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Thevshi

Crash on Volturnus (IC)

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Paydirt! he thought to himself, ruefully. He imagined mountains of pure diamond or other precious material, of incalculable value. 

 

He loosened his jacket in the heat, feeling the cybernetic motors whirring in him. A few black discs over his body were pumping our heat ferociously. Visions of diamond mountains were a silly fantasy, of course. But it kept his spirits up. He wondered, for a moment, if they would be refracting the blue sunlight, potentially burning them up. 

 

He pointed out the mountains to Soleen and Laark. "There, see those mountains? something strange about them, like a crystal..." he explained. 

 

On another day, in an ATV, he would have investigated. But crystals were unlikely to give them food, or water, or, for that matter, shelter from the sun. 

 

"Lets keep moving" he said, trying to keep spirits up. 

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Soreen took out a pair of macrobinoculars from her pack and took a look at the distant mountains.  "Yeah, they look like some kind of crystal like mineral, but what exactly it is impossible to tell from here."  She stated before putting the macrobinoculars back in her pack and shrugging it back onto her shoulders as they started off once more. 

The air started to warm as the blue sun continued to rise over the horizon, a hint at the heat that would soon be bearing down on them.  The temperature continued to rise as the sun rose in the morning air, the sand starting to shimmer with the reflection of the heat from the ground. 

It was mid-morning when Starshot spotted movement off to the side, only it was not movement above ground.  There was a three meter long creature burrowing quickly through the sand more than a meter below the surface.  It had a strange, wedge shaped head and a long body with twelve pairs of short legs.   And it was heading straight toward them....

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"Heads up!" shouted Starshot, although he realised there was nowhere to actually run. He unslung Trigger in a smooth motion and powered the old gun up. 

 

"Wakey wakey! Time to shoot! shoot! SHOOT 'EM UP!" screamed the gun, as its power cells sparked into action. 

 

"Something underground! I'm guessing its not a friend. You know, the other one!" he yelled as he pointed Trigger downwards. Despite the screaming of his insane weapon, he held back on the trigger. He had seen plenty of aliens in his life, and appearances could be deceptive. 

 

Still, he wasn't going to take any chances...his finger was at the ready...

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Soreen drew her blaster as she looked in the direction Starshot was aiming Trigger, trying to see any sign of the creature that was approaching from underground.  As she did so, she shifted her feet, preparing to try to leap away should it come bursting out of the sand at her.


As fast as Starshot was at drawing Trigger, the creature in the sand was faster, tunneling quickly at them and veering toward Laark at the last moment.   The sand near the large alien burst upward as the creature broke the surface, its large wedge shaped mouth opening wide to revel long, wicked teeth.   It clamped down on Laark's right hip, causing him to cry out in pain as it lifted him off the ground and then flung him off to one side. 

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"Gott in Himmel!" gasped Starshot in his helmet. The animal had moved faster than he had anticipated. He wouldn't make that mistake. And now, its intentions were quite clear - with horrible results. 

 

He pumped the plasma web into the barrel of trigger. He would rather capture this beast alive, study it, if he could. With a fluid motion he aimed and fired. 

 

The shell expanded as it left the barrel, opening up like a flower. A net of glowing wires, thrown through the air to land and entwine around the beast...

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Starshot's aim was perfect, but the large creature somehow twisted free just as the plasma net was trying to wrap around it.   

Laark tried to pull himself back up, but was still to disoriented from the attack to get himself up off the sand where he had landed. 

"Laark!"  Soreen called out, as she leveled her blaster pistol and fired.  But she rushed her shoot a bit too much, and the blast flew harmlessly over the creature. 

The creature shuffled over toward Laark on its short little legs, trying to grab onto him again with its large maw.  But Laark was aware enough to roll out of the way and barely avoid being bitten again.

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"Damn Schweinhund!" cursed Starshot as the thing twisted out of the Net. He would have preferred to catch the thing alive, to know what it was. And, he admitted, to later stuff and hang on the observation deck of the Xeno. But the ghastly thing was too dangerous for his liking. 

 

He brought up his cybernetic hand, and with a thought, a large spike extended from its centre. 

 

He jumped into the fray, intent on stabbing the creature - although he had no idea where. He was too slow, the creature too fast, but mainly, the creature twisted at the wrong time, moving into him rather than away, and Starshot got thrown to one side, landing on his knees in the sand. 

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Laark pushed himself back up to his feet, using his large club as a cane to help him.  His free hand pressed over the horrible gash in side that the creature had caused.  He took a few steps back, trying to put some space between himself and the creature. 

Soreen tried to steady her aim at the snarling creature. "Stay clear Laark!"  She called out, as she fired her blaster once more.  However, her aim was off once again, and the blast missed the creature. 

