Kolt felt tiny sitting in the massive wooden chair he was pushed into by Moses. In front of him sat a long, long wooden table, that was more a bunch of planks nailed together than a normal table. Moses took his seat at the end in a matching wooden chair, and put his elbows on the table, bridging his large fingers. “Now, little bug, little bug… Do you know what I do?”
“No, actually, not in the slightest. All I was told is that you are a very, very bad dude, and that it’d be prooobably in my best favor to kill you. Sooooo yeah. But, my question is,” Kolt stood up, leaning forward slightly as he stared at Moses, “Why did you unshackle me?”
Moses just chuckled, looking down at the table. “I kidnap people.” He ignored Kolt’s question to his annoyance. “I kidnap what your society calls ‘kobolds’. My own kind. And why is that, you may ask? Well, you’ll learn in due time.”
“Why did you unshackle me.” Kolt bluntly asked.
“I can use you.”
The massive kobold shrugged. “Many different things. An assassin. An ally.” He smirked. “A plaything. And from the path you’ve been set on, little bug, any of those options are better then what you’ll get for killing me.”
Moses also stood up, brushing off his cloak. His clothing reminded Kolt of both the ragged clothing Zerr wore, and, strangely enough, a bath robe. Was this big mother walking around in a freakin’ BATH ROBE?
Across the table, Moses adjusted his ‘bath robe’, and wondered about Kolt. The Aldearian was small, dainty even, with fragile-looking limbs and his head looking oversized in comparison, his face shrouded in partial darkness due to his Privateer outfit. “Judging by your outfit, you’re used to working for people, correct?”
“Too used to it.” Kolt sighed. “But, if I perchance, become one of those, ugh, ‘things’ to you, what does that get me?”
Moses smiled, and began to lumber his way around the table to Kolt. “That collar on your neck will inevitably explode. I know how to disable it.”
“You’re shitting me.”
“I’m not.” Now Moses was standing in front of Kolt, and the Aldearian glared up at him, slightly intimidated but still stoic. His head was starting to hurt again. Moses leaned down, making Kolt feel even smaller, and chuckled, “Your life is on a time limit little friend. I can lift it from you, in exchange for your help. Haven’t you noticed a severe lack of workers, guards, or slaves to grovel at my feet? It’s just me out here, on this floating ball of sand. And I have my own important matters to deal with. So, bug, how about you and I start to help one another?”
“If you’re being truthful,” Kolt pointed a finger at Moses’ face, “And i’m not saying that I believe you are, but IF you are, i’ll reward YOU too.”
“Heheh, with what?”
“My own secret.” Kolt then realized that Moses had never referred to him by name. “Wait a minute do yah even know who I am?”
“Not, in, the slightest.”
Kolt turned and pretended he was looking into a camera. Oh boy.
Moses turned too to look in the same direction as Kolt. “…what are you looking at?”
Moses gave Kolt a task, but before he could carry that out, he had to test a hypothesis. They were obviously far, far away from most of civilization, making Kolt worry that he HAD been exiled. He took off from the planet Moses’ fortress was on, wondering when he’d see the last of these damn, dusty worlds, and just flew past the nearby sun towards far off solar systems, pushing forward the joystick of his space plane as much as possible. After a few minutes of jarringly-fast flying, he heard an odd beeping from under his head. Slowing down considerably, he edged his ship forward, and every few meters the beeping would get slightly faster, and faster, and faster, until it was worryingly loud.
Kolt immediately turned around and flew back in the direction of the planet Moses was on, tugging awkwardly at the contraption on his neck.
He was trapped in a solar system with only a .30-06 bolt gun, some stripper clips, an unloaded battle rifle, his wits, and his penis to his name.
“Time to take a power nap in order to ponder my next move!” He jovially announced to himself, before instantaneously going limp in his chair and letting his limbs flop about as he fell asleep.
The chair wasn’t that bad of a bed.
Kolt was sitting on the steps of that odd temple again. The sky was still dark and starry, the dunes still visible for miles around, but his x-headed companion was gone. He didn’t even remember what they talked about. He sighed, and got to his feet, walking up the last few steps and towards the pillars surrounding something bright on the middle of the platform.
He put a hand on a pillar as he walked past it, and was surprised to see the underside of his glove covered in white powder. He had a sudden urge to lick the powder, which he obliged, and his face scrunched up in disgust immediately after he dropped his prehensile tongue onto it. It tasted like caked sand, which it probably was.
“Euuuugh!” He pulled off his glove and shook it clean, hitting it a few times against his shorts in an attempt to clean it off, leaving white marks, before slipping it back on. He squinted as he approached the nondescript ‘brightness’ in the center of the pillars. It just looked like a massive ball of light, a few meters across both vertically and horizontally. He took an apprehensive step towards it, and as the ball of his foot rolled forward, his toes mere moments away from touching the ground, Kolt felt a breeze whip past his head, ruffling the edges of his hood.
And then the breeze became a wind storm. Kolt fell hard on his ass, his feet starting to skid towards the brightness, his butt bumping painfully over the slightly-spaced panels that made up the ground. He turned onto his back, digging his fingers into the widening between two of the panels, and managed to hold on for a second before he felt the wind flow into his hood, pulling it down with a WHOOSH and causing his head to painfully snap back. He let go of the panel, and his body was flung head over heels into the brightness.
All he saw was white. All he felt was wind. And all he heard was… shoes squeaking on slick floors. The Aldearian found himself face down on white, invisible floor, and quickly got to his feet.
Walking towards him, PDA in hand, was a brown-skinned man with a large nose, short but well-groomed black hair, and wearing a tan trenchcoat that seemed a few sizes too big. They stopped a few meters away from Kolt, and looked up at the extremely confused Aldearian with their own look of indifference. “There you are. Had a safe trip, I hope?” His voice was friendly, even a little cheery, but his blank, emotionless face added unnecessary uneasiness to his statement.
“Vhat is dis?” Asked Kolt, “Vhere am I- vait, my voice!” He raised a hand to his mouth, as if he expected to feel something different about it. “Vhat happened to my voice? Zis is not my voice! Zis is not my beautiful home! You are not my beautiful wife!”
“Easy there tiger, your brain is running in slow-mode currently. And you’re speaking English it seems. Odd.” The man looked at the PDA in his hands again, a slim Privateer’s model, unlike the bulky commercial ones made with weaker operating systems and cheaper, actually-known materials.
