Original Content Of Sand and Legends - I

#1
First the fusion reactor melts down, so we have to rely on the sun and wind for power.

Then the fuckin' Truthseekers not only decide to ignore our protection contract, but raid our food stores themselves. Assholes said we could either give 'em food to feed their diggers, or the workers to replace 'em once they drop dead of exhaustion.

To put a nice lil' bow on top, the morning after the raid a stranger draped in dusty tatters limped into town. Walked into my bar first thing, if word o' mouth his anything to go by.

Guy wore a mask fashioned from a chunk of scrap ceramic, looked like a rectangular piece of ablative armor he whittled down, a pair of faint pinkish-purple lights in the eyeholes. Don't know why he bothered, it's not like anyone gives a shit what you look like this far from the nearest oasis-city.

He stepped on a loose panel in the floor, poor guy. Haven't heard that horrible squidging noise in months. I hoped the local warrior-caste ruffians would avoid stirring shit for once, but given that the noise startled ol' Rika, I wasn't too hopeful. I hesitate to call that creature sapient. A little too in tune with her hunter instincts, that one. Still, she pays her tab, so I let her drink in my bar. She'd thrash it if I didn't, I'm pretty sure she could beat an elder in a contest of raw strength. Good thing she's centuries from her metamorphosis, maybe she'll grow a second brain cell to rub together by the time that comes 'round.

Not that it would've helped him if he knew to avoid that specific panel. Rika starts shit with everyone that looks at her weird. Or just looks weird, at all. Or even doesn't look “roight un' propa”, whatever her lizard brain means by that.

So there I was, ducked behind the bartop with my finger on the blast shield button, watching Rika walk up to that stranger. She moved to grab him by that tattered cloak o' his, and he moved out o' the way surprisingly quickly.

Figured he'd try to fight back, but nah. “I'm sorry if I offended you, miss”, he pleaded, trying to just walk into the bar. Every time he tried to slip past her - pretty skillfully might I add - Rika just swiped or grabbed at him again.

The two spent nearly two minutes playing this deadly game of grabass, and every time she grabbed at him, the violent oaf that caused both much of my profits and expenses got closer and closer. The stranger wasn't getting tired or slower - she was getting faster. Her tattoos were starting to glow a faint yellow. Oh no.

I was just about ready to push the button, when she finally grabbed hold of his arm, ready to throw him out of the bar with the force of an angry demigod. Or rather, she grabbed his cloak where his arm should've been. Only… There was no arm. As quickly as he slipped out of her grasp, cloak an' all, I still saw what was underneath. All four of us in the bar at the time did.

His left arm was missing completely, I'm pretty sure the right one was only there down to the elbow. Everything visible of his body looked like it was more metal and polymer than meat. Now that I thought of it, I did wonder why the part of his head not covered by the mask looked more like a helmet than… Well, a head. Just wasn't right, reminded me of one o' those freaky scrap statues the Truthseekers would build in their camps.

The guy just stood there, in a low stance with his feet wide and knees buckled, staring up at Rika's towering form. Ready to pounce, not to attack, but to try and slip by her once again. Zhelru - the thinker-caste geezer that he was, only decades from metamorphosis - spoke up from his little corner of papers and empty stimmix bottles near the window.

“Oi, let 'im go. Can't you see the lad's had enough of a beating from life already?”

Oil my ass up and roast me on a plas-thruster, 'cause that was the fourth time ever I saw Rika actually listen to reason and back off. She trudged back to her table without so much as a word, almost shattering the reinforced chair as her nearly half a ton of muscle fell into it.

Meanwhile, mister armless stumbled his way to the bar. Just stood there, weirdly hunched. Looked like he was barely holding his own weight up. That, or dodging Rika took a toll.

“Strongest stims you have, please.”

Guy's lil' eye-lights flickered as he talked. Didn't notice it earlier, but his voice sounded… Off.

Synthesized.

Of course it would.

I went to reach under the bar to grab a bottle of the strongest stimmix that I had a decent stock of, horrifically sweet stuff that nobody but the weirdo offworlders liked. The bottle was a light pink, I could almost smell the fruity flavoring through the polymer. Between it being unpopular and the armless guy being entertaining, I figured I'd just let him take it.

It wasn't as if having a single extra bottle of saccharine stimmix would somehow fix the fusion reactor, or make the Truthseekers walk into town and give back all the food they stole.

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I made a Patreon in response to someone asking me do to so after I posted Distress Call. I decided this was a good opportunity to finally start writing a story that I have wanted to do for a while, especially since a new story in my setting would be a good way to give people new to the whole thing an easier way in.
I will post chapters as I complete them (ideally at least one a week), and patrons will be given access to them a week in advance, starting with the next chapter.
 
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