Krivash the Roach: Part 3

The freight elevator shook as it began to descend to Deck 7. Somewhere a massive engine was lowering the loading platform. Krivash sat in the truck and watched an array of chains, pipes, and metal beams move past them. The truck was surrounded by other heavy machines and vehicles. All the drivers looked bored. Krivash did his best to look bored, but couldn’t help but keep fidgeting in his seat. He felt like a young kid being told to sit still.

Absalom Station was the premier station in this sector of space. At the center of the station was a massive dome, called the Eye, which was home to all of the rich people and large organizations. Krivash had only managed to get in and look around a couple times; the place was wondrous with all of its greenery and parks. Surrounding the Eye was the Ring which was full of neighborhoods that housed those who were doing well in life, just not well enough to live in the Eye. From the Ring came the Arms; they branched out from the Ring and acted primarily as the docks for interstellar ships.

Krivash was most familiar with the Spike. Beneath the Eye, the Starstone Reactor was housed. It powered the entire station. Surrounding the reactor were numerous decks that were loading and staging platforms, but over time they became the slums of Absalom Station.

With a jerk, the platform finished moving. The massive doors began to pull apart revealing Deck 7. It somehow looked identical and different compared to Deck 5 where Krivash lived. The floor went on for several kilometers. The deck ceiling was about ten meters high. Most buildings where built into the deck, spanning the gap from floor to ceiling. Arrayed throughout each deck was several dozen load bearing columns.

Someone honked at Krivash. He had been staring into the unfamiliar deck and it’s forest of columns. He forgot that he was supposed to be driving a truck. He drove into the street and found the first empty lot he could find. He parked the truck and ditched it.

Krivash went and found an alleyway and sat down behind a dumpster. He had to find someone named Dismember and steal a truckload of his guns. Should be easy. Krivash was a professional truck stealer, and finding one full of guns shouldn’t be so hard.

For a few hours, Krivash beat the streets. He took in the sights, and familiarized himself with the deck. The buildings and the streets were identical to his home deck, which fouled his sense of direction more than once. After a time, Krivash found a strip of bars and seedy looking structures and felt like he had come home.

Surely someone in these bars knew who Dismember was. Krivash only need locate and join one of the gangs on this deck to quickly learn where the rest were, and then he could go talk to Dismember. Krivash worried for a moment that his life would be in danger for ganghopping, but he realized his life was already in danger. He didn’t need to stay here, so he only had to not get shot long enough to return to his deck. If people started trying to shoot me, at least I’d have found some guns.

Several of the bars in this district definitely had thugs in them. Whether they were gang worthy was another question. How do you judge someones gang-liness? Wait—were gangs and mobs different? How could you tell?

Krivash decided not to talk to anyone in the bars. His tough guy act needed some practice, and he didn’t want to look stupid in front of other tough guys. Krivash had another idea: he could look for people who sold guns. He needed a gun, didn’t he? Gang members always had guns.

There were a couple gun merchants on this deck. Visiting their stores revealed that they, despite what Krivash had heard, still had a lot of guns for sale. Krivash meandered into a couple stores and loitered for a moment. He asked to see a pistol here or there. He was alarmed at how heavy they were.

“First time buying a gun, eh?” the portly gun merchant asked, giving Krivash a speculative eye.

“Nah. I’ve owned lots of guns before. Just never owned one this—uh, color.”

“That’s Sarcesian gunmetal. It’s iridescent when you look at it just right.”

“Really?!” Krivash said, tilting the pistol back and forth in the light.

The merchant sighed, but his friendly smile didn’t dissipate.

Krivash’s mouth kept digging. “All right, fine. I’ve never owned a gun before. My specialty is rifles. Big ones.”

“What’s your favorite model?” the merchant said, drily.

The M90-11-GH-720.”

“That’s not a gun.”

“You’ve never seen them, because they aren’t for sale.”

“I’ve never seen one, because that’s not a gun.”

This is my worthiest opponent.

The merchant motioned for the pistol back. Krivash reluctantly handed it back. The weight of the thing was comforting.

“Over here.” the merchant said. He walked to a different counter and pulled another pistol from a shelf. “This is a good one if you are a first time buyer.”

It was a smaller pistol. It didn’t weigh as much, and in Krivash’s experience with guns, weight was everything. He looked down the sight, trying to look cool, but realized he had no idea how to sight a gun.

“It’s decent little semi-auto. Packs a punch for the cost. It’s good for self defense.” the merchant continued.

Krivash thought back to being in Grimmel’s hand, dangling above the ground. He had felt small, weak, pathetic. It made him want to curl up.

“I—I don’t have any money.” Krivash said finally.

The merchant sighed again. Krivash was testing his patience. He picked up the pistol, returned it to it’s padded case.

“I can give you a truck for it!” Krivash said.

“A truck?”

