A man known as Drifter is inlisted to aid a rescue from a group of alien bandits.
|I woke with a start and full of fear. I moaned and fell back on the various cushions and softer materials that I had in my rickety wooden cart.
“Alright sleeping ugly,” a slightly synthetic voice said from nearby, “Would you mind telling me where we are now?”
I sat up and took in the unexpected landscape before me, two suns in the sky, one yellow about the size of a quarter, and a slightly smaller red on just now setting below the flat landscape. The grass was yellow, though I couldn’t tell if that was its natural color or not, as were the trees that might be a forest off to my left. The trees seemed much like the pictures of the African savanna I’d seen once, umbrella like, though I saw no animals to have eaten the lower branches.
I tasted the air and decided it was a little high in oxygen, fair amount of radiation, a dollop of helium, with a fair mix of carbon monoxide and krypton giving the sky its green color. Gravity seemed normal enough, which was a plus, I really hated heavy grav’ worlds. It was very hot; I’d estimate around two hundred degrees or so, with very little humidity so that was a plus
I was beginning to think the land lifeless until I noticed what must be a dirt road about a hundred feet in front of me leading to a gathering of huts maybe five kilos away. Smoke was trickling from the tiny village which suggested that it was inhabited.
I looked down at a robotic eye about the size of a bowling ball that was looking at me expectantly and said, “Sorry Dave, no clue where we are.”
“Just great,” the eyeball moaned, “First you steal me saying I’d fetch a good price and you can’t even tell me where the hell we are nine times out of ten. Stupid humans.”
I ran a little math through my head and found he was right, I was rather surprised it was that high to be frank.
“Well, no point in sitting around here,” I said jumping off of the wagon into the knee length grass, “There’s a town over there and towns mean business.”
“Woopie,” Dave said sarcastically as I lifted the cart, “Another town full of strange organic abominations that will either try to eat us or dissect us, maybe even both if we’re lucky.”
I ignored Dave knowing that if he lured me into an argument I had a good chance of losing, instead I began to pull the cart towards the road. As soon as I started I noticed an interesting feature of the native grass, it was cutting through my jeans like it had teeth. It looked like regular grass, but they must be covered in tiny thorns or something. I hurried to the road to get out of the shredding grass; I swear the stuff was reaching for me as I passed. When I reached the road I found my jeans tattered and legs bleeding a bit, that didn’t bother me much. I did notice that my duster had been torn at a bit as well, and that did bother me, the old thing was like an old friend.
“At least there’s a road,” I muttered turning towards the town.
“Aw, did the mean ol grass hurt the weak little human?” Dave teased; sometimes I wondered why I didn’t tear him apart for parts.
I began to walk towards the town while Dave soon started to complain about how the cart’s constant bumping and jostling on the dirt road was making it hard for him to think or maintain certain programs. Luckily for me I’d long since learned to drown him out when I was pulling the cart.
My mind had started to wander through the past when Dave suddenly demanded, “What is that?”
That jumped me out of my daydreaming enough to see the tiniest of figures up ahead of me, I remembered Dave had telescopic eyes and grabbed a low power telescope from the back of the cart. Looking ahead I saw a creature crouching beside a cart of its own trying to fix a wheel by the look of it. I couldn’t tell size at this distance, but it looked big and tough, sort of like a devil lizard crossed with a turtle and rhino, thick body, bony plates on its back and head, lots of spikes, and leathery looking skin.
Putting the telescope away I smiled and said, “That Dave is good luck.”
“How do you figure that?” Dave asked worriedly, “That thing’s jaws look like it could bite me in half.”
“Because chances are it’s a local,” I said simply, “And it’s better to encounter the locals alone before wandering into their village.”
“Why?” Dave asked confused.
I sometimes forget how new to this way of life Dave is, “Because if they’re hostile I can usually handle an individual, a hostile village is much harder to survive.”
Dave fell silent as he thought of this before saying, “Can’t we forget about the village then? Why don’t you go roll around in the grass?”
