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Old 03-03-2007, 06:23 AM
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Oddworld The Despicable

The original reason I joined OWF was to post my stories. Since then, however, my writing basically died out here.
But the Splat is back!
And with an (in my opinion) awesome story! Members of W@RF may or may not recognise some characters, though anyone can read and enjoy (I hope)!
Also around the beginning the story runs somewhat parallel to the stories written by Sl'askia, who was a member of OWF long before I joined, but who wrote some pretty fantastic stories. Her website recently went down but her stories can be found in the Fan Corner Library.

Due to bad language in the prologue and some rather unpleasant-bordering on gory stuff later on I'm not recommending this story for anyone under the age of 13. I can't stop you reading it, but the warning is there.

And so here it is. The prologue contains one bit of very strong language that I didn't really want to put in but nothing else really seemed to work. So be warned and don't complain about it! It's not likely to ever happen again (and it basically fills up my entire swearing quota for this story so you should be safe from now on).
Are you all sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

--------------

Prologue

“You! What are you doing helping them?”

“Haven’t you figured this out, Tilic? We turned you in!” Dekas replied, bitterly.

“You… You traitors!”

“Us?” The third slig, Stivik, sounded vicious, “You help this scum breed an army to send against the Cartel and you call us traitors?”

Tilic was a slig in trouble. The leader of a Magog Cartel scouting group, he had been drawn into the Agadon Project for the money, but the vykkers had turned him to their cause and told them of the army they were breeding to send against their glukkon oppressors. Tilic was a fair leader, and had told his group of the true nature of the project.

He was by no means the last person to make the mistake of putting their trust in Stivik. Now he stood at the gates of the Agadon research facility with a handful of vykkers and fellow sligs and about half of the successfully made creatures. The building itself was burning nearby, and a small army of sligs, flying sligs and big-bros surrounded them, among them the five members of Tilic’s pack. Armed mugs stood among the trees.

“Time for you guys to surrender,” Threatened one of the attackers, a big-bro.

It wasn’t a request, or a suggestion, but an order. The choice of a quick, sudden death now was not one of the options offered when surrender would result in a much more painful and most likely public execution later on, which was of course what the Cartel intended. A couple of them might be killed if they fought, but Tilic knew his men would make sure he at least wasn’t killed but went on to face punishment.

He was a little surprised when one of the vykkers suddenly shouted, “No!”

The big-bro slig replied, “We’re not giving you the option.” Whatever else he’d planned to say was stopped when the vykker suddenly lunged towards the edge of the gate and slammed his twiggy had against a button on the gate post. The action was not aggressive, but sudden enough after the defiant shout to shake up the sligs and several fired their guns. The vykker writhed as his torso was torn apart by bullets, and dropped to the ground in silence. The attackers snickered and made threatening gestures which came to an end when they saw the faces of their enemies. The sligs and vykkers at the gate were suddenly looking confident, even gleeful.

Suddenly from the forest to the left of the attackers there came a loud noise of metal grinding against rusty metal. “You guys are in trouuubllllle!” One of the threatened sligs taunted.

There was a crash from the forest and Stivik spun round to see a huge creature smashing through the trees towards them. It was 4 or 5 metres tall with rough grey skin that hung from it like a badly fitting leather suit, covering slabs of muscle. Its back had armour plates down it like a meech. It walked on two legs like tree stumps with sprawling, clawed feet, and had three arms: two ending in huge, blunt, boulder-like appendages and the third in a clawed hand with misshapen fingers, each thicker than a slig’s neck. While it was using two arms it kept a third on the ground as an extra leg. It was hunchbacked and had no head, but instead a teeth-lined hole opened at the top of its torso below where its neck should have been. Like many of Oddworld’s creatures, it had no eyes, which gave it the advantage of not having them as a weak spot. A genetic nightmare with five limbs.

Its emergence from the forest immediately sent many of the attacking sligs and mugs running for their lives. A couple of big-bros near to it were very quickly crushed beneath the bulk of its huge boulder-like hands and it swatted flying sligs out of the air like flies. Bombs and bullets seemed hardly to affect it. It flinched under their onslaught but didn’t stop its approach. The attacks didn’t seem to scratch its armoured back and did nothing but mark its skin. A very little amount of greyish pus oozed from the wounds. It was a creature made of lumps of muscle and think slabs of bone. Its club-like ‘fists’ obliterated half the attacking army in seconds.

Most of the treacherous vykkers and their smaller creations had taken the distraction to run back inside the compound. A few were sneaking away. Stivik, crouched behind a tree that would offer little protection from the great beast when it came towards him, spotted Tilic running along the outside of the fence. His gun was loaded with tranquilisers intended for his former leader. He raised the weapon to his shoulder and fired a shot that caught the fleeing slig between the shoulder blades and sending him to the ground. Stivik twisted round quickly and peered out from behind the tree to see the monster standing in the middle of what should have been a battle ground between the Cartel’s army and the small force of the renegade vykkers. Seven or eight Cartel sligs were hiding among the trees and shooting at it, trying to find a weakness but having little affect. It was picking them off easily with its huge fists, or, leaning on its fists, grabbing them in its claws and dropping them into its mouth, To his disgust, he realised most of their army had fled. Well, he would not do the same.

He threw his gun into the bushes. If his tranks even pierced its skin it would take more than he would like to guess at to knock it out. Unarmed except for the small penknife he carried, he crept forwards through the trees towards where it had been fighting and the crushed remains of sligs would produce better weapons.

The thing had turned its back to him and was swinging at one of its assailants. There was a dead slig on the ground behind it, and its gun seemed to be undamaged. While it was distracted, Stivik ran into the open and up behind it and, as quietly as he could, picked up the slig, its broken body sliding easily out of its pants, and detached the cable that ran from its mask to its gun, and fitted it into his own mask. He looked up in time to see the creature half turned towards him, a boulder-ended arm swinging at him with lethal speed. The moment that huge lump of bone came swinging towards him seemed to stretch out into hours as he admonished himself, Idiot. All these years you’ve been a scout and you forgot… Meeches see by sonar, so they know when you’re coming up behind them. At the last moment he threw himself back. The thing struck his upper left arm, snapping the bone like a twig and sending him spinning as he fell.

He landed on his stomach in the dust, gasping with shock and pain. He was vaguely aware of seeing the grey-yellow bone poking through the skin of his arm. Fighting back nausea and the temptation to pass out, he twisted onto his left side with a grunt and raised the gun unsteadily. He fired a rain of bullets at its chest as it advanced on him, reaching out with its claw, snatching the gun away from him and tugging on it, snapping the cable. He grabbed the knife hanging at his belt and then threw up his arm as the claw closed around his mechanical pants, crushing the legs and the cradle and trapping his tail inside, stopping him from slipping out. He wouldn’t have crawled far anyway, with a broken arm.

He was half in a trance as it lifted him towards its mouth, his blood running over its fingers. Time passed oh so slowly and he saw the soft red flesh of its gums under the grisly grey lips. He realised its weakness at last and drew back his right arm, his fingers clenched around the penknife. Then as he was pushed towards the fetid opening, he plunged the metal blade into its gums: the blade he’d grumbled to find so blunt when he’d bought it and had spent so many boring hours sharpening, simply because he’d had nothing else to do.

The creature let out a roar as the metal twisted in the flesh between its teeth. Its grip on Stivik relaxed and the slig dropped to the ground and landed on his right side, the weight of his pants crushing down on him as he yelled hoarsely, “Its gums! Shoot at its mouth!”

He didn’t know if there were any sligs left to hear him. The creature recovered from its shock quickly and raised one of its huge bone fists, drawing back for a blow that could flatten a ball car. And then a spray of bullets struck it in the mouth. Stivik never found out who fired them, who saved his life. As the creature stumbled back away from him and blood at last began flowing from the wounds to its gums and jaws, he was aware of the grey yellow stub of bone sticking out of the skin of his arm obscenely, of the blood covering his skin.

Blackness swept over him.

* * *

Six days later, with his arm bound thickly in plaster and resting in a sling, Stivik approached the cell where they were holding Tilic and stared at him silently through the bars of the cell. Minutes passed before Tilic eventually spoke. “They said you were crippled, and wouldn’t be able to use pants for years.”

Stivik’s answer was flat. “I didn’t ask them to. When I woke up they told me they needed an excuse to get me out of scouting.”

“Why? They don’t want their hero getting killed?” Tilic was sarcastic, but sounded defeated. The reply he got was equally hollow.

“They want me to become a spy for the Magog Cartel. They’ll send me off to watch any glukkons they think are causing trouble to report on them.”

Silence fell between them again. Tilic was resting on a narrow bunk, his pants and mask taken from him. His arms were crossed in front of him and he was resting his head on them as he looked up at his ex pack-mate. “I always said you were destined for higher things. I can almost say I’m proud.”

“You were always a soft bugger, Tilic.” It was nearly a joke, but neither smiled.

“I thought you’d be pleased, after how much you hated being out doors. You always told us that you’d dance with glee if you found out you’d never have to see another filthy savage village again-”

“F**k it.” Stivik interrupted him and strode from the room. It was the last thing he ever said to Tilic. It would be the last time they met.

Two weeks later, Tilic was executed. He was surprised to learn that it would not be the slow, painful death he’d expected, and that it would not be carried out by Skillya. He was killed by lethal injection in a small laboratory, watched only by a couple of vykkers and a glukkon who was there as a witness. He was told that it was done so because of a special request, made by the slig who had organised his capture.

-------------------

And there you have it. Comments and criticism are very much welcome. I'll try and update this once a week as long as I've got the chapters to post, and might post more frequently if things go well (in other words, if you want more, reply more!)
To avoid trouble with formatting i have to put all the stuff in itallics and put in the double-spacing between paragraphs after I've uploaded it, so if I've missed anything let me know and I'll edit.
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Last edited by Splat; 10-30-2009 at 03:48 AM..
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Old 03-03-2007, 09:16 AM
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It's cool, so Stivik is a slig?
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Old 03-03-2007, 09:56 AM
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Yeah, Stivik is a slig (not a bigbro!) He was working as a Magog Cartel spy when he went to Rupture Farms, to report on Arnie.
Eventually the Magog Cartel sent Dionysia, telling Arnie they won't arrest him if he looks after her (she's an experiment and needs a natural factory setting to be tested in). Stivik was called away from the factory soon after that.
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Old 03-03-2007, 10:01 AM
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Pretty good. I had a little trouble understanding, but it is pretty good. Inspired me to write that Slig story I have in my mind. (No Molt, sorry, but something to do with Gappiqu)

And, was that revenge for insultin' Dionysia twice?
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Old 03-03-2007, 10:32 AM
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That's a nice story, Splat. It's dramatic, kept me interested and the descriptions are nice. I like this. Keep it up. Write more.
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Old 03-03-2007, 11:01 AM
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Nice backstory! Very action-packed. Great job!
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Old 03-03-2007, 03:04 PM
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Wow! That was great! There was a lot of suspence in it, and it made me wonder, what is that grey thing? I think I have some sort of idea!
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:02 AM
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Interesting story Splat. I've liked your previous stuff (even if it never was finished, unfortunately), and I think I'll like this. You also provided me a link to S'laskia's stuff, whidch I'm grateful for as I lost the link long ago. And why does the name Tilic ring a bell? I could swear I've heard it in an Oddworld story before.
Good stuff, I'm eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:31 AM
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Tilic, is a character of S'laskia's. Concidently, they are both Sligs.

*Waits impatiently for next chapter*
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:42 AM
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Ah, of course. I knew I'd heard it somewhere before.
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Old 03-05-2007, 07:12 AM
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Yeah, before I started planning for this I was reading one of her stories and thought 'That could be Stivik'. So now it is. The names of two characters from her stories appear in here.
Mostly things are the same but there are some differences between the way things play out in hers and mine, mostly that in mine they're attacked by that vykker genetic creation while in hers its something else (no spoilers here!)

But anyway, it's great to get all your replies! Not sure what you meant Slaveless; was what revenge?

