They are Smol – Badguys, Boxes and Boops, Chapter 29: Chess Pieces

Kill Team Spite blocked the corridor with their bodies, #09SP and #04SP standing ramrod straight before an unsuspecting door behind the body-shield wall of their brethren. It was the fourth stop down the long hallway, and those who were innocent – or scared witless – had long since departed for greener pastures as the shooting drew closer. For Kill Team Spite it was freeing, in a way, to watch people flee before them; it meant the only people left were the die-hard believers… that the ones who were left were the guilty.

“CHECK THE RECORDS.” #01SP barked, and Nate pulled up a stolen copy of Bleppy’s diary on his tablet, scrolling with mad purpose as his computer auto-translated the text in real time.

“Sinsinsinsins-” Nate murmured, before stopping his doomscrolling. “THIS KARNAKIAN PERMANENTLY BORROWED A SPLEEDILYSPOOTCH!”

UNACCEPTABLE.” #04SP roared, his breaching saw spinning to aggressive life as he began to cut into the unsuspecting pirate’s door. The initial cut was a small triangle, far too small for entry but just large enough to fire a few impact grenades indiscriminately into the room. After the screaming died down, the saw kicked back to life, and a proper hole was cut into the door to allow entry.

As the kill team began aggressively righting wrongs and collecting war trophies, Bleppy sighed, watching his muses a few meters in front of him do very un-warmcuddlelike things.

“[What’s wrong, brother?]”

“[These past few days… Hrrs-tssk’ I don’t know what’s going on anymore.]” Bleppy said, watching the private life of one of his neighbors – who, granted, had taken advantage of him a few times – was pulled out into the corridor and sifted like sand. “[I thought warmcuddles were, I don’t know, a little less-]”

“[Vicious? Bloodthirsty? Suicidal?]”

“[-Angry.]” Bleppy continued, the offending item (and some other additional high-value things) tossed into Nate’s arms. After being sufficiently laden down, the human waddled his way over to Bleppy and held his burdened arms up, offering the reparations to the Jornissian. For the fourth time that day Bleppy tried to calm down his friend, and for the fourth time Nate responded with a howl that was echoed by the rest of the Kill Team. The booty was tossed onto a tarp, and with a grunt Hrrs-tssk’ shouldered the additional weight.

“[You see what I mean?]” Bleppy said, watching the warmcuddle he called New-Hope sprint down the corridor to jump onto one of the warrior’s backs, the group stomping their way down the hall to the next room. “[They’re just so… I was hoping they were untouched. That there was a people out in the universe that didn’t know pain, or sorrow on the scale that we do – that we could guard something pure, and keep it so. I… I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about this. It’s finding out that the people you believed in are just like you, or even worse.]”

Hrrs-tssk’ slithered up next to his brother, and cleared his throat. Hrrs-tssk’, aka. “The Emotional Support Animal’s Emergency Stand In (vocation vacation intern)” looked flatly at his brother through a net that didn’t even cover his entire body, nor actually stopped his freedom of movement – it was, as the warmcuddle who launched it at him said in broken, robotic Tr’sitki, about “sending a message”. That message was apparently “we don’t have handcuffs large enough or strong enough to detain you, so please play along or we’ll kill you too.”

Great message. Hrrs-tssk’ got it almost immediately.

And so, Hrrs-tssk’ found himself hauling most of his brother’s personal effects, his entire warmcuddle shrine, and now roughly another 30-40kg of crap that the warmcuddles decided was important enough to take with them. The exhausted look that he sent to Bleppy caused the shy brother to turn away, mixed emotions swimming across his face.

“[… at least we’re still alive?]” Bleppy ventured, and was met with grunt from his sibling.

“[Fair. Do you know why they’re doing this? Do all warmcuddles just… hoard things, or is this a cultural fighting deal?]” Hrrs-tssk’ asked, idly watching as the warmcuddles stopped at yet another door and found some reason to break in. “[I’m starting to actually believe the whole ‘nesting arrangement’ shedskin that you said earlier.]”

“[It is not shedskin, they are-]” Bleppy was interrupted with the sounds of weapons fire – and the sounds of returning gunfire. The two siblings watched as brilliant light and sound slammed into the living wall, the humans standing still and eating the damage to their bodies as micro-missiles, repeating 1-gauge cannons, impact chemical grenades and other horrible things were sent downrange. For a brief moment Hrrs-tssk’ thought he saw Back, somewhere in the firestorm that was engulfing the hallway, but it was too fleeting to make sure… and in a few seconds, it didn’t matter.

“[Well that was certainly something.]” Hrrs-tssk’ said softly, as he watched the warmcuddles perform what he assumed was triage, or something like it. “[Is that New-hope on the groun-Stk’shzsk wait!]”

Bleppy darted forward as his attention was drawn to the smoking shoulder and arm of his new friend. Swiftly he slid forward, body parallel to the ground as he scooped the warmcuddle – his warmcuddle, off of the cooling iron ground. Before a word could pass by his lips, his forhead was met with a soft but firm paff of a gloved palm slapping against it repeatedly.

“[Don’t do that, new-hope!]”