I ignored Dave as I picked up the wagon and got back to walking down the road, it only took a half hour to reach the creature, it was bigger than I thought. This individual was close seven foot four and half again as thick at the shoulders. It was muttering as it tried to hammer a nail into place with its three fingered hands when it suddenly noticed me even though I was practically behind it, wide range of vision as well.
“Who and what the hell are you!” the man demanded lifting his hammer. The language was not one I’d heard before, but it was similar to Quelliakian so I managed to understand it, as for determining its gender… the creature wore no pants and had reproductive organs very similar to my own.
“My name is Drifter,” I answered secretly grabbing a flash bang from the wagon just in case as I adlibbed a story to explain away my appearance, “As for what I am, I stole from a wizard and got cursed; now I look like this. Need help with that wheel?”
“What are you saying?” Dave asked unable to follow the conversation, he didn’t speak Quelliakian. I shushed him as the local turned back to his wagon.
“Nah, I’m almost done,” the local said hammering the nail through several inches of wood in two swings, “Good thing too, there are bandits about and they might see me as easy prey. I’d make them remember my name, but they would likely kill me in the process.”
“So what is your name?” I asked curiously.
“Murk,” said the local straightening, sort of, its head seemed to naturally jut out in front of it even when standing straight, “Why not travel with me Drifter? Town is not far away and your soft fleshy form would make you easy prey for the bandits.”
“I see no reason not to,” I agreed walking alongside Murk as he began to pull his cart, “Though if you think you can overpower me, I assure you this form is not so weak that you will ever forget my name.”
Murk seemed to nod in approval, as we walked I looked into his wagon for anything that seemed like it be worth trading for. It was mostly, or at least I assumed it was, local foodstuff, but a wooden tablet with lettering on it caught my eye.
“What’s this?” I asked lifting the tablet so that Murk could see it.
“Ah that,” Murk said without turning his head, “That is a carving of the Kragan code that we all live by, Desire strength above all else, Always face your enemy, Weakness for any reason is death, Never back down, Make your name remembered even if it means your death. I’m not surprised you can’t read it, few bother to learn such a skill as reading, but for a farmer like me who must trade his goods reading is a useful skill.”
“I would expect so,” I said going through the quick process of translating the letters using Murk’s explanation, “There are many merchants less honorable than I who would use words to stab you in the back.”
“You are a merchant?” Murk asked with some disgust.
“To a point,” I answered quickly thinking of a new story as to why I was a merchant, “I was a warrior who took many trophies during my days until a cowardly wizard cursed me for taking many of his things as trophies.”
Murk seemed cooled by explanation, but still not as friendly as he’d been before. Being a trader appeared to be a sign of weakness and frowned upon in this society, just great.
A few minutes later Murk said goodbye and hurried out ahead of me obviously wanting to reach the town ahead of me, possibly thinking I might cause him trouble if he was known to be connected to me I’d worked in the middle ages before and judging by the huts and what Murk had been carrying I was probably smack in the middle of this world’s middle ages.
“I sure hope they aren’t suffering plague,” I muttered to myself, “I hate having to work with quarantine zones.”
“Well don’t keep us in suspense,” Dave called from the cart, “I don’t speak every damned language in existence like some people! Some translations or cliff notes would be useful!”
“Basically we’ve ended up in up in a world where everyone believes in strength above all else and merchants are frowned upon where the best tech we can hope to see is a steam engine, but from what I’ve been seeing, even that seems unlikely though.”
“So does that mean that we’re just going to stop here and take a nap until it’s time to go?” Dave asked eagerly.
“Are you joking?” I smiled, “We’ve got to many weapons in the back as is, they’ll eat that up, not to mention medicine, generators, and the books on how to take over the world should sell amazingly well.”
“But all you’ll get for it is useless prehistoric crap!” Dave whined, “Can we please not go into the dangerous town full of monsters to try and make a quick buck?”
