The sound of bullets flying all around would make it hard enough to converse. However when his friend persisted on speaking in a language, he did not fully understand or comprehend frustration and perhaps a little sarcasm spilled out of Roger.
“Lirkta akbot,” Vlarthing yelled.
“Come again?” Roger asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Grrafa Lirkta Akbot”
“English you Knucklehead!”
“You need learn talk, Varkta with work, and live. Much easier you speak Varkta.”
“Is that what you said or are you adding words to what you said? And it would be just as easy if you spoke English as you know English better than I know Varkta.”
“Then tell me what you said.” He almost yelled as his frustration mounted.
“Get, Down, Knucklehead!” Vlarthing had his eyes on the activities going on around them, but looked at his buddy and continued to say, “Unless you want bullets growing in knucklehead.” He rolled his eyes as a stray bullet flew between him and Roger, barely missing Roger’s head.
Roger ducked as the bullet flew past his face. “Oh, yeah I guess ducking and staying down would be a good idea. All things considered!”
Vlarthing rolled his eyes as he said, “Grrafa!”
“Oh, shut up.”
Roger rolled a short distance away from his friend to put space between him and his ditch buddy even if it would only be temporary. He would have tried to roll further, but the breathing apparatus, he was attached to, would not allow him to go more than a few meters. He needed the bulky equipment because he couldn’t breathe the toxic Vartacan air.
The wagon needed to move and haul the air pump had a busted wheel. With all the shooting going on around them fixing it, would have to wait. That little wagon happened to be sitting a few feet away from the ditch they were hiding in. They were attempting to hide from the ricocheting pieces of artillery flying and bouncing all over the place.
Vlarthing continued to be a good friend to Roger and had been for a long time. As a matter of fact, he had been the only friend to prove having Rogers back in any fight, be it fist, gun or Klackto. In fact, Vlarthing had consistently proven to be the best partner to have in any Klackto fight.
A Klackto fight stood out, more as a competition type fight, than a fight, fight. The Klackto comprised of two on a team and there might be as few as four teams or as many as ten in a competition setting. The last team, still standing at the end of the tournament, won the title for that contest. Roger would be the first to admit, that because of Vlarthing, when he and Roger teamed up together, they won their fights. In Roger’s opinion, Vlarthing would always be the best teammate he had ever known. No one could get around, over, or under him and he had a hide as tough as nails to which not even bullets penetrated his skin.
The weapons consisted of assorted types of clubs. Some clubs contained embedded, sharpened barbs, some a steel ball attached to a chain. Some were plain while others bore intricate carvings in the wood or etchings with ornate designs. Others, were formed or molded out of various types of metal. He could even recall one made up of magnetic shards and pieces. It would shatter and fall apart when it hit someone, but then the magnetism of it would bring it all back together to form the club again.
Because of the high level of danger with these competitions, each competitor had to be well prepared with extensive high quality armor. The object of the competition; maim without killing. However, unfortunately, occasionally competitors did die. These competitions had a tendency of being quite grueling on the body. There had been deaths due to the severe beatings taken and at times sheer exhaustion claimed a few lives. Competitors often collapsed after hours of competing, especially when your team, happened to be the tenth team in the competition.
The main thing about trying to hide in a five-foot ditch, with a ten-foot Glarming was the cramped space. This left little room for a six-foot human wearing a helmet with face mask to move around in. Additionally the helmet attached to a battery-operated air pump, only had a six-meter long tube connecting the two pieces.
Roger looked forward to getting his own air mask back. The use of this heavy, bulky pump and mask, while his were in the repair shop, proved to be both dangerous and frustrating.
As he tried to move around, it definitely made avoiding the Septopans challenging. At least his air pump would fit into a backpack and didn’t weigh a ton.
The wagon having a busted wheel, and the weight of this pump, gave another good reason for Vlarthing to be nearby. For him, it seemed no heavier than a rubber ball would be for Roger.
“Hey, I spotted a crevice a short distance away. Grab my air pump and come on over here.”
“Yeah! Now!” Roger nodded.
“You know Varkta.”
Lying as flat on the ground as possible, Vlarthing grabbed Roger’s air machine. While holding it in one hand and crouching as low as his body would allow, he pushed, pulled and dragged himself towards Roger. On all fours, Roger crawled closer to the crevice.
To his surprise and astonishment, the crevice turned out to be the entrance of a cave. Upon closer inspection, Roger knew, he would have no problem climbing in, but his buddy, Vlarthing might have a difficult time getting in. He would probably not fit through the opening. Vlarthing’s 10-foot mass would make it hard for him to climb through and down into the hole.
