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Chapter Four

That’s Definitely Not A Vibe

“Please don’t do that. It makes your father uncomfortable.”

“So, you’re a boy. That means I can do anything I want to you.”

“Hmm… who is it that you answer to here on The Star Seeker?”

“The Queen of Chaton.”

“And who is the owner of The Star Seeker?”

“… You are.”

“As your father, I request that you make an effort to respect my wishes.”

“Not… a vibe… You’re a boy wearing a dress that doesn’t wanna be fucked?”

“While I am very much interested in your passions, I do not share such desires. So the way that I dress is but a product of my royal status in a Matriarchal upbringing. My mother raised me this way and there were never any males in the royal family, so when I was born, all I had were dresses.”

“She’s in hell now so… you don’t need to keep dressing like that. You’d also vibe better, naked.”

“While the political power of our homeworld has shifted, the Matriarchal requirement for myself is still in place even though I’ve been given the biggest stick. Still, I will stick to the traditions my mother has given me for the sake of my world and the Queens that allow me their strength. I suppose dressing as I do is proof that I forgive and love my mother, even if she doesn’t feel the same.”

“That’s not a vibe. I’ll never forgive my mother for taking my claws. The Chaton Queen is selfish and sees us as disposable… That goes for all the Queens really.”

“I will not ask you to forgive your Queen, nor myself. Actions speak louder than words, so I will prove that I’ll always love you, Zaras, even if you come to hate me as much as the others. Can you vibe with that?”

4273 eyes opened, staring at the grass beyond her shades. Her vision was a tad blurry, causing her to wipe the tears from her eyes. When she could finally see, 4273 noticed someone was squatting beside her, legs spread open. Her eyes focussed a bit more as she then realized there was a pistol to her head.

“What’s your name, 4273? Tell me and I won’t put a hole in your brain.”

“… Is that so, my ignorant sister? Well with all disrespect, you may suck my left ovary and eat my ass.”

“… Una… my name is Una.”

“Be proud that your pathetic life has some value, sister… Father calls me Zaras.” The moment she heard it, Una let out a sigh of relief through her nose while holstering her gun. Zaras was surprised by the Orc’s sigh. “As if you’ve already accepted, father’s vibe,” she scoffed.

“I only care about finishing the mission for Father’s sake and if that means working with both of you, then so be it,” Una said.

“Both?” She asked while climbing to her feet.

“It is I… daughter of Lucy, betrothed to her demonic glory,” 5699 sang while stepping from the wild flora, toting a rifle as long as her body.

“Lucy prevents Father from finding peace in the heavens,” Zaras began with a matter-of-fact tone. “While I refuse to follow the ignorant arrogance of angels, I’m very much aware that it would be a place of vibe for Father. Therefore, Lucy is a worthless bitch.”

With speed ingrained into her muscles and bones, the young devil-worshiper whipped out a thick resolver under Zaras’s chin and pulled the trigger. Before it fired, Zaras causally backhanded her sister’s hand away, causing the bullet to wiz into the trees.

“You spit on my Queen’s name, heathen! Lucy provides love and friendship towards father, something your kind knows nothing about.” She leaned back with a smirk. “I suppose we should thank you. If your out-of-control Queen hadn’t given in to her primal desires, Father wouldn’t have been born again and met my Queen. Your Queen will forever be the defiler and devourer of Father! Your kind needs to be put down like the heathen’s you are.”

“Don’t be confused, my boisterous blind sister, I’ve no loyalty to my Queen and I tell you my name is Zaras because Father’s life is in danger. The fact you’ve not spoken your name makes you a threat to him. Do you vibe?”

She glared into Zaras’s glasses, trying her best to melt her sister’s face off with just her gaze. Una on the other hand didn’t wait as she had spent some time looking over the rocky cliffside Zaras had supposedly fallen from.

“Sib, Is it safe to climb?”

“Sure, if you’re an expert rock climber, something you’re not! I’ve seen your training records,” He laughed. “Just jump it, dummy!”

“What?”

Having full control of her clothing, Sib forced her into a crouch and sprang her clear above the treeline. The rocky surface sped past her at frightening speeds, threatening to grind her down to the bone if she came any closer. In moments the rocky blur was gone, replaced with more trees but with empty drop pods. She stood there stunned by what just happened, her adrenalin having kicked into overdrive.

“I don’t like surprises, Sib, but that was pretty cool.”

“Thank you! I’m full of tricks you’re not authorized for.”

“Why wouldn’t I be? What’s more important than saving the ship or at least the Captain?”

