Guns and Shovels: Ch1

Roleplay that occurs inside the setting of Shattered Universe.
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uso
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Guns and Shovels: Ch1

Post by uso » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:54 pm

Tigran Valley,
North-Eastern Continent Drylands,
Planet Hawking


It was a warm and humid dusk, with the sun casting a dull orange glow under a sky of sporadic but dense steel-grey clouds. The dust here had a distinctive rusty iron smell, blowing down from the mountain ranges that cut the savanna off from the savage jungles further west. Simple rock traders and farmers often used this dirt path on their way to the nearby scrap-town of Dhalm, but that wasn’t who Yilga was tracking tonight…

There were two track marks diverting from the road, heading into the tree line, and the Grawla thug could recognise them as being from a Stolot micro-carrier. Or some cheap recreation thereof.

Dirt started getting hilly now, building up to an outcropping of large rocks, and eventually a near-vertical proto-canyon wall.

It tasted like bauxite. But that wasn’t what they were here for, either.

Following the wall, following the wall… Avoiding some of those damn spiky Gyarba cactus… Spying another small patch of Stolot tracks, here and there…

But then-!

*GYAN-GA-LANNGGG!~*

Their boot caught on something, just as they made out the small oblong form of the carrier next to a campfire… Some kind of wire with a bunch of rusty cans attached to both ends?

Sledge hammer was readied into their mits. Yilga froze, took a smell of the air around them, and dared not close their eyes.

“FREEZE EVIL-DOER! OR I WILL DESTROY YOU!” Someone shouted, loudly, kinda in their direction but not really… the micro-carrier that Yilga had been tracking had been parked behind these rocks, and a blanket had been draped over the whole thing to make it look kinda-gray and rock like with the intention of trying to hide from passers-by. A rather short grawla had quickly jumped to attention under the blanket… but she had yet to actually get that blanket off so she could see who was nearby. Her hands were working in a frenzy to try and get that blanket tucked back into the carrier…

Taking the hand weapon into both hands now, Yilga kicked the wire free from their clawed boots, and made a really heavy, kinda disturbing weezy breath. They were actually smelling in the direction of the small tank, though clearly all they were going to get back was the smell of engine oil.

“Choo’ saying evil?” A slightly deep, raspy voice. Yilga took pleasure in the fact that they were clearly a more meaty creature that whatever was under the sheet. Maybe they weren’t the tallest around, but they had a good bit of meat on them, and the wallop had served them well so far… “Come out here so I can deck you! I know you got the gizmo, kid!”

“What Gizmo! I DON’T HAVE ANY GIZMO!” Taykk called out, finally getting the blanket off and tossing it into a pile inside of her micro-carrier, the small grawl half-climbing up on the back of the carrier so she could look around, her eyes quickly spotting Yilga. Certainly Yilga was a large Grawla, one with a large hammer, and also one that had decided to just sorta stand there instead of running up.

This was no time for small weapons… that hammer would turn Taykk into paste if it hit!

The small Grawla quickly ducked down into her carrier and came back up with a long black box that she rested on her shoulder. The device looked to be infinitely black, somehow with a smooth glossy exterior but without showing any other kind of feature like there was no wear and tear on the surface, just a perfectly black something under the featureless glossy outline. “NOW BACK AWAY OR I’LL BLOW YOU UP WITH THE GIZMO!”

“How’s bout… You preten’ you ain’t seen me?…” Yilga smiled, showing ample teeth and fang. The enemy was indeed smaller than them. It was a little hard to tell if their widening yellow-orange eyes was a sign of aggressive adrenaline build up, or some kind of fascination with the alien object being shown to them… “Oh, and giv’ me the aliyun weapon.”

This was actually a situation that they had watched from afar, many times before. The dudes that ran straight in always got shot by something or other. But it was generally against one’s good nature to shoot a semi-friendly looking person right in the face… So asking really nicely made them immune… Right?...

“YOU KNOW WHAT THIS GIZMO DOES!?” Taykk shouted, making a show of setting it on her shoulder and aiming what was presumably the front of it at Tilga, “It doesn’t just kill you. It’ll turn you INSIDE OUT. It will hurt the whole time while you’re dieing! It causes the most painful death. That’s why they want it, because its so painful. When you die from it YOU DIE FROM THE PAIN… then you die from the death… So how ‘bouts you be the one going away and we both be pretenden we ain’t seen one anothers?”

“...How’s anybody telling you this, if they dead?...” Yilga asked, genuinely interested and not quite realising it was a lie. It was an intriguing enough thought that it completely sidetracked them from the task at hand for a minute, and they gained a quizzical expression.

“...You know wut, I ‘dun even care. I just want the moo-lah.” The brute’s tone became thuggish again at the drop of a hat anyway. They liked a good story, but they also liked a good punch-up, too. “...Don’t even know if it’s the real deal yet, so I’ll take my chances. If it’s a real relic, then it would still be pretty cool to get blasted by one too, I guess…”

Licking their fangs, rolling their fingers over the wooden haft of their weapon, ready to pounce. All of it was speaking from the heart.

Taykk’s eyes got larger and larger as Yilga spoke. She clearly saw through Taykk’s deception and was taunting her! She clearly knew that Taykk didn’t know how to fire the weapon, and that her partner in crime was asleep… unable to help. This attacker was even taunting her about it!

“OK, ok, you’re a clever one.” Taykk said, slowly lowering the weapon, “And I’d hate to kill someone as clever as you. Maybe we could settle this a different way huh? You know how valuable this thing is right? And I bet your boss ain’t gonna pay you nearly what it is worth to get it back right? Plus I could use a clever, hammer slinger… Maybe you and me sell this thing together and get rich hm?”

“Still dun’ even know if it’s real.” The robust one tensed their nose up and down a little. “Why don’t you… Let me lick it?”

They… Well, they looked serious enough?... The bullish one seethed with a sort of semi-jovial passive aggression, biceps clad in what looked like old prisoner brands… Yeah, kind of cute in the way they projected their eyes and animalistic, stubby nose, but also rather more intimidating because of it. There was a general feeling that even Yilga did not know what they planned to do.

A slow step forward. And then another….

