at 10:50am

Ezra followed Estin to the front of the cave. With the suns down, the air temperature had dropped considerably ; there was a single large moon high in the sky, and a glow on the horizon far to the east that indicated another was soon to rise. There was enough light to see that the entire vista before him, that had been desert less than an hour before, was now a solid sheet of what looked to be ice. It looked for all the world as if they were standing in the middle of a glacier, except the wind was still uncomfortably warm from the heat rising off of the glassy ground.
It was stunning in its beauty.
Estin took a deep breath, as if he were sniffing the wind, then said, “Hmmmm, Still a bit hot, yet; some Suncrash are hotter than others. Another couple of turns, and the Sandmakers will be ready to play. Got time for breakfast before they get here, if you want.”
“Breakfast? I don’t understand. It’s scarcely past sundown.” As the words left his mouth, Ezra realized what the answer had to be, and he was right.
“Well, certainly. It’s a desert out there! We have two suns, dust storms, and giant death-lizards roaming about during the day. Suncrash is a special event, everyone up in the middle of the night to move the town into the cave and prepare. Makes some folk a bit grumpy, as you have learned.” The tall native eyed him with a look of quiet humor in his eyes as he continued, “Nobody with any sense goes out in the the sunlight… unless they’re rounding up strays.” He laughed, and clapped Ezra on the back when the human ruefully joined in and said, “Come on, Ezra my friend, let’s find you and your little companion something to eat. We can round up the rest of your friends on our way. Mrs. Sharp will be pleased to feed us all over at the Travelers Rest, and we can see about getting you some rooms while we’re there.”
Ezra agreed, and together they set off to find breakfast and a place to eat. As they walked, Ezra reflected on the situation; it seemed that the humans had found a quiet resting place for once. No killer bread, Peacekeepers, crazed professors, Mechanoid fleets, or Teutonic dictators in the making to contend with; in fact, no huge, world encompassing threats of any kind to bother them here… just one grumpy gunslinger for Ezra to deal with, and that was days away.
[Humans have a long standing, some would say time honored tradition. When they think they have voiced an opinion that is too optimistic, it is possible that what was said will “jinx” the situation, causing good luck to turn bad. When this happens they will ball up their fists and knock on the nearest piece of wood, in an attempt to ground out the jinx and avert this “mystically summoned” supposed disaster.
If there was ever a better reason than the thought that next crossed Ezra’s mind to embrace said superstition, I don’t know what it would be.]
He sighed in contentment as he thought,< At last, we’ve found somewhere safe to rest. Nothing will bother us here.>

Reply by Sparrow on August 26, 2012 at 5:30pm

Second Lieutenant Rugan Camizo left the Engineering Department, following after the small winged brigade.
Ysbryd, took her cup from the tray, stared into it’s emptiness, held it out and said
in a curt, rather commanding tone “More.”
Thunkbot 15, fortunately being a robotic, did not catch the inflection in her voice
and tilted it’s ‘head’ filling Ysbryd’s cup once again.
She brought the steamy brew to just beneath her cellular breathing apparatus, closed her optical flaps as she paused to intake it’s warmth and fragrance.
She normally only took in temperate liquids.
Her senses swam in the richness of this.
It was a new stimuli in more ways than one, she had just not felt the full impact of the caffeine.
Yet.
She stared at what she now regarded a mechanical marvel sputtering froth in front of her, not saying a word.
She swore by all y duwiau of Nef that it was staring back at her, that is, if she knew exactly where it’s visual sensors were.
Ysbryd broke the silence first.
“I have committed to working with you. Let us get a few things straight. Although voluntary, I did not welcome the agreement, but I will do my best to abide by the rules of this vessel’ adding, as she returned the empty cup to the tray “and I don’t do dishes.”
“Now, perhaps you can show me to my quarters?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 27, 2012 at 12:59pm

The Chief did not immediately respond to Ysbryd, but rather retrieved her cup from off the tray with a succinct robotic motion with its right arm and proceeded to sanitize it with a steam nozzle that replaced the whirring device that had earlier been at the end of its left arm. During this action, the Chief appeared to regard Ysbryd in an almost sympathetic matter. Almost like a bartender cleaning glassware while listening to patrons’ woes, the Chief continued to monitor Ysbryd while it serviced the cup, in silence.
Ysbryd began to grow impatient and repeated “you may show me to my quarters.” Still the Chief did not respond, remaining silent for precisely the amount of time it took to analyze the DNA sample the Chief had lifted from off of Ysbryd’s cup. Ysbryd’s impatience slowly turned to irritation mixed with slight trepidation and as she opened her mouth to address the robot again, the Chief interrupted “Ysbryd Tragwyddol will remain on station until 2nd Lieutenant Rugan Camizo returns. Ysbryd Tragwyddol will remain on station until navigational coordinates have been programmed in as per Captain Forlath Grey’s instructions. Ysbryd Tragwyddol would not be violating defense protocol by ‘making herself comfortable’ in the interim. Would Ysbryd Tragwyddol like another espresso?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 27, 2012 at 12:59pm

Captain Forlath Grey strode down the corridor to the aft maintenance lifts; a twinge in his leg caused him to wince, stop for a moment and grip the brass hand rail that ran the length of the curved corridor. The pain was the result of an injury he received when he was slammed against the bulkhead by the Dough Hive Queen at the end of book one. The Captain held onto the rail with one hand and massaged his thigh with the other. The twinge was most likely caused by a drop in the barometric pressure, there must be a storm coming, the Captain thought to himself. It was time to leave this dimension behind, but first he had some loose ends to tie up on the planet below.
The Captain decided he would stop by his cabin on the way to the Command Gondola, and retrieve his cane, the ten gauge cane made especially for him by the former Chief Engineering Officer, the gods rest her soul. Besides, the tense situation with the Elven security contractors being what it was, it potentially wasn’t a bad idea to be armed . . .

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 27, 2012 at 1:00pm

Chaplain Sean Grey turned at the tugging on his tattered frock coat to find Therese and Gronkit looking at him with pensive looks. Well, in all fairness, Therese was the pensive looking one. Gronkit looked more sullen than anything. Before the Chaplain could ask what was wrong, Therese grabbed him by the hand and pulled him after her to a corner, out of the earshot of passing Jak’wa’sar. There she told the Chaplain what Gronkit had told her, her hands gesticulating wildly.
The Chaplain reached out gently to grasp her forearms in an attempt to calm her down and avoid attracting undue attention. During this exchange Gronkit continued to stand sullenly, with his arms crossed, not saying a word. The Chaplain turned to Gronkit “where did you get this information, who told you this?”
Gronkit did not respond. The Chaplain looked at Therese quizzically. Therese rolled her eyes and said “oh, he’s still cross that I ate his last crisp. Never mind that. Chaplain, supposedly we’re in danger, we need to get out of here or find a defensible position, secure weapons, sharpen sticks, something!”
The Chaplain looked from one to the other “even if it is true, we have no idea what a Doomslayer is, how do we know it’s a bad thing, it could be a slayer of doom, wouldn’t that be a . . . um, good thing . . .” The Chaplain trailed off, when you considered their past luck that argument sounded weak even to his own ears.
“Right,” the Chaplain continued after a moment’s reflection “I suggest we find Ronin and Ezra and consider our options. Last I saw, Ezra was making friends with the natives, any sign of him now??”

Reply by Sparrow on August 28, 2012 at 8:01am

Therese shook the Chaplain’s hold on her.
She did not like being restrained, ever since that time…..
well, she just couldn’t recall so she brushed the notion aside,
yet the thought or feeling, whatever it was, remained.
Therese looked up and into Chaplain Grey’s eyes.
It worried her that he seemed worried.
She quite liked this good-hearted, stuffed-shirt of a man.
In fact, she had grown fond of all her companions, including
Gronkit.
They were her chosen family.
Well, more like a ‘cast together in continual chaos’ family, but isn’t
that the best kind?
Nope!
At least not the ‘continual chaos’ part.
Therese’s face then grew grave and took on a far away look,
her eyes now staring off into the buttons of the Chaplain’s frock coat
since he was much taller than she and was blocking the dramatics of her mystic gaze.
Speaking in a hypnotic-like state (and no, it was not because the shiny buttons
mesmerized her) she murmured-
“A sly Mum or maybe an Alyssum, is humming, attempting to awaken the
ancient Bloom Sprayers.”
She shook her head. She had always wanted to do that trance thing, even if feigned.
“Maybe that was it, and I got it wrong!?!”
Therese continued, trying to alleviate the worry.  “Maybe it wasn’t anything about an asylum or doom or slayers?”
she said hopefully, for the sound of ‘slayers’ seemed very unpleasant to her.
“Oh, look!” pointing “there’s Ezra and Ronin now!” The previous thought
quickly cancelled from her mind, she took the Chaplain’s and Gronkit’s hands and
tugged them along towards the others.

Reply by Forlath Grey on August 28, 2012 at 2:10pm

Captain Forlath Grey stood before the conference table in the Observation Room, located in the rear of the QBR’s Command Gondola. Junior staff officers sat around the table and listened and in some cases took notes, as the Captain gave them their orders.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re on a tight schedule. We have only a few hours before the storm is projected to reach our current location and I intend to be long gone by then. We’ve processed the data received from debriefs of captured prisoners and the local townsfolk and our course of action is clear:
Number one – the Bridge crew will land the QBR with the assistance of on-ground deployment and will load as many of Drecksler’s Behemoths as are still operational and can safely be loaded onto the QBR without affecting our lift capability. Whatever we don’t take, we destroy. Clancy?” the Captain looked at the QBR Crew Chief, “work with the Loadmaster to make it happen.”
“Number two – Corporal Chemisesrouges, canvass Drecksler’s 10th Uhlan Regiment for volunteers, you’ll have to use your best judgment as to suitability. We could use some lancers and any crew and mechanics knowledgeable in the maintenance and operation of the Behemoths. The rest of the prisoners, strip them of anything we can use, divide them into burial details and once they’ve completed that task, send them on their way. Yes, I’m aware the ground might be too frozen to provide the causalities the honors they have earned, do what you can.”
“Items three and four are a bit more delicate. Three – apparently there is a scientist or a doctor, no one is really sure which, by the name of Gris, being either protected or held prisoner by a group of monks here in town. I think I know this woman. Take a security detail, secure her release and bring her onboard.”
“Number four – Professor Extreme’s castle is not far from here. Apparently Drecksler’s forces have already trashed the place but check it out anyway. I want any research notes, case studies, things of that nature, anything that might indicate what that bastard was up to. And if by some remote chance you should come across the good Professor in the flesh – terminate him with extreme prejudice. No pun intended. Well, maybe just a little pun. Also, apparently that idiot has gone and unleashed something that he couldn’t control, so use the utmost caution.”
“That’s it people, we’re burning daylight, let’s go.” As the crew set upon their tasks the Captain called over Corporal Chemisesrouges for a quiet word, “Corporal, anything you discover of a research related nature is to be treated as a ‘on a need to know only’ item, Defense Protocol Alpha Amber, understand?” The Corporal nodded once, succinctly. Just at that moment Guidolas came into the room “Ah, Mr. Guidolas, excellent, we were just talking about you, thank you for coming. We require the services of your fine team planet side for a couple of pre-departure tasks, if you would be so kind. The Corporal here will fill you in on the details; I must get back down to Engineering. Dismissed.”
With that the Captain headed towards the aft maintenance lifts, cane in hand. He remembered the noises from the venting earlier, and made a mental note to have the Chief purge the ship venting . . .

