Maverick didn’t dare turn back.
He had initially thought Sydney’s doll accessories would be small and he could carry them in his pocket, that was if he had pockets. But the items were human sized and he was forced to either wear or hold them in his clawed hands.
On his head was a Roman helmet and he was wearing a necklace with a big rubbery ear on it. The javelin and the rest of the junk were in Maverick’s arms.
As he ran through the burnt shrugs and the smouldering coals, bare foot, he tried desperately to keep his swag from tumbling to the ground, because fuck if he was going to pick it up.
As he ran, he glanced at his map. Four red dots were on his arse. He grit his teeth again as another sharp pain slapped in the back, compliments of a dart.
Maverick didn’t know if it were Gapachu, or Kali, or a pack of ninja squirrels that was out for some drunk fun, and he didn’t much care. His only goal was the snail.
The only plus side in this chase was that whatever the jelly baby doctor had done, Maverick seemed to be immune to the poison in the dart. Or maybe there wasn’t any poison in the darts and the shooters were just being mean. Either way he was just glad that he wasn’t going to be having a nap.
Driver’s voice blared through the armband, “I see you’ve got most of the boss’ junk. Looks like you got another fan club wishing you good bye. Want me to come back after you finished saying good bye?”
“Don’t leave me.” Maverick yelled between breathes.
He heard a bubbling snort that he took for the slug’s laughter, “I hate it when they get needy.”
“Fuck you, I’m being shot at. Do something.” Maverick could see the snail now. It was laying verticality up a tree and seemed to be munching on some leaves. The slug’s parking was nearly as bad as his mom’s.
Maverick pumped his legs hard enough that his lungs and muscles burned. There was no room for cursing or prayer. He ran for all buggery.
Nearly there, Driver came clawing out, like his ride he seemed to have no problems defying gravity. He stood on the ramp and Maverick noticed him holding something that looked almost like a…
I loud eardrum rupturing explosion nearly had Maverick diving for the ground. Was that a fucking cannon? Had the cats discovered guns?
There was a painful howl from behind. Again Maverick knew better than to look back. Instead, he looked at his goal.
Was that a fucking shotgun in Driver’s claws? It was. The reject from some arse twat’s garage band cover, was holding an old fashioned pump action shotgun.
Driver aimed the shotgun to Maverick’s left.
Maverick felt his ears ring. This time there wasn’t a howl, but one less red dot on the map told Maverick that the slug’s big eye wasn’t just for show.
A new problem showed itself, however, as Maverick came to the snail. The mollusc was nearly completely upright, its head pointed to the heavens and its arse pointed right down at a pathetic looking Maverick.
Even if Maverick’s arms were free he doubted he would be able to climb the snail’s mucus covered innards.
He panted for a second, “I… Can’t… Get up.” His mouth tasting like it was full of copper, Maverick spat on the ground.
He was dehydrated, he was hungover, and his arse must have looked as though it belonged to a porcupine.
“Jump.” Driver called out. He fired twice more and one of the little kitties shot back. What constituted as Driver’s face moved into a scowl as he got a dart to the stomach. “Fuck’ya, hurry up.”
Fuelled by fear, Maverick held tightly to his swag and jumped.
His logic was as simple as it was dimwitted. In Maverick’s mind he was in an a anime where the creator was doing cocaine off mercury filled tuna, so of course he would be able to climb up a slippery, near vertical ramp with no arms.
He jumped up, got caught by some invisible force and fell horizontally into a pool of snail juices. Apparently, Driver had not informed Maverick that the snail produced its own artificial gravitation field.
“Oomph.” Maverick coughed as he landed on something sharp and most likely expensive. “What the…”
The rational part of Maverick’s brain, which was already signing its resignation, gave it one last go of understanding what the hell just happened before it buggered off.
Maverick got onto his knees. Mind blank, he gazed out at the burnt trees which were now growing sideways.
