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The Recollection Of Meira

Chapter 4

When I got home that night, I sent Dragoon and Zeirom messages on the BEE system, to meet me on the Hunters' Deck, in the Purplenum section at @790 beats. I thought they might enjoy a run around on the surface, as well.

Laying down on the couch, my hand stumbled across a picture frame, while desperately searching for the remote control for the glowing box. I lifted the picture into view. A picture of Randon and myself, a few months before he disappeared. I was so young, then. I put the picture back, and promised myself I wouldn't cry.

My fumbling hand finally discovered the remote control somewhere between the ravenous cushions of my couch, which in the past, has claimed many pens, mesetas, batteries, and even assorted crumb-sized portions of meals hastily consumed while the vast majority of the room's population's attention was devoted to the glowing box sticking out of the wall. My thumb had already memorized the positions of all my favorite buttons on the control, so without much effort, I turned it on, ready to take in the latest news from the press room.

The news really is regulated very strictly. Just half the stuff I've found and reported, down on Ragol's surface should've amounted to major headlines, but nope. The big news that night, was the popular Ms. Weilder's party dress for the actors' guild award ceremony. I suppose it was a clever use of photon energy, but honestly, I'd never wear such a thing in public.

Of course, every once in a while, you stumble across one of those cheesy tabloid shows. While clicking my way through the array of available programming, I stumbled across one, just as they mentioned that 30% of active Hunters' Guild members go missing after a year or so, and only 15% survive long enough to retire. I don't think that those numbers are quite accurate, though. I rather suspect that they're taking androids out of those equations, because with numbers like that, you'd think that more than just one of Randon's buddies would have suffered a horrible fate, before Randon disappeared. Androids, however, I have observed tend to survive and last longer, mainly because they're very commonly found and rebuilt, and their parts are considerably easier to replace, as needed. Plus, androids tend to pack more of a punch, and also tend to be a little more accurate with a gun, too. I sometimes marvel at how well Zeirom can handle those huge guns; I don't think I could hit the broad side of a barn from ten feet away with one of those, personally.

Evening programming is always just so horrible. Randon and I always liked to laugh at the Hunter dramas that came on, just late enough in the evening that all the young children should be in bed. They were always so unrealistic. We always used to wonder what Kelley Murphy, the actor who portrayed Infurno on the series, 'The Guild', would do, if he found himself actually down on Ragol, confronted with a courtyard full of Barbarous Wolves. After seeing him take down a Gulgus-gue with a single mechgun, Randon laughed, and vowed never to watch the show again. It was a very cool and dramatic scene, but completely unreasonable.

Every once in a while though, you come across a really good comedy. I always liked the one about the guy with the android neighbors across the hall. Possibly because by coincidence, the guy's address would be my next door neighbor, if my apartment weren't at the end of the hall. I always thought that was really neat. Of course, with lines like, "Shove it in your oil intake, Chronogar!" and "At least when I consume oil, it's intentional," how could a show go wrong?

That night, I didn't particularly feel like cooking, and having eaten burgers for every meal in the previous weeks, I was getting pretty tired of those grease balls, too. So I ordered out for delivery barbeque sandwiches. I figured it'd be a pleasant change of pace. That's why I wasn't surprised when the doorbell rang.

Now, by this time, I had my hair down, was wearing a short pair of house pants, and a trusty old shirt, that by this time, was a smidge too small, but oh so comfy. So I grabbed the meseta cube I had waiting on the coffee table, and proceeded to take it to the door. Opening the door, however, while I did discover my food waiting for me, I did not discover the pimple-faced delivery boy I had rather expected.

Standing on the other side of my door was a tank holding a bag of food. After he appeared to grin at me, and I recovered from a brief episode of surprise, I said to him, "For pity's sake, Zeirom, don't you make enough money at the Hunters' Guild, that you don't need a part time job delivering barbeque sandwiches?"

Zeirom leaned forward and stared down at me, so I had to look almost straight up to look him in the eyes-- though I don't think it was my eyes that he was looking at. "Do you always answer the door in your pajamas? I might visit more often," he said. "Anyway, I was on my way here after I got your message, and saw the delivery boy, so I punched him out and took the food."

"You punched out the delivery boy??? Great light, Zeirom! They'll never deliver here again!"

"No, I didn't punch him out, can't you take a joke? I grabbed his arm before he knocked on the door, paid him, and told him I'd deliver it. Speaking of delivering, are you going to invite me in before your food gets cold?"

I shook my head, and gestured him in. "Come on in, you big land rover." Naturally, he came in. After the door shut, he turned to me, grabbed my hand, put the bag of food in it, and then sat down on my couch.

"The Guild, huh?" he asked, commenting on the show I had stationed the glowing box to.

"It's the season finally," I said, returning to the couch, myself. "They're supposed to be killing Infurno's evil twin half-brother with an infected MAG."

