(OJ Note: To celebrate the forthcoming release of TETRAGEDDON, the 4th in the Kirk Sandblaster series, I’ll be posting the opening of the previous Kirk adventures thus far. Enjoy this opening from Ice Pirates of Llurr…)
“It sure is nippy…”
It sure was. You see, Kirk Sandblaster – rogue space adventurer, dashing fellow and loather of head-garments – was looking out toward a vista of pure, shimmering white. A white that could only be created by miles upon miles upon even more miles of ice, snow and general tundra. With this amount of frozen waste on show, it was only natural that there would be a lack of tropical degrees; the kind of warmth that’d make you break out the shorts and sip on a nice, cool Ctolian juice. Instead, there was a breeze so chilly, it could flash-freeze a ball of molten plasma.
This all meant that, yes, it sure was nippy. Biting, in fact. Thermals were more than required, they were a necessity.
Luckily, as he stood gazing out into the grand, snowy vista ahead of him with fists on hips, Kirk Sandblaster was clad in the finest Horgorian furs that Tetras could buy. Although, in this case, they were less acquired through a monetary transaction and more from an illegal game of Brellian Snapdragon, a complex card game with rules so complex is was far easier to cheat.
Kirk Sandblaster had cheated, and now he stood as close to cozy that he could get, with severe frost tingling the fabric. In many ways, he was a man who prepared well.
In many other, more accurate ways, he was a cunning thief.
Anyhoo, the furs were thick with plumage; several inches thick, in fact, and could keep a being so warm that he could smuggle any form of beast meat within them, and produce them a few hours later in the form of a ready meal. For now, it was keeping Sandblaster from perishing due to the vicious elements he found himself in. And boy, were they vicious… the planet’s temperature was so far in the negative regions of degrees that without proper insulation, every drop of liquid in your body would freeze within seconds.
With that in mind, Horgorian furs were quite practical right now, even if Sandblaster was getting quite a sweat on underneath it all.
As he scanned the horizon, his loyal Zaarian sidekick-cum-pilot-cum-chum Xlaar stood towering next to him. While his lizard-like body, thin and slippery with the added burden of having 2 heads and 6 various appendages, would be frozen solid in moments in this atmosphere, Xlaar was a noble warrior from his race. Such things did not bother him, mostly due to the warrior power-suit that he wore. As well as giving him the appearance of a muscular Rygan, it also came with in-built heating and air-conditioning; designed for all weathers, all the time. Some had jested in the past about whether it also came with a cup-holder.
These beings were never seen nor heard from again.
There they both stood, the burning chill of the cold planetary air whizzing past their stubborn forms in an environment that cared little for their presence. It was cold. It was desolate. And worst of all, there was a general lack of lavatorial amenities.
They were lost on the ice planet of Llurr, and it really was terribly nippy.
As he scanned the landscape, Kirk Sandblaster suddenly stopped. In that moment, everything was very important and worthy of a thrusted finger in the direction of said focus of importance.
“What?” asked Xlaar, three of his eyes squinting in vain. The fourth, a dazzling new bionic cybernetic, also tried to highlight this mystery thing, with less luck.
“Look at what?”
Xlaar was getting frustrated. He looked again and gave up on using his normal vision. It was time to test drive his new eye and the various functions the salesman had sold them on. Things such as thermal imaging, cross-sector analysis and, allegedly, a laser.
Personally he didn’t believe the laser bit. It sounded more like Sandblaster hyperbole to him.
Either way, Xlaar was still getting used to his new bit of ocular equipment and so began to concentrate on it, to see if he could catch whatever it was caught Sandblaster’s eye. However, all he got was a persistent glitch which tuned him into a Ghurian pirate radio station, which as well as offering poorly-worded, and formed, plans of pillaging, also played a collection of pretty decent early Earth hits.
Oh, and a massive headache. That, when you have 2 heads, isn’t very nice.
Xlaar grimaced before turning his growing anger on his human cohort.
“There’s nothing out there,” he growled.
Sandblaster was not so easily convinced.
“I’m sure there is.”
“You’re going mad.”
“Mad,” Sandblaster asked, “or thinking outside the box?”
“No. Definitely mad. In fact you’ve left the original box, which we’re all sitting in, and entered a whole new box that is far stranger, crazier and all round stupider than the first box. A box that is full of Collians who’ve drank so many mind-spirits, their already frazzled brains have eroded to the point of fizzing chemicals.”
Sandblaster looked at Xlaar, thinking his point a tad overwrought, and went back to his viewing. Again, he threw his hand up to highlight something.