“Yeah! Like a trade. You give me the gun, and I give you the truck.” Krivash said. He pulled out the fab and held it up.

The merchant eyed the keys. “Is the truck stolen?”

“I stole it, but then someone gave it to me.”

“I get the sense, kid, that you are in deep shit.”

“I didn’t know what else to do with the shovel.” Krivash said.

The merchant smiled his warm smile again. He reached back for the gun. “Take good care of it. It’s my last one.”

“But I wanted two. It’s a big truck.”

“Ha. All of my stock is limited right now. My suppliers guns have been going missing.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched.


The kindly gun merchant parted with the pistol for the truck. He was nice enough to kick in some ammo, too. He had wheedled out of the man that his supplier had their storage facilities on one of Absalom’s Arms, and that for the last few weeks there has been a large amount of gun theft.

Krivash was stalking through some shipping containers out on one of Absalom’s Arms. There were only a few armed security guards on duty, but that wasn’t too much of a problem for Krivash. He was a defense barrier subversion expert. There wasn’t a fence he could climb.

There wasn’t a lot of activity. Krivash slowly climbed his way up to the top of a three tiered stack of containers. He had a much better view of many of the loading and unloading zones on the Arm. He saw down and enjoyed the view. Through several of the docking zones he could see out into the inky void of space.

Krivash didn’t often get to look out into space. There were not many windows where he lived. He loved how small it made him feel, and that made him feel safe. It was like there were millions of little white eyes looking down on him, and they wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him. Krivash wondered if he’d ever get to go out there and explore. Absalom Station had been his only home. He heard numerous stories from travelers and laborers about the strange, colorful, and exotic worlds that were hiding out there. He desperately wanted to go to one.

In the distance there was a loud clang. Krivash snapped his head around, but didn’t see anything. He saw the nearby security guards looked at each other. They started talking, one shrugged, and the other walked over that way. Krivash tracked him as he walked. He circled this particular lot and then came back. It seems whatever it was, it wasn’t his problem.

Krivash climbed down and made his way in the direction of the clang. The containers were all in neat rows, so it was easy for Krivash to find his way. He made it to the fences before he saw shadowy movement in the next shipyard.

Krivash listened for a moment before going up and over the fences. The next yard had a greater array of barbed implements at the top of the fence, which slowed him down, but only for a moment. His chitin was perfect for rolling over spikes.

This loading yard would have been much more difficult to sneak around if all of the defenses hadn’t been shut down. Krivash noted the cameras and the lenses for trip lasers, but someone was kind enough to pave the way for Krivash. His heart, or hearts, he was never clear on that, started to beat more rapidly. This was it. People were hear to steal guns.

As he neared the center, Krivash could hear more and more hushed whispers. From the sounds of it there were a lot of people here. They had a tent and a laser cutter and were cutting straight into some crates. Once they were open, they moved the tent and the laser cutter and started again. The rest of the people surged forward and began moving massive black boxes. The containers reminded Krivash of the one his pistol had been in.

Krivash’s heart, or hearts, soured when he saw where they were moving them into a massive truck trailer. This was actually going to work.

Suddenly all of the flood lights in the yard came on. Nearby there was shouting, and even louder, there was gun fire. A new wave of people appeared, streaming between the containers and began to shout at the would-be thieves. A gun fight opened up and all became chaos.

Krivash hid as many of the thieves ran straight in his direction. They all streamed past, cursing loudly as bullets and lasers scored the metal crates around them. Krivash darted through corridors, trying to stick to the long shadows cast by the bright lights. He was careful to keep the gun fight in his line of sight. Several more times he had to find cover as the battle threatened to overtake him.

Finally Krivash could see the cab of the truck. He got over excited and ran at a full sprint to the cab. He crashed into someone who was backing up between crates. He scrambled to his feet and made for the truck when he heard the stranger shout at him.

“Get on the ground, now!” the stranger yelled at him. “I will shoot you.”

Krivash stopped and turned to look. Absalom Defense Force. Krivash recognized their race as a Lashunta. He dove to one side and tried to scrabbled around to the passenger side of the truck. The person didn’t shoot at him. He turned to wait and pulled out how new pistol.

The officer came around and saw Krivash waiting. They had their gun trained on him, and looked way more confident with their rifle. Krivash trained his pistol, but then realized something important.

“Wait! Stop! Don’t shoot me! It’s not even loaded!” Krivash shouted. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a box of bullets as proof. The stranger rushed him. Krivash realized his mistake and dropped the box; all of the bullets sprang out of it and rolled across the steel plating. He tried to shout again, but the stranger slammed his rifle butt into Krivash’s face.


Krivash woke up in small jail cell. He wasn’t alone, there were other people here and similarly cuffed. Most of them had bruises and cuts. It hadn’t been a good night for anyone here.