I just glanced at Dave for a moment, he sighed before playing an audio recording of me saying, “If I just played it safe all the time I’d never get anything done.” I nodded and Dave muttered, “At least it’s not so hot now that the second sun has gone down.”
I chuckled as Dave sulked in the back and I continued to hike towards the town where I could now see a pair of Kragan standing behind a six foot high wooden wall with crossbows. They had both pointing at me, as I continued to walk forward one fired his bolt that fell short by nearly a foot. I picked up the bolt and examined it, crude but fairly well worked, used steel for the arrow head but scales instead of feathers. The sucker had a head with multiple barbs meant to sink in and get stuck, a real nasty piece of work.
I picked up one of my more modern crossbows from the back and scribbled what I believed to be the words, ‘Next one won’t miss,’ in the Kragan language before loading the bolt and firing the bolt into the wall hard enough to make both the Kragan jump. While they were busy trying to figure out what the paper said, I decided to put on some of the more advanced battle armor I’d managed to gather. I felt fairly safe with the Dragoon VII, I’d seen the stuff get hit with anti-tank missiles and come out fine. It was a little extream, but I didn’t want to get hit with those bolts and have it stick.
I’d just finished fitting on the helmet when I heard more than felt another crossbow bolt, this one bouncing off my back. I looked back to see that the two guards now had a friend and all three had crossbows in hand. Now fully insulated from their attacks I walked calmly forward, this was just a trade mission, not trying to provoke a war against myself. I reached the wall with the three still firing away at me and calmly said, “If you don’t mind I’d like to try and sell my wares.”
“Fine, I trade you dozen bolts for your crossbow,” one of the guards said.
I handed over the crossbow and blinked a bit surprised as the Kragan grabbed the crossbow and promptly tried to shoot my eye out. I think they actually managed to scratch the protective lense and angrily shouted, “Try that again and I will make you feel pain!”
Plink, another crossbow bolt bounced off my face. Angrily I reach forward and grabbed the Kragan by the jaw before yanking him close enough to put a jab right into the man’s face. I was rather shocked to see the blow knock him back a good three feet, then I remembered the armor’s strength multiplier, a quick check said it was on times four. The poor sap had just been hit in the face by half a ton of force going thirty, that had to hurt.
Still I had a part to play, “Look here scum! I’m already angry about some damned wizard cursing me into this tiny and weak form, if you don’t let me in so I can sell some of my trophies I will kill you!”
The two looked at each other before disappearing to open the gates. I sighed as I walked in, this was off to a bad start, I hated hurting people even though my life had forced me to frequently do so in order to survive. I was glad to see the Kragan I’d punched was still alive, if not entirely sound, I’d practicly removed half of his natural facial armor. I gathered up the bolts the man owed me and a couple more to make up for the damage he’d done to my armor.
Speaking of which, I quickly turned the armor off and began to put it back in the wagon, the thing was powerful, but its solar battery didn’t last long and I had no way to replace its main battery when it finally dried up.
Still Revising, Please continue to wait...
I found myself gazing up at an eight foot monster that looked somewhere between a rhino and a thorny devil lizard. I growled at me waving and knife about angrily as I gazed at it impassively.
“You ask too much for this!” the alien shouted down at me, “Is not worth five silver kruts and a book on the art of battle!”
“That knife is worth more than you know!” I said calmly, “It will never rust and never needs to be sharpened; if it ever does you may stick it in me.”
“I’m tempted to do that now!” the monster growled drawing itself up.
“Fine, three kruts and the book.”
I shook the creature’s hand and it walked away looking smug about its purchase as I waved forward the next customer. I was doing good business today. I’d managed to convince the local populace that I was one of them cursed by a wizard for stealing the wonders I was selling. I had yet to be shot at, attacked, declared a monster/demon, or left to rot on some inhospitable rock. I just wished I hadn’t ended up in the medieval era of these creatures, the smell was appalling, but the stuff I was trading would likely sell well next time I moved on.
