Dwarves in Space: Meet the Elation
S.E. Zbasnik
Thousands of years after the jewelry has been destroyed, the lost sword found, the dragon ridden, ... Show More
Genres:
Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci Fi
Tags:
elves, fantasy, space ships, planets, space, dwarves, elf, dwarf, djinn, genie, orc, action, genre bending, dwarves in space

Prologue

Sulfur winds tossed the final vestiges of the colony across the barren landscape.

After the distress call was shut off, only two of the scouting party remained. With the rest of the team returned back to the ship, the rescue operation quickly turned to salvage. A man’s armored boot kicked into a teetering gate, the crisp plastic of the cheap pre-fab homes already grimy from the continual sandstorms of a planet that should never have been colonized in the first place. Gods, what was anyone even doing here? Aside from dying.

The Commander pushed her fist against his hazardous suit; even the bright orange bore the crest of the enraged Bear, lest anyone confuse them for common scavengers. He turned to face her and shrugged, not bothering to offer an apology over the partially functioning com line. She’d have reprimanded him, but the little shit must have deep connections to have risen this far up the ranks. If it hadn’t have been for the war she’d probably be stuck saluting him.

“We make one final sweep then arm the detonator,” she ordered, staggering as another burst of wind tossed her back. Her own rubbery orange arm rose above her face mask as she stared into the horizon, the red giant of a sun slipping behind a set of MGC rich mountain ranges. The only reason anyone would bother putting down roots in soil that couldn’t support a sapling was to chase that get rich quick scheme of mining all the MGC before the Corps got their connected tendrils in. And everyone, mostly young men and women with gold in their eyes and the few older ones who trailed behind selling the shovels, paid for it with their lives.

Tale as old as time; purchase up the colonizing rights on some dust ball a salesman assures is full of energy-rich compounds, and fail to bother paying the extra coin to have a proper detox scan done. Normally they’d find a few still clinging to life before someone wised up and sent out a distress signal, lack of nutrition or clean water being the major culprits. Once there’d been a rather pernicious strain of strangling vines that did not take too kindly to being hacked away for the sake of a jousting court.

But this was quick, a virus or some such hidden deep in the soil, virulent enough to knock back every colonist within twelve hours. By the time the ship arrived, most of the skeletons had been sand blasted clean of flesh from the tumultuous weather. The ship’s resident field doctor poked his head out at the carnage, declared them “Dead Jim,” and hustled back inside the shuttle before anyone could argue.

It’d have been left as a warning for anyone else trying to colonize planet P3-507, a few images encoded in a buoy, had it not been for the Ministry Official “accompanying” them on a final sweep through this backwater half of the galaxy before a much necessary furlough. She ordered samples, evidence, data, all things that take time and risk other officers to whatever alien bug ate through these dead colonists. Knight Commander Terrwyn was thanked for her input, the best way of saying, “fuck you” to someone who spent her life heavily armed, and sent back to the planet with one final order; destroy everything left.

She’d taken Lieutenant Dacre as her second, and blamed her choice on exhaustion the moment the atmoshuttle sunk deep into the shifting sands. He’d savored in the dead’s final moments, poking and prodding about their hopeful homes like a child who stumbled upon an ant to torment. A final sweep for any survivors, those were the regs, and a second to sign off on the lack of life.

“Dacre,” her voice slightly reverberated back to her across the echo in her hood, “search through the few standing walls, to the compound’s west edge.”

“Why bother?” his voice lilted with each vowel, a thick accent he’d have to smooth out before getting any higher up the chain unless his Mommy or Daddy paid for it.

“Because I gave you an order,” her voice didn’t tremble, didn’t hold any anger or rage. It was as immobile as stone.

Anyone without connections would have slunk back, maybe saluted with his palm turned towards his face, but Dacre merely shrugged again, “Very ‘ell,” and slunk off towards the few standing walls. Terrwyn lifted a downed pipe from a stack, never inserted into the sewage system before disaster struck, and measured her footsteps. The dying could not have made it far out of the compound, but there’d be a dump close enough to make the trek easy but with enough distance to hide the smell of the dark side of human existence. Possibly someone with brains could have run before the bug got to her.

Her feet left little tracks in the eternally shifting sands, dancing in a mixture of gases that their sensors assured them was breathable. She still refused to believe a person could live in this; if the buffeting winds of sand didn’t scourge your skin, the rising sulfur and ammonia levels would burn the lungs. Even implants wouldn’t salve it all. Dacre’s voice momentarily flared through her helmet, but the planet’s high MGC levels were wreaking havoc on their communications. She shut off the line rather than face endless static punctuated by “can you….me now?”

She paused before a crater, dug either by the colonists or a lost asteroid millennia ago. Their refuse only coated the bottom layer, so they hadn’t been living here long before the virus came a’calling. The walls lying upon the ground most likely were never even raised. A pathetic example of the entrepreneurialship of the human spirit.

The Knight Commander turned to leave, nothing could be hiding amongst the thin layer of garbage, when a light flared in the distance. She wiped off the film coating her helmet and stared across the crater at a dark figure, its skin thick as a cliffside with broken fissures that flared as if intermittent fires roared inside its guts. “Who are you?” she called out into the alien world, but the figure either didn’t understand or couldn’t hear. It raised its own arm, slowly, and placed a hand overtop its eyes as if to spy back upon the invader of its planet. Then it turned behind it and two more lumbering rock monsters rose beside it, one far shorter than the others.

