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Ash Forge and the Green Mutant Alien Rats
In the vast deepness of space, there was a small, run down space port.
Within that small port were taverns, bars, saloons, pubs, whore houses, and every so often a burlesque.
Within the cheapest bar that was still inhabitable by humans there was a man lost in a bottle of cheap, hard liquor.
That man was Ash Forge.
“Hey stranger, I think it’s time yer found another joint to waste away in.” The bartender brought his one good eye to bare. “Did yer hear me stranger?”
“What? What do you want?”
“I told yer ter get!”
Ash raised his head up. His eyes felt sore. He couldn’t see the bartender too well. Ash brushed aside his matted orange hair. “Whatever.” Ash tried to step off his chair, but instead slipped and fell on his back. If Ash was embarrassed, he did not show it. He just picked himself up and stumbled out of the bar.
A warm wind berated him, dust and dirt showering his face. He watched as in the distance a ship began to descent. It seemed to be falling fast though. He turned away and headed back from where he came from, at least, where he thought he had come from.
He walked into an open doorway to find another bar, this one slightly more upscale with fewer stains and a slightly less abhorrent aroma. He dropped down into a chair and tilted his head back, closing his eyes. He felt tired, like always.
“Hey there my man, what part of the galaxy you from?” A woman came and sat on his lap. She smelled sickeningly sweet of molasses and sweat. In Ashes eyes she looked all right, but it was probably the alcohol. Ash was just thankful that she didn’t weigh a lot. He was sore all over since the day he got there.
“I’m taking a nap right now.”
“Come on there cowboy, there’s always time to sleep.”
“Like now. Come back after I’m awake.”
She stood up and slapped him. “All you space freaks are the same! Don’t care about nothing but yourselves!”
She stormed off leaving Ash to doze off. Everything around was getting quiet until everything turned upside down. Ash flew up into the air and landed back on the floor with a mighty thud. Ash refused to move. He was going to fall asleep whether the universe wanted him to or not. If he had to sleep on the floor, then so be it. All went black.
Ash awoke. All the lights had gone out. No one was around. If this seemed odd to Ash in a place where the lights never went out, in a place where there were always people, he did not show it. He walked up to the front and poured a drink for himself. The cup felt greasy in his hands, the liquid looked dull and murky and gave off a faint spoiled odor. He poured it down the hatch letting the sour and rank ale go down his throat.
He looked around. Wasn’t there some woman that wanted him? Meh, like that was something new. He stood up and walked out of the bar. His balance was back and he stood straight up, a full six-foot-six. He pulled his hair back and tied it into a pony tail. He rubbed his real eye. His pulled out his fake one and rubbed it on his coat before putting the small, shiny bit of machinery back in.
The street was completely empty. Since nothing interesting was going on, he decided to head back to his own ship. He heard a few gunshots to his left. Still wasn’t enough for him to stay. The shots were soon followed by panicked screams. Nothing out of the ordinary. Ash started walking at a brisker pace. Deep down he began to know something was afoot. It had nothing to do with him. He would be back in his ship in a few minutes and off to some other space port, and in some other hole he could dig himself in. He could see his ship up ahead.
A giant, green mutant alien rat jumped on his back! Ash yanked the snarling and squeaking creature off of him. The rat pulled out a long, curved knife and lunged at him. The rat never made it, collapsing backwards as a bullet penetrated its skull. Ash let the smoke in his pistol fade away before he started walking for his ship again.
He was going to leave his place. He knew how this would end up. It was going to be like the Purple Slug Beasts of Gillandrix VI, or the Tusked Murkmen of Darrul IV. Not today though. He was in no mood for another adventure.
Two more rat mutants jumped in front of him, violet fangs dripping with drool. Two more shots found the monsters dead like their brother… uh… sister… uh… whatever.
Now he was going to get to his ship. He was through with this hero business. His hopes faded as he heard a loud rumbling. He turned to see a swarm of the aliens bounding over the pub beside him. It was going to be a long day.
He ran in the opposite direction, hoping that his long strides could outrun the short, stubby things the rats ran on. He looked to his left to see a mutant easily running with him, it began stretching its face, mocking him. He looked to his right to see another rat sticking its tongue out in equal disrespect. He looked ahead and saw that they were heading straight for a brick wall.
Ash slowed down and watched as his two pursuers ran head first into the immovable wall. It seemed as if he had lost the rest of the aliens. He thought he was all alone until a voice pierced the silence. “Yer need ter get out from the streets.” The bartender motioned for Ash to follow him into a door. As soon as they were in, the bartender closed the door and locked it.