“You’ve sustained major brain trauma. Your frontal lobe has been critically injured, and you’ve been laying comatose for the last few months.” Kolt jumped when the man said ‘last few months’.
“Vhat do you mean ‘last few months’? Vhere am I?”
“Caaalm yourself,” The man looked up from his PDA, which he let rest at his sigh as he raised his other hand to his hip, attempting to give off calm, non-threatening body language as Kolt began to frantically look around at the whiteness surrounding them. “Look at me, look, at me.” Kolt’s widened amber eyes locked onto the man. “Okay. See this?” He raised the PDA. “This is yours, is it not?”
Kolt furrowed his brow slightly, cocking his head to the side. One of the sides of the device had been roughly scratched; he remembered when a junkie tried to slash his arm with a switchblade while he took a shortcut through an alleyway one day, and he just barely pulled it away in time; he socked the thug in the face with his other hand. That’s where Kolt got his switchblade. “Yes, it’s mine. Vhy do you have it?”
“What do you remember last?”
Kolt abandoned his previous question. “Define ‘last’.”
“Before you arrived here.”
Kolt struggled to formulate an answer. He looked down at the invisible floor, and pondered for a moment. “…I remember… wallpaper. And my Gabbet-Fairfax…”
“You mean, this Mars?”
When Kolt looked back up, the PDA in the man’s gloved hand disappeared, replaced with Kolt’s Gabbet-Fairfax Mars, which he pointed at the sky. “Yah, zhat vun. Vait a secund, vhat is this, English?”
“Outdated, that is what. Here,” The man held out the Gabbet-Fairfax, “Hold this for, just a moment.” Kolt obliged and took the gun from the man’s hand, his fingers finding themselves wrapping around the grip, his pointer finger laid across the top of the gun. It felt… strangely more natural than before, almost as if it fit his hand better. “Now then.” Kolt looked back up at the man, who had his arms crossed. “Let’s take a walk.”
The man turned and began to walk away from Kolt, who decided to follow, keeping his gun at his side but not at the ready, as he didn’t know whether to be mad, or afraid. Heck he didn’t even know if the gun was loaded, but he assumed it wasn’t, a big mistake for someone holding a gun but he didn’t care. “You’ve been out of the game for a while,” The man began, “But don’t fret, not much has changed.”
What did change was the environment. The eye sore white void instantaneously disappeared, replaced by the hallway of a grungy apartment building, with an elevator shaft beside the pair, and a staircase winding around it. The walls were graffitied, the wallpaper peeling all over, and the brown tile floors were chipped, cracked, and altogether missing a few tiles in places. “Your, acquaintances have been quite worried about your status,” The man continued to talk as he turned and began to walk up the staircase, “They wasted most of their, vacation days waiting for you to wake up, you know?”
“Vait, i’m in a coma?”
The man ignored what Kolt said, instead bragging, “I myself am, incredibly impressed with your friend Hillary, even though you yourself do not consider her your friend, at least, yet.” They passed one floor, and Kolt got a fleeting glance of a hallway almost exactly the same as the one they came from as he rushed to follow the other man, who continued to speak as he walked up the stairs. “I have a feeling you won’t have much time to befriend her, however; she is mere hours from making a, perplexing discovery of her own. As for Theo, well, he’s doing just fine, albeit, woefully bored.”
They passed another floor.
“You see, things are, brewing, under the surface. Sadly, it’s not only a, loaf of bread in a Dutch oven, but something quite, dastardly.”
Kolt finally spoke up. “Please, tell me… how long have I been asleep?”
“Much too long. I fear you’ve, bored the readers by, having them focus on your friends for too long.”
“And to sate you, let’s just say you, missed Christmas, even though you don’t practice it. Pagan rituals, you say. Thankfully, you’ll be around to, see Summer start to blossom; it is only May, is it not?”
Six months. Kolt shuddered to think of how many vacation days Theo had wasted. He was always worrying about me, Kolt thought, i’ll be sure to reward him after all this. How, I don’t know, maybe a hug, maybe a knitted sweater. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.
“This way, mercenary.” The man stopped scaling the stairs, instead stepping off onto a new floor, and Kolt followed him as he walked down the hallway the two were lead to, another carbon copy of the one they appeared in. Kolt nudged a cardboard box with his leg as he walked past and almost tripped over a pair of old boots, but kept up with the strange man in the trenchcoat, who stopped at a door halfway down the hall, turning the handle and walking inside as Kolt followed. A red wooden table built in the shape of a circle sat along with a flimsy-looking chair in the middle of the room, and the pair walked past a disgusting kitchen devoid of pots and pans but not mold and rust, and the man walked up to the window behind the chair and table. All Kolt could see was more of the whiteness, and the man leaned down, his eyes squinted, as if he was searching for something.
He turned and walked away from the window, sighing, “Well then, it appears we have, arrived at the station.” It appeared that the man would stop for a moment between each few words, as if he was reading from an invisible script and needed a moment to process his lines. He turned and grabbed a dusty suitcase off a rotten couch as the wall amazingly fell apart, perfect blocks of material sliding out into the whiteness and disappearing, disassembling the wall piece by piece until a large blocky hole had replaced the window, and most of the wall around it. The table and its matching chair suddenly began to slide towards the opening, before moving a few feet across open air into the whiteness and disappearing. The man handed the suitcase to Kolt who, as he went to take it, noticed that his Mars pistol had disappeared from his hand. “The clock, is, ticking, Saudwell. This is where, you get off.”
Kolt looked at the hole, still quite unable to comprehend any of this. He looked back to the man, for any sort of guidance. “A great, great being once told me, ‘The right man in the wrong place, makes all the difference.’ But for now, it appears, you are the, wrong man in the, right place. A, running leap should be enough to, propel you to your next location, hmm?”
Kolt looked back at the hole, taking a few more steps toward it. He didn’t even dare looking down, and instead closed his eyes, sucking in a deep breath as the man spoke for the last time.
“Oh, one last, piece of advice, Mister Saudwell.”
Kolt looked over his shoulder at the man.
“Once you arrive… run, as fast as you can.”
Kolt turned back and stared ahead at the whiteness. He exhaled, and took a few steps backwards.
