Late Winter EP Contest

Opportunities to earn extra EP are posted in this forum.

Moderator: Augur

Late Winter EP Contest

Postby Augur » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:22 pm

The contest is to submit a short story.

This contest is going to cover the February-March time frame to give players adequate time for their submissions.

Submit any (one) short story of your own creation.

  • Grammar and spelling are important to create a quality submission, so you need to seriously proofread your work!
  • The short story can be approximately 5,000 words. Deviation can only be within + or - 500 words or less.
  • The short story must be based in one of the game settings of the Palladium Megaverse. (Palladium Fantasy, Rifts, Robotech, etc.)
  • Make sure that any image used is no more than 300 pixels in height and 800 pixels in length. No more than one image is allowed.


Explanatory Notes:
The contest ends March 31st. Augur will validate/invalidate each submission at this time based exclusively on the quality of the writing, add a poll to the contest, and the EU community will vote for their favorite submission. (Time to bribe your fellow players!)

The contest judgment will begin on April 1st, and will be concluded by no later than April 15th (IRL permitting!).

1st Place: Submission will be read aloud and produced as a podcast episode on Radio Free Merctown. +10 EP
2nd Place: +5 EP
3rd Place: +3 EP
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Re: Late Winter EP Contest

Postby Sorrenson » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:05 am

Marta sighed, looked down at her feet and then at her kids. “You really want to hear how it happened?”
“Yes!” The twins replied in unison.
“Okay then.” Marta paused. “Look, this was back during the war, and… things happened, bad things, to everyone.” She paused again and started staring blankly at a point in front of her face. She did this long enough that the twins started glancing at each other. They sat, wondering if she was finally going to tell them this time.

* * *

Marta shuffled along with the other refugees, slow and unsteady. She was tired, more tired than she had ever been, but taking a rest was impossible. The Dead Boys were out hunting for groups like hers. Every step she took was a step away from them. Each second resting was one they got closer. She hadn’t eaten a proper meal in weeks and that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. Her stock of rations now exhausted, she had no idea where her next meal would come from. She was starting to doubt if she would ever have another meal again.

She looked up from her feet and slowly checked the faces around her. Something was off; something wasn’t quite right. Then it dawned on her, she recognized no one! Where was her uncle? Where was her cousin? They had been there just a while ago, hadn’t they? She froze in panic and the person behind her bumped into her wordlessly. He looked at her and no doubt saw the fear and panic in her eyes. His expression never changed as he stepped to the side and continued on his way, offering nothing. She looked past him as he drifted by, searching out her lost relatives. No matter how hard she looked, how loud she shouted it didn’t matter. They were gone.

She wanted to go back and find them. Well, part of her wanted to go back and look, another part knew that if she did that she’d probably die. If she went back, she’d be going alone. Doing anything alone out here in the wild, with Dead Boys – and worse – on the hunt, seemed like a death sentence to her. She stood there, not knowing what she should do and heard something that made her blood run cold. In the distance behind them she heard the distinctive whine of jet engines. Small ones like the ones on hover-cycles or power armor. The sound was getting louder. She screamed and ran. They all did, scattering like hunted rabbits.

* * *

The 3rd leaned against a tree and tried to relax.
Well, one way to know your super stressed is when you can’t even relax enough to take a piss. He thought to himself.
I know right! You need to chill the hell out man. Came the inevitable mental reply.
Antonio, you’re not helping. Talking to you is not relaxing, even at the best of times. In case you hadn’t noticed, this not a good time. The 3rd replied.
Yeah, things aren’t flash… Let me take control and I’ll piss for us. Antonio offered. I can actually feel it this time. You must be busting.
No, I want to piss against this tree and not in my pants, again. The 3rd, as usual, refused to cede control of their body.
Listen 3rd, or should I address you as Mister Wayne Holden III? The Third? Do you really want to start that conversation again? We’ve been though it many times before and the end result is always the same. Neither of us have spotless records when it comes to controlling various bodily functions. Heh, spotless, geddit? Antonio clearly finding himself amusing, again.
The 3rd sighed and dropped his shoulders. Arguing with Antonio was a royal pain in the ass, so much so that he just couldn’t be bothered with it right now, so he let it go. He started to piss.
Look! I’m helping! The glee in Antonio’s voice was obvious. Despite his best efforts The 3rd laughed a little.

