“So everyone here does something huh?”
Hailey looked around at her new hut. At least, they called it a hut. It was really more like a cabin with solid walls and a strong roof. It was small, granted, but they advised her that with the new ready source of wood, she could expect a full upgrade very soon.
“Everyone has some special talent they can lend to the community yes,” Tricia replied. “Ella is part of the exploration corps for example, because of her natural talent for mediation. That she can lift an entire distressed ship by herself is a nice bonus,” she teased, chuckling.
“I could join them? I have survival skills,” Hailey said thoughtfully. “And I would love to know more about this place.”
“Oh, Rebecca will be thrilled to hear that,” Tricia nodded. “I suppose I should get back to business. I have a whole new logging expedition to plan,” she said with a grin. “But if you have any questions do feel free to ask. Of course, you’re welcome to go where you please. There are no restrictions or anything like that here. We have learned, if nothing else, that the Overseers, the aliens who brought us here, do seem to be... mindful in whom they choose.”
Hailey smiled and nodded. “Thank you.” She watched Tricia leave, and then she left her hut as well to find Rebecca. She quickly found her inside a large stone wood-and-stone tavern sitting at the bar and chatting with a tall man. He had dark blue skin, and distinctive gills on the sides of his neck.
The man pulled a blown glass cup out from under the bar and began mixing a drink. He added two different liquids, gave it a shot of seltzer, and stirred lightly until it turned pink, and then placed it on the bar for her. “Welcome to the Fish and the Sea.”
“Wow,” she said after taking a drink. It fizzed on her tongue for a moment afterwards. “Tastes just like Cherry Cola.”
“Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lola,” Rebecca giggled. “Sorry. That song’s been stuck in my head for a week.”
“OH shi.. I think my iPhone and my solar charger are in my backpack.” Hailey laughed and pulled her backpack off and began to look for it, actually finding it in the pouch she left it in.
She had turned it off and put it in a waterproof bag along with a solar charger for safekeeping. “Yup, here we go!” She turned it on and waited for it to boot up, “20,000 songs at my disposal, but no cell phone signal.”
“Wait,” Rebecca leapt off her bar stool. “You have a working cell phone?” she ran the short distance between them, nearly tripping over a bar stool to look.
“Yeah, we’re supposed to put them in a waterproof bag and shut them off it’s part of our bugout thing, I carry it around for emergencies, and stuff.” Hailey nodded and pushed play on The Kinks “Lola”.
“Hailey, I could kiss you,” Rebecca laughed as she gave Hailey a hug. “We’ve been waiting for someone to arrive with a working communications device for awhile now. Sounds crazy I know, but water and electronics tend not to mix - even space age alien technology.” She winked.
“David, the guy who's in charge of our bug out group is Ex Military.” Hailey giggled. “He said that having it even if it doesn’t work is a good idea.”
“David Shell? Lt. Commander?”
“David Shell.” Hailey nodded. “He was a Lt. Commander yes.”
“Our dads served together,” Rebecca laughed. “Small universe!” she said, as she busted a few moves to the music.
“David is awesome. Even though our bug out group has mostly boys, he really encourages the girls to learn too.”
Hailey continued to dig through her bag, finding a slightly waterlogged breast cancer awareness pink 9mm pistol. “No ammo,” she sighed. “I was going to show it to David.”
“Ouch,” Rebecca frowned. “Well, the science guild here is pretty smart. If you leave it with them they can probably improvise something. The wildlife isn’t exactly tame on some of the islands.”
The aquatic bartender leaned on the bar, watching with amusement as Brie burst through the door carrying what looked to Hailey to be some kind of holographic keypad on her hand and arm. She looked around quickly. Crazy train by Ozzy Osbourne picked up right at that moment as well.
“All aboard!” and an evil laugh came from Hailey’s cell phone speakers. Brie walked right up to Hailey, her eyes wide with excitement.
“A portable telecommunications radio,” she gasped, “With a touch screen! I thought you humans were supposed to be primitive, but this is amazing!”
“It’s got a ton of apps and music.” Hailey laughed, “Rebecca told me you haven’t had anyone with a waterproof radio or comm, but If someone else has one, I can actually walkie talkie with them.” She loaded the walkie talkie app, the music continued to play, she clicked for it to scan frequencies.
“Now that you’re here, we can repair the ones we have,” Rebecca laughed. Mine fritzed out over a year ago, before Brie arrived with her scanner thing. Thank the stars she was working on that project of hers at the time she was taken. She can do a full scan and blueprint repro.”