“THE HERETIC’S WEAPONS ARE NO MATCH FOR ME.” Nate howled in Bleppy’s arms, continuing to headpat his bestest and most pure friend as the cooling material of his suit fused his left arm out at an awkward angle.

“[I don’t know what you’re saying but you are not to be at the front! None of you are – have you tried talking to these people?! They’d surrender – I know they would!]” Bleppy cried out, hugging Nate a little too tightly as he attempted to appeal to the warmcuddles’ more noble side.

The group remained silent, before one of the half-melted suits turned – waist traversal gears sparking concerningly – and fired a single round down the hallway.

Bleppy scrunched up his nose. “[I know you know what I’m saying. Speaking of…]” He tilted his head to look deep into Nate’s helmeted face. “[Exactly why are you breaking into people’s rooms? It’s not like they’re figh-]” Bleppy’s eyes focued on a curious reflection in Nate’s helmet before darting to the offending tablet, and froze as it’s meaning became known to him.

“[M-my diary?! YOU’RE READING MY DIARY-]”

= = = =

“I’m out! Reloading!” #06BT Roared over the din of weaponsfire, stepping backwards – and taking a few kinetic rounds to the chest – as #09BT took his place in the firing line. The exodus from the ladies’ room was going swimmingly until Kill Team Bloody Tears found themselves in a gymnasium of some sort.

A barricaded, defended gymnasium. For whatever reason a majority of the blockades were pointing away from their point of entry, and Bloody Tears didn’t ask any questions when the came across the group of pirates in mid-setup.

They just opened fire.

“Seven- SEVEN. To your RIGHT, ONE FOUR ZERO.” #08 Barked as his squadmate turned, taking a glancing blow from a directed energy weapon and responding in kind with a volley of grenades. The doors to the other side of the gymnasium opened up, fire pouring out from there as well onto the humans position. In the confusion and cacophony of battle there are few times to stop and collect your wits; you figure out the threat nearest to you, neutralize it, and move forward to the next one.

“Missiles dry!” #05BT yelled, his missile panel popping free to shed unnecessary weight. “Rock’em-Sock’em if we don’t unfuck this quick!”

“Working on it, fuckface!” #06BT replied, moving forward to take #05BT’s place on the semicircle firing line. To the pirate’s credit they weren’t stupid; concentrated and focused fire had already downed #10BT, and the only reason the team had gained a foothold in the room to begin with was by using their teammate’s body as a shield wall to push forwards. Death was to be expected, and mourning could happen later; vengeance was now. As each enemy was cut down the total damage dropped as well – until Bloody Tears was fighting a game of cat-and-mouse with enemies who moved faster than sight and dodged in and out of cover. Whatever fire was trying to pour from the other doorway was irrelevant; Bloody Tears wouldn’t let anyone peek their head out or get a breather.

People die in doorways. The goal was to make sure it was the other guy, and not you.

“I don’t know what the fuck that is over there, but I’m burning him out!” #09 crowed, white phosphorous mortars firing indiscriminately into a stacked pile of goods. The Dorarizin who was hiding behind it made it two steps out before being ventilated, his body slamming against the wall with the force of the rounds impacting his torso.

“Keep eyes on that door! Push Ten up! Spread out and take cover!” #01BT ordered, and his team hustled.

= =

“[Alright, so that’s new.]” Licorice muttered as he rolled another pocket drone camera onto the ground. The crew of The Perfect, now under The New Religion(tm) had waged a very impressive and quick war against their captors; superior arms, armor and tactics had made their push towards Nate frighteningly efficient. The Perfect’s crew weren’t as bloodthirsty as some others who were on the station; surrendering meant you were safe, and a majority of people were boarding themselves up in rooms and closets anyway. Those who fought back were true believers, and paid the penalty with violence and bloodshed.

But this. This was new. Licorice used the small drone’s camera to gather as much information as possible, before an incredibly large kinetic shell slammed into the device, carving a groove out of the iron floor of the doorway and sending shrapnel bouncing around the walls. The gnarled metal bits hurt as they embedded into his skin, but Licorice pushed that pain out of his mind.

He needed data. They all needed data.

“[Special forces?]” Pool Noodle said, sliding atop her colleague to get into a firing position. “[Outlaws have no rights, and I’ve been wanting to try this sweetheat out on the highest setting-]”

Licorice grunted at the unwelcome new weight. “[I can’t say. Captain, I’m sending everyone some information – check devices real quick.]”

Everyone who wasn’t holding an angle, performing triage or managing prisoners checked their devices; a squat, round, metallic war machine with glowing red eyes stared back at them with palpable hatred.

“[What in the soundless night is that? It looks… pissed.]” Lilybean murmured, the exhausted Dorarizin wiping the blood from her forearms as she sat down against the “safe” part of the wall. She was soon joined by her own fireteam, Tiki, Toko and the incredibly out of his depth P“pacheep following in tow.

“[It looks topheavy; drones? I could probably blow out the legs-]” Lilybean mused, her group beginning to discuss options as Licorice rolled another ball-like drone before the doorway, and watching it get shot within a few seconds.