There was a nondescript hallway outside of the cell. Other cells were nearby and were similarly stuffed with miscreants. As Krivash peered out, he saw a Lashunta officer enter through a door at the end of the hallway. Judging by the color of their slender antennae, it might even be the same one that nabbed him.

As she walked up she began speaking loudly so everyone could hear. “Listen, we all know you are working for Dismember. One of you is going to talk, so volunteer if you want to save us the time and cut a deal.”

“Oh! Oh! I’ll talk!” Krivash shouted excitedly.

For a couple minutes, Krivash’s life knew only clenched fists and sharp kicks. But after a time the officer was able to extricate the hapless shirren.

They brought him to a simple room. There was a table and a couple chairs within. A kiosk in the corner offered coffee in reusable cups. Krivash drank as much coffee as he could manage before the Lashunta officer joined him.

She was dressed in a pressed uniform. She had caramel colored skin. As with all Lashunta, their eyes seemed larger than other races, and they also seemed more luminous and expressive. She had two delicate, slender antenna coming out of her forehead. She had a polite and gracious smile, but her eyes also said she wouldn’t tolerate nonsense.

“You can call me Ashraya. I appreciate you cooperating.”

Krivash didn’t answer. He wasn’t sure what to say. He was willing to talk, but he didn’t actually know anything. He wished Cyan were here.

Would this be better? she said directly into his mind.

“Nah, I can talk.” Krivash said, still wary.

“I don’t often meet shirren who speak with their mandibles.”

“I didn’t learn to speak with my mind until I met other shirren.”

“I’d like to hear your story someday, but right now I need you to talk about Dismember.” Ashraya said politely. “We can offer you protection, and even move you into the Ring.”

“Your offer is tempting, but I don’t work for Dismember.”

“Then why are you here?” Ashraya demanded.

Krivash flinched. She had been so polite and composed. He wasn’t ready for her to resume her intimidating officer demeanor. She sighed after a moment. She smoothed her uniform in a habitual manner.

“What can you tell me then? If you don’t work for him, why were you there? Why were you trying to get the truck?”

“That was you?” Krivash segued, his only defense mechanism.

“Yes. I was going to shoot you, but your gun had it’s brights on.”

“What?”

“You were clearly some idiot kid with a gun you found. You hadn’t removed the barrel plug yet.”

“I leave it that way because I like the bright color.”

“If you can tell me, right now, what color your plug was, I’ll let you go.”

“Orange.”

“Good guess, but no. I lied about the plug. “Brights” refers to the backs of empty barrels.”

“You could see that my gun wasn’t—”

“Kid. Tell me something, or I’m putting you back in the cell.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched nervously. “I was sent to this deck to steal a truckload of guns.”

“Convenient.”

“No! I’m not lying! I’m from Deck 5. Grimmel sent me to get him some guns.

“You know Dismember, and Grimmel?”

Krivash nodded. He recounted his story. When he was done, Ashraya nodded solemnly, and then that polite smile returned to her face.

“Good news, kid. I’ve been leading a task force to take down some of the meaner slum gangs. Grimmel is next on my list, and I could use a snitch.”

—DTM

Krivash the Roach is my character in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.

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True Life: I’m Addicted to Event Planning

So, you’ve probably noticed that my post on this blog did not go up last Friday. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve missed a blog post and I can guarantee it will not be the last because I can be very forgetful. Sometimes, if I’ve had a long day or I have something planned for Friday I’ll just forget to write and I am completely at fault for that.

However, last week I had a very legitimate excuse as to why I missed my post. I was busy planning the decorations for a wedding.

My dear friend Meredith got married this past weekend and as my wedding gift to her, I agreed to coordinate all of the wedding decorations. In the past, I’ve put together office parties, baby showers, and birthday shindigs, all of which has over-the-top decorations so Meredith knew I could do it.

Well, when I agreed to decorate for her wedding, I was incredibly excited! I love planning events! After she asked me, I immediately jumped on Pinterest and started tracking down the best DIY projects to help her pull of a rustic, class, affordable wedding.

Well, when last Friday rolled around and I was covered in purple paint and burlap fiber and realized I only had a day to pull everything together, you know what I was thinking?

Wow, I am so glad Meredith let me do this because I am having the best time.

I absolutely love planning events and that never changes, even when the stress levels rise. Even on Sunday, a few hours before the wedding when I was covered in tree sap and lavender petals and running around like a mad man, I was still having fun. I love the feeling of getting stuff done and of seeing my creative vision come to life.

Of course, there are easier ways to be creative and express myself than decorating for events. Activities like painting or drawing are just as creative, even more so, and usually don’t involve me slicing up my legs while picking wildflowers or bruising my arms lugging firewood. However, painting and drawing do lack one thing: instant gratification.