The next of the rhino lizard things pointed at an orb hanging from a net over my shoulder as it asked, “How much for barking eye?”
“What are you pointing at!?” the robotic eye cried indignantly, “I’m a highly advanced synthetic life form you ugly organic brute! You don’t get to point at me and expect to get away with it! Give me some arms and I’ll maul ya!”
The creature didn’t understand a word since ‘Dave’ only spoke its own robotic language and plain English. These things were speaking yet another language I didn’t know, but it was close to Quelliakian and they seemed to understand me well enough.
“Barking eye is not for sell,” I said simply, “It cursed item. Make you even smaller and squishier than I.” that put the creature off enough that instead it bought a dress made of scales the size of its fist for ten kruts, a bronze grook, and a small stone carving of what I assumed to be its god.
“Move aside peasants!” One of the creatures clad in shining blue armor shouted riding through the crowd on what looked like a dog shark hybrid the size of a horse. It rode up to my little makeshift stand and drew a sword, which it pointed at my face and demanded, “You are the cursed filth that has been selling magical objects to the peasantry?”
“Yes,” I said calmly, “What can I do for you?”
“Selling magic to anyone but the Warlord is forbidden!” the knight cried raising its sword.
“Yes! Yes!” Dave began crying wiggling excitedly in his net, “Chop his stupid head in two!”
“Shut up Dave,” I growled drawing a .44 magnum from under the counter and fired it down the monsters throat as it roared. The knight toppled over and started to get back up until I blew one of its eyes out, tough things these creatures.
There was silence throughout the street as people looked in surprise between me and the dead knight. I raised the weapon above my head and shouted, “You want one? Only three for sale, hurry if you want a mage weapon of your own!”
That got the crowd moving at everyone either began bidding or ran home to get more things to offer for the gun. About an hour later, I finally got the crowd cleared and loaded up the impressive amount of traded goods into my cart and bags stopping to pick up the dead knight’s sword and armor. I was about to collapse my shop when Dave said, “Looks like you’ve got an admirer, I wonder if she thinks you’re cute.”
I looked and saw a raggedy looking member of the crowd that had been hanging around since I killed the knight. “That’s a guy Dave.”
“How can you tell?” Dave asked sounding curious.
“It’s fairly obvious with most creatures,” I chuckled turning to the alien and asking, “What do you need sir.”
“This is rather embarrassing sir, but I need your help with something,” the thing said looking around nervously as it rubbed its hands together in a likewise manner, “Some bandits kidnapped my daughter and no one is willing to help me. I saw you kill the knight so easily and I was hoping th-“
“I thought it was your people’s policy to do everything yourself and to never back down from a fight,” I commented as I began to collapse the stand.
“Yes, any normal Kragan would charge in there full of pride and rage which is part of the reason I have received no help with the bandits,” the man admitted sadly, “But an illness from my childhood has left me so terribly crippled that I could not even make them remember my name before they killed me. So I need someone else to help me with my problem.”
“Sorry old man, I don’t do things for free and I doubt you could pay me enough to get me to risk my life for your daughter.”
The Kragan all but leapt at me as he fell to his knees and clutched my leg, “Please sir! You must help me! I know she is only a girl, but she is my only child of my departed mate! I am too weak to save her alone and you are the last person I have to ask! Please! I beg of you! Help me save my daughter from those vile fiends before they kill her!”
I don’t know if these creatures could cry or not, but the guy was certainly desperate as he held my leg with a vise like grip making odd ‘chuu’ing sounds his face buried in the mud. I tried to avoid getting tangled up in the issues whenever I went somewhere, buuut…
“Fine I’ll help you, just tell me where this place is.” I sighed.
“Oh no brave sir,” the Kragan said lifting its head from the mud and standing up, “I may be weak and sickly, but my pride refuses to let you go alone. I shall do all I can to aid you in killing these cowardly fiends.”
“Fine what’s your name?” I asked rubbing some feeling back into my foot.
