The Vern...


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Post The Vern...

#1  Nik 03 Sep 2021 17:08

Some time ago, I began wondering what would happen if a Convention Settlement group's ferry side-swiped a Cosmic String, arrive in a galaxy long, long ago and far, far away...


Here's one of the 'butterflies'...


Dusk, rain sluicing side-ways, the port cantina's door flew open. A reptiloid Vern ducked the high lintel and, leaving a wake of run-off, limped to the bar.

Six limbed, with peg teeth and hand-span tusks, a short, robustly spiked tail and thick, dark, natural armour plate, Vern were ill-tempered and very bad news. Usually bipedal, they could drop to four or six limbs, move even faster. Their upper pair of arms were thick, long and strong, the big hands' fixed claws like jack-hammers. The lower pair were shorter, almost gracile, with retractable, scalpel-sharp claws for dissecting still-squealing meals held by the upper pair. And, with those claws retracted, could wield hand-weapons well.

Vern clutches were big, but the first six or eight hatchlings ate the rest. Clutch survivors stuck together like hull-fix cement. Solitary Vern were so rare, the cantina's customers expected a mob of grumpy sibs to loom from the storm. Several simply abandoned their drinks and/or business, fled. Other took precautions such as readying hand-weapons beneath cape-hems or their table-top.

"Zyx Ale." The Vern's clatter of a few credits onto the bar sufficed. The bar-keep knew there could be trouble after a third or fourth, which was why only three stoppered jugs stood in plain sight. The Vern grasped this first with his lower-right hand, sank it in one draught. "Aaaah..."

The other customers watched warily, all with half an eye on the doorway and other potential exits. Where else but a port cantina could you find windows with slam-bar handles ?

"Again !" More credits clattered onto the bar. The bar-keep shakily opened the second, swept the money away, retreated towards the back-room's door. The Vern gulped at his jug, lowered it empty. He peered into the frothy dregs, snarled, "Again ! AGAIN !!"

The bar-keep took the third and last jug from the shelf, paused beyond the Vern's reach to dust it. With that hint received, more credits clattered, the ale was opened. The Vern took one swig before, almost gently, setting it on the bar. Throwing his crocodilian head back, he roared, "I HATE HOOMINS !!"

By the time its tectonics and echoes subsided, several more customers had fled.

"Hoomins ?" The bar-keep ventured.

"HOOMINS !!" The Vern roared, "Look what those Soft-Skins did !"

He leaned forwards, waved his left hands, which were shorn by several digits. Pale nubs showed re-generation had begun, but would need three or four annual molts to mostly re-grow. He inclined his left leg, which was some-what thinner than his right, had a long, pale scar from hip to below the knee. He lashed his partly de-spiked tail, which also bore pale scars.

And, the bar-keep could not help but notice, the Vern's torso bore pale patches. His eyes were very different sizes, the left much smaller than the right, crossed by a pale skull scar. Vern were as hard to kill as flat-worms, could regenerate from most injuries. But, clearly, this guy had been in the wars.

"Worthy prey ?"

"Worthy ? WORTHY ??" The Vern made a strange hacking noise, quenched it with a hasty swig from his jug, asked, "Do Hoomins drink here ?"

"No." They frequented the 'Blue Star' on the quieter West Side of the port, which also served scary-spiced 'pissas', 'borger bops', 'dorg bunns', 'k-babs' and other bizarre Hoomin fare. "No Hoomins here."

"Then you have not seen them fight."

As the bar-keep's response to serious brawls was to grab for the stubby, twin-barreled hull-breacher beneath the bar, he shook his tendrilled head. Several more customers exchanged thoughtful glances, left quietly.

"After this, I must face our Client. He gave us bad intel. And, for the honour of my Clan and our two lost Clutches, I must try to kill him."

The bar-keep put two and three and one together, got five and change. "Sub-Lord Wirrant ?"

"HOW--"

"He's dead--"

"WHAT ??"

"Also his Lieutenants and Sargeants. And most of his Enforcers."

"HOW ??"