“I will see you, up ahead.” The man blinked a few times, before adjusting his tie and pulling out a bronze pocket watch, checking the time, and returning it to the pocket (quite fitting is it not) he took it from before turning and beginning to walk away. After he walked through the door, he turned around and closed it, watching Kolt intently up until the lock clicked.
Kolt leaned forward, adjusted his stance, and sprinted at the opening. When he was only a step away from the edge, he sprung from the wooden floorboards, face slightly scrunched up, left arm outstretched. He had already forgotten how nice it was to have flesh and blood again.
And the light consumed him.
And he woke up in a hospital. Everything about him felt sore and cramped, but his eyes were already adjusted; a side-effect of them being always open. He weakly glanced around the room, and then realized that, holy crap, his throat burnt! He reached up with his right hand, feeling a tube running into his mouth, and quickly yanked that out. He gagged when it fell out of his mouth, and quickly touched the tube running into the hole in his head. What the fuck happe-oh, now he remembered. That tube too came out, feeling even worse due to it rattling through his skull, and the taste in his mouth was horrible.
After pulling both tubes from his face, Kolt groaned and put a hand on his forehead, closing his eyes. It was his left hand. Wait, why doesn’t it feel… He looked at it, holding it up so the light peeking through the blinds illuminated it. His arm was back, completely devoid of any scarring, with only a circle of scar tissue around his lower forearm to signify that it was gone. He compared his two hands, and was surprised to see that his newly regained arm had not the average four fingers, but FIVE.
“What th-URGH” Talking made Kolt realize how gross his mouth tasted, so he grabbed some of his sheets and rubbed it off in an attempt to get rid of the taste. He shook his legs, returning feeling to them, but before he could swing them over the side of the bed he felt a quite sharp pain… in his dick.
Kolt pulled up his sheets, and promptly let out a high-pitched scream. He had a catheter in. A few tear-filled seconds later, he had yanked it out, and Kolt put his feet on the ground for the first time in six months, shuddering and having to support himself by leaning on a nearby machine. Geeze, there were quite a few machines crowded around his bed. He looked down at the multiple IVs in his right arm, and painfully extracted each needle, leaving a few blood-dripping holes in his arm, but he ignored the pain. His eyes spotted something off on a nearby counter, and Kolt’s heart promptly sunk.
Shambling up to it while dragging , he gently picked up one of the cards sitting there, one of four, and read the front of it. There was an extremely bad drawing of an orange-eyed Aldearian sitting in a hospital bed, sketched on with crayon, and a short blue-haired ‘thing’ standing by it. Theo had made this card, Kolt thought, and he opened it.
‘Sorry about the orange’, it said, ‘blame my selection of crayons at the time. Hope you wake up soon pal.’
Kolt stifled a sob. He wanted to scream. He knew Theo; without him, Theo acted odd, depressed even. Kolt didn’t exactly know why, but it was because Kolt was the only actual friend Theo had. Kinda pathetic, if you ask me. Kolt hoped that Theo was doing fine with Hillary, and to thank her for sticking around for him, as her signature was also on the card.
The bovine nurse Hoji encountered earlier propped open the door and leaned her head in, wondering what the screaming was from, and saw Kolt standing there. “OH MY LUCKY STARS!” She yelled before slamming the door shut, and Kolt spasmed as his heart jumped.
As the bovine nurse frantically waddled down the hall to her desk, a rabbit sitting on a chair with a newspaper in his hands glanced at her, and then where she came from. He pulled his newspaper up, concealing his face, and pulled a two-way pager from his pocket, typing out a message with one hand.
Approximately a mile away from the hospital, in the treeline next to the city, Hoji’s pocket buzzed, and he pulled his own simpler pager from it.
“K HAS CAME TO.”
Hoji smiled, and rested his hand on his uchigatana’s hilt. The rabbit militiamen looked at him, waiting for orders.
“Let’s go kill an insect, shall we?”
The whooping, hollering, and sporadic celebratory gunfire from the rabbits could be heard for miles around, confusing nearby peace officers, who just ignored it because, hey, the other cops can deal with it.
“M-Maybe I should s-start running.” Kolt mumbled to himself after putting down the card. He limped to the door, pulled it open, and promptly slipped on a puddle of water. Falling forward onto a janitor’s cart, Kolt apologized to the nearby janitor, who was putting out warning signs. “S-Sorry.” He managed to get back to his feet, and chose the right side of the hall to abscond through. He slowly shuffled down the hall, barely able to walk, head still spinning, and his legs beyond stiff. He leaned on a wall as he walked, his shoulder bumping into name tags and file holders, and he would stop every few feet to regain his strength. God, this SUCKS, he thought, I wish I had a wheelchair, or some crutches, or a walker, or even a stick! Actually no, scratch off the walker.
After a few minutes of slow shuffling, two male nurses rushed up to him. “Sir!” One exclaimed, holding out his hands as if he was trying to box Kolt in, “You’ve just woken up from a coma! You shouldn’t be moving! Let us help you back to your room!”
“Fuck, hnngh, off!” Kolt leaned forward and shoved him back, and the other nurse stepped up behind the Aldearian and grabbed him with a bear hug. Kolt responded by weakly kicking one of his legs back, managing to hit the nurse in the IV bags and send him to the floor groaning. The other nurse also tried to grab him, but Kolt used his new arm to grab one of the nurse’s hands, yank his arm to the side, and then deliver a swift chop to his neck, also sending him to the floor. “Don’t, ffffucking touch me, ever again.” He breathed, before continuing on his journey to the elevator at the end of the hall.
But then, the doors of the elevator opened, and Kolt’s eyes widened. A tall white-furred rabbit on digitigrade legs walked out, wearing a modified Aldearian Army uniform and two sheathed swords on his hip, and with a concerning grin on his face. He was flanked by a surprisingly large group of much smaller normal rabbits of varying fur colors wearing mishmashed gray and white uniforms, some even with helmets, all squished into the elevator. One next to the rabbit with the strange legs raised a bolt-action rifle, but the taller rabbit pushed it down, spitting, “You’ll hit civilians. Just follow me, i’ll remove the pest.” When the rabbit looked back down the hall, Kolt had already turned around and began to stumble away, slowly gaining speed as feeling completely returned to his legs, his muscles relaxing.
