"What're ya doin'?" Ian Anduin inquired with his usual liquor-slurred brogue.
Declan grimaced when he heard the annoying voice of his drunken cousin behind him. Scowling, he turned to look at Ian who was dressed in his soiled jumpsuit and holding a bottle of Rye whiskey. "I'm tryin' to work on this repulsor, if'n ya don't mind," he said, waving a metrospanner angrily.
"Well, excuse me fer askin' Mister Mechanic Man! I thought ya might want ta share a drink with yer dear old cousin but no, ya want ta play with yer gizmos and stuff," Ian replied with a hurt look.
"Knock it off before I brain ya with this here tool, Ian. For the last time, I don't drink and you know it."
Ian waved his hands in disgust. "Yer too serious alla time," he said walking away.
"Someone has ta be around here," Declan muttered as he returned to working on the repulsor. A hand tapped his shoulder and he swung around, brandishing the metrospanner menacingly. "I told ya I don't want any—"
"Uh, hello there," said a man with smooth carved features wearing an upscale business suit. "You're not going to hit me with that, are you?"
Coming out of his shock, Declan put the tool down and scowled at the trespasser. "Depends. Who are ya and what do ya want?"
"Michael Daniel Liberty, Universe News Network," said the man as he extended his hand. Declan eyed him warily for a moment, and then shook the man's hand.
"Ya still didn't say what ya wanted."
"My apologies. I'm here covering a story about monsters for a special on UNN. Sweeps Week is coming up soon, and the Program Director caught wind of your story and suggested I stop out here to get the scoop."
"Monsters. Aye, what I saw wasn't any fairy tale, mister. It was real," Declan said gravely.
"Not to doubt your word, but were you able to get any images of it? Recordings? Sensor spectrograms?" Liberty questioned.
Declan snorted. "Do I look like a cameraman to you? The answer is no," Declan replied.
Liberty frowned. "All right, how about witnesses. Was anyone else present?"
Declan laughed. "My cousin, but he's a drunkard so I don't think he'll be of any help to ya as a reputable witness. The prisoners on that world aren't going to be much better, seein' as they're all thievin' murderers or worse."
Liberty thought for a moment and turned on his wrist recorder. "Okay then, tell me about the incident from your perspective."
"Fine," Declan huffed. "I picked up ma' cousin durin' ma' regular run to Tornod III, bailin' him outta the fire as usual. He was mixed up in some fight between the Protoss and some pirates or mercenaries. I don't know which."
Liberty raised an eyebrow. "Protoss you say? Interesting... Please, go on."
"Anyhow, the shipment I picked up in Bora Dalis was to be dropped off on Rykos IV. Medical supplies for the prisoners or some such thing," Declan continued. "So we dropped that off and Ian goes and gets smashed at the local tavern with his newfound correctional officer friends. They tell him about the cavern monster near the reef and the drunken slob goes on out there."
"Where were you during that time?" Liberty asked.
"I was tryin' ta get some sleep so we could head out the next mornin'. Then one of my crew who was at the tavern comes in and wakes me up and tells me where Ian was goin' so I got dressed and headed out there."
"Then what happened?"
"I get there and Ian is takin' a leak on this purple fungus and laughin' about how it moves away from him when he tries to whiz on it. That's when that god awful beast roared like a banshee and nearly scared us both ta death," Declan replied. "I canna say I've ever seen anything quite so... big. The thing came crawling out of one of the caverns that was lined with that purple sludge. It sat there layin' eggs when another of its brood came out and sprayed ma' cousin'. Ate right through his suit."
"He was sprayed with some sort of acid?"
"Aye, I think they were ticked off at what he'd been doin' and decided to take a whiz on him and show him how it feels. Next thing I know, he's standin' there practically bare-assed naked starin' at the thing with his jaw open. I keep a grenade on me for good luck so I toss one into the cave and tackle Ian to get him away from the cave-in," Declan finished.
"What happened after that?" Liberty asked.
"We got the hell outta there is what happened. We went back to the ship, got a good night's sleep and left the next mornin' as planned."
The reporter turned off his recorder. "This thing you saw... it was a Zerg, wasn't it?"
"I'm certain it was. But not like anythin' I've seen before. This thing was massive and had a bunch of compound eyes on it and eight legs or so like a spider, but its body was more like an oyster or somethin'."
Liberty smiled politely and shook hands with Declan. "Mr. Anduin, I want to thank you for your time. If we use the story, I'll need you to sign some minor legal agreements. We'll be in touch." With that, he rushed out of the hangar.
"What did that guy want?" Ian asked, taking a swig of whiskey.
"He wanted to hear about you pissin' on the Zerg."
"Oh," Ian said scratching his head. "Good fer him."
"Michael, I'm not going to get into this with you again. The Dominion would have my head if we ran that crap," said the man on the HoloFone screen.
"Dammit Paul, this could be a new strain of Zerg no one's ever seen before. That's big news in my book," Liberty replied.
"The Dominion's takeover rewrote that book so you better get a new copy before you start stepping on toes that'll get you killed, Mike. The answer is no and I'm not changing my mind. The story is dead."
Paul's face vanished from the screen and was replaced with the 3D image of Mr. HoloFone, HoloCom Inc.'s digital mascot. "Thank you for using — HOLOFONE!!! The other party has disconnected. To place another call, please press seven — NOW!!!" the annoying personality exclaimed.
Liberty pressed seven.
The Antioch Chronicles™ © 1998, Eric Dieter & Ruben Moreno. All rights reserved. The Antioch Chronicles™ trademark and associated logos are the exclusive property of Eric Dieter & Ruben Moreno. Characters and distinctive likenesses thereof, character names, item names, place names, named events, artwork and all other related material not disclosed herein are protected under the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any reproduction, retransmission, or unauthorized use herein is prohibited without express written permission.
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