“I have a high end solar charger that can charge up to 8 phones at once and it only takes the sun 2 days to recharge the battery.” Hailey grinned showing them the charger. “If anyone had one that got wet, and if we could find some rice, there's a trick you can use to fix them with that too.”
“Tried that,” Brie nodded. “Unfortunately the damage was too extensive, a possible side effect of long term exposure, as it can take days to weeks to find survivors - and in some cases, months.”
“Anyone out there?” came a young woman’s voice over the app. Hailey quickly shut off the music app.
“Yes, we’re here,” Hailey answered quickly.
“Oh thank the stars.” The voice replied. “I’m on some weird island.” There was almost a purr in her voice.
“Ask her to describe what the island looks like,” Rebecca said. “If we can pinpoint her location we can go look for her and bring her back here.”
“It looks like a big penis.” the girl laughed. “Well, I mean, the trees do.”
“I TOLD YOU,” Ella laughed as she came out of the pub’s back kitchen, carrying a pan of biscuit-like bread. “Didn’t I say? That whole island looks like a bunch of phallic trees.” She nudged Hailey playfully. “The roots even look like Xyloran testicles.”
“Ok this is strange. There are crabs on the beach the size of gorens.” The girl replied back.
“Goren,” Ella said with a laugh. “Oh I know where she’s from. C’mon, the island’s not far.”
“She’s from Furra Prime,” Brie said matter-of-factly. “A goren is a large predatory feline from which, it’s believed, the Furran people evolved, or at least from a common ancestor.”
“Upright humanoids covered in fur. They’re incredibly friendly if you don’t cross them, but they have fierce claws,” Ella explained.
There was a woman at the bar who laughed, “And sometimes they’re incredibly playful.”
Hailey couldn’t help laughing. “Sounds like my cat back home.”
She shrugged, “My people used to enslave them back before we banned slavery. I could probably do medical on her all day long before I could any other species here, besides humans.”
Rebecca turned up her drink, and then set the empty glass down. “I’ll meet you all at the docks. I’m going to let Tricia know we’re going on a quick rescue mission.”
“Hey guys, what is a 7.. 11, besides numbers?” The girl came over the radio.
“Where do you see 7-11?” Hailey asked.
“There's a sign laying on the ground that says 7, and the word 11 spelled out across it.” The girl replied, “And it’s in front of a building.”
Hailey and Rebecca exchanged glances. They both looked pale. Brie looked between the two of them.
“What? What’s with the thousand meter stare?” Brie asked.
“7-11 is a convenience store on Earth,” Hailey answered. “But I thought you said they only took people?”
“They do - or... did,” Rebecca answered. “Okay, I’m going to go talk to Tricia. This is the first time the Overseers’ behavior has changed this drastically since they started bringing people here.”
“You have to admit,” Hailey said as Rebecca left, “It’s kind of weird that they threw me right in the ocean near you guys, right when Brie was running her scan.”
“That’s how it almost always happens.” Brie spoke as she began to walk with Ella and Hailey to the docks. “This is the first time anything else has ever shown up.”
Hailey radioed back, “Have you went inside?”
“I’m standing inside right now yes. I don’t see anyone yet. Just many food packets, shelves, and some ghastly music playing from somewhere.” It sounded like she held her phone up to a speaker. An elevator music version of Crazy Train was playing.
“There’s power?” Hailey looked surprised, “That must mean the fridges are working, Doctor Pepper here we come!”
Ella and Brie exchanged glances. “Who is Doctor Pepper?” Brie asked.
Hailey giggled, “It’s a soft drink - carbonated soda, and it’s my favorite kind, right next to cherry cola.”
“Lo-lo-lo-lo-Lola,” Rebecca giggled as she approached. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Tricia’s coming with us this time,” she added. “She’ll meet us at the ship.”
“Hey.” The girl came back over the radio, “There’s a dead hairless girl on the ground behind this counter thing. She’s got markings too and lots and lots of piercings.” She let out a startled yelp. “She twitched!”
Another voice screamed, “What the fuck are you?!” over the radio app.
“She’s a Furran,” Hailey answered. “And she’s friendly, I promise. Try not to panic. We’re on our way to rescue you both.”
“Hey let go of my tail!” was the last thing they heard for a few moments, “Sorry, I had to knock her out.”
Ella veered off from the group, at that. Hailey looked after her. “Where’s she going?”
“Probably to get her stun gauntlet,” Brie answered, completely deadpan.
Ella called back, “I hope I don’t have to use it.”