“Those are the rules and I may keep my mouth shut but at some point, you’ll be questioned.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Sib, I recall fungus being… airborne?”

“Thanks to the spores they give off, yes! I’d suggest you go down to your local bio-lab store and spend up all your good girl points for a big bubble to live in, you big dummy.”

“Or?”

“Or I can just repel the spores like I’ve been doing the moment we landed.”

“What about the others down there?”

“Unknown! The APS was never designed with parasitic fungi in mind. For a while now I’ve been studying the APS flowing through their bodies but at some point the nanites will lose power, leaving them vulnerable to another infection. As long as they stay close, I can keep them charged indefinitely.”

“Thank you for your help, Sib. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.” She said, slowly inching toward the cliff to look down.

“Uhm… You’re… welcome I guess,” Sib said a tad taken aback by the appreciation.

“Are those two still alive?”

“Yes!”

“Can they hear you?”

“Only 5699.”

“Tell her what you told me, please.”

“Okay!”

Una stepped away from the cliffside towards the trees and pods. She noticed that each pod either still had a rifle or there was one on the ground. She also noticed 5699 scream out in rage slowly getting closer and closer.

“Everyone’s gone but their guns are still here,” Una said.

“Bio-coded!” Sib chimed. “Every gun is bio-coded under strict regulations. Meaning, if you so much as have a fever, your gun will not work, requiring that you stay in bed and rest.”

Una was tucked under the covers of her bunk. She never really complained about the cramped and poor commodities allowed to her but today she desperately wished she had a few more layers of blankets to stop her body from shivering. In the top corner monitor, there was a debate between her father and his officers aka the Queens that governed the different species of the ship. The Queens voted for killing off everyone that was sick. A few ways were to toss their bodies out an airlock or burn them to a crisp, something her father was strongly against. Then again he was always against their mistreatment either as their Captain or father. He even went as far as making sure everyone had their own room, something everyone was grateful for. Aside from the officers who somehow found joy in making lives harder for everyone on the ship, there were many outspoken about being given their personal space; Wanting nothing more than another reason to fight each other. In the end, everyone found it to be much more relaxing being able to hide away in their own little world thanks to Father. While he may be the Captain of the ship, there was little control he had over the Queens and their subjects. Una groaned out a command for the monitor to shut off, not caring how the debates might turn out. On some level, wishing she could sit in a cremation chamber if that meant getting rid of her bone-chilling fever. Losing track of time, she wasn’t sure if she was dreaming because when her bedroom slid open she turned on her back to see her Captain standing in the doorway while holding a sealed container in both hands. Behind him were two royal escorts. They were self-proclaimed “perfect” dolls that made sure her father didn’t do anything that was unbecoming of his royal status. The female dolls went with him everywhere and watched his every move although when it came to one on one interactions with his crew members he was adamant about leaving them behind. So when he stepped into Una’s cramped room, the two did not as the door slid closed. He stepped over to Una’s bedside and a stool materialized from the floor so he could sit. The young Orc’s heart raced as she sank into a deeper pit of despair. Sure she didn’t mind the thought of being put out of her misery but now, she wasn’t so sure. Let alone by the only person who had ever shown her love and compassion. However when he cracked the seal of the container, the room filled with an aroma that made her realize how hungry she was.

“Flour, eggs, water, and salt,” He began with a tone that was softer than that of a succubus or an angel. “With largely diced veggies and poultry, creating something I’m told is called… Chicken Noodle Soup. It’ll help you get better.”

Una’s sickly gaze stared at him in disbelief before beginning to weep.

Una allowed the memory to roll around in her thoughts as she slowly stepped through the trees and scattered pods. She noticed soft beeping, sounding four times before buzzing. The harsh sound signaled that something wasn’t working. The beeping came back, trying again and again only to receive that same failed buzzer. It came from deeper in the forest of trees and pods. As she stepped closer, she could also hear muffled weeping from the pod in front of her. Una pulled her rifle tighter while sidestepping just enough to see a figure sitting inside clad in a damaged power suit. Protruding from every joint and crack in the armor was a mix of black mushrooms. Looking as if the wearer had outgrown her suit and her mushroom-like fat was spilling out. The surface of her armor was covered in mushrooms that matched the suit’s color. Una never got the chance to wear armor allowed to high ranking cannon fodder but like everyone else she still had to be trained on it. So she knew the armor was capable of blending in with its surroundings but given how damaged it seemed to be, it flashed random colors. Somehow changing the color of the mushrooms that grew directly from the metal.