“Lick it?!” An obvious ploy to get closer! Yilga could take the weapon, or kill her, OR BOTH! “Its real, it is so real. You don’t know how real it is!” Taykk said, moving her hands around on the thing, looking for a button or trigger to press that might activate the weapon, keeping it pointed slightly off to the side where she could demonstrate its power on something that wouldn’t also kill her just in case the weapon happened to explode something, “And uh… Join me and I’ll let you lick it. You can be as weird as you want AND we can get RICH taking stuff from people that don’t need it no more.”

“...Weird?... Does this mean we can’t fight? Y’all wont fight me?” Yilga was starting to look a bit disappointed. “That ain’t how this is supposed to work…”

By the fifth step, they were in touching distance of the small guncrawler, and took a moment to obnoxiously stand on their tip-toes in order to see if anyone else was inside the two-seater open topped section.

“How about you fight me, and if you win you can keep it? No deathsies needed!”

“STUPID GIZMO SHOOT HER ALREADY!” Taykk yelled out, shaking the weapon, entirely unable to make it fire resulting in her pouting loudly and dropping it onto the side of her carrier, “... SO HOW ABOUT YOU JOIN ME AND THEN NO DEATHHSIES NEEDED!” She shouted at Yilga, kicking some sleeping lump of a grawla on the floor of her carrier, “... you can lick it I guess, but I ain’t gonna fight you… I GOT A GUY FOR THAT IF HE’D WAKE UP!”

The burly Grawla’s smile just got bigger, eyes narrowing slightly. She calmly put one of those large mitts around Taykk’s neck, giving it just a slight squeeze, and then licked the top of their hair with their large, rough tongue. It was exactly what annoying bully Grawla children did to each other to assert dominance.

“Get yur gears in gear slow poke!...” Was her renewed gravelly tone, now considering this little ‘fight’ won, and moving over to challenging the sleeping lump. “I’mma take your Stolot and stick ma hammer up ‘yer girls bum! And lick your space gun too! It all mine now!”

This is what happens when you give a Grawla who is slightly big, but not big (or at least smart) enough to be the boss, too much power for ten minutes…

“El’right, I had nuff’ of this manure.” A voice muttered to themselves, with the whiz of a dart flying through the air coming straight after, striking Yilga in the neck. Said dart had enough poison in it to send Yilga to the ground, but not have her going unconscious. A hundred meters away, a tall, slender figure of 6 feet and tad more rose up from beneath the sands, walking over to the downed Grawla. She wore a cloak that matched the light-orange, dusty surroundings, with a belt slung over one shoulder, on it a few pouches, a steel-tipped spear, and a curved dagger. The figure herself was swampy green, had greying hair but a pair of leery eyes and pointed ears, and already reloading her air rifle, aimed at Taykk.

Grumbling, moaning loudly, the robust Grawla thug didn’t hit the floor immediately, but instead spun around to face their new assailant. Eyes burnt by impossible new colours, sounds becoming distant, and limbs tremendously weak, they stumbled down onto their hands and knees, as if somehow still expecting to fight back.

The newcomer eyed Yilga. “Funny how things work, lass. I would’ve just let you take the thing until you started lickin’ her. Oh wait no, still would’ve shot you.” She glances at the dart stuck in her neck, pulled it out and stowed it back away. “Relax, the amount I put in it was barely enough to kill a basilisk rat; it’ll barely keep a fatass like you down for an hour at best. Now then…” The newcomer returned her attention back to Taykk. After scanning her and determining she was relatively harmless, the newcomer lifted her air rifle, but nonetheless stayed alert. “You two were yammering quite a bit. Mind telling me ‘bout that black box of yours?”

“YES I MIND!” Taykk shouted as she dropped back down into her carrier and started shaking the grawla that was with her, “WAKE UP! I NEED YOU TO EXPLODE SOME PEOPLE THEY ARE GOING TO TAKE MY STUFF! WAKE UP WAAAAKE UUUUUUUP!!!!”

There was another Grawla in the carrier, sleeping on the bedding inside of it. He would poke his head up above the carrier for just a moment and then flop back down onto his bedding. “Small people. That’s your problem. Wake me when there are big things.”

“DAMNIT YOU LAZY!!!” Taykk shouted, giving the Grawla a swift kick before peaking just the top of her head up over her carrier so she could look at the newly approaching Grawla. “That box is worth a lot to the right Grawla, but you gonna need someone who can sell it so you can’t hurt me got it? I’m super important here if you want to make any money off this whole thing…”

“But what if I do know someone?” The newcomer tilts her head in bemusement. “Side tangent, I’m curious how you managed to survive this long with him around,” She remarks, pointing at Taykk’s lousy partner, “This lassy here,” She gently kicks Yilga with her boot twice, “Couldn’t have been the first bandit you ran into. What, did you scare them all off with the alien weapon before your bluff stopped working?”

“Everyone knows someone, but you gotta know the right someones to get all the monies this thing is worth. It’s one of them ayylien guns, and not one of them whimpy ewman guns I’m talking one from the old ayyliens. It’ll be worth lots! And I’ve got more ways to earn loads a money too… I could use someone that’s good with a rifle you know?”

“Figured.” She brings her hood down. “Looks like you need all the help you can get. You’re heading to Dhalm, right? I was going to go there to pick up a job, but finding one here doesn’t hurt.” The newcomer puts up as polite smile as she could for a swamp Grawla, and brings a hand forward. “Name’s Eadaoin, Eadaoin Skadic.”

“Eeeyyaaaadoooinnnn~” A groaning noise, followed by a loud clicking sound. Yilga had fished out a rough-looking snub-nosed revolver from one of their many pockets, and was struggling to feed a bullet into the chamber through shaking hands and cold sweat. “...Youusss stillll… fightin…. mee~...”

Even if they did know that they weren’t dying, it was probably the reaction one could expect. A Grawla admitting defeat was like volunteering for slavery, or worse. A fight that didn’t start in a friendly introduction generally pointed to the latter.

