3.1: Zombie Lisa: Hunters and Gatherers
Lisa’s brain ran through it’s traditional litany of ancient profanity at lightning speed as she felt and watched with crossed eyes the bloodsucking and sparkly insect that had it’s nasty proboscis shoved right into the tip of her nose. But she didn’t make a sound or move. Her entire body was covered in them anyway. The one on her nose though. He was a lucky son of a bitch. If she wasn’t busy she’d pull each leg and wing off slowly…pour some salt on the little fucker…
She was braced between two spiraling branches in the tangles of a thick twist of vegetation, slowly rotating in the downstem wilds. Vines extended away in all directions. There was a lump of dirt and mineral somewhere in the midst of this tangle, but it was obscured by the completeness of the thicket. Her hair was missing the radiating tubes that used to contain it back when she had a few moments now and again for grooming. A large patch of her head over her right eye was bald and reddened. The rest of her head was covered in matted dreads of reddish brown hair. She was wearing what was probably once a nice short length casual dress, but now it was dirty and torn. She wore tight, thick, padded shorts beneath it. Her feet were bare, gripping into the tangles of vines behind her. Her hands held a spear with a crazy long barbed tooth tied tightly to both ends. She made it herself. Vince and the bird princess had their tech weapons, but fuck if she was going to be stuck gathering berries.
The mental image of her torturing the insect on her nose became too amusing for her to maintain the grim and glaring expression on her face. She broke into a wide smile that almost became a laugh. She bit the tip of her tongue and curled her upper lip to prevent any sounds from escaping. Her squirrel cheeks reddened and her torso vibrated ever so slightly. It was enough to send her nose sucker into the air, along with dozens of his friends from her back and shoulders. She nearly winced with the realization of her movement; she shot her eyes toward her prey. She un-tensed when she saw it was undisturbed by her minor fit.
It was what they had taken to calling a needle weasel, a marmotesque creature with a squashed rodent face and a long snaky body. Many uncomfortable looking spines jutted about randomly from it’s silky hide. Took forever to clean. Good eating though.
The floating thicket that the needle weasel was scrabbling around in was rotating diagonally from Lisa’s vantage and drifting slowly closer to her. She figured next rotation would be the time. She waited until his tufted ears came back around and threw her spear right into his throat. The movement caused an opposing motion to the much larger thicket she was on, and set the whole area shaking. She pulled herself hand over hand using vines to collect her meat. Twenty seventh century girls don’t gather.
Zombie Lisa arrested her lazy spin by catching a vine between two toes while simultaneously using the dead space marmot to shoo away the stinging flies. She knew she was becoming too comfortable in the zero g jungle. They would have to move on soon or risk permanent musculature and skeletal degradation. Bird Bitch did not seem worried. Why should she be, she could afford micro surgical reconstruction. Rest of them would need months of self-managed physical therapy. Maybe the little brain boy had the self-control for that, but the rest of them would probably just… movement. She scanned around her and just saw them before they were at her. Three…somethings… big, black, and scaly… with tentacles?
They were moving through the plants, and around the floating lumps of dirt. They were smooth and silent coming in at 12, 4, and 9, if they were on a clock arranged vertically facing her. The one at nine passed through a ray of light and the glossy black hide lit up iridescent green. Lisa felt like she might be surrounded and executed a quick backbend and scanned behind her for movement. Nothing. She snapped her head back and came eye to eye with one of the creatures.
A cluster of claws ripped into her shoulder. She had a view of a dinosaur like face, snapping its jaws at her throat. Blood shot into its eyes from her shoulder. Her brain was beginning to switch off. She could feel it. Even as her knees were pulling in like a coiling spring ready to kick the beast away, she was fighting the really interesting battle in her mind.
“Breathe bitch, breathe…”
It was just an animal. No reason to black out. She could fight an animal. She could fight a three animals too. She could do it awake. No need to black out.
Her legs kicked out sending the tentacled dinosaur snake thing and her in opposite directions. The other two continued slithering toward her so fast and smooth.
