After encountering a Harvester, Angie and Ruggy are wrapping up their scrapping mission. They question why the operator sent them here. Unfortunately, there’s no time to ponder. Harvesters aren’t far behind.

Scrappers Part III continues of a sci-fi horror universe that is being developed through short stories. Enjoy the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

All Harvesters Short Stories

Into the Macrocosm

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery

Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

This story is found within the collection.

Enter the expanding universe through the lives of 22 souls, as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died.

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Heading Home

The idea of wiping off this gunk was the one thing that kept me going. We had to get back to the cruiser if I wanted a cloth to get all the sweat and blood off me. It turned out those embryo sacks splattered good. The mix of sweat from the intense heat of the spacecraft crash added to the disgusting factor. I couldn’t wait to get out of this mess and back to the cruiser.

We were Scrappers, though. It was our job to get whatever goods there were from the location the operator gave us. It was that simple. What we did today, I had a hard time grasping. We killed children. Harvester or not, they were living, conscious beings. The idea of sparing Harvesters was an unpopular opinion. I knew it. That was why I didn’t say it often. In the moment, I guess I lost control of myself. Ruggy got me to focus, to remember the training, and we annihilated the infants.

After our rover arrived, we started doing what we did best—scrap. The Harvester’s spacecraft had plenty of raw materials to gather. The damn gene-freaks were smart with their tech. Most of it had self-destruct functions built-in. It was unlikely we’d be collecting anything of value other than the metal.

A couple of hours of scrapping proved it true—only raw materials. Another job done. We loaded the rover and returned to the cruiser. I always found the excess humming of the machine’s motor from the cargo weight soothing, since it reinforced that we were on our way home. The beast we shot left blood and footprints in the ash. It had retreated deeper into The Lost. A confusing mix of fear and curiosity took hold of me. I wanted to know what it was, despite knowing the dangers. Maybe that was how the Harvesters eventually edited their DNA: curiosity of the unknown and fear of moral lines breaking forever. Either way, that beast wasn’t our mission. We’d report the finding and get back to base. More than anything, I wanted to get out of this wasteland. The old world was unsettling. Every time we entered The Lost, I found it hard to believe that there used to be another civilization before this mess.

En Route

We marched back to the cruiser with the rover behind us, the six wheels adjusting with the shocks against the uneven surface. The cruiser was barely in view; it was probably another half hour’s walk away. I held my rifle tightly, looking at all the nearby rubble. That beast was still out there. I couldn’t help but wonder if it would come back. We had no idea what or where it was. The Harvesters dabbled in modifying all sorts of genetics. It could be another human for all we knew.

“We’ve got to get some intel as to why the operator took us out here,” Ruggy said.

“Yeah. It seems odd they’d send a scrapper team out here,” I replied. “A military unit might have been more useful.”

“One would think. Quite frankly, I am not surprised.”

“Why is that?”

“We’re disposable. The military is not. They knew it was a Harvester crash site, and they wanted to get to it before the Harvesters did.”

“Right, for the metal.”

“And we did.” Ruggy looked up to the grey-and-black sky. “Thankfully, no more showed up.”

The Harvesters were usually quick to come and retrieve their deceased. Lucky for us, we got there first. In truth, we knew why the operator had sent us here. Still, it would be good to hear it from the source. Until then, we did our job and made sure we stayed alive. No one else had our backs.

Ruggy and I reached the cruiser. With a few subtle eye movements, I used my goggles’ interface to open the cruiser’s back hatch. The rover automatically rolled in with the scraps of metal. We went in after, letting the hatch door close with a satisfying hiss from the hydraulics. We were out of here. I took off my goggles and blinked a couple of times. My eyes burned anytime I used those damn interfaces. It didn’t matter how frequently I had the goggles on; I never got used to the light beaming right in my face.

“Angie,” Ruggy said, taking his goggles off, “mind starting the cruiser? I’ve got to take a shit.”

“Yeah,” I said. Classy Ruggy, I thought.

Relief

We split from the hangar bay. I made a quick stop at the storage closet to snag that small towel I’d longed for before entering the cockpit. Wiping my face of the blood and sweat was so fulfilling. I sat down in the driver’s seat and flicked the machine on, feeling a wave of relief as I continued to remove that grunge from my skin. Harvester baby fluid—disgusting.