Reply by Sparrow on August 28, 2012 at 3:15pm

Ysbryd began pacing the floor like a caged animal, which in some ways, she was.
She could never stand being confined by anyone or anything, and this ‘order’ to remain
in engineering was the same, to her, as still being under ship’s arrest.
And to make matters worse, for reasons unknown, her senses were on overload, her body felt electrified.
It was a surge of energy like she had never felt before, and it was building in intensity.
She eyed with suspicion the mechanical conglomerate of appliances standing motionless in front of her.
“What was in that drink” she accused.
Sensing her anxiety C.E.T-15 responded.
“I believe it may be the caffeine affecting your central nervous system, Ysbryd Tragwyddol. I have observed this to be normal in most humanoids.”
Calling her a ‘humanoid’ was enough to only further irritate Ysbryd’s rapidly decaying patience.
She sat for a few moments, only to rise again, striding nervously back and forth in agitation, the entire length of the Engineering Bay.
Glancing up, she noticed more of the pointed eared crew who were patrolling the upper
levels, now watching her intently.
She thought about releasing some of the intense vigor she was experiencing by using her telekinetic ability on them. Perhaps holding them aloft and spinning them about would be amusing, but she had promised the Captain her complete cooperation without causing any conflicts.
She was generally good at keeping her word.
Turning away the thought, she flung herself in the nearest chair and began fidgeting.
She needed to disperse this energy in some way.
“Excuse me Ysbryd Tragwyddol” it was the machine again.
“Just call me Ysbryd” was her derisive retort.
“Excuse me Ysbryd” it continued “per Captain Grey’s request you are to enter the translated coordinates into the ships navigational computer. You can do so at that console” pointing with what appeared to be salad tongs at a monitor in the center of the room.
Ysbryd stood, walked over to where the Chief Engineer had directed her, placed the anterior of her manus (or palms) so they hovered directly over the command module and closed her optics.
She literally ‘hummed’ in tune with the downloading computer system.
The ships interface immediately began to process the Supergalactic coordinates that she was entering….
SGRA=185.4ºh, SGDec=1911.44º -2.4 heading 323 Mark 19
When finished, she felt a bit drained of some of that aforementioned zest.
Turning to C.E.Thunkbot15 she said “it’s all programmed in, all that remains is for the Captain’s order to ‘make it so’.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 5, 2012 at 9:21am

The Spy waited.
He had felt the presence of those Cursed Kyd in his ship, moving in his secret places, stalking him. He had things to check, the most important of them just around the corner. But first, he had to make sure there were no pursuers nearby to witness him entering that place, for the mischief he had planned there was not yet ready. After several minutes, he realized the Kyd presence, whatever it was, had lessened. He climbed quietly through the small opening into the larger space beyond and chuckled at what he beheld there.
The room was some sort of axillary mess hall storeroom filled with baking supplies and equipment; just now it was a mess of empty bags of sugar, flour, the shells of dozens of eggs and empty cartons of buttermilk.
In the center of the room, a sad, pathetic creature sat strapped to a giant cookie sheet, his chef’s hat and cravat in a crumpled up pile at his feet. The Spy spoke, “So my little doughboy traitor, are you comfortable? I have been mixing up something delicious, just for you.” He gestured to the giant bowl in the center of the room, covered with a towel. “I’ve been cooking up a little surprise for the people of this ship , and I think it’s been rising long enough. All it needs now,” he said turning back to the captive pastry with menace dripping from every word, “is a little seasoning to give it that special taste of home…”
The Doughboy’s eyes widened in terror as comprehension dawned, and it said in a trembling voice, “You mean…?”
“Thats right, my little turncoat. They say ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’,” He picked up the cookie sheet with the now whimpering doughboy and moved toward the bowl, “but I disagree. I say ‘ Nothing Says DIE! Like Something From the Oven'(tm).”
He lifted the towel to expose the slowly undulating mass of dough underneath, began to laugh as only a crazed Level Boss can, and leaned in to whisper in the poor, terrified doughboys ear, “You are the final ingredient in my main course, a new Dough Hive Queen!”
There followed the sound of high pitched screams, manacle laughter and a sickly, wet *Plop*.

Reply by Forlath Grey on September 6, 2012 at 1:39pm

The Padre followed in Therese’s wake, suddenly a thought hit him “hey guys, on the top of page six, I noticed a mysterious, stocky figure at the back of the cavern – any idea who that was?”
————————————————-
Meanwhile back aboard the QBR airship, Captain Forlath Grey had just hit the elevator call button when the Officer of the Watch called him back, “Captain, we appear to have a situation here.”
The Captain turned around and returned to the Control Room, the crew on hand all looked pensive as the Captain entered, “What’s the issue Chief Petty Officer Camisaroja?”
“Sir,” the Officer of the Watch replied “this red light just came on and we have no idea what it means, but it appears to be shaped . . . like an oven?”
The Captain took a look, pushed his hat back and scratched his head, “well the obvious question would appear to be – has someone left an oven on??”

Reply by Sparrow on September 8, 2012 at 11:01am

“Perhaps it was one of the children, or Gronkit you saw and your eyes
had not completely recovered from the ‘sun-sational’ glaring event we
just witnessed?” Therese responded to the Chaplain’s remark, pleased with
her witty reference.
“Or maybe you need to eat something, perhaps you were hallucinating
from lack of food, because all I saw was Gronkit heading off down the
tunnel, so I followed him. You know what mischief he can get into.”
And with that, Gronkit grimaced, only to have Therese pat him on the
head and smile, adding “Oh don’t e such a grumpy goblin, you know
we are all very happy to have you as a member of our little family, right
Chaplain?”
The Chaplain rolled his eyes as an elbow to the ribs persuaded him
to agree.
You could see in Gronkit’s eyes, although his demeanor did not change, a softening.
He had never considered himself a part of anything before, especially not
a family, he just took orders and did what he was told for fear of punishment if not.
Gronkit was beginning to really like these humans, though he would never admit it.
Therese turned to Estin.
“Excuse me, sir, but can you recommend any good restaurants in these here parts?” she
naively inquired with what she tried to imitate as a western draw.
(Narrator- And not the kind of ‘draw’ Ezra would be required to do in a few more days. Perhaps the ‘weapons’ would only be pencils, but it was doubtful. Ezra seemed to find himself quite regularly in the most dire of situations, but thankfully always came out the better for…err, came out of it.)
As she spoke, Gronkit nodded along with agreement.
Nodded most fervently.

Reply by Sparrow on September 8, 2012 at 11:06am

Ysbryd could stand being ‘still’ no longer.
“This is ridiculous” she spoke in agitation.
“The Captain wishes you to remain in Engineering, Ysbryd”
CET15 droned in monotone.
“Ffwcio what the Captain ‘wishes’” she replied walking towards the
door even more irritated.
As she was exiting the room, but without turning Ysbryd heard
the Chief state “If you must leave, please go directly to your quarters,
Ysbryd. You are temporarily assigned guest cabin H-12-A, Ysbryd. Captain Grey
felt you would be more comfortable there until you meet the rest of the crew, Ysbryd.”
As she entered the main corridor of the Engineering deck she felt the need to scream,
but withheld the urge. If ‘it’ had repeated her name just…one…more….time….” she pushed the
thought from her mind. She was infuriated enough.
Although she disliked being told what to do, the thought of privacy calmed her.
A place where she could rid herself, at least temporarily, of these infernal cloth
bindings she was required to wear and which seemed to irritate her even more so
since she had been ‘drugged’ with…what did that tin waste-bin call it?….caffeine.
Even so, she remembered how deliciously warm and aromatic such a drug it was.
Snapping back from the recollection, she wondered what purpose these ‘coverings’
served when not in combat? For some reason unknown to her, fleshers felt they
were essential when interacting in public.
Perhaps she would ask one of them how this concept came about.
As she approached a lift that would take her to the appropriate deck, she sensed
something was amiss aboard this vessel, however, since she was merely here to assist them
with navigation, shrugged it off and continued towards her destination.

Reply by Forlath Grey on September 13, 2012 at 1:28pm

Captain Grey hit the ship’s intercom button, “security detail meet me on the ship messdeck in five.” He turned the intercom off again and headed back towards the elevators. Hopefully one of the kitchen staff had just left an oven on, but the Captain had a sneaking suspicion something much more sinister was afoot.
The Captain stepped off the lift and sniffed the corridor, was that the smell of dough . . . rising? The Captain took a few steps down the hallway attempting to pinpoint where the smell was coming from. He rounded the corner and noticed a maintenance hatch at waist height, behind an imitation, decorative fern. The Captain leaned over and put his nose against the grillwork. The smell was definitely coming from the other side. The Captain hesitated slightly, decided against waiting for the security detail, opened the hatch, crouched down and slipped through to the other side. It took a couple minutes for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. The Captain found himself in a maintenance passage, with pipes and cables running the length of the passageway on either side. Captain Grey could hear a whirring sound coming from further up the passage and headed in that direction.
The Captain followed the passageway around a bend, to find bright light spilling from a room up ahead. He advanced cautiously towards the doorway, the sound getting louder with every step. Slowly the Captain peered into the room, noticing no one, he stepped into a room the size of a warehouse (how many hidden rooms does this stupid ship have, the Captain asked himself), and found himself looking at the largest mixing bowl he had ever seen, with a ladder leading up to a catwalk at the top of one side of the bowl. The Captain looked left and right and then crossed the floor to the base of the ladder. Holding his cane in one hand, Captain Grey made his way up the ladder, one rung at a time, to the catwalk above. When he reached the top he caught his breath and looked into the giant steel bowl. There in the midst of the bowl a huge blade was rotating, mixing a huge gurgling, bubbling, doughy concoction. “What in the name of all that’s holy . . .” the Captain started, was that a giant doughy hand he just saw raise out of the dough?
“Ah but of course, it was just a matter of time before the valiant Captain arrived,” cackled a familiar voice from further down the catwalk. Captain Grey turned towards the voice “You!” the Captain gasped in surprise, “what is the meaning of . . .” Before the Captain could finish his question a shot rang out, Captain Forlath Grey’s hand flew to his leg as it buckled beneath him, tossing him directly into the mixing bowl, the sound of insane laughter ringing in the Captain’s ears . . .

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 14, 2012 at 2:03pm

The spy was beside himself with unholy glee.
He had not only managed to capture the final ingredient for his new creation, it was the Hated Captain himself, come bumbling in alone and unaware. The recipe called for a strong leader, and he had despaired of finding one suitable to his needs, as the Elves were not compatible. He had hoped to get one of the command staff through some trickery, but he certainly hadn’t expected this amount of luck, or so soon.
The dough bubbled and thrashed for several minutes as he victim fought its hopeless battle with fate. the strong ones always lasted longer,  and it was not just physical strength that mattered… in fact, the last Dough Queen, the one this one had helped destroy, had been made from Margaret Thatcher… admittedly well past her prime, but still wily for all her frailty. She lasted nearly 3 hours.
Luckily for the spy and the growing Dough Larva [but not so much for Forlath], a gunshot wound would shorten the struggle considerably.
<Yes,> the insane spy thought to himself, <Good luck indeed. Nothing can stop my plans now.>
And with this thought, he repeated it aloud, “NOTHING!”, and indulged himself in another maniacal bought of Evil Laughter.

***************
Mo-Mo, at the tail of the marching column, stopped in his tracks, turned his head toward the nearest air vent and gave a deep, hungry sniff. There was food, lovely hot bread somewhere close. He looked at the marching Monkey-Bats, then at the air vent, then back…
His stomach gurgled.. as quickly as that it was decided…
The Elves could wait.

