Scavengers

Deadeye saw it first, no surprise. We rode toward the smoke. Loud Mouth couldn’t stop giggling, interrupted every so often by that disgusting clicking noise the stump of his tongue made against his uvula. I ran my palm over the smooth end of my left arm, which terminated at the mid-forearm.

It was an interstellar transport, though it looked like it had a pretty rough time of the landing. A crash, you might call it. Looked like a beached whale after a couple weeks of decomposing beneath a sky without an ozone and getting picked apart by scavengers.

Eta Leporis B didn’t have whales, but it had scavengers.

A figure waved its hands overhead from near the wreckage, flagging us down. Don’t worry, we see you. Loud Mouth squealed and Deadeye fell silent. A starving dog with a steak sandwich doesn’t get this excited. We slowed the sand-schooner to a stop in front of the survivor. He’s gonna wish he died in the crash.

“Oh, thank the stars!” he said. “We need help. I’m Niles.”

Deadeye licked his lips. “Well I’m Deadeye, and this here’s Loud Mouth.” Loud Mouth opened his tongueless toothless maw and made a sound like purring while drooling all over himself.

“I’m Handy Man,” I said, and I waved my stump in the air.

“You said we?” asked Deadeye. “How many meat popsicles does this boat hold?”

Niles began to back away. He was figuring it out; his face really said it all. Out of the frying pan and all that.

Deadeye was on him in seconds. Niles was loud for a long while, just screaming and wailing and calling us all sorts of foul things. But on E-L-B you had to make your own fun. When he ceased to be fun, we shut him up and left his leftovers in the open, and then went inside the wreckage. He’d still be where we left him when we came back out.

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