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 Of all the rocks in the galaxy, why this one?, Sci-fi? Fantasy? Let's see where it goes
Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 27 2015, 05:17 PM
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animal impulses
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It was all the same in these janky little towns, those that called it home seemed to have that same hollow-eyed look going. The sort that indicated they'd seen too much that they wished they had not, the sort that said they hadn't had a real night's sleep in far, far too long. Lyle had come to recognize when a town was being tormented, he could almost taste the tension in the air.

The government had stepped in at first, they'd taken care of the vast majority of Them, but once the creatures had dispersed they had all but washed their hands of it. There were still plenty out there, but their government had opted to avert their eyes, the attacks too uncoordinated and sporadic to predict. They had bigger issues to handle these days, the appearance of Them had given them reason to turn their wary eyes skyward. It didn't help that They had learned how to take on human form, it made it all the more difficult to track down the stupid things. Instead of wasting vital resources on trying to track each one of the remaining creatures, the government had instead put out a standing contract: Anyone who brought in a body of one of the things would be rewarded handsomely. Thus the hunters had begun to spring up.

Sometimes the creatures would get comfortable in one spot, which Lyle had come to notice was typically some town or city nearby the water oddly enough. The big cities were too well regulated, teeming with hunters and certainly dangerous for Them. Instead They seemed to like the small towns, usually the ones surrounded by lots of thick woods and water of some kind. The townspeople were easily spooked and, for whatever reason, often in denial. They rarely trusted newcomers because it was difficult to tell who was actually human and who wasn't anymore. It made his job difficult at times. Now was no different, and as Lyle occupied a small section at the end of the dingy little bar he let his thoughts drift. How much easier would it be if there were some way to tell the difference between them? Yet, he hadn't found a way that didn't include death. Not yet at least.

“Hey sweetheart.” He purred to the bartender, flashing pearly whites and a genial smile, he was doing his best to pull off charming but it probably just came off as slimy. “I've heard that there have been an awful lot of strange disappearances around these parts lately.” The girl gave him a weary look and bore a frown. “You got money mister?” She drawled, deciding in an instant he wasn't worth more than what he could afford to buy. Lyle bore an offended expression. “Of course I have money.” He reassured her, downing the rest of the amber liquid in the glass before him. She gave him a distrusting look. “Uh huh, well I don't know nothing about them missing people.” She said with a shrug, working on drying out a glass before putting it away. Lyle opened his mouth to speak, he could tell she wasn't being truthful, but he was interrupted when another woman made her way from the yawning doorway behind the bar. The first girl looked away quickly, tending to her task. “Ally, make sure you dry those glasses all the way this time you know how I feel about water spots.” The second woman barked before coming over to where Lyle was perched. “Look mister, we don't want any trouble in here.” Lyle held up his hands as if to protest but the woman ignored him and continued on. “If you want to sit quietly and drink then go right ahead, otherwise you need to pay your tab and get out.” Lyle smiled a thin smile and nodded his agreement. No use in getting kicked out. His eyes wandered over the other patrons in the bar, maybe one of them would be more willing to talk about what was going on. Lyle tried to meet someone's eyes, sure to take it as an invitation.

The hesitance in some of these towns befuddled him, but then again he had heard of cult-like worship of Them, as if trying to tip toe around the creatures would somehow spare their lives. Lyle knew better, he'd seen the things up close and personal. They didn't care how anyone felt about them, not that he'd witnessed anyhow.

--------------------
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
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knox
 Posted: Jul 31 2015, 01:18 AM
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basically a ghost
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Earth was supposed to be dead.

Everyone in her neck of the universe presumed it was a dry, brown mess of rocks floating feebly along in the Solar System, Milky Way. She had found out that it wasn’t by the purest of accidents. In fact, she hadn’t set out to discover Earth at all. She was only trying to get away. In fact, she was heading for Urochrgm when she saw it. It was just a speck on her transmitter, but she had a natural penchant for curiosity, and even though her vessel was breaking down, it seemed worth the extra 70 or so million kilometer hop to go investigate.

She didn’t have to look at her cracked transmitter screen to figure out that Earth was, in fact, not dead. At 600 kilometers, she could see it for herself. In fact, she could feel it. It took her breath away with its swirls of gas and white blankets of water vapor and great brown patches of what she’d guessed was land.

It made sense to her now why the Earthmen descendants in her spit of the universe always talked about their ancestral planet in the past tense. Once they’d fallen through a wormhole or been secretly transported and smuggled away into another galaxy nothing could ever be that beautiful again. Nothing out in space could rival those land formations, those tranquil cloudy wisps, that color she had only seen given off by flashing navigation beams and once before in the light of someone’s eyes.

And she had been places. Sometimes she’d see as many as four planets in the eighth of one hop. Days, they called them here. And it was Mercury, not Urochrgm.

Sohl-err Siz-tehm, Milk-ee Way.

Even with her universal translator working the syntax for her she still had to get used to Earth sounds. Amer-i-kehn Eng-lish sounds. There were 6,499 other sounds reverberating on Earth’s surface.