Reply by Sparrow on September 15, 2012 at 7:51pm

Ysbryd only just now noticed the thin, metallic  ring that encased her left carpus.
She was perplexed. How did it come to be there, and why had
she not noticed it before.
She turned it about, looking for a clasp of some sort, but there
was none.
Only a row of small, green pulsating lights.
She wondered if it was secured to her unawares, while under the influence of that drug, caffeine?
Of course, she had been quite agitated and preoccupied in thought after it took it’s effect on her.
That contraption they call Chief Engineer could have attached it to her while in such a state.
She turned abruptly and went back to engineering.
‘What is the meaning of this?’ she seethed.
She held it out to what she assumed was CET15’s scanner.
“Security insisted upon it” was the response in it’s rather monotonous and irritating pitch.
“Security?” Ysbryd rasped “I thought I was a member of the crew? Is this customary
aboard ship for all of it’s personnel?”
The Chief ignored her.
Ysbryd, growing impatient and still slightly on edge gave it a rap on it’s
expresso-head.
“I asked you a question, and expect an answer!” she demanded.
Chief Thunkbot reluctantly replied. “Security felt that until you’re motives and
actions were verified, this was necessary to insure you would not use your
innate abilities to harm the ship or any of it’s crew. I was told, if you were to
insist on leaving Engineering, it was mandatory.”
“And just when did you place it upon me?” Ysbryd scowled
“When you returned the cup to my tray, I placed it on the opposite wrist.”
With a humph, Ysbryd turned and exited the room, cursing under her breath as she left-
“a twpsyn restraining device! My abilities are rendered useless by it, cachu, cachu, cachu!”
As she approached the lift once again, a small contingent of armed crew members
came towards her.
She debated on what to do, thinking they were there to ‘escort’ her back to engineering, but
instead passed around her as she stood holding her ground in expectation.
She sensed something as they passed, that disturbance she had felt earlier.
She glanced at the blinking green about her ‘wrist’, it must only block her telekinetic ability, but not her intuitiveness.
Knowing precisely where the disruption was, she avoided taking the lift to her room and went
to see what could cause her to have such a dire need to do so.
Moving cautiously along the ships corridors, Ysbryd came upon a small maintenance hatch situated behind an inorganic plant of unknown species. She knew this was the direction in which the sensation she felt was coming from, entered it and followed the passageway towards a brightly lit area up ahead.
To her surprise, it was a large, almost kitchen-esque room.
In it’s center she could not help but notice a very large rotary mixer grinding stressfully in an attempt to blend whatever was inside an even larger bowl, the likes of which she had never seen before and to further her astonishment, what appeared to be the Captain’s cane jamming the blades of the beaters as it began to smoke and cause the cane to splinter.
As she wondered what the Captain’s cane was doing there, she moved closer and saw a flesher’s hand clutching the edge of the bowl, as another ghastly claw-like doughy mass was trying to pull it away.
The realization hit her full force, it was indeed Captain Grey within the bowl, and y’duwiau only knew what else was in there with him.
Grasping his hand she pulled with all her might, the sticky dough persistent on drawing him back in.
Although she was slight of build and not particularly physically strong (with her abilities, strength of body was not a necessity, only strength of will) Ysbryd was finally able to pull him free.
She began scraping at the dough which was blocking his external respiratory system, depriving him of oxygen. As she did so, he began to move, coughed, gasped, then began removing it himself. It was then Ysbryd noticed his bloodied leg, the dough having temporarily stanched what seemed a wound of some sort.
She continued to kneel by his side, thankful that no further form of resuscitation on her part was required, when she noticed movement from up above.
‘There, on the catwalk, what is that’ Ysbryd squinted as the glare from the overhead lighting kept her from seeing clearly what it was, all she heard was the crazed, demented sound of laughter coming from it’s direction

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 15, 2012 at 9:29pm

Rugan walked down the hallway, trailing behind the strange procession of Monkey-Bats. They were beginning to mill about, the neat precise column turning into a jumble centered on an air vent. All of the creatures were sniffing deeply and rubbing their stomachs, and seemed unaffected by the presence of a human in their midst. As he got closer, he realized he was smelling the rich yeasty smell of rising bread… coming from an air shaft in the deepest center of the ship. What in the world could this mean?
As he stood contemplating this newest mystery on a ship he had thought he knew well, a small, furry, black and grey rocket seemed to burst out of the shaft and straight into a startled Rugan’s arms.
The missile in question turned out to be Mo-Mo, Rugan’s personal messenger from the Engineers, who promptly scrambled up, grabbed Rugan’s head in tiny paws, and looked him in the eyes, in some way passing a mental image [tinged in gold] of a giant mixer, a yeasty monstrosity rising from within, two human forms beneath…and from a catwalk above, the sound of maniacal laughter.

There was another Dough Queen being born…On this Ship….Right Now.
After a moment of sheer panic, Rugan suddenly found himself in a place of pure, golden calm.
He took a deep cleansing breath, closed his eyes and formed a single, crystal clear image in his mind, that he then broadcast to the Monkey-Bat in his arms…
An image of the Elven Ice-rink.

Mo-Mo’s eyes widened in shock, then narrowed in startled realization, followed by a low chuckle in a dead radio host’s voice, ” What an absolutely Splendid idea!”
Then Mo-Mo took off down the corridor, calling his troops to order as he went,  while Rugan went the other way. Down an air shaft…
And into Hell’s Kitchen.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 15, 2012 at 10:24pm

As Ysbryd tended to the injured Captain, the crazed laughter above them came to a sudden halt.
“Blast! Is there no end to number of the allies you can pull out of your…” Before this certain to be rude sentiment could be completed, there was a sound of an air vent across the room being kicked free, and she saw Rugan Camizo step forward into the pool of orange light spilling down from the array of heat lamps hanging over the huge mixing bowl.
“AS you can see,” interrupted Rugan with a smirk, “you can add one more to that total.”
The shadowy figure on the catwalk gave an evil snicker, and said, voice rising with each word until he was at a full insane scream, “Camizo. You, at least, I have no worries about. Whatever magic they used on you to cure my Zombie-itis, I doubt the Elves can save you after I riddle your body Full Of HOLES!” And with that a rapid series of gunshots rang out, the air suddenly full of flying lead.

Ysbryd stood, a frozen witness to the impossible. She was no expert on Flesher weapons, but whatever the mad one on the ledge was using, it spit out over 20 rounds in the 2 seconds the shooting lasted.. and he had one in each hand.
Her enhanced senses allowed her to track each one, but she could not visually follow the action; it was simply too fast to see. All she could ever relate afterwards was the clear sense, the utter certainty,  that nothing made of flesh and blood that she had ever encountered before that day, could have survived that wall of flying death.

Rugan Camizo made it look easy.

He dodged, he wove under a safety rail, he seemed to flow like lightning through a thunderhead seen from miles away.. and she was nearly certain that he disappeared entirely for several microseconds… at least she was never able to reconcile where he had been with the place he was when she finally found him again.
There was, in that hidden bakery of evil, a tango with Death Itself… and Death learned a few new moves following Rugan’s lead.

Finally, with an inarticulate cry of rage, the mad one flung first one and then the other of his empty weapons at Rugan; the first one missed his head my a millimeter, but he never blinked or flinched. The second, that would have hit him in the throat, he caught as if it were a Frisby(tm) and with a flick of his wrist, sent it rocketing back the way it had come. There was a sickening crunch and a pained shriek as the missile found its target, sent it tumbling over the edge, and straight into the undulating, sickening yeasty mass in the bowl below.

Time seemed to shake itself, then restart, as if even it couldn’t believe what it had just witnessed.
Ysbryd looked at Rugan and said, “What are you? No wait, that can wait… Is the Mad One dead?”
Rugan gave a sheepish smile as he sauntered toward her, the swagger saying better than words could ever describe just how entirely pleased he was with himself at the moment, “Well, I certainly hope he is, otherwise I will have to interrogate him. No way is… Guidolas letting me… get away… with… ulp…” And with a mild look of surprise, Rugan suddenly slumped over and fell, Hard, flat on his face.
As Ysbryd started to lean down to see what had happened, there was a huge, squelching sound and a deep, bone rattling chuckle from behind her. She turned and looked up… And up..
As a huge humanoid made entirely of pasty white dough slowly rose from the bowl.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 15, 2012 at 11:34pm

“IF I WANT SOMETHING DONE, I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO DO IT MYSELF!!”, said the huge Dough creature towering over the Captain and his 2 crew-members [one still provisional].
It leaned over and stretched a sticky arm in their direction and said in a slightly less booming voice, “Well, Captain Forlath, the position of Dough brain has been filled. It would seem your services, and indeed your life, are no longer needed here.”
With that pronouncement, the creature raised its arm high and made to smash it down on the three below, just as a loud, somehow mechanical voice cried out…
++YEE-HAW++
… And Mo-Mo came sailing into the room, trailed by a small winged squadron of his fellow Monkey-Bats, who also chimed in, ++Yee-HAW++
The furry creatures swept through the air high over the doughy monstrosity, and as they did, they dropped small packages onto its upraised arm.
The Dough creature had just time to say “WHA?” before the small missiles struck it.
One of the tiny objects landed near the captain and he recognized it as an Ice spider, similar to the one that his lost XO had used to save them once before, in the Peacekeeper tunnels back in the middle of book II. He lay back and relaxed, safe in the knowledge that this fight was over.
There was a sudden wind in the room, as the air temperature dropped several degrees, and a moment of utter stillness as a cool mist began to pour off the creature; then, with a terrific +CRACK+ the upraised arm broke loose, bounced off the creature’s own back and down into the bowl, where it shattered like glass.
The Creature from the Baking Room let out a howl of sheer frustration, as another flight came through and finished freezing the creature solid, not stopping their bombardment until it had toppled and shattered under its own weight.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 15, 2012 at 11:49pm

Work crews had been set up to hack the frozen dough apart and bake it as fast as possible. The Monkey-Bats were more than happy to dispose of all the creatures remains, baked, thawed or frozen, it was no matter. In short order, the creature would be disposed of for good. The last part of the creature, the head, was just being dismantled when the Captain stopped in to check on Rugan, who was being fussed over by the ancient elf they had met earlier today.
“How is he?” the Captain asked, “Will he be alright?”
“Yes,” the old one said with a chuckle,” its just a reaction to the healing juice. You see, the potion simply speeds and perfects the natural processes of healing.. this can put quite a strain on the system by itself. Add to that the rather impressive short term enhancement of the motor skills and reflexes that the potion provided in his case and.. well, let’s just say he is at the bottom of his reserves….completely exhausted. He needs several days of sleep, and what will seem to be impossible amounts of food once he wakes, and he will be fine. I understand it was his idea to use the ice spiders we use to freeze our rink to kill the beast in there. Seems he’s a quick one, even without the potion.”
The Captain began to retort, something along the lines of  hidden tribes of Elves and hockey rinks on His Ship without his permission, when there was a commotion out by the Dough head.
He limped that way with the help of his cane just in time to see a partially rotted hand rip its way outward from the interior of the mass of defrosting dough.
The work crew had  backed away and now surged forward to capture the zombie faced creature that struggled its way out.
Bosun Higgs, was just finishing clapping irons onto the captive when Forlath hobbled up.
“Captain,” the bosun said proudly, “We captured Zombie Zack for you, as you asked.”
“I think, Bosun, you will find that is not really Zack at all, but a larger evil hiding behind his rotting face…”
So saying, he reached up and yanked the shock of dried, tangled hair on the captive’s head, pulling the decaying skin away like a mask, and revealing a human face beneath, one that caused all in attendance to shout in shock:
“Professor Pendennis?!?!”

“Yes, ” the madman in chains ranted at them, ” ME! I built this ship! I “gave” it to you, trapping you inside it with my lovely Dough Queen, only to have you somehow destroy her. So I waited.. and I Plotted.. I injected your security man with zombie jiuce so he would turn on you. Ikilled Zack so I could hide in plain site once those Kyd creatures [here he gestured at Mo-Mo] came aboard to hunt me, biding my time until I could create another of her kind…”
Pendennis looked down at Mo-Mo in disgust, who stood looking up at him with a look of pride in a job well done.
“I wanted to take my revenge on you all for killing my Dough Queen… And create a ship worthy to help the Asylum cause….’
He paused and sighed, then pointing with his chin at Mo-Mo, standing in a group of his fellow monkey-bats, concluded with a voice that seemed to drip venom,
“… And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling Kyds.”