Lisa put her feet toward the closest one and it snaked a barbed tentacle around her ankle, shredding her skin there. She contracted her leg, which reversed her direction since the creature was at least four times her mass, and she shot over its head. Even as she got a good look into its eyes, she remembered to tell herself to breathe. Don’t black out.
The long snouted face snapped at her as she flew over it, and she swung the spiked marmot right into its nose. The creature squalled a freakish tenor and retracted its neck into the muscley mass of its body, the tentacle loosened and voila! Still conscious Lisa was behind the beasts, spear still in hand.
Zombie Lisa twisted and pivoted and landed feet first on the trunk of a swirly maple. She pointed her finger at the beast closest to her, which was already snaking its octopussy way toward her again. She shot herself toward it spinning like a rifle shell, spear held at the fore. It made the same tenor shriek as the other one when her spear with all her mass behind it buried into its neck. In its death throes, barbed tentacles slashed at her back and neck. She grabbed the mucusy joints where of two of the tentacles connected to the torso, and she could actually see the blackness closing in around the edge of her vision. She braced her legs against its back and ripped the tentacles out of the flesh, chains of bone trailing at their bases.
She pushed back from the wounded animal and gave a roar of her own, but it was more in the soprano range. The black at the edge of her vision receded and she located the other two creatures. They were still advancing, but one was pawing at its nose with a cat like foot, trying to get at the weasel’s needles projecting from its snorting nose.
Zombie Lisa stretched herself out like an animal skin on a rack, with her belly to the nearest uninjured beast. It made a squonking sound and shot right at her. Its jaws bit at her stomach, but she bent herself double and wrapped herself around its jaws, clamping them shut between her knees and chest. Her spear was too long so she let it loose, she stiffened her index and middle fingers together on both hands and stabbed them into the eyes of the poor animal. Its tentacles and paws raked her back, but she kept pressing through the eyes, and it suddenly spasm’d and became still. She spun to put the body between her and the last one, awaiting the impact, but nothing happened.
She wiped the blood and gore from her face and looked around. The last one was nowhere in sight. She retrieved her spear, the needle weasel, and both octopus dinosaur carcasses. Whistling quietly through a bloody grin. Alpha predator in the house bitches.
She made her way back to camp, navigating from the patterns of dull spots in the glowing core. The zero g jungle trees twisted and radiated unnaturally. The floating chunks of dirt and sod that allowed the vegetation to grow were constantly being moved around by the animals and winds of the area, so all the vegetation, already tall and slender due to the zero g, kept changing direction of growth to reach for the uv emitting core. A thick network of vines and tangles held most of the floating chunks in the same general area, but there was a lot of leeway for them. Sounds of primates, rodents, insects, and carnivorous creatures hunting echoed around always. The light core here was off of the cycle regulator so it was daytime always.
Lisa came to an empty clearing and paused to judge her next jump, and she saw a rain cluster. Water in zero g environments evaporated and condensed, but there was no gravity to pull the liquefied water anywhere, the puddles and droplets got blown around by mild winds and animal movement just like the mounds of soil. She launched herself to fly right through it. The swarms of bugs lingering on the mollusky surfaces of the water exploded away from the oasis as she passed through, coming out the other end drenched and grinning; slightly less bloody.
Camp was a group of large magnolia trees rooted into a large mass of soil that was wedged permanently in between the rusted out ruins of a bundle of shops that used to thrive here. At various intervals on the sod, remains of merchant industry jutted out, sometimes sharp and dangerous. The clump of soil was nearly sixty meters long, running along the edge of the stem, and anywhere from ten to thirty meters thick, extending out toward the light core. The twists and turns of the tree provided many hollow areas where the kras had set up residence. Around the tree, cloths and plastic sheeting were fastened to provide semi-walls for the privacy of the kras.
Lisa saw her gang gathered near the outside of the tree fort. She propelled herself into their midst, grabbing a branch to stop her from running into them. She let go of the huge carcasses in such a way that they continued moving toward Kick Herald.
“Rich bitch! Get those skinned and cleaned! Back to the kitchen with ye wench!”
Kay instinctively flapped out of the way. The creatures splattered into the side of the tree, sending scales and gore onto her face. She narrowed her eyes at Lisa.