I think if I get another reply or two by other people I'll post the next chapter on Wednesday.
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Old 03-05-2007, 11:17 AM
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For mentioning the part about Stivik not being being a Big Bro. You needed to do that with me because I was not sure. Then I thought you mentioned that to get me back on the 'Dionysia is Gappiqu's girlfriend' part.

But anyway, keep me entertained. Just kidding, I am just waitin'.
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:41 PM
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Nah, I mentioned Stivik to avoid confusion, and I don't mind you saying about Dion and Gappiqu so much. As I've said a few times, (story spoilers!) she does like him, but she can't admit it to anyone (including herself).

Anyway, enough W@RF talk; it's probably just confusing half of you anyway.
Normally I'll be posting on Saturdays and maybe sometimes on Wednesdays, but I'm not sure if I'll be around tomorrow so I'm going to post the chapter today instead. Just as a note, the information about dates and time on Oddworld in the chapter is made up by me; it's not official.


________________________________________________________________
A year on Oddworld is 401 days long, with each day being 25 hours. The glukkon calendar splits the year into 10 months, the first 9 having 41 days, and the last having 32. The mudokon calendar has four seasons; 3 are 100 days long and the last is 101.

Part 1
--
Traitor’s Oddysee

Chapter 1

The slig to be labelled 67322 was born on the fourth month according to the industrial calendar. The vykkers he was assigned to when he hatched quickly found a problem with this when it came to situations when they would need to say, “Have you seen Six-Seven-Three-Two-Two? That sliglet is always getting into trouble,” As, by the time they finished, the slig would usually have emerged, possibly with a dead bird to display proudly to the room. The simple solution to this was to name the damn thing. Some vykkers opted to keep the numbers the sliglets were given and the sligs would be left to name themselves in later life. Other vykkers abbreviated the numbers of their sliglets, resulting in names such as ‘Twenty Four’ or ‘#7 Slig’. Sometimes words were picked to use as names, like ‘Hammer’. In 67322’s case, the vykkers opened a dictionary of the sligs’ native language, stuck a spindly finger on the first word they saw, and henceforth slig number 67322 was known as ‘Stivik’, which in sliggish, means ‘egg yolk’.

Stivik was the sort of sliglet who would bring home dead birds to show off. How he caught them without pants was, as far as the vykkers were concerned, anyone’s guess. It gave the vykkers the impression that he must be fond of the outdoor life, and he was clearly good with animals (the industrial definition of ‘good with animals’ does not mean that you are good at looking after them or that they like you. In fact, it is almost the opposite) and so it was decided from early on that he would be enrolled as a scout, working outside walls to track down rare animals, mudokon settlements and any other geographical feature that glukkons would be able to make a profit out of. He left his brood as soon as he had learnt to use pants, and began his new training.

Teamwork was something he took a while to get the hang of. Working as a team when you’re out in the wild was absolutely necessary if you were to survive, but that didn’t stop him complaining about it. When he was moved to a barracks to get the hang of using basic firearms he flourished at first, but then began to lose interest in the monotony of the target ranges. His attention would begin to wonder away, his gun would gradually turn away from the mudokon templates and drift away, to the ground as his thoughts drifted, or to point another way as he fantasised about things he would rather be doing.

“What are you doing, Six-Seven-whatever?”

“Uh, nothing, sir.” The young slig quickly lowered his gun; it had been following a bird across the sky. “Call me Stivik, sir.”

The big-bro, named Wrench, grunted and glanced into the air. “Shooting down the birds, 6-7…?”

“Six-Seven-Three-Two-Two, sir.” Stivik’s tone was bitter. “And I doubt I’d be able to. I’m not that good.”

Wrench snorted, “Try.”

“What?”

“Try! Shoot down a bird. Let’s find out if you’ve got it in you or not.”

Stivik looked unsure, but didn’t disobey. He hefted his gun to his shoulder and aimed into the air. The big bro spoke. “Get the gun close to your eye so it’s lined with the sight on your mask… Aim for where it’s going to be, not where it is, or you’ll just follow it until it gets away.” Stivik’s gunshot cracked the air suddenly, and missed. The birds panicked and began wheeling madly. A second shot ran out, taking Stivik by surprise. He looked around quickly to see the big-bro aiming his gun casually up. A dead burn thumped to the ground in the target range. He barely glanced at it and spoke casually, arrogantly, “Of course, it’s a lot harder, hitting an animal, or a mud.”

“Bigger target,” Put in Stivik promptly. Wrench lowered his gun and stared at the slig.

“You think shooting a raging animal bent on ripping you open is the same as shooting a harmless bird out of the sky? Or shooting a renegade mudokon?”
Stivik shrugged. The big bro stared at him and then left him to continue training.

He returned a few hours later and motioned to Stivik. “Come with me, 6—7-so on.” Stivik hesitated for a second before following.

Wrench led him inside to a dimly lit room where a mudokon was chained to a post in the floor, looking scared and confused. Two other mudokons were locked in an alcove in a wall. There was a sceptical looking glukkon flanked by a pair of sligs who watched Stivik as he came in, seemingly unimpressed by his small stature. “You really think this sliglet is ready, Wrench?” The glukkon asked mockingly. Stivik winced at the insult. Wrench answered gruffly.

“Only one way to find out.”

The glukkon rolled his eyes and turned on Stivik. “Alright. You,” He gestured to the chained mudokon. “Kill that.”

The mudokon looked scared. The young Stivik looked puzzled. “Why?”

The glukkon glared at Wrench, who in turn glared at Stivik. The glukkon answered. “Why? Because it’s a mud! You need no other reason than that!”

Stivik looked with surprise at Wrench, who was looking increasingly more embarrassed and angry with every passing second. He looked at the caged mudokons who were moaning and begging him not to. He faced the chained mudokon, who had backed away from him, was on his back on the ground putting up his hands in a helpless gesture. He thought of Wrench always using his number, of the glukkon calling him a sliglet as he walked into the room.

Stivik raised his gun and shot the mud through the head. The glukkon’s mouth hung open in surprise. Wrench was laughing and slapping him on the back. “Not bad, Stivik: execution style an’ all. I told ya he was a natural, Boss.”

* * *

Basic training, for many sligs, requires them to kill a mudokon. While doing so isn’t necessary to ‘qualify’ most sligs who don’t usually struggle to get a job for the rest of their career, unless they prove themselves to be particularly talented in a particular field such as mechanics.

As soon as he could use a rifle and a tranquiliser gun properly, Stivik left the barracks and returned to scouting to meet the pack of five other sligs he would come to think of as brothers over the next five years. Tilic and Dekas were both experienced sligs who had been scouting together for two years already. Their previous pack had broken up, neither of them ever explained why, and Tilic had been promoted to commander of a pack of his own. The third slig, Stack, was also an experienced scout who had been injured in the field. By the time he recovered he was out of a job, and so he had been assigned to Tilic’s group.

Next was Braz who, like Stivik, was a ‘qualified’ scout, fresh out of basic training. That first day he seemed slightly nervous and glad to have Stivik as a companion.

The sixth member, Burn, was a slightly older slig who would do anything to avoid becoming a generic guard, but wasn’t much good at anything else he had tried. They had set him up as a flying slig until they found out he was terrified of heights, much to his embarrassment. He had tried his hand at mechanics and found himself rubbish at it, so now he had moved on to scouting. He was the last slig to be welcomed into the pack, arriving on short notice a few days after Stivik and Braz. Tilic had looked him over sceptically the first day he came, Dekas looked totally unimpressed and after introductions had been passed around Stack had whispered to Stivik, “Don’t get too attached to this one; you rarely last in this job if you haven’t been trained fully.”

Stivik had been a little surprised by the morbidity of this comment, and then Burn had gone on to prove the three more experienced sligs wrong by becoming rather good at his job. He admitted he didn’t enjoy the work, but his eagerness to avoid a job as a factory guard meant he worked hard and learnt quickly from his superiors. Despite Burn being older, Stivik had thought of him as his junior for the first few weeks when he showed no talent in tracking or hunting what so ever, but that quickly changed as time went by. The younger three were soon mostly equal in their abilities. The six of them developed strong respect for each other, which smoothly turned to a tight friendship: emotions of attachment sligs craved but rarely had the chance to experience in the industrial world. They became as close as brothers.

Scouting went against the usual slig work ethic of train little, slack lots: under trained sligs wouldn’t last long outside, and there weren’t many opportunities to sleep on the job when you were trundling through a forest on the back of a mug. Their work wasn’t structured either. There would be days spent in industrial facilities, hunting new assignments or just taking a break, and then travelling, sometimes by train but more often on the backs of mugs. Because they moved around the continent they hired the animals, rather than buying them. They rarely had the money anyway: the job paid well, but also cost a lot. The sligs’ normal obsession with money was combined with a dependency on the stuff to keep operating day by day. Working outside of a factory meant they had to buy their own food and supplies. They made attempts to save a percentage of their wages for more expensive luxuries. At the top of the list of things to save up for was a new portable heat generator: the one they had had been provided by Tilic and Dekas was years old and worked about one day out of five. It seemed, however, that no matter how hard they tried, they never managed to keep much money.

They built up a small reputation for their work and there was rarely time when they couldn’t get offers for some job. With meeches becoming increasingly hard to find with every passing month, hunting them took up a lot of their time and earned them a good portion of their moolah. Whenever they finished a job Tilic would take them outside and jokingly give a speech about how much he valued them and how great they were. “Dekas, the bravest slig there ever was! Stack, the one that keeps us sane in the darkest hour! Braz, the natural born scout, and Stivik who was born for higher things! Burn, the slig of many talents, you’re the best buddies a slig ever had!” He would keep on until they threatened to shoot him if he kept going. This would usually be followed by a trip to the nearest bar, where Tilic would get drunk and begin his speech all over again, but with more slurring and more gesturing at the sligs as he referred to them. “Dekas, the… the, the bestest buddy I ever had! Stivik, born for higher things! Higher… ruler of Mudos he’ll be one day, mark my, uh, words…” At this time his five pack-mates would steer him out of the bar and, if necessary, knock him out to keep him quiet for the rest of the night.

Things weren’t all good for them. It was hard work for the money they earned; sometimes they would lose valuable equipment or the glukkons would try and cheat them out of their full pay, and as it was glukkons who held the power in Mudos they usually succeeded. Out in the wild, there was a constant threat from wildlife out for a meal and from native mudokons looking for a fight. Despite the friendship and the money, Stivik was not fond of the work, and preferred spending time in industrial facilities than outside. He and Mother Nature just didn’t get on. It was a joke in his pack on the dark nights, huddled around the dodgy portable generator, that Stivik would rather be a scrub than a scout.

“At least scrubs aren’t in constant danger of being eaten,” Stivik half grinned.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, what about the ones who spend their time poking around animal pens? Odd knows what goes through the head of some of those glukkons when they set their slaves to work,” Dekas joked.

“Hey, don’t insult the thick glukkons!” Tilic put in, mockingly serious, “It’s thick glukkons that give guys like us a living!”

“Hey, and what about mystery meat? You guys heard the rumours about what goes into that stuff?” It was hard to tell whether Braz was joking or being serious. Burn played along with him, though.

“Mudokon meat? Slig meat, glukkon meat?”

“Odd, you guys don’t believe that rubbish do you?” Stivik scoffed, huddling towards the machine in the centre of their circle, which was stubbornly refusing to produce heat. “Well how’s this then; scrubs don’t spend their nights huddling round a packed-in generator that hasn’t worked for about four years?”

“Do scrubs get any heating at all?” Philosophised Tilic with a grin. Stivik growled, rolled onto his feet and kicked the generator.

“That probably doesn’t help it, you know,” Stack muttered sleepily.

“It helps me,” replied Stivik bitterly. Burn laughed.




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  #14  
Old 03-09-2007, 05:30 PM
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Nice story, I like the way you describe things.
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:09 PM
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Yay! The Splat is back! I used to read your old stories until they died out (but I can't really complain, considering my "story" died out as well ). In fact, I think it was after reading one of them that I asked you for comments and criticism of my own story... Which I'm probably going to do a remake of or something. I'll see...


