Money Frogs

A bright light flooded Plisken’s vision as he awoke, his sleep soaked eyes blinded by the intensity. His head throbbed and his throat dry. He ran his tongue over his cracked lips, the hard skin felt like it was cutting his tongue. He swivelled his head in the silver pool of his hair, trying to see where he was. As his vision slowly focused, two dark shadows formed over him. Two tripedal creatures began to form above him, their tree golden eyes darting back and forth over datasheets. They spoke in clicks and whistles, a strange hiss, like that from a gramophone, seemed to be always present. Plisken tried to get up, is aching limbs almost failing to obey. He groaned as he strained his wrists against the cold metal restrains that tied him down to, what looked like, an operating table. The tripedals squeaked and a series of frantic whistles and clicks called over another of tripedals.
Three, jet black pearls stared down at him as the other two ‘doctors’ retreated back to beyond Plisken’s vision.
“Ancient, you are not?” said the ‘leader’ in a scratchy, broken voice.
“Wha-?” Plisken mumbled, his dehydrated voice barely audible.
“The Code, yours is different. Why?”
“What do you mean, code?”
“Yes, Life Code. You are not any of the two, third? Third and one?”
“Listen, I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“We have results, you have no code.”
Plisken paused for a moment, his weak mind trying to take in the information. “What did you find, exactly?”
The alien stopped as it tried to recall the sounds it had taught itself from the others. “Head-droc-ab-ons” it managed.
Plisken broke his eyes away from the ‘leader’. “So it’s true,” he muttered to himself. “Where am I then?”
“You are in house. You are in home.”
“Home… you are probably right.”
“Enough of this… chat-chit? We need to know who you are. Are you ancient?”
“Not anymore, I don’t think I have been for a long time.”
“The others call you… Plisss-kin. Other call you old man.”
“OLD MAN?!” Plisken cried, a sudden life bursting into him, “I BET IT WAS JAXX! THAT CHILD HAS NO RESPECT!”
The alien seemed unphased, his face giving away no emotions that Plisken could see. “We have a word like your word. Plik-isss-kin. We were taught it a long time ago by a man. It means warrior, soldier, killer. Are you these?”
Plisken tried to laugh but his throat only allowed a husky gasp. “I’m little else. Especially now…” Plisken shook his head, or rolled it in his own hair rather, and closed his eyes. He should have known. Jade doesn’t make mistakes. Well, not ones that big anyway. He should have questioned that day in Las Vegas, it should have been important.
“It is an old word, taught to us by a man who came to our planet. He is know to us as the Klockendike, the Man of X. In our stories he is the man who gave us… blood knives? He said that his children where Deeemonksss, and that Plik-isss-kin was that greatest of them all, the perfect ancient.”
“They were far from perfect,” Plisken coughed, a sickly white liquid spurting from his mouth. If he didn’t believe it, it was hard to not to now.
“Water,” Plisken whispered as his body gave way to exhaustion and his eyes closed, the operating room falling to darkness.

