Part 1 in a series of short stories that leads up to the complete unveiling of my new project!
I hope you enjoy this first bit! Let me know what you think and what clues you caught on to in the comments!
Vargi eyed the leak in the fuel pipe and frowned, scratching his bald head. “Qokak vermin. Has to be,” he announced in a tinny voice.
Grani grunted. Vargi craned his neck to look up at his brother’s face. Had the grunt meant disapproval? agreement? After living his whole life with the guy it was still impossible to tell sometimes.
“Give me a boost?” Vargi asked. He was so used to the sensation that he didn’t even flinch when Grani’s huge, grubby fingers scooped him up into his palm. He elevated Vargi until he held out both of his right hands, indicating for Grani to stop.
Vargi had a better vantage point of the pipe now, but there was nothing else to see from this angle.
“Sabotage,” Grani said simply.
Vargi stroked his chin. He could be onto something. “Qokaks would have left residue…unless the sabotage was letting Qokaks in here and cleaning up after them to make it more confusing.”
Grani chortled, the sound echoing off the walls of the cramped engine room. “Too complicated.”
Vargi put two of his hands on his hips and crossed his other two arms over his chest as he turned to face Grani. He knew very well who he’d been quoting with that simple phrase. “Don’t you pull that on me. We’re only maintenance and that’s that.”
Yet Grani still grinned, showing off his layers of sharp teeth.
Vargi huffed. “We fix the pipe, we’re done. We don’t necessarily need to know why the leak happened.”
But Grani continued to stare at him, his wide eyes tinged red to match his skin color. Vargi kept up his frown. Being on the Endeavour must have really started to impact his brother.
“What do you want to do?”
Vargi shuddered involuntarily. Even after months of knowing the mutt, Kr’zani’s jet black fur and piercing blue eyes didn’t scare him any less. He couldn’t get it out of his head that the dog could eat him in one bit if he wanted to.
“Friend,” Grani said insistently, as if he could read what was going on in Vargi’s brain. To be fair, with all the things people said about twins, maybe he could.
Vargi patted Grani’s wrist. “Don’t go soft on me, pal. Just because the job is steady doesn’t mean we have to get all chummy with our employers.”
Grani’s entire face dipped into an exaggerated frown. He had always been a big softie—that’s why Vargi was always there to look out for him. Because though Grani had enough brawn to match ten humans, Vargi had the brains. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with.
“Remember what I used to say back on Muapra? Don’t trust nobody.”
“And don’t you say a word about the double negative. It’s a good motto.”
Before the argument could continue, Vargi heard the distinct sound of claws clopping against the metal flooring. Grani began to lower Vargi back down to the ground but Vargi jumped up and down, whisper-shouting: “Keep me up! Keep me up!” Grani obediently raised him higher.
Kr’zani idled into the room on all fours, his nose twitching.
“We just identified the leak,” Vargi said hurriedly, avoiding the mutt’s eyes. “Getting ready to patch it up now.”
Kr’zani nodded, his scrutinising gaze focusing on the leak. “Have you identified the cause?” His silky voice was like an intense whisper and his powerful jaws barely moved as he spoke.
“Probably just Qokaks.”
Grani nudged him with his thumb but he ignored it.
“Hmm…” Kr’zani rumbled. “Finish the repair soon. We need to leave as soon as possible.” And with a swish of his bushy tail, he turned and made his way out of the engine room.
Vargi breathed out a silent sigh and relaxed his limbs. Grani set him back on the ground.
The door to the engine room whooshed closed as Kr’zani left. Vargi cast a glance up at Grani. “Do you think he’ll tell her?”
Vargi blew a puff of air from his cheeks. “Well, doesn’t matter. Time to get to work.”
One thought on “The Muapran Disagreement”
Pingback: Gumshoes and Gamma Rays: A Sci-Fi Detective Anthology | E.J. Robison