You can paint a beautiful picture and wait months for anyone to even acknowledge it, but when it comes to planning events, you get immediate feedback from your audience. On Sunday, I spent five hours busting my butt on the decorations and flowers and was praised immediately for my work. I was immediately praised for my art and it felt really, really good. I am still beaming.

Anyway, I’m still in the process of recovering from this weekend so I’ll keep this post short. I promise my Write Makes Right post will be up on time. I have no excuses to miss it this week, other than who I am as a person.

-EMS a

 

Krivash the Roach: Part 2

Krivash felt cold as he turned off the truck. Pulling the fab out killed the engine—the heat and the vibration sharply dying off made him realize how comfortable he was sitting in the cab.

The lot he had found had several other trucks in it. He felt confident that the stolen truck wouldn’t be immediately found here. He was only ten or so blocks away from the bar. Krivash didn’t expect to find the men, but this was the only place he knew to look.

It took Krivash several hours of wandering before returning to the truck. He wasn’t sure what to do with the guns. He felt like a small child trying to find a way to make sure mom and dad wouldn’t be mad. Why couldn’t it have just been fruit?

The truck was where he left it. He felt a touch disappointed—why couldn’t someone have stolen it from him?

The cab door barked loudly as it closed—almost with a note of finality. Krivash looked at the steering apparatus and fumbled for the key fab.

Something sharp was pressed against his throat. Both of Krivash’s antennae were grabbed in a fist and his head sharply pulled back. Krivash tried to jerk his hands up in a submissive gesture, but the hand in the pocket merely succeeded in dramatically billowing his coat. The other hand successfully made it up.

“A brown roach in a brown coat. I wouldn’t have imagined that you were stupid enough to come back here,” said a woman’s voice, deep and throaty. Krivash immediately imagined an eye-patched marauder captain.

“Wait—is this your truck? I must have gotten in the wrong one. You shouldn’t leave your doors unlocked, you know.”

A brief exhalation of amusement from the pirate captain, but the blade did not move. Krivash pressed his luck.

“I was hoping to leave these here so that the owner could find them!” Krivash fished the fab ring out of his pocket. He dropped them on the seat next to him. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you. I didn’t know this wasn’t my truck.”

“Do you listen to yourself while you speak?”

The truck door opened and a stocky man was standing there, looking pleased with himself. He apparently had thought his roach trap had worked! But no one had ever captured the Roach before, not even this man. He just didn’t know he failed yet.

“Sir! Is this your truck? I found your keys in an alleyway and wanted to return them.”

He could sense more than he could see the incredulous look the man and the woman shared. Good, they thought he was harmless and an idiot. All according to plan.

“Get out,” the woman ordered.

Krivash hopped out. Hands still in the air. His antennae twitched nervously once they were free of her iron grip.

“Did you find the girl and the rat?” The man asked.

Shit.

“No, this bug was alone. Got him in the cab.”

Krivash made a mad dash away from the pair. He didn’t make it far, a massive fist collided with the side of his head, throwing him into one of the trucks massive tires. Krivash fancied himself a tough guy, but he knew when to hold ’em—and when to black out.


“Wake up.”

Krivash raised his head up. He was in a small room, lying on the ground. A woman was standing in the narrow doorway. He recognized her voice as the woman from the truck.

“Where am I?” Krivash asked, fidgeting with his antennae. He found his feet and brushed himself off. All of the stuff in his coat was gone.

“Grimmel wants to see you,” she said, ignoring his question.

“What did I do?” Krivash asked, trying to sound harmless. “I gave the damn truck back!”

The woman grabbed him by a shoulder and pushed him down a nondescript hallway. Around a couple corners, past a couple doors, and Krivash was pushed into a big room. For a meeting with someone with a fake name like Grimmel, Krivash was expecting a massive, throne room type chamber. But it was a crowded room with a bunch of people sorting guns and ammunition.

The woman steered the young shirren through the room of grim looking thugs. He curled in upon himself, trying to look small. Krivash was lead to a tall, thickly built man. He was wearing nice clothing, like he might be out to see some old friends. He perked up a bit when he saw Krivash coming, removing a pair of reading glasses and setting them down near a data pad.

Krivash knew how this was supposed to work. He jerked himself away from the woman and straightened his coat indignantly. He glared at her—noting the lack of eye patch—and turned to the man. Krivash tried to look tough while also looking for avenues of escape.

The man held out a hand. “Grimmel,” he said pleasantly.

“Uh—I am Roach,” Krivash said while tentatively shaking the hand.

“You stole my truck.”

“I found a truck with it’s doors unlocked and figured I’d move it to teach the owner a lesson!” Krivash said firmly. The excuse felt weak even to himself.

The Grimmel smiled. He looked at the floor and seemed to consider something. “Well, they certainly learned a lesson. As did I.”

Krivash’s mandibles began before his mind could catch up. “Well I hope the next time—”

“You are the first shirren I’ve met that speaks with their mouth, not their mind.” Grimmel said.