Once again The 3rd was happy that he wasn’t alone out here. Well, technically there was no one else around, but he always had Antonio to keep him company. It hadn’t always been this way though. Oh no! Back in the day just after the M.O.M. implants, Antonio was a real unpleasant surprise. The thought of something else sharing his skull seriously freaked Wayne out! For a long time he refused to acknowledge Antonio. With time though Wayne became less and less Wayne, and more and more The 3rd. He learned to accept Antonio. Not that he had much of a choice though. Wasn’t like Antonio had anywhere else he could go. He had his faults though. He was a glutton; The 3rd’s pot belly was evidence of Antonio’s appetite for food. He was lazy; he let The 3rd do all the work. He was a coward; he never ever did any of the fighting. He loved to party; which meant that The 3rd often missed out on a lot of the ‘fun’ they had. The 3rd hadn’t been close to a woman in months. Antonio claimed to have sex constantly. The worst was that he could read and The 3rd couldn’t. Antonio, the bastard that he was, never missed an opportunity to rub it in The 3rd’s face.

The piss taken care of, The 3rd started following the tracks again. He could feel Antonio on the edge of his attention. What’s up? He asked.
Are sure this is the right thing to do? Following Dead Boy tank tracks through the wilderness doesn’t seem to be your best plan. Doing it alone makes it seem like one of your worst. Antonio sounded concerned.
The 3rd scratched his chin, pondering something. Yeah, it could go wrong.
Wrong? Of course it’s going to go wrong! When was the last time anything went right? Frustration and fear creeping into Antonio’s voice.
That’s one of the few things I like about you. The 3rd smiled.
What? Antonio asked.
You freak out enough for the both of us. The 3rd responded.
Well, someone has to keep us alive! Antonio practically shouted.
Bitch please. What do you think I’m doing? When was the last time we ate? I’m not following these tracks looking for a fight. I’m following them because the Dead Boys will have rations to steal. They’re good like that. The 3rd stopped and cocked his head to the side. You hear that?
Yep, someone’s getting shot at, blown up, butchered, murdered etc… Antonio replied with no enthusiasm.
Come on, let’s go.
If we have to, I hope you’re right about the food…
The 3rd picked up his pace and set off along the tracks towards the distant sounds of fighting.

* * *

Branches whipped painfully across Marta’s face as she ran through the trees. The efforts of her failing arms, trying to clear a path, almost for naught. Even though she’d cast an invisibility spell on herself, it was obvious where she was and where she was going. She couldn’t be seen, but every move she made was given away by the undergrowth. Behind her she heard, and felt, the screams and cries of anguish of a massacre. She looked over her shoulder and saw nothing. Breathing hard she propped herself upon against a tree, not sure if she was able to run anymore. She wiped the sweat and tears from her face and saw she was bleeding.

Before she could even consider what to do next she saw movement. They were following her! She froze as two figures stalked toward her. She slapped her hand over her mouth, to stifle a scream, as she recognized that they were Dog Boys! They were both looking right at her. Not right at her face, or looking into her eyes, but looking right at her location. They couldn’t see her. However they knew, for a fact, that she was there. The paused and sniffed the air. The smaller one growled quietly and made some hand gestures to the bigger, drooling one. The bigger one moved off to one side, the smaller one went the other way. They seemed confident, as if they could sense her fear.

Marta’s eyes darted from one to the other. What should she do!? She was too young for this! She had never wanted this war and had no idea about fighting! She’d heard about Dog Boys and how they could sense magic. They could sense the spell active on her right now, but she dared not cancel it. She closed her eyes and took a breath, sensing within herself. Damn it! She knew she had precious little mana left to power her spells. She mumbled and cast a quick protection spell. The Dog Boys dove to the ground. Marta wondered if they were trained to do that, or if it was a natural reaction. Their snarling grew louder as they lifted themselves back up. They started getting closer again, slowly but surely. Marta noticed that they had weapons, pistols and humming vibro-blades. She didn’t have anything. She cursed herself as a fool!

With the last of her mystic reserves she cast the only offensive spell she knew. A stone appeared in her hand. The large drooling Dog Boy saw it, pointed and yelled, “There!”