Kolt zoomed down the hall, his strong Aldearian legs carrying him as fast as they could, and the rabbit wearing the uniform stomped after him at a similar speed. The rabbit militiamen followed too, but they were much slower than the one with the odd legs. Kolt’s breathing became wheezing as he rounded the corner, zooming past the receptionist desk and spooking the bovine nurse, who dropped the phone she was attempting to use but couldn’t fit her fat fingers into the dial. The Aldearian accidentally flashed a wheelchair-using canine with a leg cast, who chuckled, “That’s some nice bug boo-URGH” Kolt turned around and roundhouse kicked him in the skull, before continuing to run the hell away.
Hoji followed close behind Kolt, but accidentally ran into that same janitor’s cart, knocking him down and giving Kolt a head start. Hoji growled as he got to his feet and tried to catch up with Kolt, but the Aldearian had already gotten to the stairwell and was busy running down the stairs. As Hoji busted through the door to the stairwell, Kolt stopped and looked up, and the rabbit peeked his little head over the railing and yelled, “SAUDWEEEELL!”
Who the hell were these guys? And why do they want me dead? Kolt glanced down the hole in the middle of the stairs, and, seeing that he was only a few floors from the bottom, decided to let gravity aid him in his escape, and vaulted the railing. He grabbed onto the railing of the floor below, then let go, falling to the floor beneath that one and grabbing the railing there, repeating until he fell onto the concrete floor of the stairwell, and he promptly shoulder-bashed the door into reception. He was given strange looks by the small group of people standing around, an ant receptionist using all of their hands to multitask typing on a computer, writing a note on a notepad, and stirring their coffee, a pair of Marbelians who visually looked the same minus their haircut with a small baby in the lap of one bickering to each other in their native language, and a security guard who had dozed off was leaning against a wall loudly snoring.
Kolt straightened his posture, adjusted his hospital gown, and power-walked out of the front door. The world outside was alien, yet it had familiar elements. Cars honked and skidded past as pedestrians jaywalked between them, street vendors across the street sold gyros and paninis to a few particularly hungry wolves as the delicious smell of their fresh food wafted over to Kolt.
Wait a second.
A lizard with bell bottom jeans walked past.
A fox with a v-neck talked with two other foxes.
A clone with a comically over-sized Afro was getting stomped to death in a nearby alleyway by three other clones.
A station wagon with a streak of fake wood down the sides bumbled past on the road.
Gyro and panini carts were flocked by people wearing headbands and circular glasses, some even wearing necklaces with oversized peace symbols on them.
Hippies? Hippies were declared an illegal organization back i-
The realization hit him.
“I’M ON EARTH??!!??” Kolt screamed, causing about twenty-five people to turn and look at him simultaneously. People were wearing clothing that was unlike the jumpsuits he was used to; fancy puffer vests, bell bottoms, v-necked shirts, dear lord it was a whole ‘nother universe out here! Kolt didn’t like Earth almost solely for this reason; everyone’s fashion SUCKED! Theo would have a field-day criticizing every person who walked past…
The doors of the hospital swung open, and Kolt quickly looked behind him. The rabbit with the weird legs? He was there, and he had a big freakin’ sword in his hands. “Oh, fuck.” Kolt muttered, before scrambling to run the hell away. Hoji zoomed up to Kolt, held his sword behind his head, and slashed at Kolt’s back. Kolt ducked, fell onto his side, and kicked Hoji in the gut, knocking the wind out of the rabbit and causing him to double-over and let out a pained wheeze. Kolt scrambled to his feet and ran down a nearby alleyway, his bare feet splashing in a puddle of water pooled under a drain, and he glanced over his shoulder, seeing that the rabbit, who looked a lot angrier, was at the end of the alleyway. Hoji held his gut as he lept onto a dumpster, before jumping onto the left wall of the alley and RUNNING ACROSS IT diagonally.
“F-For fucks sake!” Yelled Kolt, who turned to see where he was going, and promptly slammed face first into a wall. He yelped, fell onto his back, but quickly got back to his feet. The rabbit was getting closer and he was trapped, think, Kolt, think!
He then noticed a nearby fire escape. Kolt crouched down, taking a second to regain some strength, and lept at it. Being an Aldearian, Kolt’s muscles were much, much stronger than an average morph’s, but his limbs were still quite frail. He grabbed onto the bottom rung of the ladder attached to the fire escape, and his teeth chattered when it unlatched and slid down, hurting his elbows and causing him to let go with one hand, but Kolt quickly grabbed back onto the rung and began to climb the ladder. When he climbed into the fire escape, Hoji also jumped, managing to get a foot onto the fire escape and also grab the railing at the same time, and he swung his sword again at Kolt. The Aldearian ducked, and the blade bounced off the iron stairs leading to the next ‘floor’ of the fire escape, the shock of which causing Hoji’s foot to slip and for him to fall off the fire escape, holding on by his hand.
Kolt ran up the stairs as Hoji regained his balance, climbing over the railing and easily keeping pace with the disorientated Aldearian. When Kolt made it to the roof, he took a moment to catch his breath, but Hoji, who was right behind Kolt, let out an savage scream as he raised his uchigatana in the air, letting his pent up anger take over. This little INSECT had managed to hit him a few times! He swung down at Kolt’s back, but Kolt whipped his body around, slamming his curled up fist into Hoji’s neck, and the rabbit coughed as he cupped his throat, falling to one knee. The top of the building was covered in an array of pipes and vents, and Kolt vaulted over one of the vents as Hoji struggled to breathe. Kolt rolled under ab array of pipes, and waited. The cold surface of the roof made his buttcheeks tingle!
“I’ll, guh, i’ll kill you, ALDEARIAAAAN!!!” Roared Hoji in a hoarse voice as he stood back up, rubbing his throat.
Kolt yelled back from his hiding spot, “WHY? I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU!!!”
“I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE, T-THAT, hhhughh, THAT’S WHY! YOU’RE, YOU’RE AN INSECT THAT NEEDS SQUASHING!”
“WELL THAT’S NOT NICE!”
Hoji didn’t respond, and Kolt wondered why.
