Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Evopunk Lives! Stones, Episode Two

He saw something silver glittering between the greenleg’s eye and earhole.

A Magpie control blob. What kind of maniacs would use those on big dinosaurs?

Okay, enough moping around. I decided to take a little holiday this morning and knock out a new chapter of the evopunk serial Stones.

Here's the deal. I am not going to be devoting myself to this in a serious fashion. It's playtime for me, no rewrites, no revisions, no serious plans, no more than a couple of hours writing any given episode. This is just for fun. And part of that fun is having an audience and getting a response.

You know what made me want to do another chapter? People asked. (Hey, Glendon! Hey, Peter!) And I got hits. The more interaction I get with this, the more interested I'm gonna be in continuing it. The Stones story could go on for a while -- but I'm also wide open to suggestions and requests. In the short run, is there a critter in the Morrison formation you'd like to see? Or another place, another period? A mystery you want resolved? More information on the Transit Authority? Some real aliens, or some more alternate time-line type aliens like the Magpies? Want to know why Skinner and Duke are refugees? The more you give me to bounce off of, creatively, the more fun I'm gonna have and the more episodes you're gonna get.

And just to sweeten the pot, how about a contest?

The first person to figure out the origins of Skinner and Duke's names gets an 8.5" x 11" signed print of any dinosaur image from my Picassa gallery.
(Click here to peruse!)


click here for episode one


Skinner, perched on the carcass of the dead saddleback, felt exposed. An oxbow river to the right, with a riparian forest of cedars and redwoods bordered by cycads, but all around him was fern prairie, a rough terrain where it was hard to run and harder to hide.

Without taking aim, Skinner scanned the ultralight soaring overhead, his spex feeding the acquisition information directly into one of the rounds in his gun, a stop ‘em — a Self-Targeting Plasma Missile. Under the circumstances, it wasn’t quite overkill.

“If you shoot him without probable cause we’ll blow our contract,” Duke said.

“He’s here,” Skinner said. “That’s probable cause.”

“Not enough for the TA.”

“Shit,” Skinner said, and wheeled. There was something big coming across the prairie. His spex brought it into focus – it was a greenleg, one of three distinct local species whose skeletons would have been classified as Allosaurus fragilis if found fossilized. They were middle-sized, averaging around thirty-five feet long, and they roamed in small prides out in the open. It was strange to see one alone. But that wasn’t the only weird thing about the greenleg.

It had riders. This was something new. A howdah made of heavy nylon over a tube frame was slung across its back and fastened with thick straps, forming a nest on each of the big predator’s flanks. There was a passenger in each nest; they were both carrying guns. Guns aimed at Skinner.

Skinner threw himself back, putting the bulk of the saddleback between him and the incoming. A wad of something white, soft, and sticky hit the spot where he’d been standing. A hypersonic crack came from overhead, trailing the round that had been meant for Skinner.

Skinner didn’t have to look; he just pulled the trigger and let the stop ‘em do its work. It was a gyrojet round, essentially a capacitor hooked up to a rocket engine. It took a moment to get up to speed, then its course twisted skyward. Skinner kept moving; another round of glue smacked into the ferns behind him.

When the stop ‘em got to the ultralight the capacitor discharged, turned the round and the air around it to a globe of plasma so hot the aircraft and its pilot were vaporized. The only debris left were particles of grit and flakes of ash blowing in the breeze.

“Something’s coming out of the forest,” Duke said.

Skinner glanced over; the fat man had put down his chainsaw and picked up his rifle. He was aiming at something out of Skinner’s line of site. Skinner took a moment to scan the area with both his spex and the cameras mounted on his gun. Two more greenlegs with passengers, converging on them from different directions. They moved more quickly over the broken terrain than any man-made vehicle.

Duke’s rifle went off once, then once more. “Go for the riders,” he said. “Once they’re down —”

There was a smack and Duke grunted as a wad of glue slapped against him, fastened his right arm to his side, made him drop his rifle.

Skinner didn’t waste time taking out the passengers. Instead, as more glue rounds splattered against the wall of meat behind him, he dropped, braced his rifle against the ground, and used its railgun function to launch a four-ounce iron sphere at the closest greenleg. It hit the allosaurid so hard the beast turned into a giant meatbomb, flesh and bone and blood blasting a red fan across the ferns.

Duke cursed as another wad of glue hit him, then dropped to the ground. The glue must have been drugged.

There was a thump, and waves went through the saddleback. Skinner looked up and saw the head of the greenleg coming over the curve of the saddleback’s ribcage. He saw something silver glittering between the greenleg’s eye and earhole.

A Magpie control blob. What kind of maniacs would use those on big dinosaurs?

“Fucker,” the woman on the right side of the howdah said, and aimed her gluegun. The moment froze like a photograph and Skinner took in the green bandana on her head, the T-shirt with a grinning cartoon alligator and the cowboy cursive under it: Gatorheads.

No time to load the railgun; Skinner let loose with a burst of three nine-millimeter rounds. The woman’s face was still recognizable. Barely.

The greenleg didn’t flinch; he was remote controlled. Skinner couldn’t see whoever was in the other side of the howdah. He started to prep the railgun when he felt something punch his back hard enough to bruise, and that was it.

He was glued.

“Shelly? Shelly?” The man’s voice came from the other side of the greenleg on the saddleback. The predator’s eyes seemed dreamy, unfocused, and it stood still, just shifting its weight enough to stay balanced as its claws sank into the saddleback’s meat. Skinner saw a blonde head with a red face come across the greenleg’s back; the man screamed when he saw what was left of Shelly.

Behind Skinner, he heard the other greenleg approach through the underbrush.

“I told him we should just kill these shits,” someone said. “Jesus, what a fucking balls-up.”

As Skinner’s vision went glassy and then rippled, he noticed the man above him wore the same T-shirt that Shelly had. Gatorheads?

The man spat, hit Skinner in the face. “Fuck you,” he said. “Mr. Big Johnson’s gonna make you wish we’d just shot you. Just you wait.”
To Be Continued!

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