Desperate Times

Laghet’s silence on the way back to the transport was born of both frustration and a healthy dose of relief, making him twice as withdrawn and stern-faced beneath the shade of his wide hat. The otherwise comforting rumble of the surrounding conversation made him on-edge, and he fidgeted subtly with the front of his clothes, the glow pulsing erratically with his movements while his face remained shaped from iron. Stupid, it was completely irrational what he’d just done, he couldn’t justify it to himself. He could only be grateful that those flat-faced robots managed to save his hide in time, and the other calf’s skin, however much it turned his sour snout to feel such an emotion towards them.

He escaped the increasingly stuffy crowd of the transport as soon as he could and hurried into the crowded hallways of the Hub, leaving the main level for one of the areas leading to a quiet maintenance bay, looking over his shoulder and slipping into a side hangar that was currently empty and devoid of workers. He leaned against the wall, pulling out his screen as a pretense and reaching for his ear to answer a signal that had been consistently beeping at him since the ride back.

A large, clawed finger pressed against the comm in his ear. “Impatient, you are.”

“I think we have a right to be, Abeloghau.”

“I would disagree, but I have what you’re looking for.” A few taps on the screen and a short slide. 

There was a short pause. “The first two, possibly. The third…”

“He is no captain, though that was my initial label. Believe me. Just try it, listen for a few days.”

“You have been lax on your agreement, Abeloghau. If this proves to be an unworthy investment–”

“You know me, Havlar.” The screen flickered slightly in protest as Laghet’s grip tightened. “I deliver. What about the fourth? Another Collective code. It’s a good one, too.”

“On your word only.”

“Do I need to take this to the Khagan?” he growled, his voice pitching lower, finally fed up with the posh, thin voice in his ear. There was another, longer pause and a strange sort of vocal clicking noise. “Honor the deal, scum.”

A short, irritated sigh. “I will present the codes to Maio’a. She will decide their value.”

“It better be enough.”

“Your case isn’t strong, Abeloghau. You won’t be getting a good word from me.” After another round of irritated clicks, Havlar stiffly stated, “You’ll know in the next eighteen hours. Never cross the chasm.”

Laghet was so irked by the being he nearly forgot to respond with the second half of the phrase. His heart raced as he flatly retorted, “We do what we must.” I nearly got myself killed just then. He was getting sloppy in his old age, he grudgingly admitted to himself. The contact ended and he stalked heavily out of the bay area, leaving a few curious gangly young mechanics to wonder idly where he’d come from and blink when he seemingly disappeared in a heartbeat, back to the Hub, only seeing the faintest residue of green light on the inside

If any god of the old world hears me…have mercy and let me return.

Yellow Alert [Part 6]


For once appearing sheepish - the slightest bit sheepish - Solaan listened to reason and stayed behind the shields. The battle raged well enough even behind the shields. He danced about Laghet and Nova, taking shots at the nearest enemies just beyond the shield… though the amount of times he danced behind Laghet and Nova suggested his proximity was out of self-preservation. Apparently, even with shield cover, he did not want a repetition of his last two near-injuries.

Not as though his outer confidence was diminished that much, though. He still let out a wild whoop when his left gun somehow managed to target one of the enemies and blast them straight in the chest. The assailant staggered backward, protected by their armor, but still noticeably knocked back by Solaan’s shot. “Whooooooot! Didja see that? Right in the center!” he shrieked, then tried to follow that up with a blast from his right hand. It shot off clear to the side, blasting a hole in a distant wall.

Sand puffed upwards and glass shattered in sudden bursts as shots rained down from their enemies. Lights flashed, shields shimmered as they absorbed enemy fire, and the noise of battle grew to great intensity. Solaan could see beyond the shields the trading base their attackers had overrun: an outpost of square sides and blocky shapes and uninspired architecture. Across raised platforms and on top of roofs, he could see more of their enemies - though their appearance still remained unclear in the havoc.

At that moment an unfamiliar voice cracked through Solaan’s channel. It took him a moment to register what he had heard. In the midst of battle, he could barely make out the mayday on the other end. “…assailants overpo…er us… …n’t hold… much lo…ger… …at the central building… near top of tower… help…”

Solaan’s eyes could not widen - he had no eyelids - but he stared toward the base with an expression no one could mistake for anything else other than surprise. He could fill in the missing words of the transmission fairly clearly, at least to an accurate extent: The assailants overpowering us. We can’t hold on much longer. We’re at the central building near the top of the tower. Please help us.

“There’s still some civilians inside!” he screeched, forgetting he was in the middle of danger and jumping out from behind Laghet’s cover. He almost stumbled beyond the shields yet again. But at this point, Solaan could not care. “Come on come on come on come on, we have to go to the center of the outpost now! I know what they said - I know what you all said - stay behind the shields, fire at them from here - but we need to go in there! We need to save them!”

He looked to Laghet, and Nova, and Josh, and Blasto, and the tall tree-like being which had called itself Kroot. “Are you with me? Are you with me??? We need to go there now! I’m going now whether you come with me or not!!!”

Code Yellow [pt 2]


“You won’t like it,” a voice grumbled from down the hallway, coming from a rather sizeable dark-furred being entering the room with a thick half cloak and a very wide, flat hat shading his face, head roughly level with his shoulders. He tipped his head up from the infographic displayed on the dirty, scuffed screen he was holding, and his far-spread black eyes glinted with foreboding. “These monsters…I know them, no more than this Collective does. I have seen them…” He came to a stop in front of the duo at the head of the very small group that had gathered in front of the hologram. He was a good two heads taller than any of them. His broad jaw twisted slightly, showing disapproval. “The Hub does not like putting their life on the line, it seems,” he huffed, tucking the screen away into the draping gray folds of his clothing. “Shame…”

Code Yellow [pt 4]


Laghet looped the hanging cord tighter around his broad hand as the transport trembled with the effort of taking off. The lights dimmed somewhat and it became more apparent that there was a faint circular green glow through the clothes hanging over his front. He squinted at the small, hovering robot; his curiosity won over his standoffishness. 

“What is that?” he grunted. “A strange thing for a human like yourself to have, it is.”