My species is probably best known for being very orderly. Springers, in general, follow rules very well and are somewhat OCD. Most of our professions generally end up falling under soldier, lawmen, or something similar. The origin planet for Springers, Secco, isn't exactly the friendliest place in the world, what with the Morlichs and the twenty foot sandwurms. So with that, Springers are a tough, quick, and moralistic species in the universe.
I guess that makes me the worst Springer in existence.
To be honest, most of it can be chalked up to the fact that I wasn't even born on Secco. I was born on Zarok, a moon base far from the galaxy Secco rested in. Originally it had no atmosphere, but twenty years of complex machines pouring steam and oxygen into the atmosphere had made it livable.
Then one hundred years of peace made it a tourist hotspot.
A sudden thirty years of war made it hell.
And lastly, twenty years of reconstruction made it an anarchic, degraded, and dark society.
Now is it any wonder I turned out as buggering rotten as I am?
I look like an average springer Oh so completely average. That natural yellow-gold fur with a few stripes of darker brown down my back and tail, which is thick and heavy. My large, hoof-clawed legs and feet are totally brown, and match a tuft of fur that goes over my golden eyes.
With an odd build like this comes, honestly, comes some pretty neat skills. I can easily jump twice my own height, out run any lawmen of any kind, and break a back with a tight bear hug or well place drop-kick from behind. So I was naturally endowed to be hardy, fast, strong, and adept to combat
I was well ahead of the curve on Zarok, much to my parents' dismay. It never did sit well with them how much I just simply did not care. They were born on Secco, yet they got the bright idea that they should go to Zarok and start a family. Why? Why did they do such an idiotic thing?
They wanted to help with the yet ongoing reconstruction of this war ridden planet.
Like I said, Springers are OCD. They can't even stand for something light years away to be out of order. So about a year after the 'rents get here, they have me and try to raise me to be ethical, kind, and strong in the face of anarchy
But they didn't count on me meeting Iwayne, probably the craziest Kalarian on this side of the Horsehead Nebulae. He's maybe a head shorter than me, but bipedal all the same. If I had to describe him, he was a cross between a frog and a dog. Slick skin. Long muzzle. A short tail. Iwayne, or simple Wayne, as I called him, was black with splashes of purple. He had poisonous skin, which was a bit useful for some alien species who considered biting an acceptable form of combat.
It wasn't helping him the day I found him, however. This was when I was of twelve years, not even fully grown. At that time I was starting to show signs of discontent. Trouble at home, school, and on the way in between them both, yet I did something good that day I met Wayne.
I saved his life.
It was on the corner of Zeinth and High. Large, lumbering vehicles passed by. Most used tracks of steel and iron, and ran from engines that poured black smoke from their exhaust. And everything, from the shop fronts, the ground beneath our feet, could be described in one word Grey. Iron ore had been grossly abundant in the moon, and had originally been shiny clean. But the war changed everything. Things became dented and rusted, particularly after the war used up all the plasma fuel. With no one willing to fuel a petty war over mere ideals of living, Zarok had raided the oil rich and water covered planet that anchored it, Zarik, and used it to create a cheap fuel that powered powerful and hardy engines of destruction
Diesel. They used to diesel to finish the war. A low grade, filthy fuel that pushed tanks through buildings and steel hover ships through air.
It didn't take long before a permanent smog covered everything, and it ruined the idea of Zarok becoming the recreation spot it once was. You can still visit the vacation homes, the amusement parks, and the boardwalks that once bustled with life . But Zarok was and still is a society that runs off diesel and broken dreams. So there's nothing but grey, not matter where you look
Which is ironic, because that was the species of the pursuants that were trying to kill Wayne.
I crossed the street once it seemed safe, dressed in a grey, uniform jumpsuit that was school uniform, only to be knocked down by Wayne. We crashed to the ground and I covered my nose and mouth. I could smell the venom on his skin.
"Move it, Springer!" he hissed, trying to get out from under me. He didn't look well. He looked a little dry, which was dangerous for his species, and his color was off Kalarians are very sensitive to pollution. I pushed myself off of him, only to be knocked down by a stun baton. I growled in pain and turned, where four little Greys stood, with their black, pupiless eyes.
Nasty little things, if not fiercely intelligent. Humans are more than familiar with them, seeing as they harassed planet Earth for the longest time, seemingly for the hell of it. Caused a bit of a ruckus at Roswell I hear
The first one pointed to me and then jerked its thumb down the road, where most other passerby's were walking and pretending like they weren't seeing anything. It spoke to me in Common.
"Walk off, little Springer! Go have a ho-down back home and forget what you saw here."
Its voice dripped into my ear like oil. It was making an obvious jab to planet Secco's somewhat rustic appearance, and it made me mad. I was nothing like those uptight and homegrown bounders. I was nothing like my parents, all caught up in their good habits and stern ways. So I kicked out my hindpaw and smashed the arrogant little alien in the gut. And . without really meaning to
I killed him.
My kick was strong enough, and he was small enough, that he went flying fifteen feet, straight beneath the treads of a cargo truck. The sickening splat was so crisp, it was almost comic Almost. Horrified, I stared as the other two Greys ran check on the little monster. I would have been content just to sit there, if not to keep my stomach from turning, but Wayne grabbed my collar and dragged me up.
"Well! That puts you in with my lot, which is anyone that's pissed 'em off. Now come on!"
I scrambled to my feet and turned, following the Kalarian that had hated me only a few seconds before. He was dressed in a somewhat bright red outfit, red jeans and jacket, so he was easy to follow in the dreary surroundings. Of course, he ran slowly and with a ragged step. Alley after alley we ran through before he suddenly stopped at a steel armored door. It looked thick enough to withstand a tank shell. He swiped a card in the card-swipe next to it, trembling with nervousness. Two thick glassed light bulbs were imbedded in the wall next to it. Green and red. The red one promptly lit up.