“That’s a Chaton Sergeant, and she’s crying,” Sib began. “That’s why these zombies are lame. Zombies aren’t supposed to cry.”

Una still didn’t know what a zombie was nor could she understand his reasoning of caring and not caring for the life of others. Still not wanting to give herself away, Una aimed at the exposed crack in her infected sister’s armor. Pulling the trigger, the round missed the neck, deflecting off her helmet. The infected Sergeant‘s neck cracked and popped as she turned away from the keypad. With a muffled roar, it dashed from the pod towards her. Staying as calm as she could be, Una’s trigger finger tapped out a few short bursts, pinging rounds off the mushroom-covered chest plate. The young Orc stood her ground as the hulking Sergeant of fungus and metal slammed her right foot into her chest. After having her chest caved in by her Queen, Una was determined to be prepared for the next time she took a boot to the chest. Una caught the kick with her left arm, locking it in place as she whipped out her sidearm to deliver a few shots straight into the exposed knee joint. The emptied the rest of the mag into the exposed neck of the armor only to realize she was just pissing it off. Its massive fungus-covered hand smacked the pistol from her grip before it lashed out and grabbed Una by the face.

“Don’t breathe until I say so!” Sib said as he instructed the goggles on her helmet to come down and cover her eyes. Una jammed the barrel of her rifle into the neck of the armor only for the creature to yank it away. The creature pointed the gun back at the young Orc’s head before pulling the trigger. It clicked as the safety function of the rifle glowed red. It dropped the rifle and began limping over to the cliff. It pulled back and was about to chuck Una when its leg gave out, toppling over off the cliff. The young Orc’s heart raced as she was dragged over the cliff with the creature. Her body jerked to a stop, feeling as if she got lucky enough for her backpack to snag on something. Una watched as the creature fell to the bottom and burst into a cloud of spores, leaving behind the damaged armor. She slowly looked back only to see Zaras clinging to the side of the cliffside and on her back was Kaida. Zaras grunted before flinging her Orc sister overhead and back onto solid ground. “This might hurt a little lot,” Sib said before starting to shock her repeatedly while her sisters finally climbed up. Una’s body locked up, losing control of herself as Sib sent a jolt of electricity through her. Her sisters walked past her not seeming very interested in whatever was happening to her.

“Good job Una,” Zaras said. “You killed my Sergeant 14237. She didn’t like my vibe so tossed me over the edge. I’m gonna wait until after you turn to cut your head off.”

“That’s fucking stupid, just blow her head off now!” The demonic sister said while adjusting her sniper and stepping back. She seemed oddly out of breath though Una was sure the girl was on Zaras’s back.

“That’s not father’s vibe, sister. Do you wanna be the one to explain why you didn’t wait?”

“We’re all gonna die, I hope you know and the sooner we kill her the longer we live.”

“We could just inject her,” Zaras said.

5699 stared blankly for a few moments before she said;

“… But a bullet is so much more convenient. I’ll just shoot off her arms and legs for now.”

“A little bit more and… done!” Sib chimed. “Not only did I shock away any leftover zombie spores from your filthy face, but I also showed you how to breakdance. You’re welcome! Oh, and you can breathe now.”

Una gasped for air, rolling over to cough on the grassy ground.

“We’ve got to keep moving,” Una grunted while climbing to her feet, hardening her resolve against the big gun aimed in her direction. “We might be able to finish the mission if we find where all the infected went. Zaras can you sniff them out?”

“I can sniff out a lot of things, my ugly green sister,” Zaras said as she casually stepped over to one of the pods. She reached for the fabricator’s keyboard only to see a wall of text that quickly blinked out before she could read it. It was replaced with a little emoji sticking its tongue out at her before it also disappeared. “Oooon… the Star Seeker, I can even smell the scent of a second male deep in the belly of the ship.”

“I…” 5699 began speaking, still a tad out of breath. “I’m also aware of something odd about our home.” Feeling Una’s suspicious gaze, the demonic sister finally decided to stop threatening Una. Realizing the Orc wasn’t gonna be easily intimidated. “Kaida… is my name.”

“I carried you and you’re out of breath?” Zaras asked while starting up a pods fabricator. “If there is another male on the ship, I plan on finding him.”