Metal scraped on metal as the blade of Hoji’s uchigatana stabbed down between the pipes, poking a hole in Kolt’s hospital gown beneath his armpit. THAT was why! Kolt rolled out from under the pipes, a piece of fabric torn off by Hoji’s sword in the process, and he got up from the ground, facing off Hoji. The rabbit pulled the piece of fabric off the end of his sword, examined it for a moment, before throwing it into the air. The wind carried it away from the pair.
“Why are you trying to kill me?” Kolt questioned as he raised his fists in a combat stance, although he had no chance of facing off against a fucking katana! It was actually an uchigatana, but Kolt didn’t know the difference.
“I was hired to. I’m an assassin, like you once were.” Hoji snobbishly replied, looking down his nose at Kolt in a condescending way. He was bigger than the insect. He was a mammal, NOT a disgusting ‘chitty’.
“Assassin? Pfff, I was a mercenary, not an assassin. I’m gonna ask again, why were you hired to kill me?”
Hoji pointed his blade at Kolt. “Enough talk. Normally i’d offer you my wakizashi and have an honorable due, but you’ve really pissed me off, half-naked chitin-skin.”
Kolt rested his foot on the end of a broken pipe leaning on a smaller, non-broken pipe.
“Well you’ve pissed off more, you uh, umm… “ Kolt scratched his chin. What was a good, demeaning curse word? Ah, I know!
“AaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!” Hoji lept at Kolt, uchigatana raised high, and Kolt stomped on the pipe, sending it flying into the air, and he caught it with one hand and redirected it into the path of Hoji’s blade. The rabbit’s uchigatana’s blade slid down the length of the pipe, getting hooked under a knob, and Kolt pulled it to the side. At the same time, he jabbed Hoji in the neck again, causing him once more to sputter and fall to his knees, both hands on his neck, leaving the uchigatana stuck against the pipe.
Meanwhile, the other rabbit militamen were trying to figure out how to grab the ladder leading to the fire escape which, while pulled down, still wasn’t within grasp. One tried to balance another on their shoulders, but that led to both falling and the one standing on the others shoulders to gained a concussion when they hit their head on a dumpster, their metal helmet letting out a prominent DING. The others just scratched their heads and wondered what to do. They probably had 180 IQ shared between the four of them.
Kolt grabbed the uchigatana stuck under the knob and mused, “I wonder how old this is?” He pulled it upwards as he pulled the metal pipe down, flexing the blade precariously. Hoji noticed what he was doing and thrust out his hand.
“I want to make sure you stop following me. So, sorry about this.”
Kolt pushed down hard on the handle of the uchigatana, and its blade snapped in two. He tossed the pipe and the hilt of the broken blade onto the roof, and, if Hoji’s face had no fur, you would’ve been able to see the blood drain from it.
“Listen here Usagi Yojimbo, I don’t want you, or the rest of your little pals following me.” Kolt crouched down on one knee and seized Hoji by his sore throat, giving Hoji a form of deja vu at the same time. “Yah got that?”
Hoji was staring at the broken blade with a look of horror on his face. That blade was hundreds of years old, and he… he…
He just snapped it like it was an insignificant twig?
Hoji’s eyes locked onto Kolt’s. He stuttered, “Y-Yes.”
Kolt let him go, and Hoji immediately fell forward on all fours, staring at the ground in wide-eyed shock. He, broke it. He broke Hoji’s heritage, just like that. Kolt looked down at the broken blade, then at the broken rabbit.
“You are either someone with a fetish for Japanese shit, or a wannabe samurai. You have guts for trying to take me on, even while I was dazed, but, you fought sloppily, left tons of holes open in your guard. I have no doubt that you’ll continue to hunt me until you fulfil your contract, so, let me give you a tip: either go all in, or don’t go at all.”
Hoji just continued to stare at the ground, hyperventilating.
“Good talk. See yah, carrot-head.” Kolt turned and clambered over an exposed vent, jogging across the rooftop to another fire escape, and quickly disappeared from sight.
Hoji’s brain took a second to reassemble itself, and when it did, all his thoughts became violent. His wide-eyed stare grew into a furious sneer, and he jerked his head up at the fire escape that Kolt escaped down. You don’t treat history like it’s a used condom. You cherish it, and revel in it, and you learn from its mistakes. Hoji just learnt from his mistakes, and in turn, set a goal for himself, an optimistic one; he was going to kill Kolt Saudwell.
“Oh we will be seeing one another again, Kolt Saudwell.”
He stood back up, brushing off the scuffs on his knees and looking down at his ancestor’s destroyed sword as the militia members finally managed to get up the ladder and stumble their ways onto the rooftop.
Hoji crouched down and grabbed the broken sword, the reflection of his angry eyes visible on the stubbed blade.
He then proceeded to break down and begin screaming like an emo kid who got told his outfit wasn’t edgy enough due to the unfiltered angst flowing through his veins. The other rabbits on the roof just looked at each other, slightly confused and not knowing what to do next.
“Ah hate this job.” One of the militiamen sighed.
Kolt, as soon as his bare feet hit the ground, found a sewer manhole, removed it, and slid inside, but before sticking his feet into the hole, heard a few high pitched squeals. Odd. Going out onto the street would be too risky; the rabbit assassin and his unintelligent proteges would be able to easily follow him. If he couldn’t go out, the only way he could go is down.
As he replaced the manhole cover above his head, he heard the pitter-patter of feet on the ground above, rushing past the top of the manhole, and gray-and-white shapes moved past the tiny holes Kolt could see out of. That just confirmed that they thought he was gonna run for the street.
Climbing down the ladder, Kolt muttered to himself, “Please don’t drop into sewage please don’t drop into sewage pleeease-” He let go of the ladder, and fell onto…
Solid ground. “Oh thank god.” He sighed, squinting in the darkness. It was entirely pitch black, save for the circle of dim light from the holes in the manhole cover slightly illuminating the ladder. Kolt turned to his left and took a step forward…
And promptly fell into the sewage.
A resounding scream of ‘FUCK’ echoed through the tunnels, heard by multiple hobos, innumerable sewer rats, and toys children flushed down the toilets because they’re destructive little shits. Kolt crawled out of the sewage onto another platform, grumbling and also smelling like feces, completely soaked with sewage. “Sometimes,” He groaned to himself as he bent over, hands on his knees, “I think the universe itself is out to get me.”