Reply by Sparrow on September 18, 2012 at 3:22pm

Gronkit reflected back on his past (which he rarely did) merely because his stomach demanded it. ‘Ah’ he thought ‘rat-on-sticks, how I could go for a good old rat-on-a-stick right now.’
Gronkit sighed in gastric recollection.
As a wee goblin, Gronkit escaped from a goblinoiphanage…more like a gobinoid workhouse…and eventually made his way to Carniville, a small market village of mixed races. A filthy little hole in the heart of the underground Gronkit called home, until the Professor *spit* abducted all the Goblins he could round-up, both young and old, to use in his experiments and as servants.
Most goblins are stupid and easily manipulated which made the Professor’s (I will forego the *spit* as it now goes without saying) plans all the easier, but not so with Gronkit.
Although his stomach was like a second brain that demanded constant attention, Gronkit was indeed more intelligent than most Goblins.
A branch of their ‘race’ had eventually evolved into a more nobler, as well as a much better looking, species and Gronkit always thought of himself as a prescendent of them.
This human they called XO Ezra, he seemed familiar to Gronkit.
Somewhere in the recesses of his memory Gronkit recalled pick-pocketing someone who looked very similar.
He remembered it well because the pick-pocketee let go a few choice humanoid curses, grabbed Gronkit’s wiry shock of back-hair as he made his escape, leaving a matted wad of said hair plus a bit of flesh as well, in the hand of his would-be assailant, who then took chase after the ‘why you little *insert whatever curse you feel appropriate* theif’.
It was a good thing Gronkit, being of a particularly small stature even by goblin standards (he being the runt of his mother’s litter), was able to dodge through and amongst the crowd, thus avoiding this giant of a man’s temper.
‘Sheesh’ Gronkit thought to himself ‘it was only a copper!” (as in coins and not the new BBC America series).
Thankfully, to most humans, all Goblins look alike, but Gronkit was as positive as an ambiguous arachnicondacorn that Ezra was the one he had a run-in with as a young goblin.
The memory of the lost back-hair caused him to momentarily cringe as he narrowed his eyes and glared at XO Ezra Yesterday.
In fact, Gronkit suddenly realized it was precisely after that when all hell broke loose in Carniville.
He wondered if there was a connection?
Gronkit felt in his tunic pocket. It was more than just a copper he nicked, as he caressed the pocket watch that had been his most prized possession until now.
Now it was evidence, and the thought of a shiny, brass mechanical hand around his throat caused him to shudder.
‘Better never let him discover it’ and as he contemplated what to do, he slipped the watch into what remained of Therese’s pocket.
He felt a pang of guilt, something uncommon for a goblin as he did so, but hopefully if found, the
giant Ezra would not take it out so harshly on her.
Gronkit’s stomach growled in distraction. It needed more than a mere bag of chips.
“Are we ever going to have this breakfast you mentioned?” he moaned as in agony, holding his midriff, which for a Goblin, lack of constant nourishment was positively torture (and it was how the Professor controlled his goblin army, by their stomachs.)

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on September 20, 2012 at 5:20pm

On the sun baked planet:

Ezra Yesterday said, “Yes, Estin was just telling me of an excellent place to eat, and it has rooms we can use during our stay. Let’s head that way, and see what’s for breakfast.’ He noted the confused looks, on everyone’s face [Except Gronkit, who seemed to be suddenly shy for some reason] and in a mildly superior tone said, “Yes, Gronkit it correct… Breakfast. This is a desert world, you wouldn’t expect these people to conduct their business in that furnace, would you?’
As he turned to Estin to ask him to lead the way, Ezra couldn’t help feeling just a bit smug because, for once, it seemed as if he knew a bit more about what was going on than the rest of the crew.
Sadly, while Estin seemed willing to let it slide with no comment and only the merest hint of amused twinkle in his eye, Chi-Chi spoke up in a perfect imitation of Ezra’s voice,
“Breakfast? I don’t understand. It’s scarcely past sundown.”
This was followed by Estin’s voice, also perfectly rendered,
“Well, certainly. It’s a desert out there! We have two suns, dust storms, and giant death-lizards roaming about during the day. Suncrash is a special event, everyone up in the middle of the night to move the…”

Ezra, grinning ruefully and slowly flushing red at the amused looks the other humans gave him, interrupted her recitation, “All Right, they get it! You keep that up, missy, and I’ll tie you in that sack, just let you smell the food instead of eating any. ” He playfully ruffled the fur on her grinning head, to assure her he was just joking, then turned to Estin, “Please sir, might we have food now?”
With that he turned and strode off with with much dignity and grace and walked up the tunnel toward the jumbled up town buildings.
“Certainly, young Ezra,” Estin replied, with what was a decidedly amused grin on his face, “and while we wait, you can tell your little friends about your upcoming gun battle.”
Ezra snapped his head around with a look of equal parts guilt and embarrassment and opened his mouth in preparation to protest that it wasn’t his fault.
Unfortunately he kept walking, which is why he collided with a stone support column, knocking himself out cold.

Reply by Sparrow on September 21, 2012 at 2:21pm

Having been left to her own devices- the current situation being cleared,
casualties being cared for and her navigational skills not presently needed-
Ysbryd decided to go to her cabin for a much needed rest.
This ‘form’ she was forced to ‘wear’, unlike that of most fleshers, was weak
and fatigued much faster.
The DNA used to create her biological containment unit had been in storage
for aeons, and there had been some degradation, thus her thin skin and pale
colouring.
But, that was secondary and merely superficial compared to the impairment of her
various physiological systems.
This is why the Council of Elders, once sentence was passed and the unit created,
allowed her the use of other abilities, knowing of the ‘cell’ faults, both in the literal anatomical sense, as well as the figurative term.
Either way, the cell was terminal. What happened when it ceased function, Ysbryd did not know. It was not disclosed to her.
On approaching sick bay, she paused a moment to glance in.
The Captain stood inquiring as to the condition of the one called Rugan.
He peaked her curiosity.
Captain Grey, himself, seemed no worse for wear considering having sustained an injury
to one of his lower extremities by a metallic projectile fired from some primitive flesher weapon
being wielded by an apparent mad man bent on destruction.
It must have been a minor wound, perhaps just grazing the outer dermal layer.
She had noted earlier his reliance on a cane to assist mobility, and sincerely hoped
this would not hinder him ambulatorily further.
Relieving some concern she had suddenly and to her confusion ‘felt’ for these fleshers,
Ysbryd continued onward.
When she entered the lift which would take her to the visitor’s level, it was
already occupied by that dim da, drwg, clustiau-pigfain interrogator.
She was about to leave to find another lift, but it was too late, the doors automatically
slid closed and a computerized voice asked ‘what level, please’.
Although incensed by the encounter, Ysbryd said “Guest Level”, then outwardly reacted as if she were alone within the confines of the conveyance.
Guidolas immediately noticed the security cuff about her wrist.
The pulsating green lights, showing it was currently activated.
Neither spoke for what seemed like an eternity, it was Guidolas who finally broke the silence.
“Youse gotta’ undastand” he began “ordas is ordas”.
Ysbryd just stared at the doors in front of her as the lift continued to ascend.
She could sense a pleading sincerity in his voice plus what seemed a pang of guilt, yet she was not about to just brush this off.
The pain he inflicted was still evident by the tender, bruised skin of her left collar bone. Any further pressure he would have applied, would have surely snapped it.
“Yes” she managed to reply “ordas”, as thankfully the lift stopped, it’s doors slid open and
Ysbryd walked out into the visitor’s main lounge.

Reply by Sparrow on September 24, 2012 at 8:11am

Ysbryd walked along the Visitor’s Corridor until she found her assigned quarters.
Upon entering she was stunned at how lavish it was.
With most vessels she had taken passage on, the sleeping arrangements were bare bones, basically just a closet with a cot or hammock.
But this, this was like entering a dream.
Rich, dark oak half-paneling lined the walls with a lovely arabesque paper above,
ornate brass sconces gave a soft, warm glow to it’s surroundings.
A polished mahogany chifforobe stood like a sentinel on the east wall, guarding all that entered,
and bookshelves lined the west with dozens of beautiful leather bound editions.
But, the most prominent feature of the room was by far a most exquisite canopied bed, extravagantly covered and draped.
Ysbryd took a few minutes to take it all in, walked over touching the books
lightly with her fingertips, then exhausted and distraught from all that had occurred,
not bothering to disrobe, collapsed into the bed’s downy comfort.
It was then her eyes began to leak, whether due to the past 24 hours finally taking it’s toll or
perhaps merely a withdrawal from the drug caffeine, she did not know.
She turned her face towards the pillow and sobbed.
How alone she felt at that moment.
In this solitary confinement, she wondered how other fleshers managed it?
With that, Ysbryd closed her eyes and slept a dreamless, unsettling sleep.

Reply by Sparrow on September 30, 2012 at 8:51pm

It seemed disaster followed XO Ezra Yesterday around like a bad penny.
If there was such a thing as the fates, then they had it in for him, and not
in a nice way.
Right from the start he was mummified.
Now let’s add frozen- as in covered in a foot thick sheet of ice, immediately followed by falling from the top of a very tall pine. Mix in the loss of not only half a most magnificent mustache but his hand as well and in the most gruesome way imaginable (although his shiny new mechanical one was quite impressive, even so, it hadn’t come in very ‘handy’ yet.)
Blend all this together along with being constantly soggy, and maybe he should just change his name to ‘Calamity Jayne” (hey, it can be a guys name! Does Firefly ring a bell?)
(Anyway, for further exciting and spine-chilling details concerning all our heroes and heroines, read the previous books, it’s all in there.)
Therese’s mouth dropped open as she shot a glance at the Chaplain, and he her.
They both then turned in questioning to Estin.
“I say, old chap, what’s this about a challenge?” the Chaplain sputtered, trying to
be as nonchalant about it as possible.
“Is it Tiddlywinks by any chance, because if so, I’ll stand as second to Mr. Yesterday.
I tiddled quite a few winks in my day!” Chaplain Sean Grey added with pride, grinning as he glanced round seeing if anyone applauded, which Therese, realizing the cue so did, even though she had no idea what Tiddlywinks even were.
“Perhaps a manly bout of fisticuffs, is it? I am quite the pugilist” he continued, holding both fists up in front of him and sparring with the air while shuffling in a circle around Estin.
“Fraid not” Estin replied looking just as confused as Therese.
“Seems your friend Ezra here, riled one of the most ornery, quick-draw (with every one of his four arms, I might add) gunslingers of all Jak’wa’sars and now, as I am sure I mentioned earlier, must face him in a shoot-out at high moon, three nights from now.”
“But never you mind about all of that, I’ll explain the rest over breakfast” and as Estin
spoke, motioned towards the apparently unnoticed by his companions, unconscious form lying in front of the pillar with which XO Ezra had just a few moments earlier, made a most painful acquaintance.
“Oh, Ezra!” Therese scolded at the motionless body even as she knelt and began gently patting his cheeks to try and bring him around, “what have you gotten yourself into this time” she added,
her chiding meant to cover the fearful concern in her voice.
Gronkit chimed in “Here, let me help” a sly smile forming on his lips as he nudged Therese aside.
“You have to shake him” and with that, Gronkit grabbed Ezra by the shoulders and started
shaking him, Ezra’s head banging against the stone floor of the cavern.
“Stop it this instant!” Therese demanded with horror, quickly placing both of her hands beneath Ezra’s head to cushion it as the Chaplain pulled Gronkit from off the now semi-conscious XO.
Ezra groaned as he came to, not knowing whether to rub the front of his head first, or the back.
As Therese’s eyes shot daggers at Gronkit, he in turn simply shrugged.
“That’s Goblin emergency first aid and is used for all types of injuries” Gronkit said matter-of-factly, his voice belying his actual intent, then adding “How was I supposed to know you humans are so sensitive!”
And with a bluster, he stomped away grumbling something in Goblinese under his breath.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on October 1, 2012 at 10:00am

On the planet, in the dining area of an inn called The Travelers Rest:

Ezra Yesterday sat, eating his cactus gruel mechanically, every now and then dribbling a bit on his chin that was scooped up and into his mouth by the slightly lighter [and incidentally sentient] half of his mustache… The others were so engrossed in the food and conversation that they made no comment, if they even noticed at all.