“It’s preferable to being body slammed by a rhinoceros,” Rebecca giggled under her breath.
“Wow!” the girl said. “There are packages here the same color as my fur! They smell sweet.”
“It’s candy, or possibly gum. Try some. By the way, what color is your fur?” Hailey asked.
“Hey, that’s my name too!” The girl laughed. “And to answer your second question, it’s pink.”
“Wait,” Hailey said, “How is she even able to speak English?”
“The language we call English.” Rebecca laughed, “Seems to be a really common language in the rest of the galaxy.”
Brie nodded, “With slight variations depending on how deep in the universe they come from, it’s known widely as Galactic Standard Trade Language.”
Ella rejoined the group just as they reached the docks, now dressed in imposing full body armor, with a large gauntlet on her left hand that had several black raised points. She flexed her hand slightly, and the points lit up with energy.
Brie nodded, “We all share the common building block DNA strands, like whatever species is bringing us here, also created us, or at least had a hand in spreading us out across the universe.”
“It’s funny,” Hailey said. “We share a common language, common DNA, and yet back on Earth, humans couldn’t be more different - different languages, different cultures, different taste in music, and that’s just in my own damn hometown.”
Ella laughed, “We all have our own languages, it’s just that what we call a Trade language, seems to be the most common.” She held out her gauntlet to Hailey with a grin. “Want a jolt?” she teased.
“No thanks,” Hailey answered. Ella giggled.
“I’m teasing. You have to be highly trained to even receive one. The slightest wrong twitch could knock the target through a wall.”
“It is excellent for jump starting a dead battery though,” Rebecca teased, as they climbed aboard the familiar expedition vessel, and she began to set the sails herself.
“Oh!” the girl said excitedly. “The frozen blue liquid is delicious! So sweet and mmm!” she smacked her lips. “Eugh. But the hot black liquid is disgusting!”
“That’s coffee!” Rebecca said excitedly. “I'm going to die for a cup, don't drink it all!”
“More importantly,” Hailey giggled, “We now have a catgirl who’s had both a slurpee and coffee to contend with.”
“No no, we don’t get hyper.” Candy giggled over the radio. “My people have naturally efficient metabolism so it’s even difficult to become intoxicated. Don’t make me hit you again please,” Candy said, apparently to the girl in the store.
“What the hell is going on?” the girl answered. “Where are we?” She sounded more calm now, at least.
“I don’t know, but my nice new friends on the telecom wide band frequency said they’re coming to rescue us both. I’m honestly just as lost as you are.”
Candy’s “telecom wideband’ communications device didn’t seem to have a push-to-talk function because they could hear every word as they set sail.
“Okay,” the girl said cautiously. “Am I crazy, or is that a dick forest outside? Christ, it’s like my worst nightmares.”
“Yes, those are penis trees,” Candy giggled. “If you walk down the path I cut, you’ll find that we’re surrounded by islands, and crabs the size of gorens.”
“What the actual fuck... If this is punishment for snatching that day old hotdog I swear I’ll never do it again.”
“I don't think this is a hallucination,” Candy answered. “Those crab things seemed very real, and mean. That’s why I came further in on the island.”
“I hope that gauntlet thing works on them,” Hailey said as they set out onto a lake-sized waterway between several small sandbars.
“We stayed clear of the island when we charted it,” Ella said, “But it works on my people, so it should work on them as well.”
“I bet they taste really yummy. I love seafood,” Candy said.
“I’m partial to clams,” the other girl said, almost sounding too distracted to even make a dirty joke. “The sky is fucking pink. Where’s the unicorns shitting Skittles?”
“No unicorns. Sorry,” Rebecca spoke up, “And if you have a bag of Skittles can you save me one, along with a big cup of coffee - two squirts of vanilla creamer and a boat load of sugar?”
“Did you want the Skittles in the coffee too?” the girl asked half-jokingly.
“Oh no, no, I’ve not had a bag of Skittles in two years. i’ll take them normal please.” Rebecca laughed. “Name’s Rebecca, the others with me are Tricia, Ella, Brie and Hailey. We know who the cat is, but what’s your name?”
“Vanessa,” the girl answered. “I just started last week. Man they warned me this was a rough neighborhood, but I don’t think being dropped in a dick forest was on their short list of dangers.”
“It’s about to get real rough.” Ella laughed, “We’re going to raid you for all your belongings.” she teased.