“I grew up speaking with my mandibles. I didn’t learn—”

“Another time perhaps,” Grimmel interrupted. “I was looking for your friends. The girl and the rat. Would you mind telling me where they are?” The veiled, almost unnoticeable threat in his voice gave Krivash pause.

“I—don’t have friends. I stole the truck by myself,” Krivash said.

Grimmel walked over to Krivash, the smile still on his face. He was easily a head and shoulders taller than Krivash. He smelled of nice cologne. Grimmel’s presence would have been reassuring in any other scenario.

“You are either very smart, or very stupid. You stole my truck and my guns, yet—you basically hand yourself over to my muscle. Somehow you are competent and inexperienced all at once. Tell me where the girl and the rat are.” The polite smile on his face didn’t change at all, and to Krivash it turned into a horrific parody. He felt sick.

“I don’t have any—”

“You tell me where the girl and the rat are, or I have my soldiers kill every human girl and ysoki shit they can find hiding in dirty corners of our deck.”

Krivash felt like vomiting. He had never been in trouble like this. A lifetime of stealing food and pocket change had led to this moment. It was suddenly so clear to Krivash how lucky he had been until now. He wanted to cry—but tough guys don’t cry.

“No.”

“Do you think I’m lying?” Grimmel said.

“No.”

Grimmel stared into Krivash’s compound eyes for a long moment. The hand on his shoulder seemed so heavy. The gentle smile was mocking him.

“Are you going to let me kill a bunch of kids? I didn’t know you were so cold hearted.”

“No.” Krivash said, defiance finding root in him. He wasn’t sure where his confidence came from, but the image of this man meeting Cyan and Kich forced something into Krivash he hadn’t felt many times before. He planted his feet and looked up into Grimmel’s eyes. “I stole your truck because you let people stupider than me drive it around. If you are gonna blame someone, blame the guy with the stupid made up name.”

Grimmel kicked Krivash hard in his abdomen. Krivash jerked several inches into the air before buckling into a heap on the ground. Grimmel stepped over him. The room quieted as everyone paused to watch their boss recompose himself.

“Grimmel is my families name.” Grimmel said, turning away. “You and you, pick several of your best men. Go to the abandoned shanties at 46XT and 288RNF. Bring all the urchins in. All of them.”

Grimmel turned back to Krivash. He knelt down and grabbed the shirren by the antennae, heaving him into the air as he stood. Krivash shrieked mentally in pain, causing those nearby to flinch at the sudden mental intrusion.

“I can’t figure you out. Most people who try and fuck me over are at least brazen enough to think they are tougher or smarter than me,” Grimmel shouted. “I can’t tell if this is an act, or if you truly are a hapless idiot who is in over his head. So we are going to find out.”

Krivash kept shrieking in pain, grasping fruitlessly at the thick arm holding him aloft. Grimmel brought his face close to Krivash’s, but he didn’t stop shouting.

“By the night cycle I will have all the damned urchins in the city locked up.” Grimmel started, his fatherly facade contrasted by his loud voice. “On Deck 7, the shithead who calls himself Dismember is buying up all the guns he can get his hands on. Take a truck, fill it with his guns, and bring it back to me. If you don’t, the urchin’s will be vented into space. You have three days.”

The hand opened and Krivash landed on his feet and fell to his knees. His antennae twitched as if they were panicking separately from their host. The pain subsided and Krivash began to calm down. Relief was flooding through him, which was quickly followed by guilt; he had a chance to make things right, but he knew that he wasn’t good enough to pull it off.

Grimmel dropped a key fab next to Krivash. The very same one.

—DTM

Krivash the Roach is my character in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.

A Recipe for Self Care

This week has been pretty exhausting and I’m not sure why.

Other than an overnight trip for a conference and some tedious editing, work hasn’t been exceptionally difficult. My home life and relationship have been basically the same, no ups or downs. Nothing awful has happened this week and yet I’m sitting here, feeling miserable and tired.

Yes, the only two shows I watch on a regular basis were cancelled within a few hours of each other, but I’m an adult and will survive. Besides, that type of news wouldn’t leave me feeling this way. When it comes down to it, I think I just haven’t taken a lot of time to recharge this week so now that I have time, I just feel run down and sick and not creative at all.

So, instead of sitting here for hours waiting for inspiration to hit so I can write a long, beautiful blog post about something deep and meaningful, I’m just going to write my quick and easy recipe for a happy, more energetic Emily.