Anyway, this story looks pretty good so far! I don't even think I've seen any spelling mistakes... Though this bit kinda confused me:
Quote:
While doing so isn’t necessary to ‘qualify’ most sligs who don’t usually struggle to get a job for the rest of their career, unless they prove themselves to be particularly talented in a particular field such as mechanics.
I got the jist of it, but the sentence didn't seem to make sense to me... maybe I just read it wrong, though.

I like the way you're sort of explaining things that we've had in the RPG, too, like that mention of sligs who prove talented in fields like mechanics (like Nick), and your explanation of sligs with numbers and names (since that did come up in the RPG, with #7 slig being about the only slig without a proper name for most of the RPG).

So yeah, good stuff
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Old 03-10-2007, 11:16 AM
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Great story. The prologue is pretty interesting, and the everyday life of Slig scouts is also a good idea. I liked the part where you refered to #7 Slig. It's fun to read.

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Old 03-13-2007, 08:07 AM
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"While doing so isn’t necessary to ‘qualify’, most sligs who don’t usually struggle to get a job for the rest of their career - unless they prove themselves to be particularly talented in a particular field such as mechanics."
Does that make more sense?

Anyway, thanks for all comments. I think this story becomes a bit of a character study, just me explaining how they got to where they are in W@RF. Like the Stivik here is very different from the sneaky, money-loving guy he becomes. I want to explain how he gets there from where he is now. That really kicks off in the next chapter.
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Old 03-17-2007, 02:25 PM
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Chapter 2

As years passed they explored new places, hunted escaped mudokons and renegade vykker experiments, tracked down villages of mudokons for harvesting, fought off attacks from the natives and continued to participate in hunting the increasingly rare meeches.

Meeches had natural sonar, which made them different from hunting scrabs or paramites, as they would almost always see you coming from fifty metres away and either run away or hide and prepare an attack. With scrabs or paramites, you could charge in and shoot all you could of the group, but hunting meeches was a much more subtle process. The group would ride towards where they knew a pack to be on mugs, moving as fast as they could, firing their weapons, shouting and generally making as much noise as they could to scare away the meeches before they came in range of the sonar. Then, once the area was clear they would set traps in the meeches’ territory. When they were done they would leave the area and come back the next day. The meeches almost always returned in the night and many of them would get caught. The rest would move away quickly. The sligs could then pick off those they had caught easily with their guns.

Ironically, it was the defence given by their sonar that was causing the meeches’ downfall. When hunting packs of scrabs or paramites, the hunters would pick off as much as the pack as they could and the rest would run away and have time to regain their numbers before they were targeted by industrials again. But because hunting meeches required the preparation of locating pack from a distance before attacking it, sligs would follow a pack of meeches, never giving it the chance to recover the lost members, until it was wiped out. Hunted meeches never had the time to breed. It was when they stopped to lay eggs that they became the best targets, because if they were forced away from their nests they were even more likely to return looking for their eggs, which was when they would fall into the sligs’ traps.

Meeches were becoming the best way to make big money for sligs like Tilic’s pack, and that meant a lot of competition for their services from the big companies, which in turn meant an increase in their wages. Things were looking good for them and they had managed to save up a fair amount of money which was being put towards that new portable generator.

When they had chased the creatures from their territory, three of the sligs would patrol the edges of the area to make sure the creatures didn’t come back before they were finished, while the other three would get off of their mugs and set the traps. They organised shifts of who was doing what; Stivik preferred to be on the back of the mug, as it made him feel ready for whatever happened, and after they had been hunting a meech pack for several weeks it wasn’t uncommon for the creatures to try and break back into their territory, especially if they had been laying eggs. They rarely saw the eggs as the meeches hid them too well, but there were signs that said they had been laying. After a few weeks of following the meeches it became boring, the less experienced three would complain about the unchanging work, and the travelling, but Tilic could keep them on it; a meech pack was too rare to abandon half-finished. Once Stivik was on the back of his mug when noises from inside the territory caught his attention; he tensed and aimed his gun at a bush which clearly had something in it, prepared to fire, when a slig’s head suddenly appeared from it, “Whaddaya doing Burn,” Stivik yelled, “You scared the Hell out of me!”

“What do you think I’m doing?”

“You expect meeches are going to be crawling in the bushes? You’re setting a trap in there?”

“No, I was looking for eggs. The price of those is rising; glukkons are getting interested in breeding them again, now the price of scouts is up.”

“Well don’t. These guys are getting nervous and we won’t be able to hold them off so long if they decide to come back.”

“Can’t blame them really, we are killing them all.” Burn grinned when there was a shout.

“Hurry up, Stivik! I’ll be overtaking you if you sit around chatting all day.” It was Stack, riding his mug. He often got bossy when he was nervous.

Stivik nodded back to him and called back, “Sorry, Sir!” Using the title would probably let Stack know he was getting demanding. Stivik hurried his mug forward away from Burn who called after him, “That’s right, Stivik. If you were going any slower…”

Stivik made a rude gesture and passed him by.

They finished setting the traps without any trouble and the six of them headed back to camp. Braz spent an hour up a tree, listening to the radio for any news before coming back. “It’s all clear; there’s a mudokon village about 20 miles away but they’ve not moved much for a few days. If we get to close we might have to fight them for the meeches-”

Dekas interrupted him, “Which’ll mean splitting the rest of the pack with a Cartel force, and they’ll take more than their share.”

Tilic snorted and shrugged. “If it gets to that we’ll bag ourselves some muds to even the deal. Someone’ll be interested in buying the labour.”

The generator decided to work that night and they huddled round it talking until Stack started snoring. The next morning just after sunrise, they headed back to the meeches’ territory and reached it just before midday. Seventeen meeches had gotten themselves caught in the traps and they busied themselves finishing them off and loading the bodies onto a cart. The less bullets you used on a creature, the more it was worth, but the meeches tended to writhe about and fight back if you got too close, and their armoured backs made it hard to get a good shot so they took their time with the job. They were nearly half done when Dekas, the only slig on guard, rode towards them and told them something was heading towards them from the south. They looked to Tilic, who sent Dekas back to look out, ordered Stack and Burn to start attaching the cart to a mug while he, Stivik and Braz finished off the remaining meeches, “And do it quickly, guys. Don’t worry about bullets.”

If he’d thought there was real danger then he would have ordered them back onto mugs and out of the area, but they’d been assured by local intelligence on the radio the night before, and again this morning, that the area was clear. The six of them were spread widely across the area when a small army of mudokons bore down at them with clubs and bows.

Panic ensued. The sligs were outnumbered 4 or 5 to one, and the mudokons had the element of surprise though the sligs had better weapons. Stack who had been hefting the cart towards one of the mugs dropped his strut and yelled at the less experienced slig, “Forget the cart, get your gun out!” He pulled out his own weapon and started firing at the nearest natives. Burn had been pulled to the ground when Stack suddenly let go of the cart, and now crawled under it and shot at a couple of mudokons as they approached them.

The mudokons had driven down in the middle of the group from three ways, splitting Dekas and Braz from the others; Tilic and Stivik were trapped together and the four of them were cut off from Stack, Burn and the mugs.

Stivik’s first move was to dive for cover, but he didn’t realise until it was too late that he had thrown himself straight towards one of the trapped meeches, which lunged for him. He barely dodged and shot at it wildly, killing it, but the noise drew attention to him and he had left himself without cover. Several mudokons shot at him and he was hit on the arm by a bolt of spooce energy, burning him. Barely holding onto his gun by his injured arm, he scrambled for cover and ducked into a bush. Swapping arms, he fired at the mudarchers he could see. If there were any of those clubmen among the attackers, he hadn’t spotted them yet. A sudden crash from behind him made him grab the knife he carried attached his pants and twist round, swinging it. Tilic appeared and ducked under Stivik’s swing. “Careful, it’s me! Are you ok?”

Stivik quickly lowered the knife. “I’m good.” Tilic wasn’t really paying attention, but peering through the bushes.

“I think they’re focussing their attack on the mugs. I don’t know how long Stack can hold them and I wouldn’t put faith in Burn.”

“What’s the point in this, what are they doing?”

“Fighting for territory like the meeches? Trying to prove they’re better than us because they can beat us 5 to one? Odd knows.” He turned around and said suddenly. “What happened to your arm?”

Stivik answered quickly, “Nothing, I was careless and got shot. It just grazed m-LOOK OUT!” Stivik kicked Tilic in the legs and he fell over, Stivik fired his gun past him at a surprised-looking tomahawker who had just swung his club at Tilic’s head and hadn’t expected to miss, let alone be shot open seconds afterwards. Stivik dodged aside as the body flopped between them.

Tilic picked himself and looked at the mudokon and then said to Stivik breathlessly, “Thanks.”

Stivik answered sounding equally winded, “Any time.”

On his mug Dekas had seen only one group of mudokons who had come slowly, noisily through the trees as a decoy. The rest had stayed deep under cover until they were in position to attack.

Dekas had begun firing on the muds from his high position as soon as they appeared, but soon had had to drop off the mug: he was too much of a target up there. He landed heavily and his gun slipped out of his hand. The cable attaching it to his mask snapped. Looking around he couldn’t see it and guessed it had fallen into a plant or had rolled out of sight. Before the attack he had been checking on where the others were, and he had seen a number of the mudokons very close to where Braz had been when he saw him last. His thoughts were to protect his pack mate, so he pulled on the reins of the mug until it pointed in Braz’s direction, and then gave it a sharp kick beneath its armour. It bellowed and charged forward.

Braz was hiding under a bush, but a number of mudokons were searching for him, mostly by hitting every possible hiding place with those huge clubs. He had been planning a dangerous and potentially disastrous attempt to get away when Dekas’ mug came charging past. The mudokons scattered and he took the opportunity to seize onto the mug, heft himself off the ground and let the hurrying animal carry him out of danger.

Feeling his weight, the mug began to try and shake him off and quickly he lost his grip and dropped to the ground. The mug ran on and left him without cover. He scrambled towards a heap of bushes until he spotted a slig beckoning him from some plants. He ran towards the figure and dived into cover to find Tilic and Stivik, the latter sporting a nasty looking wound to his right arm. Stivik saw him looking and explained, “Spooce.”

Braz understood. Spooce wounds usually seemed insignificant at first (assuming you didn’t simply die immediately) but they got ugly and painful very quickly.

Tilic asked, “You saw Dekas?”

“No, but I saw his mug.” There was a grim quiet. He added hopefully, “Maybe he abandoned it.”

Tilic nodded. “It would make sense. He would be an easy target up there.” He hesitated and then said, “I’m going to look for him. You two, try and get under the trees and make your way round to the mugs. If you can get a couple of strays just get away. Don’t wait for the rest of us… head to the camp.”

Tilic slipped away. He quickly spotted the nine or ten mudokons still searching for Braz. He realised then that there were more muds than there had been when the attack started. There were around forty he could see and maybe more still among the trees. He hesitated, wondering if he should leave those two younger sligs alone, but steeled himself and moved on: Dekas might be in serious trouble if he was injured or had been caught.

Tilic had a couple of smoke grenades with him in case of emergencies, and he threw one at the ten mudokons, scattering them. He slipped past easily in the confusion. Dekas called him over quietly from under a dead tree. The bottom of the tree was hollow and the space was full of meech eggs and now the two sligs. “I lost my gun when I came off my mug,” Dekas said immediately.

“We need to get to Stack; Burn won’t be helping him much.” Dekas nodded and the two of them set out side by side. Tomahawkers were combing the area and mudarchers were hidden among the trees, taking occasional shots at them when they broke cover which Tilic returned with bullet-fire. His second and last smoke grenade scattered some of the mudokons surrounding the mugs. One of the creatures broke away from the crowd through the gap in the mudokons and towards them. Tilic reached to grab its reins but Dekas stopped him. “It’s injured. You can see it limping.” Tilic nodded to his friend and the two of them slipped in with the writhing mugs. The mudokons were shooting at them and the animals had rather limited additional armour. The five creatures left among the mudokons were panicking and running around, pushing against each other. The two sligs were nearly crushed several times as they hid among them. Tilic picked out a couple that seemed uninjured and made to grab them when he noticed something else.

