Maple Leve stood on a branch high in a tree, surveying the landscape. Her shield and spears were tied to her back, while her eyes were scanning the area for a source of food. Up here, she felt as if she could just reach out and grab the stars, pluck a shiny speck out of the sky, but of course that was impossible. She spotted a commotion in the distance.
She jumped to another branch, and climbed down. Sprinting, she came into a clearing where two figures were battling a bluish monster with a prominent and bony skull-plate. Maple Leve had nicknamed these “Boneheads”, as their thick skulls were protected by even thicker horned plates of bone that couldn’t be broken (or even damaged) with any of her weapons.
The Glitch was yelling, circling the Bonehead with a sword and shield, as if it would protect him if the Bonehead charged. A Novakid held – what was it called, a pistol? – And fired two quick shots at the Bonehead, but the force of the projectiles were stopped by its skull-plate, and only served to annoy it more.
Maple thought for a moment, and then sprang into action. She used the beast’s tail like a stepping stone to propel herself onto its back, and raised her spear. She slammed the spear into the back of the Bonehead’s neck – The only easily accessible weak point – and jumped off quickly. It jerked, startling the Glitch, and trashed in pain. After a moment, it stopped moving.
Maple yanked her spear out of the beast’s neck, and frowned disdainfully at the damaged stone tip. She pulled out a knife and started to skin the Bonehead (Bonehead leather was very useful for clothing, tough, and the meat was edible, although not very flavoursome)
The armoured Glitch approached her cautiously. She looked up at him for a moment, and then continued her work.
“I… Uh, I should probably be thanking you. That thing-” He began
“Would have charged you into a tree and shattered you. And your friend would have met a similar fate” She said, without looking up. “Only a fool would pick a fight with something like that without knowing how to fight it. Are you a fool?”
“Then why did you fight it?”
“I didn’t. Jericho – the Novakid over there- stumbled into a cave and ran into it. It tried to smash him, so he ran away and it followed him,”
“Hmm. Stay away from caves that you can’t see entirely from the entrance. I won’t be around to save you next time. Now, why are you here?”
“Our ship crash-landed a week ago. We were low on fuel, and we barely made it here. Our ship is damaged, and even if we could fix it, we have no way to power it. We were hoping to find a civilization, and you’re the first person we’ve seen so far” He said.
“Well, I’ve been here for years. I have not seen any civilization since I arrived here.”
“Arrived here? In a spaceship?”
“Yes, how else?” she said, confused.
“Does it... does it have fuel?” He asked, unbelieving. She looked at him.
“It might. I’ve almost forgotten the thing. It’s quite far away, but it was still in one piece the last time I saw it.”
“Could you lead us to it?!” the Novakid spoke this time.
Maple sighed. “Even if I wanted to help you, I can barely remember where it is. And I have no reason to go look for it again.” She said. The Glitch shook his head.
“Jericho, how many bullets do you have left?” he asked.
“Um… 15, I think. And 3 in my gun,” he replied, indicating his revolver. He checked the gun, and then loaded 3 more bullets into it. “18 altogether. In this place, they won’t last long”
Maple sighed again. These fools would get themselves killed within a day, at this rate. How had they survived a whole week?
“I’ll take you, but only because if you got yourselves killed, I’d have wasted my time rescuing you just then,” she said, stashing the hide in her pack. “Now take me to that cave.”
Horace - the Glitch – finished stacking dead branches and kindling inside the cave. Jericho lit the fire, and the group huddled around it for warmth. Maple chewed on some dried meat thoughtfully.
“If we head north, we could reach the ship in two days. I hope you like walking.” Maple said.
“If we live that long…” Horace said.
“If you survive that long; then yes, we’ll reach it in three days. Do you two need to eat?”
“I can process food that other races eat, but it’s not the best fuel for a Glitch,” Horace replied. “Not so sure about him,” He indicated Jericho.
“Not really, the thingy on my face contains enough energy for a lifetime, but I can taste food,” Jericho said. Maple rolled her eyes. “This stuff tastes… well, it tastes boring.” She said, and handed some to Horace.
Maple looked at the Glitch and the Novakid thoughtfully. Non-plant life was a strange concept, one that she had never gotten used to. Novakids and Glitch did make little a bit more sense. They had been created, like the spears on Maple’s back or the ship that brought it here. Gender was also confusing. There were no different types of Florans. While some appeared to be what other races called male or female, it was simply a physical thing. Maple accepted that other races referred to “her” as female due to “her” appearance, but Florans were neither male nor female. It was an alien concept.