El Sistema Solar. La Vía Láctea.

太 阳 系.

Sonnestelsel. Melkweg.

Tokë.

And there were more yet. Older ones, ones that had died out.Those dead and dying sounds, those were the ones she recognized.

She hung in Earth’s atmosphere for a while watching the sattelites swing around at snail speed. With her reflectors up nobody from Russia to Israel knew she was there. Then, after consulting her dashboard one more time, she pressed ignition and went wizzing down through all the layers of the atmosphere that grade school kids know so well. The air around her thickened, and the great brown patches of land changed shape, and suddenly she was in Carlin, Nevada.

She trusted her veiled ship to the desert and gently asked the shrubs and Joshua trees to keep an eye out for trouble. The Earth air was hard to walk in, but she knew she had to push through. Her time here would as likely as not be limited. She used the Humbolt River as her marker and made her way into town as quickly as she could.

~ * ~

She had not expected to find lodging so easily. The Earthmen did not turn her away. The thought that they might not know any better passed through her mind and from there she felt the first fresh pang of guilt. She offered to bless them for their kindness and the moh-tel owner clucked from behind the front desk and told her, “That’s all right, hon. In fact, good ol’ fashioned hospitality is just our line of work, isn’t it Anders?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

Apparently there was someone else around there who did the blessing. And apparently she was not the only one there who hailed from another part of the universe, either. She had an inkling of that before she landed in Carlin so she didn’t doubt it and now that she was there she could almost feel it.

The Earthwoman behind the desk, who referred to herself as Eva, shuddered and whispered of “Them.

From another quarter, her mate, Anders called, “Yeah, that’s right. Them.

Since it had been well established that she was not one of them she was met with a warmth unlike any she had encountered in her travels. A warmth that made her wonder, briefly, if Earth was the place she was looking for.

According to Eva all she needed to stay in the Earth-men dwelling was a name, a ruhm-key, and some sort of currency. Cash, which with the help of the universal translator, she deciphered as something tradable, or plas-tik, for which there seemed to be no direct translation.

The names she had were many. The one chose for herself was Sili. Cash, she had none of, but the trade was not due until check out at TEN AEM. She was bound to find some by then. Sili made up her mind to start the search before the night set in and Eva clucked about wouldn’t Sili like to take a nice, warm bath, and wouldn’t Sili like to change out of those tattered clothes?

She took the ruhm-key and announced that she would return moh-mehnt-ar-ily and she hoped that that’s what she’d meant to say.

Eva sighed, fussed, and finally relented, but not before giving Sili some apparatus for the foot.

“You’re getting my floor all black. You can’t go around leavin’ those marks everywhere, hon.”

And it was true. Sili’s skin left dark smudges on whatever surface her skin touched upon. Born of umbra cast by a distant celestial body, her skin was black as the depths of the dark cluster and gave off a residual charcoal dust. She would have looked a might bit spooky if it weren’t that her eyes were so golden and so bright they resembled the entire glimmering Solar System as it screamed by at hyper drive.

In fact, on her side of the universe she was considered to be the most beautiful thing in it. Here, they’d politely say she was exotic.

Sili put on the feet apparatus and began her hunt for tradable currency.
There was a place up the hill with glass letters on the block roof. She walked inside and the bartender swore. On the dimly lit casino floor Sili’s eyes blazed like two ovular diamonds in the shadow of her skin.

She had been to a joint like this one in the Andromeda and she thought she knew what to expect. She walked straight ahead without looking at anybody at first. She flashed her eyes from one side and then she darted them to the other. She didn’t perceive anyone or anything in the Café, Bar, Casino to be a direct threat to her so she plopped herself down in front of the first Earthman she made eye contact with.

He just so happened to be Lyle.

“Hi there, friend,” she said, doing her best to make Earth sounds like an Earthman. “Think you could help me out? I’m looking for cash.”
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Aug 24 2015, 02:52 PM
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animal impulses
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It was like the appearance of Them had somehow paved the way for all sorts of intergalactic space trash to come floating on in. Earth apparently now had some gigantic neon exit sign that flashed obnoxiously and pulled wanderers off of their path. Now, Lyle had only encountered a handful of these foreign creatures, he typically found it better to avoid them entirely rather than engage directly. Maybe it was his time in the military with all the other xenophobes, or maybe it was just because he earned money by doing what he did, but these 'visitors' made him incredibly uncomfortable. Lyle didn't trust them.

His normal tactic of outright ignoring any of these foreign beings was not going to work for him this time, and Lyle knew it the second that his eyes locked with the stranger's. Lips parting subtly as he scrambled for words, Lyle was trying to process the thing that was now sitting near him. Sitting and talking. To him. It was talking to him.

“Uhhh.” It was a stupid sound, one that left his lips before he could even help it. Lyle laughed. It bought him some time.