Things You’ll Need:

A laptop

A media streaming service (Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime)

A fully charged cell phone equipped with social media

Face mask, soothing or moisturizing properties preferred

Bubble bath and/or bath oils

Scented candles (any combination with vanilla, tobacco, or leather will work)

Dark beer, preferably with an ABV above 9%

A space without of people

Instructions:

  1. First, fill up the bathtub with scalding water. Think boiling lobster levels of heat.
  2. Add bubble bath or fancy bath oils until the water actually changes color. We don’t care how much the bottle says to add, you triple that amount.
  3. Light all the candles. All of them. Line the top of the toilet, the sink, the edge of the bathtub, the floor. It needs to be a fire hazard for this to work.
  4. Pour the dark beer into a pint glass, making sure the top is foamy like a latte.
  5. Put the face mask on,making sure to cover the forehead and neck. You’ll need to look like a rich lady at the spa in a 90s movie. Think extra, super bougie.
  6. Get in the bathtub and log into social media on your phone. Look at something soothing, like horror movie blogs or Harry Potter fanart.
  7. Set up the laptop and turn on something you’ve seen multiple times. Things like Gilmore Girls, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, Scrubs, or Queer Eye will work.
  8. Kick everyone out of the room and close the door so the bathroom gets extra, super steamy.
  9. Sit in silence and do nothing until you feel recharged.

Estimated time: 1.5 hours

Alright, I’m logging off now so I can go do this. I am definitely in need of a hard reset right now and sadly I can’t just take my brain out and blow into it like a Nintendo cartridge. I actually have to listen to what my body needs, which I’ll admit is bullshit, but what can ya do?

Getting old sucks, doesn’t it?

-EMS

Krivash the Roach: Part 1

“I’m not feeling good about this, Roach.”

“No, no—it’s going to work. No one will expect us to steal it,” said Krivash the Roach. He was sitting up on a large, metal waste receptacle—the kind that the big trucks come and empty during the week. His antenna twitched in the air, testing the vibrations in the air. He patted down his brown coat looking for food he might have picked up today.

Two of his buddies were standing nearby, trying to look nonchalant. Across the street was an old, run down bar. It’s front door was watched by a mean looking woman. The bar’s neon sign was flicking—several of the letters were burned out. Krivash had been following two men all day, and they had just gone into the bar.

“We ain’t ever snagged anything this big.” Cyan continued. She was an impish young human in dirty station wear.

“What’s so important about these two?” Kich the ysoki added. Kich was basically an upright walking rat. He was maybe a meter tall. His fur was a pleasant grayish-brown color. It clashed with his faded lime coverall.

“Since when do you guys ask so many questions. We can do it!” Krivash added. “I haven’t ever led you astray.”

The ysoki and the human exchanged an incredulous look.

“None that you can prove was my fault.” Krivash said. “Stay here.”

“Let me do it.” Cyan tried to grab the Roach’s shoulder.

“Stay here!”

Krivash circled the facility block he was on. When he came back around from the opposite direction, he dashed across the street. A truck honked it’s horn as it had to slam on its brakes. Krivash continued up the street, doing his best to seem inconspicuous. His compound eyes gave him an unnaturally wide view of the street. Without looking Krivash noted that Kich was still lingering in the alley mouth, picking at his teeth. Cyan was no where to be seen.

Krivash took a deep breath and stepped up to the bar. He tried to enter, but the bouncer stiff-armed him. He looked up at her—doing his best to seem curious. She gave him a “no trouble this time” look. Krivash palmed her a credit stick, and she sighed heavily and turned her back to him.

The atmosphere inside was like returning home—the smell of smoke, alcohol, and vomit, low chatter and inconsistently loud music, and a sense of hostility that only a group of intoxicated strangers can offer.

Krivash ordered a drink—making the pointed request for a straw and a little umbrella—and turned to survey the room. The two men were sitting at a table in the middle of the room, because they were stupid; Krivash immediately began to plan his approach, and his escape.

The bartender clinked his drink onto the counter and Krivash paid. He circled around the bar, pretending to look for a seat. He approached the table. His antenna twitching nervously. As he stepped up to his mark’s table, he went to sip from his drink and intentionally stabbed himself in the eye with the tiny umbrella.

“Yeouch!” Krivash chirped through his mandibles and dropped his drink to the floor. The cup thunked loudly on the dirty floor, and the sticky liquid went everywhere. The two men looked at him like he was crazy, and then resumed their conversation. Krivash knelt down to grab the cup while apologizing profusely. While kneeling, he slipped a hand in and out of a pocket. Got it.

Krivash stood up and walked his empty glass to the bar when he heard a shout from behind him. One of the strangers stood up, looking furious. He scanned the room until he spotted the Roach.

“You filthy cockroach,” the stranger yelled at him unimaginatively. He stormed over, somehow growing in size as he approached Krivash. “How stupid do you think I am?”

Krivash made a show of backing up to the bar and then sliding down to sit against its boot. “What? What?! I didn’t do nothing!”

The man grabbed him by his collar and hefted the small Shirren into the air. He pulled a fist back. Krivash curled in on himself, trying to look small and pathetic.

