Part 1- here
Part 2 -here
Part 3 -here
Part 4 -here
Part 5 -here
Part 6 -here
Part 7 -here
A pair of shadows leaned into the light their noses pushing against the thick glass. One of them pulled out a clipboard and jotted down a few notes while the other bounced on his heels.
“Things are progressing well, a few more rounds and we should have the order filled,” the first shadow said.
“Good,” the second leaned in closer watching the experimental subject float by.
“Our employers should be rather happy. I didn’t expect such a haul,” the shadow’s voice thinned as it watched its companion.
“Hello. Hey in there! Are you sleeping,” the shadow thumped his finger against the glass as snot nosed brats would in an aquarium right before the genetically modified shark smashed the glass and ate his arm off.
The first shadow sighed and swiped her clipboard across his hands batting them away, “Knock it off. We have work to do,” before vanishing back into the eternal light.
“Fine.” Taking one last look, the shadow turned and left Experiment tube #1-3 D to continue beeping away in the forgotten corner.
Experimental subject #1-3 D’s dreams shifted as he leaned precariously over a bar trying to stay upright enjoying his foggy high when a woman whose face he couldn’t quite make out floated in on black clouds. She knocked on the bar, hard. Rap rap rap. Then looked in his eyes and said “Are you a bounty hunter?”
Devtony shuddered, digging deeper into the warm amniotic jelly that kept him immobile.
Having made certain to once again escape the bony (or if you are from Histamo – 5 the tissue covered) grasps of the reaper the groups amicable friendship splintered into factions.
Erica, having lost her weapon to the powerful coffee cannon suddenly came upon the realization that her ear piece was being corrupted by the lord of the rats, sorry shrews. This, naturally, sent the beleaguered tour guide into a tailspin of epic proportions, “What am I going to do? Where will I go?” She grabbed onto the Amazonian’s hand in her fret.
Hellena; however, was in her own foul mood and shook it off turning her anger on Erica, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” breaking her heart she turned to the source of her wrath, “And you stole my sword!”
Steph who had always been able to talk her way out of any situation found her interminable charm running into the very thick wall that was the Amazonian, “Borrowed, I borrowed your sword.”
“YOU STOLE IT!” she roared, waving the source of ire at her in a not well controlled but still pants wetting way, “And then tried to sell it to that . . . K thing!”
She parted her hands, stepping back into the wall, “Me, oh no no. You were gone. I looked all around for you guys in the forum but you were nowhere to be found, only your sword so I . . . saved it for you.”
The Amazonian whipped herself into such a frenzy nothing short of a round or twelve of Ent punching was gonna break her out. Or the cool lifeless gaze of Pearl, her appointed den mother. “Hellena, please. We’re going to need all the help we can get.” Her gloved hand touched the Amazonians and slowly lowered the sword, which came inches into connecting with Erica’s head. She squealed and ducked under the Amazonians legs.
Pearl rolled her eyes again, turning her motherly voice on Steph, “What happened on level 500? You vanished,” her you just got caught smashing into a vase with your tonka trucks motherly voice.
“Oh, that,” the smuggler leaned back trying to look as nonchalant as possible snagging her rugged jacket on a loose nail, “I needed to meet a . . . friend, yeah and when I looked back you were all gone. Something about a stampede, many crushed. You’re wanted in about 30 different levels, you know.”
“I see,” Pearl didn’t like the sound of that. She still needed to appeal to the leader of this station for help and being a criminal wasn’t going to help her case. “And you just happened to find the sword and in that time wander down here and sell just as we’re about to fight off some rats mortal enemy and save us all? Must be quite a story.”
“Not really,” Steph tried to stare the mask down but found her eyes crossing, “Completely boring, would put you all to sleep. Lots of sandwich eating.”
“WHO ARE YOU?!” Erica cut in, her eyes brimming with tears pointing a finger at the newest addition to the party (forgetting that she had no idea who Steph was either). It was hard to stay mad at her, after all she did save them, sort of.
The woman was short, about four feet tall or so and dressed for a winter in Cardiff, a floppy brown hat perched on her head and her 15 foot rainbow scarf trailing on the ground. She twirled some long thin snack wrapped in paper in her fingers occasionally biting off a piece when no one was looking. Pushing her hat back she stuck out her non food arm and smiled, “I’m little monmon.”