The recovery he made was relatively quick really, and Lyle fell back on his normal tactics of handling things that made him uncomfortable. He was all teeth, flashing the brightest grin he could manage, beaming like a bona fide ray of sleazy southern sunshine. Stringy dishwater blond hair and the residual scent of motor oil, there wasn't a single damned thing that screamed money about him. In fact, he looked as though he'd been sleeping under a bridge. Probably because he had been.

“You 'an me both love. You 'an me both.” Reaching forward for the bowl of god-knows-how-old bar peanuts, he grabbed a few and began to work at the stale shells. Slowly an idea was beginning to form, the gears in his head turning over and over. Dark eyes flicked left and right as he mused. Lyle wasn't necessarily stupid, he was just impulsive. He made good money doing what he did, but he couldn't seem to keep a hold of any of it, the fact was that Lyle spent money like it was going out of style. When he had it, he drank himself into stupors, he was overly generous, and he bought ridiculous things. Frivolous things. At the end of his spending binges he was typically left with his motorcycle and a backpack filled with a few things. Everything else wound up pawned off to get him by until the next payday. This was why he was now so desperate, desperate enough to elicit the help of some odd looking alien thing.

“Tell you what-- I might be able to help you.” Lyle leaned in somewhat, as if he had some great secret to share. It took everything in him to keep calm, the visitor was unlike anything he'd ever laid eyes upon. Quite frankly, that scared him a bit. After seeing Them in their natural form, in all their toothy nasty glory, he was more than slightly wary of the space traveling sorts. Lyle was good at keeping up the 'good ol boy' facade though, having had to play nice to inch his way out of more than one uncomfortable situation. He wasn't so xenophobic as to turn his back on the potential win-win here.

“All I've got left is this twenty,” When the barkeep turned to give him a look Lyle held up one hand. “Don't worry Ally I plan on paying ya.” Turning back to the strange, yet oddly striking creature, Lyle shook his head. “After I tab out it'll be about ten bucks. Now...” He turned and looked at the casino portion of the dinky little bar, arching a blond brow. His voice lowered some. “They won't let me play at the poker table anymore, they said I was counting cards or some bull.” This twenty was actually the last of his winnings. All blown on booze. They'd said he could drink here but he was banned from playing. “Let's you 'an me take this ten and try your luck instead, what'd'ya think?” He drawled flashing another sweet little smile. He sure thought he was some kind of charming. “I can coach you.” Technically... there was nothing against the rules here with that. He wasn't playing. He would only be 'observing'. In theory. They might get a few rounds in before the owners decided he wasn't even worthwhile as a customer and kicked the both of them out.
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knox
 Posted: Sep 16 2015, 11:40 AM
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basically a ghost
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Sili blinked. She blinked and smiled as she watched Lyle grope around in his head for the right thing to say. She knew, by his waffling chuckle, by the way his irises iced over and his eyelids stopped fluttering, that he was ill at ease. It wouldn’t take a universal translator to explain that one. What this all- their meeting- might look like if they were outside of this Hotel Bar Casino occurred to her. Sili felt sorry for him. The smile she was wearing was just something she picked up from the Earth-women she saw in the broadcast signals and radio waves she intercepted on her way in. A strait-laced, patient way to tell the Earth-men to hurry it up and do what I say, please.

In Sili’s cold, blue corner of the universe, this smile didn’t exist. Perhaps it didn’t need to.

Golden pins of light poked through the windows from where the Earthstar dipped behind the dusty, vermilion summit of Red Rock Canyon. Other heavenly bodies began to blink on like faraway headlights in a purple sky.

Night was coming. The Earth moon would soon start glowing out of its tiny, white sliver and Lyle. Well, Lyle would be dead soon. That is, if he didn’t hurry and produce some form of currency right-quick, as they said. She just needed one night here, enough to save a little fuel, and then maybe she could save them all. Grace them with the sight of her rocket thrust tearing through the atmosphere.

As she was smiling and waiting, waiting and worrying, worrying and aware that she could sense time slipping away from them, Lyle said the magic words twuhnt-ee and ten and Sili clapped. He mumbled the words poker-table and Sili’s universal translator rang off the definition inside her head.

She leaned in and nodded. Stuck out her slim black hand and her long, matte fingers.

“What do you need to coh-ch me on” Sili spoke low, like Lyle did, so that the bar staff couldn’t hear, “if all I need to do is bluff?”

She took Lyle's hand and shook it, leaving black blotches on his knuckles. Grinning, her open mouth gleaming like glass in her space-black head, Sili stole over to the carpeted line between the bar and casino floor. She looked over her shoulder at Lyle with a sudden air of uncertainty breaching her face. Leaving all but her eyes in shadow.

Bluffing was what got her here, millions of light-years away. Sili bluffing in the high courts of the cold, cold, cold, blue pocket in her side of the universe was what was going to get Earth, get Lyle, the nice people at the motel, the Hotel Bar Casino, and “Them,” blown up.

Sili shook it off. Just one night, and then they'll all be blessed.

"What are you waiting for, pardoner?"

Partner is what she wanted to say, but the colloquial pardner confused the hell out of the universal translator, and it was just as well.
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