The resolve in the mans eyes dwindled as he realized that Krivash was just a stupid, young bug. The bar was quiet and everyone was watching intently.

“Just give it back, you fucking worm.” Again, with the vermin related insult. Lazy.

The room seemed to calm down. The man, still holding Krivash aloft, began to fish through his pockets. Krivash remained squirmy.

“Where is it?”

“Where is what?” Krivash mewled at the man. The man shook him once and then Krivash rifled through his coat and pulled out a ring of key fabs and handed them back. The man pocketed them.

As he put Krivash down, he noticed Cyan walk past—suspiciously close. It occurred to Krivash that he should probably should have just let her do this.

“Get out of here you stupid—”

“Bug?” Krivash finished.

Something smoldered deep behind the mans eyes. Krivash, at the very least, was good at recognizing his cue. He left abruptly. Once outside, the bouncer grabbed him again.

“Roach, I’m gon’ have to ask you not to come round again,” she said.

“Last time, swears.” Krivash assured. She let go of him.

He looked up and saw Cyan across the street with Kich at the alley mouth. Krivash dashed across, again causing a car to lay on it’s horn.

“You are an idiot.” Cyan said quietly.

“I’m glad you noticed that I was changing the play.” Krivash said, nodding approvingly. Cyan rolled her eyes.

“Why don’t we do this at bars in ysoki neighborhoods?” Kich asked, annoyed. “I could show you both how to do this.”

“One of my principles is never give anyone the chance to do a better job than me.”

Cyan and Kich shared another incredulous look.

Just then both of the men erupted from the door of the bar. The bouncer glared across the street at Krivash accusingly. The two men spotted him and came sprinting across.

“Vomit comet” Krivash shouted telepathically.

Without missing a beat, Cyan mock punched Kich in his gut. Krivash sprinted away down the alley. As the men were about to push past Cyan and Kich, the small ysoki released the food he had hidden in his cheeks. He purposely made an exaggerated retching sound. Both men shouted their alarm, but it slowed them down just enough to let Krivash get a lead on them.

Krivash gave them the run around. He was very good at running away. He led them circles, trying to disorient them. Several times they tried to cut him off, but he was too slippery. His nickname, the Roach, referenced far more than just his shell color. He was quite skitter-y.

He was running across an industrial yard when a massive truck pulled up in front of him. Cyan was in the drivers seat, and Kich was next to her. Krivash sprinted the distance to the truck and hopped on, holding onto the door and waving Cyan on. The men behind him were too far away, and they made away cleanly with the truck. The men chased on foot for a time before giving up.

After a time driving in silence to let the adrenaline wear off, Kich spoke up.

“What’s in this truck? It’s way bigger than you said it was.”

“I think it’s supposed to be a bunch of fresh fruit.”

“You think!?” Cyan said.

“I didn’t have the keys to check! But I’ve seen these guys at the docks moving crates off the trade barges. It’s almost always fruit.”

The three thieves returned to their hideout. It was an old administrative building that was attached to an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse was filled with old machines that no one ever came to pick up. Now it was a shanty town that Cyan, Kich, and Krivash called home.

Other kids that lived here came out to see the truck when it stopped out front of the building. Delight ran across their faces when they noticed the three of them driving it.

Krivash strode to the back and triumphantly unlocked the trailer. He struggled to open the massive, plated doors. When he finally was able to pull them open, he lost his grip and was thrown to the ground. He stood up and looked at his treasure.

It was a massive horde of guns. Big ones.

“Roach, what did we do?” Cyan asked quietly, alarm in her voice.

Dread struck Krivash like an icy hammer.

“It’s fine. We’ll be fine. I’ll take care of it. Take the damned kids inside. Give me the keys.” Krivash’s mind was already trying to find the angles.

Cyan ushered the other urchins back into the building. Kich watched Krivash slam it all closed and climb into the drivers seat.

“I’m coming with.” Kich said. His ears were flat against his head.

“No. Stay here. You didn’t see nothin’. Got it?”

“They are going to come looking—”

“And if they do, you give me up.”

—DTM

Krivash the Roach is my character that I play in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.

 

Why I’m the Worst

So, as you know, I missed my post this week. That is the second post I’ve missed on our blogs this month and, by definition, that makes me the worst. Despite being a professional writer and an adult with some semblance of time management skills, I missed both of these posts simply because I was busy doing other stuff.

Earlier this month, I missed a post because I was out to dinner with a friend and ended up hanging out with him well into the evening. This week, I decided to come down to Vancouver on a whim and we didn’t end up getting on the road until 3 so we pulled into town around 9. I dropped in on a friend, had dinner, and then promptly fell asleep without doing any writing.

The absolute worst.

jlw79Also, because this trip was so last minute, I didn’t tell ANYONE I was coming. So many people want to see me when I come into town and by not telling anyone I have disappointed everyone.

