Surfing in a fiery paradise.
“Brent! Y’there mate?” shouted Addy, pressing his skull to the thick boulder that formed his friend’s front door. It only took a few seconds before he felt a familiar thud as his friend’s head hit the boulder at the other side. The rock vibrated subtly, meaning shuddering through the red hot crystals.
“Yeah mate. Nice to be talking at a decent volume. Thought I was gunna bust a drum trying to get you outta your bloody bed!”
The rock shifted again, this time grinding slowly to the right. Addy stepped back as his friend’s face appeared from behind the door, as rocky and jagged as the day they first met.
Brent was a decently large bloke, nine feet tall, about as wide across the shoulders. Not the largest of the villagers, but the cracks of his joints glowed with a fire that belied his age. His eyes blazed crimson, and the light bled into the fine laughter lines that covered his face. As usual he wore nothing but a pair of light bismuth weave shorts. Addy, on the other hand, was more conservatively dressed in a length of darker cloth.
“Wow” said Brent, slapping a hand on his friend’s shoulder so they could hear each other’s vibrations better. “Flippin cold out!”
“Yeah. Barely scraping 200 C today. You still up for it?” Addy readjusted his clothes, pulling a fold of fabric from under his friend’s hand.
“Hell yeah. Scree surfing down the new peak? Whatever the weather I’m up for it!”
Brent turned, ducking back into his cave.
“Just lemme grab the boards and I’ll be right with ya”
Even though it was cold the sun was shining down fiercely on Addy and Brent as they strolled across the flats away from the village towards a distant mountain. Vapours of various kinds oozed from cracks in the rocks, and the sky shimmered in orange and yellow over the ruby moss. Before too long the two friends were miles from the village, chatting amiably about the morning mating dances and talking about the best kinds of hide for making screeboard runners, then as they crested one of the rolling hills they saw something very odd indeed.
Silver domes dotted the landscape before them, connected by cylindrical tunnels and odd looking cabling. The domes themselves were made of hexagons of some strange shiny metal, and were far too regular for anything natural. Various identical creatures (made out of the same shiny metal, which seemed weird) scuttled around nearby, carrying around various components and seemingly building a home for themselves. As Brent and Addy approached, curious, the creatures scattered, and from within one of the domes emerged a dozen or so slightly larger, slightly heavier looking creatures, this time carrying what Brent and Addy could immediately tell were weapons of some kind.
“Halt!!” demanded one of the creatures, though Brent and Addy couldn’t tell which one, since they made the air vibrate instead of using the floor like normal people.
“This land and the nearby mineral deposits have been claimed by the Pan-Terran mining corporation in the name of Humanity and all its subsets. You and your kind are to stay away from our camp and the nearby peak, which we will be mining. Do you understand?”
Addy and Brent exchanged glances, then looked down at the creatures (who only stood seven feet or so tall). Addy spoke first.
“Sure, fella. You gunna take much of the mountain? Me and my mate Brent here were gunna go surfing on it, is all.”
The silver creatures were fanned out now, and Brent fancied that he could see things that looked almost like faces under the shaded glass domes that they had where heads should be. Their muscles were odd, like rigid rods, and outside their skins, while various cables trailed here and there, completely exposed to the mid morning chill. Some parts of them were bulbous, others regular, but all the creatures looked precisely the same.
One of them spoke again.
“We’re going to take it all. And we’ve got enough firepower to make sure you filthy primitives don’t bother us. Now turn around and go back to your hovels!”
“All right mate. Don’t get your shorts caught on a rock.” rumbled Brent “We’re on our way”.
He turned to go, and Addy followed. Both were distinctly aware of the creature’s blank gazes on their backs until they were a fair distance away from the bizarre place.
“Well. That was a bit odd, wasn’t it?” said Addy when the two had reached the top of the nearest hillock and were looking back at the again-busy creatures below.
“Yeah. Wonder what they were getting so worried about? Not like we’re gunna try stop ‘em.” replied Brent, watching as a small group of the armed creatures set off determinedly towards the mountain.
“Y’know what I was thinking?” he continued thoughtfully.
“Nah. What?” asked Addy.
“Well, in between those big fellers legs there were some bits of metal that kinda looked like a baby Sulphur Buffalo’s plums, right?” Brent’s mouth creased a little at the side, plates of rock grinding over each other.
“So they’re walking into a vent field.” said Brent, staring at the weird silver beings as they receded into the distance. “And it’s Vapourback breeding season.”
Addy looked confused for a second, then realisation dawned.
“Oh. I see. And there’s nothin’ that Vent Adders like more than Sulphur Buffalo tenders…”
The pair looked out for a minute towards the silver buildings and the now quite distant armed creatures.
“Reckon we should warn em?”
“Nah. They’ll find out for ‘emselves when those nippy little buggers tear off their gonads. Fancy a drink? Big Joe’s does a special on gallium before the midday mating dance.”
“Sure thing mate!”
The two turned away from the silver buildings, narrowly missing the flashes of gunfire and completely unable to hear the distant screams through the thick air.
“Dunno what they want that peak for anyways.” Addy swung his screeboard and hit a rock into the far distance. “Give it another week and it’ll subside again.”
“Yeah. Plus it looks like prime territory for wild Arrhenius Bears. Remember when Bob pissed off Floofykins? Old Man Frank’s bear? Took him weeks to properly crystallise his legs back!”
“Hah! Yeah!” There was a faint rumble of an explosion from behind them, and a gout of vivid flame reaching over the crest of the hill. “Wonder if those blokes are allergic to Thermites?”
Thick black smoke was rising into the sky behind the pair now, and the screams were beginning to tail off into silence. Brent scratched the top of his head.
“I reckon they’ll probably have bigger problems than a bit of itching, mate.”