"Ha! That's hilarious. Exactly why I stopped watching the show."

"Well shoot, it's funny stuff like that, that keeps me watching it! It's better than those cheesy supermarket tabloids."

"Last one of those that I saw, said that a war fleet was headed for Pioneer 2, from some unknown planet in the next solar system over." I laughed profusely when he said this. As I ate my barbeque sandwich, he made a few other comments that made me laugh, that I can't really remember off hand, but I do recall that one of which made me laugh a bit of barbeque sandwich out my nose.

I eventually went to bed, and when I woke, I found Zeirom shut down in the corner. I can only fear what he looked at before he shut himself down.

That morning, we set out for the Purplenum section of the Hunters' Deck. We were met there by Lynn, who was dreadfully watching Dragoon jumping up and down, and climbing around on street lamps in anticipation of the slaughter that would soon come. Dragoon's jumping up and down reminded me of a little boy that has to go to the bathroom really bad, but is trying to hold it until he can gain access to the proper receptacle. I always thought it was interesting that his need to kill can be contrasted against a human's need to relieve himself.

Lynn finally smacked Dragoon to try to get him to stop, but the result was that she nearly broke her hand on his chest plate, and if Zeirom hadn't been right there to grab Dragoon's wrist, Lynn would've died right then and there.

Zeirom held Dragoon's wrist back, and just looked at him as if he were some smooth Casanova saving a fair damsel from the wrath of a moral less jerk. "Don't hit the ladies, Dragoon." With that, he released Dragoon's violent appendage.

Dragoon was still jumping up and down. I couldn't believe it when he yelled, "But I NEED to GOOO!!"

Zeirom was content to ignore this, and he took a step toward Lynn, so that he was directly in front of her, and towering over here. Then he looked almost straight down to see her and said, "Hellooo, and who might you be?"

At this point Lynn pushed him back and retorted with, "Back off, Dish-head. I'm Lynn. Meira and I met just yesterday."

Zeirom teased, "Oh, you two MET yesterday, huh? Must've been fun!"

In the naivety I found so abundant at the time, I rang in with an exclamation of, "Oh, it was great Zeirom! I wish you'd been there to see it!"

I didn't really understand why at the time, but Zeirom turned his antenn--err... turned his head and looked at me strangely. One eye lit more brightly than the other, almost as if it were open wider. Then he said, "Well, in that case, I really DO wish I were there to see it!"

Just then, two photon sabers ignited, and we all looked in their direction to see Dragoon swinging wildly, and dashing for the teleporter. About halfway through his dash, he started emitting a high pitched squelching noise, which disappeared abruptly as he vanished into the depths of the area the surveyor team had dubbed, "The Caves".

We all looked at each other in bewilderment, and took off after him. After all, we couldn't let him have ALL the fun, could we?

Down in the Caves, we found ourselves with the task of tracking down Dragoon. It wasn't hard, really. Just follow the trail of Altered Beast blood. In other words, just follow the green spots on the ground, and you'll find Dragoon. After 3 or 4 rooms and a couple of hallways, dodging rock smashers and the like while we were at it, we got close enough to track him by the sounds of photons ripping through flesh, and his peculiar screams of "DEATH!", "DESTRUCTION!!" and "UNADULTERATED VIOLENCE!!!" We even found a rock smasher that had evidently nearly hit him. It had been ripped from the ceiling, singed, and torn apart, though, not necessarily in that order.

Somewhere along the way, I came across a pair of photon daggers. I balanced them in my hands, and found myself to be quite pleased with them. When we found Dragoon, he was on the back of a Grass Assassin, trying to tear its head off, which, after a moment of being flailed about by the frantic insect, he finally accomplished.

He spiked the head like a football, then started beating the body in like an ape. The body busted open, and hordes of little baby Grass Assassins fled from the corpse, most of which were stomped upon, and thereby killed and properly squooshed by Dragoon.

Dragoon looked at us, and made an odd sound of relief, before letting himself fall backward into the goo left behind by the Grass Assassin's body. He promptly giggled, and curled up into a ball, before rolling around, getting himself covered in the mess.

We walked over to him, and looked over him. "Dragoon!" I yelled at him. He stood up and stood at attention so fast, that I jumped, reportedly making a squeak; or so Zeirom informs me. He says that I "bounced". "Dragoon, do you feel satisfied, now?"

He looked stupidly at me, and said, "Noooo... Actually, I would really like to kill more. I broke my Gladiuses on a Nanodragon's head."

Lynn gawked. "You BROKE a Gladius? How??"

"I didn't break a Gladius. I broke two. I was trying to break its skull open with the hilts," Dragoon explained. Lynn twitched. Zeirom started walking toward the door to the next room. Dragoon leaned around me and looked at him. "Where are you going?" he asked.

Without even looked back, Zeirom replied, "I'm headed for the next room. I figure, if I start moving now, I'll have a head start."

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