When the Mudskipper's landing gear set down into the soft marshy soil of Beladrin there was little worry by her two man crew that they'd have to deal with any of the planet's inhabitants. Rain pelting down onto the transparent titanium of the cockpit windows confirmed radar data, as well as common knowledge of the world; Beladrin was a dark and stormy sphere shrouded in near-constant bands of precipitation. With only a few Ghelsh mining camps as its only permanent settlements Beladrin was a small and uncivilized rock that offered little of value. Well, little except for a largely unexplored biosphere, but known space being as vast and full of unexplored worlds as it was that was hardly remarkable.
"Is this it Cal?" B9 queried. He and the captain had disembarked and had been searching the undergrowth for fifteen minutes or so at that point.
Rannigan looked over at what his robotic companion was holding up in a specimen jar.
"No, that's green and yellow B9." he patted at the printout of their orders that were folded neatly and tucked into his left vest pocket, "Mason was very clear that the critter we're hunting is green and red." the surly spacer then smiled, "We gonna need to have your optics looked at when we get back to Barret's Hold?"
"There is no need to become crass Cal." B9 snapped back, the tinny quality of his voice still discernible despite speaking at a low volume barely above the level of a whisper.
"Not gettin' crass Tinman. Just poking a little fun at ya."
B9's single blue eye imitated a blink and he seemed to pause in thought for a moment. "Like when you questioned Captain Tarsik's parentage?"
Cal ruffled his brow and bit his bottom lip. "Yeah, something like that."
B9's antannae twitched in thought for a second.
"Well then," the robot replied in his default monotone fashion, "Have I ever told you that your father is a spazz-head and that your mother frequently engages in coitus with Crelik dung-apes?"
Rannigan grimaced as B9 simulated a laugh, something that he'd only heard the bot try once or twice before.
"Nice try buddy. I mean not really, but..." he patted the robot on his clanky metal shoulder, "whatever." and with that he smiled and shook his head.
B9 let out a slight electronic sigh. "Perhaps it is your human optics that are inferior Cal, for my imaging sensors have no trouble discerning red pigments embedded within the creature's yellow markings."
His captain waved him off.
Unceremoniously B9 unscrewed the lid from the specimen jar. The creature trapped within it wasted no time unfolding a set of wings and taking flight.
"See," Cal pointed out, and with great sarcasm, "it's not supposed to fly ya goof!"
B9 mumbled something unintelligible in his sort of humming metallic tone before extending his torch-light from the compartment in his left forearm where it was stowed and continued to search the bushes alongside the captain.
The two did so for several hours that night with no luck whatsoever. Mason had warned them that their quarry would not be so easy to capture lest he'd have gone after it himself. As per usual Cal had assured his partner that it would be "a piece of cake", though B9 never understood what confections had to do with mission logistics.
Their first evening on Beladrin had achieved little more than nearly ruining Cal's favorite leather jacket and testing the limits of B9's forty some-odd year old weather seals. After drying off the two crew-mates retired to the Mudskipper's common room to watch the latest sansball match between Cal's favorite team, the Tersis Titans and B9's begrudgingly picked favorite, the Martian Marauders.
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Kiss My Ass, Xandak Mason (A Rocket Riders of the 27th Century short story)Science Fiction
A short story based in the Rocket Riders of the 27th Century universe that follows a different set of characters than the main series. Cal Rannigan and his robotic copilot B9 embark on what they think is a simple mission to capture and return a samp...