“Disgusting,” The demonic nun spat. “What you should do is kill yourself and hope my Queen sees you fit to be reborn instead of trying to fuck whatever’s giving off such a horrible aura. Even before my Queen chose me to be reborn from the flames of hell.” Leaning her head to the side, Kaida gave her Orc sister a twisted grin. “Your mother, the great Orc Queen, the undeserving heart of our father. When she died and was cast into the flames of hell, Father gave his first orders to plunge the Star Seeker into hell in search of her. Father’s silent rage was a sight to behold, this I swear.” She blushed, caressing the sides of her face as she became lost in the memory for but a moment. Fear washed over her as she went on to say, “But what was felt was not of Father, not of the ship, nor its AI, the mother of Sib. Not of the Queens nor the ancient ones who birthed them. Something much more frightening slumbers within the bowels of the ship. After being reborn by my wonderful Queen, that fear had become nothing more than a memory, and yet its presence remains as if I’m no longer locked in its gaze. So the fact you wish to fuck it almost makes you worst than this green abomination!”

Zaras stood there blankly staring until finally the drop pod’s fabricator pinged and spat out a backpack.

“So the ship has secrets,” Una began while recovering her side arm and rifle. “And yet none of that is useful right now. I suggest we load up while we’re here.”

“I have a suggestion!” Sib chimed in. “Reinforce your combat knife! You know when you’re playing a game and you’re asked if you want to upgrade your gear?” The sisters stood there staring back at each other for a moment before going back to preparing. “Don’t ignore me, you dummies!”

“We’ve never had access to that stuff, Sib,” Una said.

“Not true, you’re just stupid. Anyway, there are three rogue battalions consisting of three thousand total. You’re gonna run out of bullets so you better have something sharp and sturdy,” He explained.

“That’s… most definitely a vibe,” Zaras said as she pulled a katana from the fabricator.

“There we are, I can finally hear you. How’s it vibing my artificial brother?” Zaras asked while adjusting her black beret. Sib’s reply came as a burp and a hysterical laugh. “Sib, I truly envy your free-spirited vibe, but it’s not appropriate for the situation.”

“Can you blame him?” Kaida spoke up while working with the fabricator of another drop pod. Being that she was of another species she technically didn’t have access until Sib made it work for her. “If we fail and die, he’ll be here all by himself. Something I hear the Chaton Queen is no stranger to. So let him be happy, while he can.” She smirked, feeling as if she had a better understanding of the situation and Sib’s feelings

“Sib, can you figure out when and where the Star Seeker will crash?” Una asked while fixing her rifle strap. Making sure it stayed nice and snug to her chest.

“Nope!” Sib chimed. “Although the ship is falling, Queen Lucy has been tasked with preventing the ship from falling. How long she’s able to do so is unknown!”

“Couldn’t she just move the ship far enough to escape?”

“Unknown!” He laughed

“Oh, my Queen!” Kaida sang one hand over her breast. “My dark goddess of the underworld. Hang on just a little longer. We’re going to save you.” Her fabricator signaled it was done with a ping.

“Who… in the fuck… is we?!” Zaras snapped. “Pray to your piece of shit mother, but don’t lump me into that vibe.”

“Blatant blasphemy! I’ll skin you alive, Sinner!” Kaida said while pointing with her extremely curved blade.

“… What the hell is that?” Zaras asked, pointing at Kaida’s fabricated weapon.

“It’s… a hand scythe,” She lowered her weapon with a cold belittling gaze. “We’re not authorized to have a full-sized scythe.”

“Let me guess none of you demons are allowed but your Queen has one?”

“Tis why you’re a fool,” She pulled out a little black bible, flicking through a few pages. “Of which is ancient and dormant was passed from Lucy to Adam, for the Queen has become smitten,” Kaida sang with a hand over her chest as she seemed to bathe in the dark gospel.

“So Father has it?”

“… Yes.”

“You could have just said that.”

“We’re leaving, Zaras takes point.” Una chimed.

“Who the hell made you the leader?” Kaida barked as she moved up behind Una, following her closely.

“I’d much rather sniff out our infected sisters than be in the back smelling green ass all day,” Zaras grunted.

Una received a shoulder tap from Zaras as she walked to the front. While annoying, so far she was doing pretty good with keeping her emotions in check. Also because a question had been rolling around in her head.

“Sib?” Una began. “Is this a simulation?”

The question not only took Zaras and Kaida by surprise but also Sib.

“Oh wow, good question! I thought you’d ask something like… stopping the spores with gas masks or something!” The sisters stopped walking and glanced at the nearest drop pod before looking at one another. Sib went on to say, “A question that would be very VERY stupid given the maintenance and how much more effective it is to have AI-controlled nanites in your body and clothes. But no, we’re not in a simulation as far as we know.”