“The mudokons have stopped attacking them.” The sound of shooting had stopped and the mugs were calming down. He and Dekas exchanged glances and on an unspoken agreement headed towards where they could hear the most voices. Hiding among the jostling mugs they looked out and saw Burn being dragged out from under the mug cart by the mudokons. His gun lay in the mud near to the mugs.

Burn was detached from his pants and lifted out of them by the arms. Two mudokons held him in the air and one shouted to the crowd, “What shall we do with this one then?”

Tilic didn’t pause. He jumped away from the mugs and began shooting, killing the two muds holding Burn. The slig dropped to the ground and began crawling towards him, while the mudokons stood, shocked. They slowly gathered their wits and advanced on Tilic, but by then Dekas had joined him with Burn’s gun and begun shooting as well.

As soon as Burn was under cover they backed away. Tilic yelled to Dekas over the sound of gunfire, “Grab the two good mugs. We have to get out of here NOW!”

Dekas turned around and picked up Burn by the shoulders, “Where’s Stack?”

Tilic glanced over his shoulder for the answer. One look at Burn’s face was enough to tell him the worst. “The mugs, Dekas!”

He slid behind one of the worst injured mugs. It wasn’t moving and was barely breathing. Using it for protection he shot at the mudokons until Dekas nudged him, “Got ‘em boss.”

Tilic slid away and climbed onto one of the two mugs Dekas had chosen. “Pass me Burn.” Dekas handed the crawling slig up to him and climbed onto a mug himself. Burn wheezed.

“What about Stivik, Braz?”

Tilic hesitated, “They were ok when I saw them. I told them to get away. We have to get out of here ourselves.”

Tilic and Dekas steered the mugs out of the pack, keeping their heads down to avoid the spooce fire. The other mugs provided cover. Another barrier of mudokons fencing in the mugs fell to gun fire and the brute force of their mounts. Then they were charging through the trees towards their camp.

Running the creatures at full speed they arrived in the middle of the afternoon. There they found Braz and Stivik (his injured arm wrapped in bandages); they had caught Dekas’ mug and used it to get away. They had packed up a little of the camp but looked up as the others rode in.

Stivik took in Tilic riding with the legless Burn and Dekas riding alone, and then looked past them, expecting a third mug. When none came it was Braz who asked, “Where’s Stack?”

Tilic looked at them darkly and swung off the mug, before reaching up to grab Burn. Once he was safely on the ground, the crawling slig swallowed and answered, stuttering, “They shot at him with the bows… broke a leg off his pants. Then three of them, with clubs… They crushed him, flat, battered him till there was nothing…”

Silence descended, unbroken for a few endless seconds, until Braz roared as if he was in agony. Stivik marched quickly away from them without speaking, and sat among the trees in silence while the remaining four sligs packed away the camp, and the sun set. The moon came out, choked in clouds.
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Last edited by Splat; 06-07-2007 at 03:22 PM..
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  #19  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:22 AM
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Good chapter. You're quite talented with battle sceenes. This turns out to be an interesting story.

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Old 03-31-2007, 04:11 AM
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Missed last week's chapter cus the forums were down. However! Life goes on, and so does the story! Speaking of which...


Chapter 3

For the six sligs, mudokon scrubs had always seemed like a lower form of life, stupid and made for servitude, and the native muds were even lower. But after Stack’s death everything changed, and especially for Dekas, Stivik and Braz. The natives were savage, dangerous, murderers. Dekas would hardly seem content to have them alive: he quietly said away from Tilic that he would not rest until every mud was either a slave or dead, like they should be. Stivik quietly agreed; in him, it was the beginning of a growing, festering hate of mudokons that would always haunt his steps and his actions. Braz hated looking at the muds now, but he would never willingly back down from a fight with one.

Stack’s death was followed by months of depression, inaction; days in the iron cold bases, shouting, fighting, arguing, all half glanced at through a haze of alcohol and cigarette smoke. The hatred three of them now felt seemed to drive them away from the other two. Burn became nervous, squeamish, and Tilic never seemed to smile again. He never laughed when he was drunk and he never praised them before the world. The little money they saved slipped away to pay for alcohol and a bed each night, and they began to sell their equipment to keep living. Their lives as scouts, their lives together were beginning to fall away and they seemed only to fall deeper into their personal wells of misery.

There was a day when Stivik had gone to sell that bloody generator that had never worked, and Tilic had caught him in the act. Stivik never remembered much of what followed; it seemed that they went on shouting for hours, though he remembered little of what was said, except that Tilic told him he was selling all of them out of their lives and he wished Stivik had never been part of his group in the first place. Stivik had felt that Tilic was accusing him of causing Stack’s death, and called him an idiot, a mud-lover and every other obscene thing he could think of, calling him a terrible leader, shouting until his throat was raw. The next clear memory he had was of lying on his side on a filthy rented bed, his mind an emotional blank, broken pieces of the generator spread about the room. Burn had come through the door, told him they were all going to die if something didn’t change, and left.

An unmemorable number of days later Stivik went to a slig employment office and told them to send a slig scout to join Tilic’s pack. “He’s gotta be new, right out of training, No one with experience.” The slig at the office had looked at him suspiciously, probably because of the way he looked after months of doing nothing except drinking and smoking, but processed the request. Stivik went to Tilic and told him he was resigning, and would leave as soon as the new slig arrived.

But somehow, once he saw the new scout, a young slig called Nen who, as requested, had no past experience and was right out of training, things changed. The slig was unremarkable, naïve and eager to get going, though apparently disappointed by Stivik’s run-down appearance. Within a few hours it was arranged that Nen would not be replacing Stivik, but bringing the pack’s number back up to six now that they had lost Stack. With the addition of the inexperienced, excited slig, the other five seemed to wake up again, tidy themselves up, pull together the equipment they had left and head out again. In the end they had had to sell some of Nen’s belongings to get the money they needed, having used up most of theirs, but he didn’t seem to mind as long as it got them out into the wild. His enthusiasm was infectious.

The first job Tilic got them after the months of inaction was relatively easy, and mud-free. They were to head to some temple that the Cartel had cleared the mudokons out of months before. The place was full of scrabs ready to be caught. What the Cartel failed to mention was the hoards of fleeches squirming around, and the thousands of mudokon graves that clustered among the rocks. They were, however, used to their employers leaving out little details like that, and they coped reasonably well, apart from all of them being a little unnerved by all the graves.

They were reminded of how things had changed several days later, when they had begun to complain to Tilic of being bored with the same job. Normally Tilic would encourage them keep at it until they had got all the money from it that they could. However, this time he conceded straight away and they left the area a few days later. It shocked the four of them, and afterwards they became less inclined to complain about boredom in later jobs.

The second surprise came from Tilic when they regrouped at a bar after the job was finished. They expected Tilic to be jumping on tables and shouting praise at them as soon as he got a little tipsy, but they were shocked that it didn’t happen. They were even more shocked to find themselves disappointed that it didn’t happen. Instead, Tilic sat at the bar and, as Nen watched on with awe, ordered drink after drink and downed them all in turn, silently, until his head flopped into a pool of beer on the bar-top and he began snoring.

Things like that never went back to the way things had been. Not all changes were bad, however, as Nen proved himself to be an unusually successful budgeter, earning him the nickname ‘Accountant’ from Stivik, Braz and Burn. In a surprisingly short amount of time they had collected enough to buy replacements for most of the equipment they had lost. Stivik suspected Nen had been adding a fair portion of his own share of the wages to the money set aside as savings and had confronted him about it. Nen had grinned, embarrassed, and replied, “It’s not important. I wouldn’t have anything to spend it all on if I kept it.”

“What about the stuff you sold when you joined us? Don’t you want to buy any of it back?”

Nen shrugged again. “It wasn’t really anything important, just the sort of junk you collect in basic training.”

Stivik shrugged and awkwardly muttered something about it being important to have personal belongings, and to prove his point he went out and bought a new penknife, having sold his old one during those months after Stack’s death. He was annoyed to find the knife’s blade blunt, and spent many nights when there was nothing better to do sharpening it. Taking notes from Tilic, he also bought himself a couple of smoke grenades which he kept on his pants whenever he remembered. Tilic let out a faint smile when he saw them, but didn’t speak. It seemed to Stivik that Tilic had been particularly cold towards him since the fight they had had. When pressed, Dekas had reluctantly agreed with Stivik’s observations.

Slowly months went by and the group settled in together. Tilic became more relaxed and eventually made peace with Stivik, though Stivik’s bitterness for his leader never fully went away. A day came when Nen revealed that they had managed to save enough moolah to buy a fairly decent second-hand generator and they were thankful enough to initiate him ‘officially’ into the pack (which basically involved getting him outstandingly drunk). Stivik was surprised one day when Tilic came to him and told him, “With Stack gone we really need a sort of ‘third in command’, you know, to help me and Dekas decide what jobs we’ll be doing, and if either of us are put out of action for a while we’d need someone to help command things. Anyway, I’ve talked it over with Dekas and we decided you would be best at it; you’re more responsible than Braz and Burn never really trained, so,” Tilic gave him one of his increasingly rare smiles, “The job’s yours!”

Stivik was taken by surprise; Stack’s role in the team had never been something he’d given much thought to after his death, and he certainly hadn’t expected to find himself filling the place. He smiled and clasped arms with Tilic. Braz’s first response to learning of this promotion was, “Hey, Tilic always said you were destined for higher things!” When he heard that, Tilic gave an odd smile and disappeared off on his own for a few hours while the others ‘initiated’ Stivik.

The next few jobs they took Stivik was given input into the decision alongside Tilic and Dekas. They taught him a lot about judging the job notices, which were good choices and which were likely to rip them off my paying less money than promised, work them harder or put them in more danger than the notice made out. When Stivik found out the two of them would be teaching him to make the judgements he was discouraged, thinking of how boring his basic training had been all those years ago. But in fact he found he enjoyed the challenge of the training his pack-mates put him through, There was more to it than just judging if their employer was going to try and rip them off: they also had to judge if their pack would be suitable for the job, if the six of them had the skills between them that they would need. He was eager when Tilic and Dekas set him the task of picking a few jobs for them on his own, and he accepted their advice and criticisms without complaint.

Within a couple of months the three of them were working together on picking their work, and Stivik sometimes noticed details that the other two might have missed. He also noticed that Tilic quickly steered away from any job that would mean catching or working with mudokons, and Dekas was quick to point it out if ever Tilic missed it. Stivik couldn’t blame them as he thought about Stack, though with the number of mudokon slaves being used across Mudos this meant it was often harder than ever for them to find work. To make matters worse the day came when meeches were officially declared ‘extinct’.

At times they could spend four or five days hanging around industrial areas looking for work. It meant they sometimes were picking jobs they would usually avoid. One such time the three sligs found themselves examining a job offer from ‘Agadon Research and Development’.

“How’s this,” Stivik had asked the other two, examining a notice, “It’s a lab or something, managed completely by vykkers. They’ve created a… ‘highly valuable specimen’ which has managed to escape. They ‘suspect the creature is still alive’ and want someone to track it down for them.”

Dekas grunted disinterest and muttered, “Can’t afford the mugs. We couldn’t do a job like that on foot.” He picked up another notice without looking up.

“Actually,” Stivik began wilfully, trying to get his attention back, “They said they’d provide a jeep. I recon Nen would have been trained in how to drive on of those things.” In the recent months jeeps and other motor vehicles had all but replaced mugs for just about everything other than combat. Unfortunately the price of hiring them was still high, and the pack was still in debt for the animals they had lost the day Stack had been killed.

Tilic had doubts about any job that provided free transport but wanting to let Stivik down slowly asked, “What’s the pay?”

“That’s the catch,” Stivik answered, “It’s high. Suspiciously high.”

“That’s it then,” Dekas said and picked up another sheet of paper from the 20 or so spread across the table they sat at.

Stivik, however, went on, “It’s from vykkers though. It says the place is run completely by vykkers with no glukkons, except for the odd inspection. Vykkers aren’t that bothered about money are they? All they care about is their experiments.”

“Well they go to the bother of telling us the experiment is valuable,” Dekas pointed out, looking up at last.

“Just to get our attention isn’t it? Anyway, they sound less picky if they say the thing’s expensive. I bet you anything it’s that they just can’t be bothered to make a replacement for whatever it is.”