"You stay down lass, until we sort things out first." Eadaoin retracted her hand and gets on one knee to examine Yilga. She reached into her pouch, considering another injection of poison, but decided against it. Instead, she simply pried Yilga's fingers open, depriving her of her revolver, setting it well out of reach. "There, the fight's over." The much older Grawla nodded to herself, standing back up and positioning herself so that she was looking at Yilga and Taykk at the same time. "As I was saying--"

“YEAH Yeah, you’re Eadaoin. You gotta lot a names. I’m Taykk… AND THIS LAZY USELESS GRAWLA IS SPLOH!” Taykk shouted, jumping ontop of the grawla sleeping in her carrier only for him to lift his arm and toss her out onto the ground with a loud *THUMP!*

“Ow…” Taykk whimpered, “Look, I gots a job in the next town ok? Can totally make use of all of yous and make us a lot of monies. But the job is secret ok? Gotta wait until I meet my Grawla in the town and setup the stuff then we all make a lot of money and bolt got it?”

“Fine by me.” Eadaoin shrugged. She pointed to Yilga on the ground. “What do you want me to do with her? I could butt her in the head so she won’t follow us.” She scratches her chin. “Actually, she’ll just track us.” The older Grawla picks up the revolver and examines it, then looks back at Yilga. “Which will be less of a hassle, lass? Persuading you to not backstab us or sending you to join the xenos right now?”

Yilga was too busy struggling to take both of their gloves off, squirming about on their back, until they could get their hands inside of their shirt in preparation for what felt like an impending heart attack. They stared up at what was rapidly becoming a night sky, seemingly unaware of the world around them…

“...Okay… You is winning…” A very shallow, depressed tone. “...You give anti-dote… Yilga is belonging you now…”

Before any kind of rejection could be offered, the hands travelled down to the stomach instead, and they doubled over onto their front, trembling and retching dramatically. Having not exactly been poisoned like this before, it seemed like a valid belief they were going to die, and this was all some kind of extortion attempt on Eadaoin’s part.

She sighed in response. "Like I said, it ain't even strong enough to even kill a basilisk rat, and I'm not into the whole slavery buiz that seems to be trending among you lads and lasses nowadays. You don't do that, and you don't go around banditing off some innocent folk minding their own buiz, okay?" Eadaoin leans down and grabs Yilga by the shoulders, dragging her up to the carrier so she sits upright leaning next to it. "Must hurt like a whore, doesn't it?" For a moment, her leery eyes turn soft, "You poor lass---" before they return to their usual vigilance. "That's what you get, you hear? Could've been much worse! Anyone else it's kill on sight!"

Yilga’s face distorted through a range of emotions, from confused distrust, to some pretty heavy indignation, their eyes narrowing and ears turning downwards.

“‘Ow dya think they got it?” A stumbling tone, still feeling as if they had been ran through the guts by a spear. Their hand struggled to point, but it was obvious they were talking about Taykk. “Never killed nobody who ain’t goin’ around layin’ it on other peeps… Dunno ‘ow you tellin’ that from a range…”

Shrugging, they crossed their arms and tried to work out the shivering feeling. Yilga knew that they weren’t the best person. Perhaps it would have been wiser to keep their mouth shut. But it had probably gone too far for that now.

“Where I come from, offin’ a person is always a real shame when you could get a new follower outta of it… Deal goes both ways... Not that I ever got the good end of the stick much, but that’s just luck…” Eyes closed, head clunked against the side of the truck. “A good fight means a good conversation first. That way you know wot’s wot, ya know?...”

Shaking hands reached into their pockets again, looking the hunter in the eye again as they did it… But it was just a flask of booze this time, nothing more.

Eadaoin shrugged. “Didn’t want to take the chance; it’s nice talking when you know they can’t shoot you mid sentence.” She crouches down to look at Yilga at level. “Of course, it ain’t great being on the receiving end, but that’s how things are. Again, were it anyone else they would’ve just killed you and took your kit. I would’ve as well, actually, but I happen to be running on a full stomach right now.” She scratches her chin. “The way I see it, you have two ways to go about once the poison wears off. You can either keep banditing and get yourself killed eventually, or you can pick smarter fights and still get killed eventually, but die better than most Grawla. I can help you last longer if you pick the latter.” She looks up at Taykk. “That okay with you?”

“You talk real fancy.” Yilga still just looked kinda bitter, but wasn’t putting up a fight at all. They basically just smelled the canteen, before laying on their side and balling up, to stop the world from spinning. “I’ll follow you... Shoulda just collared me though. Woulda been easier to know where we both stand.”

The world’s worst hangover without a good night out to show for it. Of course they were feeling sorry for themselves. Kinda made them wonder if Taykk would still be bitter, too. The situation got real messy, real fast.

In the end, it could have just been because Eadaoin was so damn tall. The sneak attack probably seemed a little unnecessary to somebody so bullheaded. Internal logic dictated that Yilga would keep their word, though, no matter what the two of them chose to call such an arrangement.

Taykk clamored back up onto her carrier so she could look down on Eadaoin, then down on Yilga, “Yeah, that seems good for me, so long as you know that I’m the one running the thing. I find the jobs, and yous guys are doing what I tell you so we can make BANK. Because without me you won’t get deals nearly as good as I can get. Got it?”

"Fine by me." Eadaoin started walking away. "I'll follow you on my own carrier." She paused and looked back at Yilga. "If you want to feel better lass, try breathing slower and steadier. It's worse when you're in a panic."
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uso
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Re: Guns and Shovels: Ch1

Post by uso » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:19 pm

Macca’s Haberdashery,
Tigran Valley,
North-Eastern Continent Drylands,
Planet Hawking

The unlikely gathering of Grawla had paused at Macca’s Haberdashery for resupply, topping off their vehicles with fuel and water as they got ready to make the journey through the Eastern Passage: A canyon that connected the North-Eastern continent Drylands with the Western Wetlands. The Haberdashery itself was built into a cave, it was nearly invisible when viewed from above though carefully hidden markings made it’s presence known to a Grawla that knew what to look for… which was all Grawla really as Grawla-code was something taught to even the youngest of Grawla.

Taykk’s mini-carrier was now hitched up to a covered wagon, and in the back was Yilga’s ‘stuff’ including her motorcycle and the other junks he’d brought along. Sploh had also moved to the wagon since it provided more space for lounging about. The group of vehicles had been parked just outside the lip of the cave, while an assortment of other vehicles had been parked just inside. These ranged from heavy Grawla armor, to more of the ubiquitous mini-carriers, to what looked like armed buggies and stubby tanks.