Terrwyn clicked open her comm, “Dacre, abort. Abort the mission. There’s still life here. Dacre? Damn it!”

She turned from her new friend and raced back to the compound, unaware she was being followed. “Dacre! I swear if you don’t pick up this comm line I’ll strap you to the hood of the ship and parade your ass past the next station’s embassy deck.”

Her limbs grew weary with each step, the suit’s scrubbers failing against the challenge of the environment. Cheap pieces of shit, that’s military cutbacks for you. If they didn’t get to the last shuttle soon, they may not get back at all. As her line of sight crested above the fallen scraps of what the colonists dubbed “New Avar,” she spotted the Lieutenant hunched overtop the incendiary device. Burn everything to over a thousand degrees and scrap what remains for someone else’s failed colony, those were the orders.

The Knight Commander waved her arms trying to catch Dacre’s attention, he glanced momentarily up from his number punching, and rose unsteadily. Patches of his voice clipped across the comm line, “Couldn’t find…getting too hard…gonna blow it now before we lose sterility.”

“Stand down, Lieutenant,” she said, finally falling into comm range, “the orders have changed.”

His weasely eyes slipped down to the bomb, blinking happily away, and back to his commanding officer, “Sir?”

“There’s people alive on this rock.”

Dacre snorted, “I find that high’y doubtful. I’m certain you’d prefer to find someone a’ive and play the big hero again but perhaps your weary eyes are playing tricks upon you…Sir.”

“You little, sniveling shit,” Terrwyn cursed, letting her anger get the best of her again.

A hissing sound, like someone pouring water over burning coals, broke through their fight, and Dacre glanced past his fuming commanding officer to her rock monster breaking into the compound, his side arm slipping into his fumbling hands as he aimed upon its chest. Luckily the bastard was a terrible shot, so the quartermaster kept all of Dacre’s weapons at a half charge just in case he shot their side.

“There are more,” the Knight Commander said calmly, her mind flipping through the list of recognized aliens. This definitely fell into the miscellaneous category, but she was certain she’d seen something like this before. An alien with fire for veins and a suit of rocks, gods she was terrible at this diplomacy shit.

“How many more?!” Dacre sounded panicked, as if the little xenophobe never saw an alien before. Then again, the Crests did seem to draw upon both the bigoted and terrified as much as those who wanted someone else to pay for their education or give them a bed at night.

“Enough.”

Dacre’s teeth chattered as he weighed his options, his gun waiving about like a sapling twisting in the wind, “No one else knows they’re here. We set the timer, head back to the shuttle, and let the planet blow.”

“Let the planet blow? What are you talking about?” regs were strict, they were to detonate the colony, not the entire rock.

Dacre rolled his eyes so hard the helmet slipped over his face. He took his balancing hand off his gun to try and get the rock monster back in his line of sight, “This planet is lined with MGC, the bomb’s a fuel catalyst, not some old fashioned inferno. It starts a chain reaction and the entire planet blows. Sir.”

“Then the plans have changed. There are clearly life forms, sentient and intelligent, living upon this rock. Setting off that bomb would be against the Accord of the 12 Galaxies.”

Dacre snorted again, “No offense, Sir, but if that Ministry official went to that much trouble to get a catalyst bomb drilled into the veins of this rock, she’s not gonna give a shit about some musty old Accord and a walking island statue.”

Terrwyn gritted her teeth and looked back at her new friend, the holes where eyes would be burned a staggering red. It seemed to know what was being discussed despite not responding back. “Stand down, Lieutenant.”

“Sir?” Dacre asked, uncertain. Surely she wasn’t stupid enough to go against Ministry orders. They could make entire systems disappear.

“You heard me, stand down. I’ll not destroy these people, because some fat arsehole in Antilla says so.”

“Those fat aresholes could toss both of us in the dungeon for the rest of our lives without anyone the wiser,” Dacre’s weapon shifted over to his commanding officer.

Terrwyn didn’t flinch, her fingers slipping loose the catch upon her gun and arming in a single beat, “I said, stand down, Lieutenant. I will not say it again.”

Dacre’s gun bobbled, the end bouncing from her head down to her navel, but he wouldn’t back down. He’d spent his life butting up close to the Ministry, rubbing elbows with people who’d keep things in their basements that would make most warlords vomit in disgust. He wasn’t about to wind up like them. “No, Sir.”

Terrwyn blinked once, “Fine,” and she shot. The bullets smashed into the bomb’s outer casing, kicking up sparks as the number pad crumpled into debris.

“You fucking moro…” was as far as Dacre got before the sparks caught and the bomb casing exploded, tossing the Lieutenant into the no longer standing walls and Terrwyn and the rock monster down the colony’s hill.

High above orbit, the ship acknowledged the bomb’s fire and slipped through the waiting wyrmportal before it’d be caught in the planet’s explosion. It did not care that one shuttle failed to return.
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 1/2/2014 1:47:40 PM
  • annah brown commented on :
    4/3/2016 2:21:29 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Catherine Russell commented on :
    3/11/2014 1:11:25 PM
    Wow, talk about starting off with a bang! That was FANTASTIC!
  • H.J. Garry commented on :
    1/3/2014 5:58:07 PM
    Umm, science fiction + Dwarves = you can't possibly go wrong. Post more dang it!