"SHARADIN! Work damn you!" he said, cursing in a few more languages for good measure. He swiped the card again and again. And again and again it was red. I started to panic too, and before I could help myself I snatched the card from his hand.
"Here!" I said, rubbing it against my fur. It was a trick I'd learned long ago, fur created a bit of static electricity that charged the magnetic strip. I gave it to him and he swiped it. The green light finally came on, and huge and heavy tumblers in the door unlocked it. Before the door was open enough for me to walk through, Wayne dove in and skittered through the darkness. I tried pulling the door, only to find that it was mechanized.
At the same time a medium-grade phaser was pressed against my head. The blood ran from my long ears, leaving the insides pale and white. I raised my hands up and held my breath.
"We We will have fun with you, Springer We have maaany things we'd like to test on you "
I swallowed. Did I mention that Greys are notorious for their rampant experimentation and general disregard for life?
The steel door opened fully, and suddenly Wayne was there, holding something. Something cylindrical and silver. He aimed it at the two remaining Greys next to me, grinned, and said the coolest thing I had ever heard.
"Oh, what a coincidence. So do I."
He pulled the trigger and it jerked, pouring a loose ray of black light that split and dove into the Greys' chests, stopping their nine chambered hearts in their tracks. It made a low, throbbing noise that made my ears twitch and fall back on my head. They Greys fell where they stood, and the black ray retracted and pointed at me. I stayed frozen and looked to the Kalarian.
He tilted his head sideways and sized me up. The ray followed his motion, probing the air near me. For a moment I thought I was done, particularly when the ray dove towards me and wrapped around my middle. I was drug inside the steel doorway, where I was met with total darkness. I could only hear Wayne's voice and the slow shutting of the door. It was humid, and very moist. In fact, I could hear misters lined against the wall spraying a light mist all around.
"Tell me your name."
"Uh Kasabian," I said, not bothering to mention my last name. The ray around my waist tightened a bit it felt cold.
"How odd Your name, in common language anyhow, is a mere two letters from my species name," he said. I winced. It was a "popular" subject at school.
"Yes So I've been told."
"Hmm How old are you?"
"Where are you from?"
"Hmm Now why the hell are you answering these questions without hesitation or questioning?"
That brought me up short. I had been on autopilot while answering all the questions. So I shrugged.
"I I don't know. Maybe because you're the one with the gun?"
" Smart kid Smart lil' Springer, yes you are Now answer three more questions and I'll let you get home One, what do you know about harbidger-vectronics?"
"Well that answers that. Now Two. What do you think of this?"
The lights were suddenly switched on, and my mind reeled from the flood of brightness that made my pupils reel in pain. I screwed my eyes shut, looking down at the ground as I cleared my head. when I looked up and at the massive steel beast that hung in the center of the room, may jaw dropped.
It was a hundred foot long and fifty foot wide air ship. But it was strangely different than anything that I had ever seen before. It treads that lined the bottom of it, on either side of a hover-generator, yet on the sides it had stubby stabilizer wings with rows of oddly shaped propellers along them. Air and land?
Yet that wasn't even the craziest part. It's shape. It was almost round and tubular. It had a smooth shape that made it look like it could flow through any form of matter. And it was then that it clicked. The propellers weren't just propellers They were screws. They were screws that could drive the thing under water.
"Well? What do you think?" the Kalarian said. I turned. He no longer weapon aimed at me. In fact, he was propped up against it and smiling at my expression. He seemed much better than he had been, now that he was in a more agreeable environment for his kind. His green eyes bore down on me. I stared back up at the ship.
"It's it's amazing," I whispered, "What is it?"
He chuckled. "It's an old, scrapped gun ship that was used in the war. Decommissioned, disarmed, and sold to the highest bidder Me, Iwayne Bander."
"But what have you done to it?"
"I've made it better almost. Soon, it will be able to withstand and efficiently travel through all five forms of transportation without malfunction. Air, land, water, space, and warp gate For the last twenty years, this has been my project. By me and me alone."
I stared at him. " You're mad."
He gave me an eerily fierce grin.
"Well That brings us to question number three How would you like to be mad with me, and help finish it?"
I blinked in shock, looked back at the ship, and to Wayne. I pointed to myself.
"Me? You want me to help build that?" I pointed to the ship. "Why? I know nothing "
Wayne motioned to himself. "Look at me Kasabian. I'm a Kalarian. I can barely go out for a few hours before I feel ill, and twenty years in this hell has left me in bad shape. I need someone quick and hardy, and can get what I can't. A Springer is just what I need. More so, someone who's shown that they can make a quick choice in a tight spot," he said, "I can pay you better than anyone on this moon and, when the times come, you can help my fly this thing What do you say?"
I looked back at the ship, my mind cranking. A job. My parents had been harassing the hell out of me about getting one. And the opportunity to finally get out of Zarok on top of that Away from my parents Away from responsibility
Was it any wonder I said yes?
We agreed to meet twice a week. I told my parents five so that I could get out of the house often. He'd give me a list, cash, and I'd get whatever was needed. If I needed to use a truck, I could take one. If I needed extra cash for myself, he wasn't below a little advance. He was kind and a genuinely interesting alien to be around, and I soon found myself actually fulfilling the five-a-week schedule I had originally told my parents.
So how was parts-running against the Springer norm? What made it so taboo that, once my parents found out about it, I was promptly evicted from the house?
Simple. Iwayne was an inter-galactic wanted criminal, and I knew it. I had known it from the day I had met him, and I didn't even care.