But almost as soon as they arrived, Taykk was running back out of the Haberdashery, glistening black Gizmo-gun on one shoulder, and a bag that clearly wasn’t hers on the other. Without any explanation she tossed the gizmo into the back of the carrier and shouted, “LETS GO!”

*THUMP* Eadaoin lands on the dirt ground on her two boots, after she climbed out the top access port of her APC. It was a rusted, stripped down thing, with the turret completely removed and the top armor replaced by a thin sheet of metal barely strong enough to stop rain and shrapnel. The large engine exhaust tube was reduced to something smaller. Pulling her hood down, she goes over to the backside of the vehicle and opens the door, with a ramp immediately springing out in response. With a rhythmic and rapid clicking sound, a dozen metal spider-legs reach for forward ground in successive motion. On this rather unsettling contraption is a short but stout male Grawla, whose facial features are nearly identical to that of Eadaoin’s, save for the existence of a pair of thin-wire glasses and the lack of a few scars. He breathes steadily and audibly as he turns the two side cranks that move the contraption. Sitting on a old, leathery seat, his lower body is nearly non-existent; a pair of brown pants lay flaccid against shriveled legs that are reduced to only skin and bone.

Eadaoin hooks two bags onto the sides of her companion’s chair-crawler as he drives it forward, while she carries a bag on her back herself. She casually walked up to Taykk and peered into the cave curiously, one hand in a pocket, with her companion quietly following her, only for Taykk to yell at her. The old Grawla raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong? And what’s with the new bag? Don’t look like supplies to me.”

Yilga slowly curled upwards from their sleeping spot in the back of the wagon, looked at Eadaoin’s doppelganger, and then at Taykk’s suspicious new bag.

“I told you they do this.” Was their immediate reaction, giving the hunter a sideways glance. “Ya never trust the small ones…”

It was more of a lazy practiced motion than a hurried affair, but they slung their bolt-action rifle to their shoulder after this, and wheeled their slightly undersized motorbike from the back of the wagon. Seeing as they weren’t immediately under fire, this gave them enough time to fish out some riding goggles, and a handful of those rifle-barrel grenades, too.

“Probably best get ready for a leggin’.” Another vocal thought, this time directed more at the whole group, as they pumped the engine crank on the bike with their boot. “They look kinda well equipped ‘round ‘ere.”

Sploh also seemed to finally be rousing from his sleep, his head poking out above the back gate for long enough to see the multitude of tanks lined up just inside the entrance to the cave. The next thing he reached for was a rolled up blanket full of stuff which he began unfolded.

Taykk seemed less interested in looking back as she tossed the newly acquired bag into the back of the carrier, running right past Eadaoin as she followed that bag by jumping up onto the edge of her carrier, pulling herself inside and starting it up with a loud rumble. “LESS TALKIN MORE LEGGIN!” Taykk shouted, slamming something into gear with a loud crunch, the entire machine lurching into motion as it headed towards the entrance to the canyon nearby that connected the drylands to the wetlands.

Just inside of the cave there were more Grawla that seemed just as confused as Eadaoin. Some were busy repairing their vehicles, others were just moving stuff around. Further inside of the cave was the actual Haberdashery itself. There were more structures further inside of the cave full of stores of parts, dried food, and other supplies. It certainly looked like there was enough there to feed an army.

“Ah, rat ‘nure.” Eadaoin scratched her grey hair. “Want me to go start up the engines, sis?” The Grawla on the chair-crawler spoke up. “Yes please.” She replied, loading a dart into her air rifle and back pedaled towards the APC. Must be the years getting to her, having her crippled brother out in the open like this. She’ll apologize to him later. He nodded, turning the cranks on his contraption as hard as he could to get inside the vehicle. Finding cover behind the APC, Eadaoin took a better look at what was inside the cave as APC slowly whirled to life again.

There was a loud cough and sputter as Yilga finally got their own vehicle going, the small engine grunting, skipping out, and struggling to idle. Not a great time to sit around and tweak it, though. Yilga hopped on hard enough to bounce the suspension, then rode past the hunter in a large ring whilst they u-turned around.
“You came in with us, so you’ll be judged just the same, girlee…” They said as they rode past. There was a ‘just to you know’ tone to it, making it pretty clear that they hadn’t made their mind up about Eadaoin yet. “...Wouldn’t dawdle.”

Took another second bouncing along the mud and stones before they made it back to the track proper, and then they wasted zero time bolting after Taykk and their small carrier-tank.

“I’m probably twice your age, lassy!” Eadaoin shouted back in annoyance, but took her advice anyways. With one hand one her rife, she used the other to climb up the APC and down into the compartment through the top port, then threw the throttle up to max, having the whole vehicle grumble in protest. It then spit out a large, grey plume of smoke and carbon dioxide, its treads sliding in place for a split second before accelerating the whole vehicle forward after Yilga.

Taykk was already a good distance down the road by the time Eadaoin had gotten their APC started. The sounds of the engine noise covered up the yelling coming from inside of the cave as some of the Grawla who were responsible for things realized Taykk wasn’t coming back with what she promised. As Eadaoin’s APC pulled away from the mouth of the cave, bullets would fly past, small arms fire bouncing off the side of the APC. It would take more than a few moments for these Grawla to get their vehicle started… and Taykk’s plan seemed pretty clear: Head right through the Canyon and into the wetlands before anyone could stop her!

Swerving around and avoiding the general direction of the gunfire, Yilga used the armoured vehicle as mobile cover for several paces, before bombing it forward once the enemy was apparently forced to reload. With their rifle on the handlebars, they darted their head backwards, trying to observe exactly what manner of attack they were under; A heavy and slow tank was a far different prospect than a combat buggy…

Yilga might have felt relief when the first few vehicles started pulling out of the cave. These coal-black-smoke spewing tanks lurched forward, came to a stop, turned in the direction that Taykk had just sped off to, and then started accelerating towards them. The heavily armored vehicles seemed to have no chance of catching up to the group, but soon a low-pitched whine filled the air as a pair of buggies shot out of the cave and turned towards Eadaoin’s vehicle. Each of the six wheel’d buggies had a heavy armor plate in front with a Grawla manning some kinda machine gun while the back had a few large Grawla in body armor who were clearly ready for a fight.

