This month we are celebrating Sci-Fibruary at Good Look Gamer! For this month we commissioned a story we like to call Dungeons&Aliens, it is written by the talented Somaginer, enjoy!
“I just don’t understand,” said Zavax, nodding away the instruction hologram with a sigh.
“What is it?” asked Jer, her pupils dilating in compassion.
They were sitting around a table along with Tymit. Before them sprawled a board with a bizarre hologram landscape: green rolling slopes, blue “sea” water (Zavax snorted to himself at the irony of being unable to drink from so much fluid when human bodies relied on them).
“Aren’t there better things we could be doing with our time?”
“Shut up and roll,” snapped Tymit, his skin crinkling in disapproval, “This is important. Strategic knowledge of the terrain is essential if ever wish to invade, as is understanding how their minds work.”
What nonsense. Invading such a planet was not worth the effort, and Tymit knew that.
Zavax still picked up the coarse dice. As much as he hated it, he had to keep playing. The Academy was unforgiving, and he had to keep the friends he hadn’t lost yet. Without them, he would have no hope of making it to graduation, let alone making captain.
Not that Tymit knew anything about that. For all his talk, he probably wouldn’t ever consider raiding Earth. He was so obsessed with their culture that it overrode his own good sense.
The dice landed on a 9.
“So that’s 9 for attack in your previous encounter with the rabid ‘dog’,” said Jer, trying to lead them back from arguing about the game. Zavax stole a glance at her smooth, relaxed skin. If he could ever gain the confidence to ask her out, these games would be worth it.
“You face down the ferocious creature. Just as it attacks you, you are able to pull out your weapon. You shoot it in the maw as it sinks its teeth into your arm. Wounded slightly, you hobble away but survive the encounter.”
Jer chittered, terrified at the thought of some earthly monster. Javax just stared down at the tiny holographic human, abandoning the dead “dog”.
What a strange, strange game. It was fitting for such a strangely shaped species, he supposed. He hadn’t seen any of them outside of holograms and, unlike Tymit, he didn’t have any ambition to conquer them for the sheer sake of conquest. He doubted that any species who could dream up such a fantastical and pointless kind of game wasn’t worth the effort either way.
He wasn’t here by choice. But he also couldn’t claim that the whole situation wasn’t any fun at all.
“Jer, it’s your turn,” Tymit says, pushing the dice towards her.
Jer’s body scrunched up in concentration as she gave it a throw. It tumbled to a stop in the middle of the hologram board, and she let out a small unhappy sigh. Zavax gave her a comforting pat, and she smiled back.
A queasy feeling settled inside of him. He never would have associated like that with someone who had no hope of making captain, or at least fleet. But things were different now.
“You rolled a 2 for peacemaking. Your encounter with the human goes abruptly wrong, and you are mortally wounded,” announced Tymit.
The human NPC standing before Jer pulled out some kind of weapon and pointed it at her. Her avatar flailed as it was pierced through with some kind of fast-moving projectile, and fell on the ground.
“Is that their essential fluid?” Zavax asked, stifling both his fascination and disgust at the red substance oozing from the avatar’s body.
“Yes. It’s really bright, isn’t it?”
It was, disgustingly so. Quickly enough, however, Jer’s avatar climbed up again, stumbling forward.
Someone had put way too much detail into these graphics. Perhaps it was someone who was obsessed with all earth-related things like Tymit.
If anyone else saw Zavax huddled in this tiny room, playing this meaningless game, they would laugh at him. He could imagine what his old friends would say about him, the coward of the pack who refused to invade even a single colony, playing a game of adventure and conquest. They would laugh at the irony of it all.
He didn’t like violence, pure and simple. And that made him a failure, along with his failure buddies by his side now.
“Zavax, it’s your turn again. Focus on the game.”
Tymit’s high voice snapped him out of his reverie. He looked into his face, a narrow, nervous face, not the kind that he would ever associate with in the past, and took the dice from his hand.
His new friends took their game very seriously. Maybe it was time for him to start playing seriously as well.
“I will go to the nearest healing center and partake in their supplies,” he announced.
“You don’t have any money,” Jer reminded him softly.
“I know. I’ll steal the supplies, then. Is there a stat associated with that?”
“Dexterity or luck, I suppose. Luck might be more appropriate,” she said.
Tymit nodded. “Luck it is. Go ahead, then.”
Zavax almost felt his hearts accelerate when he rolled. The dice spun, finally trembling to a stop—on a 12.
“Zavax not only succeeds in stealing the medicine, but he also encounters a stunning companion to his party, Jer the blonde-haired, dark-skinned human female! Jer, are you willing to join forces with Zavax?”
Even though he hadn’t listened when Tymit was introducing the game, Zavax was quite sure that the rules didn’t allow for that, not when there were only two players and one master. When he stole a quick glance at Tymit, Tymit winked back with a quick quiver.
Jer mulled over it for only a moment before raising her face with a smile, her skin utterly smooth and radiant.
“I’m willing to!”
Zavax was surprised at how happy that made him. In the past he would have looked down on individuals like her for lacking ambition and confidence. Now, however, there was something endearing about her.
She was a loser, yes. But so was he.
“Then welcome to this party. You know, the word ‘party’ has numerous other connotations in Earth vocabulary, and it’s quite fascinating to dig deep into the history of the syntax…”
As Tymit went on, Zavax trembled slightly, just to let Jer know that they were in for another long one. She smiled.
Perhaps this game wasn’t so bad after all.