“I am Wrex,” the Kragan said drawing himself up, “Son of Threx the Merciless.”
“Just call me Drifter,” I said lifting the wagon’s handles, “If I’ve got another name or any family, I don’t know about it.”
“You were abandoned because of the wizard’s curse?” Wrex inquired as we started to walk.
What was he… oh right, the cover story.
“Don’t know, I only know that I have been wandering for as long as I can remember.”
“Excuse me, but will you tell me what’s going on here?” Dave demanded from his position in the wagon, “One moment the ugly lump is in the mud; next he’s skipping along with us to who knows where! Why are we leaving anyways?”
“Wrex here is coming along because he wants us to save his daughter,” I said simply.
“We aren’t really going to are we?” Dave asked a bit of dread in his voice.
“WHY!?! We have no reason to help him, why don’t we go back and continue selling trinkets to lumps of flesh like that sorry sack?” Dave whined.
“Because we killed a high ranking member of society back there and angered the local authority back there. Stay would result in my death and your destruction.”
“Why would they destroy me?”
“Because to them you’re magic,” I explained simply.”
“I still want you to explain to me what that is,” Dave grumbled, “But why help him?”
“Uh… Sir Drifter?” Wrex interrupted, “Why are you barking at the barking eye?”
“Because it won’t stop complaining if I don’t.”
“Listen Dave,” I said angrily, “You keep demanding I make you a new body for the one you broke when we first met, how am I going to do that without stuff to trade for it? A bandit camp is full of stuff to trade, now just shut up!”
“Everything is trade with you,” Dave complained rolling himself, “Trade this and trade that, why don’t you get another hobby like. Like jumping off of cliffs.”
“Smeg off robo-toy.”
“Maybe this was a bad idea,” Wrex muttered to himself.
I awoke scared and alert quickly casting about to make sure nothing had changed before heaving a sigh of relief. I was still lying atop my cart with Dave while Wrex slept under a nearby tree as one of the two suns finally set.
“Yes we’re still in the same place,” Dave said from his net rolling himself again, “We haven’t mysteriously popped away to the land of cannibalistic nymphomaniacs.”
“Thank the gods,” I sighed lying back down, “That world was hell.”
“I enjoyed it,” Dave chuckled, “Watching you run for your fragile little life while women chased after you. I laughed myself into a reboot that day.”
“I hope the next place is a world of fire,” I growled.
“So I can watch you melt eye-toy.”
Before we could really get going Wrex got up and grunted, “The heat of the day has finally passed, let us continue Sir Drifter, the camp is not far now.”
“Speaking of which, I need to talk to you about the plan Wrex.”
“Plan?” Wrex sounded confused, “We will charge in like proud Kragan and kill as many as we can before falling with the knowledge that if any remain they shall remember our name.”
“No we won’t,” I said flatly, “I’m going to distract them by offering them my wares and you are going to sneak in and rescue your daughter.”
“But that is not the Kragan way!” Wrex complained.
“Exactly,” I said raising a finger to stop Wrex, “They will never expect it.”
Wrex didn’t seem happy about the plan, but he seemed willing to accept it. He pointed me towards the camp and said he’d wait for me to distract the camp. I began my walk, still tugging my wagon as I looked back at Dave and said, “Don’t think you’re going to just sit this out now.”
“Huh? What do expect me to do?” Dave demanded, if he could sweat, he’d be dripping.
The camp was barely awake as I pulled up with my cart.
It was fairly well defended; it had thousands of sharpened logs around a seven-foot talk wall on a hill with their own little water supply from a small pond. One of the Kragan behind the walls who was pointing a crossbow at me stopped me.
“Halt!” it rumbled in a voice like gravel, “What are you and why have you come here.”
“I am a simple merchant who was cursed by a wizard for stealing his wonders,” I said simply patting the cart behind me, “Wonders I’ve come to offer you for a reasonable trade.”