“I can understand the little, but what’s a mon mon?” Hellena asked having troubles looking even further down for this one. If the humans kept getting smaller she was going to need binoculars soon.
“Well,” she twisted her face up looking at the brim of her hat, “I’m a mon that’s so good they named me twice!”
“Where are we?” Pearl asked, tired of asking that all the time.
Monmon blinked, or tried to. She never could quite get it down at the same time, “You don’t know?”
Erica started to cry again, “This whole year has gone wrong?!” as she caught the look in Hellena’s eye turned to sob on Steph’s shoulder. The smuggler patted her on the head dislodging a few more regulation pins.
“We are from out of town,” Pearl said diplomatically.
Monmon looked at the strange group: a masked woman who showed less skin than the Insectians, a giant dressed for the bikini competition, one of those insipid tour guides that was always getting in the way and oh yes that one, “Nice hat,” she nodded to Steph, who shifted uneasily at the familiar greeting. She’d never seen this woman in her travels before. “You are on Level 434, but not Level 434,” Monmon grinned, she loved this part.
“How can we be and not be on one level?”
“Oh god, we’re dead!” Erica screamed.
Monmon chewed thoughtfully on her snack, “Nah, you’re all alive thanks to ol’ Joe here,” she patted the coffee vat strapped to her back which seemed to gurgle in response, “There are places on the station, forgotten places. Locked places,” she shifted her eyes from the right to the left her smile cracking to the side.
“Locked places? I don’t like the sound of that.”
Monmon stood up straight her smile back in place, chomping down on her snack, “Nah, is no big deal. There’s lots of locked places all over. Perfectly safe,” she looked down at her fist. Manners were more of an afterthought in the locked areas and her bosses hadn’t been to keen on teaching her the finer things in life but she felt she should offer her new friends something. Holding her snack out to them, “Bacon?”
“Uh, no . . . no thanks.”
She shrugged, shaking ol’ joe, “Suit yourself. If’n you’re done arguing I need to be taking you to my bosses.”
Pearl and Hellena shared a look, Steph tried to get in on it but a glare from the Amazonian shrunk her back to patting Erica’s head. Pearl shrugged, what else have we got to lose. Hellena tried to mimic everything but she was out of ideas. “Your bosses?”
“Yeah,” Erica grinned, her bacon vanishing in her coat, “you’ll like ‘em. They have waffles!”
“Well,” Pearl gulped, hoping these wouldn’t be her last words, “lead on.”
Monmon turned, smacking her traveling coffee pot into Pearl’s arm and marched towards her destiny and the possibility of more bacon. Hellena leaned into Steph pulling the smuggler under her arm, “Yer gonna stay real close so I can keep my eye on you.”
“Yes, mam!” How in the hell was she going to get out of this one?
Erica, realizing that everyone was leaving turned her hysterics a bit more nonsensical, “Oh WHY DID I EAT PUDDING?!”
The locked areas seemed a lot less foreboding with little monmon leading the way. Perhaps it was the easy way with which she traveled almost mindlessly through the maze avoiding traps (that she herself planted) and downed bulkheads from other cannibalized locked areas, or maybe it was how she whistled under her breath “It’s a Small Universe” on an endless loop. Whatever the case, Pearl found herself falling into a strange ease she hadn’t felt since well truthfully since she’d been chosen by the elders as the one sent to find help amongst the humans. Curse her . . . specialness, that was what the called it, that took her so far away from home. It should have been someone, anyone else.
Monmon, in the middle of her song, turned to warn the others, “It’s a space of pain, a space of fears. A space of fame, a space of tears. . . Hey you may want to stick close to the wall, there’s a giant hole here.”
Monmon paused, trying to decide how best to explain this to the humans, “You know a hole that would be really really big. Well, this is three point four times as deep,” she smiled at her and started to slide along the edge, “‘There’s so much that we share, and hey look that’s a bear it’s a small universe after all.’”
Pearl turned to Hellena, “Apparently there’s a big hole ahead so we’re supposed to be careful.”
