“Whoaa. Dude. You broke it. Now what we gonna do?!”
They were all standing in a heap of smoldering shards, hissing pipes, metallic ribs, stretches of shredded fluorescent canvas, all ajar. The crash radius was easily half a mile wide. A few dozen figures roamed, scattered amid the debris. Most just sat in place, shell-shocked.
“I DIDN’T break it. You saw what happened.” Retorted the short chick of Asiatic cast, hair braided down to ankles, clumped with metal clasps, face covered in silver circuitry. Puffy jumpsuit, singed, sparks sparking off the goggles.
“Yeah, I’ve seen Torsion Spouts like that plenty, but I’ve never wound up in a friggin’ busted timeship from them. Shit, look at this mess. How are we ever going to get out of here? What were you thinking?”
GRZUZR was shaking her goggles, trying to get them to stop sparking.
Gesticulating, shaking, Marty Madding was having an internal meltdown. GRZUZR stared back at him but couldn’t think of anything to say. What a fine mess they were in now. At the bottom of an InterTemporal Vortex, they could be literally anywhere or anywhen, except they were on something vaguely resembling a habitable Earth. A valley, of sorts, scrub and low trees, rocks, ravines. It reminded MM of old Moontribe sites back home, a few thousand lifetimes ago. Except for a ridge of human-sized quartz crystals.
Picking his way thru the debris, examining occasional pieces, MM wandered over to the three Engineers, still locked in a tangled embrace, bruised and bleeding, their eyes half closed, blank, breathing but barely. MM, still shaking, knelt, and delicately unhooked their limbs. They began to groan. Their forms, flickered, phosphorescent, grew rippling around them. Nearby a tetrahedral sculpture, dented and also flickering, lay amid a tangle of colored coils and wires, an exploded piano, and random pieces of furniture and fashion accessories.
“HEY! Its an exploded TimeShip!”
MM looked up – someone NOT from the crew. Was strutting around the crash, jauntily inspecting the pieces. Taking notes with a pencil from his hat
“Its been a while since we had the last one. Bout time too!”
The fellow didn’t seem particularly concerned about the state of the crew. His ragged business suit looked like it had been through its own series of apocalypses. He had that grizzled look of a 49er, weather worn but defiant. His hat held a clutch of feathers – facing backwards. A thick chain around the neck.
“Well, lookeee here! Hot diggety dang! A Kaleidoskon!”
“Hey asshole, get yr hands off that! That’s ours! Who the hell do you think you are?!”
Unperturbed, the stranger proceeded to disentangle the Kaleidoskon – inactive – from the rubble.
“Dude, drop it! Get outta here! Or else.” MM tried in his best intimidating voice.
The Stranger looked up.
“By the 19th Meta-Principle of the Zantras of Pareifour, crashed timeship parts are free for salvage by other Travellers.”
“And the name, by the way, is LoKrazz. Who are you?”
“You can call me M&M for short, asshole.”
“M&M – no way!”
“Sorry, not that Eminem. Wrong timeline. I was there briefly, and got out as fast as possible. Still, put that back. We need that. You can’t have it.”
“Yo,” LoKrazz spat, “its not yours anymore. The Zantras rule supreme across all timelines.”
“Yeah, and the MetaPrinciples also state that crashed travellers have prior rights to their own debris over that of scavengers. Put the Kaleidoskon down.”
LoKrazz tossed the Kaleidoskon into the air nonchalantly. It glinted in the sunlight. MM grabbed a wrench, hurled it. LoKrazz ducked, effortless, continued to juggle the Kaleidoskon over his back. Taunting.
“FUCK YOU!!” MM threw himself through the air, but still delirious, completely missed
LoKrazz and ended up in a heap of canvas and rope.
LoKrazz: “I think we must have read different versions of the Zantras. Because there’s no clause to MetaPrinciple 19 that I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been around. … But OK, Let’s see what we can do for the rest of your posse.”
LoKrazz put his fingers between his teeth, whistled.
Three extremely large turquoise dragonflies flittered over the crystal ridge, pre-historic, massive geodesic eyes glittering, zoomed down over the crash site, hovered into formation, zigzagged across the debris field, surveying. And morphed into turquoise skinned naked ninjabitches. Systematically they spread thru the wreckage applying unguents to the faces of the crashed travellers, and tended to their more physical wounds.
M&M was last in line for treatment. Most of the crew had gathered in a clearing. LoKrazz sat on a piece of the hull, a little too self-contentedly. Still playing with the Kaleidoskon, tossing it now and then, burnishing it with his rather grimy necktie.
“Look at you! Sorry clutch of 13th generation slipsters you are! Dazed and confused by nothing more than a timeship crash! What, all you still crash virgins? Oooh its my first crash. HELP!”
LoKrazz was clearly hamming it up, taking advantage of his upper hand. Like it wasn’t just the Kaleidoskon but the whole ship and its crew too now his personal property. One of the dragonfliers stepped forward.
“Enough, LoKrazz. What shall we do with them?”
“Let’s mail them back.” Said another of the dragonfliers.
“Let’s cook them dinner,” said the third.
“LoKrazz grinned, “Let’s cook them FOR dinner!”
The first dragonflier conciliated. “Let’s let THEM cook dinner for US.”
LoKrazz, resigned, waved his ragged arm magisterially.
“This way – we’ll deal with this mess tomorrow, kids. Just grab your essentials, tag along. You’re our guests now.” They filed out, zigzagging through the wreckage.
“So when ARE we?” GRZUZR, the depressed Navigator, asked the lead dragonflier.
“By what compass do you travel?”
“We follow a 64 cluster hyberboloid, cross-mapped onto a 10, 9, 7 ordinate system.”
“Hmm. That may need a little translating. Have to wait til we get back. … Nonetheless, you seem a likeable enough batch of neophyte slipsters. Don’t mind LoKrazz, he just likes to show off, you’re a fresh audience, he gets bored of us glittergurrrlz.”
The rest of the bedraggled crew followed behind, as the line wound around boulders and trees, through a gap in the ridge of quartzite molars jutting into the darkening sky. Another landscape came into view: smoke clouds rose from a burning city on the far horizon.
LoKrazz shouted, “Don’t worry, we’re not going that way.” He still held the Kaleidoskon, peering into it now and then. The dragonfliers kept up the rear. LoKrazz stopped, turned to the queue of slipsters, and ceremoniously, with another wave of the arm, announced
“Ladies, Gentlemen and Otherwise Gendered, welcome to our humble abode.”
Earthdomes, a smoky scent, a winding stone path lay before them.
Behind the furthest earthdome rose a junkyard, piled high with the hulks of ruined timeships.
–Cynnamon Twyste, enscribed Oct 28, chez L’Art Haus