The cruiser roared to life as I gripped the steering wheel with my gloves. Now we could go home. I pressed the acceleration pedal while turning the wheel, moving the large vehicle around. The dashboard directly below the windshield lit up with a locally saved map. It was the familiar system that the goggles used that had gotten us to the crash site. The system said we were about halfway through the night. Thankfully for us, the dark offered some shielding from the Harvesters’ spacecraft. Sure, they had night vision like we did, but when it came to survival, every little bit helped.

Ruggy stepped into the cockpit and sat in the shotgun seat. He pulled out a small box from his pants pocket and flicked it open, revealing numerous small white sticks.

“Are those . . . ?” I asked, glancing at him.

“Yeah, smokes. Want one?”

“Give it,” I said, extending my hand.

Ruggy passed me one as he flicked a lighter, lighting my smoke first. I took a puff of the cigarette and let out a small cough . . . man, it had been a while. The taste of nicotine soothed my nerves. I needed that and a good bottle of whiskey to wash away the day.

“Where’d you get these?” I asked while puffing on the smoke.

“I know some folks at the base,” Ruggy said, putting his feet up on the dashboard.

“Tobacco is hard to come by,” I said, eyes on the road.

“I know, trust me. You did well today, kid. You earned it.”

“Thanks.” I brushed my hair aside, exposing my ear. “That wasn’t easy.”

“I know,” Ruggy said. “That’s why I said you did well.”

“What do you think the operator will have to say about this?”

“Not much. They never do. Operators just run it up the pipeline, and it will be delegated to the ‘right’ department. That’s how these things work.”

“Truthfully, I am a little pissed that they had us go all the way out here.”

“Get over it. It will happen again. We’re replaceable.”

I tightened my one hand on the steering wheel. Ruggy’s bluntness annoyed me. He didn’t seem to mind that we were just numbers when it came to the higher-ups. But we had more value than that. I knew we did. If it weren’t for us, humanity wouldn’t have any raw materials to work with.

The Call

“Speaking of,” Ruggy said, flinging his feet off the dashboard. “Let’s call this in.” He reached for the touch screen in the middle of the dashboard and navigated through the system’s interface. The speakers rang, then clicked.

“This is operator 43-S3. Unit S-89, do you reply?” came the operator’s distorted voice.

“Hey, operator,” Ruggy said.

“S-89, have you reached the assigned location?” the operator asked.

“Done and scrapped. We’re on our way back.”

Several seconds of silence passed. “What did you call for then?”

“About that scrap. Did you know it was a Harvester crash site?”

More silence.

“You had us rush out here in the middle of the night—” Ruggy persisted.

“We’ll want a full report on your findings when you return to base,” the operator said.

“Yeah, I get that. That’s protocol. But I think we should chat with someone about what we saw.”

Silence.

“Hello?” Ruggy asked.

The cruiser made several beeping noises. A red dot appeared on the dashboard’s map. That was never a good sign. Someone else was in the area. The question was, who? From the details on the map, the cruiser’s sensors detected the motion was above ground. Aerial. Another spacecraft.

“Operator 43-S3, are there any ships in the area?” I asked.

“Don’t bother, kid,” Ruggy said. “If those were our ships, we’d know.” Ruggy pressed the touch screen, cutting the communication with the operator. He flicked some additional switches that shut off the exterior lights. I brought the cruiser to a halt and turned off the engine; this was protocol. Unidentified spacecrafts meant only one thing: Harvesters. We couldn’t have this cruiser radiating transmission signals and lights. I watched the map fade out, the red dot getting closer, as the cruiser turned off, leaving us in the dark with nowhere to go.

“This thing doesn’t use any global positioning,” I said. “How did it find us?”

“No, the maps are local,” Ruggy said, eyeing the sky. He puffed on his smoke. “Looks like the Harvesters came for their crashed ship after all.”

I inhaled the cigarette while looking out the windshield: dirt, ruins, and a dark sky. There was no sign of anything. The cloudy night sky was working against us. We remained silent, both watching in anticipation. The Harvesters had to be near. The cruiser’s sensors were pretty accurate, and we had poorly timed calling the operator. Chances were that they detected the frequency of the transmission.

Visitors

“There,” Ruggy said. A humming sound rose as lights appeared in the sky, piercing through the clouds, projecting onto the ground below. The beam moved through the ruined landscape, moving onto various cracks and sheltered areas.

“They’re looking for something,” I said.

“Yeah, us,” Ruggy said.

A smaller blue light came down from the blaring light. A craft came out of the clouds and descended to the ground on the other side of a hill. It was probably a good hundred paces away. The dark made it tough to see the details of the craft. There were only bright lights.

