Race with the Cyborg
Princess Tasmin held on for dear life as Covalent Blonde raced the stolen aircar over the treetops. King Zixtik was in the back seat, clacking his pincers in the air fretfully and screaming, “Unable to translate! Unable to translate!”
Crabman language was a very intricate set of clicking sounds, accented by tone and volume. It had taken the Galactic Acclimation Bureau many years to successfully attune their translator to the crabmen speech patterns, and they were very happy that they had achieved 99% compatibility. Still, one glaring omission that the technicians had never been able to crack was the terrified scream of a crabman, which was basically a high-pitched whistle. No matter what adjustments they made, the translator unit always defaulted to an “unable to translate” message.
Following in the steps of countless engineers before them, they shrugged, mutually decided that their efforts were good enough and then wandered off to the nearest bar to get drunk and yell at the local sportsball team on the holovid. Which was fine for them, but the constant stream of “Unable to translate!” coming from directly behind her was really beginning to annoy Covalent Blonde.
“Shut up back there,” she yelled, twisting the flight stick sharply to the left to avoid smashing into a very large tree. The princess slid across the seat and into Covalent Blonde. Knig Zixtik slid across his seat and momentum carried his upper body over the open side of the air car. He looked down at the blur of green treetops and his screeching intensified.
“Unable to translate!” he shrieked, convinced that it wasn’t the cyborg assassin that was going to kill him, but his erstwhile rescuer.
Covalent Blonde glanced over her shoulder. She saw the crabman perched precariously on the edge of the aircar and pulled the stick to the right. He tumbled back into his seat and grabbed onto it with both pincers. Princess Tasmin stayed where she was, clinging to Covalent Blonde.
“Let go,” Covalent Blonde said with a glare, but the princess shook her head fiercely.
“Not a chance,” she replied. “Not until we’re safe on the ground again!”
Covalent Blonde’s eyes narrowed in anger. She started to growl a response but a high-pitched “Unable to translate” from behind startled her. She looked back and saw that that damn cyborg was still on their tail. Gritting her teeth, Covalent Blonde pointed the aircar’s nose down, and dove into the thick jungle.
The assassin, a cyborg named Vexa, watched as the aircar she was pursuing disappeared into the trees. She was beginning to regret this job.
Vexa had been hired to kill King Zixtik, which sounded simple enough. Crabmen were not a generally perceptive lot so Vexa decided to have some fun with him first. She was excited because she finally got to put to use what she had learned from a disguise seminar she had attended the year before. She had even made the blue skin herself, and she was rather proud of it all in all. It was a bio-organic latex compound that she learned about at the seminar, and it had taken her three weeks to get the mixture right, and another four days to dye the mix and then apply it over every inch of her metallic body.
And now it hung off of her in tatters, shredded by that damn escape pod that fell on her. What were the fucking odds that would happen? And right when Vexa was about to poison that damn crabman and watch him writhe in agony as he died?
It was her very first kill. She was really excited about it. She even had her holo-camera ready so she could take a selfie with the corpse.
But instead of selfies and her first payment and maybe finding a new apartment (since her current one had the seemingly unremovable odor of burned bio-organic latex), Vexa was instead still chasing down her target, and the two crazy women who crushed her with their four-ton escape pod. They had run from her, which was understandable since she was planning on crushing them all into a gooey paste. Vexa tried to run after them, but her foot was trapped under the pod and she had to roll it back and forth a few times before she could get free. By the time she followed them out to the front landing area of the resort they were already taking off, having stolen a convertible aircar. Vexa followed suit, pulling a driver out of his bright pink cab, but then she had to catch the driver again so that she could use his retinal print to start the engine. He had run from her and when she finally caught him he screamed constantly and wouldn’t stay still, so that had taken longer than she planned.
The eyeball, now stuck to the dashboard of the taxi, seemed to stare accusingly at Vexa. She gave it the finger.
So Vexa had chased after the three. They had crossed the desert, raced over an ocean, sped through rugged badlands, and finally ended up above a massive jungle. Vexa had no idea where on Zaladon IV they were since her internal navigational system had been damaged. But wherever they were, it was well off the beaten path. The Zaladon IV Vexa was familiar with, the one that most visitors were familiar with, was a continent filled to the brim with resorts, casinos and clubs, a veritable testimonial to the lure of vice and depravity.
This area was different, though. Far different. It was wild and unsettled, and Vexa felt uncomfortable here. Almost frightened. She told herself to ignore that feeling of unease. After all, she was an assassin, or at least she would be if she could ever catch up to that damned crabman. And she was a cyborg, with the best steel alloy full-body replacement that she could afford.
Which, okay, hadn’t exactly been top of the line. In fact, it was a used model. Sometimes the idea that someone else’s brain had once been sloshing around inside the same cybernetic skull that now housed her own brain made her feel kind of icky. She knew it had been sanitized, but still.
Vexa frowned as she looked at the spot the aircar had flown into. She didn’t really want to go into the jungle. Jungles were, after all, teeming with bugs and animals and plants and all of those other weird biological things that simply creeped her out. But Vexa also didn’t want the three to escape, especially after chasing them for so long. She was pretty proud of herself for keeping up, since that crazy-ass blonde had driven like a woman possessed. More than once Vexa was convinced that they would crash, and thus make her life so much easier.
But they hadn’t. At the last minute before plowing into the ocean or colliding with a rock formation, the blonde would somehow veer clear and the chase went on. Which had brought them here, to this damned jungle.
Vexa sighed as she stared down at the mass of foliage.
“This fucking sucks,” she complained to no one. The eyeball continued to stare at her.
Vexa sneered at it. Then, with a frown of determination, she pointed the bright pink taxi toward the jungle. She pushed the flight stick forward and dove down.
Within moments she had disappeared into the trees.