An Eye for Some Weed
Marc relaxed on the roof of the airbus, smoking a fatty and soaking in the rays. It was nice to be out of the armor again. Most of the time he didn’t mind wearing it. It was like being inside a bulletproof titanium bong. But today it was nice to be outside, in the sun. Gribbl was splayed out nearby. Marc had given him a few hits of primo weed and now he was zoned out and watching the sky. Occasionally he would break out into a random giggling fit, then sigh and lay back again, a huge grin on his froggy face.
Otto rolled up to Marc. “Are we sure they’re not going to eat us?”
Marc looked over at the pair of massive, tentacled aliens.
“Nah, they’re cool, man. They said they were sorry about knocking us out of the air. Accidents happen, man.”
The humongous quadropus was named Bendarno, and he was really very nice. He and his lady quadropus friend, Wexi, had been having a rather good time when they accidentally knocked the airbus out of the sky. Bendarno was very apologetic and offered to push the waterlogged airbus to shore. He had been dubious when Steel asked him to go towards the Eastern continent, however.
“ARE YOU SURE, MAN?” he had asked. “NOBODY EVER WANTS TO GO EAST. ALL THE RADICAL ACTION’S GOIN’ DOWN IN THE WEST.”
“We’re sure,” Steel said. “Our friends went this way. You didn’t happen to see them, did you?”
The quadropus shrugged one of his tentacles. “SORRY, MAN. ME AND WEXI WERE GOING AT IT PRETTY HOT AND HEAVY, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.”
Wexi giggled and blushed a darker pink. She gave Steel a little wave. He waved back with a smile, although he wished he had a pair of ear protectors. The quadropus couple spoke as softly as they could, but being several hundred feet tall even their whispers boomed out over the ocean.
“HEY, MY LADY WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU’RE THE STEEL. Y’KNOW, THAT RIGHTEOUS DUDE WHO RUNS AROUND THE GALAXY IN THAT BITCHIN’ RIDE RESCUING PRINCESSES FROM WHACKED-OUT JIVE TURKEYS.”
“Ah,” said Steel. “Well, as a matter of fact…”
“I KNEW IT,” squealed Wexi, clapping two of her tentacles together. They made a sound like a pair of humpback whales colliding into each other at mach two.
“RIGHT ON, DUDE,” said Bendarno. “I’M GLAD WE DIDN’T HAVE TO THROW DOWN, MAN. I’VE HEARD YOU’RE ONE BAD MOTHER.”
“Oh, the stories get exaggerated, sometimes” Steel said. “Just a tiny bit. You know how it is.”
“DID YOU REALLY RESCUE PRINCESS YANTERA OF THORNERIA?” Wexi had a hopeful glint in her gargantuan eye.
“I did,” said Steel. “And that was quite an adventure, too! You know, that’s how I lost my eye.”
Wexi gasped, a sound like a a giant turbine winding up.
“He took a thorn to the eye when he was going down on Yantera,” Otto grumbled. “And they shredded my best silk sheets.”
“Chill out, man,” said Marc. “Like, she was really nice. And her father hooked us up with some really killer weed.”
Steel ignored them both as he related the tale to Wexi and Bendarno. The quadropuses listened with rapt attention as Steel told them his story.
To his credit, it was mostly true. A civil war had broken out on Thorneria between the plant-based Thornerians, who lived above ground in beautiful arboreal splendor, and the mammalian Wullups, who dwelt down under the ground in burrow-like enclaves. After a Thornerian city had collapsed and fallen into a sinkhole inadvertently created by the Wullups, the plant people had retaliated the only way they knew how: by trade embargoes to force reparations. The Thornerians were a generally peaceful race, after all, and preferred to settle their conflicts through diplomacy and financial incentives. The Wullups, on the other hand, were a generally reclusive race who had favored isolationist policies to cultural interaction. They traded with the Thornerians grudgingly, and only because of the really yummy vortl fruit they harvested high in their trees. When the Thornerians withheld the fruit the Wullups vowed revenge. But as they were not a warlike race either, the best plan they could come up with was digging holes in the open fields for the Thornerians to trip over or fall into. They didn’t make the holes very deep, since they really didn’t want to hurt anyone, just inconvenience them until they could get their regular supplies of vortl again.
Unfortunately one of the Thornerian victims of this widespread tripping hazard was Princess Yantera, the daughter of the Thornerian king. She fell into one of the larger holes, then wandered around the subterranean tunnels until she came across a commune of Wullup pacifists who refused to engage in the conflict. She spent several days with them, smoking gumyup, engaging in anti-war protests and generally having a pretty good time. The Thornerian king was unaware of his daughter’s safety however, and hired Steel to rescue her from what he assumed to be her captors.
As a matter of fact, Steel wasn’t so sure he even wanted to take the job. He and his crew had only recently become spacefarers and he didn’t really want to get into the middle of an alien conflict. But they were almost out of weed and Marc was known to get a bit frantic when his THC levels dropped too low. So with a promise of “all the gumyup their ship could carry,” Steel and the others had gone looking for Princess Yantera and had actually found her within a few hours. They thought of taking her back immediately, but ended up partying with the Wullups instead. Then they took everyone up to the Gran Huevo de la Muerte where things really got wild. Steel didn’t even remember all of it, although he knew that there were still a few Wullups living in the walls of the ship.
He had indeed lost his eye while engaged in foreplay with Yantera, but he told most people that he had lost it while single-handedly holding off a Wullup horde as his comrades made their escape. It had been fairly easy to get a new cybernetic implant, which Steel preferred anyway since it had a “clothing optional” setting on it that allowed him to see through most garments. And the king had been as good as his word, filling their considerable hold with gumyup, a decision which had led to the economic downfall of Thorneria a year later.
In that time, though, the story of Steel’s rescue of the princess had gained no small amount of notoriety. Within a few months another planetary monarch contacted him about finding a missing daughter, and the legend grew. Not all of the rescues were as easy as the first one had been but they had all been profitable, especially since Otto had been wise enough to merchandise the story rights.
It seemed the galaxy was full of princesses who needed rescuing, as well as a multitude of beings anxious to hear all about it.
Including gargantuan quadropuses.