“The mighty hunter returns.”
Lisa struck a bloody pose with her hands on her hips and her chin high.
“And I didn’t even black out! Also I named these creatures squidyraptors. Recognize!”
Vince and Elvis looked up at the exchange. One of them looked apprehensive, one of them had to suppress a laugh. Syrge waved his hand in front of Vince’s face.
“Hello? No distractions. Focus. Go back to the top of that menu. I want to go through it all again in ‘Non-Lethal Suppression’ mode.”
Vince smacked his hand away, “Yeah yeah…” He mentally backed up the prevalent menu in his HUD and started reading the words and describing the symbols to Syrge, who was in turn creating a map of the menus on his own hand held computer. Elvis and Kay were watching a download bar slowly moving across the screen of Scroot’s waist computer screen. Scroot had an inset window open where he continued to code his mysterious programs.
They had him plugged into a cable coming out of the wall. It was one of two working net connections they had found. Only Vince’s gun could get wireless, but his tech was incompatible with the cards Kay wanted to program. She was trying to download patterns into some of her nano cards that would be useful in this environment, but it was taking forever.
Lisa hand walked over to the metal canister that held Skum Bunny. He was still unconscious. They had turned off the machine that held him in stasis right after Black Elvis’s, but Elvis woke up in minutes, Skum Bunny was still asleep after two weeks. Rich Bitch got the pod thing turned back on to keep him alive, but… they were all worried. Lisa touched his clammy forehead before moving over to clean her kills.
If Kick’s download ever finished, they could have fire to cook with instead of having Laser Boy microwave everything to a crisp. They could make fire now, but the globular flames would tend to drift into the foliage. Kick was downloading the patterns for various things, one of which was an energy field that could contain the fire without them having to touch the flames, or reduce the heat radiation.
She dragged the carcasses up to the cleaning area and tied them in place. She pulled herself over to her little sleeping den and got a towel and started wiping herself off. Kay glided over and started putting some sort of salve on her back, which was carved up nicely. Lisa growled low at Kay, but allowed her to continue.
“You got cut up pretty bad. Did you really not black out?”
“Almost did, but, my brain, she’s my bitch.”
“I’ve never even seen pictures of these things. Don’t even know if they’re edible.”
“Well guess what little flower. I’m going to eat them. You can pass if you want.”
“They don’t smell good.”
“Psssh. Gatherers. What do you know?”
“Thanks for the antiseptic! Bye! Work to do!”
Lisa grabbed her knife and went to where she’d tied off the carcasses.
While she cut into the animals, she watched Vince constantly getting distracted and watching every move Kay made. She watched Black Elvis being super cool and ignoring the hell out of same bitch. She watched Rich Bitch’s hand lingering on Black Elvis’s muscular shoulder. She watched Adam roll his eyes each time Vince’s attention wandered. It was all too awkward for her.
“Elvis, what you think they did to Skum? You said they tortured the hell out of you, but you’re all healed except for your hand. Skum Bunny is geneginered. Should heal faster than you. No injuries we can see…”
Elvis looked away from the download bar.
“It’s a mystery. Kay figures they put him in some sort of VR program. Maybe some weirld prison to keep him out of the way. He’s not in the weirld now. Should wake up.”
Lisa rolled her eyes and spoke sarcastically.
“’Kay figures…’ What about you Bird Bitch. You not tired of slumming with my kras yet? Not ready to get back to the weirld?”
Kick turned her head and smiled cutely at her.
“And leave you alone with all these beastly young men? I couldn’t abandon you to this fate.”
Lisa twisted her mouth.
“Look. I remember from some educational vid Syrge showed us, there are roles we have to play in a kras. Elvis is the Han, Vince is the Luke, Bunny’s the Chewie, Syrge and Scroot are the arrtoo and threepio,”
Syrge looked mock hurt, “Hey! I’m the obi wan!”
Lisa continued, “And I. Am. The. Fuck. Ing. Princess! So what the cock are you supposed to be?”
Kick showed her teeth to Lisa.
“I’m the vader, plint. Obviously.”
Then Skum Bunny woke up.