"Three, no, four eight-nights ago, there was a blue flash above his mansion. By dawn, all within were dead. Radiation poisoning."

"A blue flash ?"

"So said..."

"A blue flash..." The Vern shuddered. "That-- That sounds like the Hoomin weapon which killed those eights of 'Star Destroyers'--"

"Huh ?" The bar-keep felt like the cellar's steps had failed beneath his hooves. "We were told the Grand Fleet took sides and duelled during the Rebellion--"

"They stayed loyal." The Vern took another swig. "Sub-Lord Wirrant told us some foolish Hoomins with a back-country land-grant were interfering with business...

"Usual fee for 'Wet Work'...

"Easy money, lots of blood and guts to splash, perhaps tech and treasure to pillage...

"So, eight eights of days ago, our two Clutches went up there in air-trucks..." The Vern made that hacking noise again, drained his jug. Folding all four arms onto the bar, he lowered his head atop their nest. Closing his odd-sized eyes, he croaked, "Sub-Lord Wirrant did not tell us their land-grant was from Marshal Kenobi and Princess Leia, no less...

"The Hoomins felled us like food-beasts, and only I survived..."
 



 
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Post Re: The Vern...

#2  rico 04 Sep 2021 18:55

Wow, very imaginative Nik! Thank
 



 
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Post The Vern Part 2

#3  Nik 05 Sep 2021 19:13

The storm blew out while the Vern snored. The night sky cleared. The cantina's street-lights swamped constellations, but moonlets 'Near' and 'Far' showed their phases. 'Ember' was up. That distant 'Red Dwarf' partner to this planet's yellow primary gave too little light for shadows, barely enough to hint at shapes.

The Vern snored on.

"He's in here, Uncle Jim !" A female Hoomin's high voice carried like a laser beam.

Two adult Hoomin males, a slim female and a stocky adolescent male pushed though the doorway. Dressed alike in working clothes and boots under now-open rain capes, they were all armed for Boarats. The female had her right hand on a small hand-gun in her right hip's open holster. She had a bulkier 'long gun' cross-slung, muzzle down to left. The three males had bigger versions of each, but the adolescent, a 'lefty' wore his weapons mirrored, plus a small hand-gun at right. Their half-eight moved as a combat team, assessing angles and threats. Remaining customers hastily decided to keep hands open and empty.

The taller adult Hoomin looked around for recent damage before brusquely asking, "Zill make trouble ?"

"No." The bar-keep had a hidden hand on the big breacher. "Drank, sleeps."

"Zill pay ?"

The bar-keep hesitated, decided on honesty. "Pay before drank."

"Good." Turning to the shorter adult Hoomin, the speaker said, "Let's get him home."

"He'll be a handful..."

"We'll manage..." Facing the bar, he ducked the Vern's upper left arm, got that across his upper back then left shoulder. The other took the right. A nod for cue, they heaved the Vern mostly upright. With an economy of movement that suggested they'd done this before, they slid him off his bar-stool, turned towards the door.

The female led, the adolescent took the rear. Moving crab-wise, he was placed to draw down on would-be back-shooters. Then, all five were gone into the night.

The bar-keep hissed with relief. 'Let Sleeping Vern Be' was no joke, yet this lone Vern had not reacted to the Hoomins' distinctive smell or his removal. Which was remarkable three further ways...

With the group clear, a customer shakily downed the last of his tankard, nodded to the barkeep, said, "Same time tomorrow..."

"Surely." The bar-keep nodded. "Beware of Boarats."

"Always..." He was gone but moments, ducked back, "Trouble ! End of street--"

"What ?" The bar-keep felt for the breacher. "Who ?"

"Bliikk, his crew and a long eight of drunks. Won't let those Hoomins pass. Want the Vern--"

The bar-keep ran the play. A former combat pilot, he'd kept his reflexes, his eye for the angles. Though he'd flown Ties, the Empire had progressively shunned 'Exos'. Sad but glad to leave the 'Allecto' after two tours, he was very glad he'd missed the Rebellion. Had the few Hoomin Incomers really killed all those Star Destroyers ? Marshal Kenobi certainly duelled, killed Dire Lord Vader aboard Grand Moff Tarkin's 'Death Star' which had destroyed tragic Alderaan. And, as Kenobi and his Hoomin team escaped on their shuttle with rescued Princess Leia, improbably eluding Combat Patrol Ties, the 'Death Star' blew up, merging with the planet's debris...