His head hurt.
ALL of his head hurt… more so than simply walking into a post could account for, actually, so he was having a bit of trouble concentrating on the food. He did note that everything they were served was cactus based; the drink, the foods and the various sauces were all “cactus” this and “cactus blossom” or “cactus rind” that… [He did find what appeared to be a  knitting needle floating in the pitcher of “cactus heart squeezins”] … but for all of that they seemed pretty tasty and filling.
He was dimly aware of Estin recounting the confrontation with the gunslinger [supplemented with enthusiastic vocal help from Chi-Chi] while they all ate, but he didn’t join in, as his head seemed wrapped in cotton, if cotton could slowly contract and relax in a random fashion, spiking his pain from dull headache to blazing inferno of lava in his skull at unpredictable intervals. At least it didn’t appear to be a concussion, as he had no nausea to speak of.. and really, if those Cactus Root home fries didn’t turn his stomach, sitting there like a bowl of 6″ stir fried grub worms in a cactus preserves sauce the pale, greenish color and consistency of gangrene, nothing would.
Luckily, just as that thought began to form, but before he could pursue it any further [and disgust us all even more than we are] Estin stood, dropped  a disk of what looked like [what else?] dried cactus skin with a rune of some sort burned into it onto the table, and said to the matronly owner of the Inn, “Well, Mrs. Sharp, that was delicious as usual. These folks will be back for their rooms shortly, but for now, we need to get outside, before we miss the show.”
He helped Ezra to his feet with two arms while taking the spoon and bowl from the woozy XO’s hands with the other two and said with a grin, ” Come on Ezra, you can feed your pet lip hair later, we need to go…the Sandmakers should be be heading out soon.”

Reply by Forlath Grey on October 1, 2012 at 11:55am

Captain Forlath Grey sat on the edge of his bunk with a role of duct tape and his cane and conducted some quick stopgap repair work, there, he thought to himself – good as new. He stood up and put his weight on it gingerly. The sounds of wood and metal in anguish were plain to hear.
“Blast!”
This cane had been a custom made, ‘one of a kind’ piece, stylish, functional, and it had provided the necessary tide turning firepower in an encounter with deranged, subterranean, killer clowns a couple of planets back. Now it had saved his life one last time by jamming the mixing blades of the giant mixing bowl where that lunatic Pendennis had been creating a new hive queen.
*Deep sigh*
The Captain tossed the cane into the corner in resigned frustration. It would be many moons before he saw its like again. Oh, and for the record, yes the Captain was fully aware that others had also been involved in his rescue from becoming the special ingredient in a giant, rampaging pastry, but like all good Captains everywhere, he knew that old German adage that went – crew members were expendable but cherrywood was irreplaceable . . . granted, something was kinda lost in the translation, but the point was still a valid one.
Captain Forlath Grey boarded the maintenance lift and pressed the highly polished, brass button for the Engineering deck. As the platform descended on a system of cables and pulleys down through the central shaft in the airship’s superstructure, the Captain stood in quiet contemplation, leaning on the first replacement cane he could come up with. The elevator stopped on the crew deck and a midshipman got on the lift, saluted the Captain, looked down at the golf club the Captain was leaning on and eager to make a good impression asked the Captain what his handicap was . . . the midshipman hurried off at the very next floor, his ears glowing red . . .

Reply by Sparrow on October 10, 2012 at 3:21pm

Ysbryd found herself suspended without any means of restraint, and surrounded by bars. No ceiling, floor nor doors, just rows of metal rods jutting both continuously upward and unfathomably below.
She heard disembodied voices, at first distant in a fusion of incoherency, then coming closer as
a large undeterminable dark silhouette began to appear out of the nothingness beyond the boundary of her prison.
The form started to rend itself, as did the voices, and she knew there were now at least three distinct entities.
She could not yet make out clearly what they were discussing with such great ferocity, only
here and there she picked up words-
“Destroy”….”hate”….”extricate”….”make them pay”.
As they approached even nearer she heard the words “Revenge” then “divided we conquer”, and with that a thunderous roar echoed throughout this conjuration.
Just as all was about to be revealed to her, the shadows merged once again, blending into darkness, then dispersing into the void.
Ysbryd was awakened with a start from either a most disturbing dream, or a disquieting premonition, by the sound of voices just outside her quarters.

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on October 14, 2012 at 11:05am

On the planet:
Ezra Yesterday, XO of a missing airship.. [Or wait, maybe it was he and his companions that were missing from the airship?] ….moved in a semi-detached fog. It didn’t make sense; he had hit his head, sure, but he had taken a lot of damage, a lot of it to the head, since the bread war had begun, so he should be snapping back better than this. After all, he had only walked into a wall, not been thrown there. He felt like he was wrapped in a thick layer of wool, merely observing his surroundings with no emotional anchoring to really tie him to events.
For example, just now there was a huge swarm of medium dog-sized insects, [they looked like preying mantises with an extra pair of the deadly blade looking arms, really].. swarming through the crowd of green skinned, 4 armed aliens in the cavern, scurrying past their feet, hopping up onto their shoulders and climbing up their legs to leap from the tall aliens…
[Wait… they were the natives . Ezra muzzily remembered that he and his fellow humans were the aliens here… But he had been thinking somethng else… Now what was it? OH.]
… to leap from the tall natives shoulders and move forward in what was to all appearances, a deadly and two seconds from becoming flesh rending feeding frenzy.
Ezra, in his full capacity and right mind, would by all rights be cowering and screaming like a wee, lost child surrounded by rabid wolves. But whatever was wrong with him, he simply stood and watched the ravening tide of Thresher-Poodles approach, reach and then pass him, not really caring if this was the end or not. Certainly, Estin had warned them that the swarm was coming, and that they were safe if scary looking. Still, instinctive, lizard brain self preservation programming should have made him at least flinch. It was an odd feeling. As the last stragglers of the “sandmakers” pounced past, he placidly turned to watch them out on the shimmering glass outside the cave entrance. As they bounded from the sand in the cave to the slick surface outside, they all slid like penguins on glacial ice, tumbling and sledding every which way as their deadly looking blade arms completely failed to find purchase. Similar to his fear, his sense of humor was also oddly detached; he knew he should be as amused as he had been scared just moments ago. It also occurred to him in a dim way that the formerly fearsome looking creatures were absolutely loving the tumble, actually playing like a bunch of happy puppies.
The slipping tumbling mass of creatures continued to roll downhill until they got to the base of the Shield boulder that the natives had sung into place to protect the cavern mouth. At first it seemed that they were simply piling up at its base, but while they all continued to slide toward it, the pile not only didn’t grow, it actually shrank, until there were a mere dozen or so left.
As these last disappeared as well, he saw that a large hole had been gouged through the glassy crust, and they were all burrowing underneath. He peered at the shiny surface and realized he could see small shapes beneath there, moving about. Several of the larger natives linked hands and made a cordon, pushing the crowd back onto the sandy surface inside the cave mouth; once the glass was cleared of pedestrians, the cordon all took a step forward and stomped down hard on the glass, then stepped back to the sand.
For several seconds, nothing happened; then a high pitched, tapping/ scraping sound, like a million river dancing lemurs on a giant chalkboard in fingernail tap shoes…
[Ezra is suffering a head wound, so if his imagery seems a bit odd, you will simply have to make allowances… In any case, it was a massive sound, sufficient to put your teeth on edge, OK?]

As he slapped his hands to the sides of his head in a futile attempt to block the sound, the first of the sandmakers bladed hands came slashing up through the surface, cracking, shattering and pulverizing the glass back to sand consistency in less time than it took to type this. The swarm of sandmakers formed a line and slowly moved away from the cave, leaving a smooth expanse of sand worthy of a millionaires private island behind. Once the line had passed the shield boulder, it spread out and began moving slower, but even so, the progress was impressive. Ezra estimated that it would convert all the glass in sight to sand in a few hours time.
As he was thinking this, there was a small movement to the left of the boulder. the sand shifted, then mounded up a bit, then suddenly, there was a massive lizard, much like the one that had chased them out in the desert, climbing out of the sand. As astonishment failed [just barely] to manifest in Ezra’s mind, another, then two and finally dozens more followed, spread all over the plain, behind the receding line of sandmakers. Beside him, he heard Estin say, “The herd made it safely, praise the Makers.”
Ezra looked up to the native beside him and said, ” This is normal? They live under the sand?”
“No, little Ezra, not normally. They merely wait out the suncrash underground, and come out once the sandmakers have broken the crust for them. In exchange, the herd beasts show their appreciation to the sandmakers by… Well, look for yourself.” With a gesture Estin focused Ezra’s attention on the herd. As they stood there, a strange change came over them. Their rusty brown skins all slowly turned brighter red and began to grow furry. As the first sprouts shoved upward, Ezra realized the ‘fur’ was actually roots, and the sprouts were bringing forth a large oval fruit. One the fruit had grown to nearly pumpkin size, the huge beasts walked over to the shield rock; then as if they were diving into water, they sank beneath the surface of the sand, leaving a large, matted tangle of roots and huge fruit on the surface. The beasts broke the surface a good distance away and wandered away, as if nothing had happened.
“Estin,” Ezra blinked his eyes repeatedly as he asked his tall friend, genuinely worried that he was hopped up on some sort of a desert goofball,”tell me, just What was in that cactus juice you gave me?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on October 15, 2012 at 12:52pm

Captain Forlath Grey sat at his desk and considered the reports; crew recruitment numbers for the month had seen a spike due to the successful canvassing of the Lancers. ‘Pressgang’ was such an ugly word, suffice it to say that voluntary enlistment had been effectively encouraged.
Doctor Gris had also been successfully recruited; apparently there was a slight disagreement with the monks over the exact details of the termination clause in the Doctor’s employment contract, but Corporal Chemisesrouges has successfully ‘persuaded’ the monks to release the good doctor from their care. She was onboard and going through a debrief at this very moment. The Captain made a mental note to check in on her as soon as he found the time.
Three Behemoths and their crew were even now being loaded onboard the QBR. At this point the only fly in the ointment was the attempt to recon Professor Extreme’s castle. It had not gone well at all, apparently whatever entity had taken up residence in the castle was not accepting callers and no attempt at dislodging the squatter had as of yet proven effective.
There was nothing for it; the storm was quickly getting nearer. It was time to cut their losses at Extreme’s castle and leave this planet. Captain Grey blew into the speaking tube to the Operations room and called for the Steward . . . after a few moments a voice came back “sorry sir, the steward isn’t currently at his station.” The Captain got up irritably from his desk, went to his door and flung it open, “well, where in blazes is he, I ordered that tea half an hour ago!” The on duty crew shrugged their shoulders nervously, “we don’t know Captain”, someone spoke up “he was here about 20 minutes ago but no one has seen him since . . .”

Reply by Sparrow on October 18, 2012 at 4:11pm

Previously-
Gronkit could feel the angry stare without looking up.
Not that he regretted his action, only it’s outcome- Therese,
his only friend, was now beyond cross with him and scowled
intently in his direction.
Keeping his head hung in the appearance of guilt, which he did
indeed feel, if only slightly in some very ungoblinoid-like way, he pushed the
plate of vegetarian fodder from him, untouched., and feigned a
sheepish glance, to see if she was still glaring at him.
She was.
Trying his best to disregard it, his thoughts changed to sheep and
how he would love a nice leg of mutton right now.
“Mmmm, sheep…” he murmured.
His stomach growled in response.
Therese was so infuriated with Gronkit she could barely contain it.
“I’ll take hold of those floppy, pointed ears of his and insist on an explanation
for his obvious attack on Ezra” she seethed under her breath.
Then she glanced over at XO Ezra Yesterday and felt sincere
sympathy for her friend and comrade.
He had endured so much since joining company.
Of course this, walking into the pillar, was of his own doing, but a
challenge to a gunfight? And in his present condition?
Her heart went out to him.
She noticed he had barely eaten anything and his movements seemed instinctive
rather than purposeful. He was pale and had the far away look of a somnambulant.
She was worried for, and about him.
Reaching across the table she placed her hand over his, the one of flesh and blood, and asked “How are you feeling, Ezra”.
His only response was to smile at her, which she did in return.
She wondered if he was even aware she had spoken to him.
Estin then rose from the table, paid for their meals, gathered Ezra to his feet and suggested
they all go watch the next part of the ‘show’, the resanding of the planet.

Reply by Sparrow on October 22, 2012 at 4:46pm

Being unable to sleep further not only because she found sleep with it’s uncontrolled visions disturbing, but the noise outside her quarters now prevented it.
Ysbryd found many things required by this ‘body’ to be quite a nuisance.
Her ‘species’ no longer needed sleep per se, merely rest to recharge their energy.
Her room had it’s own adjoining bath and receiving area, as well as the bedroom.
It was all quite civilized and grandiose, but then this was a guest’s chamber.
Ysbryd wondered what the crew’s cabins were like.
Putting the thought aside, she arose and found a uniform had been provided her, along with other
clothing and essentials.
Grabbing a towel, she decided on a shower.
This form demanded so much attention and care to keep it functioning properly, as well as making it appear and smell acceptable to others.
She donned the uniform, although she preferred her own less uncomfortable cloth
coverings, and entered the hall.
She needed to find sustenance.