“Give it here,” Tilic said wearily, “Anything’s better than listening to you two argue.” He took the form from Stivik and read it over quickly. His shoulders tensed in surprise. “Odd, they're paying a lot!” He handed to the form to Dekas who also looked surprised.

“There’s no way that’s for real.”

“But think about it,” Stivik insisted, “If they paid us half that it would be more than the job’s worth. Like I said, vykker’s don’t give a damn about cash and I bet they don’t even realise how over-priced the job is.”

Dekas read from the form, “’The creature is fast and equipped for fighting, so we will be providing fast transport to aid you in its recovery’, well there you go.”

“Keep reading,” Stivik ordered.

“’However, the specimen was drugged as it escaped and therefore should not be up to its full potential.”

“It’s a lie,” Tilic said promptly, “To try and attract us. They say it’s dangerous so we can’t get them in trouble for not warning us and say it’s drugged to stop us getting scared off.”

Dekas nodded, “If they lost it long enough ago to get a notice out how likely is it that any drug won’t have worn off?”

Stivik replied, “Well we could at least have a look. If they’re producing these things on a grand scale they should have some others somewhere. We could have a look at them and decide if we’re going after the escapee or not.”

Tilic and Dekas both winced at the word ‘escapee’. Some mudokon had escaped from a massive meat factory a few days ago and had then come back and blown the place up. Rumor Kontrol had called the event ‘the beginning of a Revolution’ and while Stivik dismissed it as over hyped rubbish, a lot of people were nervous, especially when they saw the size of the reward the Cartel had promised for anyone who brought in the mud.

“It’s not far from here, this lab,” Stivik added suddenly, “Only about 80 miles.”

Tilic and Dekas exchanged glances and Dekas sighed. “He’s not going to give up on this is he?”

Stivik grinned, knowing immediately that he had just won the argument.

Tilic pushed himself away from the table. “Come on then. It’s not like we’ve got anything better to do.”
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  #21  
Old 04-07-2007, 01:50 AM
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Love it! Can't wait for the next chapter, Splat! Although, you made a name mistake. Which is alright seeing as there are 6 sligs now. I'll show you it:

Quote:
Stivik was taken by surprise; Stack’s role in the team had never been something he’d given much thought to after his death, and he certainly hadn’t expected to find himself filling the place. He smiled and clasped arms with Tilic. Braz’s first response to learning of this promotion was, “Hey, Tilic always said you were destined for higher things!” When he heard that, Tilic gave an odd smile and disappeared off on his own for a few hours while the others ‘initiated’ Stivik.
I though they were 'initiating' Nen?
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  #22  
Old 04-07-2007, 06:25 AM
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They initiated both, Nen into the pack and Stivik as a pack organisation person type thing.
Thanks for the reply
I was beginning to think no one would appear this week. But thanks dude! It's Saturday, so...

Chapter 4

Two days later the six sligs were packing their equipment into the jeep while Nen stared at the steering wheel nervously, trying to remember something of his driving lessons.

“Remember, don’t hurt her,” Steinix, a particularly gangly vykker wearing a white lab coat told them for about the fiftieth time. “She represents a significant investment for us and we won’t pay you anything if she’s brought in dead.”

Tilic, who had humoured him the first forty five times, now gave him a particularly humourless look. “This is not the first crossbreed we’ve been commissioned to bring in you know. We’re good at our job.”

Steinix looked at them doubtfully, as if he thought bringing in sligs to do the job at all was a bad idea.

The six sligs had arrived the day before and had been immediately surprised to find only a handful of inhabitants working here when the place was so large. There were no more than 15, maybe 20 vykkers, and less than ten sligs, while the place consisted of over 20 square miles of land. There were ten of the crossbreeds, discounting the one they had been hired to track down, and they were all kept inside the building.

“Come on Nen,” Braz called cheerfully to the younger slig, who suddenly snapped out of his daze and switched on the jeep’s engine, which groaned loudly as Nen played with the gears.

The vykker winced.

The sligs finished loading their luggage and clambered onto the back of the vehicle. Burn got on last. Of the six of them he was the one feeling most nervous about the job, mainly because he was the only one of them who hadn’t been trained in tracking or fighting unpredictable wildlife. Nen braced himself and jammed his foot down on the pedal beneath the wheel. The jeep lurched forwards two metres, throwing the sligs backwards, and then settled down to an easy 20 miles per hour.

Steinix called after them, “Please, try to be careful with her!”

“Does he mean the ‘breed or the jeep?” Braz muttered to Stivik, grinning.

Dekas stood up and called back to the vykker, “Sir, moolah or no moolah, say that to us one more time and you can go hunting for the thing yourself!”

Tilic gave him a lethal look while trying to conceal a grin.

Steinix looked indignant and marched back inside the building.

* * *

Thirty days later Tilic, Nen and Burn were knelt down on the edge of a slow-flowing river. “Finally,” Tilic muttered to himself.

From the jeep, parked ten metres away, Dekas called, “Is it what we’re looking for Tilic?”

“Yeah, and it’s fresh,” Tilic called back. Nen grinned and Burn managed a half-smile. The three of them were gathered around a set of footprints in the mud at the edge of the river. “Let’s get going. As soon as it realises we’re here it’ll be off, and if we don’t catch it by nightfall we probably won’t catch it.” It was late afternoon already and Tilic was frustrated that when they finally got on its trail there was such a great chance of losing it again. The three sligs headed back towards the jeep. Tilic knelt down and muttered to Nen, “Well done for spotting that. We could’ve been out here another thirty days if you hadn’t seen it.”

Nen looked embarrassed and replied, “It was nothing. I was just looking to make sure we weren’t too near the riverbank and there it was.”

The three of them piled into the machine. Nen took his place behind the wheel and soon they were moving quickly through the trees. Ten minutes later they emerged from the forest onto a meadow of long grass. As they left the trees and roared out into the grass, Braz, looking back, suddenly shouted, “There, look!”

“Shhh,” Stivik hissed, but looked back with the rest of them. There was a hollow under a fallen tree on the edge of a wood and it was clear some animal had been lying there.

“Stop us, Nen,” Tilic said so he could only just be heard over the rumbling engine. The jeep stopped and Tilic leapt out, this time alone, and ran to the hollow. “This is nothing I recognise, so I think we’ve got it! And it’s fresh; it can’t have left here more than two minutes ago!”

Suddenly Stivik, forgetting his own advice, yelled, “Look!” Tilic turned and followed Stivik’s pointing hand to see, for half a second, a narrow, short head silhouetted against the darkening sky, then it was gone as the animal crossed the ridge and started running away from them.

“That’s it! Nen, go!” Tilic chased after them as the engine growled. He leapt towards the jeep just as it started moving. Hanging onto the back, he tried unsuccessfully to pull himself up until Burn and Dekas grabbed him by the arms and dragged him on.

They reached the top of the ridge 30 seconds later and looked down the grassy slope. In the growing darkness Tilic could just see a patch of shaking grass about halfway down the slope and towards the trees beyond. “If it gets to the forest we’ll of lost our chance,” Stivik hissed to him. Tilic nodded, grabbed a tranquiliser gun from the bundles in the bottom of the jeep and stood up.

Trying to aim the gun while standing in the shaking, swaying machine was all but impossible. Tilic did his best, knowing he was expected to take this shot and get it right. For a second the rattling of the jeep was slightly less and he spotted a flash of green skin among the grass, illuminated for a second by the jeep’s headlights. He squeezed the trigger of his gun.

The shot went too high, whipping through the grass three or four metres ahead of the ‘breed. Tilic swore and barely had time to think about taking a second attempt when a gunshot sounded right past his ear. He jumped and almost fell over. Ahead of them the animal shrieked as the shot hit it. Tilic swung round quickly to see Stivik lowering a gun from his shoulder. Tilic looked at him, surprise across his face. Stivik grinned and said, “Well it wasn’t exactly a small target!”

Suddenly Nen shouted from the front of the jeep, “Guys, its changed direction.”

Tilic looked round. The patch of shaking grass was now moving parallel to the edge of the forest. “The tranquiliser must be disorientating it,” And then muttered to Stivik, “Why didn’t you tell me you could shoot like that?”

Stivik gave him a look of mock-surprise, “Why, can’t everybody?”

Tilic rolled his eyes and looked out ahead of them to see the patch of grass stop moving. “That’s it, stop nearby Nen. Not too close, it might still be awake.”

The jeep stopped and they piled out. Dekas grabbed a torch and shone it towards the creature. They couldn’t see it through the grass but they could hear it growling. Suddenly there was a thwack and Braz flew backwards through the air. “Keep your distance,” Tilic yelled, “Let the tranquiliser take effect!”

They crouched in the darkness while Burn checked on Braz. He was winded and bruised, but nothing was broken. A minute went past before the growling stopped. Dekas whispered, “Wait another minute. It might be faking.” Tilic nodded in agreement and none of them moved. Nen found he was hardly breathing.

Another two minutes went past. Slowly, almost silently Tilic edged forward towards the creature. The others watched with baited breath until they heard him shout, “Its ok. Its out like a sliglet.”

The others crowded round. Burn saw it and said immediately, “That’s not the one we came for. It’s bigger than the one in the picture, and it’s got more muscles.”

“It’s been out here a while, it could have put on weight, and got stronger,” Tilic suggested quietly.

“No,” Burn declared, “I’m sure it’s different. And I think this one’s male.”

“And since when were you the ultimate expert on crossbreeds?” Braz demanded.

Tilic barked. “Dekas, go get the picture from the jeep. Give your torch to someone.”

Dekas shoved the torch into Nen’s hand and ran back to the jeep. Stivik moved closer to the unconscious crossbreed and gently touched a scar running down the thing’s side. “Well this one looks like its been in a few fights either way.”

“Get back from it,” Tilic ordered. He was starting to feel uneasy.

Dekas quickly returned with the picture of the escaped animal they had been given by the vykkers. Tilic took it, ushered Nen over with the torch and examined first the picture and then the animal. “Burn’s right. The skin colour’s different, and this one’s got more spikes than the one in the picture.”

Dekas swore, “All that work and we get the wrong one.”

“But it’s the same species,” Nen pointed out. “I mean the same… well, whatever. I guess they must have lost this one a long time ago. Surely they’ll be glad to have him back?”

“But how glad?” Dekas said darkly. His thoughts were with their pay.
“Burn, get the radio from the jeep and see if you can get it working. I want to talk to those vykkers. Stivik, get some rope and see if you can tie its legs together or something.” Stivik nodded and the two of them left. A minute later Stivik and Braz started trying to work out the best way to tie up this particular creature.

Burn was fiddling with the radio when they heard a howl from the forest. The sudden noise made them all jump. “What was that?”

“You think there’s another of these things out here?”

“How many crossbreeds do you think are running around in these woods?” Braz asked scornfully.

Dekas answered, “Well we found this one where we expected to find the female. Maybe they met up out here.”

“Shut up,” Hissed Tilic, who now had the radio pressed against the side of his face. The box let out a crackle. “Yes? This is 66984… Tilic, the… Yes, the scout leader… No, not her, we found a different one… No, the same species of crossbreed, but it’s bigger, we recon it’s a male… Yeah… We think the other’s close, we heard… No, it’s fine, unconscious but not hurt. Well, at least not by us… We haven’t seen the other…” Tilic suddenly grinned, “Alright… How long? Alright. We’ll wait here… Ok, don’t worry. We know what we’re doing… Great.”

Tilic lowered the radio and grinned at his pack mates. “It seems they’re glad to have this one back. They’ve agreed to pay us the full price for this one and the same again if we can catch the female!” The other five gave him looks of surprise as they contemplated what they would do with all that moolah. “Listen, we don’t want to lose the other one now we’ve got it close, so Braz and I’ll stay here and look after this one. Dekas, Stivik, you guys lead the others and go after the female in our jeep. The vykkers said they’ve got a jeep nearby and they can pick up this one in an hour or two, and then we’ll come on and join you. Get us some guns and a radio out of the jeep and then get going.”