Kolt straightened out his back and took a few extremely apprehensive steps forward, before easing into a slow walk as he navigated the darkness, hoping that he wouldn’t fall again into a river of poopoo. But before long, he managed to make out an absurdly faint light far, far ahead. This was gonna take a while.
And it did. Roughly FIFTEEN minutes later Kolt made it to the ladder, and climbed up it, his body aching due to how atrophied his muscles became in those six months. He came onto an empty street, devoid of cars and people, and noticed that the sun had begun to set. That gave him an idea for the time, some time after noon, but where WAS he?
He shambled down the street, his adrenaline having worn off, and put a hand to his head, which had began to throb. He knew what had happened to him but, why was he alive? He aimed for the medulla oblongata, or at least, he tried to. Maybe his aim shifted? Heh, couldn’t even pull of a suicide correctly, eh little ol’ me? Kolt shook his head, the pain growing. He lifted his tongue to the roof of his mouth, feeling a hole that he knew ran through his head, tasting the disgusting fluid that dripped down. Eugh.
He thought, hey, I mean, at least i’m alive? But now, i’ve got people after me, and I don’t even know why. My head is starting to hurt a lot. Where’s Theo? Where’s Hillary? Where’s anyone?
Kolt fell onto his knees and grimaced, holding his head with both hands now, lightly poking the hole in his head. “What happened to me?” He sobbed to no one in particular. “A-Am I dead? Am I alive? What, what happ, happen,” Words fell apart in his mouth, and his eyesight got blurry. His limbs liquefied, his muscles weak and refusing to work, and he keeled over, eyes enamored by the yellow streak on the concrete street.
What’s happening to me?
Wait, no, no no no.
What’s GOING to happen to me?
Winter and Theo were ecstatic, and also freaked out. Theo was called by the hospital shortly after Kolt escaped, and, even though his heavy excited breathing kind of annoyed the person from the Hospital on the line, his breathing turned frantic when they told him that some ‘weird rabbits with guns and Chinese swords’ were chasing him. Theo then called Winter while she was taking Eddy to one of his meetings, swerving around and instead zooming to the hospital with the very-confused raccoon in the passenger’s seat.
“This’ll only take a minute.” She told Eddy as they pulled up in front of the hospital.
“A minute? The last time you said somethin’ like that you left me for half an hour!”
But Winter was already out of the car, and she slammed the door closed. Theo was already there, chatting with the same bovine nurse Kolt and Hoji had encountered already, and turned to greet Winter as the fox jogged up to him.
“They have no idea where Kolt went,” Theo frantically explained, “Or the weird lagomorphs.”
“Well shit Theo, what good are we gonna do just standing around?” Winter made an exaggerated motion to her car. “Car.” She pointed to her eyes. “Eyes.” She put her hands on her hips. “We look for him. Considering that he just came out of a coma, he couldn’t have gone fa-”
“Miss Winter?” Eddy waved his still-bandaged hands at the two as he stood in front of Winter’s car. “Yer trunk is rumblin’!”
Winter walked towards the driver’s seat of her car and reached in to pull a small lever under the dashboard, and the trunk popped open, a low humming emanating from inside. She walked to the trunk as Theo and Eddy crowded around it, pushing the two short men out of the way. Inside the trunk was a large radio telephone, a black square with an adjustable handset attached to it, bolted to the inside of the trunk. The phone rumbled, humming once more, and Winter plucked the handset off its stand, adjusting it to be usable with her ears.
Theo looked over at Eddy and extended a hand. “Theo Yanni, you?”
Eddy apprehensively shook his hand. “Uh, i’m Eddy, Eddy Leindhearg.”
Winter’s powerful voice caused both of them to turn and look at her as she bent over the trunk, one hand on the rim, another on the configured handset. “Marshal Winter here. Wait what? Where are they? Shot, i’ll be over there soon, thanks for the call.” She collapsed the phone back into its default shape and slammed it down onto its holder, turning to Theo. “Kolt’s been found by a squad of Aldearian Feddies, get in the car.”
Eddy just looked around awkwardly, unsure of what to say and if he should even be here. “Umm…”
“You too Eddy.”
The trio clambered into Winter’s car, Theo sitting in the seat behind Winter. “Feddies, shot, what’s with the slang Winter?”
“Huh?” Winter turned the keys in the ignition. “Oh, sorry, local smash is rubbing off on me.”
“It means ‘smalltalk’, yah dig?”
“Stop? Be cool, my dude.”
“No what, fool?”
Eddy realized that he was stuck in a car with a pair of freaks, and silently bent over in his seat, holding his head against his legs as he contemplated what got him here. Theo had stood up from his seat, and began lightly pummeling Winter’s head with his tiny hands in pitiful punches, partially playfully, mostly out of incomprehensible rage. Winter just giggled and held up an arm to block some of his weak strikes.
Eddy uncovered his head and sat up, staring in disbelief at how childish the two were acting in a situation like this. How come the only apparently sane man in this car was a convicted felon. “Are you bloody kidding me?” He said in a deadpan tone as he watched the two, who stopped their semi-play fighting and looked at Eddy. “Your friend, who you, Hillary, couldn’t stop talkin’ about wantin’ to take out for some, oh, some ‘friendly drinks between mates’, yet here you are, beatin’ on each other, well, mainly yer blue friend there beatin’ on you but still, beatin’ on each other while he’s out there, probably almost naked and definitely afraid of this weird new world around ‘im.” He stuck out an open-palmed hand and pointed to the road in front of them. “Go!”
Winter obeyed, and took the car out of park as Theo slumped back into his seat, finally buckling himself in and sadly ruffling his nice designer coat quite a bit, making it not look as spiffy; looking spiffy was one of his main priorities in life. As the car pulled away from the front of the hospital and back onto the road, Eddy sighed, and Winter spoke up, saying, “Sorry about all this Eddy, you may be a few minutes late to your meeting.”
“It’s fine Hillary, just focus on driving.”
“Alright. Oh, and, I know I haven’t told you this before, but I prefer to be called ‘Winter’.”
“Uhh, okay, Winter.”
“Right on dude.”
Theo reached over and delivered a right-hook to Winter’s cheek.
Winter had to have Eddy take a large map out of the glove compartment in order to find where the Aldearian Federal Police had found Kolt. As she peeked at the map Eddy had in his lap, she realized that she could make a more economic route and also drop Eddy off at the meeting, and she did so, pulling up to the meeting place much to Eddy’s confusion.