Sploh had already gotten his gear ready, he was wearing a thin green cloth over one shoulder, and had on a necklace made from baseball sized spheres with a small feathered tail on the end. He also had what looked like a large stick with a flat paddle at the end, another one that was a large tube, and a set of fresbie looking devices… not that it mattered as with Eadaoin behind Taykk’s rapidly moving micro-carrier his line of sight to the Grawla behind them was completely blocked.

“Oh, for the love of--- Eamonn! Take the controls!” Eadaoin marched to the back of the APC, threw her air rifle in a chest, then opened another. Inside was a high caliber, bolt-action rifle held together by wires, bolts, and string. She took a few bullets out of a small box and winced. These cartridges were more valuable than the rifle itself. Nonetheless, she loaded one into the barrel and stood behind the back entrance. Taking a strap, she hooked herself up to the vehicle to get better footing. She aimed her rifle at a corner of the exit. “Alright, open it up a little.” As the outside light squeezed into the APC amidst the rumbling of vehicles, Eadaoin sought out her target. There were too many wheels, it seemed, and the engine was well protected. With a deep breath, she planted her feet, zoned in on the head of a driver as it popped up, and took her shot.

The things that Yilga had jammed down the back of their shirt looked like metal arrows with grenades attached to the ends, but as they briefly slowed down to demonstrate, the rod actually slid right down the barrel of their rifle. With bullets whirring past, it forced them to speed up again afterwards, finding the reasonably flat depression in the depth of someone else’s tire tracks…

No other way of doing this. Darted a look backwards with the rifle butt in the side of their stomach, and the free hand making micro-adjustments to keep the bike as straight as possible. The thuggish lout might as been as dumb as a brick, but evidently some level of skill had kept them alive this long.

~SKROWW!~ The grenade was let loose, aiming for the vague area of the eye slit in the metal pannel at the fore of the nearest buggy. It was time to see what quality of steel these guys were using…

*Ka-PANG!*

Eadaoin’s shout bounced off the armor plate across the front of the vehicle, the loud pang and shower of sparks causing the driver to duck their head down under the armor plate for a moment while the machinegunner next to him took aim at the APC, firing off a short burst of shots before Yilga’s grenade landed with a loud *POP!* The fragmentation caught the gunner by surprise, and though most of the explosive blast was deflected by the armor plate, there was more than enough to damage the cooling sheath around the machine gun while sending the gunner ducking under the armor plate. This caused that buggy to slow down a little bit, ending up falling behind the second buggy that was now closing in on Eadaoin’s transport.

Though as Eadaoin started to reload, they’d find the rear of their transport now had a few more holes in it, with oil starting to leak into the interior of the vehicle thanks to a lucky burst from the machiengun.

Taykk was shouting something, sounding quite happy as they reached the Canyon entrance. After a short trip through the Canyon they’d be inside of the wetlands, however the Canyon was only really large enough for one vehicle to pass through at a time, with steep cliffs on either side making it nearly impossible for people to travel double-wide. Taykk was first to reach the Canyon of course, and wouldn’t waste any time waiting for the rest of ‘her party’ before heading through the Canyon at high speed.

Eadaoin cursed under her breath at the near-miss of bullets ricocheting around the inside of the APC, cursing even louder at the timer they were now on, now that they’re hemorrhaging fuel. No matter. Eamonn has the throttle, she just has to put a hole through one of those drivers’ skulls. Shoving another precious bullet into her rifle, she takes aim again, now at the second buggy’s operator.

Yilga’s ponderous aim had caused them to slow down a little, to the point where they were now more or less adjacent to Eadaoin’s guncrawler. Thankfully the angrier of the two buggies was on the opposite side, with the ping-ponging sound of ricocheting gunfire making it obvious that they were there.

Keeping pace for just a minute, and realising that they’d be out in the open if they sped ahead, now that the enemies were in machinegun range, the dark green thug just stared into the hunter’s back for a minute. Was it really worth the bonus ‘cool points’ for slowing down, popping out from behind the tank, and making a crack shot?...

Naw. Yilga wanted to live, not get through the rest of a very short life with too many ventilation holes.

Taking one of their two remaining grenades in hand, they used Eadaoin like a compass instead, lobbing the explosive up and over the APC. It only had to land somewhere in the general vicinity, really…

Eadaoin’s next shot missed the target entirely flying over the head of the driver, while Yilga’s explosive coasted overhead. The second buggy would unleash its first burst of machinegun fire, the rounds bouncing off the back of the gun carrier as the driver swerved to avoid Yilga’s crudely lobbed projectile. With how they had been thrown, the explosive would have gone off a few seconds after the buggy had passed by, but the driver’s failed swerve would bring its tires right over the grenade, bouncing it up into the undercarriage and blowing off two of the rear wheels, causing the buggy to grind to a halt in the dirt. While the Grawla in the back started to get out, the original buggy swerved around its damaged partner to try and close the distance once more.

The Canyon itself didn’t stretch that far, and soon Taykk was out on the other side, bringing her carrier to a stop to allow Sploh to hop out of the back, carrying a bunch of frizbie looking devices. Since the Canyon only had enough space for one vehicle to pass through at a time, Sploh just had to wait for the others to pass by him and then he’d finally get to attack a vehicle!

“Cock ‘nure!” Eadaoin cursed at the second failed shot, cringing at the wasting ammunition. “Sis, don’t worry ‘bout downing them, just keep their attention on us!” Eamonn shouted from the front. “What, why?” She shouted back, not realizing Taykk’s carrier stopped way in front of them. “Trust me on this!”

“Fine then!” Eadaoin threw the sniper rifle back into the chest, pulling out her air rifle and half a dozen darts. With sleight of hand, she loaded and fired them in rapid succession, draining the rifle’s gas cartridge dry. This, she didn’t mind. The cartridge can always be repressurized, darts can be made out of scrap metal. Sure, they don’t have any punch to them, but they’re fast and scary.

Yilga was actually stuck between a rock and a hard place at this point. The clawed heavy-duty mitts they were wearing actually made it super hard to feed conventional ammo into their rifle, and they weren’t really good enough to aim it going at this speed anyway.

Taking a deep gulp, they decided to re-sling their weapon instead. Waiting until the hunter was at the start of a new salvo from their airgun, they pumped the gas and rapidly shifted upwards in gears, accelerating rapidly past the front of the APC.