In some recess in her mind Marta realized too late that she should have cast that spell with her hand behind her back and out of sight. The Drooler didn’t hesitate and charged Marta bellowing and snarling as he came. The other Dog Boy fired at where he thought Marta was and hit her. Marta screamed. With no other option her brain clicked over from flight to fight. She took a step towards the charging CS mutant and screamed as she threw the stone with everything that she had

* * *

The 3rd watched the Coalition vehicle though the trees. He pulled off a glove, licked his finger and held it up in the air.
Ew, gross! I know where those fingers have been. Antonio exclaimed.
Antonio, what are you talking about? How else am I gunna know which way the wind is going? The 3rd sounded a little confused.
If you knew where I’d been putting those fingers you wouldn’t be licking them. Wait? Wind direction? Who cares!
The 3rd sighed mentally. Antonio, you always do this. Now isn’t the time for a fun and exciting round of ‘Let’s make The 3rd guess who Antonio has been rutting with!’ Drop it. On the other hand, wind direction matters a lot right now. If we were upwind of those two Dog Boys on top of that EPC, they’d have smelt us long ago. We’re not, so they haven’t.
Oh, that is good news! No but seriously, next time use your pinkie. Antonio replied.
The 3rd sighed again.
So, what are we waiting for? Antonio asked. Bit odd don’t you think, the two of them standing on top of the tank like that.
It’s an EPC, not a tank. Odd? Not really, they’re spotting for someone. There is a better view from up there. That’s why the one on the left has that big radio and the other has his eyes glued to a pair of binos. The 3rd replied as patiently as he could.

The 3rd stepped back out of sight from the EPC and checked his pistols. He was very low on ammo.
He could feel Antonio getting nervous. So 3rd, I’ll see you on the other side? He asked.
The 3rd smiled. His constant companion had never liked fighting and never stuck around during a fight. He preferred it this way, it was easier to focus and concentrate on not dying. Yes, Antonio. I’ll see you on the other side.
Okay then. Best o’ luck and all that, don’t die. Oh, don’t forget: Pinkie for testing the wind from now on, okay? Pinkie! Then Antonio was gone. The 3rd was alone in his head.

The 3rd snuck out from behind the tree towards the EPC, safeties off. He stayed low, but moved quickly. He could hear radio static, which was probably helping him. Background noise is the friend of a sneak. However, if he could hear that, then any noise he made would be heard by the Dog Boys. He was very good at not making noise when he didn’t want to. He got closer, close enough to take the shot. He was an excellent shot and he knew it, but with his ammo low he wasn’t taking chances. He paused. From this angle, behind them, the Dog Boy armor they were wearing pretty much prevented a one shot kill, their heads and torsos well protected. Oh well, can’t always have it easy.

He lined up a shot, using his off forearm as a brace for his gun. He had an instructor chew him out for doing it in the past, but he felt like it helped. So he kept doing it. Suddenly, the arm holding the radio to the Dog Boy’s disappeared in a red mist. Then the Dog Boy dropped out of sight as its scream filled the air. The other one turned and faced The 3rd, eyes wide, starting to snarl and reaching for a weapon. That was the last mistake it ever made. The 3rd shot him repeatedly in the face. One down! Whump! He heard the one-armed Dog Boy hit the ground on the far side of the EPC. He ran to the corner of the vehicle, weapons ready. He could hear the Dog Boy, breathing hard and cursing under its breath, but couldn’t tell what it was doing.

He peeked around the corner. The Dog Boy was fumbling with a grenade on his webbing. It was set to be grabbed by the arm he didn’t have anymore. That, plus the way he fell and landed made it awkward to grab it and pull the pin. Even if he could do that, throwing it far enough away would be tricky. The 3rd smiled and stepped out into full view. The CS mutant saw him and redoubled its efforts. It managed to pull the grenade from its webbing and used its teeth to pull the pin. With impressive effort it rose up to its knees and flung the grenade at The 3rd. It landed at his feet. The Dog Boy screamed “Diiiiiiieeeee!” The 3rd started to laugh. The grenade burst and started spewing a cloud of green smoke. The Dog Boy sank to the ground, fully spent. The 3rd kicked the grenade away, and shot the Dog Boy several more times, just to be sure. He walked over to the dead body and unclipped a frag grenade from its webbing. “Well Mr Doggie that was a good effort ruined by bad luck.” He gave it a pat on the head.

He went to the door the EPC and confirmed his expectation: There were only 2 left behind. The rest would be out hunting. He looked around and was pleased with what he found. There were a few weapons, lots of e-clips, ammo and most importantly, there was food and water. He used the term ‘food’ loosely. Antonio wouldn’t be happy about it, but they wouldn’t starve.