The next morning the trio started north. Maple moved swiftly through the forest, and her plantlike appearance was a natural camouflage which caused problems for Horace and Jericho, who often lost sight of her. However, she eventually slowed down and kept pace with them. Shortly after noon, they group stumbled upon a clearing.
A small herd of Boneheads were grazing in the clearing, and hadn’t noticed them yet. Maple backed up quietly to the trees, and whispered to the other two.
“We need to sneak around the clearing quietly. Watch out for twigs!” she warned them.
Maple took the lead, and slowly circled the clearing.
Jericho winced. One of the Boneheads looked up, and he quickly darted behind a tree.
Maple swore under her breath. Horace stood still, the lights of his eyes dimmed.
The Bonehead snorted, and then resumed its grazing.
Maple let out a sigh of relief, and glared at Jericho.
“What did I say about being quiet?” She whispered fiercely, they continued moving around the clearing.
"Crap, that was close" Maple said, once they were away from the clearing. Horace looked at Jericho. The Novakid was visibly upset, and sat down by the base of a tree.
"I'm sorry," He said. "I was freaking out, and didn't watch where I stepped."
Maple crouched down till she was face to face with him. "We were all scared. It was an accident, and we're not dead yet, so calm down and we can keep going. We're not too far away now. Another day, at most," She said to him. He nodded, got up and started walking.
The day passed by, and they made good progress. Later in the afternoon, A scaled, 4-legged beast had tried to eat them, but Jericho’s pistol proved handy. After taking 4 bullets, it fell down, screeching. One final shot finished it off.
That night, they managed to find an empty cave to spend the night in. Horace took the first watch, but the only disturbance was a small, monkeylike creature which hopped out of a tree, looked at him for a moment, and then scampered away. After a few hours, Maple took the second watch and let him rest.
The next morning, they set out early, hoping to reach the ship before noon. After a breakfast of dried meat (again), Maple climbed up a tree to get a view of the landscape, and announced that they were getting close.
As Maple surveyed the area, Horace saw a flash of movement from the corner of his eye. He whipped his head around, and saw nothing. But he didn't relinquish his grip on the sword's hilt.
Maple clambered down and landed lightly on her feet. "I think I can see where it landed, but it's still a few hours away," She said, and led them towards it.
Before long, they had reached the ship, which was resting in a clearing. Along the way, Horace was jumpy,he could sense that something was wrong. Maple studied her ship critically.
"It looks like it might be too small for both of you, unless one of you sits in the storage compartment…"
A rustling from the trees made her jump. A ring of Floran warriors came out from the trees, screeching and yelling. Horace drew his sword, while Jericho fired at a Floran that tried to spear him. Horacee swung his blade at a Floran, but it leaped out of the way, then slammed the butt of it's spear into the Glitch's hand. He dropped the sword.
Maple saw that the pair were outnumbered. The Floran chieftain looked at her for a moment. She had no choice but to follow the group, or be slaughtered.
Horace watched as Maple meekly followed the tribesmen. "TRAITOR!" He yelled at her. She looked back at him for a moment, and then kept walking.
The florans had taken them to a primitive village, and locked Horace and Jericho into steel cages.
"Hmm, the Glitch could be taken apart to see how it works," the Floran chief said. "And you, Novakid, that brand… I'm sure we could use it to generate electricity… Tomorrow, we'll decide what to do with you," He stated arrogantly.
When night fell, the tribe surrounded a bonfire, eating, talking and laughing. Maple sat a short distance away, miserable. She hadn't known about this tribe, and now her mistake was going to get Horace and Jericho killed.
She looked around to see if anyone was watching, then snuck away…
Horace sat down in the small cage, watching the group of Florans.
Another rustling sound caught his attention.Maple Leve, with a large bag on her pack, was standing next to the cages.
"What do you want?" He growled. Jericho looked up.
"I'm letting you go! I swear, I didn't know anything about this tribe!" She whispered, and pulled a tool out of the bag. She used it to break the rusty locks. and then handed them their weapons.
"Take my ship. Go home," she said
"Are you coming with us?" Jericho asked. Maple shook her head.
"Good luck," she said, then leaped away.
Maple made her way back to the fire unnoticed. A few minutes later, a cry went up.
"The prisoners have escaped!" A florin called out, and the tribe turned to look at the cages.
"The glitch must have snapped the locks!" the chief yelled. "Go! find them, and kill them!" he ordered, and they scrambled to obey
Half an hour later, Maple Leve was standing in a tall tree, watching as a fiery streak shot into the sky, bound for the stars…