Scrappers Part III by Konn Lavery

Scrappers Part III

October 24, 2019 | Flash Fiction
Tags: Horror, Sci-Fi, Spooky, Strange,

Estimated Reading Time: Calculating...


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

Scrappers Part III

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 to snag a cloth and get all the sweat and blood off me. As Ruggy and I shot the embryo sacks with the Harvester infants, the liquids had splattered against us. 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 that Harvesters should be spared was an unpopular opinion. I knew it. That’s why I didn’t share it often. At the moment, I guess I lost control of myself. Ruggy managed to slap me back into the routine, and we annihilated the infants.

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

That was true. Another job done. We loaded up the rover and returned to the cruiser. The beast we shot left blood and footprints in the ash. It retreated deeper into The Lost. That 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, get to that cloth. Plus, 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.

On Route

We marched back to the cruiser with the rover right behind us. The cruiser was barely in view, probably another half hour. 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 know.

“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 said. “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 of them showed up.”

The Harvesters were usually quick to come and snag their deceased. Lucky for us, we got here first. We were sure we knew why the operator took us here. Still, it would be good to hear it from the horse’s mouth. 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 goggle’s interface to open the cruiser’s back hatch. The rover automatically strolled in with the scraps of metal. Ruggy and I went in after, letting the hatchet door close.

I took off my goggles and blinked a couple of times. My eyes burned any time I used them. It didn’t matter how many times.

“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 to the storage closet, snagging a small towel before entering the cockpit. Wiping my face of the blood and sweat, I sat down in the driver’s seat and flicked the machine on. I felt a wave of relief removing 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 got us to the crash site.

The system said it was 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 every little bit helped when it came to survival.

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

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

“Yeah, smokes. Want one?”

“Give me one,” I said, extending my hand.

Ruggy put one in my palm as he flicked a lighter. He lit my smoke and his. I took a puff of the cigarette and let out a small cough. It had been a while. The taste of nicotine soothed my nerves. I needed that and a good bottle of whiskey to shrug today off.

“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 higherups. We had more value than that. I know 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.”

“What did you call for then?”

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

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. I think we should actually 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 it to be above ground. It was 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. We were left in the dark.

“The cruiser 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.

Visitors

“There,” Ruggy said. A humming sound faded in as lights were seen in the sky, piercing through the clouds to the ground below. The lights moved through the ruined landscape, locking onto various cracks and sheltered areas.

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

“Yeah, us,” Ruggy said.

A smaller light came down from the larger light. A craft came out of the clouds and descended onto 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 sitting ducks. 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. Smaller lights trickled out of the landed craft. Harvesters. They were on foot. There was no way we’d be able to fight them off. Running was our only hope. I took one last inhale from my smoke and pressed it into the ground. 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. Goggles strapped on, rifles in hand, and ammunition belts buckled – it was 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 cruiser. 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 reverbed throughout the cruiser. The beast was attempting to break in. We were sitting ducks.

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

I followed him, holding my rifle tightly. The tearing of metal amplified as a loud clang erupted. A howling roar echoed in the hangar bay. The beast was inside. Ruggy and I picked up our pace, closing the midway hall door in the process. We made it to the side exit beside the cockpit. Ruggy began to punch the emergency pin to open the door. With the cruiser completely off, we had no way of communicating with it from our goggle 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 sight stood on its hind legs, looking almost human. The spikes on its back erected upward 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 it lifted upward. We rushed out of the cruiser as Ruggy turned around, punching the button the lock the door. It swung back down as stomping came from the hall. The beast rushed towards. The door locked shut as it slammed into the side of the cruiser, roaring. The whole vehicle wobbled.

“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 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 goggle’s chat window. THAT THING IS GOING THE BREAKOUT. 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. I caught up with Ruggy, who jogged towards the Harvester lights.

RUGGY, THIS IS SUICIDE! I typed.

Ruggy turned to face me. HARVESTERS ARE ONTO 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 survive. He got 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 Harv

WE DON’T HAVE A LOT OF TIME, Ruggy communicated through the goggle’s chat window. THAT THING IS GOING THE BREAKOUT. 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. I caught up with Ruggy, who jogged towards the Harvester lights.

RUGGY, THIS IS SUICIDE! I typed.

Ruggy turned to face me. HARVESTERS ARE ONTO 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 survive. He got 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 them that failed experiment back to them.

Scrappers Part III by Konn Lavery

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