“I thought we were-”
“Eddy. Get out. I don’t want to involve you in anything relating to my life, or the lives of my friends.”
“Oh uh, okay.” Eddy folded up the map and put it on Hillary’s lap, a charred finger accidentally brushing against one of her large thighs and almost causing an intense nose bleed, and he quickly crawled out of the car.
He sadly waved the pair off as the car sped away, leaving him alone on the steps of the workout center. He turned, and looked at the covered windows and the ‘CLOSED’ sign on the window. He bit his lip, scrunched up his face, and sat on the ground, hands on his head once again. There goes his reservation, along with most of his spending money. God damnit, Eddy, you just had to pick TODAY to ask her out?
He sighed, stood up, and wondered how long it would take him to walk home.
Winter drove down a particularly empty road near the industrial section of the city, and stopped her car in the middle of the street. An ambulance was stopped near the sidewalk, and three Aldearian officers were milling about next to it. Theo recognized the blue-eyed one as the same one who complimented his outfit a few days ago. The two got out of the car and walked towards the group.
“You’re Kolt’s friend?” The blue-eyed AFP officer asked Theo, having instantly recognized him.
“Yep. You saw my car get rear-ended, didn’t you?”
“I sure did! Sorry about all that, I made sure to arrest the guy after yah left. Yer friend is in the ambulance.” As Theo reached for the handles on the door of the ambulance, the Aldearian officer warned, “Uh, i’d uh, cover your noses.”
Theo and Winter stepped up into the ambulance, and promptly scrunched up their faces, Theo continuing to grimace as he walked next to Kolt’s stretcher, Winter pressing her palm against her snout. Kolt was looking pale for an Aldearian, and he wasn’t even conscious. His eyes closed, and he wore a dirty hospital gown. From above his knees and down, it was soaked in some sort of disgusting brown liquid, which lead Theo to comment, “Was he in the sewers?”
The human paramedic who was attaching an IV to Kolt shrugged. “Dunno, but your friend is suffering from severe malnutrition.” They pricked Kolt’s right arm with the needle attached to the IV, and the pain caused Kolt’s body to lightly jolt, and his eyelids uncovered his reflective eyes as he came back to consciousness.
“Mmmh…” His mouth was parched. “Theo?”
Theo’s look of disgust changed into one of pure joy, and he put a hand on Kolt’s shoulder. “Yes, yes it’s me Kolt! Thank the stars you’re awake, albeit, you smell awful, but, well, at least you’re awake!”
“Mmh, and, I don’t plan on sleepin’ for, probably the next few months. L-Let me guess, I was out for six months?”
“…yes, actually. How do you know that?”
“I was told that in my dreams. Theo,” Kolt put his new left hand on Theo, and the blue cyclops jumped in shock, “I need to get out of here.”
“HOLY CRAP YOUR ARM! Kolt your ar-”
“Do you think I haven’t noticed?” Kolt slurred. “I’m, guessing you went to the hospital first? Did they tell you that I was chased?”
“Yes, yes they did.” Theo was still in light shock from seeing Kolt’s apparently regrown arm, and he pulled Kolt’s grip off of him, examining his limb closely. As Kolt had noticed before, the scarring eliminated at a ring of scar tissue below his elbow, where his stump was cut to after he had that odd reaction in the medical bay on Cerberus. “They said you were being followed by a few lagomorphs wearing, quote, ‘shitty clothes’.”
“Y-Yep, and one with weird legs and a pair of swords tried to kill me multiple times. Didn’t get his name, but he seemed pretty hellbent on, nngh,” Kolt himself grimaced for a second as a wave of pain came over his body, almost all of his muscles aching terribly, “Sorry, whole body is hurting, b-but anyways, he was pretty hellbent on killing me. I broke one of his swords, and judging by how, similarly broken he looked, I thiiiink it was an heirloom or something. So I may have made a new friend, and by friend, I mean a new person who wants to gut me. A-And only minutes after I awoke from a coma! B-Better write that down Theo, that’s a new record!”
Theo rolled his eye, and Winter, who was busy watching out the windows on the doors of the ambulance, squinted at a green police cruiser that had stalled at the end of the street in the middle of an intersection, before continuing on. There was a fox wearing black clothing in the passenger’s seat, and the driver was a run of the mill Gendarmerie officer. From the few moments Winter got to look at the passenger, he was wearing some sort of circular spectacles, and he had gave a half turn towards their direction before the car lurched forward, and it disappeared behind a building. This felt like a set up. She turned and said, “We can’t take Kolt back to the hospital. I’m taking him into protective custody.”
The paramedic wasn’t having any of it. “Uh, no, you’re not, this man needs to be taken back to the hospital and put on a treatment to-”
Winter waved her Marshal badge in his face, and had her P220 in the other, the barrel pressed against the human’s fleshy cheek. Her reason behind carrying it instead of the Falcon like normal: it was a P220 kinda day. “Protective custody.”
“Y-Yeah okay, protective custody.”
Winter pocketed her badge and put her gun back into her shoulder holster, and the paramedic knocked on the window separating the cabin from where the life-saving happened. The driver slid it open, and the paramedic said, “Umm, take us to…” They looked at Winter, unsure of what to say next.
“Trepin Police Department, it’s about a mile ahead of us, you can’t miss it. Go, now.”
The ambulance veered into the street as Theo and Winter sat down, Winter still looking out the windows on the back doors.
The green police cruiser had returned, but was pointing down the other road this time. The passenger wasn’t visible, but instead, the driver was watching the ambulance instead. Winter reached into her pocket and rubbed her Star Marshal badge with her thumb, and she squinted at the cruiser. It drove off.
The Interplanetary and Interstationary (as in, across space stations) Gilded State Star Marshal’s are the premier law-enforcement agency in all of the GSS. First, they were called the Air Marshals, like the American law enforcement agency. But, with the GSS being a space-faring country, the name didn’t really fit, so they changed it after only a decade to the much more appropriate Star Marshals. Like the American Air Marshals, they train in CQC and to be proficient marksmen and markswomen, along with learning criminal behavior recognition, however, unlike the Air Marshals, they’re meant to be known, as an example of the federal government’s reach.