“[That reaction time doesn’t scream automated system to me.]” Licorice said. “[That looks manual, but really odd.]”

Tiki thought for a moment as her trusty steed swayed under her weight. “[I wonder if-]”

“IDENTIFY YOURSELVES.” A robotic voice boomed from the gymnasium, and The Perfect’s crew froze.

“[No way, that’s a human warrior?!]” Lilybean cried out, looking at the slow-motion recording once more with renewed interest. “[That makes sense, though! Smaller size, you can put in more ordinance within the same dimensions! Ah! And each suit is an encapsulated – oh wow, that’s impressive. Alright!]”

“[Well, while Lilybean fawns over the killing machine, does anyone else have any ideas? You so much as poke your head out there, you’re going to get it blown away.]” Licorice asked, rummaging around in his bag for another drone. “[They’re coming towards us anyway, so the sooner the better I think.]”

“[How about announcing our intentions and then … well, someone takes the plunge?]” Toko ventured, smoothing down his faux robes. “[I think I can manage to talk them down.]”

“WE WILL NOT STOP. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. The same voice bellowed, sounding much nearer than before, the whining of gears and the stomping of metal-on-metal getting louder as the sounds and echoes of battle died off.

Pool Noodle sighed, lowering her weapon as she continued to cover the door. “[We need a message to let them know that this isn’t a fake surrender, and we really don’t mean them any harm. Any ideas before we fulfill our oaths and get blue-on-blue’d?]”

“SURRENDER NOW OR PREPARE TO FIGHT.”

Toko, to his credit, would go down to his dying day many centuries hence vehemetly denying that he watched human childrens’ shows. A storied and venerated Karnakian such as himself most certainly didn’t binge the vintage shows, and he absolutely, positively did not become a fan of any of them, if he did happen to catch an episode from time to time! It was a denial that only grew louder as the years grew longer, and the only incessant voice who would remind him of his fateful, saving slip would be that of his younger twin sister. But whatever the reason, whatever synapses connected in that time of stress and need, didn’t matter. Toko opened his mouth, and crowed as loudly as he could-

“[MEOWTH! THAT’S RIGHT!]”

Silence. There was a beat, a pause in seemingly the entire world itself. Toko stared straight ahead, unblinking, as his coworkers and crew turned as one to stare at him, unasked questions and comments hot on their lips and faces. He ignored them all, looking ahead stoically into the middle distance as the sound of the warmachines on the other end of the room ground to a halt.

“ARE. ARE YOU SERIOUS. REALLY.”

Licorice cleared his throat, and yelled out while maintaining cover. “[We are the sovereign crew of The Perfect, acting in interested self-preservation and self-defense under Senate Articles IV and VII of the Human Integration-]”

“YEAH YEAH. BUT REALLY? REALLY? WHO’S THE WEEABOO?”

Toko did nothing, but let out a soft two-toned whistle.

= = = =

Have you ever seen a killing machine, a thing meant and designed only for war, thrown completely out of it’s depth? Like an Abrams tank doing milk deliveries, or a Predator drone sending Christmas presents to Pakistani children’s hospitals?

“Sir, Sir. Please, Sir.”

This was one of those situations. Kill Team Kings of Eternity had split up, and according to the Odds of the team the first fridge was secured, being cut out, and returned to the dropship. Evens, however…

“[I will not calm down! I’m not going to have – to have children fight on my behalf! Where are your parents – do they know what you’re up to?!]”

The heat signatures turned out to be the medical wing of what was left of The Perfect, and after securing the pirate prisoners who were being treated, Kill Team Kings of Eternity verified the biometric information of one Drz’grn-of-Arhref – also known as “Drongo”. Seeing as how this person was (1) a non-combatant and (2) on The List, it would make sense to leave a token guard and continue on deeper into the facility. Unfortunately, Drongo had long since passed the point of frustration, and the combination of being overworked, overstressed, overworried, out-of-the-loop and overprotective of his smaller charge was too much to bear.

In those cases, people – be they Dorarizin or Human – fell back on instinct. And a male Dorarizin… well, fatherly instincts are strong.

“Sir, I’m fifty years old-”

“[That is my point exactly!]” Drongo huffed, his grip on #04KOE’s arm tightening as he tugged on the human mech to position him inside the sick bay, where it was safe. “[I’ve taken care of your kind before, and I know how fragile you are, and I am not going to lose anyone else! Now you are going to sit here and you are going to eat dinner because I am not going to hav-]”

“Sir, please. I will restrain y-” #04KOE didn’t get to finish that thought as Drongo pulled back on his arm, sweeping his leg and flipping the small battle-suit on it’s back. The rest of the Evens saw this, and stared unblinking at the frantic Dorarizin as he stood over their teammate and admonished him for staying out past curfew, hanging out with ‘those hoodlums’, and generally worrying his parents sick. #04KOE was unable to use his hydraulic skids to right himself, and wobbled on his back like an overturned turtle as he was emotionally attacked and physically pulled into the sickbay.

“I mean.” #02KOE said, turning to his half of the team. “That’s one guard down. Any other volunteers?”

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  1. I feel really fuckin sorry for whoever has to clean up the mess after the kill teams are done