There’s a podcast I follow called Triforce! They talk about video games, comics, movies, TV shows, and everyday life. One of the hosts, Pyrion Flax, is a master in writing short stories, so he gave it a go and gave us Bodega. If you love gritty sci-fi adventures, you’ll love Bodega. Eventually, I wrote a fanfic of Bodega and sent a copy to the author himself. As you can see with our exchange below, he was extremely pleased. I originally posted this fanfic on two subreddits: here and here.
“BOH-DEH-GAH,” spewed the green insect humanoid to the squat, fluffy skinned, and trembling Hamsturian creature. The six long claws, extending off the Mantisian’s back, looked like spears forged by teranium-smiths from the fiery depths of Hell-Hole 7 (formally known as Zu’than Prison Planet, the 7th prison planet in the Shal’anor Prison Solar System). Two of the claws pierced the Hamsturian’s white petty coat, hanging him off the wall of a narrow alleyway, while the four others carefully poked the poor creature’s jugulars and temples. The Mantisian spread his mandibles open, revealing rows and rows of red fangs covered in dark callous liquid. He whispered again, this time so close to the Hamsturian’s ear he could feel the air vibrate. “HU EES BOHDEHGAH?
“OOH MA DEAR, SA’HORA! SAYB MII, PLIS!” The Hamsturian squeaked, squealed, and squirmed. The sight of bones decaying in between the mandibles was obviously not a good sign.
“Yor Gad, Sa’Hora, nat sayb yuu, Wazyr. Ay am Gad now. Tell mii, hu dis Bohdehgah? End Ay nat kill yuu. Meybii.”
The claws pushed against Wazyr’s neck, sending pain through the creature’s esophagus. “Hii look layk… MONSTUR. Mor skeri dan yuu… Layk monstur wid meny meny horn!!!”
The Mantisian thought to himself, “Eet ees dipurrent, layk othurs descreepsyon.” The others he roughed up in the past two months gave depictions of a large killer android, an underwater devil, a seductress with tentacles, and such. “Tell Bohdehgah, Ahlmak ees camming.”
Ahlmak dropped the Hamsturian, who gladly scurried away, tripped over a large discarded reptilian tail, fell into a mound of rotting chum, and then faded into the night. Ahlmak sighed and shook his head. Driving his six claws into the wall, he climbed up the building to his ship.
The Nightingale was camouflaged at the rooftop. He de-cloaked the ship, which looked like water washing away the dirt of a canvas to reveal a cubed abstract painting dating some 200,000 years ago. He entered the vessel and pulled a lever on the pipe-infested wall.
Light flooded the small deck, and in it occupied a coffee table, three stools, multiple metal boxes overflowing with tools, stacks of paper, and a large pin board. He walked up to the board and stuck a photo of Wazyr beside a meat vendor named Tim. Tim had a large ‘X’ drawn on his ugly wart face. Ahlmak didn’t kill him, but he knew there could only be one person who would do such a thing to a father of 57 Frogger spawns.
Ahlmak stepped back to look at the board. Red strings connected pictures of dead people to explosions, missing people to explosions, and live people to nearby explosions. The strings looked like a Ghalonats spit-web, and in the middle was a question mark with the label Bodega – shape-shifting monster?
The Nightingale blasted off the planet and out of the solar system, leaving Ahlmak to ponder the on clues he had. Many of the victims were criminals and many weren’t. There was no motive for this kind of genocide. Genocide.
Ahlmak dozed off into a dream. He found himself running for his life, dodging streams of laser attacks from above. The warlords of his small village shot back with inferior light-arrows. This did nothing but make them an easier target.
Ahlmak ran faster and faster until, “PAPA! PAPA! WAYT!”
His daughter was lagging behind. Her legs were not fully developed as she had just hatched two weeks prior. His wife, gone. In a last effort to save their child, the mother threw her daughter into Ahlmak’s arms milliseconds before a beam of light disintegrated their hut and half of Almak’s wife. Her scream woke him in a torrent of sweat. He looked at his chrono-clock and counted 30 minutes of sleep.