* * *

Marta couldn’t believe it! Her rock hit the attacking Doy Boy right in the face! It dropped to the ground. It didn’t move. She stood staring at it. She was confused. Part of her wanting it dead, another part hoping it would get up and walk away. It didn’t move. Ha! If only those guys who used to laugh at her for throwing like a girl could see her now! They’d be so…

A wild scream from the other smaller Dog Boy brought her back to the here and now. She leaped to the side to avoid more laser blasts. She looked up, got to her knees and flung a magic stone at it. She had no idea if it hit or not. It was running at her. Not charging like the other one had. It was advancing while shooting. It shot at her and she threw stones back. Sometimes she hit, sometimes she didn’t. She didn’t really care if she hit or missed. The only thing that mattered was that she was fighting back, finally lashing out. She’d been running for so long that fighting back felt surprisingly good.

He was getting close now. He took a final shot, dropped his pistol and pulled another vibro-blade. Marta’s eyes narrowed, this would be her last throw before he was on top of her. She threw with all her might. It hit true! The Dog Boy stumbled and fell. He didn’t get up. Marta stood, frozen. She’d done it! She was still alive! She’d won! Her joy short lived. It dawned on her; she was now a killer, a murderer! Her heart sank immediately, full of remorse. She’d grown up wanting to heal people, to help them. She slumped to her knees, her eyes full of tears. She cried. She cried, not caring if anyone heard her. That was a mistake.

She never saw anyone else and certainly never saw the neural mace, but she felt it. She felt it each and every time its blows rained down on her. Whoever was using it must have been very angry. Even after she blacked out, somehow she was aware of her nervous system being lightly fried.

Her bloodied unconscious body lay at the feet of the Psi-Stalker. He took off his helmet looked down at her. He stretched his neck until it popped. He expertly zip tied her hands and feet, gagged her and put a bag over her head. He had proper mage restraints back at the EPC, but knew that this, plus excessive amounts of neural mace lovin’, would keep this little mage helpless. Pity about Gus and Shorty though, replacements were few and far between these days. In spite of that, he smiled, he’d been getting hungry. “Hello breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s nice to meet you.” Without too much effort he lifted her up and flung her over a shoulder, walked back past the dead Dog Boys and back through the trees.

* * *

The 3rd sat waiting, hidden in the trees. He broke off a piece of dog biscuit and put it in this mouth. It was hard, really hard.
I’m gunna have to eat these with water. They’re made for Dog Boy’s teeth I suppose. He thought to himself.
He felt Antonio stirring. Food had that effect. Hey. Good work on not dying - once again. Oh! So you were right about the Dead Boys having food! What are we eating? It tastes kinda weird, like stale beef. Is it safe to eat?
Um, I’m not sure. Some kind of biscuit I guess. Yeah, it’s safe to eat. The 3d replied.
Good. It needs more sugar and less salt though. So, what’s the situation? Antonio asked, he liked to know if he was likely to be shot at anytime soon.
We’re alive. The two Dog Boys are dead. I buried them in the trees on the other side of the EPC. I found a bunch of food, which I’ve buried behind us. I pulled out all the fuses in the fuse box and set a booby trap. When it opens next some frag grenades go boom. Now, we’re waiting for the rest of the Dog Boys to come back. The 3rd quickly brought him up to speed
You’ve been busy, was I away for that long? Antonio sounded impressed.
Not long, I found a vibro-entrenching tool and worked quickly.
Hang on, how do you know they’ll be Dog Boys? Antonio asked.
Call it an educated guess… The 3rd didn't want him to know it was dog food just yet.

Marta could feel it; she was on the cusp of a new plateau. She couldn’t focus though, something kept tickling her with lightning. No tickling was the wrong word, tickling never hurt this much. She slowly became more aware of her body. She couldn’t see and couldn’t move much. She could tell it was really windy, she was cold something was making too much noise right beside her head. She could almost recognize the sound, she felt like she should be afraid of it. Ah, but that plateau was so close. Achieving a new plateau had always been such a lovely experience. Up until to now that is. She could sense this one would be different. Life had taken a very dark turn for the worse. She doubted his plateau experience would qualify as ‘lovely’. Not just that though, she felt that this time her psychic abilities would blossom dramatically! If only these lightning tickles would just stop!