Hopefully, they would get to the gap in the cliffs first, without being run over by (or accidently hitting) their own companions…

Why were they babysitting the pair that had a tank, anyway?... They had a tank!

Yilga would zip past the tank, far faster on two wheels than the others were on treads. She would easily be able to get through the canyon before Eadaoin got through, blasting past a rather excited Sploh who was eagerly clutching one of the frisbie like devices, pulling a small wire out of one end and then tossing it into the canyon, letting it settle down onto the dirt as Eadaoin drove past it… Sploh’s eye’s getting wider and wider as the other buggy approached darts and bullets being exchanged until….

*BOOM*

Sploh sent a small electrical charge through the wire, detonating the explosive on the ground and flinging the front part of the buggy into the air, leaving a mangled wreck blocking the exit of the canyon!

Yilga paused for a moment, rolling to a halt, but still in the saddle. The spectacle of twisted metal made them think that the APC had exploded for a moment, and it took a bit of furious blinking to figure out exactly what happened.

“You payin’ me for this, Taykk?...” More furious blinking, looking back and forth to confirm who was in one piece, and who was not. “You bettah be payin’ me for dis.”

The APC rolled to a stop a few yards away. Eadaoin unhooked herself from the straps that kept her steady and pushed the backdoor completely open. She tossed the spent gas cartridge into the hull, screwing in a pressurized one into her air rifle, along with another dart. She kept her sights aimed on the smoldering wreckage as she chimed in along with Yilga. “You’d better. We almost got killed there.” Behind her Eamonn was already hard at work getting tape and tubing together to fix the leak in the APC.

Taykk was watching… at first with excitement as Sploh got into position. Then with less excitement as Yilga passed by… then with worry once Eadaoin had passed through… followed by slight panic until the whole thing finally exploded and transitioning into anger when Sploh got back, “WE COULD HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH ALL THE MONEY!” She shouted at him, a sudden realization hitting her that she’d have to keep working with these people, “THE MONEY THAT I AM TOTALLY SHARING WITH EVERYONE!”

Frustration!

“You’re supposed to do what I Tell you!” Taykk shouted again.

Sploh also looked rather unhappy, “That was only ONE buggy! I barely got to do anything!”

“THAT ISN’T THE POINT!” Taykk shouted, her attention turning to everyone else with her “... I guess we’re splitting the money too… but next time you guys gotta do stuff too!”

Yilga looked more than a little ruffled, removing their goggles and fixing their hair. They wheeled the bike over with a bit of a sour look on their face, thus beginning intimidation round two…

“We gotsta do stuff? You think ey’m flingin my boomers around for fun? I only gots one left!” Gloves made a creaking sound, forming into fists upon their hips. They gave a quick glance over to Eadaoin, wondering if they would interfere again… But decided they’d probably get away with verbal roughhousing, at least. “They was shootin’ at us, not you!”

More creaking, and an annoyed look forming on their fangs and stubby eyebrows. They wanted to get the squeaky thing in a headlock. How were you supposed to get to know anybody without any physical contact at all? It was like communicating purely with those letter things, cold and distant. What the heck was wrong with these swampy folk? Did they not know how to express themselves at all?

Eadaoin actually nodded in agreement. “We saved your little behind back there. My APC almost got turned into a fanged-wasp’s nest, and I spent more ammo that I would’ve liked back there. The least you could do… hmm…” She eyed the wreckage. “The buggy had a pretty good gun on it. Either of you good with salvage?”

The short thug’s annoyed expression gained a hint of intrigue. The buggy was totalled and on fire, but there was no guarantee either the gun… or, well, the occupants… were totally done in.

Was it worth sticking around that long?...

Yilga completely turned face, walked right up to Taykk’s small dual-body articulated tank, and pulled the ratchet lever which held a heavy machinegun in line with the copilot’s seat. It was the banana-mag version, but it was still the same general weapon that the buggy had. “I’m borrowin’ dis, small thing… Pipsqueak ain’t even usin’ it no-how...”

Hoisting the solid block of metal over one shoulder, they then walked over to the rather beaten up APC, and gave the rather beaten up driver a knowing look.

“Erm… Boy hunter persun… This goes on ‘ere, dunnit?...” A cumbersome mit pointed at the rollbar along the top of the hull. It was indeed vaguely the same size as the g-clamp. “You want more bang-o, doyn’cha?...”

“Oh, I’m Yilga, by the way... Yur sis tried to kill me... but I’mma let her off dis wun tiem.”

Eadaoin’s brother looked up from patching up the APC’s internals and gave a mischievous smile. “If she wanted you dead, you already would be. Never know if a sniper has their sights trained on us out here, but we can’t be always cowering, can we? Anyways, yes, a gun would be nice, but we’ll still need the ammo for it, ammo that we can only salvage.” He takes a scrap piece of metal from a chest and pushes himself to the back of the APC to patch up the holes. “Hopefully we’ll find some in that dead buggy. Most likely though, we’ll end up with scrap metal. Which is fine too I guess.”

“An’ what if dere mates follow us, and we luggin stuff soo-speechusly sim-lar?” Yilga struggled to sound a little smarter than a brick, but this wasn’t their first rodeo. “Ammo, well… More in the back of Taykk’s caboose, innit!”

“Hmm…” Eamonn pondered as he took a grinder to smooth out one of the holes the machine gun fire made in the hull. The noise of the metal’s protests echoed in the APC as he replied with a raised voice. “It’ll probably just be the gun, and we can disguise that, if at all. Scrap metal and bullets can be kept from sight quite easily.

“HEY THIS IS ALL MY STUFF!” Taykk shouted, jumping up onto the back of her crawler and spreading out as much as possible to keep anyone else from taking anything more of ‘hers’

Sploh was coming back now, also climbing into the back of the crawler past Taykk without saying too much other than, “Its just Grawla left back there…”

“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO KILL THEM!” Taykk shouted,

“I kill big things. Grawla aren’t big. So this is your t’ing.” Sploh said, stuffing his explosion gear away for a moment before popping his head back up out of the crawler, “So find me more things to explode. And pay me.”