------------------------------------------

I wasn't quite happy with the ending of that chapter. It was getting rather long and I needed to bring it to a close and after much thought I decided this was the best place.
Replies are fun.
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  #23  
Old 04-07-2007, 07:46 AM
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Woah! I just finished reading all that I missed, and holy cow... that's some awesome stuff! I like how you portray their lives.
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  #24  
Old 04-07-2007, 04:17 PM
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Saturday, eh? It's Easter Sunday here (or just plain Easter).

Another great chapter ^.^!
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Old 04-14-2007, 12:51 PM
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Sorry about lateness, it's been a busy day.
Nice to get replies! (at last!)
Yay.

Chapter 5

In the darkness of that night Dekas and Stivik lost track of the female crossbreed. They knew, however, that they were close now, and five days later they were confident of catching it when they got a message from the vykkers over the radio.

Stivik, who took the message, came back to the pack looking angry. “Well, they’ve decided they don’t want us to catch her now, just to keep track of it. Apparently they’ve got some amazing method of catching it without hurting it.”

Dekas looked equally angry, “And without paying us, I assume?”

“I would guess so,” Stivik confirmed. “Apparently they’ve got some tracker in the jeep so they can find us quickly. They said they’re coming down here and will arrive this afternoon some time.”

There were groans from the sligs and Braz asked, “But if we catch it before they arrive they can’t complain, can they?”

“Yes they can,” Tilic replied sharply, “If we injure it or even drug it they can complain at us, and could take our pay for the other one. These vykkers have been reasonable so far. They might pay us something for tracking it down, even if they end up catching it.”

Dekas grumbled quietly. Tilic chose to ignore it and set them up in watches to keep them occupied, though as they were miles from any settlement, industrial or native, it wasn’t in any way necessary.

By the early afternoon they had given up watching, however, and the six of them were gathered in the camp trying to fight off boredom. Braz was dozing, somewhere between sleeping and waking, Tilic was cooking a meal over a campfire, Dekas was leaning back against a tree, brooding, and Stivik and Burn had found a productive use of the time, teaching Nen to play ‘Happy Families’ (and winning a fair amount of Nen’s money in the process).

Tilic, watching over Burn’s shoulder and was aware that he had been cheating for most of the game, which explained Nen’s complete confusion, but since cheating was a perfectly legal part of any game for sligs (assuming of course that you were good enough at it not to get caught) he didn’t mention anything to Nen. He had to learn sooner or later anyway.

Just as Nen’s funds were beginning to reach dangerously low level, a noise in the undergrowth distracted them

Braz sat up quickly and the other 5 sligs all turned. Suddenly the crossbreed they had been looking for emerged from the bushes and sniffed towards Tilic’s cooking. Then it seemed to notice the sligs for the first time and froze, staring at them.

The sligs all froze, staring at the crossbreed.

Dekas yelled and leapt at the thing. It wailed and bolted back into the bushes. Within a second five of the sligs had run out of the camp after it. Tilic was left on his own. In a last futile attempt he yelled, “Leave her alone! We’re supposed to be…” He trailed off, aware that it was useless. With an angry grunt he dumped himself on the ground next to his cooking and jabbed at the campfire more viciously than was necessary.

* * *

An hour later a jeep pulled up beside the five sligs. They were a short way down a narrow canyon at a point where it split into three separate routes. The crossbreed they were chasing had managed to leave prints a long way up all three passages and the sligs were somewhat confused.

Tilic jumped down from the jeep, looking livid and carrying a number of guns. The vykker, Steinix, came down behind him. “What in Odd’s name do you think you were doing, running off like that, when we’d been told to stay put?” Tilic sounded as angry as he looked. “You know what I found back in camp?” There was puzzled looks from the other five sligs. Tilic dropped a couple of tranquiliser guns on the ground in front of them. “I don’t give a damn who, but two of you are loading bullets!” The four younger sligs frantically began examining their weapons. Nen suddenly looked nervous and Stivik stiffened sharply. Tilic went on, “Do you guys have any idea what kind of trouble we’d have been in if you two had shot that thing? I’d-”

“Tilic!” Hissed Dekas suddenly, cutting him off. Dekas raised his gun and pointed it over Tilic’s shoulder.

“Shoot that thing and you’ll be breathing through a machine for the next five years.” The male crossbreed had come down from the jeep behind Steinix. It went to the divide between the three passages and examined the paw prints leading up each one. Then it raised its head and let out a long, low call. A few seconds later an answering call echoed back.
“Get out of here guys,” Muttered Tilic.

“What?”

“You heard me. I’ll be getting a lift back to the camp as soon as they’ve finished clearing up your mess. If you’re not back before me you’ll walking back to their lab.”

The five sligs exchanged glances, Dekas looked defiant, but the other four soon turned and headed quickly back towards the camp. Dekas stayed a second longer to look angry and then ran after them.

* * *

The six sligs spent a night of brooding silence in their camp and Nen drove them back to the lab the following day. Tilic quickly went off to talk to the vykkers and emerged an hour later with an expression on his face that suggested he was happy but didn’t want to show it. “Well, you’ll be glad to hear that despite you guys acting like idiots they’ll still be paying us the full price for the first crossbreed and half again for the second.”

There were various sounds and expressions of relief and glee from the other five sligs. “You got the cash now?” Stivik asked.

Tilic nodded, “It’s with our stuff.” He hesitated. “Listen guys… Remember before Stack was killed, he had… Well, we had a reputation, you know. People respected us. They recognised that we were some of the best money could buy.” He smiled uncomfortably. “A reputation like that doesn’t come easy. It took us a long time to build it up and now we gotta start building from the ground again…” He looked at the other sligs slowly, “Alright, I can forgive you what happened out there yesterday. It’s the first big job we’ve had since Nen joined us and we were all excited and none of us wanted to get cheated out of the moolah,” He took a deep breath, reaching the pinnacle of his speech, “But as far as those vykkers are concerned we screwed up. If we want a reputation that’ll get us paid well we can’t have these mistakes floating over our heads. So I got us some more work with these vykkers, to get back on there good side, you know, so they won’t bother us over the crossbreed. It’s nothing exciting; just guarding the compound in case any muds or animals come knocking, and helping out with the crossbreeds when they need it.”

The sligs had been hoping this particular job would lead on to others like it, and it was much more exciting than farming, or guarding some lab in the middle of nowhere, and there were some groaning and complaining, except from Burn and Nen who both felt that they had had enough excitement to last them for a while.

“There are no muds,” Tilic added, “And they pay’s not too bad.” Dekas, Stivik and Braz continued to look unenthusiastic. “And if you’ve got a problem with it you can remind yourselves that we’re in this situation because you idiots disobeyed orders. Burn, I want you and Nen to get a train down to civilisation tomorrow and cash in that money. We all start work this afternoon so get some rest now.”

The next week was long and boring for the trained scouts, even for Burn, who found himself now doing little more than guard-work, which was exactly what he’d hoped to avoid in becoming a scout. Tilic seemed to cheer up quickly at the start of the week, probably because they were back working in an organised way and he was more assured of keeping control.

As they were all assigned to different tasks around the compound, they saw less of each other than they were used to, though they met up at night when they were all off duty, Tilic was spending a lot of time with the vykkers and they saw less and less of him, though they all noticed that as the first week moved into the second his mood dropped again and he seemed nervous. Nen asked him at one point if there was anything wrong. Tilic laughed off the question, somewhat unconvincingly.

Two days before they were due to leave the lab, Tilic called them together to meet in one of the guard towers around the compound. Stivik arrived about five minutes before the organised meeting time to find Braz reclined in a chair reading a three-days-old newspaper. Stivik glanced at the headline, “Magog on the March: MORE NEWS ON BREWERY MELTDOWN!”

“What’s going on now?” Stivik asked, gesturing to the paper.

Braz glanced at his, turned to the front page and read, “’Rumor Kontrol reports that Abe, the terrorist mastermind behind the destruction of Rupture Farms, is also behind the Soulstorm Brewery atrocity.’” Braz looked over the paper and glared at him, “Looks like you were wrong about that Abe guy, Stivik.”

Stivik grunted and muttered, “I still say it’s Rumor Kontrol making it up for the story.”

“Yeah, well… And would you believe the price of mudokons is rising now?”

Stivik made a noise in sliggish that suggested that he didn’t believe it.

“It’s true. Apparently, rather than getting rid of the muds thinkin’ they’ll attract the terrorists, now all the gluks want to buy them because there’s less of them around.”

“Huh. Does it seem to you that glukkons get stupider with every passing day?”

Braz grinned. Burn and Nen came in then, and they shared jokes about glukkons and mudokon terrorists and Rumor Kontrol’s conspiracies. They were laughing and jeering when Dekas and Tilic joined them, and the grim faces of the two sligs silenced them quickly. Dekas looked like he’d just been shouting about something, and Tilic looked more nervous than ever. As Dekas crossed the room and muttered as he passed Stivik, “You’re not going to like this.”

Silence settled among them and Tilic stood awkwardly, pacing across the room. Dekas was watching him viciously and the eyes of the other four sligs crossed from one figure to the other. Tilic eventually spoke. “I’ve offered to work for these vykkers permanently.”

This statement was followed by another long silence until Nen spoke. “So you’re leaving us?”

“No…” Tilic hesitated. “I’m hoping you guys will join them, to.” He looked at them hopefully, and stared at Stivik. “That means no more scouting.”

Stivik opened his mouth to answer, but Dekas beat him too it. “You can’t hide this from them, Tilic. Tell them what they’re signing up for.” He sounded angry, betrayed. Tilic took a deep breath before speaking.

“These vykkers… are putting together… a lot of these creatures. That thing we chased after for them was one of the things they’re making. There are just 12 at the moment, but they’re working on making more. The reason they paid us so much was because they wanted our job kept secret from the Cartel.”

“I’m not liking where this is going,” Burn muttered.

It was Dekas who spoke again, with his eyes on Burn. “The vykkers are making an army to send against the Magog Cartel. They’re sick of obeying orders and want a new social structure with vykkers at the top.”

“That’s not what I said,” Tilic said quickly, but was cut off again by Dekas.

“Our fearless leader is signing us up to play traitors against the Magog Cartel.”

“It’s not like that,” Tilic shouted down the other slig, “I’m giving you the choice to join or not. I don’t want to force you into it, but I don’t agree with everything the Cartel does. I know none of you are satisfied about what they do.”

Nen answered, “Small complaints, no one on Mudos is happy with their job, but this?”

Tilic nodded, but went on. “And what if there’s something to this mudokon terrorist business?” All six of them glanced reflexively at Braz’s newspaper, which now lay open on the floor. “The industrial world is changing and I don’t want to be at the bottom of the pecking order when it collapses, to have everyone else crash down on top of us. Unless we change things, the sligs could come out worse in all this.”

“This Abe thing is rubbish,” Braz declared, though he sounded doubtful, “Rumor Kontrol making up stories to win TV ratings!”

Stivik spoke up then. “And what if we refuse, Tilic?” There was a long silence. “You’ve given us the choice, but what if we say we don’t want to join your rebellion? You’re going to let us wander off after you’ve told us all this?”

Tilic hesitated before speaking again. “I trust you guys.”

“How much do you trust us?”

“I’ve put my life in your hands plenty of times.”

“This is more than your life, and you know it, Tilic.” Stivik stared at his leader. “How much do you trust us?”

“I trust you enough!… But guys, think about this. You think I just jumped into this decision myself? Think about what we could gain from it; sligs could become more than what we are now, no more getting duped by the Cartel. Isn’t that what we’ve all wanted?”

“And what about this terrorist stuff?” Dekas demanded, “You think they’ll give up just cus the glukkons get overthrown? You can’t honestly say you think muds won’t attack a vykker government any less than they do glukkons?”

“Look,” Stivik interrupted, “Tilic, you gotta give us time to make up our minds about this. It’s not a decision we can exactly make in half an hour… Give us till tomorrow. Let us discuss this, and then we’ll tell you what we decide on.”

Tilic nodded, “Tomorrow then… Look guys, I’m sorry about this, but-”
Dekas swore loudly in sliggish. Tilic took the hint and left the room, leaving them alone.

A few minutes past in silence, finally broken by Burn swearing, “This is pretty terrible.”