Reply by Forlath Grey on October 25, 2012 at 1:05pm

Captain Forlath Grey considered the latest numbers. At last count, one dozen crew members had now disappeared from their posts. Gone AWOL seemed unlikely, as in all cases their personal belongings remained behind, undisturbed in their rooms. Add to that the fact, all who had disappeared were shipboard crew and the Captain had no choice but to consider foul play. Surely the elves weren’t the cause, surely?
The proper course of action under such circumstances was to have all unessential crew report to quarters until further notice, and then conduct a deck by deck sweep, but time and nature were against them. Weather conditions had already started to deteriorate. If they waited much longer they wouldn’t be able to use the jump drive until the storm had passed.
Captain Grey reached a decision and made his way to engineering . . .
Captain Grey rounded the corner just as Ysbryd in her fetching new uniform (may the uniform’s last owner R.I.P.), was coming out of her stateroom.
“Ah excellent, just who I was coming to see. Ysbryd Tragwyddol, if you would be so kind, the time has come to initialize the jump drive, if you would please join me. I understand that you’ve already given the Chief the coordinates but I would prefer if you were on hand in case anything should go wrong on our maiden self-initiated jump . . .”

Reply by Sparrow on October 27, 2012 at 10:40am

Ysbryd produced what she had hoped was a smile (she still hadn’t fully mastered the control of such subtle gestures), as she met with the Captain upon entering the corridor.
Knowing it was customary for fleshers to inquire as to one another’s health, regardless whether they were truly concerned or not, she politely asked “How are you?”
This was a sincere query, as Ysbryd glanced at his injured appendage, then making an attempt at small talk added “interesting ambulatory assistance, it looks much sturdier than the last” motioning towards the metallic sports equipment he now used for support.
The Captain made a slight frown at the comment, and although it was an honest assessment, Ysbryd quickly changed the subject.
Although her insides rumbled as if speaking a foreign tongue, and she was aware when this occurred it was signaling the need for nourishment, which was her original objective -to find something to quiet it- her commitment and what she considered an oath to the Captain and his ship took priority.
“Yes, then” she replied “to engineering.”
‘At least’ she thought ‘the machine they call Chief Engineer could supply her with a cup of that warm, fragrant elixir ‘caffeine’.

Reply by Sparrow on October 29, 2012 at 11:20am

Clapping her hands and laughing with delight, Therese watched as the sandmakers glided upon the glassy surface, ‘skating’ about like some absolutely bizarre Currier and Ives print, then suddenly disappear beneath it’s surface.
The sound that followed caused one’s nervous system to cringe in response, as the smooth face of the planet was granulated into sand once again by these insecterriers.
Then, like a paleontologists dream, a saurian herd began emerging from the sand.
Therese stared in wonderment. This was proving to be a most excellent adventure after all!
When they left that dreadful, frigidly cold, wet Germanicburg and landed in a dry, barren, hostile opposite, she didn’t have much hope.
The only thing that kept her spirits up was the stalwart determination of her companions.
She glanced at them adoringly, they had come a long way together. Well, mostly together, and at that, her thoughts reflected back on those who were no longer with them. Some fallen in the call of duty, <(no, I won’t say it, but I am smiling and giggling immaturely 🙂  Others had taken a different path.
Snapping out of her reverie, the planet now having returned to it’s somewhat original state, she turned her worrisome thoughts to the next dire situation, that of the upcoming show-down.

Reply by Forlath Grey on November 22, 2012 at 4:04pm

The crew of the QBR were thrown off their feet as an explosion off their starboard bow rocked the QBR.
“Evasive maneuvers!” Captain Forlath Grey shouted into the speaking tube leading to the Command Gondola. He grabbed onto the Chief as the turbulence from another explosion shook the airship. The Chief had no trouble maintaining ‘his’ balance as the rest of the QBR rocked and heaved.
The Captain held a hand out to Ysbryd, “what happened, did we miss our coordinates?” the Captain shouted to be heard over the noise of successive detonations.
“According to our sensors and data readouts, we arrived exactly at the coordinates entered,” replied the Chief.
“Ysbryd, did we put in the wrong coordinates?” suggested the Captain desperately.
Before Ysbryd could respond, the Chief interjected “Captain Forlath Grey, if I may, the coordinates themselves are not the problem.”
The Captain raised his eyebrows quizzically “well out with it, Chief!”
“Apparently these coordinates were already occupied,” replied the Chief “we’ve come out of jump directly into the middle of an air battle . . .”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on November 25, 2012 at 9:27pm

Ezra Yesterday woke up slowly, stretched, yawned, then puled the covers up closer around his chin. Man, Oh Man! was it good to be back where they had beds. He floated in that gentle place you go when you wake up after a long, Sunday afternoon nap.
And just like All really good Sunday naps, someone came bursting in to ruin it… In this case, an ugly, bad tempered little goblin named Gronkit.
The goblin flung the door open with a bang, stumped up to the side of the bed, looked at Ezra and grinned… which is never a good thing to wake up to. Ezra’s mood understandably went from Drowsy/Floating to Awake and Irritated in .5 seconds flat. And to make maters worse, as he sat up he discovered he had a mid-range headache, as if he were mildly hung over.
As he finished sitting up, he grumbled,”What do you want, you crater faced assassin of joy?”
The goblin snorted in amusement, then turned and bellowed out the door, “Hey, everybody!… He’s back!” He turned back to Ezra, who had his eyes slitted nearly shut from the pain of the bellowing, and what he said next made Ezra’s eyes fly back open in shock:
” Good thing you woke up, too. That little gunslinger was gonna come up here tonight and shoot you where you lay if you hadn’t.”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on November 26, 2012 at 10:50pm

Ezra’s head snapped up as what the little pest had said registered, which made his headache spike.
“That fight isn’t for 2 more days,” he said through pain gritted teeth. When Gronkit didn’t answer, he peered more directly at the loathsome little runt, and noting the goblinish smile he found there with growing alarm, asked ” Wait…Just how long have I been asleep?”
Gronkit was no help; instead of answering, he began to giggle, then chortle, and finally guffaw, holding his stomach and doubled over in ugly, Ugly mirth, big oily tears of amusement dripping down hid face and off his bent and mole covered nose.. At least, Ezra dearly hoped those were tears.
Before his anger had a chance to push pain aside and let him get up to throttle the wee horrid beastie, Estin poked his head in the door and said, ” You were out for 2 1/2 days, Ezra. Apparently you took a much nastier series of bumps to your head than we realized.” At this, Gronkit’s amusement evaporated with a snort, and he slowly stood, listening intently.
Estin continued, ” Yes, we all saw the big knot on your forehead,  from where you walked into the wall… But once you passed out after the sandmakers emerged, we got a better look at you, and you had knots all over the Back of your head as well… I guess Goblin medicine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Goblin Medicine?!?” Ezra asked, suspicion plain in his voice. He turned to look at the only goblin currently in the planetary system to ask what.. exactly.. constituted medical care to a Goblin.
The Goblin in question was somehow magically and mysteriously gone.
‘Humpf, I’ll deal with him later….” he muttered, then turning back to Estin, he continued,”So, besides wasting all my getaway… Ermm,  that is…. Practice time, what have I missed?”
“Well, the first night, we sang the villiage back out onto the sand. Since then we have been tending the herdbeasts and their new young. But enough talk, it’s nearly sundown, time to start the day…Get dressed and come on down to breakfast, I saved you some sand-gourd bread. Then we really ought to get you out on the sand to practice with the Four Shooters… After all, in six candles it will be High Moon.”

Reply by Sparrow on November 29, 2012 at 6:49pm

After the Sandmakers had completed their task, and returned to the cavern from which they emerged, the energy level within all who witnessed the event had reached it’s zenith.
The Jak’wa’sar once again, as their ancestors had before them as far back as anyone could recall, sang the town back to it’s origins outside the cavern.
The Suncrash played an important part in the unity of all the inhabitants of the planet. A respected communion of oneness for survival on what, at first, appeared to be an inhospitable environment.
Poor Ezra Yesterday, how much of it had he even been aware of?
Instead of making him walk, Estin lifted him up like a limp puppet and reassured all, he would be well taken care of at the ‘Fourfold Arms Hotel’, then suggested the rest should go exploring before the coming High Moon.
After Therese made sure Ezra was not going to die and was reaffirmed all he needed now was rest, she went off with the others.
Chaplain Grey and Ronin headed for a sign that read ‘Scorching Sun Saloon’, as Therese went in search of a dry goods store. Gronkit followed after the men. He could not stand the glares Therese would periodically give him. Was it remorse for what he had done to Ezra? Probably not. The little goblin just did not like his best, and what he considered his one and only friend, being cross with him.
Although he was not fond of either of the other two, he went along to ‘drown himself’ in what these humans called ‘refreshing spirits’.
Therese did not have to go far to find just what she was looking for. In the window of a shop next to the Hotel, she saw what she felt was the most lovely dress in the entire worlds. Leastwise, on this world. She actually had very little experience with the entire worlds, seemed she was always running away from or to something, with little time for anything else.
The dress was green, but of a colour she had never before seen. It was like a forest had been woven into fabric. All shades combined to create a newly unique one. It shimmered, as if sprinkled with morning dew.
Therese pressed her face up against the glass and sighed. She had no money. She looked down at her own tattered garb and sighed even deeper, when a friendly voice from behind questioned “now, what have we here?”
Therese turned to find a plump, pleasant looking Jak’wa’sar woman.
When the woman saw the tear which had just run down Therese’s cheek, she clucked compassionately “what’s this all about?”, as she dabbed away the wetness from Thereses’s pink, sunburnt face.
Therese held out her skirt, looked at the woman, shook her head and blurted between sobs “but I have no money”.
She must have been quite the pathetic site, her auburn hair matted and disheveled, and her garments, or what was left of them, more like stained, shredded remnants.
What a sad, little ragamuffin she was.
“Well, what kind of hosts to newcomers would we be” the woman spoke with robust compassion, “if we expected them to pay for necessities. It is not our way” and taking Therese by the hand she added “come with me, my dear, and we shall have you cleaned up in no time, and by the way, you may call me Auntie. Everyone does. I own this shoppe” and they entered “Auntie Madder’s Dry Goods Emporium”.