“AND PAY ME,” Taykk mocked, frowning at everyone, “Ok, There is supposdta be another place not too far from here with like… trains and stuff. I’m sure I can find us smore stuff to take. I’ll even give you SOME of it for helping ok? Same deal as before? ALSO NO MORE TAKING OF MY STUFF! I’M LOOKING AT YOU YILGA! I WANT MY GUN BACK LATER!”

Eadaoin backed up to the APC, lowering her rifle as she stared into the canyon. “Looks like no time for salvage then. Eamonn, Repairs done yet?”

Her brother looked past Yilga and replied, “Not completely, but she’ll run without bleeding all over the place now.”

The sister nodded, then looked at Taykk. “Better keep your word. I gotta eat, and you need to stop making enemies. Fair trade I’d say.” She made her way back into the APC as Eamonn started the engine.

Yilga almost wanted to go back to the ruined buggy just because Taykk told them not to, but was snatched away from that option by the roar of the engine she was standing directly beside. An uncharacteristically comely smile was offered to Eamonn before dismounting the vehicle, swinging off the upper frame of the back ramp’s hatchway and giving him a glimpse of gross armpit hair. Too noisy to spout their normal barrage of bossy slurs in addition to this, at least...

Backed outwards and approached Taykk next. The cumbersome thing snatched two handfulls of bullets directly from the integrated ammo locker on the floor of the back section, dumping it directly down the front of their overalls and daring the smalla Grawla to confront them.

“...These fellas doin you in if you ain’t shootin’ at ‘em.” A grouchy narrowing of the eyebrows, tongue poking through fanged teeth. “So I’m just pullin da triggah, yah?”

Jumped on their bike after that without giving them a time to answer, swerving around and right back up to the APC; It was actually pretty small, so lobbing it on the roof and climbing back onboard only took a moment.

Sat cross legged on the upper doors after that, keeping their eyes on Taykk and waiting to get underway… Regardless of whether they were actually invited onto the personnel carrier or not.

The swampy hunters needed somebody to shoot that gun too, right?...

Yilga was directly challenging her authority! Taykk had to bring out the BIG GUNS in order to put her in her place. The deployment method was well rehersed… she opened her eyes wide, puffed out her cheeks a bit, extended her lower lip…

“YOU’RE TAKING MAH BULLETS!” she pouted, employing MAXIMUM POUT in order to get her way, watching helplessly as she tried to cover as much of ‘her stuff’ with her hands and arms as possible while Yilga just took what she wanted. The watery eyes were next… followed by a little bit of lip tremble…

She then turned her attention to Eadaoin and Eamon, applying the pout to them to see if they’d do anything to stop the bounty-hunter that was liberating guns and bullets from Taykk’s supply of stuff.

Eadaoin looked at the crocodile-teared Taykk, then back at Yilga, who took up residence on top of her APC, then back at Taykk, and finally shrugged. “You weren’t doing anything with it. Do you want to part with your gun for a little while, or get killed by all those friends of yours?” She closed up the ramp, leaving a small gap as before as she strapped herself on. Eamonn simply nodded at his sister’s readiness to leave and knocked on the wall to grab Yilga’s attention upstairs. “Ready whenever you are.”

“BEGIN THA ANNHULASHUN.” Yilga announced, throwing their eyes and arms wide, evidently quite pleased with themselves. Good core strength and a low center of gravity meant they clung on quite well. “Les’go find this train on rails!”

Of course, this meant that they had gone from being shot by Eadaoin for stealing from Taykk, to actually being supported by them, really quite quickly indeed. The pink-nosed befangled creature felt a little bad, but it really was true that they’d be using up all their bullets carrying out Taykk’s missions at this rate.

So… Eh. They’d just have to find a way to pay them back later.

“Guncrawler swamphunter, it is made of indestctoobal steel! It does a crushing of aull doez’ enumies! It breathes led and fire, it does! Treads done crush mens like a moovin’ moon-tan!”

Hold on, was it made of indestructable metal?...

They paused mid-rant and started smelling the guard rail, just to be sure.

...It didn’t taste like mild steel..

“MMNNmnmnMmmm” The pouting wasn’t working! Her quivering lip quickly switching to a frown as her expression changed back to normal as if she had never been upset in the first place, “FINE. Lets go steal something from that stupid train.” Taykk said, crawling back to the front of her crawler and starting the engine...
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Re: Guns and Shovels: Ch3

Post by uso » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:06 am

Port Squishy,
Tigran Coast,
North-Eastern Continent Wetlands,
Planet Hawking

Port Squishy was so named for the squishyness of the Wetlands it resided in. There was moss on the trees, and water everywhere, nearly every surface you could touch would squish in some way. Even the roads that had been ‘built’ were little more than wood platforms and trees that had been encouraged to grown in a certain way to make the land just a bit more firm. Floating platforms and tree-houses were just about the only solid surfaces around… and they sprawled out for miles in every direction along the coast itself with some platforms large enough to house even massive ocean-going ships.

The group of Grawla had arrived right around mid-day, following the hidden trails and emblems that had been carefully blended into the terrain in order to reach Port Squishy. The group had ended up parking just outside of an Inn, which was built above the ground treehouse style.

A suspicious Taykk was eyeing it carefully, “Im not gonna pay just to sleep in there…” She thought outloud, hugging a small bag of gold and gems carefully as she looked about, trying to get an idea of what all was actually at Port Squishy. The moss-covered and slightly concealed buildings held all sorts of wonders ranging from food, to entertainment, to weapons and equipment. You could get just about anything you wanted here if you knew where to look.

And Taykk wanted a train,

Or a boat,

She was willing to steal either… or both if that was somehow possible.

“Hey, can a train fit on a boat?” Taykk asked, having never actually seen a train before.

Eamonn hid a snort away within the APC. Eadaoin was laying on top of the hull chewing on a piece of jerky when she heard the nonsense. She got up and looked at Taykk incredulously. “Haven’t traveled much, have you? Even so, you oughta know what it is, right? It’s like… hmm.” Eadaoin started gesturing in the air with a finger. “It’s like a lich snake, except they’re large and metallic and they have stuff inside them. They can segment apart and get rearranged. Of course, they can’t breed like that.” She shakes her head. “You can’t put an entire train on a boat; those things can get so long their two ends will hit different hills. The mountain clans’ anyways. Though, it’s possible to fit half a dozen compartments on a boat if it’s large enough.”