The scanner at his cockpit was lighting up (he had smashed all auditory alarms some weeks ago. It had given away his position making his surprise attack on the Slugalese less effective, yet they were still slow on the reaction time). The ship jumped out of warp speed and entered a small system of dwarf planets. The system was called the Duchess’ Necklace since each planet held an abundance of natural resources. Millions upon millions of mining drones flew from the planets’ surfaces to dilapidating high-orbit mining stations where some of the grey stones would be cracked open to reveal pockets of ice. Water was power in these parts.
Ahlmak saw a small meteor to the right, about 2,000 clicks away, with a bright neon light blinking “Booze N’ Boobs: we give ‘em by the jugs.” He parked the Nightingale under the meteor, away from the sun, and in the shadows (the cloaking would only work if light didn’t hit it). He put his space-walker suit on, checked his gun for ammo, and tucked away a small pendant that held a picture his wife and child.
In the middle of the 5-floor bar was a cylinder of racked booze. Bartenders zipped up and down via harness, serving customers at different levels. The bar was filled with miners. Creatures from all corners of the universe drank and sang their worries away. Ahlmak walked up to the counter and beckoned a bartender, “Mii look for… person.”
“A Mantisian, eh?” His voice was rough from all the shouting over the music. “Don’ gi’ your kind ‘round dese days afta’ da’ shi’ storm genocide hi’ ya planet two months ago.”
The bartender, named Lupus from his name tag, reached over with his prosthetic arms for a vial of clear blue liquid and placed it on the counter. “No pay. So, who ya’ lookin’ for?”
Ahlmak scribbled the name on the counter and saw Lupus’ single eye grow three sizes. Lupus quickly covered the name with a coaster. “Ya’ gon’ gi’ us both killed, ya’ flarvin’ idiot!” He whispered.
Lupus waved Ahlmak to follow him three floors up and into a back door. After passing through several kitchens and offices, the two entered a supply closet at the end of a hall.
“WHA’ DA FLARV!” Lupus was still whispering. “Da’ man is bad news, ma’ friend.”
“Wai ees ebberibody so ahfrayd? Hii a killa!” Ahlmak’s voice prompted Lupus to shush him violently. They both looked around the closet, thinking the walls had ears.
“Bodega,” said Lupus. “We used ta be in da same sniper class. He had da gift. Could shoot a coin from a hundre’ Roshans away while takin’ a piss and downin’ a pint. And da’ wuz on a windy day. Never go’ ta graduate cuz of ma’ sickness. Ah couldn’t pay da medication, so dey lobbed ma arms off before i’ spread ta ma bodeh.”
Ahlmak saw the sorrow in Lupus’ eye. Memories, good memories, were running through him.
“Yuu know wat happen to mai people?” Ahlmak asked; Lupus nodded.
“One of da graduation rites wuz ta prove ya skill before da Commandin’ Offisa. Bodega’s target wuz…”
“Wat… Mai people… dayd coz of…”
“Ahm sorreh, ma’ friend.”
Silence engulfed the closet. If there was a sound a black hole would make, this would be it.
Ahlmak touched his pendant. “Othurs see hiim in dipurrent form. Wai?”
“Sound like da’ fear agen’—Varyzta 8. Iz da real deal and real hard ta find. Bu’ if ya find who makes i’, ya can be sure he’ll com’ ‘round.” Lupus wrote the coordinates of where he thought the agent was produced on a piece of paper.
“Bohdehgah wiill pay for hiis siins,” Ahlmak whispered to himself as he memorised the coordinates and swallowed the piece of paper.
They both left the closet and entered the bar again. Lupus harnessed himself and went back to serving drinks; Ahlmak walked out the entrance and saw the sun rising from one of the dwarf planets. He dialed in the coordinates as soon as he entered Nightingale and headed for the Illusium system. He punched the warp drive into gear; the monitor said ETA: 3 days 5 hours.
“Closur end closur.” Ahlmak ate his rations, building energy for what was to come.