Dekas glared at Stivik, “Don’t tell me you’re thinking about joining his crusade?”

“Don’t be an idiot,” Stivik muttered, “But I can’t exactly tell him we’re refusing, at least not until we decide what to do.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

It means, do we tell him we’re refusing and leaving, or do we just leave without telling him, or…” Stivik looked around at the others, “Maybe we should get the Cartel involved. Tell them about what’s going on here.”

“That’ll mean bad things for Tilic,” Nen said quietly.

Stivik nodded. “But surely not telling them about what’s being planned here would be as bad as helping them out? I mean, these vykkers would still try and launch their attack, and if they succeed because we didn’t say anything…”

“So what are you suggesting,” Braz asked him darkly.

“That’s it, I don’t know. But we’ve got till tomorrow to decide.”
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Last edited by Splat; 10-03-2007 at 07:42 AM..
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  #26  
Old 04-14-2007, 02:25 PM
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Great story can't wait to see more!
I love seeing how Abe's actions are portrayed in this story, keep up the good work.
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Old 04-16-2007, 12:50 AM
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Another fantabulous chapter! (it makes me annoyed that the chapter's finished and there aren't any more yet, so that must mean it's good eh? )

Oh, and I worked out what it was about that sentence that confused me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Splat
"While doing so isn’t necessary to ‘qualify’, most sligs who don’t usually struggle to get a job for the rest of their career - unless they prove themselves to be particularly talented in a particular field such as mechanics."
Changing the comma to a hyphen didn't really make much difference, but when you wrote it in the story you didn't put the comma after "qualify."
So now I see it was meant to be read like:
"While doing so isn't necessary to 'qualify,' most sligs who don't (do so) usually struggle to get a job for the rest of their career..."

Whereas before I was reading it like:
"While doing so isn't necessary to 'qualify' most sligs, who don't usually struggle to get a job for the rest of their career..."

If that makes sense. So yeah, it was just my reading that confuzzled it up.
So carry on; that's an order!
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Old 04-25-2007, 05:52 AM
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Sorry for lateness, I was away over the weekend and then didn't really get around to posting since then.
I did write a nice long message here but then my internet deleted it.
Thank you very much BT Broadband.

Chapter 6

The following day Stivik told Tilic, “Alright. We’ve decided we’ll be joining.” He smiled at his boss.

Tilic returned the smile, looking both relived and excited, “Great, all of you?” Stivik nodded. “That’ll mean you’ll all have to take more of a roll in what’s going on here.”

“Good, that’ll probably be more interesting than guarding a place that no one would ever think to attack.”

Tilic returned the smile, “I’ll have to tell the vykkers you’re joining. They’ll probably be suspicious of you for a few days but things will calm down.”

Stivik cursed mentally. If they were going to be restricted for a few days then he would have to sort this out quickly, “There’s something else Burn thought of. All that money we’ve got in the bank would probably be lost if the Magog Cartel came crashing down,” He gave a wry grin, “So we thought we should get down there as soon as we can and get it back.”

Tilic looked doubtful, “There’ll be plenty of time for that later.”

“I know,” Stivik replied quickly, “But you know how Burn can get sometimes. And I think it’d be better to do this now rather than later, in case it draws attention to us. It would be more awkward to have that happening when things are almost finished than now.”

“Well if you think it’ll draw attention to us maybe it’d be better just to leave it there. When this is over I’m sure we’ll be able to get our hands on plenty of moolah.”

Stivik looked incredulous, “All that cash and you just want to throw it away? Look, you don’t even have to get involved; me and Nen will go down by train tomorrow and get the cash, make some story about not trusting things with this terrorism scare and be back here before you realise we’ve gone.” He grinned cheerfully. Tilic couldn’t refuse.

* * *

The following day was rather miserable for Dekas, Burn and Braz. Dekas was particularly surly and Braz was worried that Tilic would see through their lies straight away. But somehow they managed to get away with it. All of them were unhappy about what they were having to do for the vykkers and more unhappy about what they were doing to Tilic. Treachery like this could easily end up with Tilic facing trial against the slig queen, Skillya, and they all knew what would happen to him then. Their mother made no secret of how she enjoyed cooking her children alive. But all of them agreed, they couldn’t let them launch their attack, and Tilic would never understand if they told him what they were doing. They hid their bad tempers by claiming to be nervous about betraying the Cartel. Tilic had said that he hoped Stivik or Nen didn’t accidentally let anything slip and left to talk with the vykkers.

When Stivik returned that evening Braz got a few private moments with him and asked him how it had gone.

“Took us ages to convince them what they’re doing here. Apparently some of these vykkers are respected.”

“But you got through to them?”

“Yeah. They’re coming midday, the day after tomorrow.”

Braz swore, “You couldn’t get them any sooner?”

“This is an army, Braz; it’s not like ordering a meal from McGlukkies! Anyway, it’ll give us time to make our own plans.” Braz looked nervous so Stivik added, “Don’t worry: it’s only a day and a half.”

Braz muttered in reply, “But you have no idea how bad today has been.”

* * *

The next day did indeed prove a struggle for the sligs. Knowing now that they had now for definite betrayed their leader, and there was no turning back from what would follow, made everything ten times worse. They barely thought of the fight that would come tomorrow.

However, they gathered that evening in secret, once again in one of the security towers, to make their plans. They had all found out the jobs they would be doing just before midday tomorrow and they simply had to work out how they could all meet outside the gates of the compound and meet the Cartel army. Burn and Nen would be guarding the outside walls and it would be easy for them to slip away. Stivik and Dekas would be working in the compound away from the lab, looking after the animals, and it would be easy for both of them to sneak to the gate. Braz, however, was signed to helping the vykkers in he building with some project, and it would be much harder for him to get out.

“See if you can finish whatever they have you doing quickly, and then make up some story about meeting Dekas outside or something,” Nen suggested to him.

“If it comes to it you might just have to smack the vykkers with your gun,” Stivik added, “Or… Well smack ‘em with whatever’s handy if they won’t let you take your gun in.”

The vykkers had made a point of not letting the five sligs have their guns when they were in the lab. Nen and Burn would both be armed, as they would be on guard duty. Dekas and Stivik would have guns loaded with tranquilisers for guarding the animals. While they expected they would be able to exchange their weapons for something better when they found the army, Dekas had mentioned something to Stivik earlier that day. Both of them planned to take tranquilisers into the fight; both of them would be aiming to take down Tilic alive.

With their plans set, they split up to head back to the labs for a sleepless night.

* * *

Braz worked just about as hard as he could for the vykkers the following day. They wanted his help carrying things about and holding on to things while they did some experiment on an embryo of one of the creatures. It was intern’s work, but there were no interns here so it was left up to Braz.

Despite his efforts to hurry things along, the vykkers seemed to be taking their time with the job. He was nervously watching the clock, wondering if he could knock out four vykkers with a metal tray before any of them managed to raise the alarm, when he was sent to get some medical supplies from a cupboard halfway across the building. He nodded, left the lab and hurried away towards the exit out into the compound.

Just when things seemed to be going well, he rounded a corner and came face to face with Tilic. He practically skidded to a halt. “Oh! Tilic, I was, uh…” He paused, seeing the look of betrayal on Tilic’s face, “The compound! I just finished what the vykkers wanted me for and I was just going to see if Stivik needed any help with whatever he’s doing on there!” The words came out in a rush and probably seemed as convincing as one of Rumor Kontrol’s conspiracy theories.

Tilic gave him a hollow look and asked, “Is Dekas going with you Braz?”

“Dekas? Isn’t he out there already?”

Tilic stared at him for a few seconds and then hissed acidly, “I never thought any member of my pack would be such a coward as this, Braz! If you’re leaving you could at least have the courage to tell me!”

Braz suddenly felt like he was going to be sick. “Tilic…”

Tilic swore at him in sliggish, “Get out of my sight.” He pushed past the younger slig and headed into the lab. Braz stood, frozen in place, watching Tilic retreat. He was half tempted to warn him…

Quickly he turned and ran for the exit.

* * *

Braz met up with Dekas, who had been following the crossbreeds around to make sure they didn’t get into any trouble. Braz quickly told him about his meeting with Tilic. “It was horrible, Dekas! He’s our leader, our boss. I can’t believe we’re betraying him!”

“He’s betraying us,” Dekas hissed vehemently, “He’s betraying the whole Magog Cartel! It’s his own fault this is happening to him; don’t let him make you feel guilty about it, Braz.” He looked at the younger slig and his face softened, “It’s too late to back down now; the Cartel army are probably right outside the gates waiting for us.”

Braz nodded helplessly. “Let’s just get out of here, ok?”

Dekas paused, “They’ll want us to help in the fight. But if I can get you out I will, ok?”

Braz nodded again. Together they headed for the gate.

* * *

“You! What are you doing helping them?” Tilic cried, staring right at Dekas.

“Haven’t you figured it out yet, Tilic?” Dekas called back, bitterly, “We turned you in!”

“You… You traitors!”

"Us?” Stivik hissed viciously, “You help this scum breed an army to send against the Cartel and you call us traitors?”

The laboratory was in flames, and the vykkers were gathered just outside the gates from the compound, along with the twelve crossbreeds, their sligs and Tilic. The army from the Magog Cartel, including the five ex-members of Tilic’s pack, surrounded them, guns raised, demanding surrender. The vykkers were not to be outdone. One of them slammed a button in one of the posts at the side of the gates. Though he was shot to pieces a second later, his work was done and a massive creature with two enormous boulder-like appendages and a huge claw at the ends of its three arms, armour plating like a meech’s and a gaping teeth-filled mouth where its neck and head should be was released from a cage hidden among the trees. It burst into the clearing where the army stood, smashing and whacking and grabbing and crushing Cartel sligs.

Dekas threw himself under cover. He glanced out but couldn’t see Tilic, or any of his pack mates. Cursing under his breath he began crawling through the bushes towards where he had last spotted Braz. Sligs burst through the trees around him, running for their lives. He was torn between disgust for their cowardice and the thought of his promise to Braz, if I can get you out I will…

He knew the slig wouldn’t move without permission. Finally he found him, hiding in the bushes with Burn, the two of them breaking cover every few seconds to take a shot at the monstrosity the vykkers had engineered. He felt pride swell in him and crouched down beside them. “Guys!”

“This isn’t working, Dekas,” Burn gasped, “Bullets just aren’t hurting it.”

“You know where Nen is?” With Tilic gone Dekas was in charge of the sligs, and he was going to make sure they all got out of this alive.

“Over there,” Braz answered, pointing across the clearing. “We caught sight of him a few times, hiding with some Cartel sligs.”

Dekas grunted. “At least that army hasn’t been totally useless. Listen Braz, Burn, I want you two to get over there, grab Nen and get out of there. Look after the little guy-”

“It’s alright Dekas,” Braz said grimly. Dekas met his gaze for a second and nodded.

“Alright, Burn, get Nen. I want the two of you to get out of here.” Burn opened his mouth to object, “Someone’s gotta get Nen out of here, Burn, and you’re the one with the least training. Don’t make me force you.”

Burn nodded and disappeared through the trees.

“You seen Stivik?” Nen asked.

“No, but I recon he’ll be after Tilic. Don’t worry about him. Just think about keeping this thing confused and staying alive.”

The fight against the creature went on. Dekas was uncomfortably aware that this would have provided the perfect cover for the vykkers to escape with their creatures, and he hoped a decent number had been captured or gunned down by the Cartel sligs.

Minutes dragged past and still nothing they tried had an effect on it. More and more sligs were being picked off. Dekas saw the creature move towards the trees where Nen had been hiding and he suddenly had a horrible thought that maybe Burn hadn’t reached them, and Nen was still there. He scrambled out through the bushes, out into the open, and opened fire onto the thing. It spun around suddenly, much more quickly than Dekas had been expecting. It occurred to him suddenly that while it was a long way from his hiding place to Nen’s was a long way if you kept under cover, it wasn’t really that far if you crossed the clearing. It could be no more than three strides for a creature that large.