Reply by Sparrow on November 30, 2012 at 9:52am

As Therese was led into the store, she glanced again at the dress in the display window.
Auntie, noticing, commented “You like that Jak’wa’sar little girls dress, do you? Well, it shouldn’t be to difficult to alter. We’ll just take it in here and there, make it fit like it was custom made just for you.”
Therese’s face brightened and broke into a wide grin. Auntie responded in like, patted Therese on the head and affirmed ”now let’s get you in a tub of soapy water, wash the sand and desert brush out of your hair. You should clean up nicely. Your companions won’t recognize you when we get you all gussied-up.”
Therese was doubtful, especially about whatever ‘gussied-up’ meant.
She followed Auntie into a back room and after about an hour of splashing and ‘gussying’ Therese emerged clean, well groomed wearing the ‘dress made of forest’, which is how she referred to it. She spun around a few times, the skirt having an almost hypnotic pin-wheel effect with it’s glimmering fibers, when she abruptly stopped. “Where are my ruby red boots, and the things in my pockets?” she asked earnestly.
“I’d hardly call them ruby red” Auntie replied “they were more like worn out leather atrocities.”
Therese’s face went cloudy “They were given to me by a friend” she said solemnly.
“Aww, dearie” Auntie sympathized “I’m afraid the boots were discarded with what remained of your clothes, but here are the things that you had in your pockets” handing Therese a tiny broken
automaton, a flask and a pocket watch. Therese took all but the watch. “That is not mine” she stated matter of factly.
“But it was in your pocket, so it must be. Maybe it belongs to one of your companions and they asked you to hold onto it for them, you just forgot?”
“Yes, maybe so” Therese agreed. Things had gotten so chaotic the past forever since she joined the league of the uberextraordinaries, ‘perhaps Auntie is correct’ she thought, making a mental note to inquire when they were all back together.
“To make up for your loss of those boots you seemed so fond of, take your pick of any shoe or boot here in the store, and I will have old Brad Tackanale the cobbler make you a fit duplicate. As for now, put these on” she handed Therese a pair of thickly knitted socks “can’t have you running around bare-foot.”
Therese wiggled her toes. She actually liked being bare-foot, but obliged Auntie and pulled on the socks, then went over to look at the footwear lined up on racks in a corner of the store.
She picked out a pair of blue, lace up ladies boots, and as she took one down and held it to her bodice, they began to change colour to match the exact shade of her forest dress. Her mouth dropped open in astonishment, her eyes widened, she turned speechless (which was rare for Therese) with questioning eyes to Auntie M.
“A fine choice” Auntie smiled at the wide-eyed girl as she took the boot from her “goes with whatever you’re wearing. Made of Camolizard skin. Funny how it retains it’s ability even when shed.”
“Here now, let’s measure those tiny feet of yours” and taking hold of Therese’s left foot in her large, calloused, Jak’wa’sar hands, she measured it with a cord, as the shoe sizer was just to large to accommodate human feet.
“There.” Auntie released Therese’s foot and tucked the strings, both length and width, inside the boot. “I’ll send these over to Brad and he’ll have your new boots ready in just a few hours.”
Therese smiled, then ran over and threw her arms around Auntie’s knees, for Therese was little over knee-high to a Jak’wa’sar. Auntie placed her own two bottom arms about Therese, of her other pair, one held the boot, the other wiped a tear from her own eye now.
Auntie Madder was just that, an Aunt to everyone, as she had never had children of her own.
Therese, being even smaller than a Jak’wa’sar child, was not just a novelty, but in that short amount of time had become like a wee daughter to her.
“Now, little one, why don’t you skedaddle back to the hotel, look in on your friend (all the townsfolk knew of Ezra and his up-coming challenge) and have a snooze. You look a little weary about the eyes”
And that is precisely what Therese did.

Reply by Sparrow on December 1, 2012 at 2:18pm

Upon leaving the store, and out of Auntie’s sight, Therese removed the brand new socks she wore
so she would not dirty or make pulls in them, plus she liked the feel of the warm sand on the bottoms of her bare feet.
She had always very much liked to feel, smell, hear, see and taste most things.
She considered herself an explorer of the senses. She had even thought about someday documenting all she had discovered. Kind of like a dos and don’ts of what is and isn’t.
She would call it ‘Therese’s Big Book of Things She Has Touched, Sniffed, Listened To and Licked: (subtitled) The Good, the Bad and the Tasty’.
Smiling and happy, she felt pretty in her new dress, as she held out the skirt, admiring it’s almost iridescence quality under the beams of the twin suns.
Auntie had sold what she called her ‘last polished looking-glass’, so Therese really did not know what she looked like.
She had to take Auntie’s word that she was now presentable, whatever that meant.
Therese had never worried much about how she looked, anyway.
This is what she mused while on her way back to the hotel.
As she slowed her pace to draw out the pleasurable feel of wiggling her toes in the toasty sand, she heard music and carousing coming from the Scorching Suns Saloon across the way. Hesitating a moment she debated on whether or not to enter, but recalled Auntie’s warning that it was a ‘rough and tumble Cactequila serving hole-in-the-wall’, not a fit place for any dignified lady to be seen in, and Therese should avoid it at all costs.’
She really wanted to go in, her curiosity generally getting the best of her, but not wanting Auntie to find out and scold or think less of her (after all, she was, or at least wanted to be, a dignified lady), she continued on her way, skipping along the sand and entered the hotel.
She inquired at the desk, which room her friend Ezra Yesterday was occupying, and which was hers. The clerk introduced himself, cleared his throat and began a rehearsed speech “How do you do. You may call me Clark. I will attend to all your needs here at the Fourfold Arms.” He continued, as if he rarely had a chance to be so prestigious, “since we rarely have outsiders visit these parts, many of the towns people actually live at the Arms. To make it more homey, the names of both guests and tenants are on plaques, hung on their corresponding doors. I believe Estin placed that Ez fella’ in one of the first four reserved rooms at the top of the stair. Can’t miss it, though the spelling might be a bit off.”
“Four rooms?” Therese mumbled and started counting on her fingers… “Chaplain, Ezra, Ronin, Gronkit and me, Therese.” Overhearing her take attendance, and having been given the names of the guests by Estin, Clark the clerk chimed in “your pet, the little green/grey ornery cuss has a stall outback.”
That, Therese thought, would not bode well. “He is not a ‘pet’” she stated firmly, he is a friend.”
“Sorry missy, rules is rules, all pets out back.”
She would deal with this later, for now she wanted to make sure Ezra was okay, then take a nap as Auntie had suggested.
Up she went, the stairs being more like individual high platforms to a human, but necessary to accommodate the length of Jak’wa’sar legs and feet. She just barely managed to climb them.
When she got to the top, it was like she had just scaled Everest, which was exactly what she needed ever, rest! Realizing, then, how very tired she actually felt, it must have been excitement alone that had carried her thus far.
She lightly rapped on the door that said ‘Ez Yes’ but there was no answer. She tried the knob, it was unlocked, and so she peaked in. Ezra was lying on the bed, the bump on the front of his head now a bruised fifty shades of grey, red and purple.
She tiptoed over, cocked her head to listen, making sure he was still breathing, then tiptoed back out, closing the door ever so quietly.
“Poor Ezra” Therese sighed “always stumbling into things.”
On the door next was written ‘Terrace’, which she assumed was hers and not a balcony, and entered. Removing her ‘dress of forest’ so it would not get wrinkled, she draped it neatly over a chair, climbed into the large, rustic looking four poster bed, pulled the comforter up over her head and snuggling down into it’s cozy cushioning comfort, fell fast asleep.

Reply by Forlath Grey on January 28, 2013 at 12:19pm

Captain Forlath Grey stood in the Command Gondola of the QBR Airship. Flashes of light cast stop motion shadows against the bulkheads. Concussions from surrounding midair explosions rocked the QBR back and forth as the stabilizers fought to keep the deck steady.
“Damage report!”
“Hull breach on the crew quarter deck and shorts in the electricals on third, fourth and seventh decks, Captain!”
“Are we being targeted?”
“It appears to be collateral damage only at this time, but some of the ships are starting to bring their weapons to bear!”
“Mr.Camisaroja, we need altitude, take us up and quickly!”

Reply by Forlath Grey on March 21, 2013 at 1:05pm

Forlath shook Ysbryd by the shoulders, “what happened? Where are we? Out with it!” The realization that Ysbryd was becoming increasingly distressed by the physical contact, Forlath forced himself to let go of her shoulders. He took a deep breath and tried again “Ysbryd, we are under attack and the ship is taking damage, your assistance at this juncture would be greatly appreciated.” The airship rocked again as dull thumps sounded outside the bulkheads of the Engineering section. Without saying a word, Ysbryd reached out with a shaking hand and pushed a button on the navigation console, the indomitable airship, The QBR, jumped back into the void . . .

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on April 25, 2013 at 12:55pm

Ezra Yesterday stood on the moon drenched practice field and contemplated the last… was it really only three hours of practice? He checked his watch again to make sure it was working; it seemed like nearly half a year had passed since he woke up happy and rested in bed following his short Goblin induced coma.
He had initially done really well with the large, steam powered pistols Estin called Four Shooters, blasting several empty gourds to smithereens with single quick shots; his teenage years of playing arcade shooting games had served him well. The only problem was he was decidedly less accurate with his mechanical hand, something to do with the balance of the brass and steel appendage threw off his aim when he drew quickly, but Estin said it only required one shot to win, so that should not be a concern.
Then the trouble started. Estin wheeled out a more lifelike target, a four armed dummy made of bundles of vine with gourds where the major damage points were on his species. This had bothered Ezra somewhat, the idea of shooting at a living being, but he had set up and snapped off a quick burst when Estin said fire… and watched in horror as the gourds burst into horrid splashes of bright crimson.
It hit him then, this was an actual duel, and looking at the ruined pseudo-blood soaked dummy, it occurred to him that someone was going to die. Oddly, it wasn’t the possibility of his own death that bothered him but rather the idea of killing someone else over an accidental insult.
Regardless, the moment he saw the fountains of bright, vital red spraying in the moonlight, his confidence was shattered. Not a single shot he had attempted since had come within a foot of the target.
As many times as the thought had occurred to him since this long, dangerous, and often ridiculous adventure had begun, this time he felt certain…
He was doomed.

Reply by Forlath Grey on April 27, 2013 at 4:50pm

Captain Grey’s vision swam as he slowly regained awareness of his surroundings. Grey shook his head and blinked his eyes repeatedly, attempting to clear the stars that danced before him. He could almost visualize bits and pieces of the mind numbing sights of the void but, like sand between his fingers they slipped away before he could remember specifically what he had seen.
Grey regained control of his senses, every alarm bell on the bridge was ringing and crew members were slumped over consoles. The Captain quickly if somewhat unsteadily checked their coordinates, they appeared to have come out over a city, breathable atmosphere, no incoming projectiles. Directly beneath them appeared to be some sort of park, an oval field enclosed with a low high brick wall with over 30 stone archways of various sizes, ages and designs. The oval itself was roughly a football field across at its widest point, and there was one archway that was roughly the size and shape of the St Louis arch back in the Captain’s world, almost longer ago then he could remember, but this arch appeared to be made of round, mirror polished brass.
Captain Grey turned off the alarm bells, checked the bridge crew and then spoke into the intercom tube.
“This is the Captain speaking, all sections report.”
As section after section began to respond slowly at first and then more promptly, the Watch Officer regained consciousness and retook her post.
“Captain, our arrival appears to have attracted attention.”
“Report, Miss Krasnoy Rubashke”
“Airships approaching from airfield south of the city . . .”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on April 27, 2013 at 10:01pm

Ezra Yesterday was startled out of his dark thoughts by the voice of Estin, his gun coach.
“Time to go, Young Ezra; we just have time to get a decent meal into you and get to the Square before high Moon.” As they walked, Estin gave him some final pointers.
“I know you’re worried, lad; but you are a really good shot when you just fire without thinking. Trouble is, Arno is that good all the time. I think you can still win this, but you will have to stoop to a bit of deceptive theatrics to do so. I know Arno, and with the insult you dealt him, he’s going to want to play with you, take his time and really humiliate you in front of the whole town before he finishes the duel. This should give you the chance you need, but it means you will take at least one hit… I’m hoping that the shock will jar you enough that you shoot instinctively instead of over thinking like you are now.”
Ezra nodded, not in agreement as much as to just avoid an argument, then stopped in the middle of the road and asked about something that had been bothering him for some time now, “Estin? When we first got here, you talked with a decidedly rural accent, like someone from a place called Texas on my world. But since I woke up, you sound more like Sean Connery… that is, you have a much more refined manner of speaking. Why is that?”
Estin laughed heartily and answered. “Why lad, even in this Texas place they must have a bit of caution in their bones, yes? When you are dealing with unknown, possibly dangerous people, it’s always preferable to be underestimated … or put another way, iffin ya don’t know a feller, it’s a good idea to let him think you aint that bright.”
As Ezra stared at the tall green native with a dumfounded expression, which made Estin laugh again, clap Ezra on the shoulder and start them walking down the street once more. Looking around to make sure they weren’t being overheard he said, “I had something similar in mind for your duel, as it happens. Arno thinks he has your measure, and is not about to pass up this opportunity to get even with you… he’s blinded by his anger, and you can use that. What you should do is…” His voice faded as they turned a corner into an alley and were lost to sight.
[Well, if I tell you what Estin says next, it will kind of ruin the surprise… Stay tuned.]