Another Kragan came up behind the first and began to whisper with it before running off. A moment later the gate opened and I was confronted by two dozen large Kragan all armed with either a cross bow or a sword the length of my arm. The largest of them stepped forward and said, “Give us all your goods and we will let you live, that is a fair trade no?”
The group all began making an unearthly rumble that I took for laughter. I smirked saying, “No it's not, because I have this!”
I held up Dave who turned both his volume and eye brightness up to max as he screamed, “YAJHFLWHEHBWTH!!!”
The Kragan fell back a step aiming all their weapons at Dave who must look like a blindingly green something thrashing around in a glass and metal container.
“What is that thing?” one of the Kragan demanded, “Some sort of demon?”
“I’m not entirely sure,” I said tilting my head, “The wizard used it to defend his tower, I watched it cut an entire regiment of knights in half with a word from the wizard. A word I remember.”
“So you have come to kill us for our bounty then?” the lead Kragan snarled, “Well played cursed one.”
“Please call me Drifter,” I said with a smile, “And no, this is just insurance to make sure you behave during the trading. For our first trade, how about I agree not to kill you if you don’t kill me?”
“Deal,” the lead Kragan said ordering his followers to lower their weapons with a motion, “My name is Baltrax and you are the first cowardly merchant to earn my respect Drifter.”
“The pleasure is mine,” I said pulling the cover off my products, “Now shall we trade?”
If this was just a simple trading mission, I’d have been fine, the problem was if Wrex bungled his attempt to free his daughter and they turned on me. My exit strategy in that case would be to run like hell, not the best of strategies against things that looked like they could certainly hustle as well as take a punch. I spotted Wrex sneaking into one of the buildings with the sword I’d lifted from the knight, when had he lifted it? He disappeared inside and I returned to the bidding for the dead knight’s armor, Baltrax had just won for a crossbow, a gem the size of a baboon heart, and a dozen bolts when there was a roar from the camp that came from something that shook me to the core.
When Wrex had said he was here to save his daughter, I was expecting a little girl, maybe hugging a doll. What I saw was a Kragan a head taller than any of the bandits with shoulders broad enough for two to sit comfortably. She was wielding a support beam like it was weightless as Wrex followed with his sword. With a roar, she charged the group gathered at me cart.
While they were distracted, I scooped up a full auto shot gun and fired two rounds into the crowd happy to see deer slug affected even these spiny brutes. Caught between two surprise attacks the bandits floundered until Baltrax charged Wrex’s daughter. I liquidated a Kragan head as Wrex ran up next to me after ducking a crossbow bolt and said, “Look at my little Yeeva go! Is she not something amazing Drifter?”
“She’s something alright,” I shouted while discovering a shot to the crotch seemed to hurt a Kragan just as much as a human.
The fight was rather even between me blasting away at armored hides, Yeeva and Baltrax slugging it out, Dave screaming that he didn’t want to die, and Wrex keeping bandits at bay with excellent swordsmanship. The fighting ended when a Calvary charge of knights came into view.
The bandits all froze as I grabbed my cart to drag it inside before slamming the gates. In that time, a lot of chatter had broken out in the camp.
“That was Warlord Krull’s knights!”
“We don’t stand a chance against them!”
“They’ll kill us all before we can even make our names remembered!”
At that point, the first of the knights was propelled over the wall by their mounts where his lance skewered one of the bandits. Several more came flying over the walls onto the bandits who began falling rapidly.
“Ha! Victory is our-!” Wrex started to cry before a passing knight lopped off his head.
At this points panic set in, these knights obviously weren’t taking prisoners, Yeeva and Baltrax who had been at each other’s throats seconds before were now fighting back to back trying to hold off the circling knights. I fired and caught one in the chest knocking him from his mount that I shot as it charged me knocking it to the ground with a whine.
“THERE!” one of the knights shouted pointing his lance at me, “That is the one who killed Dallen!”
The camp fell silent as the knights stopped to surround me, Yeeva, and Baltrax, everyone else was dead.