The 3rd, and Antonio, watched the Dog Boys closely from their concealed position. They were coming in to land.
Well, you were right: 2 Dog Boys and a Psi Stalker. Antonio commented. He was quietly pleased that he knew that Stalkers and Dog Boys went together. He didn’t know much about military stuff, but he knew that.
Yeah, check it out. The Stalker had someone tied up on the back of his Speedster. The 3rd replied.
Weird, why would he do that?
Found someone worth taking prisoner probably. The 3rd replied dryly.
The instant the hover-cycles landed, the CS troopers quickly moved out to secure their EPC. The Stalker kept watch while the other 2 cleared the interior. They reappeared not long after. One of them went over to the Stalker and spoke with him. They were too far away for even The 3rd to hear, but judging from the body language of the Stalker, he was cursing a whole lot behind his sealed helmet.

As they watched he unslung his neural mace and struck the prisoner several times.
Well, now we know the Prisoner is alive and being kept stunned. Likely a mage the Stalker will use it for a meal at some stage. The 3rd observed.
What, like kill and drain the mages mana? Antonio asked.
Maybe, might just keep it alive and feed off it over and over.
Shit. That sounds grim for the mage. Antonio felt sorry for the poor bastard.
The stalker walked to EPC and went in, out of sight. The Dog Boys took positions behind their hover-cycles. After a minute they both started sniffing the air with purpose.
What are they sniffing at? Antonio asked.
Their dead buddies, I only half buried them. Well, not even half. The 3rd said.
Right, on purpose? Oh, upwind and downwind right?
Yep. Your learning! The 3rd seem impressed. Don’t worry; I used the pinkie to test the wind this time.
Antonio laughed a little, even though he wasn’t really in the mood for laughing.

Marta could smell electric burning. Was that cooked meat she could smell? After the most recent lightning tickles she wasn’t really sure what she was sensing, or how. Her head rolled a little from side to side. Her neck hurt, as if someone had put sand paper between her vertebra. In fact everything, that she could feel, hurt – a lot. She inhaled slowly, her meditative training driving her breath. She exhaled and felt something, relief perhaps? She did it again, and again. After a while she could sense some kind of clarity returning to her mind. She sensed the plateau right there, why didn’t she just pass though? What was holding her back? She felt frustrated. Where was she? Was she bound? She tried to move and couldn’t. Yes, she was bound! Gagged too and she couldn’t see anything.

Then she understood why she hadn’t reached the next plateau. She had to accept that nothing would be the same. She’d changed, the world had changed. She shook her head. No, the world hadn’t changed; it had always been like this. Her place in the world had changed. That distinction seemed important. She’d been shielded, protected all her life. Her family and her community had kept her from knowing the cold hard reality of how terrible things can and do happen to anyone, to everyone. She understood, because something terrible was happening to her right now. There was no one to save her. No protective family, no brave handsome Cyber-Knight mounted on a silver horse. No-one else was around to do the dirty work of keeping her safe. If she wanted to live she had to do her own dirty work. She understood the price she would pay: her innocence. Innocence her family tried so hard to protect. Innocence that now she was starting to find a bit embarrassing. In an instant she agreed to pay it. She wanted to live and if these CS butchers had to die, then so be it. If she hadn’t been gagged, she would have smiled a little on the outside. Deep within herself, she stepped onto the next plateau.

Boom! Something exploded! Marta felt someone fall on her, flail around for a bit, and then push against her as they stood up. As they stood up they took most of the bag covering her head with them. She could see again!

The 3rd smiled to himself as his booby trap exploded inside the EPC. Part of the blast vented thought the open door and knocked the Dog Boys off their feet. This was what he’d been waiting for. He got up and started a low run towards the EPC. The Dog Boys would be distracted for a moment or two, lots of dust, ears ringing and all that. He covered the distance quickly. One of the Dog Boys stood up, shaking her head. She saw The 3rd running towards her, but it was too late. He fired off several quick shots and she dropped to the ground, dying. For the third time today The 3rd was happy the CS was stupid enough not to give Dog Boys proper full-body armor.

The second Dog Boy, a big one too, came from nowhere and leapt at The 3rd. It’s shoulder driving into his head. He fell back and tried a rolling throw, but the Dog Boy was too strong. They tussled and rolled, the Dog Boy ended up on top. The 3rd tried to break free, but the Dog Boy was able to pin him easily. Oh shit! The 3rd felt the tell tale, tooth shaking vibration on a vibro-blade being pushed against his armor. His head being pushed to the ground and too once side he couldn’t see much. There! Just of reach he could see a neural mace, beside the Dog Boy he’d just killed. He tried to reach for it. He couldn’t. The vibration was getting steadily worse.