The three simultaneously sighed and began marching.

“Also,” Kaida chimed. “Making a mask for the fat-headed Chaton might be a problem.”

“It’s a fluff problem!” Zaras snapped, quickly regaining her composure. “We’re expendable pawns of the cruel and corrupt,” Zaras began while taking a small squat and hopping up onto a toppled tree trunk. “Why wouldn’t we be placed in a simulation and killed for not making the right choices?”

“I’d give anything to die and be born again,” Kaida sang. “This body of mine is FUCKING TAINTED!” She snapped

“The Captain is in complete control of all forms of technology on the ship.” Una began as she hopped up before giving Kaida a hand. “While we serve our matriarchs, I don’t think the Captain would allow it. The Chaton Queen is proof of what happens when you’re unsure of what’s real or fake.” She said while glancing at Zaras, her Chaton sister. Kaida on the other hand stared at Zaras with disgust in her gaze.

“Don’t look at me like that. I have self-control.” Zaras said.

“And yet your kind sees rape as foreplay,” Kaida said.

Zaras hopped down off the side. When she landed, the ground seemed to pop, releasing a mist of spores that engulfed her. Instinctively she sprang back up and bounded off the side of the fallen tree trunk landing a few feet away.

“You’re infected, I best put you down,” Kaida said while aiming, “death” with her sidearm.”

“You better not miss, you fucken bitch.”

“An explosion like Sergeant 14237. When she hit the bottom of the cliff. Nobody moves, let me check something.” Una explained while removing a thermal monocular from her backpack. Finding it pretty quickly no doubt thanks to Sib.

“That reminds me, Kaida, are you afraid of heights?” Zaras asked. “You were clinging to my back pretty tightly. Almost thought you’d finally grown tired of that chastity shit.”

“When I skin you, I’m using your fur as toilet paper.”

Una ignored her sisters as she peeked through her thermal monocular. The forest floor lit up with bright spots.

“Zaras, does the Chaton bury their dead?”

“We burn them,” Zaras said as a matter of fact while eyeing the forest floor around her. “Well, that’s what we do on our home planet. Not on Father’s ship, however.”

“It’s pretty much a minefield graveyard out here,” Una said.

“What kind of fungus sets a minefield? And stop pointing that damn thing at me! I’m not infected thanks to Sib.” Zaras said.

Kaida kept her gaze locked on Zaras and her arm steady. After a few more moments considering possible loopholes as to why she could get away with putting a hole in her sister’s fluffy face. She finally holstered her sidearm and asked;

“Do you think there’s another threat on this planet?”

“I doubt it and it doesn’t matter,” Una snapped, shutting down that possible train of thought. “What way, Zaras?”

Zaras took a deep breath before jabbing a thumb behind her.

“Although this place smells of ass, that way smells like someone took a shit.”

“Alright, let’s go.” She gave her nun of a sister a small nod before jumping down to the forest floor. “Land where I landed.”

“No shit!” Kaida said, soon her boots thumped on the ground next to her. “It’s not like we’ll be affected thanks to Sib.”

“Wrong, you big dummy! Your bodies are constantly absorbing lots of spores and I’m getting rid of them through your body’s natural waste. So the harder I have to work, the more food and liquids you need to consume. Too bad for all of you, we don’t have the time nor the resources to make you comfortable or safe.”

Una took the lead at a steady jog, calling out every blip of heat that showed up in their path. It was hard to say for sure but while they leaped over and zipped past every possible spore explosive, every now and again distorted Chaton faces could be seen bulging from the cleaner parts of the forest floor. As if there was an order to bury large numbers of the hot-dropped marines and in a rush did a piss poor job, Una thought. She wondered how Zaras felt, seeing her kind, turned into landmines. She figured Kaida would be brandishing a large satisfied grin as if this treatment of the Chaton was perhaps justified. As the makeshift blips of heat became few and far between, Una couldn’t help but look back at Kaida, finding that she was right while her Chaton sister Zaras had a calm and blank expression. Thanks to the shades, it was hard to tell. Una noticed a figure lurking behind a tree. A twisted Chaton with a bloated head covered in fungus instead of fur. It lunged for her but missed and went after her sisters instead. Without thinking Una stopped and forced herself in reverse, throwing her body between them and the creature. Its head swelled and popped, calling forth a blinding light that engulfed her.

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Don't Cross The Bridge

A baby-faced little boy who's tougher than he looks with a smart mouth, and a pretty little girl with a mean right hook and a foul mouth.

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