“We can’t stay here,” Ruggy said.

“We can’t turn the engine on,” I argued. “They’ll see us.”

Ruggy nodded. “That leaves us with one option.”

“No,” I said, already knowing.

“We’ve got to abandon the cruiser.”

My heart sunk. We were floating corpses at this point. Without the cruiser, we also had no way of getting home. We’d be stuck in The Lost.

“Grab the survival packs. Don’t waste any time,” Ruggy said, extinguishing his smoke. He got up from his seat and hurried out of the cockpit.

I stared at the distant lights, seeing smaller purple glows trickling out of the landed craft: Harvesters holding glowing pulse cannons. They were on foot. There was no way we’d be able to fight them. Running was our only hope. I took one last inhale from my smoke, possibly my last ever, and dropped it to the floor, stepping on the drag. It was time to act.

Ruggy and I gathered all the supplies we could into emergency backpacks and met up in the hangar bay. We swung the packs over our shoulders, strapped on the goggles, got our rifles in hand, and buckled our ammunition belts—showtime.

“We can come back,” Ruggy said.

“Presuming the Harvesters don’t blow the cruiser up.”

A loud thump came from on top of the vehicle. It was directly above us. We froze. A moment passed. Another thump. Then a roar. Something was on the roof outside.

Visitor

“That ain’t no Harvester,” Ruggy said, lifting his rifle.

“That thing, from the crash site,” I said.

Scratching and pounding picked up. The tearing of metal reverberated throughout the cruiser. The beast was attempting to break in. Just what we needed.

“We can sneak out the side,” Ruggy said, leaving the hangar bay.

I followed him, keeping my rifle low. The tearing of metal amplified as a loud clang erupted. A howling roar echoed in the hangar bay, followed by a thud. The beast landed inside. Ruggy and I picked up our pace, closing the hall door in the process, hopefully buying us some time. We reached the side exit near the cockpit. Ruggy began to punch in the emergency pin to open the door. With the cruiser entirely off, we had no way of communicating with it from our goggles interfaces. Everything was manual.

Thumping erupted from the hall. It was closing in. I looked back; there, behind the small circular window of the hall door, the muscular beast from the crash site stood on its hind legs, looking like a swollen, muscular humanoid. The black-and-red spikes on its back erected as the drooling mouth opened, exposing the sharp teeth. It let out a roar, slamming its clawed hand into the glass. It shattered, pushing the door forward with it.

“Ruggy!” I shouted.

Ruggy finished punching the pin into the door’s lock, and the door lifted. We rushed out of the cruiser as Ruggy turned around, punching the button the lock the door, letting it swing back down as stomping came from inside. It had broken through the hall. The side door locked shut as the beast’s feet appeared, its body slamming into the side of the cruiser, roaring. The whole vehicle wobbled. I’d never seen anything shake a cruiser. I couldn’t fathom the strength of that beast.

“Damn manual override,” Ruggy said. He glanced around while placing his goggles over his head. I did the same, letting the night vision come to life. We could now see the purple lights off in the distance. The Harvesters were on their way.

Bringing the Fight

WE DON’T HAVE A LOT OF TIME, Ruggy communicated through the goggles’ chat window. THAT THING IS GOING TO BREAK OUT. COME ON.

I used subtle eye movement to type back, WHERE?

Thumping and scratching came from inside the cruiser. The beast was shredding through the metal. Ruggy and I jogged towards the Harvester lights.

RUGGY, THIS IS SUICIDE! I typed.

Ruggy turned to face me. HARVESTERS ARE ON TO US. THEY’LL CATCH UP. THEY’RE FASTER THAN US.

WE CAN’T FIGHT THEM. YOU KNOW THAT.

OUR BEST BET IS TO LURE THAT THING TO THEM. WE’LL GIVE THEM A TASTE OF THEIR OWN MEDICINE. THAT THING WILL FUCK THEM UP. I swallowed heavily. Ruggy was right. The man knew how to improvise. He’d gotten himself out of difficult situations before. Seeing the dilemma we were in, I had no choice but to follow him. This was for our survival. We’d bring the fight to the Harvesters. Give that failed experiment back to them.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

All Harvesters Short Stories


Into the Macrocosm

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery

Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

This story is found within the collection.

Enter the expanding universe through the lives of 22 souls, as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died.

Scrappers Part III by Konn Lavery
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Konn Lavery

About Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and Literary Titan.

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