The absolute, positive worse.

So, as I sit here at the parents house, waiting for you to arrive while I eat lunch with mom, I am going to list out the many, many things about me that make me the absolute worst. Because that seems like a healthy thing to do. Also, self-deprecation is my first language.

Reasons why Emily is the worst:

Sometimes, I forget that other people like me and want to see me. More often than not, when I make plans to visit, I forget to tell people I’m coming because I assume they don’t miss me. I spent so many years of my life being the odd person, the one that was always kind of an afterthought, that now I am amazed that people will actually take time out of their day to see me. And when they tell me they miss me, I’m like, “What? Fake news. I don’t believe you.”

I take forever to respond to messages of any kind. People will send me a text message or leave me a voicemail and it will be at least 5-7 business days before I respond. Why? Because I get busy and forget. Or I assume people don’t ACTUALLY want to talk to me. Again, I have the self esteem of a bridge troll.

I am completely desensitized to horrific things. I watch so many horror movies, true crime shows, and violent animes that I am completely used to things like gore and blood. Don’t ever look over my shoulder when I’m looking at Tumblr or you will see some gross-ass shit.

I speak in TV and movie quotes. And guess what! Sometimes those quotes come from things NO ONE ELSE WATCHES OR UNDERSTANDS. My recent go to quote is “I’m smort” while pointing at my head. Know what show that comes from? No? Neither does anyone else.

I am incredibly spacey sometimes. This has been an issue of mine since I was a child. Sometimes I get to far into my own head I forget what I was doing. Once, I accidentally let Emmett jump into a pool while I was supposed to be watching him. Thank goodness little kids are buoyant.

I am forgetful. I will tell the same story to the same people multiple times. I’m like an action figure with a pull string. I only have like eight cool sayings and then I start repeating.

I have more I could go into, Daniel, but I think I’ve had enough self deprecation for one post. Sorry for forgetting to post again.

The absolute worst.

-EMS

 

Cigars and Me

One summer day, I was hanging out with my buddy Austin. It was a pleasant, warm day. I told Austin as we were sitting behind his house and I mentioned that I wanted to smoke a cigar. No real reason why, but I was curious about them. I was also a growned up, damnit! I head spent most of my teen and adult years avoiding vices; during my formative years I was explicitly told that imbibing things that wasn’t food would outright kill me or give me every possible STD.

So I wanted to smoke a cigar. Austin and I walked down to Paul’s Cigars and we picked up some cigars that were light and easy to smoke. They were Excalibur Cameroons by Hoyo de Monterrey.

Image result for excalibur cameroon

I was a natural at smoking according to Austin. I didn’t cough, and I didn’t mistakenly inhale the smoke into my lungs.

The cigar at first was pleasantly bitter. The tobacco was strong and coats your mouth. But as I continued, I started to notice that it tasted sweet on my lips, and earthy in my mouth. I was fascinated that I was getting this much out of lighting a stick of leaves on fire. I have always loved the smell of pipe smoke and cigars, and we grew up with relatives that smoked cigarettes. It was comforting somehow, and made me feel like it was summer with Lynn and Tim.

It’s one of those experiences that I can’t possibly expect people to get, but I figure it’s how you like beer and I don’t. Just one of those things that connects with you.

There is something ritualistic to me about smoking cigars. It’s become a past time in our group now to smoke after Rogue Trader or Dungeons and Dragons. Most weekends we usually smoke at least one. For me, there is something the feels satisfying about cutting the stick, igniting matches, and puffing the cigar to life. Watching the tendrils of smoke curl and unravel in the air. The heat on your lips, the strangely flavorful smoke coating your mouth, and the exhale.

I’ve been doing it long enough now that cigar smoking is able to smoke feelings of nostalgia out of me. My friends and I used to to smoke in the parents garage. Long summer days, smoking into the cool evening. Talking about Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and Warhammer. Watching the sky dim and the sky set. Usually now I only smoke socially, but back then when I had more disposable income and a place to smoke, I smoked by myself. Frequently now when there is a family get together, I still go smoke by myself.

It’s meditative in a way that I never expected. I mentioned before that, to me, it’s become a ritual. I stare into the middle distance, and let my extremities fall to the sides of my consciousness. It might sound weird, and when I describe that way it may even come across like psychedelic, but my thinking becomes clearer and I become more relaxed.

I’m sure it seems weird to many who see me come join a hangout, and turn right around and go outside to smoke. I don’t expect anyone to come with me; often times I love the quiet. Over the years I’ve been turning into a hard introvert—with crazy extrovert benders every once in a while—and the act of smoking lets me still recharge while spending time with people. Often times in gatherings I end up looking for a quiet corner to poke around in my notebooks or my phone. Smoking helps me overcome that urge to be alone.

Kind of a shame that I don’t have one right now. I seriously talked myself into one.

-DTM