“Who puts a giant hole on a space station?”
“Sith Lords,” Steph responded forgetting that she was enjoying a bit of peace in the Amazonian’s blind spot. “Oops.”
Hellena cracked a smile that would have sent trolls scurrying under a bridge saying you can keep your damn billygoats and pushed the smuggler forward. “Any sudden movements and we test just how deep this hole is,” she shooed her, “Well, go on.”
Steph gritted her teeth, adjusted her hat and took one large step forward onto what she thought was a very black bulkhead. “AHHHH!!”
“Welp, now we know where it is,” Hellena wiped her hands when out of the pit a crack echoed and the end of the smuggler’s trusty whip curled over the blade of the Sword of Endless Smiting.
“A little help would be nice,” a voice called out from deep in the hole. Pearl went to grab onto the end of the whip but a strong gravity field froze her hand as a strange purple light appeared hovering over the giant hole.
“Oh gods, not again,” Pearl said as a woman flew in the middle of a jump out of the wormhole and landed a perfect 10 on the edge, her conquistador helmet shifting in the drop.
She pinwheeled her arms a bit and as she got her balance turned away from the wall to look at Pearl now holding onto the whip wrapped around a giant sword. “Oh this is perfect,” a small notebook appeared in her hand, “Where am I?”
“A space station,” Erica offered, figuring she was being helpful.
“Excellent, I haven’t done sci-fi in ages. Okay and you are . . . “
“On a quest,” she answered again. Ooh she liked this game.
“Of course, of course. And you have a large sword on a space ship,” the woman’s face shifted as she tried to take in this new piece of information, “Hmm . . . I don’t know if I can work that in.”
“HELLO!” Steph called, her forearms getting far more of a workout than was strictly necessary in her line of work.
The strange woman leaned over the pit, her right hand stopping her helmet from sliding off, “And you have a woman dangling over a bottomless pit. Excellent, excellent. I have a few more questions.” All were held in sway by the woman’s magic and authoritative voice. She moved as though she knew the secrets to the entire universe. Thumbing through her notepad she picked a few lines, “How big is Disco? What cola do you drink? Have they invented jet packs?”
“What’s a Disco?” Erica asked, unsteady on her feet.
“Amazonians only drink Diet RC Cola.”
“Royal Crown?” the pen was flying.
“No, Random Crushing. 9 out of 10 eunuchs can’t tell the difference,” Hellena added happily singing the jingle under her breath.
“Oh interesting. And about the jetpacks?” They all shook their heads, sadly. “Still? Oh well, thanks anyway.”
“Is anyone up there going to help me?” Steph tried once more before she’d try taking her chances with the hole.
The screams of their compatriot . . . traveler . . . person in the pit broke whatever spell Pearl was trapped under, “Who are you? And why are you wearing a dress made out of silver tape?”
“Oh, you like it?” the woman turned a bit, making sure her sensible boots remained grounded, “It’ll be all the rage in about 1,000 years. Sorry, forgot to introduce myself. I’m Caissie,” she handed them all her business card that simply read ‘Caissie – Writer: from past – now. If you want to give me money yes please.’
“What are you doing here?” Hellena asked.
“Research, you can’t write a story without research. What, you think writers just make everything up?” a beeping emanated from her watch, “Damn, looks like my time’s up. Well it was very nice meeting you all,” she shook their hands her feet never leaving the floor and with a push of the indigo light button on her watch was pulled into the time traveling wormhole.
Lil monmon, having walked all the way to the end of the corridor and realized she was alone came hoofing it back, “What are you doing? We need to be moving it. Waffles wait for no man,” she waved her arms forward and swayed. It was rather hypnotic.
“If you’re quite finished up there having a bit of an afternoon chat do you think ONE OF YOU COULD RESCUE ME?!” the pit yelled.
Pearl glared at Hellena who shrugged and grabbing on the end of the whip yanked the smuggler up hard. She flew up high screaming and crashed at the java cannon’s feet. “I’m feeling a lot better,” Hellena smiled swinging her sword around.
“Is this day going to get any worse?” Pearl asked sliding carefully around the pit.
Erica, from the back cried out to the universe, “And why don’t I get any free Applesauce?!”