Snarling and still focused on Laark, the creature shuffled forward once more, trying to grab him in its jaws once, but Laark just managed to pull out of its way.

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Starshot moved sideways, boots kicking sand. It was not the best environment to fight in, and he was sure the Sandbeast had the advantage. But there was no use crying over the situation; for starters, it was a waste of water. 

 

Sliding over the dunes, he tried to put himself inbetween Laark and the beast, and swung out with his cybernetic hand. No holding back. The beast was out to kill, and so was he. 

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The creature roared in pain as Starshot stabbed it, but it was far from down.  Laark continued to back away from it, focusing on its maw as he prepared to dodge any subsequent attack.

"Good job captain!"  Soreen exclaimed as she fired once more.  This time she hit the creature, but its tough, leathery hide deflected the blaster blot harmlessly away.
 

The creature snarled once more, lunging at Laark once again, but the large alien was ready, dodging aside, although he winced in pain as he did so.  The creature shuffled round on its stubby little legs, some sort of sensory organs on its wedge shaped head seeming to "sniff" at the air.  Starshot saw that the creature had no discernable eyes.

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Taking a gamble, Starshot unclipped a smoke grenade from his belt and lobbed it just behind the sand shark. 

 

"Everybody! Move away!" he commanded, as he backed off himself. The sand was hard going, but at least there would be no pitfalls or things to stumble over. Just endless dunes. 

 

The grenade exploded, showering its chemicals around them. Perhaps the creature did not use eyes, but Starshot was guessing it was using its sense of smell. And the purple-black acrid gas reeked. 

 

Of course, that meant he could not see the creature either, but perhaps he did not need too. Just approximately...

 

He flipped trigger into overburn mode. The huge plasma discharge would sweep the sand...

 

"Whey hey hey! I'm ready to BURRRRN!" yelled the aroused gun. 

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Laark staggered out of the cloud of smoke, coughing as he moved, almost collapsing to one knee, but making it clear and then turning back to regard where the smoke cloud was lingering in the air.  Soreen came stumbling out next from another part of the cloud, her hand over her eyes trying to keep the acrid gas from them. 

They could all hear the creature bellowing inside the cloud, before there was a digging sound.  Startshot could see the creature moving back down under the ground.  It went down a couple of meters and now clear of the smoke, stopped and reoriented itself towards the group, seeming to sense their movement.

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Starshot simultaneously congratulated himself in his observation that it was by nose (or noses) that the creature navigated, and that the sandbeast had taken back to ground. He took a second to scan around...they could do with some solid rock to take a stand on, but he was not hopeful. Sand was everywhere. Particularly his boots. 

 

He powered off the overburn mode on Trigger. 

 

"Ah, shoot..." lamented his crazy gun. 

 

"I mean, shoot! shoot! shoot it up!" it added, as Starshot pulled up and took aim. It was a difficult shot, seeing through the sand and smoke, and gauging the distance. Phased plasma had to be calibrated to snap back to reality at the right point...

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The phased blast of plasma strikes the creature under the sand, causing it to stagger slightly and slow down.  Now clear of the smoke cloud, Laark tries to ready himself for any further attack, glancing around for any sign of the creature.

Soreen has her blaster ready as well, but seeing Starshot shoot down into the ground, focuses her attention down as well, shifting her feet to try to dodge aside should the creature erupt from the ground once again.  "Where is it?"  She asks. 

Down below the sand, the creature appears to still be recovering from Starshot's last attack.

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"Head towards the rock..." hissed Starshot, pointing with his gun at the small outcropping. It was about a hundred feet away...too far...too far, he thought. The sand hindered the movement. And he suspected that the tremors might awake the beast. 

 

"Its still alive..." he explained, as he shuffled his own boots towards the rock, slowly, keeping his vision on the beast below them. He thumbed his rifle, which buzzed in excitement. If the thing surfaced, he would blast it...

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Laark does what he is ordered, and starts hobbling toward the distant rock outcropping.  But given his injury, he was not able to make much headway.  Soreen ran alongside him, apparently not willing to just outpace him and leave him behind.  "We aren't going to make it!"  She called out as she ran through the hot sun. 

As Starshot moved not far from the two, he saw the creature starting back towards them, moving quickly through the sand.  Taking aim once again, Starshot fires another plasma bolt at the creature, once again hitting it, but this time the angle was bad, and the blast glanced harmlessly off the creature's leathery hide. 

The creature headed straight for Soreen, erupting from the sand, just as she leapt aside, narrowly avoiding the attack.

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"Run!" shouted Starshot at his crewmates, stamping his feet to get the beasts attention. As beasts went, he realised, this was one ugly horror, and he reflected that it would be an unpleasant addition to the observation Deck of the Xeno. He doubted he could even make a pair of boots from it. 