“So this is the one who killed Stonewall Dallen?” one of the knights asked curiously, “I’ll admit he’s done a deed on Grunt, but he certainly don’t look like much.”
“Still Krull wants to speak to him,” another knight said, “What should we do with the two women?”
“They are both prime breeding by the looks of them; Krull may even give us a bonus for bringing him such choice females.” The first laughed.
I tried to blow off the knight’s head but only got a click of the trigger, bad time to run out of ammo. I ran for the wagon but grabbed by a knight.
“Shall we take the wagon as well?” my capturer asked, “It looks to be full of treasure for Krull.
“Go ahead,” the first said smiling, “Krull always did love magic and the townsfolk claim that this cursed one carries much magic with him.”
“Get away from me scum!” Yeeva snarled swinging her now bloodstained wooden beam at one of the knights.
“Ho! She’s a feisty one!” the knight laughed dismounting, “Sic her boy!”
The knight’s mount leaped at Yeeva taking a blow from her makeshift club and shaking it off. It bowled her over and latched onto her with its teeth filled jaw worrying her viciously as Yeeva punched futilely at its face. The monster tossed her to the ground and Baltrax moved to help her only to be confronted by the knight who’d siced the monster on Yeeva. The two met sword to sword as the monster rake Yeeva’s bloody form with its claws.
“Knock it off!” I shouted angrily lifting my captor’s visor to slam my thumb into his eye causing him to drop me long enough for me to reach my wagon and reload. Seconds later, gunfire stirred the knights into action as deer slug dropped their beast and pierced armor. The gun barrel was turning red from over firing as they kept coming, swords drawn nor the least bit of fear. I managed to get a shot that killed the beast that was pinning down Yeeva.
Freed and bloody she scooped a sword from a fallen knight and planted in the back of the one fighting Baltrax. Together the two began to carve a bloody swath through the lines as I fired wildly grabbing more ammo every chance I had until suddenly there was silence as the three of us stood among a blood stained field full of death.
“That was disgusting!” Dave shouted after a moment from underneath one of the fallen knights, “You organics squirt red stuff when hurt? Eww! This one’s dripping on me! Quick! Get him off, get him off!”
“Shut the hell up Dave,” I growled irritably climbing off the cart and going to where Yeeva was holding her father’s severed head, “Are you two alright.”
Baltrax grabbed me by the throat and lifted me into the air, “You said the glowing orb could kill an entire squad of knights! Why’d you not use it to kill them and save my men and mate? Can you not tell that my daughter cared for him despite his weakness!?”
“I lied about the orb, it’s just annoying,” What she said before clicked, “Wait, you’re Wrex’s wife and Yeeva’s mother?”
“Of course!” Baltrax growled tossing me to the blood soaked ground “Is it not obvious? I took her when I left him because Wrex was weak despite his breeding, now he is dead because of you and Krull! I might not be able to kill Krull but-“
I cut her off by pointing my shotgun at her face, she seemed tempted to fight, but obvious she had seen what my weapon could do and was not ready to die.
“Fine, we had a deal after all,” Baltrax growled, “I don’t try and kill you, you don’t try and kill me. However, I will not let either you or Krull go unpunished. You owe me a debt for leading these knights here and letting them kill my mate. I’m going to go kill Krull, and you are going to help me do it.”
“You’re kidding me right?” I asked getting to my feet.
“I’m not unreasonable Drifter,” Baltrax said glaring at me, “You can keep half of anything valuable we find, but you will help us kill Krull.”
I was torn, I always tried to avoid politics whenever I went somewhere, but here I was neck deep in it wanting out. However, I also despised having debts of any kind due to my travels making them hard to collect or repay. The question was did I want to pay my debt or get out of the politics of this world, after a lot of thought I fetched a coin and flipped it.
“Well?” Baltrax demanded.
“It looks like I have no choice,” I said with a sigh, “As a merchant I hate to have debts, so where is this Krull?”
“A day and a half West of here,” Baltrax said something akin to a smile coming over her face, “He won’t be expecting us to attack him and his forces will be greatly reduced by what we’ve done here.”