Yilga had the opposite problem, being very well versed in underground mining trains, but having never seen a boat before. Actually, even after all her adventures in the hills and desert, their current locale was striking pretty high up in their list of desirable locations.

“...Who spilled all that?...” The befangled girl snorted, looking around at the massive body of water in awe. They didn’t actually believe it was Grawla-made, but could think of no other explanation. There was no other course of action but to take their boots off and leap off the vehicle, steadily walking up to the water until their bare ankles were one with the surf. “It goes on for miles and miles!”

They instinctively picked up a lump of green fluffy plant-stuff too, but it tasted pretty horrible. Much too salty.

“Really wanna sleep out ‘ere with all dat cash? That water hadda get ‘ere some-ow… I’m reconnin it rains something fierce down this way…” An earnest, mystified look between Taykk and Eadaoin, as if they had known the both of them for a lifetime. Their palms clasped together, and their grasping toes made themselves at home in the warm kelp. “Erm… What where we here for again?... A cut! You were gonna sell on that thing-ya-ma-call-it gun, wern’t ya Taykie?...”

Taykk frowned as she rummaged around in her crawler to find and pick up ‘The Gun’ It had a sleek, angular shape and was made up of a strange black material. There was a pointy end, and an end with a small protrusion that looked like a handle or maybe a lever but the whole thing was one solid piece. “Maybe we could find someone who knows how to work it? This thing has to be some super-powerful-alieyum-space-gun. ITs why it was so valuable back there but it’d be way easier to sell to people if I could use it to turn people inside-out…” Taykk pointed it at the nearest tree and started squeezing it again, hoping it would cause some explosions only to be disappointed by the lack of anything happening.

“Stupid Aliyums.”


She’d turn her attention back to the group, “I need to find someone to sell it too… then I can steal it back!”

*GURGLE*

“Uh… FIRST I WILL GRACIOUSLY BUY FOOD FOR EVERYONE.” Taykk said.

---

~10 minutes later…

Taykk had found a place selling fried fish that had been freshly caught, and purchased enough fish on a sticks to feed everyone. A number of the warm fish now sticking out of the top of her crawler as both her and Sploh tore into the food

“You know about the trains?” Taykk asked, taking a huge bite out of the fish on a stick she was holding as she continued to speak, “You can drive a trains? We should just take one…”

The twins nearly swallowed their portions whole. Not that they were particularly hungry; they had a crate of jerky, but fresh food was new to them in recent memory. Eamonn wiped off the oil around his mouth with his bare arm. “It’s not that simple. Trains are big, complex beasts. You need at least a few people to ‘drive’ them from what I’ve seen, and it’s not like you can just ‘drive’ them anywhere. They need long strips of metal to follow along, rails, I think what they’re called.”

After confirming it’s exact nature by the customary licking of the object, Yilga proceeded to eat a rather ugly grilled flatfish quite rapidly, also eating the wooden skewer, but not the skull. It had too many teeth of it’s own.

“Dey are called ‘tracks’...” They piped up whilst starting the second fish, cheeks stuffed with reddish-pink chunks of tasty meat. Also didn’t quite understand that Eamonn was right too, but was just in a good mood and trying to be helpful. “Yeah… They got like a metal’n’wood road that they are stuck on. You can’t steal ‘em too good, since they don’t gotta steerin’ whats-it…”

Minecarts were second nature to them, but the beastly creature didn’t feel the need to explain the hows and whys right now.

They say that the best road to a person’s heart was through their stomach, and Yilga massively identified with this, now so warmed up to Taykk that all previous questions of loyalty were momentarily forgotten. A non-voluntary hug was enveloped over the smaller thing’s shoulders, close enough that they could feel that nosering rolling around on the top of their head.

“It makes a ‘chun-chun!’ sound and it’s really ‘eavy…” Confused messages, feeling sleepy because they were full of some large sealife, but also wanting to feel helpful because of that. “‘Course I mostly shoveled stuff into ‘em.”

“So we’d need to steal some tracks, and steal some train-grawla, and then steal the train?” Taykk asked, thinking it over for a moment, “That’s only like… three things. Three BIG things… What about a boat? How many things would we need to steal for that? OH! A BIG boat, one we can put all our stuff on. Obviously we can’t leave our stuff behind!”

Eadaoin shot Taykk a look of disbelief, glancing at Yilga, then back at Taykk. She nudged her brother, who scratched his beard in discomfort. “You can’t just steal tracks, lass. They’re as long as a train needs to travel. A boat though…” He mused for half a minute, looking back at his sister, who was slowly but surely shaking her head. Eamonn gave a mischievous smile, continuing to Taykk. “A boat is much more doable. You’d need a crew, but that’s just a captain, someone in the engine room, and a couple of hands. Even large boats only need that much, maybe a couple more if you want spotters.”

Eadaoin smacked herself in the face in response, growling at her brother. “You just sentenced us to unmarked graves. You know how many guards they put up protecting those things? Damn, all the crew are probably armed as well!” He simply smirked back, “You always wanted better pay, and a bigger bunk than this scrap.” He knocked on the APC’s hull.

Yilga just observed the other three talking for a pace… They kinda prefered the idea of stealing a train since they had a better idea of what that was, but then they’d be ‘the expert’ and they’d probably be expected to know how to work it, and all that… Whatever happened to good old fashioned treads? They already missed the short journey they had spent on the APC.

“Where do they put all the old dead boats?” It was a reasonable question for a Grawla; Almost all the land vehicles were either clan military surplus, or built from scrap parts that used to be. “Those don’t got no crew at all…”

Not enough resources to be picky. And heck, maybe there would be somebody guarding a find like that… But Yilga really didn’t want to mess with one of those pirate sea clans. She’d heard the sea folk were super sneaky and never forgot a grudge.

Thoughts moved on to the weird artifact that Taykk was still holding, and they questioned if this was all really worth it…

Walking out of the water and up to the small Goblin, they put their hands behind their back as if they just wanted to look… Then slurped half the way up the length of the barrel with a really bizarre but determined expression.

“Tastes like… coal?...” A confused expression. “Coal not expensive thing, b-but… Some people sayin’ pinkskin robot-metal taste like that too?..”
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