Plisken dreamed. Everyone dreams. He was an inventor, an old man. He was on a ship, the Azure Miner. He was a scientist, a doctor who made things. Life was simple.
But then the dream gave way to Plisken’s reality. He was standing on a rocky outcrop, a chaotic and whirling abyss of grey above him. Lightning pierced the clouds and thunder shook his senses. Behind him, a blue sky and a field of orange grass. A great domed structure stood on the horizon, the glass surface slick with the slow rain, a marvellous rain. Great blobs of frozen methane slowly floated down from the heavens and coated the land in a cheerful wetness. But a red haze began to build on the horizon, a crackling and screaming filling the air. The fire slowly marched over the field, the orange grass turning to ash. As the fire approached the domed city, a figure was running from the fire. A tall man, with dark hair and wearing a great coat, an eye patch over one eye and a gleam of silver at the cuff of his coat. He was flanked by several others, they where all running.
Plisken broke his gave away from the fire and looked to his sides. His feet were littered with toy ships, each one easily recognised. Tiny cries for help echoed from each one of them, the Ark Royal, the Indefatigable, the Albion Trader, the Demon’s Fear. A great bonfire cackled next to him, the burning wood laden with small dolls baring the resemblance of his friends and family.
In front stood another man, his back to Plisken. He wore a brown leather jacket over an olive green military jumpsuit. Long silver hair tailed from his head and it floated gently in the breeze. The man was looking at the land below, a scorched, burnt and lifeless wasteland. In hues of red and yellow, the land cracked and reformed every moment, a never ending destruction. In his hand was a small device, but when Plisken tried to look at it, it wasn’t there. The head of the man slowly turned around, the one remaining eye of the old man staring right though Plisken. Even the dead eye behind the eye patch seemed to penetrate his soul.
Then the dream faded, replaced by a foul taste in his mouth and the soft hiss, sharp whistle and rapid clicks of the tripedal aliens.
“Awake?” said the ‘leader’ of the tripedal aliens.
“Hmm,” Plisken moaned, the taste in his mouth worsening as he moved his tongue about.
“We feed you, water you. You better.”
“We need to learn from you. You are not ancient, you could be more.”
“I doubt I would be of any use to your people, whoever you are.”
“We are call ourselves [Plisken only hear a series of whistles as varying pitches]. What would you call us?”
“I don’t know,” said Plisken rubbing the back of his head on the metal table, “Money Frogs?”
“You just look kind of like them, I guess. Except taller. And with more eyes. And arms. I don’t know.”
“Monee Frogks,” the ‘leader’ said. rolling the words around in his mouth, “Yess, this name is good.”
“Gee, I’m glad,” said Plisken, his words soaking in sarcasm.
“Me called Klocehk [the nearest Plisken could get to saying it], you Plik-isss-kin,” the alien said as he walked over to a control panel, pressing a button. The metal restrains retracted from around Plisken and he immediately sat up, taking in the room. A cold, sterile operating room with banks of computers and trolleys laden with equipment which, rather worryingly, contained several spanners and hammers. Their understanding of the ‘ancient’ biology was not great.
“Did you have evil dream? From pyramid?” Klocehk asked, turning to face Plisken.
“No, it’s a common dream.”
“For your people?”
“Yeah, for my people…”
Plisken swung his legs off the operating table and onto the floor, his bare feet coiling at the coldness. He paced around the room, the alien watching him. “So,” Plisken said, facing Klocehk, “What do you want us for?”
“We are building ancients,” ‘he’ said simply, as if that answered the question wholly.
“Yes but why?” Plisken asked, stepping face to face with Klocehk.
“Better weapons, battle against the Hive.”
“The Hive? What is that?”
“Because they are Enemy.”
Plisken sighed, taking a moment to think about this. Did it really matter that they were cloning them? Or using their ‘code’.
“A long time ago, my species, the ‘Monee Frogks’, were powerful. Now we are not. War with Hive lasted too long. We need these weapons. The Mind Weapons, evil dreams. From pyramid.”
“But now you have our Code, or their code anyway, you can let us go.”
“No? What do you mean ‘No’?”
“Your ship, the Blue Small One? It is ancient. We will have it. We fire missiles, bring it down in sea. Retrieve and we leave.”
“Ha!” Plisken laughed, “If I had another way home I’d give you it but what you don’t understand is that people live up there.”
“Entire civilizations have risen and fallen in that ship; hell, you could probably live there.” Plisken stopped and realised what he just said.
Klocehk paused and thought about it, a safe place for his people? “No,” he finally decided on, “The War with Hive must be won.”
“You don’t sound sure…”
The alien sighed, or as much as he could do, “We have fought for so long. My people are tired. We are weak. We need water. But our leaders, they want to win.”
“Who are the Hive?”
“The Enemy,” said Klocehk and he shrugged, unable to say anymore than that.
“Where are they?”
“Far from here, attacking planet. We just need these weapons.”
Plisken took a moment, the cold air chilling his naked torso. A War? He was good for little else. But these... 'weapons', psychic weapons, they were wrong. Human, Roo, Monee Frogks, the Hive, it didn't matter. These weapons were worse.
"I can't let you use them," Plisken said, "I have seen first hand the destruction they cause. No, not destruction. The chaos and pain they cause. These are not weapons to win a war, these are tools to drive a civilization into the ground, turn it into dust. Do you really want to be known as the race that altered the minds of others just for the sake of a victory?" Klocehk paused, his eyes nervously twitching to the ground. "Actually," Plisken said, standing right in front of Klocehk, "The question should be if you think you can deal with me between those 'weapons'."
Klocehk stuttered, a series of frantic clicks, "We - I am not leading. I cannot make that decision."
"That isn't what I asked."
", I don't even want to be here. Many of us don't. Our species, the Monee Forgks, is dwindling in our war. We want to live in peace."
"Then I think it's time we met your leader."

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