"Vern knew their smell as 'Clutch' or he'd wake fighting. That makes him 'Family'. They'll not give him up." The bar-keep lifted the breacher. "And, Boarats' Blood, I may get a free shot at Bliikk..."

"Me, too."

"Me, three."

At the end of the block, beneath the last street light, the four Hoomins and their snoring Vern faced the grumbling lynch-mob. The slim female, on their right, stood skew, watching her flank. The stocky adolescent likewise held the left.

Bliikk the Bithel stood front and centre of the mob, flanked by his three Henches and a loose group of Minions, all variously armed. Known for doing sub-Lord Wirrant's dirtier work, he'd been 'out of favour', off-site, when the mansion was zapped. He'd since tried to take over Wirrant's more blatant schemes but, without the sub-Lord's semi-legal backing, few were buying. Seems he thought 'Counting Coup' on these Hoomins would improve matters...

He was calling the Hoomins and their Vern every which way, unto the third generation. The mob loved each inventive expletive but, either the Hoomins did not understand his increasingly thick-accented rant, or it was mist off a storm cape.

Perhaps it was their calm that finally flipped him. After they failed to react to a totally gross insult, he snatched for his belt-holstered gun--

Dakka-Dakka-Dakka ! The Hoomin female's first shot tore cloth from between his thighs. She led the others up his torso, tossing him back.

Bamm ! The left Hench tumbled as body-fluid sprayed from his back. His shortened Breacher fell away.

DAKKA-DAKKA-DAKKA !! The adolescent's strike from the other flank felled the second Hench.

Dakka-Dakka-- A Minion took this--

BAMM !! That centre-mass strike burst the third Hench to a purple cloud.

Dakka-Dakka-Dakka ! Another Minion.

DAKKA-DAKKA-DAKKA !! Then there were two.

Dakka-Dakka-Dakka ! One left.

Blat ! The taller Hoomin's hand-gun put a neat hole between the last Minion's eyes.

Two of the mob were also down, to 'throughs'. The rest were backing away, wiping spatter from their eyes and faces.

"Is Bliikk dead ?" Warily averting his breacher, the bar-keep called from what no longer seemed a safe distance.

"What's he to you, Bar-keep ?" The taller Hoomin returned.

"He wanted to take over from Wirrant, was trying to shake me down for 'protection'."

The adolescent peered at the carnage, reported, "Still moving..."

"Do you want him ?" The Hoomin asked.

"No, thank you-"

"Mercy him," the Hoomin stated. The adolescent drew his bigger hand-gun. Its Blat delivered a precise fin.

"Hoomin ?" The bar-keep called. "One thing..."

"Yes ?"

"Your Vern asked if I'd seen Hoomins fight. I said 'no'. When you tell him of this, say I have now seen, and I understand."

"He's 'Zill' to friends." A polite nod, and the five left, side-stepping strewn bodies and polychromic gore.

"Well," the bar-keep said to his two astonished companions, "Drinks on the House !"
 



 
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Post Re: The Vern...

#4  rico 07 Sep 2021 04:30

Nice one Nik ! Thank you kindly
 



 
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Post Re: The Vern...

#5  Nik 08 Sep 2021 22:33

The Convention 'BiGun' was originally developed to protect small communities against Anwyc bio-raiders. A combination of carbine and snake-gun, its 'engagement envelope' suited point-defence and in-fighting. There was a lighter version, as also met above. A heavier version, crafted for the Convention's Aerospace Marine Corps but adopted with glee by the Felinoid, wookie-sized Sanku, was indeed known as a 'Bolter'.

Neither pistol nor SMG, skeet, sawn-off or 'long-gun', the design was oft-lambasted by weapon gurus, but its reliable delivery of 'serious hurt' was uncontested...
 



 
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