“Looks like yer sobered up a bit.”
“What are you talking about? Who are you?” Ash Forge was never good with faces, or names for that matter. The bartender may have felt insulted if the situation was less grim.
“Listen boy, we got ter get out of here.”
They reached a small candle-lit room where half a dozen others were waiting, pale faces illuminated in a dark orange glow. They stared between the bartender and Ash, trying to find a leader, someone they could depend upon for answers.
Ash Forge looked around. “All right. Let me fix this whole thing. He whipped out a communicator from his pocket and turned it on. “Hey, anyone listening?”
A static-filled voice responded. “Captain? Is that you?”
“Yeah Terra, it’s me. Hey, we got a small problem here. Thing is, a bunch of these green mutant alien rats have invaded the port. Think you and Marxius could get a couple of flamers and take ‘em out?”
“What? You sold our flamers in that drug trade you made back on the Blue Moons.”
“Fine, what about the missile launcher.”
“You tossed it out with most of our food supply when we were trying to outrun the Judico Raiders inside the Gelus Nebula.”
“Locked away in your personal storage area. You know, the one that you forgot the combination for.”
“Well, what can you do?”
“Listen Captain, you’re not the only one with problems. I’m sure you can figure something out. You always do.”
Ash looked up to see the others staring at him with uncertainty. So what if he had lost every weapon on his ship in the past few months because of a series of small mistakes. Who were they to judge him? “All right, all right. I’ll fix this on my own then. Let’s see… I’m going to need a cup, some had liquor, and a lighter.
“Oh, I get it.” One of the men stood up. “We can throw the burning alcohol at the rats! Why do you need a cup though?”
Ash pulled out a cigar and stuck it in his mouth. “So I have something to drink from.” He watched as the people stared at him blankly again. “Fine, I’ll take care of the rats first, then I’ll have a drink.”
The bartender blocked his path. “Who do yer think yer are?”
“I don’t think too much bartender.” He walked past him. “However, I believe my name is Ash Forge.”
“Ash Forge, the Red Corsair, the scourge of the Judico, the savior of Tantus III?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Praised be the Emperor, we are saved!” They began to swarm Ash, trying to shake his hand and embrace him. He could do little to escape their clutches.
“Right, so I’m going to go now. You all stay here.” He looked at the three women who were in the group. One had only a few grey strands of hair on her head. Another looked as if her face were melted clay. The third looked decent enough. No mutations to be seen. He walked to her pulling one arm around her waist and put his another hand behind her head and tilted her back as he kissed her. He dropped her on her rear and strode off to face the aliens.
He opened the door slowly and crept outside. He walked out of the alleyway and onto the main road. He stopped and saw that hundreds of the creatures were there, surrounded around one which must have been there leader, holding high above it a glowing sword. It squeaked harshly at its followers. He looked around. If there was a dam, he could break it and wash them away. He was in a space port though. Perhaps he would dress up as their patron god and convince them to fight for his approval. Not enough time for a costume though. He could try to self-destruct the station, but his ship was on it, and the crew were not speaking to him. May as well do it the old fashion way.
He pulled out a box from under his coat and opened it. He attached the small powerfist onto his hand and pulled out his gun. He pointed it at the leader. Before he could pull the trigger he looked upward as a low rumbling was coming from above. A ship was descending upon them. He recognized it as an Astarte ship, having seen the legendary space marines twice before.
The Thunderhawk gunship came blazing down, guns firing into the rats. The ship landed in the middle of them, crushing a dozen under it hull. A full squad rushed out and let loose their bolters on the mutants. The lead rat rushed at the nearest marine and struck out with its glowing sword only for it to bounce harmlessly off the ceramite armor. The marine snatched the sword from its grasp and broke it in half with his free hand as he blew the creature’s head off with a pistol.
It was the flamer that made them panic, burning a score of them in an instant. It was a massacre as the marines chased them down. It was almost pathetic. As quickly as they came, they embarked upon their vessel, with only one of the marines ever paying him any heed, simply giving a slight nod. The thunderhawk left, heading for the hangar of the space port, never to be seen again.
As Ash put his gun away, the people of the port began to come out from their hiding. Like wildfire his name spread through their ranks, and rose high into the air. They threw money at him and tried to get near him. He took a woman in each arm and simply said to the throng, “All in a days work for a Rogue Trader.”
I am heading off to the Peace Corps. It is bery likely I will not be back. Good luck to all of you endeavors.