One thing that might be beneficial to this situation would be Vlarthing’s hands. When he formed fists they looked like small boulders. They seemed like boulders too when they hit you, which happened to be only one of the many reasons, Roger liked having him around in a fight.
Another benefit, not in this situation, but in other circumstances, Glarming skin changed colour, according to their surroundings.
However, there were times that, even though they adapted to the surroundings they stood in, their immensely large size, still made them stick out like sore thumbs.
Roger moved over to the far side of the crevice, so that both of them would be able to peek down into the crevice at the same time. Without a single word, Vlarthing reached down and punched the edges of the crevice, making the opening wider.
“Nockta?” he asked,
“Much better, yes. Can you fit through the hole?”
The sound of rocks falling, crashing and banging as they dropped and rolled further down into the crevice held their interest. Vlarthing and Roger lay there for a few more minutes, listening to the sound as the rocks continued to roll and then silence. The silence brought Roger to wonder, “Did the rocks come solid ground and stop or did the rocks come to the edge of a cliff and roll off?” Roger looked at Vlarthing and said, “I don’t know if the rocks stopped on solid ground or rolled off the edge of a cliff.” Vlarthing nodded as Roger said, “I guess there is only one way to find out.”
Roger and Vlarthing took notice of as to how close the Septopans had come. Not only, did they catch the sound of bullets, as they flew by, but the voices of their enemy calling, “Give up and come out. We will find you anyway, so make it easy on yourselves,” made shivers run up and down the friends spines.
Most of the year, living on Vartacan, existence seemed to be easy going and peaceful. Even taking into consideration, the constant threat of wars, rumors of wars and actual wars going on, from one sector of the planet to another, it seemed peaceful enough.
Although, there were frequent occasions when the inhabitants of the planet would need to keep an eye out for the Slimeicks. The Slimeickes it would seem lived for next con, or working on a get rich scheme of some sort. Slimeicks were just as their name implied slimy skinned creatures that can slip out of the stickiest situations or places including traps or holds.
Upon discovering the swindle, it was hard enough to find right the swindler, because they all reeked, the same foul, odor. When the luck of the catching the right one, happened, if you wanted to call it luck, and they found one within their grasp. They were virtually impossible to hold onto because of how slimy and slippery they were. They were apt slip right out of the fingertips of their captor, without even trying.
Their favorite food turned out to be a triple blessing for them. First, they loved the taste. Second, the intoxication effects of the fermented fruit made them think they were invincible. Third, it caused them to have odorous, slimy skin. Fourth, practically nothing held them down or back from their plot or quest.
Something in the naturally fermented fruit, of the Legatia Tree, created a chemical reaction, during digestion. The reaction caused an odorous slime to ooze out of the pores of their skin, which always made them slimy.
The Pnilim would be another creature, to look out for, because they would just as soon eat you as talk to you, especially when they were hungry. As strictly meat eaters, they spent most of their day hunting and no one would ever find anything vegetable or fruit in their diet. However, once they had a full belly, they became pleasant enough to converse and spend time with; leaving the converser at ease because they would not become the next meal. It was easy to tell when conversing with them was safe. They smiled when they were not hungry.
However, during this time of year, the Septopans, became the species that brought the highest levels of fear. This fear came solely from the stories told about meeting the victims, who had become living, breathing incubators for their larvae. It was because of these stories, even the Pnilim and Slimeicks did their best to stay out of the Septopans path during breeding season.
It was scary enough knowing they were lurking around, waiting. To see one close up knowing it had spotted you and realize the intention of the seventh tentacle pointed, in your direction. To understand it was preparing to shoot and make you a home for its offspring, brought out an entirely different level of fear.
If you dared to walk in the open during their breeding season, hopefully, you saw them before they spotted you. Unfortunately, the only outcome from finding yourself an incubator was imminent death, because the larvae eat their home, from the inside out.
Most of the time the Septopan, existed as peaceful, quiet, docile creatures preferring not to be seen, but for two weeks of the year, they transformed into seemingly different creatures; hunting, seeking, and full of such high levels of tenacity as they looked high and low for the subsisting homes that would house, feed and keep their young safe.
As seven legged creatures, the Septopans could out run even the fastest predators on the planet. If they set their sights on you as a target, there were only two ways they would miss their sure fire aim. The one in their sights would need to drop out of sight into a hole or duck into something dark before the shot fired. Because once they caught you in their sights and shot at you, that was it, game over, bye-bye.