“There! There it is! Oh wait…”
“Why? What is it?”
Sandblaster paused for a moment, before nodding to himself proudly.
It should be stated now, that a Zaarian sigh has more power than your average expulsion of audible air. For while a mere single-mouthed being can express quite a bit of frustration and disdain in their sigh, a Zaarian emotes so powerfully that it is much higher in terms of irritation and overall melancholy. Some entrepreneurs tried to record it and sell it as relaxing sounds, much like whale song or Takaran Jazz, but most killed themselves upon hearing it.
It was very demoralising.
The two of them had been traversing the stark Llurr ice-fields for, what Sandblaster claimed, was days. In fact, it was actually nearer to a couple of hours. During that time, they had witnessed very little in terms of life. There had been a moment of excitement when Sandblaster had discovered some footprints, claiming great pride in his findings.
“Here we are Xlaar,” he had declared rather smugly. “Signs that we are not alone. In fact, if we follow these…”
Before Sandblaster could finish, Xlaar pointed out the sad truth. The footprints belonged to Kirk Sandblaster and himself, from where they had been walking around in circles. It was understandable really, what with directional signposting fairly rare in this part of Llurr.
Mind you, tourism wasn’t a bustling industry on the ice-planet.
After this, Xlaar had taken control and lead the two of them around for a bit longer, before finding prints of his very own. A moment of rare gloating over the cocksure Sandblaster was soon scotched when they both noticed they were the footprints they had made on finding the first set of footprints. Now they had both made fools of themselves, turns were taken in leading but only resulted in more tracks from previous stumblings being found again.
After that, both Sandblaster and Xlaar resolved to simply partake in a straight, forward march. Out the window went any sort of vague planning, instead one rigid motion without turning.
Within minutes they found some prints again.
Xlaar just marched past them, muttering words that would make your elders blush.
In fact, both beings could take some solace in the fact that their aimless meandering had perfectly created a piece of artwork, visible from space. To the keen eye, it resembled some sort of Elejian goddess, wisp in gowns and shimmering with jewels, with only minor variations of creativity here and there. It looked pretty darn special, before a brief snow flurry lost it to the ages.
The curse of art, right there…
Artistic footsteps aside, the two wanderers had walked and hiked and dragged their heels all the way across mounds of thick snow before reaching the crevasse where they now stood. Beyond them, despite Sandblaster’s moments of optimism, was just more ice and snow, and more than likely beyond that was even more ice and snow. No civilizations, no sign of help or escape. They were lost, with nowhere to turn except the possibility of certain death.
Still, that hadn’t dampened the spirits of Kirk Sandblaster. The plucky adventurer still stood fascinated by what he was seeing. For here he was, shin-deep in the deserted heart of a new planet. Unchartered, untouched and open for all sorts of investigation.
And no doubt, lots of treasure.
For Sandblaster knew, just knew, that somewhere around here was treasure. He had seen it, with his own two eyes and Xlaar’s bionic one. And soon enough, he would find it.
He just needed to find something, anything, first.
“So what now?” Xlaar grumbled, looking in all directions while listening to some indie pop through his eye.
Sandblaster thought this over, and soon came up with some options.
“Well, we either wait and see what happens…”
“In which we’ll die.”
“… keep walking and see what we find…”
“Which we’ll also, most likely, die.”
“… or we consult Navi.”
Xlaar looked down at Sandblaster.
“I’d rather die.”
Sandblaster gave out a hearty laugh and slapped his comrades power-suit. If it was anyone else, he’d be halfway across that gulley by now, but Xlaar had got used to the moments of moxie from his human partner. Instead, Sandblaster tapped away at the wrist of his sleeve and waited.
“Were you just poking your wrist?” Xlaar asked.
“Um, no…” Sandblaster said, before tapping away at the other wrist. Soon enough, muffled under all the fuzz, came the familiar voice of the Bounty’s AI, Navi.
“How do, good sirs! What frosty delights are we experiencing today?”
“Where are we!?”
Xlaar was in no mood for pleasantries. He needed to pee.
“A humdinger of a Q there, Mr Xlaar sir! What I can tell you, is how we got here!”
“Is this another long-winded story Navi?” Sandblaster asked.
“Well sir, I can confirm that…”
Before Navi could finish, Xlaar had already jumped off the small cliff and started to slide down the frozen wastes. With a shrug of his shoulders, Sandblaster joined him as Navi began to spin the yarn of their arrival in Llurr.
“If you’ll recall sirs, it all began on Space Station Netley…”