He had no time to react as the thing moved in on him. How had it known that he had broken cover so soon? It raised one of its massive boulder-like fists above its head. His gun dropped from his hands and tried to scramble back. Two steps, and his back was against the bushes. No where to go. It swung down at him, a minecar’s weight of muscle and bone and no way of dodging.

* * *

Tilic was captured, Dekas was killed in the fight and Stivik was injured and wouldn’t be able to use pants for Odd-knew how long. Braz, Burn and Nen tried to find out where Stivik was being kept while he recovered but no one seemed to know, or at least no one would tell them. Eventually they were approached by some Cartel big-bro sligs who advised them (and by ‘advised’ they meant ‘threatened’) to stop searching for him.

After much discussion they decided to recruit a pair of new sligs and once again return to scouting. However, they didn’t stop searching Stivik. When they had free time, Nen would check out various Magog Cartel hospitals to look for him, but turned up nothing. With terrorism increasing and the growing fear that sligs possessed by Abe might be able to access important information, new security restrictions were placed and it became much harder for them to find out anything.

Eventually they learned that Stivik was employed as a factory guard, though they couldn’t find out where. Perhaps his injuries had left him unfit for scouting, they guessed.

But then he had always complained about how he hated scouting. Maybe he’d decided to give up on it altogether. The three of them decided eventually that there was nothing they could do, and even if they did find him, how would it help if he had given up on scouting?

Now leaders of their own pack, they put away the past and carried on with life, remembering only ghosts of their lost brothers.

-------------------------

This end's part 1. Next chapter features a different character, in a different place, in a different time (ooh, very dramatic) though it's part of the same story.

Think posting this will improve my chances of winning OWF's best writer '07?
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Last edited by Splat; 06-08-2007 at 03:52 AM..
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  #29  
Old 04-25-2007, 10:07 PM
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Oh yeah!

Loved it!

Can;t think of anything else to say
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Old 04-28-2007, 08:20 AM
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Many of the inhabitants of Mudos lack the necessary facial features to express their emotions through ways recognisable to us. Gestures such as smiles and frowns are more often purveyed through body-language or gestures (in a slig’s case, gestures of the face tentacles).

Part 2
--
Tormentor’s Decline

Chapter 7

“Vykkers and Gentlegluks! I must begin by thanking you all for attending this private meeting!” Doctor William Krik, writer, geneticist and rising star in the slavery debate, spread his four stick-thin arms wide in welcome. “It is my understanding that you are some of the most important, and therefore some of the busiest leaders of the Industrial World, and I know just how precious time is. It is due to your importance that I have called you here today; I have concocted a chemical which could prove useful to each and every one of you in your daily lives! Though,” He lowered his voice conspiratorially, “It’s not something we would want Rumor Kontrol to know about: they might get the wrong idea,” He winked enormously and continued at his normal speech-giving level, “An enzyme, as I imagine many of you will know, is a chemical that is used to break down other chemicals,” Chances were few of the glukkons new what an enzyme was, but to get a crowd on your side you should let them think you don’t know just how ignorant they are. “For example, enzymes are used naturally in the digestion of food. The enzyme, protease, breaks down proteins. The enzyme, lipase, breaks down lipids.” He doubted that many of them would know what a lipid was, but again he shouldn’t let them know that. He removed a small glass vial from an inner pocket. “This,” He declared with flourish, “Is DNAse! An enzyme I have artificially produced with the ability to break down DNA in all living creatures, with a 97% success rate.

“Perhaps some of you wonder at the use of such a chemical? Well, our tests on mudokons and paramites have shown that a subject regularly injected with DNAse will suffer an unpleasant death over two weeks, when they are likely to die from blood loss. However,” He grinned wickedly, “When a subject was also given frequent blood supplements they lasted longer, up to an industrial month, before death by bodily degeneration. A very nasty way to go, I assure you, and a very effective way of executing a prisoner who you want to make an example of.” The murmurs from the crowd seemed unimpressed. “Obviously, I didn’t call you all in to such a private meeting simply to tell you about new execution methods.” The talking stopped.

Krik looked around the room, smiling subtly and announced, in a perfectly sincere voice, “All of us in this room are, of course, legitimate businessgluks and vykkers. And as such, I know none of you would ever harm anyone who was causing you trouble. People of our standing would not dare eliminate any opposition we could do without.” There was a murmur of unrest around the room. Krik would have bet his reputation that there was not a glukkon or vykker in this room who had never had someone murdered, or at the very least beaten senseless, when they got in their way. Back-stabbing, cheating and plotting went hand-in-hand with success on Mudos. “But let us imagine, briefly, that you had had reason to take out an individual and you had gone ahead with these plans and had them assassinated. Just imagine; I know none of you would of course.” He kept his voice free of sarcasm and sounded genuinely convinced of the truthfulness of his statement. “Assassinations can be so messy, and so many clues can be left at the scene of a crime to give you away: blood, hair and skin all carry DNA and can all link you to the scene of the crime. However,” He brandished the tube of DNAse again, “Just a couple of drops of this, sprayed into the area as an aerosol would totally remove all that incriminating DNA and making it impossible to link you to the scene.” He paused, smiling a vykker smile, “Are there any questions?”

The room was full of murmuring, but no one called out. He added, “Spilling it on your skin isn’t dangerous, unless you try bathing in it. You might be a little sensitive where it touched you for a week or two, but not badly so.”

A glukkon called out suddenly, “If I did use it, wouldn’t it leave a trace? Wouldn’t they be able to find your stuff?”

Krik nodded, “If used, for example, for destroying evidence – not that any of you would – a trace of DNAse would be left behind. But think of it like this: at the moment those in this room are the only ones who have any idea what this is,” He waved the test tube. “If the Cartel law enforcement did find it it wouldn't mean anything to them! And by the time they find out what it is, there should be enough people using it that it wouldn’t tell them enough to be used as evidence.” He was quite pleased with that answer. “Now, if there are no more questions I will bid you farewell, until I see you in the main assembly in an hour.” He looked around at the inhabitants in the hall. No more questions were asked so he bowed and left.

The 250 inhabitants in this small hall, made up of around 100 vykkers and 150 glukkons were some of the most important or influential in Western Mudos. While there was no security in the hall itself, all of their personal security sligs were standing guard outside to keep anyone, from nosy glukkons to MOM News reporters, out. The building, however, was filled with over 1000 glukkons and vykkers, plus their slig guards, who would all be meeting shortly for Krik’s main talk.

The glukkons did not fear terrorists, simply because there wasn’t any. This was 39 years before Abe blew up Rupture Farms and no one even imagined a single mudokon could ever cause so much disruption.

Doctor Krik was only 32 years old and already he was one of the most famous vykkers around at the time. Two years ago he had written a book explaining the advantages of mudokon slave labour in factories and since then the number of factories using mudokon slaves had doubled. As well as his thoughts on mudokon labour, he was also praised for his research into genetics and had worked with a number of famed vykkers over the last twelve years on a number of projects with varying success. Despite all this he had failed to make much money of his own, and so was rather limited on the resources he had for his own experimentation. It was why most of his work was written theory, rather than any physical product. It was something that annoyed him greatly; fame was hard to win when all your ideas were nothing more than scribbles on paper.

Now Krik wandered through a number of large rooms where food was being served for the waiting officials. He gestured to a few people, engaged in idle small talk, feeling incredibly bored and going over the words of his planned speech in his head. Today was a general meeting for a lot of vykkers to turn up and present their research to the industrial world for the first time. Krik would be the third person to talk, which was good because most of the glukkons would still be listening by that time; they tended to get bored and lose interest as the afternoon’s talks wore on. But Krik had used some influence to get in early. He would never admit to being nervous, but (to put it simply) he was. When it came down to it, his ideas were still considered rather revolutionary by many and he wasn’t sure how the masses would react to his new research.

* * *

“Vykkers, Gentle-Gluks and distinguished members of the press!” Here goes nothing. “The industrial world is changing!” The room was quiet. He had their attention at least; “We live in a world which is rapidly expanding and can no longer rest alone on the labour of sligs and interns.” There was a murmur of unrest and he went on quickly, “We as the managers and controllers of this world,” The murmuring stopped and he mentally sighed with relief. One thousand people was a lot to talk in front of, “We are charged with its continuation and growth. The responsibility is ours to bear, and if we are to bring industrialism to its full and deserved glory, we must be prepared to adapt to new ideas.” He stopped to let that sink in. The audience was silent. He smiled, confidence returning, Let them think they were important. Make them feel big about themselves and they’ll be on your side all the way. “Slave labour… is undoubtedly the way forward.” Some more talking from the crowd.

Despite all the positive advantages to using mudokon labour, the idea was not popular with everyone and even as it increased the debate over it still raged throughout the Magog Cartel and the Vykker’s Council. Krik failed to see what all the worry was about. The labour was very cheap and it was widely accepted that there was not much the primitive mudokons could do to fight the industrials, and there was no shortage of mudokons to use. In addition, industrial factories were appearing all across native land; it was better to start harvesting the mudokons now before they could pull together a defensive force.

All this and more had been in the book Krik had published two years gone, and still the debate raged. Sometimes Krik just didn’t understand people. He was glad he had never tried taking up psychology.

The labour debate was at the front of the minds of all those present, even the simple-minded sligs who stood around to make sure their bosses weren’t bothered. A lot of the vykkers to talk at this seminar would be discussing the debate. Some would be for it and some would be against. That was the other reason Krik had wanted to get his own presentation in early on, to argue his case before they were turned against him.

Now Krik raised his voice over the noise made by the crowd, “Vykkers and Gentle-Gluks, when considering this debate one must consider the pros and cons of mudokon labour.” Maintaining their interest was hard, so it was time to talk financially. Mention the M-word and you’ll get the attention of any crowd on Mudos. “At the moment, all mudokons available to us have to be caught from the wild. Obviously this is expensive work, to track down villages, and then to attack them and harvest the slaves.”

There was a lot of noise from his opposition, those who were against using mudokon labour. Sarcastic shouts of ‘Exactly right’ and ‘Couldn’t of said it better myself’ floated across the hall.

Krik pressed on to keep their focus on him. “At this very moment there are several groups out in the wild, hunting down the Mudokon Queen. She’s out there somewhere and our sligs are getting closer every day.” He smiled encouragingly to his audience. He was relaxing more now. “’But what about now’ you say! ‘It’s all good talking about the future but right now mudokons are still expensive; we’re using up all our resources hunting down mudokons when we ought to be building up our empires!’” he surveyed the crowd. By their reactions that was exactly what many of them were thinking. “Well,” He declared, “That’s exactly where my work makes itself useful! Over the last few years, I have been conducting a great deal of research into the differences between males and Queens of species such as glukkons, sligs and mudokons,” He nodded to the glukkons and sligs in turn as he names them. “And the total of my research is this: I am more than confident that with the correct recourses and materials, I could go out now and manufacture a fertile female mudokon. Not a true Queen, but smaller, similar in size and stature to a normal worker class mudokon. These ‘mock-Queens’ will be designed to produce a low amount of eggs, say about one nest of 3 or 4 per month, will be easier to care for and transport than a normal Queen. Imagine having your own little egg-producing mudokon, able to perform normal labour between egg-layings. For a single fee, free labour for as long as want it.”

Someone from the crowd, another vykker, shouted out, “And where’s the proof? You want us to take your word for this?”

Krik didn’t give anyone else a chance to add their two cents, but called out himself, “Well that is of course why I need the aid of these admirable glukkons. Once these females are produced, I can assure you money will grow on trees for all of us, but until then I’m afraid Moolah is not easy to come by.” By ‘all of us’ he of course meant anyone rich enough to by one of his females, but didn’t say that out loud. “I require assistance from my fellow vykkers and funds from these admirable glukkons to continue my research and produce a female. I can faithfully promise that all money invested will be paid back twice over.” He smiled and spread all four of his arms. “Any questions?”

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Lot o' long paragraphs in there...

I often struggle to make long conversations and speeches sound good. They often end up sounding rushed and being too short. I thought I had that problem with the first one. Though I think the second is better.
I would appreciate any comments on that. Feel free to say they're both rubbish if you really want to. It all helps me get better as a writer.
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Last edited by Splat; 12-09-2007 at 05:48 PM..
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