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on April 27, 2013 at 10:57pm

High Moon:
Ezra Yesterday strode confidently into the town square wearing a long cloak draped over his shoulders, clasping one side of it in his shining, brightly polished brass and steel hand to keep it from dragging in the sand. Once he reached his designated spot at the opposite end of the street from his opponent, he stopped and took off the cloak with a flourish and handed it to Estin. Then with a contemptuous wave of his hand at Arno, he turned to the side and commenced to do several complicated quick draw and re-holstering routines with his metal hand, spinning the large Four Shooter on his brass finger, stopping it in the firing position then spinning again before holstering it. Once he even flipped it up into the air and caught it, once more cocked and ready to fire, his head turned to look steadily across the square into Arno’s eyes all the while.
This amazing bit of showmanship done, he turned and nodded gravely at Estin, who took Ezra’s weapons and walked to the center of the street, to be met by Arno’s second at the Dueling official’s stand. Because Ezra had only two arms, the traditional dueling rules had been modified to accommodate him. The Four shooters were steam powered pistols, each with the capacity to hold sufficient pressure to propel four slugs before being recharged, thus the name. Normally each opponent was allowed a gun for each hand with only one steam charge, so they only got a total of four shots at their opponent. In this case each of them would only have two guns, but with two charges each. They each gave the weapons over to the official, who fully charged them, then fired two rounds and returned them to the seconds, who then gave them to the duelers.
Ezra and Arno took their places; Arno stood straight on with hands twitching, while Ezra was side on, with his brass hand forward, calmly resting on his belt inches from the butt of his shooter.
When the moons finally reached their zenith, crowd hushed, the music swelled… [or at any rate, it will in the movie adaptation] …And the official shouted Commence.
There was a seemingly eternal pause as neither one moved, and no one in the crowd even drew breath.
Then both shooters drew at the same time and a flurry of shots rang out in quick succession…
One Two Three Four

Reply by Forlath Grey on April 28, 2013 at 12:59am

The Padre broke free of the four armed guardians ranging the duel, and rushed forward shouting at the top of his lungs “Noooooooooo!”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on April 28, 2013 at 9:04am

Ezra Yesterday felt a sudden numbness in his left shoulder, and he instantly knew he had been hit; he heard the anguished cry of Monsignor Grey as the empty gun dropped from his nerveless fingers… well they were brass, so of course they were nerveless, but they were currently unresponsive as well.
<So far,> he thought, <Estin’s plan is working out pretty well.>
Oddly enough, this inner dialogue was not delivered in his usual sarcastic voice. In point of fact this was exactly what they had planned. Arno was the better shot, but he had no way to know that Ezra was a pretty crap marksman with his brass hand, so they had bet everything on Arno going for it first, even playing it up before the fight and standing with it forward, so it was the better target. He started to grin, and that’s when his left leg buckled and he fell to his knees.
Arno was good… Very good, as it happened. He had completely fallen for the brass hand ploy right up to the point when Ezra’s first shot blasted the sand a scant body length in front of Ezra’s own foot; that’s when he realized something was amiss. He was already committed to the first shot that took Ezra in the shoulder, but his second shot hit his opponent in the upper thigh. As the rude little two armed freak slumped to his knees, Arno was sure he had won. Whatever plan he and Estin had cooked up, it would be difficult to put into effect now, with his entire left side drenched in red and out of commission. Arno decided to gloat a bit before finishing the farce and going home to carve a new mark on his belt.
For his part, Ezra waited for the pain to come. All he felt so far was numbness, which was odd. From experience, he felt the pain should have at least started. He looked down at the red slicked ruin of his leg to assess the damage and …
<Wait a bit, what’s this?> he thought. His leg was indeed covered in copious splashes of red, just as he expected from a gunshot, but there was no damage at all, not so much as a broken thread in the fabric of his trousers. He glanced toward Arno, who had his hands in the air, pontificating to the crowd and obviously convinced he was the winner; then Ezra’s eye fell on the sand between them, where his first sacrificial shot had struck. There was a massive smear of red there, where his bullet had plowed into the sand.
Paint, red paint. Here he was thinking he was in mortal danger, and he was in an alien Paint ball duel.
He rocked back and bellowed in laughter, which caused Arno to spin and bring his guns to bear, but too late. Ezra continued his backward motion, falling flat on his back as Arno’s third shot flew past just over his falling chest; then with a steady hand and no qualms or remorse whatever, he drew and smoothly fired one shot from his right hand gun, catching Arno dead center in the throat and pitching him backward in a fountain of red paint.
Behind him, he heard, “I told you your aim would get better once the shooting started.”
Ezra turned his head without moving the rest of his body to look at Estin and ask, “You were right. Just out of curiosity, why can’t I move?”
“That’s just the Numb-Sap™, it will wear off in a few minutes. It’s the best way to penalize any shooter clumsy enough to be hit. It not only instantly numbs the limb it hits, but it slowly spreads to the rest of the body as well.”
“I see.” Ezra replied in an overly calm voice as he lay on his back in the sand and waited for the numbness to dissipate, ”That is truly fascinating; I suppose that’s why you said to go for the throat, to take out all his arms at once. Just out of curiosity… At no time did it occur to you that I might enjoy the knowledge that we weren’t using real bullets?”
Estin replied with a look of confusion, “Real bullets? In a Duel?!? Why, someone could be killed. What do you think we are, some kind of barbarians?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on May 5, 2013 at 4:15pm

“They’re not responding to our hails on any frequency, Captain.”
“Understood Ensign, keep trying,” Captain Grey answered. The Captain scratched his beard and pondered. Three multi-gun airships held position off the QBR’s starboard bow, while at least half a dozen smaller glider type ships circled the QBR in attack formation. Captain Grey guessed the multi-gun ships were probably this planet’s version of Ships of the Line, smaller than the QBR but with their numerical superiority, they held the upper hand. The crew of the QBR would be hard pressed to fight their way out their current predicament, but unless they could establish communications and quickly, any misstep could lead to an escalation.
Captain Grey snapped his fingers, “Watch Commander Krasnoy Rubashke, semaphore flags, we need to try semaphore flags, they might not have our radio technology but if chance is with us, they might understand the flags. If nothing else they’ll see we’re trying to communicate with them.”
The Watch Commander nodded and rushed from the Control Gondola with two ensigns in tow.
“Just a few more minutes,” the Captain whispered “just give us a few more minutes . . .”

Reply by Forlath Grey on May 5, 2013 at 4:26pm

The Padre stood over CO Ezra Yesterday with a bemused look on his face. Certain just a few minutes earlier that Ezra was about to meet his maker, the Padre was now at a loss at how to process the sudden change in circumstances. Relieved, yes he was definitely relieved but he was also, maybe just a tiny bit, well, not disappointed per se, but it had to be admitted, this was a bit of anticlimax.
“Can I um, get you anything, Commander?”
Ezra shook his head almost imperceptibly, due to the numbness and continued to lay on his back and contemplate the heavens, with a slight grin on his face.
Feeling foolish, the Padre turned on his heel and said “come get me in the pub when you’re back on your feet . . .”

Reply by Forlath Grey on May 5, 2013 at 4:47pm

“Hold our position,” Captain Grey barked. One of the larger ships had fired across the QBR’s bow, “do not, I repeat do not return fire!”
The other ships had spread out and positioned themselves to bring a full broadside’s worth of guns to bear. “Where are they with those damn flags,” the Captain muttered.
Movement out the corner of his eye caught the Captain’s attention “about sodding time!” The Watch Commander was on the catwalk running in front on the Command Gondola alternately signaling “Wish to communicate” and “Request clearance into port.”
The use of the flags seemed to have caught their welcoming committee’s attention. There was a lengthy pause on the other ships, followed by a great flurry of activity. Then, much to Captain Grey’s relief the furthest right ship of the big three began to signal in return “Coming alongside. Prepare to be boarded.”
The Watch Commander looked over her shoulder, through the window at Captain Grey. The Captain nodded in her direction and then said to the command crew “alert the elves, we’re about to receive company, prepare a honor guard, sabres only . . .”

Reply by Ezra Yesterday on May 5, 2013 at 8:39pm

Rugan Camizo stood with his security detail waiting for the landing bay doors to cycle open and tried not to fidget. The Captain had specifically ordered that only sabers be carried, as tensions were still high following the near battle that had ensued when the Cake Eater showed up in the skies over the large city below them. The natives had naturally scrambled to defensive positions when the QBR, huge in comparison to their military ships, materialized out of nowhere.
But rumor said the Captain had managed to calm the natives down somehow, and had even convinced the Leader in charge of the defensive fleet to come over for a meeting, which is why Rugan and team were currently waiting with the Captain in Landing Bay 2.
“Steady On, Camizo,’ he heard the Captain say drolly from behind him, “our guests will be here shortly; once we have them settled in, you can go back to the mess hall and continue your meal.”
Rugan tried not to blush as the Elves in the detail all snickered at his expense. Just over a week ago he had been nearly killed when he was injected with zombie serum by a spy posing as the ships doctor. Luckily for him, the healing draught that the Elves had been brewing in a corner of engineering had been more than enough to heal him, and had drastically enhanced his combat reflexes for a short time as well.
Unfortunately, the side effect of Elven medicine on his all too human body was that he had passed out when his body had burned up all of his energy stores, to the extent that he had been in a state of near hibernation for 34 straight hours. Guidolas, the captain of the Elven security forces, had joked that Rugan had slept for half a year. When he had awakened, he discovered he had lost 23 pounds; there was quite literally not an ounce of fat left on his body. Needless to say, he had been ravenous; he was still eating 6 full meals a day, and as many snacks as he could beg from the cooks. He knew it was simply his body trying to replenish his depleted stores, but he still flinched whenever anyone brought it up.
Medical necessity or no, it was damned embarrassing.
He was spared an assault of elven quips by the sound of the Bay door cycling open; their visitors had arrived… and surprisingly, they looked human. The first through the opening were the visiting security team; directly behind them strode a tall, slightly balding man in a beribboned military uniform. While he had obviously dressed up for the occasion, the hilt of the sword and the grip of his oddly shaped pistol showed signs of long wear. He may clean up well, but this was a man of action, not a popinjay. This assessment was proven the next instant, as there was a loud commotion that started in the rear of the bay, behind the QBR contingent, and rocketed swiftly toward the opening.
Mo-Mo, the monkey bat that had been Rugan’s near constant companion since he had awakened from his coma, was flying in ecstatic circles and chittering in his own language. An instant later a second, smaller creature, the same species but bright orange, came up and began looping through the air with him in an intricate dance of joy.
Even though the Elven potion was fully out of his system, Rugan’s reflexes were still hyper quick; the medical staff said that he would likely always be as fast as lightening, giving him an advantage over nearly every human in the bay. The Commodore was a bare instant behind him when they drew their respective weapons, but unlike Rugan, he quickly relaxed and pointed his huge pistol high and toward a neutral corner as he saw the source of the noise.
A voice from the darkened bay behind the Commodore said, “It’s Ok, everyone relax, there’s no need for weapons; it’s not an attack, they have just been apart for far too long.” As Rugan sheathed his sabre he watched the newcomer step out of the shadows.
He was tall with short well-kept blonde hair under what looked to be a dark green lizard skin Stetson hat and he had a large handlebar mustache that was slightly darker on one side. He wore a matching lizard skin duster over civilian clothing with another of those large pistols [the twin of the one the Commodore was holstering] slung low in a gunfighter’s rig on his right side; he also had a large, cumbersome brass contraption of some kind on his left hand.
No, Rugan realized when he looked closer, it appears to be a steam powered replacement for the hand.
As the stranger stepped fully into the light and removed his Stetson, Rugan felt the first stirrings of recognition begin to form; before it could coalesce, he heard a sharp incredulous intake of breath from the Captain.
With a bow and a crooked grin, the newcomer said, “Hello Forlath, it’s Damned good to see you, old chap. Welcome to New Brunel,…” his voice trailed off as he saw the stunned looks on the QBR crews faces.
He grimaced in embarrassment and muttered as if to himself, “Oops, military protocol and all that; my apologies, one does lose the habit over time. What I meant to say was,” he braced to attention and snapped off a crisp military salute [with his real hand], and said in a loud, parade ground voice,
“ ‘XO Yesterday, reporting for duty, Sir; Permission to come aboard?”

Reply by Forlath Grey on May 6, 2013 at 10:20am

Thus endeth Book IV. Amen, amen . . .

1 Comment
  1. Just Justine 2 years ago

    This is my favourite book in the QBR series.

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