Marta couldn’t see much, just dust and lots of it. She could hear fighting though, close by. The dust cleared and she saw in front of her a Dog Boy on top of a man. The man was pinned and reaching for something. He was reaching for a weapon! Marta’s eyes narrowed and she focused. With a power she didn’t have just minutes ago she made the weapon fly telekinetically into the man’s out-stretched hand.

"Fuuuuck!" The 3rd screamed.
Is this it!?! Screeched Antonio
Suddenly the mace leapt into The 3rd’s desperate hand! He activated the mace with this thumb and clocked the Dog Boy upside the head for all he was worth. Thunk! The pressure pinning him released and The 3rd kicked himself out from under the Rottweiler-Human mutant. He scrambled away from the body, panting hard. He looked down and saw a deep and ugly vibro-blade cut in the chest plate of his armor. It almost went all the way through. He took the vibro-blade from the Rotty and made sure that he wouldn’t be a threat, to anyone, ever again.
Phew! That was a close one. Antonio observed.
The 3rd nodded. Wait, you stayed around for all that?
Yeah, I’m not sure why though.Antonio seemed surprised at himself.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the prisoner moving. She moved her hands in front of her face so she could see them and the zip tie binding them together burst open. She pushed herself up and looked at her feet and another zip tie broke into pieces and flew into the grass.
How is she doing that? Antonio wandered.
Telekinesis I think. The 3rd replied.
What do you think she is? She looks human. Antonio stated the obvious.
Yeah, she does. She might not be though. The 3rd had been around long enough to know that she could be something else than human.
The both watched her carefully.

She then sat up properly astride the hover-cycle and released the buckle on the gag in her mouth and threw it away. She looked young, late teens or early twenties he guessed. She was filthy. Her travelling clothes torn in many places, she was coated in dust, dirt and blood. She looked at him and he stared back.

The 3rd heard a footstep behind him. Instinctively he dropped and leapt over a hover-cycle and into cover.
Shit! Should have made sure the Stalker was dead. He cursed himself. That was a rookie mistake!
Nothing happened, no gunfire, nothing. He peeked over the hover-cycle. Whoa!
The Psi Stalker was standing in mid air, legs flailing. He was holding the dangerous end of a C-27 up and under his chin. He was struggling; something was making him do it. The 3rd looked over at the young woman. Her hands were slowly moving and twisting as she held them out in front of her, all the while pointing them at her levitating captive. “Just kill him.” He said.

Marta savored her new found power. She had never been strong, physically strong. She was now incredibly strong - psychically. It felt amazing! She toyed with the Stalker and made him squirm. The Crazy said something. That was what they were called wasn’t it? The ones with the things in their head that gave them power, but drove them mad. She tried to ask him what he said, but her throat was too hoarse. Instead she just croaked at him.

“Just kill him.” The 3rd repeated. “Stop playing with him; get it over and done with. If you wanna live through this, killing him is pretty much a necessity. Playing with him isn’t. There could be more Dead Boys around and this is just wasting time.” Marta looked at him. He was right. Choom! The Stalkers head disappeared in a ball of plasma as she telekinetically pulled the trigger. She focused on the Crazy’s thoughts and started listening in.

Damn! This girl is cold. Antonio observed.
Maybe, maybe not. She’s young and she was toying with him. The 3rd responded.
You don’t like that kind of thing?
Oh hell no! That’s the kind of shit I’ve seen demons enjoy way too much. The 3rd practiacally spat the word ‘demon’.
Yeah, good point. So what do we do now?
Not sure. I guess I talk to her for a start. The 3rd replied
Offer her some water first. She sounded like she can’t speak. Antonio suggested.
Oh yes please! Marta loudly interjected telepathically.
The 3rd froze. You’re psychic? He asked her mentally.
Yes. I’m sorry to intrude into your thoughts… My name is Marta.
Do you think she can hear me? Antonio asked.
Yes, I can hear you both. She replied.
Aw yeah! Antonio cheered.
The 3rd frowned. “Call me The 3rd. The other guy is Antonio. You want some water, and something to eat?” He asked out loud.
"I do. I’m starving!" Marta cried.
The 3rd tossed over his canteen and a can of ‘Fido Yum’ from a pouch. She accepted both gratefully, wasting no time peeling the lid off the can and getting the food into her mouth.
Dog food, you gave her freaking dog food!? And you wonder why you never get laid! Antonio asked The 3rd incredulously.

* * *

Marta's tale finished, she looked up and paused. She felt like a weight had lifted. Her daughters were staring at her, looks of total disbelief written all over their faces. She smiled sadly and said, “That, my children, is how I met your father.”
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