“A day and a half huh,” I muttered quietly to myself, “Maybe it won’t happen again before then.”
“What was that?” Baltrax asked.
“Nothing,” I answered distantly.
“Yeeva, we need to go,” Baltrax said.
“Are you sure she’s okay to move,” I asked concerned.
“Nothing more than flesh wounds,” Baltrax growled, “Come on dear.”
“We should honor him,” Yeeva whispered, “He may have been weak, but he still died like a warrior.”
Baltrax paused for a moment before nodding and lifting her dead husband’s corpse onto her shoulders and setting it down against the wall. She carved his name into the wall before wrapping his hands around his blade as Yeeva set his head in his lap leaving the eyes open and glaring. I certainly found it as one of the most unusual ways to honor someone; hopefully I wouldn’t have to be honored like that.
“Come,” Baltrax rumbled, “Luuva will be rising soon and it will be too hot to travel until Morrik sets.”
We ran for what felt like an hour before Baltrax called a stop to rest under the same tree that Wrex and me had been sleeping under that morning. I was tired and ready for a nap after all the running and fighting, but Baltrax wasn’t quite ready to let me sleep.
“Drifter, you used a weapon that killed many of Krull’s knights back at the camp, give it to me,” she rumbled in a tone that demanded obedience.
However, I wasn’t going to be intimidated so easily, I’d been faced with far worse during my travels, “The only way you’re going to get it is through trade, I’m a merchant and I don’t give anything away.”
She charged me going for a head-butt. I grabbed her under the throat and chest as I managed to flip her up over my shoulders, dragging the cart around for all these years had not left me weak. While she was still dazed, I placed my foot on Baltrax’s throat and asked, “Shall we trade.”
“Ha!” Yeeva laughed from where she sat, “I can see why father decided to bring him along in his attempts to take me home.”
Baltrax rumbled like an earthquake but said, “Fine Drifter, we trade.” I let her up, “Two fine long swords and a golden Vruut.”
“Sold,” I agreed quickly taking both the blades and a gold coin the size of a kidney, I wondered briefly where she’d been hiding the blades but didn’t question it, “I’ll even throw in some ammo for another Vruut.”
Yeeva laughed again as Baltrax growled, “Half a Vruut.”
“Fine,” I said grabbing one of my shotguns and a dozen shells, “Another half Vruut for lessons?”
Baltrax was trembling like a volcano about to blow as she grunted out, “Fine” between gritted teeth.
“Splendid,” I said handing her the weapon and ammo as I pocketed the coin, “Simply flip this trigger to enable firing, this trigger to make it fire. If it stops shooting when pulling the second trigger, put these in here. Lessons over. Now if you don’t mind I’ll grab some shuteye while we wait for the suns to set.
I wondered if Baltrax would try to strangle me while I slept but figured she needed me too much for that to happen. I only hoped I was still here when I woke up.
I woke with a jolt to realize that my worst fear had come true. I was now sitting on my cart in the middle of a field with a massive blue sun glowing overhead. I cursed as I kicked the yellow grass; this was why I hated having to make promises and getting involved in politics. I could never stay in one place long enough to see it through to the end. I sagged against the cart covering my face as I shouted profanity to whatever it was that cursed me this way.
“Darn I’d hoped the radiation would kill you,” Dave said sadly from his position on the cart.
“Sorry Dave,” I said with a sad smile, “I don’t die that easily.”
This was why I kept Dave around, he was rude, obnoxious, and whiny, but he was company. Something I could cling to as normal as I continued to randomly float from place to place just as I’d been doing for as long as I could remember.
“What is it Dave?” I asked wondering if Yeeva and Baltrax would survive their attempt at revenge.
“We aren’t alone out here!”
I looked up to see a giant centipede with a pair of machine guns strapped to its back skittering towards us. Bloody hell, bloody smegging hell! Why couldn’t I end up at some sort of spa!?