So, on purpose, most of the Star Marshal’s are sent to worlds that are having issues regarding their possible independance, as a visual deterrence and a reminder that the government has its eye on them; it usually works with deterring any future ‘unlawful ideas’. Usually. In the worst situations, an unlucky Star Marshal is sent into a deathtrap, but thousands die each day, so what’s one more tally on the daily death count estimate? And as such, every individual who joins the Star Marshal’s knows the risks associated; there are over four-hundred reasons for possible death alone listed on the brochure they send to police academies to entice people to join the Star Marshal’s instead of whatever local police force they’re applying for.
The only identifiers of the Star Marshal’s are two things: their OD green jackets with a ‘GSS’ patch above the left breast, and their badges, which usually stay in their pockets. They’re obvious enough to notice when you’re looking at them from the front with the patch and all, but in a crowd, they can move undetected from an outside observer. OD green is a popular color for obvious reasons, being the official color of the GSS, so someone wearing a jacket of that color isn’t that odd.
Their badges however, are quite intricate; a silver Reichsadler overlaid onto a bronze shield standing on a wreath with the letters ‘GSS’ in the middle, harkening back to the days of the Third Reich, which had the same eagle and wreath, but the signature angled swastika of the National Socialist’s in the middle instead. Above the eagle is ‘police’ in German, Esperanto, and Catalan, the three most common languages in GSS space, and below the eagle are the words ‘Star Marshal’. Below the eagle’s left wing is the officer’s number, and under the right wing, their name. On Winter’s, it says ‘H. WINTER’.
They have limited authority outside of their assigned areas, but in emergencies, you BETTER listen to them. It only takes five PDA messages to have your job kicked out from under you as a noose comprised of ‘obstruction of justice’ arrests wraps around your neck. They have more power than the GSS wants to admit, but that ability is a double-edged sword; if you’re not liked by your superiors, they can flat out refuse your requests, leaving you just as important as the guy whose only job is to give the other officers their morning coffees and sit at the receptionists desk. Sorry, T.
Winter pulled her hand out of her pocket, and sighed.
Eddy grumbled as he finally walked up his steps. He had been running around for the past fifteen minutes at least, looking for the street that he lived on, and, after he finally found it, felt a wave of relief come over his body. He waddled up the steps of the apartment building, opened the door, and began to climb the stairs. He almost tripped over a pair of slippers as he waddled up to his door, pulling a small key from his pocket and tenderly sliding it into the lock, flinching from the minor pain in his bandaged hand. He pocketed the key, glanced around a few times to make sure he wasn’t being followed, which, while odd, definitely paid off that one time he offended a stripper’s large boyfriend, and slinked inside his apartment.
Eddy then tripped over the pile of beer cans he had been collecting and decided to very intelligently put them directly in front of his door. Rubbing his forehead, he scrambled to his feet and found his fridge, pulling open only to get knocked to the floor by the torrent of empty beer cans in there too. Everywhere he went, aluminum cans of shitty alcohol followed; a horrible curse, no doubt. Laying on the floor, Eddy decided to give up on life right then and there, closing his eyes and sighing as he laid among his fellow trash.
He had spent some of the meager cash he was given weakly to set up a semi-fancy dinner date for him and Winter, as thanks for being there for him when literally no one else was. They’d known each other for a couple months now, and it was more as a friendly gesture, definitely not as a date. Eddy flopped onto his side, staring at a cabinet. Okay maybe it was a date.
Forcing himself to his feet, the raccoon stumbled to his phone, failing to stay upright for more than ten seconds once more as he tripped over empty boxes of Chinese takeout. He gave up on walking at that point, regressing to an infant’s state of mobility and crawling across his disgusting carpet to the phone on a nearby cabinet. He tactically and pitifully crawled past the table he found at a garage sale for five forands, bumping a foot on one of the plastic fold-out chairs he placed next to it. He’d call the police station; Winter usually resigned to there after particularly stressful days to harass the poor officers with her very presence, which sort of invalidated their entire existence as she was equivalent to approximately ten of them in training AND experience.
He pulled himself up with the cabinet, grimacing as his hands sizzled with pain when they touched the top of it and as he put weight on them, but he made it to his feet nonetheless.
Let’s see if he makes it ten seco-oh there he goes again.
Eddy tripped on his shoelace when he turned to use the phone, falling forward onto the cabinet and letting out a pitiful cry of, “I can’t do anythin’ right!” Sniffling, he stood up, and waited a few moments. Okay, he was GOOD, I think. He pulled the receiver off its stand and began to punch in the numbers.
A few cans rattled as they rolled around on the linoleum floor of the kitchen, hitting objects and being batted around. One of the Chinese takeout boxes fell over, but Eddy was too focused on trying to remember what was the last two digits of the police station’s phone number as one of the fold-out chairs was nudged directly behind him. His eyes widened, and he grabbed the cord of the receiver with his other hand. Someone was behind him.
Spinning around, Eddy pulled the phone from the wall and used it as an impromptu clobbering device, thwacking his intruder over the back and causing them to actually grunt and put up their hands as a reaction, as if trying to block any other strikes that could be coming, but Eddy was already fast-waddling around the other side of the table. He only got a glimpse of the intruder, but whoever they were, they were orange, and wearing lots of black. He began to hyperventilate from fear as he ran around the table and towards his door, but his attacker lunged at him from the right, grabbing onto the small man and lifting him up from the floor as they pressed a rag to Eddy’s face. The smell of chemicals filled his nostrils, and he immediately began to feel dazed. Oh god not here, I don’t want to die here, he thought as he did what he could; struggle incessantly, kicking his legs around and punching his attacker. Things were getting blurrier, his head feeling lighter, and his strength was starting to drain away.
Not here. No, not here! Not now not here not now not here no no no no
The bespectacled fox sighed as Eddy finally went limp. He brought the knocked-out raccoon into his filthy bathroom, dropping him into the tub, and pulled out a rectangle of a portable phone from inside his overcoat, punching in a few letters before holding the phone in front of his face, so the speaker on it was pointed at his ears, and he growled, “I’m not going to get his blood on my hands. Send one of your cleaners here. Yes, the others are at the police station. Yes, it’s ready, we just have,” The fox looked down on Eddy’s comatose body before turning and walking out of the bathroom, “To simply, wait.”