“I got a sawed off shotgun behind the counter,” Vanessa laughed. “But uh, given the circumstances I don’t think I can legally charge you anything. Pretty sure we’re not in Kansas anymore. Or America. Or the planet Earth.”
“No you’re not,” Tricia spoke up, having been content, until now, to let the experts handle first contact.
“Damn, that accent is hot,” Vanessa said.
Rebecca laughed, “She’s from London, 1954.”
There was a moment of silence before Vanessa spoke up again, with Candy giggling in the background. “You don’t sound a day over 30.”
“Thank you.” Tricia laughed. “I don't look much older than 20 either, that was about when I was dropped off in pink hell.”
Vanessa laughed. “Oh thank the Goddess, I’m not the only one.”
“Oh don’t get me wrong, I like pink, but when I first got here, I was like this is damn right bloody ridiculous.”
“There’s only one shade of pink i like,” Vanessa laughed. “But I shouldn’t be flirting with our would-be rescuers until after the giant mutant crabs have been dealt with.”
“I’ve barred the door,” Candy said. “We may need to get up on the roof, but I only count two so far. They seem less aggressive now as well.”
“They’re probably just curious,” Brie giggled. “... Probably.”
“I don’t want to find out. Last thing I need after waking up here is to become food for seafood.” Vanessa laughed.
“Okay, here’s the fun part,” Rebecca said. “Everyone grab onto something. We’re going to swing past the Eye and slingshot ourselves up-river.”
“What’s the Eye-ey-eye!” Hailey squealed as she grabbed onto the railing just as they skimmed past a massive swirling vortex, hitting just close enough to the edge that the ship rocketed into a river flowing between two islands. Vanessa laughed.
“Sounds like we’re missing all the fun. I guess there’s no helicopters here?” Vanessa asked.
“Nope, we have someone working on a peddle copter though.” Rebecca spoke. “Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find a suitable source of fuel . What we really need is a damn rocket surgeon.”
Candy giggled under her breath.
“Takes too much energy for solar power,” Brie spoke up. “We have a makeshift science lab that runs on solar, solar powered ships, but to keep an air vehicle aloft would require something more substantial. Thus far explorations of the many islands have resulted in no combustible material compatible to our needs.”
“... What?” Candy asked.
“No boom juice,” Vanessa answered.
“Oh, I thought that’s what she meant,” Candy said. “Assuming antimatter is out of the question, and I imagine fossil fuels are scarce as well. What about biofuel?” she asked. She wasn’t even half as dumb as she originally seemed to let on.
“Yes,” Brie said, “Among other power sources, carbon-based fuels would be an exceptional boon for transportation if they weren’t, as you say, extremely rare. The oxygen inert gas ratio on the planet seems off. It’s certainly breathable, but makes creating a fuel mixture difficult, given we don’t exactly have any experts in the field.”
“Our entire city has power though, “Tricia said, “With each cabin equipped with a makeshift fridge, stove, and one light. We’re working to expand both the power grid’s capacity, and the housing standard, however.”
“So there’s no reliable combustion,” Vanessa said. “Sounds like someone doesn’t want us getting off the planet - at least not easily. Then again I’m kind of into mysteries. Maybe I’m reading too much into having me, and an entire store, sucked up and plopped down on an alien world.”
“None that we’ve found yet.” Tricia spoke. “We’re still looking. We’ve found some that are close, but we don’t have the proper resources to refine them enough.”
“Um... Holy shit,” Vanessa said. “You guys aren’t going to believe this. All this talk of fuel made me go check the reservoir monitor. The gas reservoir must’ve been picked up with the building because I’m showing full tanks.”
“Ok we are definitely coming back for the gas.” Rebecca laughed, “I’m glad we decided to take the Nina instead of the Victory. We can load up on everything else.”
“Once we’re back I’ll send the Nine Tailed Fox back for the petrol reservoirs,” Tricia nodded.
As they drew nearer the island, what looked to Hailey like many small hills or ridges came into view on the horizon. As they sailed closer, she could feel her cheeks burn just a little bit. It really did look like an island covered in phallic shaped trees, with little round roots at the base of each, and large, blue-shelled and red-shelled crabs skittering along the beach here and there.
“Those things look like they're the size of lynxes back home.” Hailey exclaimed, “Huge... Why didn’t you say they were that big?”
“I told you,” Candy laughed. “They’re as big as gorens! Just one of those things could feed a family for a week or more.”
To their surprise, the giant crabs seemed to largely ignore the ship as Ella leapt off the dock and onto the beach to pull it ashore. One of them approached her, but then skittered right on past.
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