It had been Gapachu that had been chasing him, the cats must have finished wanking each other off and decided to cross into Kali lands. Good for them. Sadly for Maverick they didn’t appreciate him stealing their plunder.
Unable to help himself, Maverick waved at the silly kitties, “Bye. Ahhhhh.” he screamed as a dart punctured his hand. “Fucking cats.”
Once firmly inside the snail’s hold, Maverick was allowed to pull the darts out of his backside. Behind him the doors were closed and the wildlife were safely outside, where they belong.
He watched as Driver got into the cab. In a minute there was the mind bending sense that the laws of physics was being given a wedgie as the snail crossed into another reality. This time Maverick didn’t throw up, though the experience was less than fun.
As he got onto his feet, and the snail’s back end started to reopen, Maverick took the helmet off his head and held it in front of him.
A bubble of water appeared and covered Maverick’s body. The slime, most of the darts, and almost all of the ash fell from his body. With the helmet now full of clean water, Maverick drank greedily.
It tasted like sweat and burnt bark, but it felt so so good.
There was an angry burp as Driver saw in horror at the watered down ash and foreign needles which now coved his his beautiful floor.
Maverick couldn’t catch most of the alien’s nonsense that spurted from Driver but he could guess that the slug monster was starting to lose his shit.
“What did you do?” Driver yelled.
Still thirsty, maverick held the helmet steady and wished for water, “This,” he said before the magical bubble surrounded him and got rid of more of the filth.
Driver burp louder and for longer. He sounded like an American frat boy that just discovered beer for the first time.
“You can’t open an environmental alteration schism on a,” he farted out a word that the translator couldn’t decipher. Maverick guessed that it was the snail’s name.
Maverick didn’t understand the Doctor Who mumbo jumbo but was content to drink his fill of water.
“How were you able to open a hole?” an familiar voice said.
Maverick spun around to see Sydney staring down at him. Maverick hadn’t even heard nightmarish horror get inside. It was as if he had just materialized there.
Sydney’s alien eyes looked down at Maverick. Maverick saw that he was holding the helmet that he was slurping from, “Um, I was trying to clean it.” Maverick said and gave the helmet a wipe with his furry elbow.
Sydney examined his clawed hand which now held the sapphire. “Hmmm. Interesting.”
Looking down at his chest, Maverick saw in puzzlement that the sapphire was gone. He tapped his the place where the gemstone had been only to feel the strange clothes that he had been reborn into. He really needed to expand his wardrobe.
Sydney’s tentacles experimentally touched the gemstone.
Suddenly, a man sized bubble of water appeared beside Sydney and when the water saturated Driver’s weird delivery van was a humanoid fish monster.
“Jesus Christ.” Maverick yelled. The thing had just teleported right there from nowhere.
The thing was like an bastard child of angler fish and Aquaman. It had large sinewy muscles that looked as though they belonged to a pro-westler and just like an deep sea fish the head was horrible proportionate with large European teeth sticking out of its mouth.
Sydney peared at the creature, “Mavolous. You managed to accidentally overwrite the gem’s coded monster. Instead of a castro you made this wonderful specimen.”
“Um. Sorry.” Maverick said. He had no idea how he broke Sydney’s gemstone and doubted the monster would let him off with a warning.
“Name it.” Sydney commanded.
“This thing you made. Mister Kenning, you have the right to name it. Of course, as the gem is company property it does belong to me.”
Some part of Maverick’s more dastardly side wanted to call bullshit on that. However, Maverick, still dazed after his epic adventure was grateful that Sydney wasn’t going to rip him a new one.
“Um.” Maverick looked at the thing. Like Sydney the monster had a Lovecraft feel about it. What were those things called again? “Deep one.” Maverick tried.
Sydney gave Maverick a hard stare and then back at the fish man. “I’ll allow it. Deep one. Simple, yet, has a flare to it. I’ll of course have to make some modifications to it. Return to your duties Mister Kenning. You still have one more artefact to find. Until then, that body belongs to me.”