 

But it had tried to eat one of his crew. So, by all the Gods, he would skewer it. 

 

Lunging forward he stabbed with his hand...

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Moving in from the side, Starshot stabbed the creature right in the side of its neck, delivering a critical blow that clearly injured it, as it let out a roar of pain and staggered away from the cybernetic human.    

Laark wasted no time moving as quickly as he could toward the rocks, but he was significantly hampered by his injury.  Soreen hesitated a brief moment, her blaster leveled at the creature, before she turned and ran back after Laark, easily catching up with him and remaining near him. 

The creature made no immediate move, apparently still trying recover from Starshot's last attack.

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"Time to burn!" hissed Starshot, levelling up his gun again, whilst shuffling backwards some more. 

 

He cocked an eager trigger, who whooped with frenzied excitement at the prospect. the beast was down but he wanted to keep some space between them. Bringing up the gun, and squinting...

 

"Keep moving!" he yelled at his crew, his voice distorted through his helm. 

 

...he pressed the trigger...

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The plasma blast hit the creature squarely in the side of the neck, just behind its wedge shaped head.  The blast burst through the thick, leathery hide, burning at the delicate organs inside.  The creature did not even have time to roar in pain, instead merely gurgling some before it rolled over onto its opposite side, twitching slightly, but otherwise not moving.

Laark and Soreen continued toward the rocky outcropping, the mid-morning sun really starting to heat up the air around them. 

Taking a moment to look at the area around them, Starshot did not see any sign of any more of the things in the immediate area.

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"Get to the rock, my friends" called out Starshot, lowering his smoking Gun. Casually, he flicked it off. 

 

"Awww....shoooooooooot...." complained the gun, slurring and moaning as the power slid away. 

 

Starshot casually walked up to the smoking ruins of the creature, tapping it gently with one boot. Convinced it was not acidic or toxic,he kenlt down to his squats and started poking at its insides, trying to get some clue as the creatures anatomy and physiology. Something that might help understand just what it was, how it moved, how it fed, how it attacked and how it saw. 

 

 

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Soreen and Laark continued on towards the rocks as instructed, although they slowed down somewhat, particularly as Laark was having trouble moving that fast.  Studying the smoky remains of the creature, Starshot was not really able to tell much about it, in part because of the damage his last attack had caused.  Clearly it had some means of operating without eyes, both out in the open and when under the sands, what those might be was not completely clear. 

As for its ability to move under the sand, as best as Starshot could tell, the wedge shape of its large head, together with its twelve legs somehow allowed it to force its way through the sand at a rapid rate. 

By the time Starshot was finished studying the creature, Soreen and Laark had reached the rocks, Laark collapsing down onto the hard surface as he gripped his hip in pain.

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"Damn in hell!" cursed Starshot as he cursed both the smoking beast and the wounds of Laark. He was half tempted to turn back, but that would put them all in danger. One thing for certain, they could not risk another attack from a burrowing horror. 

 

He unclipped his first aid kit and took a look at Laarks wounds, gently undressing the huge alien. 

 

"I will not lie, my friend, this looks bad. But we cannot risk going back. We have to get you to those crystal mountains, and hope that we are not attacked again. Given time and rest, you will live. But the sands will kill us all..." he explained grimly, giving Laark a shot of Omnivax. 

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"I've had worse."  Laark grunted, as he gritted his teeth as Starshot set to work looking at the wounds. 

"Those crystal mountains are easily a hundred miles away, if not more."  Sorreen noted as she sat off to one side, keeping an eye out on the dunes around them for any sign of another such creature.  "And it looks like we have to cross a lot of sand to get to them, or anywhere else for that matter." 

Now that he had a clearly view of the injury, Starshot found that it was not quite as bad as he had expected.  The wounds were serious, to be sure, several deep punctures from the creature's long teeth, but there did not appear to be any serious tearing of the organs and muscles below, simply the punctures.  Starshot was fairly confident that with some sealant from the medical kit and a bit of rest, Laark would be much improved, which would certainly speed up the group getting out of this desert.   

Of course that would mean a delay here as they allowed the large alien to rest.

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"Stuck on a rock" cursed a bitter and frustrated Starshot. He scanned, fruitlessly, the horizon. 

 

"There is no road out of here that is not perilous. Nor is staying here safe" he concluded. "There is nothing for it, we are damned however we turn". 

 

He looked up at the glaring blue sun, his visor dimming with the flare. 

 

"Lets wait till nightfall then. Build a shelter. Hope for rain...and I'll take a look at my smoke grenades..."

 

He had only two more smoke grenades left, but it did occur to him that they might be modified, to thin the smoke but keep the stench. 

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